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Adair County Iowa

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Berea Town

An active little village was once situated on 10 acres of land on the Nodaway River in Eureka Township in the southeast corner of section 18. This was Northside Berea, along the north side of what is now county road No. G-35.This tract was sold for Berea from the land now owned by Isaac Brown, Jr. Southside Berea was ten acres purchased from the northeast corner of section 20 of the Jule Smith farm.  This was one of the old covered wagon trails.

The south side developed first. In 1879, a schoolhouse was built.  This was Eureka No. 4, and included sections 17, 18, 19 and 20.  The first teacher in this building was Stella Madison.  Berea was named by Alexander Broadfoot and Ned Brown, sincere Bible students.  In 1887, eighty-eight years ago, Alexander Broadfoot (evangelist-farmer) from Abilene, Kansas, moved to the Berea vicinity.  Ned Brow was born on a farm near Minoka, Illinois, October 26, 1857.  In 1884, he and his brother, Sam, came to the vicinity.

In 1895, on January 11, the Post Office opened for business in the general store building, with H. J. Maxwell installed as postmaster.  The Maxwell brothers, Harve and Bert, stocked the store with merchandise needed to supply the needs of the community.

Mr. Broadfoot was holding gospel meetings during this time in local schoolhouses.  This was when he and Ned Brown named the place “Berea”, for the town mentioned in the Bible where “they received the word with all readiness of mind and searching the scriptures daily, whether those things were so.”

In early days of Berea, there was an elevator on the south side with scales on the outside near the road, so farmers could drive on, weight their grain wagons, and go on.  In 1902, there was a practicing physician, Dr. De Witt, and a drug store.  A number of dwellings were built about this time.  From this small beginning, Berea grew with three general stores(for a short period); a creamer, later remodeled into a general store with a second floor for a community hall; an implement store, blacksmith shop, barber shop, and a garage.  All were in business at one time or another through the years.

During 1910-1920, when Paul and Allie Brown operated the store, there was much activity, with band concerts, Labor Day celebrations, baseball and basketball games, picnics, roller skating and ice skating.  The Labor Day celebration became a big event in Berea.  People, you and old, came from miles around.  On September 7, 1916, close to 1,000 were in attendance.  The event was first started by Bill Steele.  He was assisted by Paul Brown, Clyde Smith, Bud Martin, and Shorty Campbell.

The band was first organized in 1898 by Elsworth Harris.   Joe Kordick was the first band leader.  It was called the Harris Band, and other members were Blaine, Ben, Frank, Clifford and Claude Harris, Del Hadley, Ray and Had Sivage.  In June, 1913, Henry Stuhmiller, of Fontanelle, started directing the band, making the trip twice a week, in a 1912 Model T.  One night was for rehearsal, and Saturday night the band concert.  Fay Harris and Earl Sivage were members at this time.

In declining years of Berea, only the General Store was in operation.  In 1920, the store burned.  Then Frank Harris remodeled another building into a nice store.  In 1922-24 Mr. and Mrs. Joe Vetter operated this store, renting it from Mrs. Isaac Brown, Sr.  They left in 1924.  During subsequent years the following operators were in charge:  Bill and Kate Baier from 1924-33 (they left to go into business in Fontanelle); the Cal Darrow family from 1933-34: Mr. and Mrs. Jewett in 1934-35; Mr. and Mrs. Audra Havens, 1935-48 (they moved to Greenfield).  A new store was built in 1937.  The Lester smiths took over in 1948-50.  In 1950, Mr. and Mrs. Frank Arnold bought the house and new Berea store.  In August they sold out the merchandise and lived in the house until 1956.  During this time Frank worked in Anita and Lois taught school.  At this time they are managing a Coast-to-Coast Store in Strawberry Point, Iowa.

The house was sold to Mrs. Campbell of Bridgewater in August 1958, moved to her farm and used as a home.  The store building was purchased by Harold Queck in July, 1964, and moved to his farm in Jackson Township.  In 1967, Fred Scarlett bought the house known as Aunt Annies’s (Mrs. Isaac Brown, Sr.) and moved it to Adair for a home.  The last house to be moved away was the one owned by Mrs. Erskine (Maude) Broadfoot, which was located on the south side, just west of the Gospel Hall.  About four years ago it was sold to Mr. Emgarten of Adair and moved to one of his farms near Adair.  This house was built in 1900 by Bert Maxwell.  Maude Broadfoot was employed with the State Department of Social Welfare in Des Moines for many years.  She passed away in 1974, several years after her retirement.

All that remains of the village of Berea today is Isaac Brown’s home and buildings on the north side of the road, and the Gospel Assembly Hall on the south side, which is still used by a small but dedicated congregation.

NOTE:  The account on Berea was prepared from a collection of notes written by Miss Ermine Brown.  The entire collection of her writings is printed in the Centennial History Book of Anita, Iowa, 1875-1975.

Ermine Mabel Brown was born on March 8, 1892, to Isaac and Anna (Nelson) Brown.  She was a 1915 graduate of Drake University and began a lifetime career in teaching.  She lived most of her life in the Berea community.  Miss Brown passed away in January, 1973.

Delbert Clayton, son of Mr. and Mrs. Paul Clayton and former resident of Eureka Township, was a 1930 graduate of Fontanelle High School.  He managed to become the owner of a Travel Air airplane soon after graduation, learned to fly, and made aviation his career.  Since 1940, he has been employed with Braniff Air Lines.  He retired last year and resides in Dallas, Texas.  A brother, Royal Clayton, lives in Fontanelle.  The land on which the Clayton home was located is now owned by William Westphal.

Earl Caddock, former heavyweight champion, and Joe Stetcher did their first wrestling practice and had their first wrestling match in the Berea Community Hall,.  Caddock held the wrestling title from 1917-1923.  He defeated Joe Stetcher in the Championship match in Omaha on April 9, 1917.

He was born in Huron, S. D., February 27, 1888, and came to Iowa with his parents when he was about 14 months old.  He was reared in the Berea community and worked out on many farms.  He trained in Chicago at the Chicago Athletic Club.

He was married to Grace Mickle of Walnut.  He was a World War I veteran.  They lived in the Berea vicinity, then went to Walnut, and later lived in Omaha, where he was in the oil business.  He suffered a heart attack, and after his illness they returned to Walnut, where he passed away in August 1950.  The Caddocks had four children, Earl, Robert, Richard and Joan.  Earl is deceased; Robert lives in Seattle, Washington, Richard in Riverside, California, and Joan (Mrs. Warren Ploeg) lives in Paullina, Iowa.  Mrs. Caddock lives in Seattle near her son, Robert.  There are 14 grandchildren and 3 great-grandchildren.

Transcribed from Adair County History, 1976




Adair County

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