Ivy Wild: Alice Rockwell Green
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Ask most of the citizens of Hancock County today if they ever heard of an artists' commune in the county and chances are good that you'll get laughter. "An artists' commune in quiet, conservative Hancock County?" Then ask someone from the Social Security set and chances are you'll get laughter again, followed by, "yes, I was there once, it was a fun place." It was a place known as "Ivy Wild" and was inhabited by a group of talented, slightly unconventional souls who loved people and liked to entertain them. They had regular Saturday night dances and an unscheduled one if enough people dropped in, public picnics every Sunday when the weather permitted and an art showing whenever anyone came to the door. It was also reported that Alice Green, the owner of the place, on occasion held séances to get in touch with her dear departed husband or any other spirit who might be floating around the area.
No one seems to know when it all started, perhaps it just developed over a period of years. The Rockwells came to the county from New York in 1851 when their daughter, Alice, was one year old and bought 130 acres of land in the northwest quarter of section 4 in Wythe Township. In due time, Alice grew into an attractive, talented and well-educated young lady who married Augustus Green in 1878 and they took over the Rockwell farm. Not much is known about Augustus except that he was several years older than Alice and that he died in 1915. In 1935 when the Carthage Republican, in their "looking back twenty years column" reported his death as follows: "A.M.Green of Hamilton died March 4. George Upp, the artist, has made his home with Mr. and Mrs. Green for a number of years." No one interviewed for this story remembers Mr. Green but he must have been loved by Mrs. Green very much because she was reported to have prepared his favorite meals every evening and placed a plate full of food on his grave in the front yard. She knew he ate it too because the next morning his plate was always licked clean!
Augustus and Alice had one son, Harry Green, who shared his mother's interest in art and music. One time when he was in Keokuk at an art showing, believed to have been in the early 1890's, he met a widely known artist by the name of George Upp. George was having marital problems and Harry invited him to the family farm. George was made to feel so welcome that he stayed for the remainder of his life.
George, born in Indiana in 1844, was no stranger to Hancock County. According to an article in the Carthage Republican, December 17, 1924, the Carthage College graduating class of 1876 had brought him to Carthage to do portraits of the faculty and while in town he did portraits of many of the leading citizens. He set up his studio in the "new" Patterson building on the south side of the square. No doubt some of those portraits remain today. In addition to portraits, he painted landscapes and still life. Several of his paintings are presently on display at the Kibbe Museum in Carthage. A number have been hung in the state capitol buildings in Springfield and Des Moines.
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