J.B. Grinnell Marker Rededication Scheduled

The photo shows the original J.B. Grinnell marker dedication on May 4, 1916, in Central Park ¬– organized by the Daughters of the American Revolution, Grinnell Chapter.

The granite Josiah Bushnell Grinnell marker in Central Park will be rededicated on May 4. Following the renovations of Central Park in 2018, the Daughters of the American Revolution, Grinnell Chapter, will host a rededication of the marker as well as a recognition of the Pioneer Family sculpture by Robert Neely. The public is invited to join in the celebration to be held at 10 a.m. on Saturday, May 4, 2019, at the Central Park shelter house. 

“We welcome the public to the celebration in Central Park to rededicate the J.B. Grinnell marker,” says Gail Bonath, DAR Grinnell Chapter Regent. “More than 100 years ago, the DAR Grinnell chapter honored our founder by placing a granite rock marker in Central Park. One of the DAR’s missions is to preserve our history and ensure that the public remembers our founders.” 

An article published May 5, 1916, inThe Grinnell Herald, documents the original dedication of the marker on Park Street, across the street from the homestead of J.B. Grinnell. The Daughters of the American Revolution, Grinnell Chapter, hosted the original dedication on May 4, 1916. 

The 1916 account of the dedication proclaims the marker is “another manifestation of the enthusiasm and civic pride of the Grinnell Chapter of DAR. It is an impressive and highly suitable manifestation of the city’s pride in its founders.” 

The original dedication in 1916 featured a presentation by Professor Jesse Macy, Grinnell College, and J. B. Grinnell’s grandson, Eliot Jones, Iowa State University. Macy’s comments centered on two of J.B. Grinnell’s conceptions. First, Grinnell followed the Greek idea of extending culture by founding cities in new and untraveled parts. “He personally represented the forward, westward movement of the age and as Athens of old sent out her emissaries of civilization to founded towns, so the civilization of the east sent him out and he founded a town which has grown and flourished along the lines on which he so wisely laid the foundation.” 

The second point of J.B. Grinnell that Macy shared was that “religion and education came hand in hand to the founding of this new outpost of civilization; that there was an apostolic as well as a personal movement. Mr. Grinnell brought them and a church and a college, or university they called it then were among the main purposes of Mr. Grinnell and other founders. Nothing else ever entered their plans. From the first Grinnell was a religions center and then, quite naturally and quite in accordance with the intentions of the pioneers, came Iowa College from Davenport to grow and prosper and expand into the Grinnell College of the present day.” 

According to the news article, the response by Eliot Jones mentioned four things in the life of his grandfather that had specially impressed him: Grinnell’s deep religious nature, his earnest advocacy of education, his support of prohibition in a time when such a course meant a great deal more that it did at that time, and the fact that although Grinnell had many opportunities to make money he did not take advantage of the opportunities which came his way, but rather did all in his power to help along and build up the community, which he had established. 

The granite marker on Park Street was the second stone which the DAR had given to the city of Grinnell. Earlier another boulder was place on Broad street at approximately 1019 Broad Street, marking the location of the “log house,” the first building in Grinnell. 

“Records indicate the J.B. Grinnell marker is from the larger glacial erratic rock from west of Grinnell,” says Byron Worley, Grinnell City Council member and local historian. 

The J.B. Grinnell marker rededication on May 4, 2019, will include musical entertainment by the Grinnell High School choir and historical information as well as guest speakers, Jonathan Andelson and Donald Doe. For more information, contact Gail Bonath, DAR Grinnell Chapter regent, at gailbonath@mchsi.com.  

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