Tuesday, March 15, 2011

The Beginning Of My Books by Rose Marie Briggs

     Tipperary, Iowa, was located in Lucas County, Iowa, Pleasant Township, 15 miles northeast of Chariton, Iowa, or roughly 5 miles east of Williamson, Iowa.  The Olmitz mine was located about two miles northwest of Tipperary.
     The stories of Tipperary have always fascinated me ever since I heard the magical name years ago.  As it so happened, we ended up purchasing the timber ground where Tipperary used to be.  (We now no longer own it.)  When our good friends Charlie and Katie Gedda would come to visit and Charlie would tell me about their “Blue Cross and Blue Shield” health plan and about the gambler, “Chicago Mike” and his get away car, I would sit with eager anticipation “soaking up” as much information as possible.
    Walking along in the timber, I would find sunken places in the ground, broken bottles and trinkets and partial foundations, of what, I did not know.  Right then and there, I decided to try and recreate Tipperary,  the mine and its people,  “as it used to be” between 1914 and 1927.  Off I went on a wild goose chase, contacting as many people as I could find, compiling stories and pictures of the bygone days.  What a joy it was to visit with the people that used to live there and hear about their adventures and memories.  Needless to say, every one wanted to know about Tipperary and encouraged me to compile all the information and put it into a book, which I did.
     In talking about Tipperary, another coal mine was brought to my attention, named Olmitz.  It was located “down the train track southwest about 2 miles”.  So, I ended up doing a sequel to Tipperary’s book, about the coal mine called Olmitz.  Its town was located on Cedar Creek bottom ground  and consisted of  104 company houses and a company store,  wherein Tipperary was located amongst hills and hollers”, and it only had 24 company houses.  Perhaps it was the charm of the song, It’s a Long, Long, Way to Tipperary” or the World War I movie of Tipperary that made the little coal camp of Tipperary so unforgettable, or perhaps it was the mystery of days gone by.  I discovered, whatever it was, Tipperary holds a special place in people’s hearts yet today. 
    At one time Tipperary was a flourishing town of over 1000 people, but it soon dwindled to a wandering road among the trees.  After a brisk fall walk among the Tipperary woods and upon sitting down on a quiet afternoon; if you listen really careful, you can almost hear the bustle of the busy town; the mine work whistle; the smell of the dirt dump burning (or the sweet smell of chocktaw brewing), and even the faint whistle of the coal train.  I believe Tipperary will remain alive in people’s hearts for many more year to come.

Tipperary Mine about 1917

Tipperary Miners taken about 1924

Road from Tipperary, past Liberty School, coming out by Zion Cemetery

Jimmy Nicoletto's homemade car at north entrance to Tipperary

Tipperary Book Cover Page

Picture of the Olmitz Mine

Gathering of Coal Miners

Line up of stores in Olmitz

I have connected two pictures together to get the full picture of how the stores were lined up:

L to R:  Restaurant, Big 4 Store, Hixson Garage, Braida PoolHall/Store, Andy Pastovich's home, (Sarah's Restaurant and Constant Duhain's Bakery)  (little girl is Gayle Hollingshead with Raleigh Hixson, her grandfather)

Olmitz Taxicab

Olmitz Book Cover Page

Purchasing Information

Tipperary Gone But Forgotten has 265 pages of history of Central Iowa Fuel Company's five mines with particular relevance to Tipperary.  It has illustrations and pictures, both of the mines, the town, and its people, along with a complete index.  There is also an article about the “famous Chicago Mike gambler”.  The Tipperary book sells for $30 plus postage.  My email account is rsmrbrggs6@gmail.com

Memories of Olmitz has 295 pages of history, illustrations and pictures, with relevance to Olmitz, along with a complete index. Both books contain several stories about different happenings, as people remember them.  It also sells for $32.50 plus postage.

If you would be interested in both books; if I mail them both together, the postage is quite a bit cheaper.  I normally wait for your check, and then promptly mail the book out.