Jacob Beelar Log House -Jacob
Beelar took up the land where the present town of Marble Rock now stands. Initially
he built a 16 x 16-foot log house in 1851 when he was the only settler in
the township, and remained about one year without a single neighbor or his
In 1852, Beelar
build a 20 x 30 two-story log house for his family of nine. This he located on
the east bank of the Shell Rock River near a large spring. It is though the
original 16 x 16-foot log house is fasten to the rear
of this structure.
The Beelar log
house was moved from its original site to the Historical Society’s property on June 2, 2009.
The log house
was preserved because siding was added and it looked to be a conventional house.
Most residents of Marble Rock were not aware the house was constructed of logs.
John Jesmore, longtime Mayor and businessman, was born in this house and made
this his home all his life.
BALTIMORE TAVERN – Built in 1853, the
Baltimore Tavern has stood near the banks of the Shell Rock River three
miles north of Marble Rock. The Tavern was the “stopping place” for those
going to the grist mill 40 miles away at Cedar Falls, and the post office 30
miles away at Waverly. The Tavern was a stage coach stop for those going
west and for young married couples traveling into unsettled areas to make
The house has
always been well maintained and is now the home of Harley and Carol Lines.
STONEBANKBUILDING – The “Marble Rock Bank” was
established in 1873 and was the first attempt at a regular banking
business. In 1885 the stone bank building was constructed for their place
of business. The vault features railroad rails to support the ceiling. The
building is now owned by the Historical Society and contains many
OLDCITYHALL – The City Hall was built in 1924
to provide a City Council room, Fire Station and community gathering
place. The building is of colonial-type architecture with French windows and
doors, and was constructed on the site of the old firehouse. M. B.
Cleveland, a prominent Waterloo
architect, designed the building. Mr. Cleveland was also responsible for
designing many schools, homes and commercial structures.
purchasing the OldTown Hall from the city
of Marble Rock
in 2006, the Marble Rock Historical Society has done much to refurbish and
bring this classic old structure back to its original beauty. Renamed “Museum
Hall”, the building is packed with historic documents and objects.
BRIEF HISTORY OF MARBLE ROCK
1852, Jacob Beelar took up land where the present town of Marble Rock is located and was the first
resident of the township. Due to five sections of good timber, the area was
named “Beelar’s Grove”. The village was platted in 1856 with the name Marble
Rock since the entire town rests on a bed of rock with white limestone cropping
out along the river bank resembling marble.
1860, the twin city of Aureola
was platted on the west side of the Shell Rock River and grew sporadically.
Robert Frost, the founder, built a rock and crib dam across the Shell Rock
River to power a saw mill which was the main source of activity for many years.
Originally the area was called Grand Bend due to the shape of the river. There
is no known documentation why the name was changed to Aureola. There are five
houses now in Aureola.
1871, the railroad came through on the east side of the Shell Rock River which
ensured all development would be in Marble Rock. In 1917 the growth boasted 56
businesses including two banks, two Doctors, a Dentist, locally owned
electricity power plant and telephone system, Opera House, hotel and newspaper.
entire west side of the 100 block of Main
Street burned on February 12, 1899.with the
temperature at sixteen degrees below zero. On September 6, 1899, the entire east side of the
100 block burned.
Rock population is now 307. In 1940, the population was 660 and there were
dozens of businesses, four churches and a school. The school merged with Rockford, Rudd and Marble
Rock and closed in the spring of 1991.
the Marble Rock Community includes the following: Churches (St. Mary’s
Catholic, St. Paul’s Lutheran, Untied Methodist), First Security Bank, Hillman
StopNShop, Hillman Trucking, Historical Society, J. R. Ackley Insurance, Lines
Tree Farm, Neil Wedeking Electric, Public Library, Retz Funeral Home, Scavenger
Backwater Motors (manufactures shallow water boat motors), Staudt Insurace,
Swift Hog Buying Station, U.S. Post Office, Viafield Cooperative (grain and
fertilizer), Walter F. Bohl Community Center plus several home-based business.
Jacob Beelar – First resident of area, first marriage in area (3rd
wife), first to break ground to farm.
Jesmore – “Mr. Marble Rock”. Long-time Mayor, homesteader, early Ford Automobile
Dealer, tinker, prankster
Inman – Minister, educator, farmer, businessman and member Iowa House of
Bopp – Druggist, Mayor, author, poet, inventor (railway signaling device),
President Teletopograph Signal Co. (1911)
McNeilus – Stone/brick mason, builder of local stone houses, author, poet
Staudt – Farmer, long-time Scouter and responsible for establishing the
Winnebago Scout Reservation (Camp) three miles north of Marble Rock, founding
member and President Marble Rock Historical Society
Carney – School teacher; Founding member, Curator, President Marble Rock
Historical Society; Certified UMC Lay
Preacher; leadership roll in many community organizations
On March 7, 1928, a school bus was
hit by a south bound Rock Island
passenger train two and one-half miles southeast of Marble Rock. The bus
driver was blinded by a swirling snow storm. Killed were two children and
the bus driver. Fifteen other children were injured.
$1800.00 tree falls (December 12, 1967) –
The price of the 100-foot giant, estimated to be 200 years old, apparently
was the highest ever paid for a tree in the state. The buyer along with a
German wood expert felt the tree would yield a large amount of veneer.
After the giant had been cut down, it was discovered the first eight feet
of the tree was hollow making it worth $800.00.
Marble Rock Bank Robbed
(January 11, 1974) – Two armed men took about $3800.00 from the First
Security Bank about
Friday. One had a pistol and the other a shotgun. The bank employees were
shut in a back room of the building with a phone. They dialed the sheriff’s
office. Roadblocks were set up, but removed after several hours. The
criminals were never caught. It was an extremely cold night and there was
no one on the streets to identify the car.
In the spring when the ice
would “go out” of the Shell Rock River, flooding would often occur and some
of the rising water would flow through a pasture west of the main street
bridge and bypass the main channel and dam. This flooding was a common
occurrence since the bridge was built in 1913-14. The road would be
impassable for a few days and alternate bridges would be used. In the
spring of 1951, the high water washed a new large channel west of the
bridge. During this period, no water flowed through the main channel and
kids found it exciting to walk across the top of the dam. The county
rented a steel bridge to span the new channel until they could haul fill
to bring the road up to the level of the bridge floor.
Bear had a powerful formula for disposing of the contents of outhouses. He
would hire a local Marble Rock young man to drive him around Northern Iowa and Southern
Minnesota. For a fee, Bear would go to the outhouse and pour
in his chemical, and the owner could not use the facility for a few days.
Every town they were in, Bear would buy chemicals in the drugstore, but
whether he used them is anybody’s guess. They beat him up, got him drunk,
tired everything to get his formula, but never did. He took the secret to
The five buildings owned by the Marble Rock Historical Society located
on Bradford Street
all have a long history. The first building purchased was the 1885 StoneBankBuilding
which also was formerly used as the Post Office and Laundromat. The PioneerKitchenBuilding
has housed the telephone office, music studio, barber shop, cobbler shop, radio shop and was Genevieve Schrader’s home when she
worked for C. L. Bopp Druggist. The Town & CountryBuilding
was used as the Marble Rock Journal print shop and contains a skylight to
provide light for the printer to set the type. The log house was built by
the first area settler for his family home. Museum Hall was the former
City Hall and Fire Station. All buildings are used for exhibits.
At the southwest corner of Main & Bradford, is the GatesBuilding. At the top of the second
story is the letter “G”. On the second story at the front were Doctor and
Dentist offices. The climb up the stairs was long and difficult. The joke
was if you were sick or pregnant how could you ever make it up the stairs?
Across the back of the second floor was a large dance hall. On the first
floor there was a general merchandise store.
First Security Bank & Trust of CharlesCity
purchased the north one-half of the GatesBuilding
in 1935. The building had been a general merchandise store and the north
half walled off and remodeled into a bank in 1916. This bank was forced to
close during the great depression in 1932. The tile floor, teller stations,
fountain, vaults and furniture are original to the 1916 remodeling, and
are still being used nearly 100 years later.
The Marble Rock Public Library was constructed in 2005 with
bequests from the Iva Boom and H. Dean Staudt estates.
The Shell Rock
River called by the Indians “Dashonaugh” or “Neshonagatan” signifying “Otter
River” flows through the west side of Marble Rock. The beauty of the river is
enhanced by the dam and power house constructed in 1912. The river provides
year around recreation including fishing, boating, canoeing, snowmobiling and
bald eagle watching. On hot summer days, many “put in” tubes below the dam to float
Interesting community feature/topic for The Des Moines River and other media:
1.The Marble Rock Historical Society with its five
buildings and exhibits is an unusually large resource for a small town.
2.Tosanak Recreational Area – The Winnebago
Council BSA owned two camps, one at Marble Rock and the other at Waverly. The
cost of operating these two facilities was more than the Council could handle
and voted to sell the Marble Rock Camp in April 2012. Floyd County Conservation
purchased the 320 acre facility with the help of the Iowa Natural Heritage
Foundation for $750,000.
Many individuals, foundations, businesses, charities and
civic organizations inside and outside of FloydCounty
contributed money toward the acquisition and in October of 2013 the Tosanak
Recreational Area became fully owned by FloydCounty.
Floyd County Conservation now has the task to redevelop
the camp facilities into a first-class public recreational area.
3.The Charles City Western Railroad was founded in
1910 to connect Marble Rock to CharlesCity and Colwell. Regular
interurban and street car passenger service was established. The CharlesCity east-west Illinois Central and Milwaukee mail and
freight service was enhanced by using the north-south Rock Island Railroad at
Marble Rock. In 1914 service began with a gasoline power locomotive, but in
1915 the line was electrified. Service was discontinued by new owners in the mid-1960.