Sunday, August 24, 2014


Centerville, Iowa, have you even heard of the place?  I have because my father was born here. Also, one of our dear friends, either Bob or Pat Parks, from our church twenty- something group at church grew up in Centerville. 

Bob and Pat moved away from Indianapolis.  We moved to a little town in the country called Bargersville, Indiana.  We lost touch.  What a shame. 

But, let's start our tour of Centerville.  

We start with the typical county court house.  Centerville Square seems like nothing special, but at the courthouse, a wonderful group of people who work in the recorder's office help me with my family history search.  Thanks to all.

This is not a typical town square, but one that is reported to be the largest town square in the world. It has eleven streets that intersect  the square!  ELEVEN!  It also has four rows for parking all around the square which makes driving a challenge at first. 

I believe that the only time I was here in Centerville, I was quite young.  We came to visit my dad's aunt, my great aunt.  

It was a terribly hot day, of course there was no air conditioning.  It was as hot as it has been this week.  My older brother by eight years took me for a  walk around town and the town square.  

Big brother could not remember the way back to the apartment of our great aunt.  I led him right back there with ease.  

Why do I share such a silly anecdote?  Because for the week we have been here, I have had no problems navigating the streets in and around this town.  It boggles my mind.  

I wish my brother could have been here with us.  What a wonderful experience it could have been for both of us.   

Okay, I digress .... already! And today's blog has just started.

On the courthouse square is the Continental Hotel, built in 1865 when Alexander and Susannah McKee traded forty acres of land, four horses, one wagon and a harness for a 
The Continental
The Continental
store house and lot where the Continental is located.  It was originally arranged as a hotel and residence and was known as the Jefferson House or Wagon Home in 1866.

The building burned to the ground but was rebuilt within a year and is the superstructure of what now is called the Continental Hotel.  

The hotel continued to serve weary travelers until the early 1900's when it fell to decay and ruin.  A portion of the  roof collapsed.  Raccoons, mice, squirrels, rats and skunks became the new residents until 1966 when a successful, local businessman, Morgan Cline, had the building restored to it's original grandeur.   

Today, the building is the home to a popular restaurant and a hotel  for weary travelers that also has apartments for seniors.  

The suites consist of bedroom, sitting room and a small eat-in kitchen.

For Fourteen hundred dollars a month a senior has a suite, one meal free the others at half price, all utilities paid and a small garden to enjoy.  

I looked at their menu and found that one could eat a different free meal for 34 days without a repeat!  

Now, if they could get rid of the cold temperatures ad snow in the winter, that would be one great deal! 
The Continental
The entrance

The Continental Hotel Lobby
 Main desk and lobby
The Continental
Portrait of Morgan Cline, benefactor 
The Continental
Behind the front desk sits the switchboard
The Continental
Permanent residents enjoy a cool summer evening together.

Not far from the hotel is the library.  Can we say another gorgeous building interior?  

Looking up from the second floor genealogy department

The "guard rail" around the opening from the stained glass to the lobby on the first floor of the library

At the library, I found a photo of my grandmother.  She passed prior to my birth and this is only the second photograph I have seen of her. 

My grandfather sucummed to the flu pandemic that ravaged the United States in 1913 and 1914, leaving my grandmother with four young children to raise.  My father was the oldest. The youngest, my uncle, was only six months old.  

museum_007_web.gifThere is also much more to see in the Appanoose County Museum.  We found a photograph that my grandfather, a professional photographer took! 

I did not know that Centerville was a coal mining town.  The museum has an entire area designated for coal mining.  

Other sites we enjoyed were: an old filling station from probably the 1940 or early 1950's.

vfw 3.jpg

The Burlington and Northern railroad station.


The old very Centerville Jail

Ramsay House that now serves as a gift shop.  We did not go in since I am not much of a gift shop person.  

Just eight miles from Centerville is Rathbun Lake.  There are eight campgrounds located around the lake.  Five of the campgrounds are Army Corps of Engineers managed.  

Campgrounds contain many level campsites.  Not all have electrical hookups.  Picnic tables and fire rings are at each site.  Shower buildings, dump stations and fish cleaning stations are located in most of the parks.  

Our campground is a lower division of Rathbun Lake, in Centerville.  It is not a COE campground and is managed by the city of Centerville.  We have electricity, gravel parking spaces that a either level or very close to level. Our daily rate here is $15.00.  We consider this quite reasonable.  We have been the only campers here with the exception of Friday and Saturday night when there was one trail and one tent camper! This photo is of the campground taken from across the lake.   

Tuesday, we leave this little piece of heaven and venture toward Des Moines and Monteith, Iowa.  I am just wondering what we will find there in Monteith.  Whatever, it will be another adventure in our Trippin With the Talleys.

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God bless you all in your walk....may you come to know Him in a close personal way.  



  1. Lv the hotel entrance...
    Des Moines....Tasty Tacos :)

  2. That looks like a great old hotel and the courthouse looks impressive, too. There's something about old courthouses that I like to see, especially when they are still in use today. Enjoy your time in Iowa! I grew up in thw north central/north eastern part of the state, Osage, Iowa, in Mitchell County and went to college in Decorah, Iowa.

  3. What a lovely town. I love the hotel. What fun it would be to live in aug a lovely historic place.

    Wow...$15 a night is awesome.

  4. Thanks for the nice tour of Centerville, so nice to visit smaller town especially with family history there as well.

  5. I just love the charm of small towns. A city park campground and COE's all in the same area. What a bonus.

  6. A very interesting small town. You explored it for family reasons, how many more places like that are there that we pass thru on our drives. I only takes time.

  7. How wonderful to walk the streets of your family's past - and to find photos of them as well! I love the beautiful old library, I bet it smells wonderful in there :-). You're making me want to check out the towns where my folks grew up as well, and spend some time checking out the historical locations there.

  8. I love going back to the places of my parents and even their parents. There's so much more to the town if we try to see it through their eyes.

  9. Good friend from Bob's college days at Iowa State was from Centerville, have enjoyed the visits there.

  10. We were in Centerville, but missed that great hotel: thanks for the tour:)


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