Warren County Iowa Genealogical Society



    Mysteries at the Museum

    Anyone who has worked at a museum has come across many mysteries. There is an old clock hanging on the wall at the Warren County Historical Museum. Over the years there has been a lot of speculation about the significance of the dates painted on the clock – February 28, 1848 and July 12, 1911. Was it from a railroad depot? Or a bank? Or maybe a school? We are pleased to report that our history detective, Elodie Opstad, has solved the mystery. She is the author of the “Past Times” articles in the Record-Herald and Indianola Tribune. She writes, “Searching the clock’s dates was a dead end but calculating the number of years in between indicated the span of a life… Narrowing the search to the later date…seemed logical. Eureka. The obituary of a 69-year-old man dying July 12, 1917, was quickly spied on the printed page.” John Jury Todhunter, born February 28, 1848 was the son of Lewis Todhunter and brother of Charles Todhunter. The family was involved in the hotel business in Indianola. The clock hung in the office at his hotel for many years On September 21, 1911, he presented the clock to the Odd Fellow Lodge as a token of remembrance when he left Indianola and moved to California. The Odd Fellow Lodge later moved it to the Indianola VFW Post 4123, and in 1996 the VFW Post donated it to the Warren County Historical Society. The Todhunter family managed the Todhunter Hotel, which later became the Indianola Hotel. It has changed names with each proprietor, becoming the New Rodgers Hotel and now the Warren Hotel. By the way, it is also the home of Mishmash a good source for coffee and scones.

    Another mystery could have been easily avoided. At the museum we have many, many wonderful pictures which are unidentified. We can only guess who, what when, where, why. If you have shoeboxes or albums or envelopes filled with family pictures, grab an archival pen or pencil and label them. Someday someone will look at those pictures and wonder why or who or when. You think you will never forget which baby is your relative until you look back at the picture thirty years later.