Sunday, August 23, 2009

History of Jerome

[Susie Sidles, a resident of Jerome all her life, wrote a history of her hometown, drawing upon her personal knowledge of the events and people who made up Jerome. Sidles is now deceased. Excerpts from that history follow:]

The small town of Jerome is located in Lincoln township in Appanoose County.

In 1856, Horace W. Lyon was named the first postmaster in Jerome. It is said that Lyon was not popular with his fellow townspeople, but that he had a son, who was blind, whose name was Jerome, and the town was named for him.

The first school site was known as School District No. 5, and was purchased from Jacob Stoner in 1857 for the consideration of $10. It is assumed the first school building was built the same year, and it served until 1871, when a new school was built.

The second building was used until 1894, when the population of Jerome increased due to coal mining, and a bigger school was needed.

One of the early teachers in this second building was Theodore P. Shontz, later internationally famous. After teaching in Jerome, he graduated from Monmouth College, practiced law and became interested in railroad building. He helped construct the Iowa Central and obtained controlling interest in the Missouri, Iowa and Nebraska and Toledo, St. Louis and Western roads. He was chairman of the Panama Canal Commission in 1905-1907.

The third building served until it burned in April, 1920. The new building was of brick, and ready for occupancy at Christmas time, 1923. This building was also destroyed by fire in 1931. The fifth building was ready for occupancy late in September of the same year. A modern water system was installed and the building was wired for electricity on Dec. 24, 1936.

The first settlers were much interested in religion, and several churches were started in Jerome.

After the demise of coal mining, Jerome lost much of its population. A few years ago, Frances and Kenneth Owen established The Trading Post, an antique shop, in the old school building, but it is not currently (in December, 1985) open for business.
Transcribed with permission of the Appanoose County Historical Society from Appanoose County, Iowa [page 8], written by the People of Appanoose County, compiled [1984-1985] and copyrighted [1986] by the Appanoose County Historical Society, Centerville, Iowa, and printed by Taylor Publishing Company, Dallas, Texas.

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