Sunday has been proclaimed “Greatest Generation Day” by the Newton City Council and Jasper County Supervisors. The Jasper County Historical Museum will be having a free open house from noon until 4 p.m. that day so visitors can learn about the museum’s new World War II/Greatest Generation exhibit.
As part of the exhibit, extensive research has been done on those who died in World War II. The 1946 Army and Navy lists generally used in newspaper articles leave many local names off their lists. Those lists rely on things like where the enlistment took place, next of kin address, etc. so aren’t very accurate. By going through microfilm of The Newton Daily News from Pearl Harbor until most remains had been returned in 1948, staff was able to add over 40 names to the 75 names that were already recognized.
Because Newton, Clinton and a few other Iowa towns were quite industrial, they were relied on to fulfill important military contracts. Newton was known as the industrial center of the midwest at the time and virtually every factory in town was involved in war production. Because of their experience with aluminum castings Maytag produced parts, such as cast engine blocks and hydraulic cylinders for 16 of the planes used in the war. Local industry’s contribution to the war effort is also being celebrated with the new exhibit.
Central Iowa contained 25 percent of the Grade A farm land in the country in the 1940s and since Jasper County is also the fifth largest county in the state, local agricultural production was also critical and also part of the exhibit.
All are invited to visit Newton on Sunday. A preview video can be found the museum’s Facebook page on facebook.com/jaspercountymuseum.