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Celebrating heritage

Wilson Brewer Park hosts Heritage Days

August 27, 2012
Teresa Wood ( , The Daily Freeman Journal

Threatening skies could not dampen the enthusiasm at Wilson Brewer Historic Park on Saturday during Heritage Day in Webster City. Hundreds enjoyed a day at the park complex where building tours, train rides, water rockets, a flea market, a car show, food vendors and a magician entertained the crowds.

This is the fourth year for the revised Heritage Day celebration, explained Wilson Brewer Historic Park volunteer Cheryl Patrou.

The day celebrates the founding history of Webster City and the development of the Wilson Brewer Historic Park which includes the original log cabins, the Illinois Central Depot Museum which houses Hamilton County artifacts, the First Hamilton County Courthouse, the Harmony Center School House, the Mulberry Center Church, Bell's Mill Turbine and the Brewer family burial site.

Article Photos

Luke Bergson, Ayden Murton and Sam Youngdale get ready for the launch of one of three water rocket launchers built by Boy Scout Troop 17.

The nine acres, which comprise the park, was a gift from Wilson Brewer to the town he originally named Newcastle, said Patrou. In exchange, he was granted permission to establish his family's burial plot on the property.

Years later, the town of Newcastle was renamed Webster City and since the property lies above solid rock, a grave was made into a burial mound. Visitors to Heritage Day could visit the graves of the town's forefathers and Karen Brewer did just that.

Before homesteading in what was to become Webster City, the Wilson Brewer family first settled six miles to the south when they came to the area back in November 1848. Karen Brewer is the great, great granddaughter of Wilson Brewer. Her grandfather, Benjamin "Roll" was his son. Ms. Brewer just recently bought that original family settlement property.

"This marks the fifth generation of our family that has lived on that property," noted Brewer.

Out on the park complex, children were enjoying rides on Nathan Monroe's Smiley Train and visitors browsed the flea market which offered a variety of merchandise. The Rockin Poppin Kettlecorn stand drew on-lookers first with the wonderful aroma. Then many stayed to watch Shawn Anderson cook the popcorn in a huge kettle, stirring it with a wooden paddle until done.

The WC Cruisers for-fun car show displayed polished and restored vehicles which lined the edge of Superior Street. "We Tell Stories" is the motto of the Illinois Central Depot Museum operated by the Historical Society and inside visitors were enjoying the exhibits which included prehistoric artifacts, military history, the industrial history of Webster City's manufacturing plants and its railroad history.

Boy Scout Troop 17 was busy cooking food for the event over a roaring campfire. On the menu were two variety of burgers, hot dogs and for dessert, peach and apple cobbler cooked in cast iron kettles.

One of the biggest kid magnets was the Boy Scout water rocket display.

Kids of all ages flocked to the simple contraption which forced pressure using a tire pump through tubing into a liter pop bottle filled with water. The pressure forced the bottle to take off several feet in the air while dousing the operator and any spectator with water.

Over at the Mulberry Center Church, volunteers were greeting a special visitor. Rev. A.E. Rau, age 90, of Story City toured the restored church. Rev. Rau served as minister at the church from 1956-1972 when it was located in the Mulberry Center community. After the church merged with another congregation, the building was donated to the Wilson Brewer Historic Park in 1990. In 1995, it was moved to its present location.

Many children marveled at the simplicity of the one-room Harmony Center School House also located within the park and few could resist the water pump which beckoned them to give it a try.

The rain held off until 1 p.m., but it could not dampen the enthusiasm for magician Larry Dunbar. While the drizzle turned to rain, young and old watched as Dunbar invited aspiring young magicians to join him in his performance.



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