Deb Hazen Fiser has a passion for Marshalltown — its history, its people and current affairs. She is the founder of three local interest Facebook groups: “You know you are from Marshalltown if you remember,” “What is up in Marshalltown” and “Remembrance of Marshalltown and Marshall County Iowa’s Dearly Departed.”
The You know you are from Marshalltown page has over 7,000 members and was started in 2009. In November 2018, the Times-Republican gave the group a column in its monthly Past Times publication so people have a platform in the newspaper to reminisce about the city’s rich history.
“I love the involvement of people giving their opinions and talking about their memories. I think it helps with the history of Marshalltown. I’ve brought many people together trying to find lost loved ones. That makes you feel pretty good,” she said.
The three pages are moderated by Fiser, along with Michelle Roseburrough, administrator at the Historical Society of Marshall County. Fiser’s husband Rich offers tech support.
“Deb does the lion’s share of the work,” Roseburrough said. “What I do is set aside materials at the museum that she may be interested in scanning.”
Fiser posts articles, photos, old advertisements and more, with the hope of sparking a dialogue among the group’s members. She said it is important to her to credit the source of her information whenever possible.
“I never was good in history. I flunked it in school,” she said with a laugh. “My grandpa used to be a photographer and that is where I got (the interest in history) from, so one day I decided to start a Marshalltown page, as a way of giving back to my town.”
She started the Marshalltown Dearly Departed group six years ago, followed by the What is up in Marshalltown group five years ago. These two groups each have almost 2,000 members. Dearly Departed is a forum to read obituaries, discuss deaths and share condolence messages. What is up in Marshalltown documents the city’s current happenings.
Fiser said she doesn’t allow links on her pages (for fear of spreading viruses), people cannot sell things and profanity is strictly forbidden.
“Deb does an amazing job of not only sharing history of the area, but also keeping the sites positive and clean,” Roseburrough said.
Fiser posts daily, saying she is dedicated to keeping the Facebook groups as up to date as possible.
“The people make the pages. I can’t say enough good things about them and the help the HSMC gives me, and the T-R for the column,” she said. “I love working with the public. I love the history of Marshalltown. I’m trying to get more people involved so they can see what Marshalltown is all about.”
Those interested in joining her Facebook groups must send a request. Fiser approves of posts and may remove any at her discretion.