OPINION

PerryScope: On this day, 150 years ago

Hometown Heritage
Mechanic Harley Brown, circa 1885. PHOTO COURTESY HOMETOWN HERITAGE PHOTO ARCHIVES

July 4, 1869

A railway runs through it

Not only were brothers Harvey and John Willis adventurous settlers, they were also savvy businessmen. When they learned that a railroad was being surveyed between Des Moines and Fort Dodge, they envisioned not only a new railway on their land, but also a new town. Writes Eugene Hastie in Hastie’s History of Dallas County, “ . . the boys proceeded to survey and plat the proposed town during the spring of 1869, giving five acres and 32 lots to the (railroad) company, and with the understanding that the name of the town be Perry, in honor of Col. Perry of Keokuk, one of the officials of the railroad.

“The first train to run over this line was on July 4, 1869. Doubtless railroad enthusiasm exceeded national patriotism along the line from Waukee to Perry that year.”

Great great-grandson of founder Harvey Willis to speak July 6 at the Carnegie

David Blake Willis, the great, great-grandson of Harvey Willis, who founded Perry with his brother, John, will present “Remembering Railroads,” lecture and slide show at 11 a.m. on Saturday, July 6 at the Carnegie Library and Museum in Perry. Willis is professor of anthropology and education at Fielding Graduate University in Santa Barbara, California.