Early Days in Oskaloosa
From the Oskaloosa Independent, March 9, 1933
By Francis Henry Roberts
While I have before told the story of the script used in Oskaloosa during the scarcity of currency during the Civil War, I am asked to tell it again now because of the situation on hand, with banks closing for a breathing spell, produce houses closing for lack of money to pay farmers, and all that. “We never miss the water till the well runs dry” is an old adage that applies right now to the banks.
During the war of the rebellion Moore & McClellan were running a general merchandise store on the corner where the Simon-Webber auto establishment now stands. Small currency ran very short and caused great inconvenience, as most dealings in those days were “small change” matters. This firm was sound financially and when it put out certificates everybody took them at face value and no questions asked. The Independent office was the “mint,” so to speak. All the brass rule curleycues and fancy border type were brought into use and quite a swell bit of printing put forth. The pieces as I remember them were about one-third the size of a business envelope and were in denominations of 5c, 10c, 25c and 50cents, “redeemable on demand at the store of Moore & McClellan in sums of five dollars.”
I do not know how long this script, which was alluded to as “shin-plasters,” was in use but it was for a year or two or three and served the purpose nicely being taken by everybody in Oskaloosa and some of the nearby towns without cavil and at face value.
The same thing is being done now in many parts of the country and can be done here for local trade beyond a doubt.
F.H. Roberts is offering double the face value of any piece of this old script and will be paid at the Independent Office. It is wanted as a historical souvenir.
Photo: Frank H. Roberts in the Oskaloosa Independent office (courtesy of Jefferson County Historical Society).
This article appeared in “Yesteryears” in April 2010.