Town History





Bradgate Early Businesses



Life Magazine Article


The Town That

Won't Died


Avery Hill

One of the natural beauty spots of this area is Avery Hill which is located just to the west of Bradgate above the West Fork of the Des Moines River.  The hill was named for O. F. Avery, the first settler who came here to farm.  He built his house in November 1859 and planted corn the following spring.

Avery Hill has been a haven for wild life and a great place for mushroom hunts.  Several generations of Bradgate youngsters have enjoyed sledding and tobogganing down the hill.

For a number of years, the United Methodist Youth Fellowship held Easter morning sunrise services on Avery Hill followed by breakfast at the church.  The boys would spend part of Saturday building seats and arranging a setting.  They then spent Saturday night camping on the hill.  It has also been common to see a campfire at night while the Boy Scouts camp out among the many trees.

In the 1960's the decision was made to cut through Avery Hill with a road in order to have a more direct route to Gilmore City.  A new bridge was built across the river and a blacktop road was built from the top of the hill to the west edge of town.  This spoiled the hill for sliding and much of the area is now under cultivation.

In the 1920's an effort was unsuccessfully made to make Avery Hill into a park.  During the Depression in 1932.  Pocahontas County made arrangements with the owners and let people cut firewood.  There were some trees left with the hopes that the woods would replenish itself.  Later owners have cut or bulldozed out trees so it has never been the same.

Several men of the area tell of the big Indian mound which was a favorite place for sledding.  it was round with the center sunk--the boys guessed from the Indian dancers.  There was a large hole in one side where men from a nearby town dug out some trinkets.  The State of Iowa ordered the things returned and it was undisturbed until the road went through.  East of the mound was a spring that flowed the year around.

In 1976 an effort was successfully made to stop any more destruction of this historic spot.  It is an Indian burial ground dating back to before the time of Christ.

The last battle between two Indian tribes in Iowa was fought in 1854 on Avery Hill between the Winnebagos and the Sioux.  Some eighteen Sioux warriors, under the leadership of Coustawa (Big Tree), surprised the tribe of Winnebago but were driven back after the death of Coustawa.  One of the Sioux warriors was reported to be Inkpaduta who later led a band of Sioux in the famed Spirit Lake Massacre.  The Pocahontas County Historical Society has marked the battle spot on the Clarence Stearns farm with a flag pole.

The late Harold Lees and Lawrence Ripperger had large collections of Indian artifacts which they found in their many walks along the river and on Avery Hill.  Donald Brandhoij has a small sword which was brought to Avery Hill in 1858.  Antone Anderson wrecked an old cheese house on the farm, sold the junk in it to Cecile Jones who in turn gave the sword to Chris Brandhoij.