Fremont County, Iowa

by Sherry Perkins

View from the Attic ~ A Weekly Series
Fremont County Historical Society
Week of September 22, 2008

Early settlers to northeast Fremont County gathered along Deer Creek. We know this because the nearby Antrim Cemetery had burials as early as 1850. In 1870 settler Anson Rood bought farm land 1/2 mile west of Deer Creek and moved there with his family of 8 children and built a twelve room Italianate house.

Rood’s interests were not just farming, he worked tirelessly to bring the railroad through the area. He and fellow resident Volney Bass gave some of their farmland to form a new town along the railroad tracks and soon laid out the plots. People began to move businesses and homes from the Deer Creek neighborhood to the new town which they called Randolph. The Bass family passed down the story that the name Randolph was the name of an African-American man who worked for them.

Randolph soon boasted some sixty businesses. Anson Rood became president of the railroad. A train depot was built in 1879. Two and three trains a day came down the tracks bringing everything from building materials to clothing, food, mail, etc., and provided a means for people to travel to the larger cities. It also was a way farmers could move livestock to market. Thousands and thousands of bushels of apples were shipped by Spencer Orchards. Hundreds of dozens of eggs and baby chicks from the local hatchery were loaded onto the trains for shipment.

As the depression moved through the country, and as the automobile made cities more accessible and trains less needed, Randolph succumbed to the ravages of time just as have many small communities. However, the present citizenry is a proud group and are striving to preserve their heritage as they celebrate the town’s 130th birthday on Oct. 4th and 5th.

There is a growing awareness in the area for preserving our past. In 1994 the Italianate house built by Anson Rood was willed to the Fremont County Historical Society following the death of then owner, Thelma Ferrel. Today folks from many place come to tour the house by appointment or during open house dates. The original train depot has been moved back to the town from the Roy Davis farm given by the new owner, Dave McGargil and family.

The Ferrel House Museum, the depot, the story presented through the old local newspapers, the Randolph Betterment and Historical Group, and soon to be erected war memorial, are all helping preserve the town’s heritage. The community boasts a busy bank, a lively library, a post office, two active churches and a Farm Service Company. The view from this attic is very promising as Randolph enters its next decade.

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Page updated on May 10, 2017 by Karyn Techau