ALL VETERANS MONUMENT
Located on the northwest corner of the courthouse lawn, the Veterans Monument includes two black granite blocks engraved with the six branches of the Armed Forces. An American flag stands between them, illuminated at night and flying over the monument. A walkway lined with bricks inscribed with the names of veterans or those supporting the veterans completes the monument. It also includes two concrete benches and flower pots.
Veterans Monument was planned by the American Legion Blakley-Stevens Post #169 for two years and was dedicated in a ceremony on Veterans Day, November 11, 2007. Keynote speakers before a large crowd were Colonel Dan Bunnell, a US Army veteran and former resident of Montezuma, and Congressman Leonard Boswell.
The dedication was followed by a veterans' supper held at the Memorial Hall. Following the supper, six sixty-year members were honored: John Morrissey, Dick Bowers, Gerold Lidtka, Dale Watts, Frank Wheeler, and Ray L. Thompson.
CIVIL WAR MONUMENT
In the spring of 1927, the members of GAR post of Montezuma purchased a red granite monument to be erected on their lot between the GAR building and Shearer Auto Company (now a vacant lot). Engraved on the stone were the names of 189 past and present members of the Post.
The two Civil War cannons purchased by the GAR in 1902 and standing in the courthouse park were to be placed on either side of the monument on specially erected foundations after the wheels were removed. In front and to the rear, flower beds and evergreens were planted to form a small park.
Of the 189 former members, only six remained to help purchase and erect this tribute to the "Boys of Blue of 1861." They were comrades Wiltse, Bogard, Rodgets, Marsh, Carr, and Robinson.
The monument was dedicated on May 29, 1927, with addresses given by Clyde McFarlin and Frank Beckly. The streets in front of the GAR building were roped off and seats were placed in the street. Automobiles were then driven up to the rope and many sat in them during the program. Crowds also sat in the courthouse park across from the monument.
Damage to the cannon bases occurred in 1985, when vandals exploded a stick of dynamite between the cannon and the concrete base.
In September of 2013, the monument and cannons were moved from their longtime location near the GAR building to the northeast corner of the Poweshiek County Courthouse lawn.
BILL OF RIGHTS MONUMENT
The idea of a Bill of Rights Monument, the brainchild of Arizona comedian and juggler Chris Bliss, was spearheaded in Montezuma by retired local businesswoman Hazel Sig-Hester, who had heard about Mr. Bliss and the project. She contacted Mr. Bliss and indicated to him that she was interested in having this monument built in Montezuma.
Mr. Bliss and Ms. Sig-Hester met with the supervisors to discuss a location and design for the monument. They hosted an evening of fundraising and entertainment where enough money was raised to build the nation's first Bill of Rights monument at the north entrance to the courthouse.
The design of the area was drawn up and built by Bushong Construction. The sidewalk leading into the courthouse was changed to incorporate both the monument and a new flagpole. The monument and flagpole were centrally located within an oval area with the sidewalks passing on each side.
The unveiling and dedication of the monument occurred during the 2008 "Let Freedom Ring" celebration. Both Hazel Sig-Hester and Chris Bliss spoke to the crowd of about 400, where Ms. Sig-Hester encouraged everyone "to come back once a year and read the works on this monument. Always remember your rights and always be willing to fight for them," she said.
VICTORY BELL/ WORLD WARS MONUMENT
Planned and erected by the American Legion, the Victory Bell Monument still stands today on the north side of the courthouse lawn.
During the Armistice Day celebration, the courthouse bell was rung so much and so hard that it was cracked. It hung in the courthouse, un-rung from that day forward. The American Legion took down the broken bell while planning this monument and had it mounted at the top.
Scheduled to be dedicated on Flag Day, June 1, 1921, it was not unveiled and dedicated until October 21, when a large celebration was held. The chief speaker of the day was Chaplain Roberts, the head of the Iowa American Legion. School was dismissed, and the afternoon was given over to a carnival, boxing matches, and musical shows, and later in the afternoon, a football game was held. A ball was held in the evening.
In August of 1948, the state American Legion presented to the Blakley-Stevens Post an engraved plaque bearing the names of eighty-six men of the community who gave their lives for our country during World Wars I and II. This plaque was mounted to the north side of the Victory Bell Monument for all to see and reflect on.
POWESHIEK COUNTY FREEDOM ROCK
The Freedom Rock, located on the southeast corner of the courthouse lawn, is the most current tribute to our veterans. Artist Ray "Bubba" Sorensen II, painter of the rock, has been painting the original boulder located near Greenfield, Iowa, since 1999, to honor veterans' service to our country.
While painting murals across the country, Sorensen had the idea of spreading the message of the Freedom Rock to other small communities across Iowa, and the ideas of painting a rock in each of the ninety-nine Iowa counties was born. He has also painted murals and rocks in surrounding states.
The American Legion Post #169 applied for a rock to be painted in Montezuma, the county seat of Poweshiek County. A boulder was located on the John Roorda farm north of Montezuma and brought to town. Funds were raised through a fundraiser and the design for the boulder was drawn up by Mr. Sorensen.
The painting of the boulder was completed in August 2016. Four scenes drawn from Poweshiek County's military history were painted on the rock. They depict Captain Merlin Stoker, Rear Admiral Thomas Jefferson Cowie, Corporal Harold Keller, and Chief Poweshiek. The surrounding area, which includes a walkway around the boulder and a short wall behind, was landscaped by Bushong Construction.
The Freedom Rock was dedicated in a ceremony on September 11, 2016, before a crowd of about 400 people.
TEN COMMANDMENTS MONUMENT
In the summer of 2010, the First Presbyterian Evangelical Church was the recipient of a beautiful, five foot black marble monument featuring the Ten Commandments on the south side and the Beatitudes on the north side, as a gift from Hazel Sig-Hester.
She also placed a similar one at her home located a few miles south of Montezuma. When asked why she did give a wonderful gift, she said it was something she wanted to do for the community but it wasn't allowed on the courthouse lawn as the Bill of Rights monument was, so she donated to the church.
The church found a wonderful spot between two trees on the south side of their parking lot and Watts Vault & Monument, whose family had been a long time members of the church, donated the beautiful marble benches. Local contractor, Bushong Construction mounted the monument and the surrounding landscaping was completed by Kathy Gorsuch and Bryce Vander Kamp.
9-11 WORLD TRADE MONUMENT
Thomas and Aletta Sullivan lived in Waterloo, Iowa in the early 1900's where they raised their five sons - Albert, Francis, George, Joseph and Madison. Thomas and Aletta instilled the importance of a strong family bond between the young brothers and their lives were built with a deep sense of commitment to each other.
After the bombing of Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941 and the beginning of WWII, the Sullivan brothers decided they would do their part and on January 3, 1942, all five brothers enlisted in the U.S. Navy. Because of their 'we stick together' motto, their enlistment condition was they insisted they would all serve together on the same ship. The accepted Navy policy then was to separate family members, however the brothers persisted and their request was approved and were assigned to serve on the newly commissioned Light Cruiser the USS Juneau (CL-52).
The USS Juneau was assigned to a large task force that left New Caledonia on November 8, 1942 and headed for the island of Guadalcanal in the Solomon Islands. They were bringing needed reinforcements and supplies to the outnumbered fighting Marines trying to hold that island. These American ships were met on November 13, 1942 by a larger Japanese naval force and the Naval Battle of Guadalcanal began. During this battle, the USS Juneau was hit by an enemy torpedo and sank within minutes. All five of the Sullivan brothers lost their lives when their ship was sunk.
The tragic death of all the Sullivan brothers became the ultimate symbol of heroic sacrifice in WWII and an inspiration for others to enlist and to support the war effort by purchasing U.S. War Bonds.
In 1952, in order to honor their memory, one Crabapple tree was planted for each of the five Sullivan brothers on the capitol grounds in Washington, D.C. The Crabapple tree which is located on the Poweshiek County courthouse lawn was planted in May 2000, and it came from a cutting from one of the original trees planted back in 1952.
POWESHIEK COUNTY JAIL
When the county was first organized, each town more or less "took care of their own" until a county jail was established. The earliest mention of a jail was in February of 1875. Sheriff John Farmer was keeping "boarders" in his home at that time and found that it was much too expensive to do so any longer.
In March of 1876, the Board of Supervisors adopted the plans and specifications for a jail submitted by Geo. W. Crain. Notice was put in the paper and sealed bids, not to exceed $5,000, were accepted.
The jail was situated two blocks north of the courthouse square, and but for the iron bars might be taken for a private residence. The sheriff's residence was a two-story brick; the jail proper was one story, built of brick, and adjoined the sheriff's residence. The jail contained four cells and one main room. The entire structure cost $5,000.
By late 1912, this jail was outdated, small, and dark and was poorly ventilated and damp, making it one of the most unhealthy places imaginable. The board of Supervisors proposed building a new jail at the cost not to exceed $15,000. It was put before the voters of the county and defeated by a heavy majority.
Something had to be done. In March of 1913, a Grand Jury was called together to examine the conditions of the county jail, and they found it was in a very unsanitary condition, poorly lighted, and poorly ventilated. There was no toilet provided for women prisoners. The Grand Jury reported that "it is the imperative duty of the county to take action forthwith, and either erect a new jail or repair the old jail."
Another special election was held on July 8, 1913, the voters agreeing to the issue. The following week, the Board entered into contract with Pauly Jail Building Company to prepare plans and specifications. At the November meeting of the Board of Supervisors, letters were read from two different builders, both stating that they had examined the old jail and found that it was in such poor shape that it could not, and should not, be renovated.
The Board of Supervisors purchased the lots where the jail building now stands in January of 1914 with the purposed of building a new jail. It was completed and inspected by the end of December of that year. The sheriff's residence was built as an attachment to the fail, and the sheriff and family lived there until the mid-1970s.
Renovation work was done several times over the years to keep the building in order and up to standards: cracks repaired, complete renovation, new block glass windows, controls added to the doors of the cellblocks, and more. In 1979, the sheriff's office was moved from the courthouse basement to the sheriff's former living quarters. A prisoners' visiting area, interrogation room, and evidence lockers were constructed on the second floor.
A new Public Safety Building was built for Poweshiek County in 2008 and is located on the south end of Montezuma. The old jail building stood empty for nearly two years until the Poweshiek County Historical and Genealogical Society bought it, renovated it back to its original form, and renamed it to the Poweshiek County Museum. This building is new included in the Historical District of Montezuma.