Madison County, Iowa   Leave a comment

John Wayne Birthplace

Who would have thought that the little town of Winterset, Iowa, would be so interesting. Not far from the middle of town, just off John Wayne Drive, is the original four room house that Marion Robert Morrison (John Wayne) was born.

He was born on May 26, 1907, my mother’s birthday (not the year, just the day). Today the house has been restored and holds many, many keepsakes items belonging to John Wayne and his family. (Photos were prohibited) There are hundreds of rare photographs of the “Duke” as well as letters written to him by Lucille Ball, Gene Autry, Maureen O’Hara, Jimmy Stewart, Kirk Douglas, Bob Hope, Ronald Reagan, and George Burns.

As a young boy, he had a dog named “Duke.” As he passed the firehouse, the fireman knew the name of the dog, but not the name of the little boy. They nicknamed him Duke II. That is how he came to be known as the Duke. Now see, you always thought it was from the movies, didn’t you?

John Wayne always regretted not serving in the armed services and just before he died was awarded a Congressional Medal as a great American. It is not to be confused with a Congressional Medal of Honor.

While in Madison County, we visited the Madison County Historical Complex, 14 buildings on 18 picturesque acres at the south edge of Winterset. Among the buildings are the 1870 Post Office, 1871 railroad depot, 1881 Zion Church, McKee Barn, which houses their growing collection of tools, implements, machinery and farm-related items.

Bill liked the 1953 Chevrolet

Tusha Country School which operated from 1878-1939

Martin Gas Station, built in 1934.

Lawyer’s office

And the Bevington Stone Privy (3 hole privy), built in 1856.

Inside the museum itself, we found all kinds of antique items from different periods of time.

There were fossels and arrowheads. I found this fossil of an octopus very interesting.

It brought back so many memories of my childhood and what it was like for my parents and grandparents. I found a “fox stole” just like my grandmother used to have.

I thought grandma and grandpa were kinda cute. That’s going to be Bill and I when we are too old to travel.

They even had items in the restrooms! Can you guess which is the woman’s room and which is the men’s room?

Five of the original 20 covered bridges of Madison County remain. Towing an RV made it difficult to see these covered bridges, but we did manage to see the Cutler-Donahoe Covered Bridge, which greets visitors as they enter Winterset City Park.

Built in 1871 by Eli Cox, it is 79 feet long. It was moved to its present location in 1970 and renovated in 1997 for $35,538.

What a great side trip.


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