The Lima Store
....A Lima store was always located in the area just west of the
Lima Brook, on the north side of the intersection between the road east to
Wadena and the old road south to the mill site on the Volga about a half mile
away. The Light brothers are reported as having brought some goods for
sale and trade, with them in 1849 when settling in the area.
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Oelberg Bros. Dry Goods Groceries Eggs
Shoes & Hardware
The Lima Store
Oelberg Bros. General Store of Lima, Fayette Co, Iowa, 1883-1929
…Charles, Junio and James Oelberg (pic), all three
were born at Albany near Lima, and all have spent practically all of their lives
in Fayette County. All three, and another brother, Albert, have been connected for a time with the Lima store,
know for years as, "the Oelberg Bros. Store." Charles was the youngest of
the eight children of their parents, John Peter and Elizabeth Betz Oelberg.
Of the brothers, Junio is the oldest, followed by James and Charles.
…The Lima store held an Oelberg ownership from 1883 until 1929. Junio bought the store from Frank Matzel in 1883, the year he married Pamela Coe. His brother James helped him and bought a partnership in 1889. In 1890 James purchased Junio’s interest, and in 1892, James sold it to his brothers, Charles and Albert. Charles stayed until 1901, and Albert continued with the store until his death in 1929, after which the Lima store passes out of Oelberg ownership.
…Charles F. Oelberg was born February 9, 1873, and since 1890 has resided on the farm which was bought by their father in 1852, and of which he eventually became the owner. His children are Harold Oelberg of Elkader; Mrs. Gail Nelson of Dallas Center; Mrs. Edward Daries of Harris; Franklin Oelberg of Lima; and Mrs. Leland Meyer of Stronghurst, Ill. Mrs. Oelberg died in 1928 and in 1929 Charles married again. Their home is one mile northeast of Lima.
…Junio Oelberg, who bought his farm home one+ mile southeast of Lima in 1889, lived there until March 1936, when he sold it to his daughter Mrs. W. D. Follensbee. As a young man he worked on farms and helped build the Milwaukee railroad through Wadena and Lima. This line was abandoned in 1938. Besides Mrs. Follensbee his children are Mrs. W. H. Turner, between West union and Fayette; Mrs. R. M. Dickinson, Lima; and Albert J. Dickinson, Waukon. Since the death of his wife in 1936, Junio has resided in Oelwein with his brother James, and in a hotel in Waterloo. Now at past 85 years of age he has good eyesight, good hearing, and has retained nearly all of his teeth. In all of his travels he goes alone. He is next to the oldest living person born in Westfield Township. The oldest is Ernest McGee of Whittier Calif., now 89.
…James Oelberg, born August 30, 1963, following his years in the Lima store and after selling out to Albert in 1892, he went to Oelwein, starting in the shoe business with James and Oscar Humphrey. In 1910 he bought the store from the Humphrey’s and later built a 25ft addition to the building. He sold the store in 1918, but retained ownership to the building in which the Grille now is located. James also has been assessor for years, serving first as appointee to fill a vacancy and has been reelected each time since. He has been a member of the Elks lodge for many years, and has taken an active part in the public affairs in Oelwein.
Source, West Union paper article of the 1970's, with personal editing.
Lima area, an overview
ABOVE: This topo map shows the location of the road system around Lima and Albany until a new road was cut down from the 928 elevation number to the 922 number in the 1970's. The location of the few structures left around Lima is shown before they were torn out by the Volga River project. The dotted road to the upper left of 'Lima' is the location of the original road into Lima. The 1878-1938 rail bed is now the road from 'Lima' to 'Frog Hollow.' with the rails crossing the river about at the 'V' in Volga. There never were many shops, houses, structures in Lima, but at one time or another included a couple of stores, a couple of churches, Gleaner's Hall, water grist and saw mill, steam powered mill, gas powered mill, barber shop, blacksmith, garage, feed store, lumber yard, stock yard, warehouse or two, depot, post office, small farmsteads, and a few other craftsman.
The basic plat of Lima over-laid on a 1980's satellite aerial. Land was set aside for a courthouse with the hope that Lima might become the county seat. However, in the election in 1851, the site in West Union won by 35 votes. The Lima Community Church was built on the land to be used for a courthouse.
View from Lima Brook east down the Wadena road. The road on the right was not present in Lima. The road to the south across the old bridge was just to the right on the picture. The cemetery is a couple of hundred yards down the Wadena road, on the left.
A farmstead was on the NW corner by the big tree, during the 1900's. The Lima Community Church is beyond the trees on the left.
Swinging northward from the Lima Brook crossing.
Up Lima Brook to the north.
Same view as above. This area has been under natural succession since the 1970's and shows shrub and herbaceous plant development not unlike what the Light brother's and Andrew Hensley would have seen. The major different is the watershed is not completely depleted compared to the original state, thus there is minimal flow in Lima Brook today. The Methodist Church would have been in the background of this view.
You are standing on top of Lima Brook looking NW, on the present east, west road through old Lima, 'a lost village.' The Lima Store and other nearby buildings would have been at the shrub line from the right-center to the left side of this picture. The ground depicted in this picture was a central location for all of the pioneers and residents of the Lima, Albany, Frog Hollow area to visit. The Lima Store and adjacent house show below would have been sitting at the shrub line. The horse and wagon at about the same position as the tall, thin tree in the center of the picture.
Nearly the same view at the picture above. The wagon would be parked about at the middle, left edge of the picture.
View to the NxNW of the Lima Store up to the hills. The original road coming from Albany is at the top edge of the field, now nearly completely erased by geological time and plant succession.
Swinging a bit more to the NW from the Lima Store. Hiram Marvin tired to operate his first water driven saw mill on a small spring fed stream up in the valley about dead center in this picture. He apparently build the mill structure but there was not enough water to function. It was the early 1850's. He then bought property 1+ miles upstream on the Volga from Albany in 1855. He built a very good saw and grist mill at this location and farmed the surrounding fields and hill, until he moved into Fayette in about 1865 to build a wind powered grist mill, which would then become a gas powered mill in later years. Hiram's family operated this mill until 1947 when the flood stopped the operation. The family donated the mill to the Old Thresher's of Mount Pleasant. Marvin's mill from Fayette has been set up and recreated in on of the museum building's at Mt. Pleasant.
The First Bridge…The view is north toward the Lima Store located a half mile away just to the left of the right side of the bridge. The bridge was operational about 1865 but washed out in the late 1800's and was replaced by the bridge below. Not the rolling high water at the time of the picture. The water is nearly up to the store area. The Lima mill is about 40 yards to the left of this picture and about 20 yards to the west of Lima creek entrance into the Volga. Early mills were so important to pioneer farming communities that villages sprang up around them, plus the first bridges were constructed just below the mill dams or in the next pool or two above the dams. In this case the bridge was at the foot of the valley running from the south into Lima and just below the mill dam. Until the bridge was built as with nearly every other area in Fayette County, the streams were crossed at river fords located in the best shallow riffles where the banks could either be cut down or there were natural accesses to the rocky riffle crossings. It must be remembered in 1840-1865 times the land was very natural with a diversified series of natural communities to include the tall, wet-grass prairies to the west and the deep wooded hills with their great natural water supply and springs. The Volga River was fed by a nice consistent natural flow of water, thus the stream level under normal conditions was 1+ foot higher than in the early 1900’s and perhaps 2-3 feet higher than in the 2000’s. The human impact on the water table has been approaching catastrophic and the Volga is a ‘shell’ of its original flow with villages, pioneer small farms, mills utilized it for a water resource.
The second Lima bridge replaced the washed out first bridge in the late 1870's. The Lima Store is north across the bridge bed. Note the trees and shrubs on both sides of the bridge. The picture dates to the early 1900's. Below, the Lima bridge still stands in it original position across the Volga, as standing on the old road from the the Lima Store to the bridge.
Above: Coming into the Lima village area from the west, or from old Albany, the Lima Store would have been near the the tree sticking up above the three line on the left-center of the picture. In 1938 the railroad tracks were removed and the road from the Albany corner to Lima was built upon the old track bed, thus in thepicture above one is coming into Lima on the rail bed. In the two pictures below below the view back toward Albany on the rail bed just to the west of the Lima Store area.
In 1912, a 12x24' Ice House was built east of the creek bridge on the south side of the road to store ice. The ice cut on the pond under the Albany bridge. Some cutting and loading, others with teams and sleds hauling, others packing the ice in sawdust, those helping were to have free ice.
A Gleaner hall, west of the store and north of the old store was built in 1910 - burned and rebuilt in 1913. Two stories with a basement was declared unsafe for dancing. It was abandoned and was sold to Arthur Herman who tore it down and used the lumber to build a house on highway 56, not far from the Clayton County line.
...In 1878 another store was started by Simon Nefzger just west of the first store. It was also operated at one time by Ebenezer (Bob) Nefzger starting in about 1878. At the time that the store was destroyed by fire about 1890, it was being used as a home. The nearby blacksmith shop also burned and was rebuilt. About 1900 it burned again.
Pictures taken inside a recreated early general store at the Old Thresher
grounds in Jacksonville, Illinois.
The Pilkington Store was to the west of the Lima Store. A key to the Lima area men in this picture can be found on another page linked off the Fayette Index page.
Lima store 1890 +/-
This view is looking to the northeast from standing on the railroad tracks. The railroad came to Lima in 1878, running along the Volga from Wadena, crossing the Volga at Talbot's Ford across the field to the SE of the cemetery, then ran through the bottomland field in front of the cemetery at an angle to this point in front of the Lima Store. From here it followed the present road to the west and swung northward through Frog Hollow to West Union. Today's road from the west to Lima is actually the old rail bed.
By the 1880-1890 time span the Lima Store was a very large structure for the place and time, by far the most impressive building in the Lima, Albany valley. The shape and function was typical of the time. The foundation was limestone slabs with all of the timbers and lumber cut at the local mill(s). The residence, as with so many businesses of the times was located at the rear and/or above the store. Three fireplace chimney's are visible and as with all the area homes/businesses, heated by wood cut from local woodlots. In the back of the residence is the livery barn which housed any horses, wagons, buggies, cattle. Typically there was several small outbuilding for hogs, cattle, some cows, chickens, etc. Small fields, gardens, and orchard were nearby. This was the normal for many village residence who owned property. They maintained in reality a small farmstead that produced much of their food needs and of course transportation. Water came from hand dug wells, and by the 1880's wells were being 'drilled' and an iron pipe casing sunk/pushed into the ground. Hand operated pumps, with handles came into use, some of which can still be found around the countryside. By the turn of the century many kitchens had a small hand pump at a sink with the used water just run to the outside through a pipe. Only backhouses were available until well into the 1940's. Indoor plumping and lights had to await the coming of electricity to the Valley in about 1838. The established families in a village lime Lima or Albany were nearly self-sufficient, as were the farms. bz/2003
Just behind the Lima store is a small shop. The tree line in the background marks the Lima Brook (creek). The water source for the creek is from the 'springs' several miles to the north or left. The creek runs straight south a half mile and emptied into the Volga River immediately on the east side of the old Lima Bridge and about 60 yards downstream of the mill dam. The road south out of Lima, ran just to the west of the creek, thus straight down to the mill from the Lima Store. Along the creek, not far from the mill, between the road and creek was a saw mill in later years, and blacksmith shop. As auto's came prominent a garage was present at the blacksmith shop area.
Lima Store 1910 +/-
...The store was remodeled and enlarged in 1906-07, but burned in April of 1907. The store was then rebuilt the summer of 1907, with goods being sold at the mill building until the new store could be built. A.J. (Albert or 'Chub') Oelberg built a cement block warehouse just west of the store, with a full basement, which was rented out as living quarters to various people. Albert (Chub) Oelberg owned the Oelberg Brothers' store and the post office for almost 50 years, with the first years in partnership with his brothers.
Lima's version of 'Our Gang'
Lima area occupations, avocation, etc.
The Mill Site
......The Lights built a saw mill and later added a set of burrs for grinding corn in1849-50. Andrew Hensley bought out the Light mill and made it into a flour mill by1852. The saw mill was sold to P. H. Durfey and his son, Follett. In later years, Follet and sons, Robert and Merl, operated the mill. At that time the flour mill was owned by Albert R. Oelberg, who also owned and operated the general store. The mill was abandoned around 1910 when the river could no longer furnish power except for a short time in the spring and fall after heavy rains.
...The first to settle in the Lima valley was Eurastus A. Light and Harvey Light; therefore the area started to become known as Lightville. Later to be called Volga City for a short time but because there was another Volga City farther down the river just inside Clayton County, the name was changed to Lima by an act of the Iowa State Legislature. Talbot and Andrew Hensley were just downstream of the Lights. The Light brothers started a saw mill on the Volga River in 1849-1850 (100yds west of the bridge of the 2000's).
...Rev. James Davis, a United Brethren preacher, with his family, came to the county in August, 1849, and settled in Dover Township, but in the Spring of 1850 removed to Lightville (now Lima), having rented Harvey Light's place, his son William cutting out the road from West Union to Lightville.
...Andrew (father of Andrew Jackson or A.J. or 'Jack') Hensley built a flour mill with stone burrs at this same place in 1852. Andrew had taken up land in October of 1849,a mile east downstream in section 19 of Illyria Towhship being the second man to enter land in Illyria. In 1851 he purchased the mill site, land and plat completely8 surrounding Lightville. The Light brother moved from the region at that time. In 1855 Andrew Hensely bought his last farm on the north side of Albany, retained the Lima land for his son A.J. but sold the mill site with its surrounding acres to P.H. Durfey and son.
Major farmers near Lima:
...To the south was Charles Whitley who was a breeder of full blood horses and cattle. T. R. Parker, general farming. The Graf farm and ten acre apple orchard. They shipped apples by car loads....To the southeast was G.P. Gage, general farming, the P.H. Hastings farm which later was run by a son, John Hastings. J.J. Oelberg and S.C. Bass....To the east was W. O. Lewis, G. W. Jones, C. H. Wilson, George Kuhens, Frank Follenbee, Del Kuhens, James Davis, Joe Lewis, Jehiel Warner, Andrew Shepherd, George Lambert, Al DeNier....To the north was Walter Pritchard, C.C. Harrison who later moved to Missouri, Robert Barthlomew, Smith Landas, T.D. Lewis, N.F. Henry and Charles Oelberg. Eli Meyer, John Davis and Thomas Pritchard and Wlill Sloan. William Carmachael and Sam Carmachael, Frank Helms and Sam Helms who later moved to Ridgeway, Iowa....Reuben Hensley, Albany farmer; brother A.J. "Jack" Hensley, Lima farmer and miller....T.W. Potter who lived just to the east of the Lima Store and farmed adjacent to Lima.
...P. H. Hastings was depot agent in Lima for many years and many car loads of cattle and hogs were shipped from this point. The Milwaukee Railroad first ran into the county in 1878. The last train ran Feb. 7, 1938, and the tracks were torn out on July 14, 1938.The railroad was abandoned in 1938.
The train approaches Lima from the east in front of the Lima Cemetery on a winter day in the late 1800's.
...A lumber yard was established in 1890 southwest of the Lima store and was operated for many years by P. H. Hastings, who was also the depot agent. The lumber yard was later discontinued about 1910, and a Commission Company was formed and stock yards built where the lumber yard stood, with F. T. Jones the manager. Many loads of hogs and cattle were shipped out on the railroad from Lima. A warehouse to store incoming and outgoing commodities was also built at the stock yard area.
… A School House was built on the north bank of the river and the first classes held in the winter of 1850, taught by E.H. Light. After the flood of 1878, this school building which as been used for other purposes, was abandoned and later moved to the Tom Potter farmstead, adjacent and northeast of Lima, and used as a grainery. A black board was still intact, when the building was destroyed because of the Volga Lake project.
…Another country school house on the south bank of the Volga was built in the 1860's.
… About 1878, a more substantial school house was erected on high ground south of the river just to the SE of the bridge. An addition was built in 1905, and abandoned for use by the 1960's to be utilized for farm storage until destroyed by the Volga Lake project.
…The first church organized in Lima was the Congregational, started in 1857. Membership grew from seven in that first year to about twenty in 1878. a united Brethren Church was organized but soon disbanded. The first building used as a church was either moved or torn down. Then the congregation was reorganized as the Lima Union Church. The building constructed in 1882, was added to in 1914. Four stained-glass windows were installed on which were inscribed names of the first members—Hensley, Helms, Henry and Stearns.
…Norton Henry sawed the lumber for the original building and Mr. Beardsley finished the lumber and made the pews. John Elston did some inside work and Winslow and Wheeler Stearns, A.J. Hensley, S.D. Helms and many others donated labor; Reuben Hensley, Sam Helms, J. Davis, Andrew Shepherd and George Earl. Winslow Stearns, farmer and carpenter Norman Henry and George Kuhens, young men at the time, (1879, as we calculate it) helped haul the church saw-logs to the Henry mill. "Elder" Helms, the first preacher of this church.
…The first pulpit and seats were handmade by John Elston, Mrs. Laura Shepard, Henry's uncle, and the finishing and varnishing was done by Mrs. Shepard's brother-in-law, Joseph Beardsley.
…Reverend Taylor and Reverend McCormick were two of the earliest ministers. Another pioneer minister, Reverend Israel Shaffer, grandfather of I.F. Shaffer of Fayette, preached his last sermon at the Lima Church.
…The church was rebuilt, the east addition added, in 1914. The late Albert "Chub" Oelberg, proprietor of the Lima general store, furnished cement, hardware and other supplies at cost.
…George "Gunner" Earle was the finishing carpenter.|
…The Lima Union Church and Sunday School was organized in 1882 with a Mr. Richmond as Superintendent.
…Allie Bass went to elementary school near Lima. In 1925 she received her B.A. Degree in Education at Iowa State Teacher's College in Cedar Falls. She received her Masters Degree from the University of Iowa, Iowa City, Iowa. She was a Methodist Missionary in India for many years, and was an instructor in a Methodist boy's school in India for sixteen years. She was a Social Science instructor in a Junior College in North Carolina. In 1945 she was a business manager in a college in India. She also taught in Central High School in Ames, Iowa.
..The Lima Cemetery Association incorporated in 1865. It is in the cemetery that the life-size statue of John Crawford and his beloved dog stand. The statue was erected by Mr. Crawford's employer Libbie Harrison, in appreciation for his many years of faithful service as a farm hand. The statue was paid for in great part with the unclaimed wages Mr. Crawford had earned.
At one time in the area to the north of the Lima Store a Methodist Church was in operation. After the Lima Community Church was built all congregations joined to utilize and maintain the facility.
...Susan Collins was born July 3rd, 1851 and died June 12, 1940 and was buried in the Lima Cemetery. She was probably the only person residing in Fayette County who was born to slave parents.
...Marion Shepard, who later in life as a Township Constable was shot and killed by "Ike" Barber of the Barber Brothers, whom Constable Shepard was attempting to arrest for horse stealing.
Lima Letter in the Fayette Post Card, October 5, 1887
…Dan (Daniel P.) Hensley has returned here after quite a long absence
looking for a good place to locate and has concluded to settle down at Lima.|
…Reuben L. Hensley and the Finch Brothers are making preparations to build new houses this fall.
…We understand a new time table is soon to go into effect on our railroad and that the freight and passenger trains will meet here at 10:45 am.
…The one great event this week was the moving of the post office. P.M. Hastings had moved into the new store (Olberg's), has everything new and convenient and handles the mail with the grace and ease of the old hand. F. T. Pilkington is duly installed as assistant and will look after Uncle Sam’s interest in the absence of the postmaster.
…Mr. E. E. Henry lost a valuable horse last Monday.
…Lima is gaining quite a reputation as a butter and egg market, the highest price in the county being paid. Let it boom; it needs it.
…Mrs. Bass and family will remove to West Union this week. We are sorry to see them go.
…W. F. Shepard and family have returned from California and will settle here at Lima, concluding this is the El Dorado.
…Mrs. C. Wilson is quite sick and requires the attendance of a doctor daily.
…Rumor says our boys will get into trouble if they do not quit playing ball on the Sabbath. A hint to the wise, &c.
Burials in the Lima Cemetery
The Lima Cemetery Association incorporated in 1865. A complete listing of burials is available on the Lima Cemetery page, along with pictures of some some family plots.
Oelberg John P. January 26 1821 September 30 1882 61 2 31 Father
Oelberg Elizabeth Betz November 11 1830 September 28 1896 65 2 31 Mother
Oelberg Juneo J. 1857 1942 85 3
Oelberg Frank 1859 1923 64 2
Oelberg Anna M. 1861 1939 78 2
Oelberg James C. 1863 1944 71 3
Oelberg Maria January 11 1865 March 29 1868 3 2 Dau. of Elizabeth & John P.
Oelberg P. Benora 1865 1934 69 3
Oelberg John 1867 1944 77 3
Oelberg Albert R. 1869 1929 60 3 143 Father
Oelberg Hattie M. 1871 1928 57 3 152
Oelberg Charles F. 1873 1954 81 3
Oelberg Josephine 1873 1938 75 2
Oelberg Arley I. September 07 1884 1976 92 3 Double listing, married Peter Harthan
Oelberg Susan 1897 1947 50 3 Wife of H.F.
Oelberg Harold F. 1898 1971 73 3 Parent of Charles W., J. robert, Mary F.
Oelberg Helen 1905 1976 71 1 RN, married name Daries
Oelberg Helen 1905 1976 71
Oelberg Chalres F. Pete 1908 1980 72 1 Parent of Joyce & Duane
Oelberg Marion Bishop 1912 1985 73 1 Wife of Charles F. Pete
Oelberg Thomas January 04 1913 July 12 1942 29 2 IA APIC USN WWII
Folensbee Dexter March 03 1823 July 31 1891 68 2 35
Folensbee Isabell October 29 1826 November 14 1885 69 2 35
Folensbee James M. January 31 1855 October 01 1861 6 2 35
Follensbee Frank Birth? November 11 1947 Age? No Stone, listed from Obit in Lima
Follensbee John F. 1863 1947 84 3
Follensbee Emily M. May 09 1867 November 13 1947 80 3 Wife of Frank
Follensbee Alta L. February 15 1888 July 01 1946 58 3 Wife of William D.
Follensbee Willima January 29 1889 April 01 1951 62 3
Follensbee Bessie July 01 1893 November 28 1893 0 3 Dau.of J.F. & Emily M.
Nefzger Simon November 20 1821 April 06 1907 85 3 110
Nefzger Christina C. June 20 1822 November 28 1900 78 3 110
Nefzger Christian 1848 1922 74 3 110
Nefzger Henry S. 1862 1950 88 3
Nefzger Margaret M. 1872 1946 74 3
Notes compiled by the late Elizabeth Oelberg Dickinson, Fayette, Iowa and the late Merl Durfey. Lima booklet. 1878 History of Fayette County. Personal background.
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All of my direct surnames were
very early pioneers into Fayette Co, generally in the mid 1850's. Growing
up in Fayette and trekking the hills, prairies, streams throughout the county
when the small villages and farms were so active and functional before the
1960's, the now lost history and memories of the pioneer generations and
lifestyles from 1840-1960 continue to hold my interests.
625 N. Section
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