The Friends of the Sherman Swift Tower (FSST) formed in 2006 to honor the life and work of Althea Rosina Sherman (1853-1943), a National, Iowa, native who is best known for her study of the chimney swift. She built a 28 foot tower in 1915 to study the elusive chimney swift and the initial goal of the FSST group was to obtain this tower and restore it in its original home of National. That was not possible, and the group went on to complete a replica of the tower in 2009.
The 2007 mission statement of FSST includes the following:
- To honor and preserve the memory of Althea Sherman and her remarkable pioneer family by activities, events, and written publications.
- To educate others about the life of chimney swifts and other birds studied by Althea Sherman in her lifetime.
- To build and maintain a replica of the 1915 Chimney Swifts’ Tower originally built by Althea Sherman at National, Iowa.
- To maintain an interest in acquiring and restoring the original Chimney Swifts’ Tower.
- To research, record and preserve items of historical significance related to the Sherman family.
- To solicit funds and accept gifts from persons or organizations for the completion/ enactment of the above specified purposes.
With the exception of acquiring the original tower, we are still dedicated to the other goals, especially the memory of the Althea Sherman and promotion and support of the declining population of the chimney swift.
Once the decision was made to build a replica of the 1915 Tower, we began visiting with local groups about the project, and received extensive support from the local and extended community. We prepared an award winning float of swifts flying into a chimney, and went to a number of local parades. We sold T-shirts, did skits for school children, and manned a booth about Althea Sherman and chimney swifts at the Clayton County Fair. Soup and sandwich lunches and garage sales brought in much needed revenue and also shared information about our project. The Friends of the Sherman Swift Tower group filed for Articles of Incorporation with the State of Iowa, and obtained 501 c 3 status in 2008.
Grants were obtained from Upper Mississippi Gaming Corporation, Iowa Ornithologists’ Union, and Alpine Communications. Upper Mississippi Gaming Corporation has offered continued support for interpretive material. We are very grateful for all the grants which provided us with financial support and encouraged us in our quest to complete the project.
The FSST extend heartfelt thanks to the local and extended community for their initial and ongoing support. The project could not have been completed without the help of many volunteers; their donations of time, material, expertise, and financial support made the project possible. The replica was truly the result of many interested people helping to complete the project.
The tower replica was completed in 2009 and the dedication was held June 6, 2009. We were so pleased to see those individuals who remembered the Sherman family and shared their memories with others gathered at this event. The FSST have enjoyed meeting with others who shared photos and stories and preserved the Sherman history for future generations.
In an effort to promote the population of the chimney swift, the FSST helped construct small individual nesting towers in local communities. A tower in Guttenberg, Iowa, was constructed as an Eagle Scout Project. Founders Park in Elkader has a tower along the walking path with information about the chimney swift. A third tower was constructed in 2015 along the Monona Butterfly Trail and walking path. Swifts are nesting in the Guttenberg and Elkader towers and we trust they will soon find the site in Monona. We also helped to finance the building of two towers at La Rievere Park in Prairie du Chien, Wisconsin.
There were eight original Board of Directors of Friends of the Sherman Swift Tower, and three remain active in that role. We have gained one new member and will welcome more. Yearly membership dues of $15.00 support the continued work of the group in maintaining and improving the Tower replica, but much of our financial support now comes from donations.
The FSST publish a yearly newsletter in February and participate in the Swift Night Out in the fall. If you would like to receive a copy of the newsletter, please contact Joyce Schoulte. You can also view some recent newsletters on this website.
We are available to do presentations to groups and tours of the tower when there are no nesting swifts in the tower. Contact Deanna Krambeer (563.536.2258) or Joyce Schoulte (563.964.2535.)
Learn more about the Friends of the Sherman Swift Tower by reading the annual newsletter.