Country Facts and Folklore
By Andy Reddick


"I wouldnít change anything about my life," she said. "It was fascinating! I wish I could do it all again!" --Buretta M. Redhead 1922-2006

According to the Des Moines Register, many articles about Mr. And Mrs. Redhead were written and covered by over 1,400 syndicated newspapers, McCalls Magazine, Better Homes & Gardens Magazine, National Geographic Magazine, Best Little Inns in America, Treasures of America, Bed & Breakfast USA, Readers Digest, and Mobile Four Stars Travelers Guide.

As a historian, Bentonsport and Des Moines history was her expertise and she constantly collected memorabilia. She had a rare document and book collection that included one of the original volumes of literature called Book of Mormon, Civil War diaries, letters and photographs, photographs of Abraham Lincoln taken shortly before he signed the Emancipation Proclamation, a collection on slavery and an Indian Collection that featured Chief Black Hawk and the Black Hawk War of 1832.

Burretta Goodman was the daughter of Clayton B. And Sarah Heathcoat Goodman. Her life began in Des Moines on October 31, 1922 and ended February 12, 2006. Her memorial service in Bentonsport was to celebrate a life well lived.

She married Herbert "Kell" Redhead on September 2, 1944 in Des Moines and had two daughters. Burretta and Kell operated the Mason House Inn in Bentonsport for 33 years, and also owned an antique shop, general store, Cross Country Ski Shop and a Fudge Candy Shop. She was devoted to Bentonsportís restoration and preservation. In so doing, she belonged to the Van Buren County Historical Society and was primarily responsible for creating Bentonsport as a National Historic District with great tourist attraction. She was also a portrait artist, a fine artís appraiser and an antique dealer.

Chuck and Joy Hanson continue to keep the Bed & Breakfast Inn alive with memories for the guests that travel long distances to stay at the Mason House. Some old Bentonsport currency is on display in the hallway, they may whisper an occasional ghost story, or they entertain travelers with "authentic" tales told by the river pilots that plied the river when the Mason House was a hotel for steamboat guests.

Burretta would be very excited to learn that the Hansons now have a letter in their possession that substantiates the Mason House Inn being on one of the routes of the Underground Railroad just before the Civil War! Dark-skinned former slaves were kept secretively in the haymow of the barn behind the building until it was safe to herd them on to Salem, Iowa.

(part of this information is from a Des Moines Register newspaper article dated May 23, 2006.)

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Contributed to the Van Buren Co. IAGenWeb Project by Andy Reddick