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Wapsipinicon Mill

History of Buchanan County Historical Society
The First Buchanan Co. Historical Society began in 1941, with R.J. Hekel, President.  Because of WW 11 many of the early efforts were abandoned, but the donated artifacts at that time are still in our archives.

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Bridges over the Wapsi
The Wapsipinicon River became the first road to Independence when Rufus B. Clarke, his Indian wife, and their sons, Seth and Mason, walked up its frozen surface from Quasqueton to Independence in March 1846.

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Carrie Nation Visits Independence
At the Buchanan County Fair in 1904 one of the nation’s biggest headline makers – Carrie Nation – spoke at the county fair before a crowd of 7,000 persons.  She gave a temperance talk and was well received by the audience. 

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Rural Churches of Buchanan County
Castleville Congregational, Bethel Church of God, Byron Center Presbyterian, Pine Creek Presbyterian

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Early Buchanan County Fairs
1857 – Appeared in the Independence Civilian a small news item of great interest suggesting that there be formed a “County Agricultural Fair”.

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Independence Ice Companies
In 1880 three ice companies were doing business in Independence, namely: T.J. Marinus & Son, Kandy & Co. and C.E. Burr, and an immense amount of ice was put up.  Marinus owned an ice house that would store 1,000 tons and numerous private firms and creameries were supplied by them. 

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Flying Horse Co.
During the late 1915 era Louis Hammelman and his father-in-law, George Wurtz, were manufacturing children’s toys in the “Old Armory” building (located on 2nd St. SW-where Indee Car Wash is now located).

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4th of July Celebrations
The “town bell fund” was started in 1860 during the 4th of July celebration.  The amount raised for the bell was about $160.  This sum was increased by donations from entertainments, suppers, dances, etc., until by the fall of 1860, a sufficient sum was collected to purchase it.

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Buchanan County Genealogical Society
During the 1976 Bicentennial celebration local historians decided to research all the cemeteries in Buchanan County while the pioneer tombstones were still legible. This turned into a lengthy project and the book "Buchanan County, Iowa, Cemeteries, 1980" was published.

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Heartland Acres Agribition Center
An interactive celebration of our Heritage and our Future!

Click here to visit their website.
Click here to visit their Facebook page.

Jefferson C. Ensminger
Then Ensminger Brothers had their studio in Independence, Buchanan County, in the 1860’s through the 1890’s.  The studio was in Ungerer’s Block, No. 3 Main Street.  Jefferson worked with his brother, Madision, as the Ensminger Brothers.

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Legend of the Wapsipinicon River
How did the Wapsipinicon River get its name?  Stories about the Indian naming of the river are both dramatic and romantic, and provide an interesting legend for the “Wapsi”.

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Little Red Schoolhouse
During the mid 1930’s, the banks began to release their money.  As the depression subsided, the schools were able to pick up the taxes and were able to raise the teachers’ wages.  The county superintendent suggested to Washington and Hazleton Townships that they replace the two schools in each township.

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Mayors of Independence
William Armstrong, Robert Blakesley,Frank Brimmer, B.H. Clark...

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Oakwood Cemetery
Mr. Richard Campbell purchased 13 acres of ground in the southeast part of Independence to be used as a cemetery.  With Edward Ross as a partner, the first section of Oakgrove Cemetery as it was then called, was laid out and a plot of the same was filed in the Buchanan County Courthouse.

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One Room Schoolhouse
Had two entrances  -  one for the girls and one for the boys.  Proper desks were purchased to replace the shelves and benches of an earlier era.  The girls sat on one side of the room, and the boys on the other.  The youngest children sat at the front of the classroom, close to the teacher.

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Pioneer Cemetery Commission
A Pioneer Cemetery is a cemetery that has had less than 6 burials in the preceding 50 years.  Most in the county are over one hundred and fifty years old.  We owe it to the early settlers and to those who passed away on their way West, the respect of maintaining their burial sites.

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Barn Quilts of Buchanan County
The Barn Quilts of Buchanan County is a newly established non-profit organization promoting tourism throughout the county.  The ‘quilt’ is a painted 8x8 ft. wooden block that is attached to the barn (or outbuildings). 

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Robert Tabor
Mr. Tabor was born in Independence, Iowa.  He spent most of his life in the Independence and Oelwein area.  He began to paint at the age of 52.  One of his first oils, painted under the Public Works of Art Project and selected by Edward Bruce, director of the project as one of the 25 best pictures out of 15,000 works submitted, was chosen by President Roosevelt to hang in the White House in Washington, D.C.

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Rock Island Depot
On March, 11, 1873, a delegation from the Burlington, Cedar Rapids, and Northern railroad company visited Independence to talk to the citizens on a proposed project to complete the “Postville Branch” of the B.C.R. and N railroad line through Independence.

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Rush Park Era
“Axtell” was foaled on March 31, 1886.  His sire was William L., a son of George Wilkes, who was one of the best producing sons of Rysdky’s Hambletonian, the founder of the trotting horse family of America.  His dam, Lou, was by Mambrino Boy out of Bird Mitchell.  As a colt he was plain-looking, willful, and stubborn. 

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Rush Park Seed Company
“The Rush Park Seed Company,” one of the largest seed depots in the west, was organized and incorporated in November, 1889, and went into the seed business on a comparatively small scale, occupying one store building on Chatham St., opposite the postoffice.

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School Superintendents
M.J. Goodrich, G.R. Lockwood, E.A. Jewett, G.R. Lockwood, Dayton H. Winter, Frank Kiple, Ralph J. Farris, J.J. Jorgensen

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Area Theaters
The motion picture arrived in Buchanan County in much the same way as it did in most small towns across the heart of the country.  As word of mouth spread the lucrative lure of showing moving photoplays, existing music halls and opera house scrambled to equip their auditoriums with projection equipment.

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The Village of New Haven
The village of New Haven was platted Feb. 27, 1854.  It was a complete town including a grist mill or sawmill, blacksmith shop, stores and a cemetery.

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Webster Seed Co.
“The Mel L. Webster Co. is engaged in selling vegetable and flower seeds. Mel L. Webster, the founder of the company, began packeting seeds in 1989, when he was engaged in the retail grocery business in Independence.

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A Short History of Barbed Wire
The beginning for the need of barbed wire was seen in the year of 1867 as a few men applied, that year, for patents pertaining to restraining wire with sharp points to turn and to hold livestock.

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Feed Sack Quilt
Feed sacks bring to mind poverty of the Great Depression but at the same time there is a romance to the idea that women could make something beautiful from something so mundane.

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Rug Hooking
The earliest forebears of hooked rugs were the floor mats made in Yorkshire, England during the early part of the 19th century.  Workers in weaving mills were allowed to collect thrums, pieces of yarn that ran 9 inches (23cm) long.

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Sites Listed on the National Register of Historical Places
A complete listing of all the Buchanan County Sites listed on the National Register of Historical Places. Also visit the State of Iowa Historical Society.

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Star Foundry
Many articles may be seen around town today. Examples include the iron fence at Oakwood Cemetery, cemetery urns and vases, railing at St. James Episcopal Church, some main street store fronts, doorway of Mental Health Institute and frieze over Munson Public Library front door.  A centennial step for buggies (1876) was also made.

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Iowa State Historical Society Website

Northeast Iowa Tourism Website
Explore Buchanan County

Buchanan County Communities
Learn more about the history of other Buchanan County Communities

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Home Bakery
Every community has had their own bakery at one time or another.  Independence was no exception.

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Buchanan County Parks


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