Towns - Post Offices - Rail Stops
of Jefferson County

(Penn Township)

"VEO. Sec. 5, Penn Township, on the B & W RR. P.O. Est. 31 Oct. 1884; V. O. Jones first p. m.; disc. 31 Mar 1923. First named Lono, but when it was learned there was another community with a similar name along the railroad, the name was changed to Veo, after the initials of Velenzi Ovington Jones, who came from Dublin and started to build a store, which served the community well for a number of years, under various owners. There were also stock yards, a blacksmith shop and a cheese factory."
The above information was compiled by Mary Prill and published in the Hawkeye Heritage, July 1967.

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The following story was originally one of a number of articles in the Fairfield Ledger which was later included in the book Villages and Towns of Yester-year in Jefferson County by William R. Baker. We hereby include it on this page with the permission of the Fairfield Ledger.

Names mentioned in this article are as follows:
     Velenzi Ovington Jones, Mrs. Jones, Perry Cole, John Alter, Carrell Johnson, Merril Gowey, Donald Bray, Mr. and Mrs. Welter Bray, Mrs. Bray, Mr. and Mrs. Donald Bray.

Veo got its name from unfortunate merchant

   The little village of Veo located at the north edge of Jefferson County in Penn Township was named after Velenzi Ovington Jones who came to the area to open a store in 1882 when the Burlington and Western Railroad arrived.
   Unfortunately Jones never had the privilege of operating his new store. He died the day his first shipment of merchandise arrived.
   Although there is no proof available, it was believed at the time he died of lead poisoning from the paint used in decorating the interior of his store.
   Mrs. Jones, with a small child, was faced with the task of operating the store. Relatives assisted her for about a year, then purchased the business in 1883.
   At first it was decided to call the new little village Lune, but it was discovered there was another settlement along the railroad by the same name. It was then decided to name the village after the initials of V.O. Jones.
   Soon after, the stockyards were built east of the store and depot. In 1887 Perry Cole operated a blacksmith shop in a small building west of the store.
   In 1897 a cheese factory was built and operated by John Alter. The first building was destroyed by fire but it was immediately replaced.
   Carrell Johnson, 91, now a resident of Fairfield and a former resident of the Veo Community, said he can remember when he hauled milk from his father's farm, and that of a neighbor, to the cheese factory. On the return trip he hauled whey from the factory to the farm to be fed to the hogs.
   Merril Gowey, 87, who is a native of the Veo vicinity and has lived in his present home west of Veo since 1926, has many recollections concerning Veo's past history.
   For a number of years Gowey was manager of the Veo Shipping Association and remembers when hogs and cattle were shipped from the stockyards by the carload.
   He managed the coal yard operated by the Veo Farmers Union. He also managed the ice house during the summer. The ice was harvested from a nearby pond during the winter.
   Gowey remembers when the railroad was widened from narrow gauge to standard gauge in 1900. Extra workers were brought in and the entire distance from Burlington to Oskaloosa was widened on a Sunday. The ties had all been leveled and heavier rails had been placed along the right-of-way prior to the one-day project.
   Since the cars that were used on the narrow gauge line were no longer usable they were sold by the railroad. A number of box cars were purchased by farmers along the line and were used for grain storage.
   June 6, 1944, D-Day, was a memorable day for the village of Veo. The last six cars of an eastbound freight train derailed and rolled over on their side a short distance east of the depot, but the caboose remained upright.
   Donald Bray, who operates the Bray Upholstery Shop at Veo, well remembers the train wreck and helped salvage some of the freight from the overturned cars.
   Four cars of shelled corn posed no problem, but the two cars of sheep tallow from Australia in 400 pound barrels was something else. Bray helped salvage the barrels and when he was through he had to burn the clothes he was wearing because of the smell. The tallow was on the way to a soap factory.
   The Burlington Western came across northern Jefferson County in 1882 and the first Veo store came into existence a short time later.
   At the same time the B&W was working westward, it was racing with the Minneapolis and St. Louis Railroad extending westward a short distance to the north. Each wanted to be the first to cross Iowa. Crews from the two railroads engaged in brawls and there was frequent vandalism along the right-of-ways.
   In 1903, the B&W Railroad was sold to the Chicago, Burlington and Quincy Railroad, CB&Q. In 1934 the M. & St. L. purchased the CB&Q line and abandoned the tracks to the north. The last train passed through Veo in October, 1971, and the tracks were later removed.
   Bray, Gowey and Johnson all remember where the various buildings were located. All buildings are gone except the depot. These structures included the stockyards which closed in 1939, blacksmith shop, coal yard and ice house and the cheese factory, all east of the depot. The cheese factory closed about the turn of the century. The Veo post office was discontinued in 1909.
   The store had a number of owners after the turn of the century. The last was Donald Bray. He closed the store in 1927 and moved to Perlee where he operated a store.
   After the railroad was abandoned Mr. and Mrs. Welter Bray purchased the depot and residence, all one building, in 1931. He opened a filling station and carried a few staples. He also operated a welding shop in another building nearby.
   His major business however, was the saw mill business. He started with a steam powered outfit and wound up with a modern portable outfit powered by a gasoline engine and equipped with a portable hoist. It could be set up in a timber in about an hour.
   During his many years in the saw mill business Bray estimated he had sawed enough lumber to erect over 400 average sized houses.
   Welter Bray died September 30, 1972, while working in the timber, and Mrs. Bray died January 8, 1982. He was a native of the Veo Community, born and reared on the farm just west of Veo.
   Their son and his wife, Mr. and Mrs. Donald Bray, operated an upholstering business in Iowa City from 1968 until 1980 when they occupied their new home at Veo and moved their business to a new building erected near the home. The little town lives again.
   The only thing still linked with the past is the weathered old building which in the past served as the Veo depot, post office, store, garage and living quarters.

The following information comes from the book "Glimpses of Yesterday" by Dixie Richardson, published in 1999 and copied here with her permission. The book contains histories and personal memories of Richland, Iowa, and the surrounding area. Copies of the book are available from Dixie Richardson, 556 South Davis, Ottumwa Iowa 52501-5301 for $13.00 and this covers postage and handling as well.


 In section 5 of Penn Township was the little village of Veo. The Burlington Western Railroad came through the area in 1882. At the same time the M. & St. L. was building a line to the north. There was a great spirit of competition between the 2 railroad companies to see, which would get their line done first. It was decided to call the village Luno but there was already a town along the railroad line named Luno. So they named the village Veo after Valenzi Ovington Jones who came from Dublin in 1882 to open a store. Mr. Jones died the day his first shipment of goods came for the store. He died of lead poisoning from paint used to paint the walls in his store building. Mrs. Jones ran the store until 1883 then she sold the store to relatives. Other people who owned and operated the store were Ralph Eck, The Harken Brothers 1910-1920 and Russell Simmons was the last to run the store and closed it in 1927. The depot was on the back of the store. Perry Cole had a blacksmith shop west of the store.

 Shortly after the store was built a stockyard was built east of the store building. The stockyard closed in 1939. Merrill Gowey was manager of the Veo Shipping Association. He also managed the icehouse and the coal yard, which was operated by the Veo Farmers Union. In 1897 a cheese factory was built in Veo and operated by John Alter. The cheese factory burned down and was rebuilt. The cheese factory closed in 1900. Mr. and Mrs. Walter Bray purchased the depot and home in 1931. Mr. Bray opened a filling station and sold a few grocery items. His main business was a sawmill. The sawmill was powered at first by a gasoline engine. During WWII it was powered by steam and then again by gasoline engine after the war. He also had a welding business.

 In 1903 the Burlington and Western was purchased by the C. B. & Q. Railroad and in 1934 the C. B. & Q. was purchased by the M. & St. L. railroad. On June 6, 1944 four cars carrying shelled corn and sheep tallow derailed east of the depot. The corn and other freight were no problem to clean but the sheep tallow was quite another matter. Don Bray who helped clean up the derailment said that his clothes smelled so bad from the tallow that he burned them. The last train came through the area in October 1971.

 Don and Juanita Bray moved to Veo in 1980. The Brays built a new home at Veo and erected a new building near their home for their upholstery business which they operated until 1997. On December 3, 1994, the old depot was destroyed by fire.

Today there are no businesses left in Veo.

This page was created 06/28/2001. The page may be copied and used for personal purposes but can not be republished nor used for commercial purposes without the author's written permission.

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