Centervillle, IA Area: Appanoose County (Our 55th County!)
We knew that Centerville would be where we’d refuel the Team Goodvin-Mobile, grab a bite, walk the world’s largest town square. (You heard that right…You know you have your favorite road trip music playing in your head.) This wouldn’t be the only loop we would be taking on this day. The next thing you know we’re meeting 5th generation Brazilians and buzzing through Cincinnati.
History is one of the many interests that has driven The Iowa Gallivant since we started. No matter where we go and no matter the size of the community, the majority of the time we find multiple reasons to return. Cincinnati is one of Iowa’s smallest towns but we discovered a HUGE reason to travel back. So look at this article more as a preview because Team Goodvin is readying a plan to explore the role of this small town’s path to freedom from slavery and the Underground Railroad. There are plenty of trails, safe houses, and legends in Cincinnati about this time in American History that can start another amazing project for us. This wasn’t the only historic path Cincinnati would find itself in the middle of.
Thousands of Mormon pioneers searching for their own religious freedom found their way trekking their way through Iowa with Utah as their goal. Cincinnati was never intended to be such a staging stop for multiple trails that saw Americans fleeing from their homes, but history had its own plans. And it doesn’t stop with the story of the Mormon Trail or Underground Railroad. Cincinnati was a boom town for miners in the 1800’s and early 1900’s all the while being an absolute hotbed for these trailblazers in Cincy and their neighbors from Brazil….
The main drag in Brazil, Iowa looks a lot different than it did when mining was busting at the seems in this area. At one point, Brazil had it’s own school, post office, tavern and all the common businesses that mining towns needed to operate. The work was grueling and the conditions were dangerous and it was these hard working Iowans that helped shape our state in the early days. There might have been an economic downturn for Brazil and the town is no longer incorporated, but that doesn’t mean everyone has left.
Meet the brothers Coatney! Brazil has seen this family grow for over 5 generations and I think and expect to see 5 more. These are the unofficial historic interpreters of Brazil, much like many locals we’ve found in all of our Iowa travels. They may have been busy and hard at work but that had the time to welcome a group of strangers to their home and remind us all over again on why we love Iowa. We left Brazil on a dusty road knowing that it was supper time and that meant Centerville was ringing the bell. It was time to meet a few more Iowa families….
The fast moving crew of George & Nick’s Pizza & Steakhouse was serving up a VERY busy restaurant on this night. Groups all around us were enjoying the evening and excellent cooking, including the large family celebrating a graduation on the lower right. Just try to pry that box of pizza from the kid in the green shirt. Trust me, it’s not happening. This happily reassured us that we came to the right place and you could tell that they did, too. Just about every part of George & Nick’s menu was represented on their tables and I nearly pulled up a chair. To be honest, after meeting incredible folks all day in Appanoose County, I don’t think they would have given it a second thought. Because everyone likes it when a big guy wearing a flowery Hawaiian shirt wants to join in on a good time in southern Iowa. Let’s plan on this again, Centerville!
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