The first Osceola County Courthouse shared space with a school and church in a modest, wood-frame building constructed in the county seat of Sibley in November 1872 at a cost of $4,500. Twenty-nine years later, a special election was held and voters passed a $50,000 bond referendum to construct a new courthouse building. Work started in 1902 and the new Osceola County Courthouse was formally dedicated in September 1903. While the building’s original design is mostly in tact, a few changes have been made since construction including the removal of a tall square cupola from the center of the building and the installation of an elevator in 1974. The Osceola County Courthouse was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1981.
When the Sibley Post Office was first occupied in late 1960, a plaque was installed bearing the name of President Eisenhower, a Republican. The plaque was replaced with one inscribed with Democratic President John F. Kennedy when the building was formally dedicated in June 1961. Unhappy with the change, Republican Iowa Congressman Charles Hoeven petitioned Postmaster General J. Edward Day to reinstate the original marker inside the new Post Office building.
Though the Postmaster General argued the Democratic designation was “in the interest of historical accuracy,” Representative Hoeven’s subsequent appeal was successful. On August 10, 1961, Postmaster General Day wrote the congressman that he would arrange for the restoration of the original plaque.
In 1935, a cupboard in the local American Legion Hall served as the first library in the Osceola County community of Ashton. The cupboard collection consisted of 50 books borrowed from the Iowa State Traveling Library in addition to a growing number of books donated by the community. By 1940, 408 books had been collected and the library was relocated to the shelves of the Legion Hall kitchen. By 1946, the books were relocated to the old town hall and in 1950, the Ashton City Council officially approved monetary support of the Public Library.
After three years of work to obtain funds for a bigger facility, the present library location opened its doors in May 1973. Other notable moments in the library’s history include acquisition of a public computer in 1992, installation of an outdoor drop box in 1995, and the addition of DVDs to the collection in 2002. Patrons to the Ashton Public Library now have access to over 12,000 books, 600 VHS videos, 250 DVD videos, 180 audio books, and approximately 50 magazines.
The Public Library in Ocheyedan dates to 1912, when the community’s first library was opened by a local women’s group in a room within a local general store. In 1937, the city council agreed to provide some library funding, and by 1941, the library relocated to a small room in the newly constructed city hall. The current-day standalone library location was dedicated in 1970.
Ocheyedan Mound used to be known as the highest point in Iowa – that is, until a 1971 geodetic survey determined that distiction actually went to a farm north of Sibley, Iowa.
I had to check this mound out on my way to Minneapolis earlier this month. The parking lot was easy to access, but climbing the mound itself was made difficult due to a poorly-mowed path. Nonetheless, rising 170 feet above the surrounding plain, the mound offered an excellent view of the Iowa countryside and is worth checking out if you’re in northwest Iowa.