When we had time growing up to watch T.V. we didn’t hesitate to turn the T.V. on to watch “Death Valley Days,” “Wagon Train” or any other entertaining westerns of the era. These programs and books I have read always had me wondering if I had the grit and perseverance that the people who lived those years had. I was sure I did.
I always thought it would be neat to be on a wagon train heading somewhere to begin a new life. I would surely be one of the practical ones and leave my heirloom furniture behind, packing only the real necessities of life, teacups, and a couple of extra dresses. But have you seen the wagon space that would have been “home” for several months?
If you haven’t, I invite you to see The Barns Museum in Marcus, Iowa. Jr. Pearson has done a spectacular job in preserving a part of history. He has been collecting for several decades the real horse drawn wagons and agricultural equipment that was once the catalyst for getting work done on the farms and in our cities.
And believe me, he has quite the assortment. In the immaculate building that he calls Wagons, there is walking space only. Farmers had many choices and options when it was time to buy a wagon.
They could buy wagons manufactured by Weber, Columbus, T.G. Mandt Company, Herschel, McCormick Deering and even Studebaker. Many more companies built and sold wagons. Next, you would choose what type of seat to have on your wagon and the running gear. (Did you want it to be a double or triple box?) Brakes were optional and could be added for an additional cost.
I probably would have had to give up getting a new bonnet if I wanted our family safe when traveling. And maybe my farmer would have wanted a wagon jack just in case a wheel came off. Pearson has a Conestoga Wagon Jack made by a blacksmith in 1822.
Jr. Pearson has worked hard to gather all this horse drawn equipment. He has traveled to many states, all the way to Scranton, Pennsylvania for an Orangeville Barn Thresher. Now that’s long ways from northwest Iowa. He always is on the lookout for something new and in as near to original condition as he can find. Once when off to visit family in Lexington, Kentucky, he realized that the timing was right to attend an auction if they took a different route than normal.
The auction sale bill had listed a rare John Deere single horse drawn wagon. It was a huge three-day sale with five rings in action. When the auctioneer got to the wagon, Mr. Pearson stayed with the bidding until he had successfully purchased it. This created a need for a trailer to bring it home – fortunately, the auction also had a trailer that he also purchased.
Pearson’s buildings are full of surprises; I suggest allowing at least three hours for the tour. He has been proactive and has put together some history of many of the horse-drawn agricultural equipment in the museum.
Call Jr. Pearson at 712-229-4809 to schedule a visit.