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PROJECTS OF THE DMHS

GEORGE MATTERN MONUMENT

George William Mattern - son, brother, husband, father, fallen DMPD officer

George William Mattern was born in Des Moines, Iowa in 1890 to an American father and Swiss immigrant mother.  As a young man he played basketball

at the Roadside Settlement House, before marrying Grace DeMoss at St. Mary's Catholic Church in 1911.  During the course of their short marriage they
had two daughters, Helen and Marcella.  Mattern worked a series of jobs from age ten, until becoming a patrolman for the DMPD in March of 1916 at age

26.  On that day no one knew he had just a little over two years left to live . . . and ​a century of waiting to be remembered.  

INJUSTICE - Officer Mattern's overnight shift of August 7th - 8th in 1917 would have been unremarkable if not for the shots he heard in the distance

while patrolling near Court Ave. In an alley at the current location of the Neal Smith Federal Building, Officer Mattern encountered a would-be robber

fleeing a gun battle with another officer.  

The criminal and Mattern exchanged fire and Mattern took a bullet to the gut.  He didn't die immediately, but when infection set in and the medical

knowledge wasn't enough, he became the third DMPD officer to die as a result of his service.  His killer faded into the shadows of the alleys in the city,

escaping justice.  This homicide is the sole unsolved death of an officer in DMPD history.  Although his name isn't as well-known as those of other fallen

DMPD officers, George Mattern's service remains undiminished.  

To honor Officer Mattern two goals must be achieved - 1) ground penetrating radar will be used to establish the location of his burial, 2) his grave is unmarked, and his sacrifice deserves acknowledgement.  Please consider a donation to this worthy effort.

IF YOU WISH TO CONTRIBUTE - You may send a check to: 
          Des Moines Historical Society - P.O. Box 8038 - Des Moines, IA 50301. 
          Be sure to indicate “Mattern Memorial” in the memo section of your check. 
OR - you may use the online donation button on the main page of this website.  If the donation is $5.40 or a multiple of it ($10.80, $16.20, $21.60, $27.00 etc.) we will know that donation is for Mattern. If other amounts are donated online please send an email to - info@desmoineshistoricalsociety.org to explain the purpose of ​the donation or you may use the Contact/Feedback page.  

TO CONTRIBUTE TO PROJECT 1843 - 
You may send a check to: 
     Des Moines Historical Society
     P.O. Box 8038, Des Moines, IA 50301. 
     Be sure to indicate “Project 1843” in the memo section of your check. 
OR - you may use the online donation button on the main page of this website. 
If the donation is $18.43 or a multiple of it ($36.86, $55.29 etc.) we will know that donation is for the cabin.

If other amounts are donated online please send an email to - info@desmoineshistoricalsociety.org to explain the purpose of the donation or you may use the Contact/Feedback page.  

PROJECT 1843
'Project 1843' is to secure contributions for

improvements and repairs to the Birthplace of

Des Moines/Fort Des Moines II Memorial Cabin at

Principal Park.  


​“Dragoon Donations” of $18.43 to Project 1843

are greatly appreciated. These funds will be used

for needed repairs to the structure; filling gaps to

keep out weather, birds and animals; informational

interior signage about Fort DM II and the Dragoons;

the purchase of three United States Flags (26 Star

Flag, 29 Star Flag and 50 Star Flag); the restringing

of rope for the flag pole at the Abigail Adams DAR

monument; and other incidentals.

The DMHS extends a heartfelt “Thank You” to the Des Moines Chapter of The National Society Colonial Dames of America for their generous donation. Wed., March 22, 2017 several local leaders of the Society brought a donation – and a challenge – to the DMHS at the Birthplace of Des Moines Cabin on Water St. DMHS president David Barzen accepted a check for $1,000.00 earmarked for repairs to the cabin.

In making the award, NSCDA Des Moines Burrough chairman Kay Fenton Smith said the NSCDA members encourage others to support the project.
“We also voted to make a further contribution in 2017, of up to $1,000.00 to

match contributions to the DMHS for preservation and improvement of the cabin and site,” she said.


THANK YOU, and a huge THANK YOU to the NSCDA for their contribution and challenge.

With Laura Bouchard Kozin, David Barzen, Karen Hanley and Linda Ultang Powers.




~~~ The photo above is of the NSCDA presenting the donation check for PROJECT 1843 at the Des Moines Birthplace/Fort Des Moines II Memorial Cabin on March 22, 2017.  



~~~ The photo to the left is of the last original fort building, which was razed in 1908.  


The current DMHS projects are "PROJECT 1843" to benefit the Birthplace of Des Moines/Fort Des Moines II Memorial Cabin AND "The George Mattern Monument" to honor a DM Police Officer killed in the line of duty over 100 years ago.  
​Please read more about these projects below and considerable contributing to these worthy efforts.  THANK YOU!  

George W. Mattern, Badge #54 DMPD

​      ​Des Moines Historical Society of Des Moines, Iowa

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