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Observations from the archives, 1963: State Republican Convention held in Alexandria

1913, 100 years ago: John Freeborn, a Civil War veteran who came to Douglas County in 1865, passed away this week. He immigrated to America in 1854. When the Civil War broke out he enlisted in Co. I, 82 Ill. Infantry and was promoted to sergeant. He served under General Hooker in the battles of Chancellorsville, Gettysburg and several others, and was honorably discharged. Mr. Freeborn settled in Holmes City Township two years before said township was subdivided into sections, homesteading on the shores of what was afterward known as Lake Freeborn. In 1866, he was married to Miss Mary Dahlin, who died six weeks later. He remained a widower until his death. In 1901 he sold his homestead to Lars Johnson and moved to Holmes City, where he resided. Funeral services were conducted from the Swedish Lutheran Church at Holmes City. The cause of death was cancer of the stomach.

1963, 50 years ago: In keeping with its determination to make the Alexandria convention a "fun" convention, state Republicans, including Governor Elmer L. Anderson, held a fish fry at city park catered by Garden Center and 468 delegates and visitors turned out. The 1963 state convention was the first off-year, out-state convention by the party "in years" and deemed a complete success. A thousand delegates registered, and buses of delegates, families and visitors swelled attendance to between 1,500 and 2,000.

1988, 25 years ago: The drought of 1988 is causing a bleak situation for area farmers, according to Dan Kvitek, manager of the Harvest States Cooperative elevator in Lowry. The corn crop could be reduced by 50 percent. For almost all farmers, small grain fields are dead and wilted, with no yield whatsoever expected. It's unfortunate because crop prices are skyrocketing. Corn is now selling for $4.34 a bushel. Last fall, corn sold for $1.55 a bushel. Soybeans that sold for $3.03 a bushel last fall are now selling for $9.84. It's also unfortunate for farmers who raise cows or pigs (who aren't stocked up) because they must now purchase those very expensive crops to feed their livestock. "You're seeing a lot of farmers sending their animals to market because they know they won't be able to feed them," Kvitek said. Dairy farmers are also hit hard because the value of milk they produce is down and the cost to feed concentrates for the cows is up.

2003, 10 years ago: An estimated $52,000 was raised at the Relay for Life event. There were 18 teams participating and more than 500 people were served food during the event, according to Betty Romann, committee chair.

Just for fun - 1988, 25 years ago: Jefferson High School Marching Band Director John Anderson reported that the fourth annual Vikingland Band Festival was "the best parade ever." Reasons for its success were, "perfect weather (80 degrees with an ever-present breeze), thousands of supportive people lining the route who consistently applauded the bands, and the efforts of festival head, Ken Martinson." A total of $3,550 in prize money was awarded to competing bands. The Jefferson High School Band, as host band, led in the marching, but did not compete for prize money.

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Rachel Barduson of Alexandria is a regular contributing columnist to the Echo Press Opinion page.