1873 - 1973

County Officials



A glimpse into the past...

The Same Business...The Same Name...The Same Family
A. A. Hulse General Store

Mrs. Ruby Hulse Helscher, present owner of the A. A. Hulse Store in Keota, is a daughter of Addison Hulse who in 1887 erected the present store building. The firm has operated continuously under this name at this location on Broadway, Keota's main street.

When the town of Keota was incorporated in 1873 young "Add," then 14, began work in the Spangler Store.

His father, Minard A. Hulse, and his brother-in-law, J. A. Y. Ashby, in 1883 opened a general merchandising business with "Add" as chief clerk. His wage of $10 weekly was tops in that day. Their store called the Western Store was located a block west of today's store.

Ashby quit the firm four years later and Add," then 22, became his father's partner. The elder Mr. Hulse wished his son to manage the business and changed the firm name to A. A. Hulse and Company.

When a saloon burned down at the site of today's store, "Add" planned purchase of the lot and the new structure.

For 85 years the business was continued. Addison's widow, Mrs. Georgia Ramsey Hulse, was owner during her lifetime with her son-in-law, the late Will Helscher, as manager. Following her death Will and Ruby Helscher purchased the store.

Since Will's death, 14 years ago, Ruby has carried on the business founded by her father and in which her late husband was associated for about 50 years. He was first an employee, then was manager after A. A. Hulse's death in 1919, until the death of Mrs. Hulse in 1947 when "Will and Ruby" became owners.

To Ruby, sole owner today, the store is more than a business, since childhood it has been an intimate thing. Little girl memories include coaxing Daddy for a ride on the store's sliding ladder. She says that after two or three rides his refusal of "No more" was adamant.

As a clerk she says the grinding by hand of coffee for customers was tedious and on a five pound order was plain tiring. She counted eggs brought packed in oats to prevent breakage on the long rough ride to town. Occasionally she found tiny eggs and even stones that had been substituted for eggs.

The farm family of the horse and buggy days drove to town weekly to "trade out" their produce. On many Saturday nights the store remained open for business until after midnight.

Eighty-five years ago the Hulse Store was fronted by a board walk and hitch-racks. The building has since been extended to the alley and remodeling includes a modern window front. There have been dramatic changes in heating, lighting, and transportation and a surfaced highway has replaced the mud street.

But the policy of the store has remained unchanged.

The Hulse Store since its founding has placed a weekly ad in the town paper, The Keota Eagle. The earliest ads were terse statements found in the column of locals because the paper was a small one with only four pages.

This is from 1887, quote: "Go to A. A. Hulse & Co. for the Keota Roller Mill Flour. We will put it against any other flour in the market."

The following year there appeared a square boxed advertisement written in a variety of lettering to make it easy to read and it was not unattractive. It read. Quote: "Energy, Enterprise and stock to back them are what have made A. A. Hulse & Co. the leaders of General Merchandise and they propose to hold the advantage gained by having at all times the latest styles, the best quality, the lowest prices on everything." With a larger paper came the display ads so common today.

In a half page as of March 20, 1899, are these Easter items: Ladies' ready made dress skirts from $1.39 to $6.00. Fancy short capes with snug ribbon ruching collars from $1.39 to $7.50.

The delivery of groceries has never been discontinued. Triweekly deliveries are made on Mondays, Wednesdays and Saturdays.

Through the years some lines have been dropped: shoes, coats, ladies hats, carpeting, linoleum, and curtains and others. Frozen and packaged goods have replaced groceries from the open barrel. Natural gas today is a far cry from the early-day woodburning stoves and air conditioning has been added. "The passing of the cookie barrel was one change that saddened me," says Ruby, "because in that early day each child who came into the store was given a cookie. How I missed seeing the smiles of the kiddies for that cookie."

Another pertinent comment by Mrs. Helscher is that in the modern Super-Market offering a variety of merchandise is doing what the country store has always done.

Assisting Mrs. Helscher in today's store is Mrs. Ruth Ginkens as full -time clerk with Mrs. Helen Mills, Mrs. Betty Heisdorffer, and Mrs. Verne McConnell as part-time clerks, who still serve the customers by approaching them with words that never lose their aptness, "May I help you?"

A. A. Hulse
Left to Right — A. A. Hulse, M. A. Hulse, Elmer Hulse.



Trier Yards

Keota Chemical Co.



A glimpse into the past...



The Chicago, Rock Island and Pacific Railroad had, for a number of years, been operating a road to Washington and repeated offers were made from time to time to induce the said Company to extend the line to the county seat of Keokuk County. In the fall of 1870 Ebenezer Cook, Vice-President of this Company, made a proposition to build the road provided the people of the county would raise by subscriptions the sum of $50,000.00, secure the right-of-way from the Washington County line and to provide suitable depot grounds. The committee to whom the people had delegated the management of this matter consisted of J. P. Yerger, J. H. Shawhan and George D. Woodin. This committee on canvassing the matter wrote to Mr. Cook, stating that his proposition would be accepted, but they preferred to raise part of the subsidy by taxation, in several townships under the laws of Iowa, instead of by subscription. To that the Rock Island Company consented, agreeing to take the amount assessed as a part of the $50,000.

In January, 1871, elections were held in the several townships of the county which would be immediately benefited by the building of the proposed road. Among these were Lafayette Township. The vote was in favor of the tax, and through the energetic efforts of the committee the right-of-way was soon secured and depot grounds located.

Hosea Newton and J. Sherman, very early settlers in the Keota area, were on hand and laid the first rail for the railroad in Keokuk County. Hanno Newton, son of Hosea, rode the first train that crossed Clear Creek west of Keota. The first lumber which was brought into Keota by train was March 1, 1872. The depot, 22 x 24, was well built and was conveniently located in the middle of Fulton Street. April 21, 1872, was the "opening up" date of the railroad through Keota.

The C.R.I. & P. R.R. has for the past 101 years been servicing the town of Keota. However many changes have been made.


September 16 to 21, 1878. Iowa State Fair held in Cedar Rapids. Round trip from Keota to Cedar Rapids and return - $3.60.

A. L. Lindner, Agent.

August 26, 1882. Special trains to the State Fair at Des Moines will be run September 4, 5, 6, 7 and 8 as follows: Leave Keota, 6:03 A.M.
Arrive at Des Moines at 10:35 A.M.

Returning leave Des Moines, 7:15 P.M.
Arrive at Keota, 12:17 A.M.

No baggage will be carried on these trains.

A. L. Lindner, Agent.

August 19, 1882. Excursion tickets to the Keokuk County Fair at Sigourney will be sold August 22 to August 25, inc. Good to return on or before August 26. Fare for round trip, 55 cents.

September 9, 1882. The Rock Island road has still further reduced its fare to Chicago; rate now being from Keota to Chicago — $7.63.

1887. Keota has eight trains a day — four freight, two passenger and two mail trains.

October 24, 1890. Keota railroad station is now a coupon ticket office and is prepared to check baggage and sell through tickets to all points in the United States and Canada.

July 6, 1891. Due to the railroad strike on the Rock Island, Keota is experiencing a very dull time. Mail service is erratic and Sunday papers arrive Thursday. Freight traffic is dead. The branch plug train has been making daily runs minus its sleeper. The Eagle is a few days late caused by the delay of its Chicago print getting through the blockade. The strike caused many a Fourth to fizzle out this year. Harper and Sigourney failed to receive their fire works and several of the orators failed to arrive.

December 24, 1897. The Rock Island management has caused a 14-section sleeper to be operated on this branch instead of the l0-section Pullman heretofore in use because of increasing travel.

February 25, 1898. Keota is a good business point. Recently 16 travelers got off the train and stampeded Landlord Willis of the Columbia Hotel.

May 19, 1902. We have a Pullman sleeper on our train now.

January 9, 1908. The Firefly made its last run through here Saturday. We now have two passenger trains through here a day. On Monday, August 9, the "Firefly" was put back in service. We can now take in chautauquas in Columbus Junction and Washington. The mail service will also be resumed.

October 10, 1912. Keota station on the Rock Island is becoming important. They now have a telegraph operator, agent and helper. Earl Blythin is now operator.

May 7, 1914. The Rock Island has raised the fare from Keota to Washington from 29¢ to 30¢. Its property around here certainly looks like 30¢ and such a brazen attempt to enrich its stockholders at the expense of the people ought to make it feel like 30¢.

May 20, 1926. The new motor car service on the Knoxville branch of the Rock Island through Keota started Monday morning. It is an interurban car with power and passenger space combined in one car. It also has a baggage room, which is used as a smoker because the car hauls the regular mail and baggage car. The car is of the gas-electric type, operating from an 8-cylinder gasoline engine which runs a dynamo, which in turn generates electricity. The seats carry three persons each and capacity is 48 people.

April 21, 1927. The "Galloping Goose" will be replaced Saturday with a 72' all steel electric car. There is a ten foot engine room in front, express compartment 11 1/2 ft., smoking compartment 9 ft. and the main compartment is 38 ft. seating 77 passengers. The exterior is of olive Duco, interior trim of Honduras mahogany, floors of rubber tile and linoleum, seats of muleskin leather and it is heated by



A glimpse into the past...

hot water. It has basket fixtures, drinking fountains and toilet facilities.

October 23, 1930. Otto and Stanley Jackson of Oskaloosa were granted permission from the railroad commission to serve the town of Keota on a passenger bus line which they operate between Washington and Oskaloosa.

December 21, 1944. The Rock Island sent one of its Rocket passenger trains through Keota Sunday night at 11:40 causing quite a sensation among those living near the railroad to hear and see it. It went through here at about 20 miles per hour, honking for all the crossings, pulling about seven brightly lighted Pullmans full of passengers who didn't look up or know what a thrill the railroad's neighbors in Keota were getting.

Depot 2


May 24, 1895. A petition has been signed by a number of our citizens to have the depot removed from the center of Fulton Street where it now stands. It is the central street of the town that leads direct to the park.

November 1, 1895. The depot has been moved and a square box, supposed to be a bay window, has been stuck on the south side. New flooring of hard wood will be put in. The old platforms have been rebuilt. The old shanty will be repainted and made to look like new again.

March 8, 1906. Several Rock Island engineers were here and took measurements in and around the railroad yards. It is supposed the Rock Island is about to build a "house track" on the north side of the station for relief of freight crews who are badly put out by passenger trains butting in at a time when they are busiest unloading their wares.

Section Crew 1

October 26, 1906. Six men are working on the new station
platform. It is to be brick immediately in front of the depot
and the balance on either end to be of cinders. They unloaded several cars of cinders and sand yesterday. The
curbing plank is four inches thick.

May 16, 1907. Warren Stewart tells us he first came to Keota May 13, 1872. The railroad was built through the town and the depot half up. J .T. Webber was the agent. There was no end to the mud. Keota is bad enough now in a wet time, but in those times without a foot of drainage anywhere it must have been fierce.

The Keota Depot was torn down in March 1971.

Section Crew 2
C R I & P section crew. House pictured in the right background believed to be the old "Everett House".
Depot 1



July 9, 1931. Mr . and Mrs. John (Jane McCully) Vincent who were pioneers of Washington County were killed in a railway accident when the wagon in which they were riding was struck by a train at what is since known as the Dick Fisher crossing about four miles east of Keota. The accident occurred in 1876 and was the first fatal accident to occur on the new railroad which was built in 1872.



Lyle Ins ad



A glimpse into the past...


In the spring of 1873, Dave Wolfe of near South English built the home known later as the Stephens property, north of the U. P. Church. (This is now approximately the Bill Ross property). He started a planing mill on the lot north of his house, for the purpose of dressing native lumber from the saw mills along the Skunk River. Among the boards brought in were five specimens of walnut and Mr. Wolfe saw the opportunity of using this material in the manufacture of organ cases and other fine cabinet work. The keyboards, reeds and inside works of organs were secured in the East and assembled here.

In 1901 there still remained one of the organs in a home here. It was given to J.M. Wilcox. In 1875, Mr. Wolfe's brother, James, became a partner and they established a foundry, turning out grey iron castings. The editor of The Keota Eagle in 1934 states that Frank Glover, Mack Snider and several others well remember the pioneer days in Keota of the Wolfe Bros. Foundry and Organ Factory.

In another article it is noted that Jerry Wolfe who lived north of South English was a carpenter, cabinet maker and surveyor in early days when Keota was started and he helped build the first building erected here in 1872. Then he worked for a year or more in the Keota Organ Factory. Probably not many of the present generation, says the editor of The Keota Eagle in 1934 knew that Keota had an organ factory and it turned out a lot of organs. He states that it would be interesting to know if any one in the community has a Keota built organ. The Eagle would be glad for this information.

It is also noted that May 1, 1880, The Burdette Organ Company of Keota sued the Estey Company for infringing on their patents and recovered $160,011.71 damages.


June 1876. Wagon & Carriage Maker — L. P. Dull. Keota Wagon Shop — A. S. Vincent.

December 9, 1876. The Keota Foundry is in full running order. They have made two successful blasts and are now ready to furnish anything in the cast iron line that may be ordered.

1879. The Carriage Works, H. A. Millhouse. Makes first class carriages and buggies. Spring wagons a specialty. Shop west of the Post Office.

1880. Keota Carriage Factory on East Broadway. We make a specialty of building and repairing all kinds of buggies. Buggies and Carriages always in stock. Van Winkle Bros. & Co.

July 1880. A new industry in Keota. Two men are manufacturing spring beds. They make them on a new and improved plan.

February 4, 1882. The "Leacox Washington Machine" is being manufactured in Keota by H. T. Divelbiss.

March 21, 1885. KEOTA CREAMERY. Mr. U. L. Williams has his creamery building nearly ready for the machinery which will be here this week. He has closed out the grocery business and will devote full time to the creamery: On Monday the Keota Creamery shipped 54 tubs of butter to New York.

September 5, 1885. Mr. W. A. Eastlake is the new owner of the creamery. He comes highly recommended as a butter maker.

February 20, 1886. Keota Creamery to be sold at Sheriff's Sale.

August 26, 1887. The Keota Roller Mills, under Henkle, Tallman and Co., have been extensively remodeled arid approved. There are now nine sets of rollers and a new machine for extracting cockle seed. They also can steam hard flinty wheat (as produced this season) and bring it to the rollers so good flour can be guaranteed. It now has a capacity of 125 barrels per day of 24 hours.

January 31, 1890. The Keota Roller Mills have had plenty of ups and downs but believe it has now started on road to prosperity. Keota Mills have had reputation of making fine flours and Henkle and Bush, owners, intend to keep the record. Mr. Ehrlick is the new miller. Minnesota hard wheat is used. "Crystol Patent" is the name of the flour.

July 25. 1890. The entire "innards" of the Keota Mill will be moved to Weiser, Idaho. It's a good mill for such poor wheat country as this, the machinery being the most expensive kind and the only way to make money was to keep it going day and night and to have home wheat to grind which could not be done here. Keota needs a mill, and a plant can be put here for one-third the cost of the old one.

February 21, 1890. The mill ordered a 125 horse power engine. After this engine is put in Keota Roller Mills will have but few equals in matter of equipment.

July 22, 1892. Acme Butter Factory. Acme Butter Factory was incorporated with its principal place of business in Washington Co., adjacent to the town of Keota. Board of directors are: R.T. Carris, L.W. Muttal, J.F. Anderson, D.W. Wolfe, H.P. Newton, E.B. Brown, and H. Henkle. The president is R.T. Carris; vice president, L.W. Nuttal; treasurer, H. Henkle; secretary, H.P. Newton.

March 29, 1895. The Keota Produce Company recently incorporated and will st art business next Monday. The Acme Factory building will be the scene of operations, it and the Keota Creamery having been merged into one. S.E. Reisman will supervise and Mr. Carpenter will assist.

April 1, 1898. Keota has a cigar factory now open for business in the Eaton Building on East Broadway. Mr. H. Tschanz is an experienced maker of the "fragrant weed." Fine Havana and Domestic cigars are manufactured here.



Greiner ad

Lagos Acres Country Club



A glimpse into the past...

April 16, 1936. The Keota Produce Company's hatchery is a busy place right now as the baby chick season approaches its height and is furnishing local employment and an outlet for hatching eggs from certified flocks. The hatchery's capacity is 12,000 chicks. It is located in a room specially constructed for the purpose at the Keota Produce Company.

June 18, 1936. Keota Creamery will be opened June 20. George Haberman of Elma, Iowa, having secured co-operation of the Keota Community Club, bought the Statler brick building on Broadway and has re-constructed it throughout. He drilled a well over 300 feet deep to furnish clean water for cooling, cream. The product of the local creamery will be called "Keota Butter." It will be on sale at Keota stores and shipments will be made to New York markets.

March 18, 1937. Charles D. Kirkpatrick was voted a 14 month lease on the old town hall at the council meeting. Mr. Kirkpatrick will begin to use it late this summer for approximately a year for sorting and storing hybrid seed corn of which he will plant a large acreage this year. When the busy season arrives in the seed corn business he will employ several men in the storage room and if his first year's experience is successful his seed corn business will very possibly become an important and permanent industry for the town and community.

October to, 1940. The Land O' Lakes turkey plant in Keota began operations Monday morning and is employing 80 persons. There are 58 women employed and 22 men, of whom some are skilled workers who were brought in from elsewhere. The first carload of 1124 large turkeys was packed by Tuesday afternoon and shipped out by refrigerator car that night. A. Bernstein is the manager and is well satisfied with the way the plant is operating. The turkey plant is located in the Berend Building on West Broadway.

May 21, 1942. Locust Grove Turkey Farm Goes All Out On War Production. Ed. L.Conrad, owner of the Locust Grove Turkey Farm, operates 40,000 capacity Jamesway incubators, specializing in hatching turkey poults. Besides selling poults to his customers, he raised over 8,000 meat birds last year, dressing out over 20 carloads of turkeys a year in their modern dressing plant. They do all their marketing through the Land O' Lakes Creameries.



December 8, 1883. KEOTA TILE FACTORY. Mr. E. A. Kennel has purchased two acres of land from the Mill Company, just south of the mill, and will be here soon to begin building. He took a sample of the clay to the Illinois Zinc Works to be tested and they pronounced it the best tile clay ever brought to them for testing. The Tile Factory is now a reality. The Railroad officials have agreed to put in a side track to the factory.

December 29, 1883. E. A. Kennel, the tile factory man, returned from Muscatine with a sample tile made from Keota clay. It makes a strong smooth tile and burns a nice red color. He will now make arrangements for building the factory.

June 6, 1885. Our tile manufacturers have added a tile mill and crusher and have ordered brick for a new kiln.

October 24, 1885. Proprietors of Keota Tile are putting steam pipes in their sheds to enable them to run in the winter.

June 26, 1886. This factory now represents a cost of $12,000, and with one exception is the largest tile factory in Iowa. The main part of the building is 32 x 84 feet and 10 feet to the eaves — it is fitted with steam pipes for heating and drying. The west wing is 18 x 60 feet and two stories high; east wing 18 x 80 feet, and 12 feet to the eaves.

The grinding power is fitted with a 35 horse power engine and 50 horse power boiler. The machine used is the Bennett Brick & Tile Machine, which has a capacity of 10,000 three inch tile per day — 8000 four-inch or 6,000 five-inch tile per day.

The products of this machine are burned in two huge, down draft kilns, lined on the inside with fire brick. This enterprise started in the spring of 1884. Twelve to 15 hands are now employed. Mr. E. A. Kennel and J. C. Clarke are principal proprietors.

May 5, 1910. Keokuk and Washington counties will soon be connected by a subway or underground railway. S.K. Leacox is building a tunnel across the road from the tile factory to land in the other county and will henceforth make tile and brick out of Washington Co. clay. Leacox said the tunnel will be 66 feet in length, the width of the road, with 10-foot approaches and in diameter it will be 5.2 by 6 feet. Sam hasn't decided on the kind of power he'll use to run his trains.

March 16, 1911. BUILDING BLOCKS. S. K. Leacox will manufacture hollow building blocks at his factory this year. He got the molds last week. The blocks are made of clay and are like those used in school houses.

May 3, 1923. Ed Lantry, manager of the Keota tile factory, has ads in the paper warning parents to keep their boys out of the tile factory pit as there is danger of them being killed. The clay cars weigh from 800 to 900 lbs, and pass thru the tunnel under the county road with tremendous speed. The tunnel is just big enough to clear the car.



Pioneer ad



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Keota Cenntinial Book © Copyright 1973
Keota Centennial Committee

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