Imagine Northeast Iowa

A blogging extravaganza by, for, & about Northeast Iowa.

What's In An Iowa Name: Bassett, Bluffton, Brandon & Burr Oak
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What's In An Iowa Name: Bassett, Bluffton, Brandon & Burr Oak

It’s back and it’s “B” time! Today, we’ll check out the NE Iowa town names that begin with “B” that exist elsewhere in the U.S.

Let’s begin with Bassett, shall we? Bassett is a city in Chickasaw County, Iowa with a population of 66 at the 2010 census. And believe it or not, Bassett, Iowa does not have the smallest population of the 9 cities, towns, and villages named Bassett in the U.S. Bassett, Kansas has a population of just 14. (Bassett, Minnesota, Bassett, California, and Bassett, Wisconsin are listed as unincorporated.)

Bassett, Virginia has the largest population at 1,100. It was founded along a rail line by the same family that later started the well-known Bassett Furniture company. The furniture company’s headquarters have remained in Bassett, VA since it began in 1902.

Other states where you could visit Bassett include Arkansas, Nebraska, and Texas.

Bluffton, Iowa is perhaps not a very well-known town in Iowa to those who don’t live near it. (Correct me, if I’m wrong!) But there is an even more not-very-well-known, Bluffton in Alabama. In its prime, back in 1888, it had a population of about 8000 residents. But today, Bluffton, Alabama is listed as a ghost town, consisting of just a church and a mobile home.

On the other end of the spectrum is Bluffton, Indiana which has a population of nearly 10,000. It was also one of the first towns across America to promote itself as an inclusive town. What does that mean? The city joined the National League of Cities’ Partnership for Working Toward Inclusive Communities. The initiative encourages cities to start a dialogue about diversity and acceptance. Bluffton, Indiana put up signs promoting their efforts at all local schools as well as the entrances of three state highways.

Another neat Bluffton story comes out of Bluffton, Texas. The town was originally built in a spot that was completely flooded by Lake Buchanan. Beginning in 1931, the entire town was moved several miles to the west. However, just three years ago in 2011, a severe drought caused lake levels to drop, re-exposing the old town to dry land.

I mentioned four places named, Bluffton, but there are also five others located in Arkansas, Georgia, Minnesota, South Carolina, and Ohio.

There are 11 cities, towns, or villages named Brandon in the U.S. The largest is Brandon, Florida with a population of 103,483. The smallest Brandon is in Colorado where 21 people lived during the 2010 Census.

Brandon, Vermont was home to Statesman Stephen Douglas and famous inventor Thomas Davenport, who is said to have invented the electric motor, although he never achieved fame for his invention before passing away.

Out of all of the places with the name Brandon, just one sticks out to me. Why? Because it’s home to an unusual roadside attraction unlike any other Brandon. You likely guessed it, I’m talking about the giant frying pan that weighs more than 1,000 pounds that is located in Brandon, Iowa. (I mean, who can beat a 1,000 pound frying pan?!)

Other states with a Brandon include Delaware, Minnesota, Mississippi, New York, South Dakota, Texas, and Wisconsin.

Burr Oak, Iowans, you can be proud. There are only four towns that carry your town’s same name in the U.S. However, there are countless cemeteries and also a tree species named Burr Oak…. Oh, you knew that already? Then I’ll continue…

The largest Burr Oak is in Michigan with a population of 828, and that town almost wasn’t even named Burr Oak. In 1852, land for a railroad station was donated by William Lock, on the condition that the town be renamed "Lock's Station," which it was. Five years later, however, by popular demand the town assumed its original name, Burr Oak.

If you’d like to travel to a Burr Oak similar to your own, you should definitely visit Burr Oak, Kansas, which had a population of 174 in 2010 (Just 8 more people than Iowa… although that could’ve changed by now.) You could also head to Burr Oak, Indiana which is unincorporated, but the residents who live in the typical rural farming neighborhood have been described as “friendly folk.”

But why travel with such history in your own backyard?! Burr Oak, Iowa is known as one of the former homes of Laura Ingalls Wilder (author of the Little House on the Prairie books). It is where Grace Ingalls, the youngest of the Ingalls children, was born in 1877. However, Burr Oak is the missing link in the Little House series, as Laura never published a book about her stay there. But you can still visit the Laura Ingalls Wilder Museum in the local Masters hotel.

Click here to read, “What’s In An Iowa Name: Alpha, Alta Vista, Arlington, & Aurora

More about Burr, Brandon, Bluffton, Bassett, Oak

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