Parkersburg - The "Brush Bed of the Beaver"
Proud of the Past, we are Growing with Pride! "Come Grow with Us"
The site upon which Parkersburg stands in southern Butler County, Iowa, while in its primitive state, was covered with a heavy growth of brush and was spoken of by the pioneers as the "brush bed of the Beaver'. It is located where the north and south forks of the Beaver meet, and in the early times, the creeks furnished much needed water power.
The land was originally purchased from the U.S. Government in 1854 by a speculator whose name has been lost to history. No improvements were made upon the land until 1857, when John Connell and his son William, purchased the land and built a log cabin. When the railroad company surveyed this area in the 1860's, they realized the natural advantage of a town being located here. A depot was erected in 1865, and two railroads were built through Parkersburg; the Illinois Central and the Chicago Northwestern, bringing desirable shipping facilities to the town. The town was soon platted and recorded and given the name of "Parkersburg" in honor of Pascal P. Parker, a prominent settler and the town's first postmaster. The village of Parkersburg became an incorporated town early in the year of 1875. The first sign of life from a business point of view, came with the establishment of a hotel, built by Thomas Williams, called "The Williams House" and later known as the "Commercial House".
The very first "Little Red School House" was built in the 1860's. Later it would be used to store fire-fighting equipment. Parkersburg became an independent school district in the Spring of 1871. A new school was built in 1872. This building disappeared in flames on October 9, 1893 in the "great fire of Parkersburg" (which also destroyed most of the business district). The fire burned with such intensity that the light from the fire could be seen for 25 miles. The following year (in 1894) a modern, three story, brick structure was built. It would take until 1930 for the school to add an auditorium and gymnasium.
During the holidays of 1913-14, Parkersburg installed a series of five-globe electroliers. The electric power was furnished by the Parkersburg Electric Light & Power Company, composed of local capitalists who built a plant in 1898 at a cost of $10,000. The town's roads weren't paved until 1920. The first water tower stood on the southeast corner of the school yard and had a capacity of 40,000 gallons.
One of Parkersburg's most beautiful links to the past is the C.C. Wolf Mansion, now called The Parkersburg Historical Home. The Queen Anne style mansion was built in 1895 as a wedding gift for Wolf and his bride, Mary Wilson. Some of the outstanding features in the home are leaded glass stained windows and the imported hand-carved woodwork. A closed passageway underneath the front staircare brings many stories of the secret tunnel out to the stables. The Parkersburg Historical Society has restored this home, preserving it as a museum that is a popular tourist attraction.
In the year 2000, Parkersburg celebrated its 125th year as an incorporated community. Then, on May 25, 2008 at 4:59 PM, the southern third of Parkersburg was devastated by an EF 5 tornado. 282 homes, 22 businesses, 37 assisted living residences, and eight lives were lost. The tornado traveled for 43 miles until finally ending near the Black Hawk and Buchannan County line. After only one year, Parkersburg looked like a new housing development. Hundreds of homes and businesses were rebuilt and were again open for business. Some people who lost their homes or businesses moved, but many stayed and are enjoying life again in Parkersburg.