Should Akron keep Horseshoe Court?

Posted September 28, 2017 at 5:00 am

By Julie Ann Madden

For its first 100 years, horseshoe pitching matches were a part of Akron’s history.

But are they now?

That is the question Akron Parks & Recreation Board members are asking?

If people still play horseshoes at the Akron City Park’s Horseshoe Court, they’d like to know about it.

“If they do, then the Horseshoe Courts need some tender loving care,” said Akron Parks & Recreation Board President Char Hodnefield. “If not, the courts could be torn out and the space used for other things.”

The board is asking anyone who knows whether people still play horseshoes on the Horseshoe Court to contact Hodnefield at Akron City Hall — 568-2041.

According to the “Our Life: Akron, Iowa – 1882 – 1982” green historical book, “Horseshoe has been a part of Akron for many if its 100 years. The first organized team came under the direction of Niels Nielsen. The Neilsen team, known as “The Regulars,” played their matches on the Nielsen homeplace. Their main competition was Frank Sayles’ team. The Sayles team and Nielsen team often traded matches on their farm sites.

During the 1930s, Cal Anderson fielded a team which belonged to a horseshoe league. As far as the information goes, the team members were Cal Anderson, Henry Anderson, Pete Anderson, Milford Anderson, Melvin Nielsen, Dukes Von Hagel and Martin Abraham. The “Shavers” played in many towns including Kingsley, Beresford, Ireton, Hawarden, Spink and Elk Point. They often competed at county fairs as well. A team consisting of Henry Anderson, Milford Anderson, Roy Nielsen and Melvin Nielsen won first place at the Woodbury County Fair in Moville, Iowa. The exact year is not known.

Although horseshoe pitching takes as much dedication and hard work as any sport, there were some who were there for other reasons. As one team member remembers, “We would all go to a certain town together to pitch against another team. Everyone would play the match except for one or two guys. As soon as we got there, they would disappear. They were out ‘girl’n’. We never saw them until it was time to go home.”

Horseshoe was popular during the 1940s and 1950s. Akron had two teams for awhile. There were so many good players that one team just wasn’t enough. Roy Nielsen and Bob Kerr Sr. headed these teams. The “Coops” and the “Mobiles” belonged to the Sioux Valley Horseshoe League. Eventually the two teams combined to form one.

During the 1960s there was no team in Akron, however, one of our current team members got his start back then. In 1963, at the age of 14, Bill Michael was the Junior State Horseshoe Champion. The following year Bill was the runner-up.

In 1977 there was enough interest to reorganize a team. The Akron team joined the Sioux Valley Horseshoe League including Alcester, Beresford, Spink, Vermillion and Westfield. The team competes during the summer months every Thursday night. They also participate in contests at the Plymouth County Fair. The current team members are Melvin Nielsen, Jerry Nielsen, Norman Nielsen, Merlin Nielsen, Roger Nielsen, Loren Nielsen, Bob Nielsen, Ellis Tucker, Gary Tucker, Roy Dunham, Arnold Helseth and Bill Michael.”

That’s where the historical account ends…in 1982.

So does anybody still play horseshoes in Akron and/or at the Akron City Park?

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