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Memories of Old Rippey; letter from Irving Lovejoy, April 21, 1953

Irving Lovejoy wrote a letter of memories of Old Rippey, to Claude Johnson, who was helping gather information for the Rippey History book that was being published. it finally got published in 1956. Amazing, with only "snail mail" available at that time. It took a lot of work by a lot of people, but it is a good reference for anyone interested in Rippey history.

From a letter to Claude Johnson, from Irving C. Lovejoy, Worshipful Master of Hesperial Lodge No. 411, A. F. & A. M., Chicago ILL

April 21, 1953  (The gathering of stories for the history book was beginning.  It got published in 1956, so you can see how long it took to gather the stories and get them compiled.  No E-mails back then!)  The spelling was not changed. Velda DeMoss shared her mother, Lorene (Johnson) Derry's box of communications gathered for the writing of the 1956 Ripey Book History Book.

Old Rippey Memories

Dear Friend:

               Your letter of the 16th received.  I am glad for the community spirit shown by the desire to write a history of Rippey.  I will try to tell all I know as accurately as I can.  I will be 77 years old next Fall and have a vivid memory covering much of the early days.

               On account of the log path through the timber, I did not start to school till I was 9 years old, but Mother had taught me to read at home.  My first teacher was Etta Nesbitt, the fall of 1885.  Other teachers , as I remember, --not in the exact order that they came, were Jennie Burke, Cornelia Perrott, Mr. Ham, Hazel Riley, (she was there the winter of 1890) Henry Rittgers, Addie Weatherington, Enolia Osbun, Elnore Ozbun, Sarepta Wherry, Mary Rouse, Mr. Hoshal, --I taught the Heater school the Fall of 1896, and the Winter of 1897.  I probably have forgotten some of the teachers who were there from 1885 to 1899.

               I do not know if there was a school in the town of Old Rippey.  I wish I had learned about this before my Mother died in 1932.  She was a teacher somewhere around Old Rippey when Father met her.

               The Old Rippey as I remember it had only three or four houses beside the big house built by my Grandfather, Dr. J. C. Lovejoy.  I was born in Old Rippey, but Father bought the farm from Old Man Latin while I was still a baby.  The farm had the two room cottage which forms part of Frank’s home, and there was a log house on the south with an unwalled basement under it.  Father soon tore down the log house.

               I do not know if Old Rippey had a church, but there was a Methodist preacher called Father Bird, but that was before my time.  Grandfather Lovejoy ran a store, and had the post office, besides his practice of medicine.  He was born in Vermont, was taken to Indiana when young, then he went to Chicago and graduated from Rush Medical College with a class of 42 in 1848.  He went to Des Moines in 1854, when it was a little trading post, smaller than Rippey is now.  Des Moines had no railroad at that time.  Grandfather moved from Des Moines to Old Rippey in 1859.  During the Civil War, he organized a company of soldiers and drilled them as Captain.  He dod not go to the front with his company, for the men said they would not go unless he would stay to look after doctoring their families.

               I think the railroad came to Rippey in 1873, connecting Des Moines with the north.  The surveyors ran the road east of Old Rippey, I suppose because they wanted to avoid the hills and the big Cavanaugh pond.  Then, of course, the post office was moved to the new town.  But Grandfather stayed in the old town, and practiced medicine till he was about 80.

               My home was almost on the section line separating the Heater school district from the Washington school house.  So I had to go to school over a mile road whichever way I went.  I went several terms to the Washington school.  Though I was not quite in that district, I did not have to go through timber and cross creeks.  Mr. Leiberknecht was a good teacher, and I went to him at the Washington school.  I think he taught the Heater school some time, but I am not sure.

               As I said, I do not remember if there as any exclusive church building, but I attended the union services held in the Washington school house.  Some of the prominent members there were Father Tassell, Bill Willey, Mrs. Seena Johns, and I forget who else, but there was much interest in religion at that time.

               Then the Methodists and United Brethren separated and each built their own church, on that road, a mile or so north of the school house.  When we were at Rippey in 1946, I ode out on that road, but did not see either Bethel church, or the Methodist church.  I suppose when people got autos they preferred to go to town to church.

               I do not think there was any store in Old Rippey before Grandfather came, but I may be wrong.  Again, I should have learned this from Mother.

               My other Grandfather was William Bradley, who ran the village blacksmith shop.  He died the month before I was born, from pneumonia.  He got sweaty in his work, and then caught cold.

               One of the houses left when the town was moved, was known as the Jackson house.  Father bought this and had it moved to our home.  So that gave us four rooms.  Another house standing further north was the Crumley house.  It was small, but beautifully built.  I remember the window frames were of finest polished walnut.  Father bought this house and used it for storage.  After Father went West in 1902, Bert Lovejoy’s boys burned the house down.  (At least that is what I heard)

               You probably know what became of the old Heater school house.  I went to see it in memory of the old times, when I was at Rippey in 1917.  I know it was moved, but cannot say where. There are many fine memories of that old building.  Some funny and some sad.

               When I was twelve or thirteen out gang went to the spelling school one winter evening, Friday, of course.  After the crowd left, six or seven of us went back, to play a trick on the teacher.  Men had been cutting and trimming up some long poles in the timber near the school.  We, very bad boys, opened the three windows on each side, and carried three of those long poles and put them through, across the room, so the six windows could not be closed.  The poles were so heavy it took all of us to handle them.  We thought we would get to school on Monday, make the teacher think we were wonderful kids, and be heroes. But, it snowed on Saturday, and, I think, Sunday.  The snow was so deep on Monday that Father would not let me go to school.  I heard that the school house was filled with snow, and the teacher had to get the sub-director to cut the poles in two before he could take them out.  Of course there was some fuss over this prank.  I do not remember who the other fellows were, but they were loyal and no one ever told who were the guilty ones.

               I remember your Father very well.  He was a smart man, and, as far as I know was the first man to urge school consolidation.

               My wife and I have retired from teaching in the city schools after 33 years of service, and we have very good pensions.  Our youngest son was a Lieutenant in the Second World War, and our eldest grandson is now a Lieutenant in Japan.  Let us hop the war will soon be over.

               Now, Claude, let me hear from you again.  I know a lot of interesting stories about the various old settlers.  If I have missed answering any of your questions, asked them again.  I am,

                              Your old school mate, when our world was young!