Last week the ad we featured from the 1940 Story City Herald Anniversary Number book was from the Story City Butter Tub Co. Its only fitting that this week we are featuring a butter tub as our Collection Item of the Week. This butter tub was recently donated by Charlotte Hill. The Hill family owned and operated the Story City Butter Tub Co. for 85 years.
The butter tubs were made from sitka spruce wood which came from Washington state by train. These butter tubs were delivered to creameries all around central Iowa, from as far east as Marshalltown and to the north as far as Mason City. One tub held 64 pounds of butter.
People who made butter tubs and similar vessels are called coopers. A cooper is someone who makes wooden, staved vessels, bound together with hoops and possessing flat ends or heads. In the photos below you can better see the individual staves that make up this tub.
Our Mayor, Mike Jensen, recently shared a story from his childhood with us at our Winter Dinner. He would use the lid from a butter tub as a shield when he was pretend fighting with other neighborhood children. Butter tubs have a variety of uses!
The second advertisement we will be featuring from the 1940 Story City Herald Anniversary Number book is from the Story City Butter Tub Company. The Butter Tub Company was a family owned business in Story City for 85 years.
In 1883 Hactor Hill came to America, making his home for short time at his uncle's folks, Bor Enge, at Roland, Iowa. Not long after his arrival to this country he started work at Mr. Thompson's cooper shop in Ames. This shop was moved to Story City in 1887. When Mr. Thompson in 1891 sold his business, the Hill family bought it. Hactor Hill was in the cooper business for 42 years until his death in 1933.
Hactor's sons and grandsons owned and operated the Story City Butter Tub Co until a tornado hit Story City in 1976. The building was demolished in the storm. At that time it was the oldest building in Story City.
As you can see from the 1940 ad, the Butter Tub Co. was not only producing quality butter tubs, they also sold coal, stokers, and specialized in roofing. The company specialized in roofing for many years. In fact, Hactor's great grandson, Paul Hill, is currently in the roofing business in Story City.
Several of the contributors in the 1940 Story City Herald Anniversary Book wrote about the early pioneer days of Lafayette Township. It’s only fitting that we start this journey of looking back at Story City’s history by starting at the beginning.
Lafayette Township was organized about 1853. The first town within Lafayette Township was laid out and platted in 1855. It was comprised of 13 acres in section 12 of the township and from its beautiful, unobstructed view, was named Fairview. The promoters for the platting were D.M. Brown, George S. Prime, and George W. Sowers.
Soon after Fairview was platted, Richard E. Jenness built a log house on the west street and during 1856 he built a frame building and opened a store. William Estell was next to build a frame store in 1856. F.W. Rhoades opened a business, and on Nov. 29, 1856 was commissioned postmaster. At this time the name of the town was changed to Story City as there was already another town named Fairview in the state with a post office.
P.A. Olson, the editor of the 1940 Story City Herald Anniversary Book, included two accounts of the pioneer days by James F. Brown and William A. Wier, both of which were originally written in 1902. J.F. Brown and family arrived in Lafayette Township on April 13, 1856 from Crawford County, Pennsylvania. In his article, Brown describes Lafayette Township with the Skunk River running south and the Kegley Creek running southeast and emptying into the Skunk. The surface was mostly level dark prairie soil and its stiff sod was hard to break. In certain places ponds were plentiful with ducks, grouse, and game. According to Brown “the roaming Indians possessed the land.” The few pioneer neighbors were scattered along the Skunk. When Brown came to Lafayette Township land was $1.25 per acre. In 1902 when he’s writing this article, the price of land had risen to $70 and $80 per acre.
William A. Wier, who would later become the first mayor of Story City, came to Lafayette Township in 1856 as well. In his 1902 article, Wier describes the new town of Fairview as having only two residents. He goes on to list around 40 other residents who lived in Lafayette Township. At this time most of the residents were from Indiana with a few from Ohio. Wier goes on to talk about money in those early days. Paper money was for the most part worthless, only gold and silver could purchase goods. A notable exception was the bills of the “Bank of Nebraska” which were commonly call B.F. Allen’s “Red Dog” money. The bank was located in Des Moines and according to Wier the paper notes were always equivalent to coin.
We hope you have enjoyed this brief overview of the beginning pioneer days of Layafette Township and two first-hand accounts of the times. We've also been posting the advertisements from the 1940 Herald Anniversary Book along with additional information about the businesses on this website. Collection items relating to the 1940 businesses that advertised in the book are also being shared on the website and Facebook page. Don't forget to check back weekly for postings on the ads and collection items.