When I was ten days old, my mother and I lived with my grandparents, Clabe and Leora Wilson, on a farm near Minburn. Dad was a Dexter farmer who’d become an Air Corps pilot and was teaching advanced cadets in Marfa, Texas. My mother came back to Iowa for the birth of her first child because Marfa was so crowded that their “apartment” was one Sunday School room in a church. People even lived in the hospital. We were at Minburn two months, until Dad came to drive us to Texas in his “new” 1939 Chevy.
In early 1945, flight instructors were sent into Transition Training. When Dad was sent to Biggs Field at El Paso, Texas, families couldn’t go along. By then all five sons of my grandparents were in the military, so they’d left the landlord’s Minburn farm and purchased an acreage a mile south of Perry on 16th Street, right near where the train tracks cross. Mom and I moved in with them until Dad was discharged from the Air Corps.
Dad had his crew and orders for Saipan that September when the war ended. After he was discharged, he rented a farm from Donald and Lucille Shaw northwest of Dexfield Park. The address was Redfield. So was the school route. My sis Gloria was born when we lived there. I went to kindergarten and most of first grade at Redfield.
Our parents bought a farm four miles south of Dexter, along Creamery Road in Madison County, but we attended school, went to church, and shopped in Dexter. We went to school in the same building where our parents had graduated in 1935 and 1936, and even one grandmother in 1916. And to church in the same church where our parents were married, and where my dad’s parents and grandparents attended. Dad’s parents were born in or near Dexter, and when I was a child they farmed just northeast of town, where we spent many holidays.
My great grandfather, O.S. Neal, was on the committee to plan the 1916 Community Building, AKA the Roundhouse, where both of my parents played basketball, and where my 8th grade graduation was held. We shopped at Blohm’s Grocery, started by an immigrant ancestor Another ancestor, Miles Marshall, is the oldest burial in the Dexter Cemetery. I lived there until going to college.
After I was married and my husband served on Air Force bases in different states, he got orders for Vietnam. I came back and stayed with the folks at the farm and taught one year at the Dallas County town of Van Meter, before moving out of state again. Managed to pay off my student aid loan.
While I stayed with the folks, Mom and I looked up family records and old newspaper clippings, and visited cemeteries. Mom’s grandmother, Georgia Wilson, lived at Panora long ago, but we were able to find her house.
For decades our family has been drawn back to Perry–to decorate the markers for the three Wilson brothers who lost their lives during the war (Danny is buried in France, Dale and his crew were never found) and their father, who died of a stroke and a broken heart in late 1946. And to shop and have lunch in Perry, drive by the old acreage, by the farm near Minburn, and the Washington Township School (where Danny and Junior graduated).
In 2016, the Dexter Museum made a display of the Wilson family. All seven children grew up in Dexter during the Depression, and the older five graduated from Dexter High School. I will be among the seventh generation buried in the Dexter cemetery.
Forest Park Museum near Perry has a new poster about the Wilson Brothers of Dallas County. The Wilson acreage is on the corner just south of the museum.
Dallas County has been a wonderful place with so many memories for me for several decades.
Maps from Dallas County Conservation, 2018 Visitor’s Guide, Explore Dallas County, Iowa.