One of the safe activities to do since the COVID-19 pandemic has been to go for a ride by yourself or with a family member to view the countryside. It’s an old fashioned way that many of us used to spend Sunday afternoons. (I think it might have been a way to keep us from the temptation of working on Sunday.)

While out for these drives someone would say, "Over there’s the place where there used to be a country church or isn’t that where grandma taught country school?”

In the fall of 2011, Charlotte Shivvers decided that it would be a good idea to mark some of these historic spots. She gathered a group of local history buffs to propose the idea and thus began the Rural History Buffs of Marion County.

The Buffs have sponsored either a bus tour or a storytelling event every year since until this year due to COVID-19. The board meets on the third Thursday at 10 a.m. in the Marion County Extension Office, 210 N. Iowa St. in Knoxville. We would like to invite you to help us locate more places in Marion County that have historical significance.

To date, 168 signs have been placed around the county. You can view them on the website, where they are listed in alphabetical order. There you will find a picture of the sign, its exact location and a short description of its significance. We are in the process of adding nearly 20 more signs. Because there were approximately 150 country schools in Marion County over time, it has been easier to identify their location and thus you are seeing more school signs than anything else.

There were a number of neighborhoods that did not become villages but where someone set up a grist mill, a blacksmith shop, or sold fruit from an orchard. There are abandoned swimming holes, horse racing tracks, roads that once had more interesting names than the current ones. The Rural History Buffs would like your help in identifying these forgotten places. Because of the difficulty of setting signs after the ground freezes, we would encourage you to submit your proposal to do this as soon as possible.

View the website to find how more about applying for an application, visit a board meeting or contact board member Helen Boertje, 615 Elm St., Pella, IA. 50219

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