Opinion

Harken reunion article sparks new friendship

Submitted photo

A house from the former Harken Meat Processing Company farm was moved 32 years ago to Ron Baird's property southeast of Fairfield. Baird's mother, Verda recognized the house as the one mentioned in the
Submitted photo A house from the former Harken Meat Processing Company farm was moved 32 years ago to Ron Baird's property southeast of Fairfield. Baird's mother, Verda recognized the house as the one mentioned in the" Harken Farm families reunite" article printed Monday, July 22, in The Fairfield Ledger and reached out to Connie McIntire Fleming, who had lived in the house as a girl.
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On Monday, July 22, The Fairfield Ledger published an article about a reunion of the relatives from the Harken Meat Processing Company employees (“Harken Farm families reunite) written by Connie McIntire Fleming. Mrs.Verda Baird, a Jefferson County resident, read the article and took an interest about the house Connie mentioned she and her family lived in on the Harken property and could see Brownie the bear from the kitchen window. Verda recognized the house as the structure her son Ron had purchased in 1987, 32 years ago, and moved to his property southeast of Fairfield.

Mrs. Baird, an 88 year old genealogist, decided to use her research skills and bring Connie up-to-date on the status of her childhood home. The Ledger article mentioned that Karl Henderson, a relative of the Harken family, lives in West Burlington. On July 26th Verda called Karl to obtain Connie’s phone number but had to leave a message with a phone number. As it turned out Karl and his wife, Marilyn, were on their way to meet Connie at the riverfront to watch RAGBRAI participants ride into Burlington. Connie was driving sag for a RAGBRAI friend. Karl emailed Connie Verda’s message that evening with her phone number and Connie called Verda on Saturday morning, July 27th.

The saga now began to develop into an interesting adventure and revelation. They put a plan together that Connie would meet with Verda that afternoon and learn the details about her past home.

Connie met with Mrs. Baird at her farm home, southeast of Fairfield, and Verda gave her detailed information about the 23 mile journey the house made to its new location. Verda related how she had handled many details to facilitate the move, contacting the CB&Q railroad, three utility companies and local law enforcement agencies. The house was moved to its new location on May 13th, 1987. It followed a zig-zag course by-passing underpasses and utilizing the most accommodating railroad crossings. The garage was moved the next day. Verda showed Connie photographs and a scrap book of articles and details of the move and also excerpts from her personal diary. Verda then drove Connie to see the house, which is several miles from her home. The house has had several additions, but Connie could recognize it was her home and could see her upstairs bedroom window. Connie took many pictures to add to her scrapbook of her childhood memories. Connie and Verda have continued to exchange phone calls and emails. A new friendship has developed. They both are thankful for the Ledger publishing the Harken family reunion article which facilitated the house discovery and the new friendship.

- Verda Baird, Fairfield, and Connie McIntire Fleming, Ankeny