The Hoover Houses and Community Structures
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Additional Data on Houses Covered in Historic Structures Report—Buildings in the Core-Area, Herbert Hoover National Historic Site

A time factor prevented a week-to-week examination of back issues of the West Branch Times for 1901-09, 1911-15, 1917-19, 1923-1970, in fiscal year 1971, the year in which RSP HEHO-H-1, Historic Structures Report, Buildings in the Core-Area, was programmed. In preparation of Historic Structure Report, Hoover Cottage and Related Historic Structures, the West Branch Times for 1901-1970 was examined. Structural data pertaining to houses studied in the Core-Area report was extracted and is herewith presented.

I. Hannah Varney (Effie Smith) House

Miss Golda Branson, who had been librarian at the Enlow Library, on April 19, 1911, was married by the Rev. E. A. Lang to Harry C. Gruwell. The wedding took place at 6 o'clock at the home of the bride's mother, before "a small company of near relatives and friends." Immediately after the ceremony, the newlyweds left for their new home on south Downey, "which they had already furnished ready to begin housekeeping in the good old fashioned way." The couple had rented the Varney House from Elwood Tatum. [1]

II. Amanda Garvin (Minnie Siler) House

Lafe Randall and his family moved their household effects out of the Garvin House and to Iowa City on Monday, September 6, 1909. Their many friends hated to see the Randalls leave, and trusted that they would be happy in Johnson County. [2]

Harry and Golda Gruwell, having purchased the Garvin Cottage from Emma Randall, moved their household effects to their new home from the Varney House on Tuesday, September 3, 1912. [3] During the following week, Gruwell added "a cement floor to the porch on the south side of his residence . . . and otherwise improved the premsis." [4]

III. Charles E. Smith (Phelps) House

On Tuesday, December 24, 1907, there was a wedding at the Charles Smith home on south Downey. The principals were Miss Carrie Smith and Dr. Milo W. Munger. At 4 p.m. Miss Mabel Hathaway began playing the wedding march on the Smiths' piano. This was the signal for the wedding party to descend the stairs and enter the parlor. Miss Carrie Smith was accompanied by her maid-of-honor Miss Ocean Doch and Dr. Munger was escorted by Dr. James Irwin of Bright, Iowa.

While 30 relatives and guests watched, the Rev. Laura Townsend joined the young couple in holy wedlock. After the ceremony, the parents of the bride entertained at a three-course luncheon. The bride and groom left on the evening train for a short honeymoon in Nebraska. When they returned on January 15, 1908, they moved into their 5th Street home. [5]

Charles Smith, in the spring, habitually made maple syrup. The editor of the West Branch Times reported on March 13, 1913, that Smith had tapped his five maples and had drawn off several gallons of golden syrup. [6]

IV. James Staples (Endsley) House

Mrs. A. M. Bremner advertised on July 9, 1908, in the West Branch Times, that she wished to sell or rent her property on the southwest corner of Poplar and Wetherell. [7] Four months passed before Mrs. Bremner found a renter. On October 31 she rented her property to James Clempson and his wife, newcomers to West Branch from Ohio. The Clempsons told Mrs. Bremner that if they liked West Branch, they would purchase the property. Satisfied with the transaction, Mrs. Bremner, accompanied by her granddaughter (Inez Wilson), moved to Manchester in mid-November. [8]

The winter of 1908-09 was especially severe, and the Clempsons decided to return to their old home near Alliance, Ohio. On April 8, 1909, they moved out of the Staples House, loaded their household effects aboard a railroad car, and caught the train for Alliance the next day. [9]

In December 1911 O. C. Pennock announced that he had purchased the Staples House from the Bailey estate, and that his son, Adelbert, would move into the dwelling on March 1, 1912. [10] The date on which Bert Pennock occupied the house was postponed until May, when it was decided to build an ell on the north elevation. Editor Corbin, in writing of this development, observed, Bert Pennock "is remodeling the house in such a manner that when completed it will certainly be a modern home." [11] After moving into his new home, Pennock graded and leveled the lawn. [12] In May 1913 Pennock built a concrete sidewalk in front of his Poplar Street property. [13]

V. Hayhurst (Davis) House

Martin Van Buren Butler, in the late winter of 1906-07, had local carpenters built an ell on the south side of his home. The ell added "much to the conveyance" of the Butler house. [14] Five years later, in the summer of 1912, Van Butler converted one of his front rooms into a shoe repair shop, and advertised that he would repair a person's shoes while he waited. [15]

In the spring of 1915 Butler had a new roof put on his Poplar Street residence. [16]

VI. Mackey (Marie Allen) House

In the last week of March 1914, A. C. Hunter hired Sherman Eves and his carpenters to add a bay window to the south elevation of his wife's house. The contractor at the same time put "in larger windows throughout the structure and made other improvements." [17] Hunter during the summer added a concrete-block porch to the cottage. [18]

VII. McClellan House

On Saturday morning, February 16, 1924, Mrs. Mattie Stuart, as was her practice, bent over to light her oil stove. The match head snapped off, stuck in her gown, and within moments she was engulfed in a sheet of flames. She extinguished the flames, but she suffered third-degree burns of the neck, face, and right hand. The West Branch Volunteer Fire Department responded to Mrs. Stuart's call for help, and she was given medical attention.

Although she suffered severely from her burns, Dr. Leech believed that she would recover. On Thursday, the 21st, Mrs. Stuart suffered a relapse, and she died on Saturday morning. The funeral was held on Sunday at the Friends Church. [19]

VIII. P. T. Smith House

On Sunday, March 12, 1881, sparks from the chimney of the P. T. Smith house caused the roof to catch fire. In response to the alarm, a bucket brigade was formed, and the fire extinguished before much damage was done. A large crowd, which undoubtedly included the Hoover children, watched as the bucket brigade successfully battled the blaze. [20]

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Last Updated: 28-Jul-2006