Beaconsfield, Iowa, USA
According to the 2010 Census, Beaconsfield, Iowa, USA has just 15 inhabitants. It holds the dubious distinction of being the least populated incorporated city in Iowa, an honour it shares with Le Roy Iowa. Yet despite its small size, a celebrity whose fame is literally out of this world, grew up there.
Peggy Whitson, with whom most people in Beaconsfield, Buckinghamshire will be unfamiliar, is an astronaut for NASA. She returned to Earth from the International Space Station on 3 September 2017 and currently holds the record for the most time spent in space (665 days in the course of her career) for any woman worldwide and also for an American. Prior to her most recent mission she had been the Chief Astronaut for NASA and took part in many space missions. Although she was born in Mt. Ayr in Iowa, USA, she grew up on a farm outside a small place in Iowa called (you guessed) Beaconsfield.
Beaconsfield, Iowa was first “platted” (a US English word meaning “plotted out”) in 1881 shortly after the death of Benjamin Disraeli, the then Earl of Beaconsfield and former Prime Minister and favourite of Queen Victoria. As the Humeston and Shenandoah Railroad was being driven through the northern portion of Ringgold County in Iowa, it named one of its coaling stations in his honour and the homesteads around this station adopted the name for their new town. This railroad, which was used principally for transporting coal, closed in 1945 and the old tracks can still just be seen on aerial maps.
This article was first published in Beaconsfield Local Directory Magazine in February 2018.