Allison Ullestad
Board President, WDMHS


Have you ever thought that you were born in the wrong era? Do you long to be part of a time that has passed? Do you agree with Dr. Seuss when he said, “They say I’m old-fashioned and live in the past, but sometimes I think progress progresses too fast”? I, for one, most certainly have. I have an affection for any object, story, picture, or tradition that has survived several generations and become a part of my current world. These items, rather the stories attached to these items, bring me so much joy.

When I place an old quilt on a bed or over a chair, I envision the soul who spent hours upon hours crafting individual pieces of fabric into one warm and useful quilt. I think of the warmth the quilt may have provided to a cold heart or a cold home. When I serve biscuits on a chipped ironstone platter, I think of the years gone-by in which that platter was used to fill the empty bellies of hard-working families. My thoughts take me to a cozy, safe kitchen where love is shown through the art of cooking as I place a stained apron around my waist and attempt to show that same love to my family. The oak dining table and chairs that my family gathers around generates reflections of the everyday and special occasions when others came together around that same table for food and fellowship. The vintage alarm clock with its resonant bell elicits images of a hardworking man or woman being awakened, ready to face another day’s challenges. When I light a kerosene lamp, I think of the years of simplicity and togetherness its thin glow brought to many in the dark of the evening. As I fill up a large enamel bowl with water to wash dishes, I have a strong desire to revive the consciousness of the use of precious resources that I so often take for granted. Each of these mementos of a time gone by have a story to tell, and I, somehow, often hear that story loud and clear.

Like these objects, West Des Moines, first known as Walnut Township and then Valley Junction, has an incredible story that begs to be heard, known, and celebrated by present and future generations. That means you! Whether you are new to the area, a life-long resident, or a friendly metro neighbor, know that you, right now, are a part of and can greatly impact West Des Moines’ history.

Looking back at 2020, we, the staff and board of directors of the West Des Moines Historical Society, see just how fortunate we are to have people like you supporting us. You joined us on an ever-changing journey by choosing to become or remain a member of the Society. For that, we are deeply appreciative. Members like you are what make our mission of preserving and promoting West Des Moines and Central Iowa history possible.

I ask that you consider a membership to the West Des Moines Historical Society so that we can continue to grow our vision and purpose in the community. Your membership dollars will be used for meaningful purposes such as the James Jordan Scholars program, Iowa History curriculum for teachers, the Iowa Files, tours, publicity and outreach, and of course, preservation of the Jordan House Museum and Bennett School. By returning your payment of membership fees mail or by renewing online at, you are helping to ensure that the story of West Des Moines will be told and heard with joy for many years to come.

With gratitude,

Allison Ullestad