Hunter, C. P.

C. P. Hunter

C. P. Hunter was a member of the Newton Public Library board of trustees from 1907 to 1928.[1] “As a persistent reader of good literature and current events, he was always well informed on local, state, national and world affairs,” The Newton Daily News said of him at the time of his passing. “Such a man will be missed in our community.”[2]  Charles Phelps Hunter was born in Newton February 8, 1881, the youngest of three sons born to George Beatty and Susan Amelia (Dunklee) Hunter.[3]  He was graduated from Newton High School in 1898[4] and the University of Illinois at Champaign[5] where he was affiliated with Alpha Tau Omega fraternity.[6]  After graduation from university in 1902 he accepted a position as advertising manager and salesman with Chase & West, of Des Moines, one of the larger furniture stores in Iowa.[7]  After three years, he returned to Newton to become associated with the Iowa Mercantile Co. (“The Big Store”) of which his father was one of the founders in 1899.[8]  As a salesman in the furniture department he advanced to assistant and department manager.[9]  When the establishment was sold to Lauerman Bros. in 1929, he was serving as president and treasurer.[10]  After the death of his father in 1908, he made a home for his mother until her death in 1921.[11]  When the Hotel Maytag was constructed in 1926, Hunter, who never married, moved into an apartment there and this remained his home until the time of his death.[12]  “Mr. Hunter continued his deep interest in the social, business and civic life of the community after his retirement,” the Daily News noted, “and as long as health permitted, he served cheerfully and enthusiastically on many committees, always favoring anything for the betterment of Newton.”[13]  He was one of the founders and a past president of the Newton Country Club[14] and served as one of the three members of the hospital endowment fund board.[15]  In 1942-43, during World War II, he served as chairman of the Jasper County rationing board[16], and was a 50-year life member of Newton Lodge No. 59, Ancient, Free & Accepted Masons[17] and Newton Lodge No. 1270, Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks.[18]  He died at 10 a. m. October 3, 1961 at the Skiff Memorial Hospital in Newton after a lingering illness.[19]  Burial was in Newton Union Cemetery.[20]

-Larry Ray Hurto


[1] 1896-1957 Library Trustees, Newton Public Library History.  “One of our number A. Lufkin [q. v.] having been removed by death, Mr Charles P Hunter was appointed by the Mayor to fill the vacancy & oath administered by Pres pro tem.”  Regular session of the Library Board, Newton, Iowa, July 5, 1907.  In the 1919 organization of the Library Board Mr. Hunter was assigned to the Finance Committee and chaired Buildings, Grounds, Janitors & Supplies.  1919 Library Trustees, Newton Public Library History.

“The Committee on Janitor & Supplies has been for the past few years merged with the Committee on Buildings & Grounds, but now that we have a complete board membership the duties can well be divided,” Hunter advised the Librarian in 1924.  Chas. P. Hunter to Miss Gypsie Patton, September 8, 1924.  1924 Library Trustees, Newton Public Library History.

The letter is typed on Iowa Mercantile Company letterhead.

[2] The Newton Daily News, October 3, 1961.

[3] Ibid.  See also The History of Jasper County, Iowa (Chicago:  Western Historical Company, 1878), p. 519, and

[4] The Newton Journal, May 25, 1898; Iowa State Democrat, Newton, IA, May 26, 1898; The Newton Record, May 26, 1898; The Newton Herald, May 28, 1898.

[5] Vergil V. Phelps, ed., University of Illinois Directory, Listing the 35,000 Persons who have Ever Been Connected with the Urbana-Champaign Departments, Including Officers of Instruction and Administration and 1397 Deceased (Urbana-Champaign:  University of Illinois, 1916), p. 327.

[6 The Newton Daily News, October 3, 1961.

[7] Ibid.

[8] Ibid.  For Mr. Hunter’s recollections of his time with “The Big Store” see Larry Ray Hurto, ed., A History of Newton, Iowa (Dallas, TX:  Curtis Media Corporation, 1992), pp. 233-234.

[9] The Newton Daily News, October 3, 1961.  In 1910, Hunter was secretary of the company.  R. L. Polk & Co., comp., R. L. Polk & Co.’s 1910 Jasper County [Iowa] Directory, Vol. I (Des Moines and Detroit:  R. L. Polk & Co., 1910), p. 85.

[10] Keiter Directory Co’s. Newton City and Jasper County, Iowa Directory 1929, Vol. I (Rochester, MN and Norfolk, NE:  Keiter Directory Company, Publishers, 1929), p. 112.

[11] The Newton Daily News, October 3, 1961.

[12] Ibid.

[13] Ibid.

[14] A History of Newton, Iowa, p. 192.  Hunter was president of the club in 1922.

[15] The Newton Daily News, October 3, 1961.  In 1965, the 40-bed Hunter Geriatrics Addition was added to the west side of Mary Frances Skiff Memorial Hospital at a cost of $1,050,000.  Hunter’s estate donated $400,000 for the project.  A History of Newton, Iowa, p. 51.  “Unfortunately, the geriatrics unit fell an early victim to the dramatic changes in health-care funding in the early 1980s.  Due to low patient census and declining reimbursements from the federal Medicare program, the hospital was forced to close the unit in 1983.  Although the Hunter Addition space is used in an [sic] different way than originally intended, it continues to serve the health-care needs of the community.”

[16] The Newton Daily News, January 6, 1942 and April 19, 1943.

[17] Email, December 4, 2022, from Wade E. Sheeler, Secretary, Newton Lodge No. 59, Ancient, Free & Accepted Masons.  Hunter served as Junior Steward of Newton Lodge in 1908, 1909, and 1910.  150th Anniversary, Newton Lodge #59 A. F. & A. M., Newton, Iowa [2005], p. 88.

[18] The Newton Daily News, October 3, 1961.

[19] Ibid.

[20] Ibid.