Update: Bus tour details added on 9/7.
Visit the birthplace of Waite Phillips. See the Phillips family towns of Creston, Bedford and Conway, Iowa in their fall splendor.
October 2-4, 2015 at the Sheraton West Des Moines in Des Moines, Iowa. Visit their special booking page to book your room at our reserved rate. Friday night events will be at this hotel. The tour bus will depart from here Saturday morning and dinner that evening will also be here.
- $60 for Saturday bus tour and lunch only
- $40 for Saturday night dinner at the Sheraton West
- Or get both for just $95 for the bus tour and Saturday dinner
- Friday night – reminiscing, local dining, spend time in the hotel lounge
- Saturday – breakfast buffet, bus tour to southern Iowa to visit various Phillips family homesteads and cemetery and other historic sites, cocktail hour, dinner, evening concert
Highlights of the PSA Iowa Reunion Road Trip – Oct. 3, 2015
Our daylong bus tour of Waite Phillips’ childhood landscape will begin by driving through gorgeous autumnal Iowa countryside from Des Moines to the town of Bedford, county seat of Iowa’s Taylor Country.
Taylor County Historical Museum – Bedford
Our first stop will be at the Taylor County Historical Museum where local history experts will share their in-depth knowledge of the Phillips family in Iowa and give us the background we need to appreciate what we will see the rest of the day. Roslyn Cummings, president of the Taylor County Historical Society, will be our host. Museum exhibits include Phillips family photographs, documents, and books, and the Frank Phillips’ 1/4-sized covered wagon with WOLAROC or Bust! painted on the canvas.
The courthouse that is the centerpiece of Bedford was built in 1892 when Waite and Wiate were nine years old, so they would have known it. In an upstairs vault, the County Recorder’s Office has the 1876 hand-written document, signed by Lewis Phillips, giving him title to 40 acres of land east of Bedford that could well have been the birthplace of the twins. A Civil War statue in front of the courthouse gives us the opportunity to discuss their father’s remarkable service during that conflict. (Lewis Phillips enlisted in the Union Army in 1861 at the age of 16 and served in the western theater of the war for the next four years.)
Lake of Three Fires
Our picnic lunch stop will be at a typically gorgeous Iowa state park. Lake of Three Fires is centrally located to most important Phillips’ sites in Taylor County.
North of Bedford is the small town of Conway. It was the town that Waite and Wiate would have known best as they were growing up.
Not far from Conway is Gravity, Iowa. The Washington County Cemetery on the edge of town includes the Phillips’ family plot with the graves of the Waite and Wiate’s parents, their sister Etta, and of Wiate.
Second Phillips Farm
When the twins were two years old, the Phillips family moved to a farm four miles north of Conway. The place where their home stood is now owned by Paul Chandler. A small portion of the foundation of the Phillips’ home is visible in the lawn alongside Mr. Chandler’s house. Down the hill from the house is a shallow valley that was once the site of the railroad where Waite and Wiate hopped aboard for their journey west for adventure.
First Phillips Farm
Our last stop in Taylor County will the property Lewis Phillips owned during the year the boys were born, and thus their probable birthplace. The farmhouse and any other buildings that had stood there are long gone, but the rolling terrain is the same and the landscape gives a strong suggestion of the Iowa origins that gave Waite Phillips much of the conservation ethic he would carry with him for the rest of his life.
Our bus ride back to Des Moines will take us through Creston, northeast of Taylor County. It was in Creston that Waite’s brother Frank found work as a barber and soon owned all the town’s barbershops. He eventually had a bank there, as well, and began to build the savings that would help finance Waite and Wiate on their several years of western explorations.
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