Jim Meister: Dexter’s Master Blacksmith

Jim Meister, according to historian James Graham, was known throughout the area as a master artisan in metalworking. Whenever something broke on the farm made of metal, he could either fix it or make a new one.

Martine James Meister was born in Iowa in 1886. As a boy of 10, Jim has a milk route for the Dexter Farmers Cooperative Creamery. Driving a team and wagon, he would pick up milk from area farmers and deliver it to the creamery, which was located at the south end of Dexter.

In the 1920s, he ran a threshing crew from northern Missouri to southern Minnesota. Two threshing machines and the steel, cogged wheels were stored in a large machine shed in Dexter.

He started his blacksmith business in the late 1920s, making steel-rimmed wooden wheels.

A large gasoline engine ran a grinding wheel for oats and cord for animal feed. It also powered an overhead system of large wheels which operated a drill press, drop hammer, lawn mower sharpener, and wood lathes. He also sharpened hay mower blades.


First Fire Engine

Jim Meister manufactured the bed and box on a frame for Dexter’s first fire engine. I sure wish we could find a picture of that.

He married Roxie (Stone) Hoy, who had five children: Ora, Cleo, IG, Clell, and Max Hoy. Lyle and Marilyn Frost also lived with them several years.

He subscribed to Popular Mechanics magazine, where he got ideas for things to build. Their yard was filled with novelty mechanical things, such as a merry-go-round, a hammock out of barrel slats, Adirondack and other lawn chairs, a windmill, and a fish pond with an underground water pipe.

Meisters raised a few animals–chickens, geese, rabbits for sale, a pig or two–and used a small Ford tractor on a small farm to raise a garden and animal feed.

Personal: I wonder how many times we kids were in town with Dad, waiting in the car for him to leave something off at Meister’s or pick up something he’d fixed or sharpened. I wish we’d gotten out to have a look at the novelties in the yard, but we’d probably been told to stay in the car so Dad could get home for chores or field work.


Interest from a $50,000 trust donated by Clell Hoy, stepson of Jim Meister, supports the museum, which got its start in the early 1970s.


Besides Jim Meister’s blacksmith tools, the Dexter Museum has a notebook of memories and photos by granddaughter Marilyn (Frost) Black.


History of Dexter, Iowa, 1968, page 33.




    • Wow, you’re sharp! Thank you. I’m running it down with a local right now. Stay tuned.
      Later: Their headstone in the Dexter Cemetery says Meister, so guess someone on the museum board needs to change the little sign. Thank you for catching this!

  1. It’s fun and I love reading about Dexter and learning all about the town and people. Jim Meister was an amazing hard working salt of the earth man. Thanks for highlighting him.

    • I can no longer get out to Dexter to regularly help with the museum, but they love it that I’ll write “ads” to remind people it’s open every Sunday afternoon. They hope to enhance that dark corner of the museum soon!

  2. Joy, My goodness Mr. Meister was a busy man. What a mind he had a make so many different things.

    • I think the “town kids” really got a kick out of all the things he made. Friday the 14th will be about our births so close together, with a sweet picture of us hugging at the end! I’ll be at a writers workshop end of next week, but it’s the story is already scheduled. This WordPress stuff is such fun!

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.