Memories of Osceola

My mother’s family was from Osceola. Her grandfather John B. Dague and his wife Rosa moved to Osceola probably in the late 1860’s. He was an attorney. Their three daughters were Wilhimena, Ethel Naomi and Fanny Clarke. Wilhimena died in her early twenties. Ethel married Roy Armstrong, they had one son Elbert. Fanny married O. M. Slaymaker, also an attorney. They had a daughter Marion (my mother) and a son Donovan Dague. My mother married Ward Loren Shaffer from Des Moines. They moved to Oklahoma. Every summer my mother and I went up to spend several weeks in Iowa.

Osceola had a town square with a Courthouse in the middle of the square. It had a tall tower with a clock and a bell that tolled every hour on the hour, with the number of the hour, day and night. There was a large lawn surrounding the Courthouse with many trees and lots of benches. Many businesses were built across the streets surrounding the square. This was where my grandfather’s law office was at 111-135 South Main, facing the Courthouse. It was a wonderful comfortable office, 4 or 5 rooms .The buildings on the square were mostly one story high. The hotel on the corner had three floors with a small open porch on the second floor. There were the usual shops, offices, drug stores and a movie theater.

The Dague/Slaymaker house was at 231 North Fillmore, only a block from the square. In small towns in the 1930s the large meal of the day was at noon. When the courthouse clock struck 12, many offices closed for an hour. I would meet my grandfather when he would walk home for lunch.

The house itself was a beautiful Victorian house on the corner of Fillmore and Cass. The front porch faced the Presbyterian Church directly across the street. The front porch was an “L” going around the corner of Cass Street and had chairs and a wonderful swing on chains at the very back. It was a wonderful place to be. As you came in the front door into the hall, on the right the stairs went straight up to the second story and bedrooms. On the left was a living room. Beyond that, a huge library, music room, with a piano, sofas and chairs, there were bookshelves along one wall, maybe five feet tall, with glass front on the shelves.

If you went straight through the front hall you were in an informal large study, with a desk, sofa and chairs. In the middle of the room was a long table, and a radio where we listened to the news (long before TV) Off on the left was a large spare room with coat racks, storage space and a bathroom. Behind the study to the back was a glorious large dining room and a table that sat probably ten people. There was a door on each side of the room, each with a large etched glass window above the door portraying trees and an elk. The door on the right went out onto a porch and sidewalk that led to Cass Street. The door on the left led out to the garden. Back behind the dining room was a huge kitchen with a wood burning stove and oven. Later they added a gas stove and oven. Also there was a good sized pantry and in back a storage room.

The only staircase up to the second floor was on the right side of the front door. It went straight up. There was a long hallway at the top going left. On the right side of the house (the backside of the house), was a bedroom behind which was a very large sleeping porch, with lots of windows on all three sides. Iowa could be very hot in the summer, and it made sleeping much easier. Further down the hall on the right was a large storage closet, and a huge bathroom with both a shower and a bathtub, and a couple of chests. Beyond the bathroom was a small bedroom. To the left at the end of the hall was a huge bedroom. To the left at the end of the hall was a huge bedroom with turret windows on the front side of the house.