Twins Dale and Darlene Wilson, Born 100 Years Ago, Stuart, Iowa

Leora Wilson burned old wallpaper in the heater stove and kitchen range while Clabe was gone with the two boys. Twins were due in a couple of months and she kept an eye on three-year-old Doris. They had just moved to the edge of Stuart from a nearby farm.

It was a windy, clear day, not very cold, when neighbor man stopped by. “Lady, I think your house is on fire!”

It sure was. She took Doris out in the yard with a little red rocking chair and told her to stay right there. She stayed. That was Doris’s earliest memory.

Leora threw things out the kitchen window, including the clock, which flew apart. 

Firemen came, neighbors got most out of downstairs and some from upstairs. When Clabe and boys got home, their household goods were in the yard. The fire was in the attic, a defective chimney they decided. The Wilsons had insurance, which helped. 

Ripleys, who’d stayed with them the year before, asked them to stay at their place until they found another. They found another place the next day and got moved in. 

The Chittick house was a small one-story home at 515 Gaines Street. Mrs. Knox, widow of Dr. Knox, lived next door to the south. Ferns grew lush on the north side of her house. 

Doris, Donald, and Delbert in Mrs. Knox’s ferns, 1921, Stuart

While they lived there, the Stuart nightwatchman was killed during a bank robbery attempt. Clabe Wilson and another man were hired to take over.

On May 13, twins Dale and Darlene were born. Leora’s mother, Laura Goff from Guthrie Center, came for the births and stayed for several days.

Mrs. Knox next door enjoyed them and came over often. “You folks don’t need to go out for entertainment. You have it at home.” 

Clabe brought home a twin baby carriage to assemble. Leora had to walk several blocks to get groceries or mail, so a wagon and the baby carriage became their little parade. Going, Doris rode in the wagon while Delbert pulled and Donald pushed. They followed Leora with the baby cab or carriage. The wagon was needed for the groceries on the way home, so Doris hitched a ride on the front of the carriage.

Donald, Delbert, the twins, and Doris

This photo, of twins Dale and Darlene on their first birthday, with their big sister Doris, was shown on the screen at the Stuart theater.

Bricks at the restored Stuart Depot remember the birth of Dale and Darlene Wilson.

Leora’s Early Years: Guthrie County Roots




  1. Those were definitely tough times…they just moved on.
    Dr Knox is no relation that I know of.

  2. When one is reminded of tough times such as these, one realizes how important it is to ‘soldier on’ regardless of the difficulties one faces.

  3. Clave was hired to replace someone killed on the job?! Scary! the housefire reminds me of a story that I wrote about in Kin Types that happened to my great great grandmother’s brother.

  4. The family photos are wonderful! I particularly liked the one of Delbert, Donald, and Doris holding hands in Mrs. Knox’s ferns. Chimney fires were fairly common when I was growing up in Vermont because so many farmhouses heated with wood.

    • During the Depression they kept the beds downstairs in the winter if they could, just because of the worry about a fire. Grandma Leora had an enlargement of the fern photo. I’ve always loved it.

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