Uh-oh, it looks like your Internet Explorer is out of date.
For a better shopping experience, please upgrade now.
For John F. Ankeny and his wife, Sarah, the 80-acre tract they purchased in 1874 was perfect for the town they envisioned. It was surrounded by coal mines and farms and close to the state capital, and plans for a railroad through their property assured success. By 1881, the town had several homes and businesses and a 33¢ train fare into Des Moines. Through fires and war, Ankeny was nurtured by a strong sense of community and people whose names are still familiar today: superintendent Ed Neveln, the Kirkendall brothers, businessman “Uncle Henry” Wagner, and Charles Irvine and his world-champion Belgian horses. World War II brought further growth with the establishment of an ordnance plant on land now occupied by John Deere Des Moines Works. Ankeny now has more than 45,000 residents and an enviable quality of life. It is listed among the top 10 towns in the United States for families and, in 2012, was voted a “Playful City USA” for the sixth consecutive year.
About the Author
Dr. Terri Deems has called Ankeny home for 16 years. As an educator and author, she has a passion for historical preservation and the unique stories of local communities. The Ankeny Area Historical Society collects artifacts and historical records representing Ankeny and surrounding communities to help preserve the area’s heritage.