Ruth Iowa Jones Myers

Honored by:Evelyn Hickle
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RUTH IOWA JONES MYERS (1887-1974) was a rural Iowa educator, teaching in country schools and leading 4-H and County Extension programs in the 1920s and '30s. She was also a wife and mother of three daughters and a son and spent most of her life on a farm southwest of Waverly, Iowa, a leader in the farming community in an era when most of the leadership positions were held by men.

The account of her life written by her youngest daughter, Evelyn Myers Hickle, is featured as the cover story in the 1980 Winter edition of The Annals of Iowa.* It contains exerpts from Mrs. Myers' unpublished autobiography, articles she wrote and speeches she presented to 4-H groups and other gatherings of farm people.

"The description of her life is of a person who cared a great deal about learning and self-improvement and who was able to bring to many people the opportunities for broadening and enriching their lives.

In an era when passable roads and excellent educational opportunities are commonplace today, we tend to forget that the foundation for much of our culture was laid by people such as Ruth Myers who took what was available and not only made it do but made it do very well." (Bob Hickle son-in-law).

Ruth Jones was born in Epworth, Iowa in 1887, was graduated from Oak Park High School Oak Park, Illinois and returned to Iowa in 1905 to care for her grandmother and to teach in country one-room schools in Bremer and Butler counties. During this time, she wrote articles and children's stories for the magazine "The School Century," which was published in Oak Park, Illinois; her father was editor; formerly a principal at Epworth, Ia. Seminary (similar to today's high schools). Volumes of "The School Century" published until the 1920s are on file in the University of Northern Iowa library.

Ruth Iowa Jones was married to L. Clifton Myers (B.S. ISU 1910) in 1911. They lived on the 120-acre family farm which had been homesteaded by his grandfather, the Reverend Abraham Myers, in 1854, located in Jackson Township, Bremer County, IA. In spite of the Depression hardships, they encouraged their four children to get college degrees, helping with food, produce and other non-cash ways.

The couple were lifetime members in the Methodist Church, where Ruth often taught Sunday School Classes.

Ruth Myers found time to do volunteer work as leader of the Jackson Juniors girls 4-H club for eight years (1926-34) and wrote scripts for their demonstration teams which won numerous trips to the State Fair in Des Moines. She promoted cultural interests of music, art and literature as well as teaching the material gained from the Iowa State Extension Service programs. She taught these "lessons" to Farm Bureau, women's groups and others.

In 1939, she accepted a part time local position with the Agricultural Adjustment Administration, a federal program formed in 1935 to provide advice and assistance to farmers and their wives and to regulate farm production.

One of her talents was composing and delivering informative speeches enlivened with quotes or bits of humor. In 1930, she spoke at the National Country Life Association convention at Madison, Wisconsin. Exerpts are printed in the Annals of Iowa article.* One of her expressions of optimism in a speech during the Depression reflects her own courage and tenacity:

"They tell us even if we have occasional spells of despondency, we must not despair for even the sun has a sinking spell every night and then it rises again all right the next morning."

Submitted by Evelyn Myers Hickle

* "Ruth Iowa Jones Myers 1887-1974 Rural Iowa Educator." The Annals of Iowa, Winter 1980, pp. 196-211.