Holly Springs

Holly Springs, Iowa

Woodbury County, Iowa, USA. Click here for the HOME page.

Holly Springs
Willow Township

The Holly Springs story was prepared by Fern Jones, Irene Beem, Marian Gallagher, Georgette Haddock, Lizzie Forney, Mary Woods and Peggy Powell.
Town History

It is said and written that in about 1881 a man by the name of Newell came and settled west of the West Fork River. He supposedly came from Holly Springs, Mississippi, and built a store. He named the village after his home town.

Holly Springs is located in Willow Township. The township was first named Lee Township, but changed in 1874.

Records say that the first store was opened by Elige A Batman, in which he sold a variety of times; apparently this was a two-part building as Morris Metcalf is supposed to have operated the first tavern at the same place. However, it is really thought that John Wengert had the first store.

Originally the Denison highway, now called Old Highway 141, ran north of the present village along the bluff and in front of German City. In 1926, the road became a concrete road from Sioux City to Highway 140, about a mile west of Holly Springs. Highway 140 is also known as County Road K64. Old Highway 141, as we know it today, was built in 1927 and paved on to Smithland.

In the early days, Holly Springs was growing community. The post office was first at Holly Springs and even the Hornick mail came out of there. Elige Batman was postmaster in 1890. The post office remained until about January 15, 1904. What hurt Holly Springs was the railroad coming in and going through Hornick. That was the beginning of the end.

Residents affection called the community ‘Holly’. On the northwest corner of the village sat the school, with the Methodist Church to the west and Earl Rose to the north. The Lee schoolhouse was there first. It was later moved to the Earl Rose residence and he has changed the building considerably. At one time a grove of beautiful maple trees lined the street in front of the church and school.

On the northeast corner, the first wooden building was operated by John Wengert. It was a store in about 1890. In 1933 Earl Deist had a service station and lunch counter. Then Leonard and Vivian Dawdy had Dawdy’s Grocery store where they sold groceries and had a small café. Today it is Holly Corner Store owned and operated by Bill and Pat Smith.

Lizzie Forney lives next to the store and has kept a newspaper account of ‘Holly’ residents over the years. Two houses to the east is where Dr Frear once lived. Today the Charles Parkhill family lives there.

On the southeast corner is the dance hall built by Lige Batman. It was a two-story wooden building. The dance hall was upstairs. Over the years there have been some lodges. They were Woodmen of the World and Odd Fellows (IOOF). The hall was used for various gatherings, even once a mock wedding. Rudy Youngstrom had a repair shop in the 1930s in the building. Today it is a concrete block building housing Newton’s Trucking.

There used to be a building next to the Dance Hall, but it burned down some years back. The Rose Brothers were there before 1924 and had it until Bruce Haddock bought it in 1946. Rose Bros had a general store in the west side and storage on the east side of the building. Haddock kept it until Ed and Winnie Westfall bought it in 1946 or 49. The Fryes owned it after that. Also, the Dawdys had their store there before they went across the street.

During the 1910 and 1920s, a regular summer activity was the Woodmen of the World or Odd Fellows picnic with games, races, refreshment stands and a picnic dinner at noon for daytime fun; and a dance on the improvised floor with lots of music. One memory of the good times is ‘while helping to unload watermelons and carry inside was told, be careful and don’t drop them, and of course, they did drop one.’

During the 1940s many individuals from the community performed in three-act plays; most of them were extremely hilarious. There was always a full house, and they were usually presented tow evenings. The local directors did a superb job of casting. Real live fowl and livestock were often used. Some of the plays were also presented in neighboring communities later. Georgette (Mrs Bruce) Haddock was the first director and Box Pixler was the second and final one.

Memorial Day services were held each May 30 in the morning at the school auditorium. The Holly Springs-Hornick and later the Westwood high school band in their uniforms provided appropriate music for the day as the veterans, also in their uniforms from past wars, marched in proudly carrying ‘Old Glory’ and took their places upon the stage. There was always special vocal music selections, the reading of ‘In Flander’s Field’ and a speaker. After the service was completed, everyone went to the Willow Township Cemetery where flags had earlier been placed on the veterans’ graves. Girls also placed flowers on the graves. After a gun salute by the veterans, taps sounded over the hill.
Civil War veterans who took part in the ceremony every Memorial Day and Sunday until death took them were: Robert Haddock, William R Davis ‘Uncle Billy’, Mr. Yockey, and Mr Goodrich.

On the southwest corner of the street was a blacksmith and livery run by Walt Metcalf. Later it was moved to another spot. After it was moved, it was a drug store built by Jake Feldner and run by Dr Service and Dr Lass. Ace Cox bought the Feldner land - it still belongs to the Cox family.

South of the Coover home was the Hotel (eating establishment) and Livery stable. It was built by Morris Metcalf. Morris run the business along with his daughter, Rose, and her husband, Andrew Gardner. Andrew Gardner was also a Justice of the Peace at one time. Charles and Annie Dice also ran the hotel and restaurant at one time. Later, when it was sold, they split it into two homes; one burned (for a time this house was the property of the Church of Christ), now leaving the Oliver Weber home.

Sometime after it was a drug store, Dr Glann built what is now called the Freeman Coover home. Dr and his wife lived there until they moved to Climbing Hill. It now stands empty waiting for someone else to love it.

Over the years there have been a beauty shop, a barber shop, repair shops, business house (implement and electrical appliance), plus Paul Wengert’s service station. In the early days, there was a specialty shop. It sold hats and millinery of all kind.

The bus line used to come through Holly six times a day.

Charles Cook ran a threshing machine. He had a barn where the school teacher used to keep her horse during the school day. This was Miss Hawkins.
Ike Klass delivered grocery supplies to the General Store in a truck with a chain drive and hard rubber tires. Herman Arnold hauled livestock in his chain-drive truck.

In 1918 a telephone system was installed. There were usually ten phones to a line. One central was at one time in the J S Egger home. It was also in the home where the Richard Henneous home is now. Kate Sexton was a ‘Central’ for this system for many years until the present system was put in.

IPS brought electricity in 1926.

A new bridge was built across the West Fork ditch in 1927 when the new road came in. the first bridge had been built in 1855.

Lee Cemetery, now called Willow Township Cemetery, is located one and one-fourth miles east of Holly Springs.

In 1946 the dirt road south of Holly to Hornick was graveled.

There was a Midway Hotel. It was for travelers going to Sioux City, to the market, or farther on. It had at least sixteen rooms. This may have been on the John and Bessie Gallagher farm, but it is not known for sure. The land at one time was farmed by a Mr Becker and Tom Armstrong.

Len and Lizzie Forney had a barn, corn crib and pasture north of their home. With they children’s assistance, they bottle and delivered the milk form their Jersey cows to the towns people for many years.

In 1947 Lloyd Beebe and Charles Parkhill constructed a tile building as a general repair shop on the east edge of town.

There has never been a town Marshall or jail in the village’s history. It is served by the Woodbury County Sheriff’s Department.

Township officers serving presently are: Francis Kirsch, Clerk; Junior Gallagher, Jack Steinhoff and Dale Washburn as trustees.

Update: when the West Fork flooded the Holly Springs community in about 1996, the government came in and bought out the residents there. Some of the homes were sold and moved, other destroyed. The old gymnasium is Holly Industries. They surveyed the flood. Today there are three residents who didn’t move, Mr and Mrs James Coons, Larry Comly, and Jimmy Woods. All the former residents still have good memories of the village they fondly called ‘Holly’.



Town Information:

In 1874 was located in Lee Township, then changed to Willow Township. The first post office was opened in 1890, then closed 15 January 1904, with the first postmaster Elige Bateman. First settled by Eli Lee an early settler, and Newell in 1881.



Willow Township Cemetery - Formally called Lee Township Cemetery, which is located 0.25 mile (quarter mile) east of Holly Springs, Iowa.



Methodist Church - organized in 1887

Church of Christ - organized in 1893

Open Bible Church - organized in 1927 - new church in 1945.


Other information:

Due to many years of flooding, most of the town of Holly Springs was moved to higher ground by the U.S. Government. Not everyone moved and some moved away.


Source: Resource Guide for West Central Iowa

If you know of any corrections or missing information please contact me.

Woodbury County Coordinator

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