Chapter Four (in production):
Ahead of their Time
“Ahead of Their Time” celebrates the entrepreneurial spirit that inspired the growth of business and government in and around Fairfield, Iowa. Our research focuses on some of the town’s “out of the box” thinkers, movers and shakers and includes many stories from early inventors to modern-day industry leaders. With added insights from family members and local historians, it offers a glimpse into the hearts and minds of some of the most determined trailblazers in Fairfield, Iowa history, and discovers the unstoppable spirit that helped this small midwestern town survive and thrive.
Producer & Director
Director of Photography
Just A few of the stories from our next film
Dr. Rebecca J. Keck (1838–1904)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
Lawrence Eyre, Historical Coordinator
City of Fairfield
Greater Jefferson County Foundation
Everybody's Whole Foods
John & Kirstin DeAngelis
Steve and Sally Johnston
The Sterling Foundation
Fairfield Iowa Convention & Visitors Bureau
Pat and Barb McMahon