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It it. And you know look out for my eyes of the dust of the ground. And breathed it was a breath of life and man became a living soul. Past the scripture in the Old Testament speaks of man it is returning to dust as he was and his spirit returns to God. People come to the
funerals of families Well each other for years and they come to the funeral and they don't. I should say this but they don't come to your funeral. In the very best way I think it is appropriate for us to say that Lori was of the earth. By this I mean that she lived her time caring for the soul. She was the wife of the farmer and she cared for farm family. Her son is a farmer. Her grandson and great grandson continue to work of the earth. And for this part of our family has been a part of our
earth for. Farmers perhaps more density for our town closer to God. I feel that they are partners with God in their work. If the elements of the weather are not. Right they have no crops and they have no crops they have nothing. That's what they depend on. I think perhaps it was from the Bible that. Promised city got its name. I would like to think of it like the promised land. I spoke about in the Bible. Thank you for things that have been brought to us through the years. We commit. To your keeping. To your word to your.
Christ. This is marriage promise. Is going to work in the fields as he has done every day of his life.
His ancestors help settle this part of southern and the early 1900s. In fact they were some of the first settlers anywhere in the state. Their lives were not without hardship but they were not Pathfinders. Their goal was simple to create a way of life. For over 100 years these families the cancer's the nobles the Robertsons the Barkers all of the first ones have preserved that way. In the wake of their sweat townie merged their town promis city is still there in Wayne County nestled in those rolling hills between Corydon and Santa Bill and bounded on the south by Missouri. Merritt Cantor lives alone now 23 of the 68 homes and promise city. I like that. Sure and has always known the farm.
Promised 30 years strictly farming. If he's very good for cattle and for crop farming also the people who settled here were farmers the people who set up businesses in promise city said it is this is farm related to the east to Napa news counties we have areas where mining was a drawing card that brought the people to this area that was farming. People came to promise. Hardworking. People that. Had been used to working on me on the farms they came from Indiana mostly or in that location some of them from Ohio in this area but my grandparents in particular came from Indiana. And they were hardworking.
And they were very savings. They would not spend a cent unless it was absolutely necessary. But yeah I remember when I was a child the number of trash that came to our door not one of them was ever denied a meal and I remember once when. Trent came to our door and my mother fixed him a wonderful meal on a plate. And when she handed it to him he was so surprised and he thanked her so and said ma'am I'll never forget you so this isn't a poke out. He said this is a real meal. They were charitable to these people who said to me today. People friend there are not so friendly in the Big City
post office in the morning and you guys know we just got talking about one another. Well what happened last night are going to happen. That's mostly in place in the morning during the morning as is often the case in a small town. The postmaster is the closest thing to a city directory. Carl Thompson was himself a farmer before becoming the postmaster of promise and he lived off in a very important part of our economy. Around here we have several people who raise cattle and sheep and we would be hard put it. So much of our ground is needed relief that
practically vanished off of the farm. Told her to raise the thousand. About to retire and the neighbor buys it. When I first came in the post office chairs. So I think there was one hundred forty seven promise a part of the route. And now it's down to. Dave. It's been. Taken over by the other owners in the vicinity. That is the reason that your buildings are just impossible to make a
living. Small acreage like it used to be. First hour after I got out of the service in 1947 I had 10 milk cows and about 200 chickens and they would make my liaison and that is that we got just about a dollar a pound for butter fat and you can get 40 cents a dozen for ages so you can make money. It didn't take as much money to live. We didn't have any electric bills to pay to stay in the country. Well your last raise your garden farmer eat what they raised raise what they eat. Flour sugar.
The depression the closed banks the disappearing farms. Then in 1958 the Chicago Burlington and Quincy Railroad made its last run to promise setting the artery was cut the railroad sold on the touchstone of prosperity was gone. The natives will tell you that it used to run here but is just weeds now. They will also tell you that when these events overtook promise city the town began to die. They used to be lots of coal through the year when the horse either stopped after I started here. And there were a lot of things that's today. Or there were things in the bigger places. That. I'd rather see things like it was. Early 30s.
There is still a sawmill in town. Doesn't do much business but it's there. There are two churches but their combined congregations couldn't believe their building as a grocery store and two gas stations. One of the service stations also houses a hardware and feed store. Yeah the one restaurant
has no fire and no doctor no town marshal no sewage no water system. But there are the trucks always the trucks. They go through town now. The population of Wayne County has dropped almost 17 percent in the last decade and only one other I want County nearby Ringgold has lost more. There are more elderly in Wayne and neighboring avenues counties than any other in the state. And when half of this country's population is under 25 half a promise cities is over 55. There are real people. They more or less. So most social security or old age pension which when you consider they would have
to be a mother and two years ago took care of themselves for the last place where they can place another. I think there are approximately a. Senior graduating class but I think it's 20 in the district so you can see why it is that there are population. People that moved out and. People don't have any children send them. To School in drama city as part of the Seymour Community School District. It is
used for third and fourth grades with other attendance areas in nearby Seymour and so on. I never went any place else only that. The name of it is pleasant here. But it's always been on my account of the fact that in the news the boys went to school. It was 20 21 years old and it was nip and tuck between the teacher and the people who run the thing. This is Jim right to promise any and all of his
life. At one time I can remember when there was four grocery stores two banks to restaurants two barbershops a lumber yard a blacksmith shop and the biggest shipping point between the Shenandoah and care for livestock shipped to market. It's a good grassland good cattle lands. I don't try to farm anymore. Really been kind of semi-retired since 62. And I still as whole my brother should retire and get out. But after all if you live in a place 48 years ain't easy to give it up and you want to keep it the same ole same ole. Keep it the same in the Time Capsule existence of a country town the past and the present are often so closely fused you cannot
experience one without feeling the other. Like a narrative the faces of the past. Ironically that there was a day when promise indeed new promise. It was a day when the streets were filled with a day when on their way west the Mormons passed close by. These children never saw the Mormons but as they grew up they were exposed to a rather peculiar interlopers. A little girl on the left is Amy Robertson. One of the outsiders she was William Jennings Bryan. Take it take it. And I was just a child but I remember saying. Went. From there.
He would take. The train. It was a picture show. It was.
For me the most precious promise came from the farms. I was at the height of my glory and I could help my father stack the stack I think getting on top of it was the most fun and there's nothing like jumping from the hay out down into the fresh smelling hay in the hay rack. I can just never forget. There's nothing like a beating in the summertime. Usually a neighbor or two would come in and day with chickens why we had to have fresh chickens. We would have many many pies not of one kind but of. Course we would have to go in the garden at that time perhaps tomatoes. For their for dinner but the men who operated
would stay overnight. And early in the morning they would go out and. Build a fire in the steam engine and get it ready to begin the day's work. Then my job here was there in addition to helping with the power to water it. Me and working in the field and I like my pony and take these jugs wrapped in burlap sack and fill them at the well and carry them to the workers in the field. That's a wonderful thing to have the opportunity to take part in those old fashioned days. One of those farmers was Charles Norman. He came to Wayne County about 1870. He was 24 years old you've been married seven years. When his first wife died he remarried and eventually fathered 12 children. Nearly every Sunday we had a bunch of boys cheered like they'd come out from
Seymour with their horns. Of course my brothers all played. And. We had a room upstairs. We always called the band room. And they had all our instruments and. It comes up and send a. Picture of the front. Porch. I miss when I'm right there. Martin I couldn't play. The only nobles left on the farm are the two youngest daughters Goldie who is 79 and FE 75. They have never lived in any other house. We haven't changed much. Guess. We're too old for that. They're fine. You never have. They always said to him but he didn't know anybody else you know that. I just remembered his
first life. But when I handed over there she was in the hospital and the first thing she heard when she came to us landed safely. We watched him on the television or never never came back. When I got back of course we didn't understand a lot about how to. Do it. But then. I was happy nobody get their lives back at the flight so the Kitty Hawk and Apollo 11. And except for a three day trip dark and saw no girls have not left the state of Iowa since 19 or wait in the noble dining room is a Seth Thomas clock patented 1876. It is always set on Central Standard Time for a noble does not want to have a clock that lies soon after he came
here. They can keep this in their you know their kind of war. Whenever it stops we noticed we heard. Man when. Richard Macintyre.
Born and raised in promise unlike his neighbors has watched the town his beloved horses are linked with better times. The dusty days of Midwestern har shows the incandescent excitement of blue ribbons and trophies. He is 72 now and time has altered the relationship tightly reined obedience has been replaced with kinship spirited quiet walks together. On the day that Richard MacIntyre was filmed he offered to sing a favorite old song. A quiet gentle lyric seemed to characterize his feelings for promise. They were also something else a prophetic election. Two months after this film was taken. Richard MacIntyre And Jane. Yeah.
Oh yeah. Oh. I. Back then. Oh. Harder.
It's been said the promise of America nothing but when the old ones are promised they will
take with them as they have to forget the wondering and to remember the days that have gone by.
Promise City
Producing Organization
Iowa Public Television
Contributing Organization
Iowa Public Television (Johnston, Iowa)
Public Broadcasting Service Series NOLA
PRMC 000000
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Episode Description
A documentary about the small farming town of Promise City, Iowa, its history, and the families that have resided there for generations.
Other Description
This was John Montgomery's home town, his farmer father is in it. (IEBN Station Manager)
Broadcast Date
Asset type
local communities
IPTV, pending rights and format restrictions, may be able to make a standard DVD copy of IPTV programs (excluding raw footage) for a fee. Requests for DVDs should be sent to Dawn Breining
A Public Affairs Presentation of IEBN
Copyright IEBN 1969
Media type
Moving Image
Embed Code
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Audio: Melone, Dave
Director: Beyer, John
Director: Photography: Phillippi, Wes
Editor: Phillippi, Wes
Narrator: Soliday, Don
Producer: Beyer, John
Producing Organization: Iowa Public Television
Production Unit: Thorpe, Roger
Sound Mix: Rumme, Carl
Video: Thorpe, Roger
Writer: Beyer, John
AAPB Contributor Holdings
Iowa Public Television
Identifier: 8D17 (Old Tape Number)
Format: U-matic
Generation: Dub
Duration: 00:29:05
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Chicago: “Promise City,” 1969-10-14, Iowa Public Television, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed May 26, 2024,
MLA: “Promise City.” 1969-10-14. Iowa Public Television, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. May 26, 2024. <>.
APA: Promise City. Boston, MA: Iowa Public Television, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from