"Our Friends on the Acres"
Mr. & Mrs. Henry L. Meyer


(Editor's Note: As Mr. and Mrs. H.L. Meyer are celebrating their golden wedding anniversary today, the Herald is taking this opportunity to bring a summary of their activities and achievements to the readers of this column.)

Mr. and Mrs. H.L. Meyer, 1940

One of the best known couples in this community is Mr. and Mrs. H.L. Meyer, who have been married for 50 years, and who are now in their 50th year on the same farm, located one mile northeast of Castalia. [Bloomfield twp. Winneshiek co.]

Mr. Meyer was born in Garnavillo on October 28, 1862, the son of Mr. and Mrs. Frederick Meyer. His parents came from Germany in their youth. "I can remember hearing my father and mother explain their voyage," Mr. Meyer related. "Dad came across in 1852. The boat must have been a slow one as he was three months on the water. It ook two months to cross the Atlantic ocean and another month to come up the Mississippi river from New Orleans. He eventually arrived in Guttenberg, then journeyed to the town of Garnavillo where he located. My mother emigrated from Germany to the United States in 1855. The boat she was on made the voyage in nine weeks, landing at New York City. She eventually continued her trip westward, also locating in Garnavillo, where she met father. In 1856 they were married and settled down in Garnavillo where father operated a tailor shop. They lived there until the spring of 1863. Early that year they decided to move to a farm north of Elkader, so they joined a few other early settlers in that community and liked it so well they spent the remainder of their lives on that farm."

Mr. Meyer obtained an excellent education for those early years, attending country school near the farm home and later studying in Elkader high school. After his high school days he decided to continue his school work so he went to Decorah where he attended Valders Business college. He obtained a teaching job in a rural school near his home and follwed this occupation for eight years. One of the eight years he spent in a school in Nebraska.

On June 26, 1890, he was married to Miss Elizabeth Senholz, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Carl Senholz, in the home of the bride, four miles south of Luana. The future Mrs. Meyer was born near Garnavillo and in her childhood left that neighborhood with her parents to the farm near Luana. She attended country school and grew to womanhood in this locality. For about a year after the marriage they made their home with the Senholz family, also living part of the time with Mr. Meyer's parents.

Then on March 1, 1891, they moved to the property they had purchased northeast of Castalia. Mr. Meyer made the deal with the late Wm. Shroyer, paying $35 an acre for the 160 acre farm. In 1863 [sic - probably should be 1893] they purchased another 80 acres of land, which adjoined their property, so today the Meyer farm consists of 240 acres.

"The first two years we lived on this farm, we lived in a little shack east of where our house is now located," Mrs. Meyer related. "When we bought the "eighty" we moved into the house on the new property. We have been here ever since. Of course, we have made a lot of changes in the house during the many years."

On September 1, 1898, Mr. and Mrs. Meyer experienced some hard luck. Mr. Meyer explains the incident in the following manner: "We had just threshed and in the middle of the afternoon it looked like rain. So we redoubled our efforts - just managing to get all of the oats in the barn before the downpour started. It was a good oat crop, too, as we put up about 1,200 bushels. It continued to rain that night and after a particularly bad crash of lighting I heard my wife calling, 'Henry, the barn is on fire.' I grabbed my pants and ran down to the barn. Some hogs had already run from the blazing barn, so I went in after four horses. It is often said that a horse won't leave a buring building, but in this case they lost no time in getting outside." In 1901 another barn was built within three rods of the one destroyed by fire.

On July 3, 1937, lightning had struck 'twice in the same place.' "The second fire was quite similar to the first one," the veteran farmer stated. "We had just finished putting 50 tons of hay in the barn and after supper decided to go to Castalia. We hadn't been in town for more than a few minutes when someone told us there was a fire at our place. When we got back home the barn was beyond saving. Luckily, no livestock was in the barn, so all we lost was the hay and building. We had insurance each time, so our losses weren't so bad."

The Meyers decided that the location of the two ill-fated barns was a bad one, so instead of rebuilding in the same place, they built an addition to another barn, just west of the farm house. All the timber in the new addition was secured from 10 acres of woods east of their home, and from another 13 acres of woods which they own near the Ed. Green sugar bush. All they had to purchase was stock boards and shingles.

Mr. and Mrs. Meyer have four children: Mrs. W.J. Timmerman (Velma) of Castalia; L.G. Meyer of West Union; Mrs. Donald Peckham (Ruby) of near Castalia, and Valder, living at home with the parents.

Mr. Meyer who is nearing his 78th birthday, takes an active part today in doing the farm work. When the Herald reporter called at the Meyer home he was busy plowing corn, but he tied up his team and went to the house to help his wife supply the requested information. Their son, Valder, works the farm in partnership with them. Valder's wife and two boys, Nanferd and Kenneth, live in an addition on the east wing of the house.

H.L. Meyer comes from a family of six boys and three girls. They are: Carl H. Meyer of near Postville, J.P. Meyer of Blairstown, Mrs. Mary E. Meisner of Chicago, and A.C. Meyer of Castalia. Theodore H. Meyer, Mrs. Fred Weil, Mrs. Geo. Engelhardt and Fred Meyer have passed away.

Mrs. Meyer has three sisters: Mrs. Henry Garms (Minnie) of Harmony, Minn., Mrs. Christ Salzgeber (Anna) of Postville and Mrs. Will C. Thoma (Emma) of Postville. She also has two brothers: George Senholz of Griswold and Charles Senholz of Postville. Another brother, Fred Senholz, has passed away.

When soil conservaton was brought to the attention of farmers in recent years, Mr. Meyer did not have to change his farming habits to conform with the new methods. For over 50 years he has been plowing corn on sloping soil to prevent erosion - in the same manner recommended today by soil conservation authorities. "Last year's crop was my best in about 40 years," he volunteered. "I guess we got about 65 bushels to the acre as we husked approximately 2,000 bushels from 33 acres." This year Mr. Meyer and Valder have 31 acres of land planted in corn, 28 acres in oats, and 14 acres in barley. "It doesn't look as though we will get much of an oat crop or barley crop this year because it's too dry," he said.

The Meyers have 20 cows (16 are being milked) and 20 calves. They also have 18 sows, 95 pigs, 19 sheep, 10 lambs, 13 head of steers and heifers, seven horses and 100 Jersey Black Giant chickens, as well as 100 baby chicks of the same breed.

~Postville Herald, June 26, 1940 (column & photo)


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