Washington Evening Journal
111 North Marion Avenue
Washington, IA 52353
Mt. Pleasant Beautiful
With the cooperation of the Southeast Iowa Union/Mt. Pleasant News, The Mt. Pleasant Historic Preservation Commission will be publishing, every week or two, peeks at some of the featured homes in the 1909 book, Mt. Pleasant Beautiful.
In the series, the 1909 picture will be contrasted with one of recent vintage. The Commission has been collecting information for the eventual issuance of a new book updating the information on the still standing homes from the 1909 publication.
You can test your knowledge of historic Mt. Pleasant with this column. The identity of the featured home will be published with the next featured home. The last featured home was the Bayles House, 417 North Main St.
This week we feature a home built in1896 and occupied by the same family until 1982—about 86 years; near a record for Mt. Pleasant homes. On top of that, the present owner has had it ever since 1982, another 40 years.
It was built by Hickory Grove native Henry Traut, a widower at the time and father of an 8-year-old daughter by his late wife. Mary Lafferty Traut had died in 1891 at age 30, just three years after giving birth to Bertha.
Traut had farming interest in the Hickory Grove area but in 1904 he purchased the Mount Pleasant Ice Company, a firm that remained a family interest until it closed in1955. Much of the ice was harvested locally, Cole’s (now Crane’s Pond) and Tracey’s (no longer extant) ponds being two major sources.
To contrast with today’s climate situation, in 1905 Cole’s Pond was harvested with ice 15 to 18 inches thick in December. Only four years later Traut was importing ice to meet the needs of Mt. Pleasant and offered both natural and artificial ice to his customers. He also harvested ice from Big Creek.
When the firm closed down in 1955 they reported that peak earlier sales of 800 tons per season had dropped to less than 250.
Henry Traut remarried in 1915 to Emma Hobbs. Emma lived until 1942 but Henry lived to the ripe old age of 94, passing in 1957.
Henry Traut was a significant force in developing the archives and collection of the Henry County Historical Society and is credited with large donations of material. He did extensive research into Hickory Grove and other areas of the county and was very active until near the time of his death.
Traut was an active participant in the business activities, serving on the boards of several local organizations, including the Henry County Fair Board, Farmers and Merchants Bank and the Mount Pleasant Ditching Company.
He was also involved in horse racing and bicycle riding. In 1895 he broke a record, riding from Mt. Pleasant to Burlington in an hour and 20 minutes.
Bertha Traut never married and lived in the home until her 1982 death at age 96.