"Our Friends on the Acres"
Mr. & Mrs. Edwin M. Gass
Son of one of the pioneer leaders in this community, Edwin M. Gass is now rounding out his 47th year of residence on the Gass property south of Postville. The Gass farm is ideally located as it is only a half mile from town in northern Clayton county, Grand Meadow township.
Edwin M. Gass was born September 29, 1880, a son of the Rev. and Mrs. John Gass. At that time the Gass family was living in Davenport, where Mr. Gass was pastor of the First German Lutheran church, a congregation he served for 12 years. Mr. Gass' father was born in Switzerland, coming to the United States in May of 1868. He studied at the Wartburg Theological Semionary and three years later was ordained as a minister of the German Lutheran Iowa Synod at Dubuque. From Dubuque he went to Davenport. In May, 1882, he received a call to take charge of St. Paul's Lutheran church in Postville and served the local congregation for 12 years, retiring in 1894 because of ill health. When Rev. Gass came to Postville the Lutheran church was located on the property where the Anna Leui residence is now situated. the little church was then moved to what is today the Lutheran church property. Finally, under the leadership of Rev. Gass, the present church building was erected and the little building, which had served as a church for so many years, was moved across the road. It is now on the Gass farm, being used as a store house.
The Rev. John Gass was also prominent in other lines of business during those early days. Edwin M. Gass gave some interesting information in regard to his father's business activities outside of the church. "He founded the Iowa Volksblatt, which is known as the Postville Herald today," he said. "After Dad published it for several years, he sold out to Gustav Dietsch." After Rev. Gass retired he purchased 40 acres of land from the John Moore estate (on which the E.M. Gass home and farm buildings are located today.) Next he bought 160 acres of property acrosss the road to the east of the Gass farm. In the following years he purchased other properties in this vicinity and at one time owned five farms. The Rev. Gass family moved to their new property south of Postville in 1894.
"Until I was 21 years old the land was never farmed," Mr. Gass stated. "At that time I decided to work the property and have been doing it ever since. I guess I just have a natural liking for cattle and the other things that go with farming. When my folks would go visiting they usually took me along. I wouldn['t spend my time in the various farm hojses visiting with the people, but always could be found down in the barn or barnyard looking over the livestock." Mr. Gass attended school in Postville and after completing his studies in the grades, attended Postville high school. Since his high school days he has devoted his time to the farm.
Of the original 160 acres to the east, Mr. Gass' brother Harry, works 120 acres, leaving 40 acres which are worked by E.M. Gass. The E.M. Gass property on the west side of the road totals 175 acres. This includes the original 40 acres purchased by Mr. Gass' father, and also 135 acres acquired by Mr. Gass' mother. This year Mr. Gass has one of the best acreages of corn in Iowa. He planted 61 acres last spring. Seventeen acres have already been cut and put in the silo, leaving 44 acres. "One piece of 15 acres will go 90 or 100 bushels to the acre," Mr. Gass said. This cornfield is located north of the farm house on the west side of the road and attracts attention of other farmers. Last week several friends of Mr. Gass inspected the field and declared that it would run over 100 bushels to the acre. Another 12 acre field will average about 80 bushels to the acre. "Yes, I've got lots of corn," he explained, "and I need it. Last year we planted 78 acres of corn and picked over 6,000 bushels last fall. Of course we haven't got quite that much planted this year, but we should get 5,000 bushels. It's all safe from frost, too, which is a big worry off my mind."
Mr. Gass planted the corn three feet and four inches apart, which is a little closer than the majority of farmers plant their corn, but he feels that it doesn't damage the ground to any great extent. "It's not as hard on the ground as the heavy rains we had last June and July," he stated. Mr. Gass' oats were also above average last summer. On 39 acres the oats went 61 bushels to the acre. "We were lucky as we finished threashing the oats a few minutes before that rainfall of about 7 inches," he stated. Thirty-five acres of soy beans are in shock at the present time on the Gass farm. "That's a good crop, too," he remarked.
Mr. Gass was married June 21, 1911 to Miss Louisa Kluss, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. August Kluss. August Kluss was a prominent Postville business man for many years. He operated a restaurant for seven years, spent 25 years in the harness business, and two years as operator of the Park hotel. Mr. and Mrs. Kluss left Postville and moved to Milwaukee, Wis., where Mr. Gass and Miss Kluss were married. After the ceremony they returned to Postville and have since been located on their farm. They are the parents of two children, LeRoy Gass of Postville, and Mrs. Lawrence Klein of Waterloo. Mr. Gass has two sisters and five brothers, Flora Gass of St. Louis, Mo., Mrs. Arthur Erbe of Postville, Walter and Roland Gass of Minneapolis, Minn., and Harold, Arthur and Herbert Gass of Postville. Mrs. Gass has three brothers, John Kluss of Castalia, and Joe and Verni Kluss of Sanborn.
Mr. and Mrs. Gass have had many experiences on the farm, some of them pleasant, and others not so pleasant. During the World War a barn was erected on the farm, which Mr. Gass refers to as one of his unpleasant experiences. "It was awful hard to get help in those days and as prices were going up it was quite a job to hire any work done," he explained. "I couldn't get anyone to lay the concrete floor, so I did the work myslef, working many nights until the wee small hours in the morning. I put in the steel stanchions and pens, too, and then with the help of neighbors, put up the barn. "I had contracted in February for shingles and when May rolled around I called at the lumber yard for them. In that short time the price on shingles had doubled, but as I had contracted for them, I saved a good chunck of money."
Mr. Gass has 45 head of Registered Holstein cows and heifers and milks about 30 cows the year around. He has two double unit milking machines which allow him to milk four cows at the same time. He also has 135 Chester White hogs and six horses to do farm work. Mrs. Gass has a flock of 500 White Leghorn chickens, which keeps her busy. "In the old days we used to raise 18 or 20 horses and have 10 or 12 for work, but since we have a tractor that many horses aren't needed," he remarked. Other labor saving machinery is also owned by Mr. and Mrs. Gass. They have a corn picker, which does the work in one week, instead of five weeks, wihch formerly was the time consumed in husking by hand. They also have their own silo filler and shredder.
"In drouth years what do you do when your pastures dry up?" Mr. Gass was asked. "I've got an answer for that," he replied. "Along in June or July, if I think we are in for a dry summer, I plant Sudan grass. That stuff seems to grow when nothing else will and in late years, when other farmers didn't have pasture, the Sudan grass on this place provided all the grass that was needed.
Mr. Gass has also been identified with other activities. He was one of the organizers of the Big-Four Fair, one of the organizers of the first Community Club in Grand Meadow township, one of the organizers of the T.B. Testing Association which was under the management of Dr. robertson of Monona, served as secretary of the Postville Farmers Cooperative Society, County Farm bureau many years, has a life membership in the Iowa Corn and Small Grain Growers' Association, and is a member of the Holstein-Friesian Association of America.
~Postville Herald, Oct 9, 1940
Friends on the Acres' index