Written by Theresa Rose on May 4, 2018



To celebrate National Historic Preservation Month this May, the Henry County Historic Preservation Commission encourages the public to take a look at Henry County’s newest historic landmark signs.  Many thanks go to our Commissioners for their endless historic research and to the Henry County Road Department for their assistance in the production, location, and installation of the signs.  Residents of Henry County can be proud of their rich historical and cultural  heritage.


WWII U.S. ARMY AIR CORP TRAINING FIELD— From 1943 through 1944, Donald E. Monthei (b. 1902 – d. 1992) lived in Mt. Pleasant and the operated Monthei Flying Service, located at an airfield east of town.   Monthei managed the airport operations during the time the U.S. Army Air Corp 82nd College Training Detachment trained there.  Monthei returned to his native home in Jefferson, Iowa where he continued to operate Monthei’s Flying Service.   The Don Monthei Airfield at the Jefferson Municipal Airport is named in his honor.


Monthei’s airfield in Henry County no longer exists, however the location is identified with a historic marker.  You can find this site by driving west of Mt. Pleasant on Highway 34 and taking Marsh Avenue north to 235th Street.  It is located on the southwest corner of that crossroad, across the road from the former Howard’s Pre-Cast plant.


EASTERN IOWA DISTRICT FAIR AT WINFIELD  – This well attended agricultural fair, complete with a half mile horse track, was held outside the city limits of Winfield from 1882 to 1935.  In 1911, people from all over southeast Iowa came to this fair by railroad, horse and buggy, and horseless carriage to witness for their first time, the flight of a heavier than air flying machine, a Curtiss Biplane.  The biplane was shipped to Winfield by rail and re-assembled at a farm field on the southwest side of the city limits.  Built by Glenn Curtiss, the aircraft had the engine and propeller situated behind the pilot.  A detailed scale model of this aircraft can be seen at the Winfield Historical Society Museum.


This historic site can be found by driving east toward Winfield on Highway 78, then heading north on Nebraska Ave where it intersects with West Central Avenue near the Sunrise Terrace Care Center on the southwest side of the city limits.


FIRST FAIR IN HENRY COUNTY AT SALEM  – The first fair in Henry County was held on the eastern edge of the city of Salem on October 13, 1852 on the John Eighme farm across from the Levi Cammack farm.  Organized by the Salem Fair Association, this fair gave local citizens an opportunity to display their crops, livestock, and other products and machinery, all in the interest of promoting agriculture and the latest improved methods of production.  The Salem Fair was held in late summer or early fall later being re-organized as the Salem-Hillsboro District Fair and moved to a new location on the northwest side of Salem in 1892.


Driving west of Salem on Salem Road you can see the historic marker on the north side of the road, about a quarter mile out of town.



SALEM AND HILLSBORO DISTRICT FAIR –  The Salem and Hillsboro District Fair was held on the northwest side of Salem along the K-Line Railroad tracks just north of the depot from 1892 to 1897.  This was a well attended fair, usually running 4 days in September and reported attendance in 1895 was 5,000, with many folks arriving by train.  Everything imaginable in agriculture was displayed, in particular horses, mules, cattle, hogs, and sheep.  Cereal grains, fruit, vegetables, dairy products, pantry and kitchen items, preserves, canned goods, flowers, clothing, and machinery were also judged and displayed.  Harness racing on the half mile track provided additional entertainment.  A reporter from the Mt. Pleasant Daily News in 1895 quipped “that the only matter of regret is that it was at Salem not Mt. Pleasant.”


In 1897 the Henry County Fair Association acquired the assets of the Salem and Hillsboro Fair Association, thus ending the long running fair in Salem.  Up until recently, aerial photographs of the fair property distinctly showed the outline of the horse track along the former K-Line RR bed.

The historic marker can be seen by driving north out of Salem on Franklin Ave and heading northwest on Agency Road for about a half mile.  The marker is on the south side of Agency Road.


LINCOLN POLE RAISING —  On July 28, 1860 approximately 2,000 people gathered south of the village of Boyleston in Jackson Township to promote Abraham Lincoln’s candidacy for president by raising a giant 100’ flagpole formed by splicing together four tree trunks of different sizes.  It was very unusual for a campaign pole of this magnitude to be raised in such a rural area and the Republican farmers were not dissuaded by such a daunting task of raising a pole of this great length and weight.  An 8’x 15’ campaign flag was hoisted to the top and then a program of orators and a picnic lunch was in store for the on-lookers.


Just a few days after the pole raising, an act of vandalism destroyed the pole but the Jackson Township Republicans would not give up and erected bigger and better pole and held a second celebration on August 9, drawing in delegations from all over the area, including marching clubs like the Wide Awakes, two bands, and a glee club.  The second pole lasted past the election and large placard was placed upon the pole with Commodore Perry’s famous quote “ We have met the enemy and they are ours”.


There are very few descriptions or accounts of other Lincoln poles, however O.A Garretson published his personal detailed account of this event in the April 1925 issue of The Palimpsest”, a historic journal published by the State of Iowa.


The marker for this site can be found by driving east of the Salem Stub on Salem Road for about three miles and heading south on Lexington Avenue where it T’s with 330th St (Old Agency Road).