The Mason City Globe-Gazette from Mason City, Iowa on March 9, 1936 · Page 3
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The Mason City Globe-Gazette from Mason City, Iowa · Page 3

Mason City, Iowa
Issue Date:
Monday, March 9, 1936
Page 3
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MASON CITY GLOBE-GAZETTE, MARCH 9 193R THREE 1 How Pioneer Panned $1 a Day in Gold Dust From Creek at Fertile Is Told Precious Metal Not in Quantities to Pay Out. By E. M. KISNJSK FERTILE--The newspaper reports of the recent discovery of traces of gold on a farm near Cen- tcrville have caused much comment. The idea of gold being found in Iowa is being generally ridiculed, and, for the most part, the whole affair is being set down as just a publicity stunt for Centerville. Yet it is a fact, well known to many of the old timers, that gold na s been found in Iowa before now, sometimes even in paying quantities, but the fact has been lost sight of, and is little known to the average reader of today. In the little riverside village of Fertile in the upper Winnebago river valley, the question is being thoroughly discussed by the hot stove cub which congregates daily in Elthon's store. The old timers, and some not so old, who sit on cracker barrels around the stove, discussing the news and affairs of local interest, punctuating their stories with occasional expectorations of tobacco juice into the sawdust box, have recalled stories of an old local character, who, back in the days when Iowa was young, washed gold in a small creeck not far from Fertile. How Tradition Survives. Few, if any, of these hot stove historians are old enough to remember personally the events or the character described. The survival of the legend is proof of the vitality of tradition in the little village on the river bank. And the reason therefore is self-evident, for Fertile is a town that has changed little with the passing of the years. The families who make up its population today bear the names of the pioneers who followed Wiliam Rhodes into the upper Winnebago valley in the early fifties. Others have come and gone, but the pioneer families still predominate and are now in their third and fourth generation. For this reason, stories of the ear- ·iest days, which have been passed nn from father to son to grandson, :an still be heard in the store, the postoffice, or the hamessshop, where the citizens congregate when time hangs heavy on their hands. And when the severity of the winter brought rural industry almost to a standstill, and cut off, for the most part, communication with the outside world, forcing the prosperous citizens to seek the companionship of their fellows in the genial warmth of Andrew Elthon's store, there came forth a host of tales that have heretofore remained locked in their owner's minds--locked in, for want of the time to tell them. Recall Curious Character. The question of the existence of gold in the sands of Iowa has been much discussed in the past few days. Old timers, who had the story from their fathers, tell talcs of a curious old character who lived in Fertile in the middle of the last century. His Christian name, if it was ever known, has vanished into the shadows of misty oblivion, but he was known locally, and is still referred to. as "Colomba Pete." He came to Fertile shortly after the Civil war, and lived there until his death, some time in the late seventies. He was an extraordinary character. Already well past the prime of life when he arrived; be was described as tall and erect, with iron- gray hair hanging down over his shoulders, and a bushy beard. He is said to have been a silent man, who spoke but little about the past, but sometimes, when under the influence of the cup that cheers, he let slip, occasional anecdotes and reminiscences from which his neighbors succeeded in piecing together parts of his past life. Served in Mexican \V:ir. He was originally from Ohio. He had been an adventurer in his youth, had enlisted in the army for the Mexican war, and served in one of the regiments which, under General Stephen Kearney, had marched to Santa Fe and thence to California. His term of enlistment expired while his regiment was in. Caiifor- W.J. PARROTT REAL ESTATE PHONE 2545 211 Vi N. FED. * WHERE THE WORLD MEETS BROADWAY There's an old axiom that "sooner or laler You'll meet ·verybody you know on Tunes Squate." For here you ar« in iia very center of lie gay activity which mates Times Square the most fas- cinatintt scene in all New York. Hooin rales are a» low as £2.50 a day. HOTEL ASTOR Times Square · New York City A World-famous Addrns,., *t tbt Crossroads of the World nia, and, attracted by the pastoral life of the Spanish Californians, he decided to remain in that pleasant land. In 1848 he was an employe o£ that genial old feudal baron, Johann August Sutler, when gold was discovered on the slopes of the nearby Sierras. He was one of the first on the scene, and, being a year in advance of the big rush of "forty-niners," he was one of the comparatively few who profited from that sublime madness. After amassing a modest fortune in dust and nuggets, he decided to return to the east for a visit before settling dow-n. Lost All or G«ia. But chance decreed otherwise. While in San Francisco waiting for the ship to sail that was to take him around Cape Horn and back home, he yielded to his weakness for liquor, and while under its influence, lost most of his gold in a faro game. On sobering up and finding himself broke, he was overcome by a feeling of disgust for the riotous life of the California of '49. The old, idyllic life of the splendid idle forties, that had attracted him when he left the army, had disappeared with the coming of the gold seekers. He therefore resolved to leave for good and all, and proceeded to do so, with nothing to show for his two years in California except the sobriquet of "Caloma Pete," which he had acquired by reason of his mining in Caloma county, and which he bore for the rest of his life. Came to Fertile. For the next 20 years he followed the winds of chance up and down the frontier, but the story of his confused wanderings and thrilling adventures could never be pieced together from his occasional brief and unconnected stories. In the late sixties he drifted into Fertile as a teamster with a freight outfit that was hauling merchandise from the railhead at Cedar Falls. Finding the atmosphere of the place congenial, he decided to remain a few days and his stay became permanent. He built a small log cabin in the timber south of the river, near where the J. F. Rhodes residence row stands. He lived there alone for the next 10 years, supporting himself by hunting and trapping in the winter and fishing in the summer. He was, in short, an example of that class- of old frontiersmen, who, forced by advancing age to retire from the active life of the frontier, could be found in almost any western village, even as late as 50 years ago. · Little for Liquor. Coloma Pete, like most of his kind, had one weakness--liquor. Fertile possessed a saloon in those days, so, one would say, he had ample opportunity to indulge. But such was not the case, for he lacked the prime requisite, the wherewithal. His hunting and trapping served to keep him from want, but it brought little money beyond what was absolutely necessary to keep body and soul together. So Coloma Pete, most of the time, was dry, and was the better off for it. But one day he walked into the saloon and asked for a bottle of whisky. The bartender handed it across the counter, wondering, perhaps, how the old hunter had obtained the necessary "four bits," and was startled when Coloma Pete drew a small buckskin bag from his pocket and panned out a little pile of yellow dust into his outstretched palm. Had S8 in Dust. There were no scales at hand for weighing the gold, so the two repaired to the drug store across the street and weighed out the gold on a pair of delicate apothcarie's scales. A descendant of the saloonkeeper, who told the story this winter, states that Pete had about 58 worth of gold in his pouch. From then on, Coloma pete waxed affluent in a small way. He not only bought liquor, but also clothing, tools and an expensive rifle. Being a charitable soul, he donated many small sums to charity. And he contributed $25 toward the building of, Pence. Grove United Brethren church, of which he became a regular and devout attendant, although his name does not appear, or at least cannot be identified, on the membership roll. That was in 1874 and serves to fix the date of his gold strike in either that or the preceding year. Exchanged at Mason City. He soon abandoned the practice of spending the raw gold, finding the weighing process too tedious and complicated. Instead, he took the gold to a jeweler named Mann, in Mason City, and exchanged it for coin of the reaJm. To all inquiries he declined to divulge the secret of where lie obtained his gold. For several months he kept the secret to himself. He would disapear from the village and be gone for several days or weeks; then return with a pouch full of dust and remain in town for a time. When his funds ran low, he would again disappear. He made no effort :o accumulate a hoard, but seemingly only desired enough to satisfy his simple wants. Followed on Expedition. Finally a group of adventurous spirits decided to shadow him on next expedition. After watching nis movements for several days, they discovered him one night in the act of leaving the village. Following afar off, they trailed him to a point about three miles east of Fertile where a small stream known as Wil- cw Creek flows into the Winnebago liver. When morning; came, Caloma Pete found that he had company. He was not at all taken aback but welcomed them cordially and even Laughing Girl Turns to Giggling Spasdomic laughter of Teresu Hawkins, 18, Weston, \V. Va., business college student, turned to giggling as physicians bent every effort to cure the nervous affliction. The attractive brunct began laughing while seeing a serious motion picture, probably due to emotional reaction, and laughted for eight days before there was a subsidence to giggling. showed them how he washed the jold out of the sands of the little stream. But the amateur prospectors lacked the skil 1 of the old "forty niner" and met with small success, although Caloma Pete washed out quantities of gold before their eyes. Only Small Quantities. Their lack of luck, or skill, was, in truth, a source of much good natured amusement to the old miner. After having several hours of fun at their expense, he explained to them that the gold was not present in really paying quantities but that he with the skill acquired by long experience in California, could afford to put in.his time at it, in view of the fact that his age prevented him from doing any more strenuous work. He was able to make a modest living at it, but nothing more than that. The excitement soon died away when it becomes apparent that there were no fortunes to be made in Iowa gold, but before the "rush" was over, nearly all of the local young men, (and many of the older ones.) had tried their hands at washing gold. Some succeeded in washing out a few grains of gold, others found nothing, but Caloma Pete sometimes took out as much as a dollar's worth in a single day. Not a fortune, as he often said, but better than loafing in town and living on charity, as so many people of his situation in life do today. Rifle Still in Community. Caloma Pete died in his little cabin one night in 1877 or 1878. I have been unable to ascertain the exact RITES HELD FOR KANAWHA YOUTH Suffered Ruptured Appendix Before Battle Through Drifts Ended. KANAWHA--F u n e r a I services were held Monday for Edwin Nygaard, who died at a Mason City hospital Wednesday evening. He was taken to the hospital the week before when it was found necessary for him to have an operation for the removal of his appendix. Due to the blizzard which prevailed that day and with all roads blocked it was necessary for the trip from Kanawha to Britt to be made in bobsleds and in some places where the drifts were too high for the bobsleds, it was necessary that he be carried on a stretcher from one bobsled to the other. Upon reaching the hospital it-was found the appendix had ruptured and his condition was critical until his death. Mr. Nygaard's mother, Mrs. Albert Nygaard of Bradley, S. Dak., and a sister, Mrs. Floyd Fenstermaker o£ Sioux Falls, S. Dak., came to be with him. The body was sent by train to Bradley, S. Dak., with the funeral service to be held at the home of year. A subscription was taken to pay for his burial, and he was laid to rest in Lincoln township cemetery, east of Fertile. His grave remained unmarked and can not now be found. It is one of several unmarked and unknown graves in the little cemetery. The rifle that he bought from the proceeds of his mining is still in the community. It is the treasured p session of a descendant of one of aloma Pete's closest friends. It is a muzzle loading, percussion rifle of the "Kentucky" type, and is a beautiful specimen of the gunmaker's art. This writer, whose hobby is collecting old guns, has often tried to buy it, but has met with no success except a promise of the present owner to bequeath the gun to him when he dies. lis parents. Mr. and Mrs. Albert. Nygaard. Besides the parents he is survived by four brothers and sis- ,ers. Mr. Nygaard had in previous years husked corn in the vicinity of Kanawha and during the past win- tec months had been employed on the Floyd Fricdow farm. Will Meet Tuesday. HAMPTON -- A meeting of the Franklin county planning board will be held at the courthouse Tuesday to complete plans for soil conservation, crop planting, etc. The plans will be sent to DCS Moines. Tha various county planning boards ara working toward a permanent agricultural program for the state. DOCTOR, WHY DON'T PEOPLE LIKE ME? (True "B.O." Experience No. 673, told by a physician) 1 PRESCRIBED LIFEBUOY DAILY, AND SHE FOLLOWED MY ADVICE FAITHFULLY HER FRIENDS WERE DROPPING HER. EVEN HER HUSBAND HAD CHANGED. SHE CAME TO ME PAI*1IC-STR|CKEN. WAS SHE SICKENING WITH SOME DISEASE THAT MADE PEOPLE SHUN HER? FOUND NO ORGANIC AILMENT, BUT A VERY REAL TROUBLE JUST THE SAME. PRIVILEGED AS AN OLD FRIEND, 1 TALKED TO HER FRANKLY IN NO TIME HER WORRIES HAD DISAPPEARED. SHE IS ASA1N LEADING A NORMAL, HAPPY SOCIAL LIFE. AND ALL THE CREDIT GOES TO LIFEBUOY, WHICH ENDED A DISTRESSING CASE OF"8.0? A warning to us ALL D OCTORS, demists, nurses, trac'ncrs-- people in every profession, in every occupation have true "B.O." stories to tell. Letters by the thousands pour in! The letter illustrated was written by a dalor. It's » teal warning to all of us to play safe! Bathe regularly with lifebuoy. Even in hardest water it gives an abundance of rich, creamy, penetrating lather. It purifia pores, stops "B. O." (lady eder). Its own dean, refreshing scent quickly vanishes as you rinse. Give your complexion a treat! Use Lifebuoy! It rids pores of impurities that coarsen the skin... Leaves complexions fresh, clear, glowing! Yet Lifebuoy is more than 20% miMet than many soc a l l e d "beauty soaps." "Patch" tests on the sfis of hundreds of women of »11 types prove it! Geod Ho ctd by centuries the world has gone to the Near East for its flavors and aromas and spices. . . , and today Chesterfield imports thousands of bales of tobacco from Turkey and Greece to add flavor and fragrance to Chesterfield Cigarettes. Turkish tobacco is expensive. The import duty alone is 35 cents a pound. But no other place except Turkey and Greece can raise tobacco of this particular aroma and flavor. This Turkish tobacco, blended with our own American tobaccos in the correct proportions to bring out the finer qualities of each tobacco, helps to make Chesterfields outstanding for mildness and for better taste. for mildness .. lor better taste i 1956, LIGCETT MYEES TOBACCO Co,

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