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Chapter Four: 
Ahead of their Time

“Ahead of Their Time” celebrates the entrepreneurial spirit that inspired growth in and around Fairfield, Iowa. This film shares fifteen short stories highlighting some of the town’s “out of the box” thinkers, movers and shakers; from early industrialists to social change advocates of the 1800s. Supported by added insights from family members and local historians, “Ahead of Their Time” offers a glimpse into the hearts and minds of some of the most determined trailblazers in Fairfield, Iowa history and uncovers the unstoppable spirit that helped this small midwestern town both survive and thrive. 

Producer & Director

Dick DeAngelis

Director of Photography

Jason Strong


Lawrence Eyre

Sound Editor

Tim Britton

Just A few of the stories from our next film

Dr. Rebecca J. Keck (1838–1904)

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  • 19th-century woman physician and patent medicine entrepreneur

  • One of the wealthiest independent businesswomen in the Midwest--a self-made millionaire.

She moved with her parents to Fairfield, Iowa in 1851 at the age of thirteen, where she may have completed schooling as far as the eighth grade. In 1857, she married John Conrad Keck, a merchant and mechanic.

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We found one remaining bottle in Iowa that contained an herbal remedy of Fairfielder Mrs. Dr. Keck . We also found her great great granddaughter, author Greta Nettleton.
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In 1887, Joel Turney, a blacksmith turned wagon maker from Trenton, Iowa, moved his operations to Fairfield, Iowa.  Within a few years, The Charter Oak factory in Fairfield measured nearly 100,000 square feet under roof with a capacity for 6,000 wagons produced each year.
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In the Fall of 2019, we visited Tina Turney Thoman and got to see and film a vintage Charter Oak wagon, the "Model T Ford of its day" hitched up to two beautiful horses.

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William Louden (1841-1931) was an inventive genius and put his creativity to work with the sole purpose of making farming life a little easier. He devised a hay carrier which moved hay from the wagon into the barn using a system of pulleys that were both strong and lightweight. When he died at age 90, Louden machinery held 118 patents!
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It has been said that William Louden did for barns what Cyrus McCormick did for reapers and John Deere did for plows. His rail system patents were applied to industry and during WW1 and were eventually used by factories all over the country.

Historical Contributors

Lawrence Eyre, Historical Coordinator

Bill Green

Dale Essick

Dave Metz

David McCoid

David Sneed

Greta Nettleton

Lance Foster

Larry Nash

Pete Nelson

Steve Weeber

Tina Turney-Thomann



Major Sponsors

City of Fairfield

Greater Jefferson County Foundation

Everybody's Whole Foods

Cafe Paradiso

John & Kirstin DeAngelis

Bob Ferguson

Steve and Sally Johnston

Martha Rasmussen

The Sterling Foundation

Fairfield Iowa Convention & Visitors Bureau

Edith Jordan

Pat and Barb McMahon

Larry Nash

Fred Reiter

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Chapter 1: 

Life Before Fairfield

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Chapter 2: 

Heroes of Fairfield

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Chapter 3: 

A place

To Grow

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