Jewell Historical Society
What you know about Jewell ?

Did you know why our town is called Jewell (Junction)?

      The War of 1812 helped to make Jewell Junction possible.   Grants of 160 acres were given soldiers to help encourage settlers to come and settle west of the Mississippi River.   A grant was given to William Winslow, a physician of Maine.   He sold this grant of land to a Cornelius Haden in 1856 for less than $1.00 per acre.   There were settlers along the Skunk River in 1855 and along the Boone River in the 1840s.   Between the two rivers was little but prairie and timber.   David T. Jewell bought this grant and brought his family to this area by wagon in 1877.

     The narrow gauge railroad (three feet between the rails), the Des Moines and Minnesota Railroad, had been built north from Ames in 1877, with the expectation that it would extend to Alden.   Instead, it terminated near the corner of the four Hamilton townships (Ellsworth, Scott, Lyon, and Lincoln), where the railroad crossed the Skunk River.   At that spot, the busy boom town of Callanan was started, but it lasted only three years.

About Callanan, the early settlement before Jewell started.

     During 1880, the Toledo and Northwestern Railroad built a westward rail line from Tama City on its mainline, aimed at Minnesota and the Black Hills.   It formed a junction with the north-south narrow gauge Des Moines and Minnesota Railroad that formerly terminated at Callanan.   A town was laid out at the junction of these railroad lines.

History of Jewell
A mini-history of Jewell.

     By 1882, the Toledo & Northwestern Railroad bought out the narrow gauge Des Moines and Minnesota Railroad and converted it to a standard gauge (four feet eight and a half inches) line.   That rail line north of Ames had passed through Gilbert, Story City, Randall, and had terminated at Callanan.   The portion of the line that crossed the South Skunk River to enter Callanan was abandoned and rerouted to Jewell Junction.   The Toledo & Northwestern soon became known as the Chicago & Northwestern Railroad.

About Jewell being a Railroad town.

     The town of Jewell Junction was laid out at this junction, and was named for David T. Jewell.  It was created in Section 28-87-24 by the real estate division of the railroad, the Western Town Lot Company.  This same company platted the towns of Ellsworth, Randall, Stanhope, Stratford and Kamrar.

     The north-south streets in the original plat were First (a curved street), Second, Third, Fourth, and Fifth Streets.  The east-west streets were Lyon, Main, Rienhart, and Idaho Streets. Main Street was later changed to Jewell Street.   As the town prospered, the name of the town was simply known as Jewell, though to many, it remains Jewell Junction.

Do you know why the Streets of Jewell have their names?

Anderson Steetnamed for William Anderson, the first school teacher in Jewell, a mayor and banker.
Blaine Street ???
Carmichael Street named for Lewis Carmichael, one of the platters of the Addition to Jewell Junction.
Collins Street ???
Deckor Street named for a member of the first City Council.
Division Street ???
Edwards Street named for one of the early bankers and developers of Jewell.
Elm Street ???
Harrison Street ???
Idaho Steet  ???
Jewell Street named for David Talent Jewell, who owned the farm land where the two railroads met.
Johnson Street named for John O. L. Johnson.
King Street named for John and Jane King, because John was the first mayor (and more) of Jewell.
Lyon Street named after Lyon Township where Jewell is located.
Park Street named because that marked where the Jewell City Park was.
Mark Street named for Mark Hanson of the Jewell Lumber Company at 802 Main.
Reinhart Street is named because in 1860, David Talent Jewell married Drucilla Rinehart.

     The post office was established on December 27, 1880.   The post office was located about 40 rods south of the depot.   Mrs. Laura E. Cooper served as the first of 14 postmasters during Jewell's first 100 years.   The post office was never called Jewell Junction.   John Foster served as the first rural mail carrier starting in 1903.   The five digit zip code for Jewell was introduced on July 1, 1963.

     The Jewell Telephone Company was started in 1902 by about 30 businessmen.   Frank Snyder served as president.   Within three years, the number of subscribers had grown to 125.   In 1905 the Jewell and Ellsworth Telephone Company was created.

Did you know our town celebrated a Centennial and is now more than 100 years old?

Did you know that as the town of Jewell grew, the schools also needed to be larger?

     One of the store buildings was moved from Callanan during the winter of 1881-1882.   The reason buildings were moved in the winter was because they could be more easily put on skids and pulled by teams over the frozen ground. (This was true of so many buildings that were removed from the settlements of Lakins' Grove, Callanan, Hook's Point, and other towns that failed to attract a railroad.) This building was placed along Main Street.   The first school was held in the rented back room, with William Anderson serving as the teacher.   The next year, a school district was organized and the school was moved to a different building south of the railroad tracks.   Anderson was the only teacher for one year.   In 1883 Howard Smith was added to the school staff.   By 1890, a whole block was purchased and a two-story brick structure was built.   Two years later a four-year high school program was added.   In 1905 an addition was constructed on both ends of the school.

This building took care of the school needs for another 20 years.
Population figures from
United States Census Bureau.

Did you know that once upon a time,
Jewell was home to the first college of Hamilton County?

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     Yes, Jewell had the first college in Hamilton County.   It was established in Jewell in 1893 by the Jewell Lutheran College Association.   The majority of the members of this association were Scandinavian Lutherans from the surrounding counties.   In 1897 it became apparent that larger support was needed for the school, so the college and all of its proerty was transferred to the Iowa District of the Hague Synod, under whose management the college grew and progressed.

     In 1902 a ladies' dormitory was constructed, but a year later the main college building burned, killing two students, Julius Peterson and Burton Millang.    In February of 1904 it was decided to build a new Main Hall.

      Because many Lutheran Colleges had been established in Iowa and the declining enrollment made it harder to pay bills, it was decided to close Jewell Lutheran College in 1925.  The college property was purchased by the Jewell School District.

Jewell Swimming Pool is in good shape, but has been around for many years!

            This ad was published in the Ellsworth News on July 22, 1964.

Not many swimming pools serve their community for more than 50 years!

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Did you know Jewell
once had a real hospital!

This birth article published
March 22, 1950



Did you know that Back in the day, Jewell had more churches.

At least nine churches have served Jewell over the years.

Congregational Church…1884… Main Street at the present UCC site Learn more

Methodist Church...1883... NE corner of King and Deckor Street, one block west of grocery

Christian Church . . . NE corner of Edwards and Deckor Street, two blocks west of Post Office. Learn more

The above three congregations merged into the Federated Church by 1933 meeting in the Congregational building on Main.  In 1956, the congregation had their new current building constructed. Learn more

Our Saviors Lutheran: Danish . . . at 225 Main Street, west side, two lots south of the Park across from Casey’s.   Mark Oswald and his family lived there in the current house.

Assembly of God . . . started as a Tent church, then moved the old Federated Church building to the corner of Park and Main, just west of Casey’s.   It is now an apartment.   The parsonage was just west. 

Bethesda Lutheran (Norwegian Evangelical Lutheran) . . . 1887 church on current site at  the corner of Anderson and Main. Learn more    The new church was built by 1955.

Good Shepherd Catholic Church . . . 1899 church on west side of Hoffman Street, just north of Harriet Erickson’s house.   Hoffman is now part of Collins Street when it was pushed through from Edwards to Anderson and on to Johnson.   The Catholic Church then occupied the former Christian Church at the NE corner of Edwards and Deckor.   The new church building was built there in 1972. Learn more

Immanuel Lutheran (Lutheran Brethren) . . . A 1951 basement church and parsonage next door east at corner of Deckor and Park.   Above ground wood frame church moved on to basement from North St. Petri site two miles east and one north of Randall in 1956.   Now the home for the Jewell History Museum. Learn more

Victory Church . . . took over the Immanuel Lutheran building at Deckor and Park.   A new church was built at the corner of East Lane and Anderson Street around 2014, and uses the former nursing home as their activity and learning center.

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This 1910 Postcard view of Deckor Street in Jewell shows the Jewell Christian Church.
The steeple in the background indicates the location of the Jewell Methodist Church.

Did you know that Jewell had a theatre.

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The image above shows a 1951 listing of coming shows to be seen at the Strand Theatre in Jewell.

Jewell Theater

Many trains would stop at the Jewell Junction depot.

      News report on May 8, 1913 - Northwestern is contemplating building a two stall round house in Jewell.   Trains 30 and 31 from Jewell to Tama lay over in Jewell and a round house is needed to house their engines nights.

Do you know why these Jewell train stations have a different shape?
Jewell Depots

Did you know that in our country there is another Jewell Historical Society?
and a town of Jewell and Randall in the state of Kansas?   They are in the Kansas county named Jewell.

Jewell County Historical Society (Kansas)
(Opens in new browser tab.)

Jewell always seems to grow southward.

     David Jewell's town sat in the northwest part of today's town of Jewell. (This was north of the east-west track to Ellsworth and Stanhope.)   The original Main Street is now called Jewell Street.   There was no unclaimed land just waiting for the buyers, because it was already owned by early Hamilton County settlers.   These were the speculators or holders of military grants for service in the War of 1912, the Mexican American War, or even the Civil War.   Originally, Jewell Junction consisted of hastily thrown together sheds and shanties that either lined the east-west Main Street or sat to the north or south along Second, Third or Fourth streets.   That original town began because there was a railroad to pierce the area, and with it the potential for profit and settlement.

     David Jewell platted the new town in 1880.   Business lots were 25 feet wide by 130 feet deep, and sold for $100 each.   Residential lots were 50 feet wide, and sold for $25.   The town was ready for the railroad.   In the agreement made by David Jewell with the Toledo and North Western Railroad on June 11, 1880, land necessary for a depot, sidings, switches, shops, roundhouse, stockyards and land necessary to form a junction would be made available.   By December 1880, the Toledo and North Western had completed a line from Tama to Webster City, and started a second line west to upcoming Stanhope and Stratford; thus the junction.

     By 1900, David Jewell's portion of town was practically deserted.   Often referred to as Dog Town, the northwest corner of Jewell has seen a recent revival, especially since the centennial year of 1981 with a number of new homes built in the original Jewell.   Reinhart Street even had to be reopened to accommodate several new houses.

     Although this map of 1918 shows the Jewell city park at the most southern edge of town, today there are more that 26 homes south of that park.  The Jewell city limit has now been extended to the county road that meets the southern edge of the Jewell Municipal Cemetery.  So there are many newer homes south of the Jewell Municipal pool and the Jewell City Park.

Did you know that Jewell was once within walking distance from several lakes.

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Besides having Little Wall Lake several miles to the south, Jewell long ago had two other nearby lakes, Goose Lake and Lake Cairo.
This 1930 map showing the southern portion of Lyon Township indicates where the lakes are/were located.

Things in Jewell and in the rest of the world keep changing!

This next advertisement was published in The Jewell Record on September 3, 1914.

      News report on May 11, 1933 - The Standard Oil Co. service station in Jewell led the way in a reduction in gasoline prices announced here Monday.  Ethyl was cut 3.1 cents to 15.6; Red Crown was cut 2.6 cents to 13.1; and Stanolind was cut 4 cents to 12.1 cents a gallon, these prices including the 4 cent tax.