If there were a “Mysteries at the Museum” television series geared towards agriculture, this item would be ideal to lead in a segment. It’s hollow, it’s made of clay, it contains a message from the past, and it was buried in the ground for decades.
It’s a unique clay drainage tile dated 1885, and it’s on display in the Greene County Historical Society’s museum in Jefferson. The message carved around the exterior of the tile reads,
“We the men who started the tile work did so with a motive to benefit the town and country. Signed T.P. LaRue of Scranton, Iowa.”
An interpretive sign by the tile shares a quote from S.J. Melson, a former Greene County engineer, to explain the curious item’s history. “This tile was placed into my hands by Carl Paup on February 1968. Mr. Paup stated the tile was unearthed and has lasted for many years on the property owned and operated by Harrison Paup of Kendrick Township, Greene County, Iowa.”
That tile reflects a major part of Iowa’s agricultural history that has been buried, literally, for generations, yet this history continues to influence farming methods, especially in the prairie pothole regions of north-central Iowa […]