1873 - 1973

A glimpse into the past...


1921 Street Scene

1909 Street Scene
Keota Jail 1885
Keota Jail about 1885.
Church in Street Scene
Martin Home - Now Powell Funeral Home
Home of J. S. Martin ..... Now Powell Funeral Home.
1907 Street Scene Tag Willis
"Tag" Willis and his Sanitary Dairy.
1907 Street Scene 2
Street Scene



Mcdonald and sons trio ads

Lays quad ads



A glimpse into the past...


Percheron horses were developed in France in the province of Perche, but it was J. O. Singmaster of Keota, Iowa, that spread the fame of the breed throughout the length and breadth of America.

Samuel Singmaster, grandfather of J. O. and C. A. Singmaster, came to Keokuk County from Allentown, Penna., in the year 1843, settling on a farm eight miles south of Keota, Iowa, on the Skunk River. The farm included 320 acres, part of which was a land grant from the government, and which is still owned by the Singmaster family, it being the home of Samuel's great-grandson, James F. Flander and family. He is the fourth generation to own the original homestead, known as the "Singmaster Ranch."

William Singmaster, youngest son of Samuel, made the first importation of five French drafts in the year of 1876. Importations were increased with each trip until as many as 75 and 100 were included in one lot. A Clydesdale stallion owned by William Singmaster took a first premium at the Iowa State Fair in 1876. He was shown with 80 horses.

The Singmaster livestock farm was called "singmaster & Sons" for Samuel's other sons, Chas. F. and Thomas, who also shared in the work. At the death of William in 1891, Chas. F. dissolved partnership with his brother Thomas and established the firm of "C. F. Singmaster & Sons," he being the senior member of the firm, and his sons, J. Omer and Chas. A. the other members. He located two miles north of Keota establishing the Maple Grove Farm and continued in the horse business.

Thomas Singmaster always remained with his father and after the latter's death in 1899, took care of the large estate. Years later he also began breeding fine horses and dealing in the same, having as many as several hundred head of horses, besides a large number of cattle and hogs each year.

The firm of C. F. Singmaster and sons was dissolved with the retirement from the firm of C. F. and his youngest son, C. A., who preferred to devote his attention to cattle. J. O. was now left to continue the importing and breeding of Percherons. He included his son, Charles Omer, in the firm to make it again "singmaster and Son," which it remained until the business was discontinued.

In the year 1883, when J. O. Singmaster was eighteen, he made his first trip with his uncle. Together the two Singmasters made four trips, and from 1887 when the uncle died, J. O. continued the buying expeditions across the Atlantic until he made 56 trips.

In 1904 the longest express train load of horses ever shipped into the middle west drew into the Keota station bringing 227 Percherons to the Singmaster farm.

William Singmaster started the parade of the Percherons to the horse show rings of the country. Soon, with J. O. Singmaster showing the horses, honors were won by the Keota breed in every horse show of consequence in the middle west and, later on, in the principal shows in the country. Not content with sectional and national honors, the wonderful Percherons and other Singmaster horses won international championships at the World's Fairs, expositions, and international livestock shows.

Five World's Fairs were invaded by Singmaster entries. At the Panama-Pacific Exposition in l9l5 at San Francisco, California, Lagos won the World's Champion Stallion Award. Lagos was imported from France.

At the death of J. O. Singmaster in 1937 Keota had seen the last of the famous Singmaster horses.

Through the activities of the several Singmaster firms the town of Keota became known not only throughout the United States and Canada, but in several countries of Europe as well.

Mrs. J. O. Singmaster who is a resident of The Kahl Home, in Davenport, celebrated her 103rd birthday, July 25, 1972.

Singmaster Ranch
"Singmaster Ranch", home of Samuel Singmaster where the
famous horse lndustry started.

Keota Barn
Keota Barn and Show Pavillion, 100 by 188 feet. 72 Box Stalls
C. F. Singmaster & Sons
W. Broadway.



A glimpse into the past...

World Champion Stallion
April 4, 1911 .... July 20, 1926
"World's Champion Percheron Stallion"


A slab of beautiful white Vermont marble was erected to mark the grave of Lagos, the world's champion stallion of his time, at the Singmaster farm near Keota.

Lagos was the property of J. O. Singmaster and Son, Charies Omer, of Keota and was kept at Maple Grove Farm, the Singmaster estate. The Singmasters purchased Lagos in France and brought him to America in 1915. He died July 20, 1926, and was buried where he fell (a tradition of France) near the barn that had been his home for I I years. Lagos received the "International Champion of Champions" award at the Panama-Pacific Exposition at San Francisco in 1915.


Lagos Stone


Singmast-Flanders ad



A glimpse into the past...

Keota Sales Barn
Keota Sales Barn — J. Omer Singmaster & Son. E. Broadway.


September 14, l9ll. An article in Twentieth Century Farmer gives J. Omer Singmaster a nice send off. When J. Omer Singmaster walks in the Paris, France, streets he meets with a respectful deference from the whole population. A green ribbon does it. A tiny ribbon in his buttonhole. When he enters a French business house the ribbon gets him led straight to the private office; it makes cab men, waiters, post clerks, shopmen and subway conductors wait on him first out of turn. In a word, the simple citizen of Keota, Iowa, is decorated with the French Order of Agricultural Merit, harder to get, in some ways, than the red ribbon of the legion of Honor. No Frenchman can be admitted who has not for 15 years practiced agriculture or "functions directly attached there to." Some exceptions are provided for rare services to the whole agriculture of France, as of inventors, scientists, and explorers. Pasteur had it for his discovery of anthrax serum. Mr. Singmaster has it for his long career as an appreciator of Percherons.

October 2, 1912. J. O. Singmaster has been honored by the French government by having the second degree of "Merit Agricole" bestowed on him, an honor given to only five American importers. His lapel button is a peach.


Keota Manufacturing Company was started in 1959 by Terry Dill and the help of the newly formed Keota Development Corporation. A building of 1200 square feet was constructed at the northeast edge of Keota by the county line road. Some new equipment was purchased and Terry began to manufacture some farm equipment, such as stock tanks and the first snap on dual wheel.

In 1965 more room was needed and with the help of the Keota Development Corporation another 2650 square feet of floor space was added to the original structure, along with more complete fabrication and sheet metal equipment. With three employee's Terry began to manufacture and sell farrowing crates, snap on dual wheels, grain boxes and several small farm equipment products.

The market for the Products being manufactured and sold by the company increased and in 1970 another 4200 square feet of floor space was added, including new offices, paint room and assembly line equipment.

The Company then began manufacturing adjustable livestock loading chutes, hydraulic livestock trailers and pickup racks. With the help of an added sales force these products were sold through dealers and distributors throughout the midwest. As the demand for the products increased the present structure was not large enough to manufacture and sell all of the products, so in 1971 Keota Manufacturing sold the loading chute, hydraulic livestock trailer and pickup rack to Henderson Metal Products at Cedar Rapids, Iowa.

At the present time the company is manufacturing loading docks, camper levelers, utility trailers, stock tanks, Roll-ARamps, lick tanks, grain Boxes and three-point carriers. They are also doing contract manufacturing for other larger manufacturers.

Rail Yard
Horse Importation
Singmaster lmportation.


Coop trio ads

Ready Mix duo ads



A glimpse into the past...


Productive Acres Manufacturing Co., Inc. (PAMCO), one of Oskaloosa's largest manufacturing concerns, had its beginning in Keota, Iowa in 1949.

Ninety-four percent of this concern is owned by Harold (Pete) Palmer who was born and reared in the Keota Community. He has four brothers: Doyle, O. D. (Jim), Glenn (Cotton) and Allan (Cooney); and three sisters: Mae Herr, Opal Herr and Ilo Green, all living in the Keota community with the exception of "Cotton" who lives just north of neighboring Kinross.

Pete started with the development of a milking parlor. This was produced in the Al Mess building, now housing Tadlock, Inc. Pete was farming north of Keota, Al Mess ran the International Harvester Implement Company, and Harold Holmes was the salesman.

Then in 1952 Productive Acres, composed of Mr. Palmer, Mr. Mess and Mr. Holmes, built the tile building now housing the Keota Town Hall and Fire Department. At that time Pete bought out the other two men.

Pete ran the milking parlor business himself until he sold it out in 1956.

In 1957 he invented the Productive Acres bulk feed units to mount on truck bodies to haul bulk feed to farmers. This is when the name was changed to PAMCO. These were built in the Coffman building, just east of the present Central Cafe. PAMCO bought the Al Mess building at this time and used this facility to install the feed bodies on customers' trucks. This operated for two years in Keota.

In 1959 facilities to take care of the many customers from far and wide became inadequate in Keota and Pete decided to make the move to Oskaloosa where more advantages (finance, motels, etc.) were available.

In Oskaloosa a 30,000 square foot building was erected by the Oskaloosa Realty Company.

In 1961 the company started into the commercial truck spreader and commercial fertilizer business. These units would spread the lime and fertilizer on the farm.

In the same year PAMCO leased a plant in Jefferson, Georgia, (about 30 miles north of Atlanta) and started installing bulk feed bodies built in the Oskaloosa plant.

Then a move was made to Gainesville, Georgia, in 1963, and Pete's son Denny Palmer put in charge of this plant. At the same time a plant was leased in St. Paris, Ohio, to continue with the semi-manufacturing and installation of the bulk feed bodies.

This plant served Kentucky, East and West Virginia, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania and New York. The Georgia plant serves Alabama, North and South Carolina, Florida and Mississippi and Tennessee. The Oskaloosa plant serves all of Canada, the western and mid-west states and southwest United States, plus Czechoslavakia, Africa, South America and Europe.

ln 1967 a 25,000 square foot addition was built onto the Oskaloosa plant at a cost of $170,000.

ln 1969 a plant in Edson, Georgia was started. The main production of this plant is peanut and cotton wagons. The plant superintendent there is Arnold Yoder.

In 1972 a 15,000 square foot warehouse was built in Oskaloosa which cost $35,000. This is used for storage purposes. Then in 1973 a $150,000 building was erected for a paint and clean-up room.

Gross sales at the present are around $4,000,000.

An advertising business was started in 1968, GSI Advertising, a subsidiary of PAMCO. This is run by Gene Phillips. They do all PAMCO's advertising and forms work, and also do outside printing.

Pete Palmer
"Pete" Palmer



Funks duo ads

Culligan quad ads



A glimpse into the past...


In 1953, a seed of thought in one man's mind created a company which became very well known in the state of Iowa. At that time a young farmer northeast of Keota, Howard Greiner, first used commercial fertilizer on a rundown farm that he had rented in the Wellman community. The results of this test plainly showed that there was a place, and a future, for the use of commercial fertilizer.

In 1954, he attended an anhydrous convention in St. Louis and came home with the inforrnation and initiative necessary to put up anhydrous storage plants at Crawfordsville, North English and Richland. He also became distributor for Smith-Douglas Fertilizer Company, and this business was conducted out of a large quonset building on his farm. The business prospered from the start and in 1955 one of the first privately owned soil testing laboratories in Iowa was established at Keota. There was also a dry blending plant and a propane business established at Keota.

In 1956, there appeared to be a need for ready-mix cement distribution and a plant for this purpose was set up. It was also the year that Mr. Greiner took on the International Harvester franchise for the local area.

ln 1957, a large and complex ammoniation plant was installed, which allowed the Keota fertilizer plant to manufacture all ammoniated fertilizer products. In 1959, the old railroad round house at Belle Plaine was purchased and remodeled into a fertilizer plant. At the same time a new ready-mix plant was set up to operate at Farmington, Iowa. In 1960, two more ready-mix plants were added to this fast growing business, at Newton and Colfax, Iowa. 1961 saw the expansion of the Farmington operation into the propane gas business. Property as purchased at Hedrick and a propane business was started there also. In 1962, another ready-mix plant was built at Kahoka, Missouri. The year 1963 saw the largest expansion of any previous year. Fertilizer plants were established at Cedar Rapids, Hedrick, Drakesville, and there were six new ammonia installations started. A building was purchased at Melrose and a retail fertilizer business was started. The manufacture of his own anhydrous and dry fertilizer application equipment was started and Ke-Wash Company became the distributor of Triple "F" Feeds.

By 1964, the business had grown to multi-million dollar proportions, and since capital expansion was somewhat curtailed by limited finances, it was Mr. Greiner's decision to sell the entire Ke-Wash complex to Southern Nitrogen Company of Savannah, Georgia. This company acquired all outstanding stock of the Ke-Wash complex of corporations. Mr. Greiner retained the office of president and through expanded capital allocations, future expansion of the company continued.

The retail business done by K-Wash Company in 1966 was expected to be well over four million dollars. Ke-Wash had gone into the distribution of all agricultural chemicals, field seed, and 1966 was the first year when Ke-Wash seed corn was used in eastern Iowa.

Ke-Wash Company became an important factor in the state of Iowa and all because of an idea that a young farmer had back in 1954. Ke-Wash Company is proud of its heritage.

Several years ago Kaiser purchased the business from Southern Nitrogen and the Company is now known as Kaiser Agricultural Chemicals.

Kaiser Agricultural



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Source material provided by Rebecca Callahan. Thank you, Becky!

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Keota Cenntinial Book © Copyright 1973
Keota Centennial Committee

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