Fremont County, Iowa

Charlie Orr, Blacksmith
by Dave Roberts

View from the Attic ~ A Weekly Series
Fremont County Historical Society
July 21, 2008

Charlie Orr was born in 1883, and became a blacksmith, in the small community of Knox, three miles west of Sidney, Iowa. He had an old dog, named Crowder, and when his pet died, he buried him on the side of a Loess Hill east of Knox. Not long after this experience he got a tombstone with the name Crowder put on it and had it installed over his dog’s grave. This memorial marker has caused many a raised eyebrow among genealogist and tombstone researchers.

Sometime along the way, Charlie came to Sidney where he built houses. He made a small covered wagon and used it, I have been told, to carry his wood working tools around town. One person told me of seeing a pair of goats pulling the wagon. As Charlie worked, the goats happily nibbled on grass in the adjacent yard.

After his death in 1975, Charlie’s small covered wagon was given to the Fremont County Historical Society. The following year, it was used in the Bicentennial pageant held in the Rodeo grounds, it has been placed in front of the museum to attract visitors and every year it comes out of its special parking place and appears in the Sidney Rodeo Parade. It’s been pulled by little ponies, by several adults and by a tractor. But so far, members of the society have not found a pair of trained goats to replicate Charlie’s first “team.” Be sure and watch for the little covered wagon in this year’s parade.  

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Page updated on June 20, 2017 by Karyn Techau