Rediscovering Hinkletown:  The Making of the Documentary

The Historic Village at Ushers Ferry, Cedar Rapids, Iowa was selected for its variety of period buildings.

Historical Photograph of Chapman House

"Again the journey west began, ending in 1855 for all time as far as they were concerned. They made their way to Iowa County, IA, settling in Fillmore Township, post office Foote. There Mary Ann and three of their sons lived out their days. The family settled into a snug one-room log cabin near the English River. It was small but it was their own and they had few possessions.   They must have found a fairly well settled community. Henry built a small shop near the cabin and did a thriving business. People always needed shoes and shoes always needed mending."

"But the cabin was built too near the river.  After a few years they built another house farther from the river and there they ended their days. This new place was heavily wooded. There were great trees, nuts, thickets of wild fruits, and great bed of wild flowers. Much of these woods remained intact during the lives of Henry and Mary Ann. Small plots were cleared for corn, oats, and vegetable gardens. There was a small apple orchard. Usually there was a row of wooden paint kegs in one-gallon size, sitting along the garden fence in which Henry had planted seeds from especially good-flavored apples."

                                       - Nellie Maud Bever 


The Home and Cast Selected at Ushers Ferry

"The small wooden house had only four rooms for many years, a large room and a small one below the stairs, with the same arrangement above. It was a comfortable friendly house where all children grew to adulthood before moving to homes of their own. Most of them remained in the same locality to the end of their days. This was a home in the woods with small patches cleared for the growing of oats, corn, vegetable and garden - so little of it cleared that the boys were soon able to do the field work required." 

"Hinkletown was a busy village with the usual activities of a country town. An ambitious Irish and English community kept things lively. There was a store where necessities could be obtained, a blacksmith shop, a sawmill where lumber could be made from a man's own logs. It was a long walk through the woods on a cold snowy morning, but hardship was part of daily life. The children to the west would make a point of stopping at the Chapman house to get warm, and often, were fed pancakes hot from the griddle to help get them warm."

                             - Nellie Maud Bever


     The Remaking of the History of Hinkletown, Foote P.O., Iowa County, Iowa

Historical Photograph: Patrick Monaghan - 1863


"The Irish Volunteer"

Height: 5’ 8 ”, Hair: Black, Eyes: Blue

 Enlisted August 22, 1862

 Company K

22nd Iowa Infantry

When young Patrick Monaghan departed Foote for the Civil War, it is said his boots left deep impressions in the mud in front of the Monaghan home.  His mother gathered boards and laid them over the depressions to preserve his shoe prints, fearing this would be the last physical memory of her son.

Cast Selected for Patrick Monaghan and Mother


Cast members came from across the Midwest, from Indiana, Iowa and Wisconsin.

Relaxing between sets:  An un-staged photograph of cast members on the porch of the hotel, waiting to be called for a part in a scene.


On the morning of August 1, 1863, things looked very normal on the Main Street of South English, Iowa.  Kids played, women shopped, while the men of town prepared for armed conflict.








Local Actors:  This teacher from Williamsburg, Iowa and two students from Williamsburg schools were part of the cast.  They are part of the 24th Iowa Infantry Re-enactors group that meets in Cedar Rapids and is active in reenactment scheduling in the Midwest.  Reenactment groups participating in the video documentary included the 1st Wisconsin Cavalry, 24th Iowa Infantry, Red Cedar Regulators, and The Hole in the Sock Gang.  Cast members came from across the Midwest, including Indiana, Iowa and Wisconsin.  Historically, the 22nd Iowa Infantry, 24th Iowa Infantry and 28th Iowa Infantry were braided together in battle.  Men from the area served in all three regiments.


Recruiting volunteers at the Foote Post Office at Hinkletown, Iowa, 1862.  Recruitments at local towns were common during this time, and often included pro-war speeches and bands. Foote Post Office opened on March 10, 1862.  The name most likely reflects the highly successful naval expeditions of Naval Admiral Andrew Hull Foote, who had become a household name over the two decades preceding the Civil War, and who in preceding months led successful attacks on key forts along critical river positions.  During 1862, soldier recruits from Foote, Iowa began to appear on Civil War rosters. 

Map showing Hinkletown, Foote Post Office and proximity to the English River, and the village of Green Valley, 1874.  While most maps show the spelling of Hinkletown with a small " i ", postal records and official documents show the spelling as Henkletown.  Many 1860s Iowa maps simply show "Foote,"   presumably before Henkletown became commonly applied.  The south border of this map is the Iowa/Keokuk County line.  While roads and businesses operated on the south side, they are not indicated on this map.


Hinkletown Business District - 1874:  From the Atlas of Iowa County, Iowa,  Harrison and Warner, Clinton, Iowa, 1874.  This is the earliest known published layout of Hinkletown.  By this time the town had begun to experience a decrease in size and population, with the relocation of Harmon Henkle, his families and several business associates, to the new railroad town of Keota, Iowa, nine miles directly south, in January of 1872.  Hinkletown rebounded for a short period, until another railroad town of Kinross, four miles south, was established in 1879.  Edwin H. Dixon and James A. Miller, both Civil War veterans, opened a store on the north side of the Main street, (above left), and C.F. Lytle operated the store and Post Office on the south side of the street.  The original "Pioneer Store of Henkle & Littler" is at the upper right side of the Main street, also sight of the original post office and Henkle house.

The documentary of Hinkletown will include historical photos and accounts.


General Store letterhead of Dixon and Miller, 1879, Foote, Iowa County, Iowa.  Both were Civil War veterans.


The second Hickory Ridge Schoolhouse at Hinkletown was built about 1874. This photo was taken approximately 1899 - 1901.  The first school was built by early settlers in the summer of 1849 and was documented by Jeremiah M. Suiter and brother Mordecai Suiter, settlers of 1846.  The first school was called Hickory Grove, and was built on a hill just west of Hinkletown. 


The third Hickory Ridge Schoolhouse at Hinkletown was built in 1906.  This photo was taken on July 4, 1907.  Teacher - Nellie Kernan, Photographer - V. L. Berryhill.  Courtesy of Diane Rowe.

Hickory Ridge Schoolmaster: Jerome Spilane, 1900




 Hinkletown Video Documentary

Currently in Production:

"Rediscovering Hinkletown"

A Prairie Ghost Town

Scheduled for Release 2008

If you have photographs or stories to share,



Hinkletown: The first in a series about Iowa Ghosttowns

Presented by English Valley History Center, North English, Iowa, and

Historic Photo Archives, Klemme, Iowa

The English Valleys History Center opened in 2007 and includes a presentation room, document center and coffee shop. 



Thanks to the following reenactment groups:  24th Iowa Infantry, 1st Wisconsin Cavalry, and Red Cedar Regulators.


Copyright 2007 - English Valleys History Center, North English, IA,  and Historic Photo Archives, Klemme, Iowa

Video Documentary "Rediscovering Hinkletown" Planned for Release 2010

Hinkletown's Video Promotional Summary

Hinkletown Home Page

Video Producer's Project Link

English Valleys History Center

List of Civil War Soldiers from the Hinkletown, Foote P.O. Area

Earliest Published Account of a Hinkletown Settler - 1847
(Music Alert- Hinkletown Bluegrass)

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