What caught my eye was the mention of Zerf because of something I found back in April:
Pierz Journal December 30, 1909:
"Theo Billmeier informs us that the petition to the Soo RR Co for a station to be located six miles east of Pierz at a place formerly called Zerf has been granted, and will be called Center Valley".
Turns out Theodore W. Billmeyer was appointed postmaster in 1910, and it seems he was the main/only promoter of the proposed village. According to Mr Faust, there was a switching spur, cattle pens and a platform weigh-scale at the small depot in Center Valley, and that Hillman Creek was dammed to create a holding pond for timber on it's way to the Platte and Mississippi.
He mentioned the sort of things you could buy at the Center Valley Store:"kerosene, oil, gas, salt blocks, flour, overalls, shoes, groceries, small hardware items,and snuff--3 boxes for 25 cents".
The co-op creamery there was called Clover Belt Creamery. The store building that John Hesch ran for awhile was moved in 1948 to the black-top highway north of CV, seven years before the creamery burned down. The town never developed in spite of its position on the Soo line.
I haven't started reading Big Hearted Pale Faced Man, but I expect I'll enjoy it as much as Aitkinsville to Zerf. The really neat part of this book is the little tidbits that he included just for color, but that have significance for our family. In the PIERZ chapter, he mentioned the funeral of (our great great grandfather) Anton Otremba in March of 1883. It was the largest funeral ever held in Rich Prairie, and "47 teams followed him to his final rest".
Mr Faust also talks about the rivalry between Upper Town Pierz and Lower Town Pierz, and how that division caused the railroad to skip Pierz altogether. When Soo officials met with Pierz leaders about where the tracks should go, upper and lower town had conflicting, irreconcilable, opinions, so Genola got the depot.