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The Bonnifield House in Old Settlers' Association Park is believed to be the oldest surviving two-story log house in Iowa. It was built by Rhodham Bonnifield and his sons in 1838 and relocated here in 1907 when the park was established. The park commemorate the first settlers in the county and also preserves the native plants and animals of the area. Visitors are welcome to come look at the cabin but it is not open to the public. The park and cabin were added jointly to the National Register of Historic Places in 1986.

Built in 1838, the Bonnifield House is considered to be the oldest log house in the state. In 1839, the city's name "Fairfield" was chosen during a meeting held in the house. The house was moved to the park in 1907.

Plant, Building, Window, Sky

Bonnifield and his sons built the house in the summer of 1838 about eight miles from where it stands today. In addition to being a home, it was used as an unofficial Methodist church. The house is also notable for being where the name "Fairfield" was chosen. In May 1839, Bonnifield, his wife, and the town commissioners and their assistants met at the house to discuss changing the town's name. At the time, the house was situated in an attractive prairie. With this in mind Mrs. Bonnifield suggested the name "Fairfield" and the rest of the group agreed. Another interesting fact about the house is that it was used an unofficial Methodist church.

By the early 1900s, the Bonnifield House had deteriorated significantly. In 1906, its owner at the time, Dr. W. Fordyce, asked the Old Settlers' Association if they wanted to move it. The Association accepted the offer and carefully dismantled the house on August 9th and put it into storage. The Association eventually purchased the land for the park and rebuilt the house in October 1907. According to the National Register of Historic Places nomination form, moving the house was perhaps the first example of relocating a historic house in Iowa. Until World War I, the Association held a gathering at the park called Old Settlers' Day that celebrated the county's pioneer heritage. In 1913 the event attracted 10,000 visitors; in 1915, 15,000 people attended.

The Jackson County Historical Society acquired the house in 1999. In 2013, a reunion of the Bonnifield family descendants was held at the park to celebrate the 175th anniversary of the house. The gathering was also an opportunity to raise money for restoration and preservation work.

"Bonnifield Log House." Fairfield Cultural District. December 10, 2010.

"The Oldest Existing Two-Story Log House in Iowa." Jefferson County Heritage. Accessed November 26, 2021.

Page, William C. & Jacobsen, James E. "Old Settlers' Association Park and Rhodham Bonnifield House." National Register of Historic Places Nomination Form. August 14, 1986.

Tillis, Vicki. "Bonnifield cabin receives a makeover." The Fairfield Ledger, July 23, 2013. Retrieved from IAGenWeb on November 26, 2021.

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