Iowa News from
Aunt Helen's scrapbook items

LeMars, Iowa, Plymouth County Scrapbook

~articles submitted cover dates up through 1950

~original scrapbook owner is Mrs. Helen (Kern) Coppock Kale

~ "We thank Aunt Helen for sharing her treasures with all of us!"

Story from November 1938:


[Pictures of the house and yard are included with this article, along with a
photo each of Sheriff Scholer, Maybelle Knox, Lucinda Trow and Sumner Knox.]

LE MARS, IA --- In November 1938 a LeMars society woman who once led a
liquor raid while brandishing an ax was arrested by the sheriff here after
the body of her 80-year-old mother was found buried beneath a flower garden
at her home.

Frank Scholer remembers the bizarre case well. He was the Plymouth County
Sheriff at the time and was the man who supervised the search for the body
of Mrs. Lucinda A. Trow, 80, and the arrest of her daughter, Maybelle Trow
Knox, 49.

"We poked around with iron rods after a neighbor told us about some digging
done during the night," Scholer recalled.

The body of Mrs. Trow was found buried in a casket fashioned from a kitchen
cabinet on Nov. 13, 1938, in the yard of the frame house a block north of
the Plymouth County courthouse where Mrs. Trow and her daughter had lived.

On Nov. 30, 1938, Mrs. Knox pleaded guilty to charges filed in connection
with three Civil War pension checks that were made out to her mother and
cashed after her death. Mrs. Knox admitted she cashed six of the $40
pension checks.

District Judge R. G. Rodman of Cherokee sentenced Mrs. Knox to serve three
years in the women's state reformatory at Rockwell City.

Scholer said he thinks that after Mrs. Knox served her sentence she moved to
the Des Moines area where she worked for a time as an attendant at a nursing


The Knox case brought national attention to LeMars. There was not
television, but radio, newspapers and detective magazines played up the
story for some time.

"It certainly was the most famous case I ever was involved in," says

"I remember while we were checking reports about Mrs. Trow and after we had
found her body Mrs. Knox asked, almost out of the blue, Have you dug in the
flower garden yet?"

"I remember telling her we had searched the house and barn and planned to
start digging."

After the body was dug up, examinations by pathologists failed to find any
evidence of violent death. Officials said the woman had been dead for six
months and that she was believed to have died of natural causes.

Still, there was some speculation that Sumner Knox, husband of Mrs. Knox,
might have met foul play until he later notified officers that he was alive
and well and living in Oregon.

Maybelle Trow Knox was born May 27, 1889, on a farm near Kingsley southeast
of LeMars. Her father, William Z. Trow, had returned from duty with Union
forces in the Civil War and after marrying the former Lucinda Angela Lane of
Bangor, Maine, had settled on a farm near Kingsley.

Trow became one of the wealthier men in the county. After he died, his
widow and daughter, Maybelle, left the farm and moved to LeMars. They lived
in a somewhat pretentious eight-room home in one of the better residential
areas of LeMars.

Mrs. Trow served visitors tea and crumpets. Her daughter studied piano and
violin and enrolled in music courses at Western Union College, in LeMars.

Mrs. Trow served as state leader of the Women's Relief Corps, an
organization of wives and daughters of Civil War veterans.

In the fall of 1914, Sumner Browning Knox, a cousin of Maybelle Trow, came
to LeMars to study for the ministry at Western Union. He stayed in the Trow
home and earned his board and keep by doing odd jobs.

Knox quit his studies and took a job as a letter carrier in 1915. Mrs. Trow
found out her daughter and Knox were keeping company and did her best to
keep them apart.

On Sept. 22, 1919, they eloped to Woonsocket, S.D., and were married. After
returning to LeMars, they finally gained Mrs. Trow's blessing and lived with

As Mrs. Sumner Browning Knox, Maybelle blossomed into the grand dame of
LeMars society. She took up club life and causes. She became active in the
Women's Christian Temperance Union (WCTU) and was held in awe by other women
because of her intellectual achievements and her ability to talk about them.

Mrs. Knox thus became the important person she dreamed of becoming, while
she was a lonely, withdrawn school girl.


Then Mrs. Knox overstepped her talents and her ability and the bubble burst.
While toting a hatchet in true Carrie Nation style, Mrs. Knox led a raid on
a soft drink place operated by Joe Duster in downtown LeMars. No liquor was

"It really was a soft drink place," recalled Sheriff Scholer. "There
probably were other soft drink places where liquor could be obtained, but
not there."

And everyone seemed to know that except Maybelle Knox. Duster resented the
raid and also was irate because of remarks made by Mrs. Knox. So Duster
filed suit against the dry leader for $15,000.

That ended Mrs. Knox's career as a dry crusader. Other WCTU members
declined to re-elect her president of the local unit. Members of other
clubs started to avoid her.

Mrs. Knox went into seclusion. On Apr. 21, 1931, Mrs. Knox made a public
apology for her raid on Duster's place and the suit was settled out of

Less than 20 months later, on Dec. 9, 1932, Mrs. Knox pleaded guilty to a
forgery charge in connection with her claim to $10,000 from the estate of T.
M. Zink, LeMars attorney and woman-hater who specified in his will that his
estate was to be used to build a womanless library. [The will was set aside
by Judge C. W. Pitts.]


While she was in prison, her husband took care of her mother. When Mrs.
Knox returned home, times were tough. Title to the home had been lost in a
mortgage foreclosure.

The homeowner agreed to allow Mrs. Knox and her mother to live in the house
for $15 a month rent. (They were living on Mrs. Trow's $40 pension checks.)

Sumner Knox apparently left town but not before his wife had a spat with a
relief official at the courthouse which ended with the official floored and
minus several teeth from a punch by Mrs. Knox.

Mrs. Knox rarely appeared in public after that. She would come to the
courthouse once a month to collect her mother's pension check. She also did
some sewing for others.

By the fall of 1938, people were asking questions about the whereabouts of
Sumner Knox and Mrs. Trow.

To satisfy his curiosity, Rome F. Starzl, the editor and publisher of the
LeMars Globe-Post, went to the Knox home on Nov. 8, 1938, to check out
reports he had heard. He took one of his reporters with him.

Mrs. Knox denied that her mother had disappeared and that she was cashing
her pension checks. She said her mother was upstairs sleeping.

Starzl offered to take a picture of Mrs. Trow to quash the rumors and
gossip. Mrs. Knox seemed enthusiastic about the idea and set a time for the
picture-taking that afternoon.

The two newsmen returned to the Knox home at the appointed hour but no one
answered their shouts and door pounding.


The two men then notified Sheriff Scholer and Police Chief Fay Terpenning.
Scholer and Terpenning went to the Knox home. Inside, they found Mrs.
Knox's Pekingese dog, Kongie Chu Ehr, but not Mrs. Knox nor Mrs. Trow.

The next day, using a key proffered by a neighbor with whom Mrs. Knox had
left it, the officers entered the house. Hearing agonizing groans, they
rushed upstairs to find Mrs. Knox in bed. She declined the services of a
doctor but asked for a dish of ice cream to settle her stomach.

Mrs. Knox told the officers her mother was visiting relatives in Nebraska
City, Neb. Sheriff Scholer drove there and couldn't find Mrs. Trow, but he
discovered Mrs. Knox had listed her name with a matrimonial agency.

The sheriff asked the Iowa Department of Justice for help. State Agent
George Dickey was sent to LeMars.

The sheriff then convinced Mrs. Knox she would be better off staying in the
county infirmary since she was not feeling well and the house was not heated
properly. Mrs. Knox told officers her husband had taken her mother to
Wisconsin the previous summer.

Mrs. Knox then signed papers giving officers the right to search her home
and grounds. Her brother, Lemuel Trow, a trucker, arrived from Huron, S.D.,
and told officers he had received a telegram from his sister indicating that
his mother was dying.


Scholer explained the situation to Trow and he urged officers to start
digging in the yard at once.

After a probing rod encountered something in the flower bed, digging started
in the soft earth. Under two feet of soil, a long oblong box was uncovered.
Cramped inside the box were the remains of a woman wrapped in an old quilt
and a piece of lace curtain. Trow identified the body as that of his

The rest of the yard was minutely examined. The well, cistern, attic and
basement were probed with great care. Nothing more was found.

When officers told Mrs. Knox they had found the body of her mother she tried
to throw suspicion on her husband. "I wonder where he is," she said. "The
guilty always runs away."

Officers found that Sumner Knox and his wife, Maybelle, had obtained a
divorce at Perry, Ia., on April 6, 1934, although they had lived together in
LeMars long after that.


Officers also found out that Mrs. Knox had tried to hire a woman to pose as
her mother at the Iowa State Employment Bureau at Sioux City.

To satisfy a government claim for the amount of the forged pension checks, a
public auction attended by 1,000 persons was held to sell Mrs. Knox's
belongings, antiques and personal goods. Her dog sold for $10.

"It was a strange case," said Scholer. "She was pretty sharp and tricky in
her own way."


LeMars Teacher Is Honored Today;
Josephine Winslow Shares Credit with God, Her Friends, Relatives

By Edith K.Webster

[News article found pasted in Aunt Helen's scrapbook-circa 1950; included
with the article are some wonderful photos of Miss Winslow.]

A woman who is soft-spoken, blue-eyed and serene lives in the house of her
birth quite literally "by the side of the road" in LeMars. It's a tall,
thin sort of a little, white frame house, with a sedate air which is the
description you at first might apply to the person who resides there alone.

But don't be misled.

For Miss Josephine Winslow and her pretty small home are like one of those
rather elegant new appliances, deceptively decorative outside but perking
away with businesslike precision and accomplishment within.

Which is the reason why today the Sioux City Journal-Tribune Publications
name Miss Winslow Woman of Achievement, inviting her with others, so
honored, to the annual Achievement Day, May 5.

And it's reason, in addition, why the community of LeMars more than once has
honored Miss Winslow, who has served her townspeople with sparkling
consistency, throughout her life.

Now Josephine Winslow has an answer for the pessimists who maintains that
teaching school is a dull occupation. It's optimistic denial, evidenced in
her life; her continued interest in people, and her remarkable, working
faith in God. She doesn't even need to speak about it. But if she will the
listener learns a lot which has to do with the intangibles that govern the
concrete and a few extra tricks thrown in.

Miss Winslow, for instance, has a remarkable philosophy of waiting. "I was
waiting for the Lord to send me something to do..and he sent me a deaf boy,"
she will state without a single dramatic inflection and just about like you
might begin a story, "Yesterday morning."

Or again, she'll relate: "I'd always receive a blessing when I was with Mrs.
Costello." And there will not be a single over-emphasized syllable to preach
or to embarrass.

Time and again waiting was the preface to doing, with "Miss Josephine," as
many call her, performing the immediate task to lead to an important

It was that way with the deaf boy, whom Miss Winslow taught for seven years
until he graduated in the upper one-third of his class from LeMars High
School. And then she tutored a child in a plaster cast and another, a
spastic boy in first grade.

The Lord sent her, in all, 1,223 LeMars boys and girls and 28 children in a
village school in addition to the many others of three districts in which
she also taught.


And school and friendship were one, but not the same. Because these "boys
and girls" who now have provided Miss Winslow's uncountable family of
"grandchildren" made it that way. They still come and the go to and from
the tall, white house, bringing their families as they formerly brought the
stories of their joys, troubles, loves and discouragements. Letters as well
as visits keep Miss Winslow in touch with them. And there are treasured
mementoes all around, like the high school graduation picture of a third
grader, handicapped then. "This is a smile of victory you have helped me
achieve, Miss Winslow," he wrote when he sent it.

And then there are notes from a speech by a LeMars school superintendent,
naming her "Master Teacher." They mention "her contribution to education
through the private instruction of handicapped children" and the "love and
esteem of hundred of former pupils of the Clark school who came under the
influence of her fine character."

Clark school in LeMars is where Miss Winslow has been both teacher and
principal, attaining rank to confirm the success story which is every
American boy's and girl's potential tale. For Miss Winslow began to teach
for a wage of $10 monthly as an assistant primary instructor. She went on
to rural schools, where she taught six years; and later returned to the
LeMars system, where she taught in third, fourth, fifth and sixth grades
before becoming principal at Clark.

She relinquished the title-and some responsibilities-"when Our Precious Miss
Katherine left." And the quotation gives you an idea of the gentle thing
conversation with Miss Winslow becomes.

"Miss Katherine" is Miss Keehn who for 20 years was a housekeeper for the
Winslow family. It was a motherless household because of death from the
time Miss Josephine was six years of age. "Our Miss Katherine" stayed until
Clifford, Fred, Claude and Josephine Winslow had grown.

Takes Over Homemaking

Miss Winslow, resigning as principal, assumed charge of her father's
household, waiting then, too, for ways to help other people. In 1941 she
retired from the LeMars school system, but not from work, since then arose
the need for Care Packages and other wartime assistances.

The one of them all which stands apart, from a story telling viewpoint, is
that of Antonina Kusik, once of Warsaw, Poland, and now of Philadelphia. It
happened when Miss Winslow was between jobs, so to speak, "waiting for
someone else to come along for whom I could do something," in her own quiet

She met Antonina through a blind friend, the late Mrs. Ed Costello, for whom
she used to read aloud and with whom she had traveled, bookwise, to Mexico,
Alaska, and a great many other interesting places.

Miss Winslow invited Antonina, a displaced person, to call, which she did
one afternoon when not on nursing duty. They visited of Antonina's past and
of her mother and sister whom she had not seen for five years, including
time spent in a concentration camp. One of Antonina's friends was still in
Germany and in need. And that was the reason why Miss Josephine excused
herself and went upstairs to see if she could find a dress or two to send.

While she was away, Antonina thumbed a magazine, The Christian Advocate.
Now it wasn't a recent magazine. It was a back issue, nearer the bottom
than the top of the pile on Miss Winslow's table. Yet it was the one which
contained an illustration picturing the Methodist mission in Warsaw and
naming the missionary in charge.

Reunites Family

Next morning Miss Winslow took the magazine to Rev. H. V. Bartz, pastor of
the First Methodist Church in LeMars. He, she and Antonina all wrote
letters at once. And three weeks later Antonina had word from her mother,
sister and other relatives with whom she has been reunited in correspondence
since. And from then on, parcels have been going from Miss Winslow's to
Warsaw, also.

Since the death in 1929 of her father, J. Wallace Winslow, a former mayor of
LeMars, who homesteaded in Iowa with his family in 1869, Miss Winslow has
lived alone. She has traveled a bit and visited her brothers, Clifford and
Fred of Spokane and Claude of near Portland.

She has kept a service flag, like many other mothers and grandmothers, and
each star names a boy or a girl she calls hers. They number 126, with six
gold stars among them.

Meanwhile there was church work to do, like activities of the Wesleyan
Service guild at LeMars. For many years Miss Winslow was in charge of the
primary department there. And she's still on the staff of teachers as an
associate. As choir member and as pianist, she has helped, also.

Besides there was work around as well as in the house, literally-a garden
from which shining jars of vegetables go to the Winslow pantry, and an
orchard of apple and plum trees, which similarly contributes. And Miss
Winslow does needlework of the most intricate sorts, like cutwork,
crocheting and other varieties. All of the neighbors share the fruits of
her garden, flower beds and orchard. And all the neighbors drop by to help
with little chores when there's a blizzard or other need, just as they call
her by day or in the middle of the night.

Miss Winslow belongs to the LeMars and International Sunshine clubs, which
means that she calls on shut-ins, the ill, aged, sorrowing and lonely. She
says this about her interests: "I want my hobbies to add life to my years,
not years to my life." It would appear that they accomplish both.

Achievement Continues

Because if you imagine that her achieving is all in the past tense, this not

For right now a native boy in India is studying for the Christian ministry
because of Josephine Winslow. She has "adjusted her budget," she says,
reluctant to discuss the matter, and in addition she has a nephew, described
as "very spiritual" with the implication of "very generous."

It "all shows how good people are to me," Miss Winslow credits, Rev. Wallace
Winslow Braband, named for Josephine's father, now is a missionary serving
with his family in northern Nigeria, West Africa.

Miss Winslow's life, far-reaching in helpfulness, has resolved itself into
an orderly routine of LeMars home and friends, work and recreation. She has
a button collection of 7,000 items, "not too large." She was honored with a
Tom Brenneman orchid in 1946.

And yet a question remains, outspoken by Josephine Winslow. And it
represents in a sense a summary of many attributes over a period of years.
She reiterates it, in conversation and in writing, with a sincerity which
leaves no doubt of her appreciation. She'll say:

"I just wonder if other teachers have had such wonderful boys and girls and
such memories."

Photos included have this text:

Above photo: the piano which gleams with black, carved intricacies, was her
mother's. The picture, that of a one-time mayor of LeMars, is a likeness of
her father, the late J. Wallace Winslow.

Right photo: a needle in hand is worth two in a case, when one considers the uses
to which Miss Winslow, serenely, constantly busy, puts hers.

Below photo: Living alone includes three meals, prepared as such, each day for
balanced, healthful diet, Miss Winslow explains, pouring a glass of milk on
a pretty tray full of food to be eaten on her lap in the sunshine.

All Mothers and Grandmothers...had service flags and so has Miss Josephine
Winslow, whose boys and girls in military service are remembered by stars,
inscribed with their names. It's a large "family."


A little girl burst into Ted Dunn’s café on a hot July 4 afternoon and cried

“The tent’s on fire!”

Six hours later 15 business buildings and 18 homes lay in blackened ruins in
Remsen, a Plymouth county town of 1,200 population.

July 4 fireworks were blamed for the disaster. The Iowa Legislature passed
an anti-fireworks law the following winter. Statewide support for such a
law developed rapidly after the Remsen holocaust.

Oyens, a village 5 miles from Remsen in Plymouth county, was struck by a
major fire less than an hour after the Remsen blaze started. Much of that
village, population slightly above 100, also was destroyed.

Such towns as Remsen and Oyens were ripe for disastrous fires at that time.
The 1936 summer was almost unbearably hot and dry. The drought parched the
crops in the country and turned wooden buildings in town into tinderboxes.

A tent had been put up in the Remsen business district between the Dunn café
and the Bellmyer and Hodges garage.

Exactly how the fire got going was never fully disclosed. Remsen Mayor C.
M. Myers said: “Fireworks being shot off in (the) tent…..started the
conflagration….” Another report said a small girl tossed a sparkler into
gasoline-soaked rags in the garage. A third report said boys shooting
firecrackers were responsible.

Whatever their origin, the flames quickly enveloped the garage, the tent,
and the café and began gobbling up other buildings.

The fire roared through the northeast part of town and circled back toward
the business district. Destroyed were the hotel, two lumberyards, the
Illinois Central railroad depot, tank cars, box cars, stores, offices,
homes. The railroad tracks melted and train travel came to a halt.

The Remsen volunteer firemen fought valiantly, as did fire companies from
LeMars, Orange City, Kingsley and elsewhere. But they were left all but
helpless when the Remsen water supply failed.

Firemen dynamited the Ideal Hat Shop which was being attacked at 10 p.m. by
flames leaping from Blondie’s Beauty shop. The hat shop wreckage was pulled
away by ropes. Then there was nothing within reach left to burn. The fire
was over. The Remsen loss was placed at $600,000.

Left standing as a lonely sentinel in six blocks of ruins was the Remsen
power plant, a fireproof building.

~source: unknown newspaper clipping about the Remsen fire of July 4, 1936


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