General Interest:
LN Cemetery
Smithtown Church
The Lost Nation Community School

John Alden Windows/Doors
Field of Seams
The Gardner House
Lost Nation, Iowa 52254

Lost Nation, Iowa
Early 1900

"There is no true record of the origin of the name of Lost Nation, but it is certain that the region was called that long before the town was begun. When the Gardners came here in 1855, it was known by that name. Probably the most popular legend is that a German named Baum was looking for relatives near this point. When asked where he was going, he said he was looking for a lost nation." (From the Clinton County History of 1879.) "Another story tells that people from the Nation River in Canada found the folks they were looking for in this place and remarked they had found the lost nation."
from the History of Lost Nation, compiled by Florence Machande

Entertainment previous to 1900 included: Ice cream socials, oyster suppers, church suppers, school & church programs, and plays. Debates were sponsored by a Literary Society. A Lyceum provided lectures, concerts, and plays. There were the annual 4th of July celebrations and the Firemen's Tournaments. Henry Heitman had a merry-go-round which was set up in town when not in use in some other place. Horse racing was also popular as early as 1879 at a mile-long track south of town.

1902: Henry Dobling and Fred Daniel started an electric light plant at the location of the Dobling steam powered grist mill. The mill was erected in 1894 and is probably the oldest continually operated business place in town. An article dated 1902 stated, "We must stop grind 1/2 hour before sundown to prepare for electric light. H. Dobling"

Dobling steam powered Grist Mill

1903: Lost Nation was incorporated as a town.

The first telephone line came to Lost Nation from Maquoketa in 1877 or 1878. Early in the 1900s a drive was started for the organization of a telephone company which was incorporated in 1902. Around the clock switchboard service was started in 1912. In 1914, Lost Nation was the first town of its size west of the Mississippi to install underground cables within the city limits!

Residents had wells on their lots for many years with several families using the same well.

1912: A waterworks system was installed for the whole town and water was pumped from a well 123 feet deep. A sewage disposal plant was installed in 1922.

1913: The population of Lost Nation is 371 and there are 41 Oakland cars.

March 1914: Council Proceedings--Motion ...a flag be placed at intersection of Main Street and Long Avenue ... all vehicles keep to right of flag ... punishable by fine of $1 - $5.

June 1914: Lew Christensen lost $5 bill ... has not recovered ... the supposition is that it was eaten by a goat, as there is no one in Lost Nation dishonest enough to appropriate another's property to his own use.

1916: The population of Lost Nation was 669.

August 1933: New Law: All horse-drawn and other vehicles to display lights when on the roads at night.

November 1933: Etiquette: The automobile horn should never be used to signal car is waiting outside, when calling on a young lady to take her for a drive ...

June 1934: Thee chartered buses take Marching Band to Des Moines for National contest ... wins highest rating.

November 1936: Tip for Parents: The girl who spoons with everybody in the corporate limits ought to be backed into the woodshed and relieved of her overflow of affection with a No. 11 slipper laid carelessly across her hiplets.

May 1939: Louis Wulf Invention: 1,000 persons gathered at the Louis Wulf farm ... witness try-outs of the Automatic Airmail Pickup ... picks up and drops mail sacks in one operation ... worked on invention since 1929 ... received patent 1933.

January 1940: Marching Band invited to play in New York World's Fair next summer.

Lost Nation 1942
From the "Chicago Daily Tribune, Saturday, July 4, 1942:
"Let no one think that Lost Nation (pop. 500) is unaware of this war. No stranger to its dirt streets and gnarled shade trees who ever has met Toad Butt will entertain that delusion long.
Toad Butt is the town marshal of Lost Nation, a lost hamlet in the heart of the Iowa corn and soybean country ... Toad Butt is so war conscious that he angrily accosts any stranger and accuses him of being a saboteur.
It took Toad Butt four hours on a sleepy Sunday morning, when Lost Nation's two general stores were open, to realize that Lost Nation was harboring two fiendish spies in the person of two TRIBUNE representatives ... One was a dark man in dark glasses with a new fangled camera ... photographing Main Street ... The other was a woman ... asking questions about Lost Nation's boys in the war. All Toad needed to confirm his theory was knowledge of the woman's presence. He fastened his revolver in the holster ... pinned the silver star over his heart, hopped into his half ton truck and set out in angry pursuit. He found the two ... playing with a puppy in the backyard of Dr. R.S. Betts. "Four persons already called me about cha. I've been lookin' all over town for ya."
In an effort to sooth the angry marshal, they said they had credentials to prove their identity ... "How'm I to know you didn't steal them? If you're from the TRIBUNE, why do you pick out Lost Nation? Why not Clinton?" ...
It took some time to tell Mr. Butt that Lost Nation, a town full of second and third generation Germans and Irish, might serve as a better index of Iowa's participation in the war effort than Clinton ... "Well, you'll get no help from me." ... As the survey of Lost Nation continued ... a half ton truck would sneak furtively around a corner. It was Toad Butt, right on the job ...
... Lost Nation is proud of the part it is playing in this war ... As in every small town visited, Lost Nation's coffers have overflowed for every war drive--USO, Red Cross, Navy Relief ,..."
September 1944: Mayor J.E. Gilroy and committee to plan a V.E. Day program ... Mayor's Proclamation ... I do hereby proclaim that the day verified news is received that Germany has surrendered be observed as a holiday. All businesses ... & taverns are asked to remain closed ... churches open for private or public worship ... that this day be observed as a day of thanksgiving.

1945: Businessmen to Host Big Yule Celebration: Rural people are invited to join Lost Nation residents in a community Christmas program in the town square ... the choir from Sacred Heart Church will approach from the north, that of Bethlehem Lutheran Church from the west, the Union Presbyterian Church from the south, and a group of public school children from the east, singing as they march and converging at the tree where the concert will be finished. Main Street has assumed a Christmas air with the beautiful tree in the square and small trees at intervals on each side of the street for two blocks.

April 1948: J.E. Gilroy ... 86 in August ... recalls the famous inventor, Thomas A. Edison, once visited Lost Nation ... demonstrated the making of a record for a talking machine and played it back for the audience.

Main Street
Lost Nation 1961

March 1962: Booster Club Plans New Town Park ... to be located on old railroad right-of-way east of town.

July 21, 1968: Jim McAndrew ... made his debut as pitcher for the New York Mets.

October 1969: Lost Nation Businessmen's Association ... plan a gala Jim McAndrew day ... to honor Lost Nation boy who pitched first year with the New York Mets ...

1972: Centennial Builds Community Spirit: This Centennial was very special to the people of Lost Nation. It was a new beginning ... We have only just begun! The challenge still remains for Lost Nation ... May we continue in this kind of spirit for the next 100 years, that future generations may take pride in their Lost Nation as we have in ours. Rochelle Busch, "Centennial News"

1982: Lost Nation phones switch from dial to push-button ... everyone on a private line.

February 5, 1986: First Issue of the "Community Scoop" Lost Nation's news sheet ... is a separate non-profit business ... mailed to 400 boxholders in Lost Nation area ... 100 or more in other communities ...

July 1994: RAGBRAI will be stopping in Lost Nation.

September 1996: All-Star Community awards program ... Lost Nation awarded Certificate of Recognition for the park improvement project.

The historical information on this page was taken from the
"Lost Nation Quasquicentennial 1872-1997" book.

All design and pictures are the sole property of the owner, Leslie J. Schultz. The entire web site,, is © Copyright 2011, by Leslie J. Schultz. Permission must be obtained to use any pictures or parts of this web site.