Woolstock, Iowa - Home of Superman
Woolstock, located in southwestern Wright County, was named by the Northwestern
Railroad. The railroad was heading that way, but before it could come through, huge
flocks of sheep that belonged to L. I. Estis of Webster City had to be cleared off the land.
So the new town that was set up to serve the company as a railroad junction, was
named "Woolstock" to honor those sheep! It was platted in January, 1881.
What once was great hunting grounds for deer, elk and buffalo, gave way to immigrants
from the Alsace-Lorraine region of France, around 1871. And settlers soon found out
sheep did not fare well in the bitter winters, and soon farmland was developed.
Stevenson’s “History of Wright County” praises the Woolstock area as having fine farms
with new groves of fruit trees, and creeks with established groves of trees.
A Lutheran Church was built in 1896 – now known as The French Church. Woolstock is
twinned with the French Alsatian geographic area, Ban de la Roche, as many bandelarochiens settled in Woolstock. Ban de la Roche includes the French towns of Bellefosse, Belmont, Fouday, Neuviller-la-Roche, Rothau, Solbach, Wildersbach, and Waldersbach, the adult home of Oberlin College namesake, Jean-Frederic Oberlin. L. W. Tyrrell set up the first business in Woolstock – an insurance agency and real estate brokerage. He also was justice of the peace and mayor of Woolstock. He was mayor for 18-1/2 years, finally quitting the post in 1914. Soon a general store, grain buying, and
livestock business joined the little town. Before long, Woolstock became a busy place
with banks, blacksmiths, drugstore, lumberyard, livery stable, farm implement stores,
auto garages, meat market, hotel and restaurants, among other businesses.
Woolstock had a destructive fire on June 27, 1908. A special train was sent from Eagle
Grove to assist. Seven business blocks(one -half the town) and three barns were lost.
The fire started in the Carpenter Meat Market, where lard was being rendered.
Woolstock did not have a fire department at the time, relying on volunteers. The high
winds that day had the townsfolk fearing the entire town would be lost.
Very noteworthy is that George Reeves, who played Superman in the 1950’s television
show “Adventures of Superman” was born in Woolstock in 1914, with the given name of
George Keefer Brewer! George went on to play in many movies, before committing
suicide in 1959. His death is still considered controversial, as the question of homicide
vs. suicide was never fully answered.