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.  

As the Rodeo quickly approaches, The Fremont County Historical Society would like everyone to know our hours for the week so you can plan a time to tour the museum. Tuesday afternoon, July 29, the museum will be open from 3:00 to 4:00, break for the parade at 4:00 and reopen after the parade for about an hour.

Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday hours will be 5:00 to 7:00 and on Saturday from 4:00 to 7:00.

As always, we will be open by appointment by calling 374-3221 or 374-2335

The Museum’s renovations are ramping up so this may be one of the last times to see the museum in its present condition. It has been over 30 years since a major change in the main museum has happened and we are very excited about implementing the new plan. Some things will remain the same, however. Charlie Orr’s small covered wagon will be around for a long time to come.

Although the main museum will be closed after August 2nd, genealogy research will continue. For family history information call 712-374-2335.

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Page updated on June 20, 2017 by Karyn Techau