Harper, Iowa Centennial
                  1879-1979
                         NOT TOO BIG. . . BUT NOT TOO LITTLE

CURRENT BUSINESS

 

In 1934 Mr. & Mrs. Victor Holzworth began a Grocery Store in the former Farmer's Savings Bank Bldg. Several years later they sold the business to Mr. & Mrs. A. T. Karns who previously ran a Meat Market at Keota.

 

 

In 1940 Mr. & Mrs. Tom Hogan, from Des Moines, purchased the store from Mr. & Mrs. Karns. The Hogan's owned and operated this store for 19 years. During this time the attack on Pearl Harbor took place. Mr. Hogan was called to serve his country and Mrs. Hogan kept the store in business. During the war years it was not unusual for the women to run the business places. The war put a price ceiling on groceries. During this time of war bread and milk sold for 10¢. This Building burned in 1948. Hogan's began again in the present location.

 

 

 

In 1959 Mr. & Mrs. Hogan sold the business to Mr. & Mrs. Robert Singmaster. They operated the business for 6 1/2 years. They enjoyed their years in the grocery business very much.

 

In 1966 Mr. & Mrs. Singmaster sold the business to Mr. & Mrs. Ed Knepp, the present owners. The grocery store has always been a family owned and operated business. The prices are much higher today. Bread is 76¢ a loaf and milk is $1.95 a gallon. Meats are also very high. In 1966 hamburger sold for 69¢ and 79¢ per lb. Today's prices are $1.69 and $1.79 for a pound of hamburger.

 

In past history, we have been told, this store was destroyed by fire three times. In 1978 we had a furnace explosion which blew the door off the furnace. The fire which followed was quickly extinguished with a fire extinguisher.

 

Mr. and Mrs. Knepp enjoy living in Harper and hope to have the opportunity to operate the Grocery Store for many years to come.

 

Hardware Store

 

 

Lots 5 and 6 plat was drawn up June 21, 1872 by John P and Matilda Yerger. December 20, 1890, it was sold by Mats Fuhs to John H and Anna Peiffer, and Paul and Mary Peiffer. The Peiffer Bros, built the Hardware store.

 

September 21, 1945, Peiffer Bros, sold the business to John and Mildred Miller. January 1, 1946, Herbert Hammes joined John Miller as a partner and it became Miller and Hammes Hardware and Hatchery.

 

April 15, 1950, Omer and Burnita Hammes and Herbert and Maxine Hammes purchased the business, which became Hammes Bros. Hardware.

 

Feed Store

 

 

Lots 3 and 4 plat was drawn up June 21, 1872 by John P and Matilda Yerger in the town of Harper.

 

Farmers Union Egg Plant leased the building to John Miller in 1933, for a cream and egg buying station and feed store.

 

John Miller bought the building in 1937. In 1940 the hatchery was added.

 

January 1, 1946. Herbert Hammes joined the business as a partner.

 

1950, the business was sold to Omer and Herbert Hammes. The Post Office was moved from the bank building, into the feed store in 1950, until John Miller built the new Post Office in 1957.

 

Williams Gun Store and Marine

 

 

Williams Gun Store and Marine was started in 1973 by Henry and Marilyn Williams on the corner of Lafayette and Laffer Streets. The store deals in guns, ammo, hunting clothes, boots, fishing tack- le, outboard motors, boats, and boat trailers. A store for the sportsman.

 

 

Conkity Garage

 

 

Conkity's Garage was started in 1970. Wayne was a sophomore in High School, so he decided to fix tires and sell gas after school hours for spending money.

 

To make it easier to fix tires, he built his first tire machine from scrap metal found on the premises. In 1972 we sold our trucks and Omar went into the shop full-time. In the fall of 1972 we built an addition which consisted of a building 44 by 60.

 

In 1973 Wayne went into the shop full-time with his dad, Omar.

 

We have been expanding our business ever since. In 1978 we secured a used car dealers license and have been buying and selling pickups and cars, besides our regular repair work and welding. In February 1979 we purchased a wrecker and now have 24 hour wrecker service. We also built a walk-in cooler and sell beer and soft drinks, carry-out only.

 

Harper House

 

 

The Harper House was located in Block 17 Lots 13, 14, and 15. In later years it was the only tavern and cafe in Harper and some of the people to operate it were Ves Striegel, Charlie Norgan, Alfred Peiffer, Art Schulke, Omer Hammes, Harold Fink, Bond, Norbert Weber, Dallas Chamberlin, Dale Shirkey, Bill Strohman, Bob Shipman and Betty Green.

 

The building was torn down in 1975 by W. C. Gretter and Sons.

 

Harper House Tavern and Cafe

 

 

The Harper House Tavern and Cafe is located on the front half of lots 1 and 2 of block 14. The building formerly owned by Hammes Bros, and bought by W. C. Gretter and Sons in 1975 was remodeled. The fixtures from the old Harper House were moved to this building. Betty Green, Milo and Trudy Miller, and Ruth Carr have been some of the operators.

 

Natural Gas Pipeline Company of America

 

 

Natural Gas Pipeline Company of America began as the Continental Construction Company. The years of 1929 and 1930 found the right-of-way being purchased from landowners for a 24-inch pipeline from the Texas Panhandle to Chicago. After much hard work and many difficulties the first natural gas was pumped for sale on October 16, 1931 through the 900 miles of pipeline with a system capacity of 175 million cubic feet of gas a day.

 

Through the result of expansion programs in the last 42 years NGPL can deliver more gas in one hour today than it could in 24 hours that first year. Today there are over 10,000 miles of pipeline network in 12 states with a capacity to with pump 5.172 billion cubic feet of gas a day.

 

Harper Station 109 serves as district headquarters for seven departments with 50 employees and an annual payroll of over $500, 000. With the need for more natural gas for homes and industry over the years NGPL added a 26-inch and a 36-inch pipeline along side the first 24-inch line. Two bigger engines were added to boost the horsepower of the original station from 17, 500 horsepower to 27, 800 horsepower in 1969. Station 109 now pumps 1. 650 million cubic feet of gas on peak days. Installation of a 4th line was begun in 1968. 1966 and 1967 saw the selling of the 15 cottages at the station site. These were homes for key employees and their families. The cottages were sold to employees or the public to be moved to a new location, many of which are in the Harper and Keota area.

 

The discovery of oil east of Keota in 1963 was thought to be the first oil in this area of Iowa. NGPL was drilling an underground storage exploratory well on the farm of William Flynn two miles east of Keota when they hit oil. The initial testing indicated a production rate of five to ten barrels of oil a day which wasn't enough to support a profitable operation.

 

In Iowa. Illinois, and Oklahoma, Natural has storage locations for natural gas under ground. Two miles east of Keota is Compressor Station 205. This station employs (sic) two men and has a horsepower of 4.000. Gas is stored in the ground until the peak of the heating or cooling season, when it is withdrawn for use. Station 205 has five billion cubic feet of gas in storage and can withdraw about 40 million cubic feet a day. A much larger storage facility is being developed in the Columbus Junction area. Natural Gas Pipeline Company of America contributes to the growth and interest of this area through the large amount of taxes it pays. Taxes paid in Keokuk County are approximately $226,000.00 a year and in Washington County $160,000.00. The present total system investment is over $1,300,000,000.00 in 85 compressor stations and the pipeline network.

 


 

W. C. Gretter and Sons

Dealers in Livestock, Grain, and Fertilizer

 

It was in October of  1917, Wynn C. Gretter shipped his first load of hogs, by rail, from Harper, Iowa, to Chicago, Illinois. Mr. Gretter purchased the Farmers Union Elevator Company of Harper, Iowa, in July of 1933 and started buying grain. The elevator had been torn down, but the block building remains standing to this date. An elevator, sized at 24 feet by 26 feet, with a capacity of 4500 bushels built by Bill Waechter in the late 20's, was bought by Mr. Gretter in 1938. W. C. Gretter's two sons, Robert and William, joined their father and formed a partnership known as W. C. Gretter and Sons in the year of 1945. The property known as the Nick Sondag building and former store was bought and this is where the present elevator, office, and several storage bins were constructed in 1958. Mr. Gretter retired in 1960 and his sons, Robert and William, continued with the business. With commercial fertilizer making its entry into farming, a bulk blending plant was built in 1964. An interesting article was published in the Des Moines Register on November 10, 1971, about the "Record Crop and Dock Strike". More acres of corn had been planted that year fearing the blight of the previous year would again cut yields. With the increased acreage and yield, an untimely dock strike in progress, and all available storage filled,

 

 

elevators of the surrounding area were forced to dump corn onto the streets. Gretters' elevator had 135,000 bushels wedged between two steel bins and no place to put the corn farmers continued to bring to town—so, 80 some thousand bushels were piled onto the streets of Harper in the fall of 1971.

 

With farming techniques continually changing, additional storage and dryers have been installed periodically. A 4,500 bushel per hour dryer and 260,000 bushels of storage were added in 1975.

 

 

 

 

W. C. Gretter and Sons now have a 2 million bushel storage capacity to accommodate the farmers of the area. In order to move this amount of stored grain to the river for marketing, a fleet of eight hopper bottom semi-trailers is necessary since the rail system has been discontinued. Also two pot-bellied stock trailers are used to transport the hogs to market. Today, sixty-two years later, this business continues and offers a daily hog and grain market.

 

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