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William Arts, 1840


Posted By: Mona Sarratt Knight
Date: 10/24/2015 at 15:18:43

WILLIAM ARTS, Not what a man has done for himself but what he has done for others is the true measure of his worth, and in all history it is those who have contributed most to the happiness of their fellow beings that stand highest in the love and respect of mankind. Judged by this standard, William Arts, for nearly forty years a leading citizen of Carroll, will long be remembered by those who had the honor of his acquaintance and his name will always be associated prominently with the history of Carroll County. Eminently successful in every line of business to which he directed his attention, he was especially noted for his fidelity to trust and one of his chief concerns in the closing days of his life was to safeguard the interests that had been placed in his charge.

Born near Galena, Illinois, October 2, 1840, he spent his boyhood in southwestern Wisconsin and northern Illinois. He attended the district schools and later possessed advantages of training in the public schools of Galena and the college of the Dominican Fathers at Sinsinawa, Wisconsin. At the age of nineteen, in 1859, he yielded to the gold excitement which swept throughout the country from the Pacific coast and started with a party of adventurers upon a trip of five and one-half months across the plains and mountains to California. After spending several years in California, in the course of which he underwent great hardships, he joined with others on a prospecting tour through Oregon, Washington, and the present state of Idaho. He and two partners made a rich gold strike on the spot where Idaho City, Idaho, now stands and were practically the founders of a mining camp which has since developed into one of the flourishing cities of the state. He engaged successfully in mining until the fall of 1864 and then started for his old home in Illinois with a party of companions. After passing through great dangers from Indians and also from hunger and thirst, Mr. Arts with two other survivors of the party arrived almost exhausted at one of the frontier settlements of Nebraska. Shortly afterward he arrived at Galena, where he was married, and on January 24, 1865, started with his bride on a ship from New York to return to Idaho. The journey led to the Isthmus of Panama and from the western coast of Central America Mr. Arts and his bride went aboard a ship for San Francisco and finally arrived at Idaho City after a period of about three months. Here they lived for three years, their daughter, Emma, being the first white child born in that mining camp. In October, 1867, Mr. Arts started with his wife and baby by stage upon a trip of fifteen days and nights to Cheyenne, Wyoming, which was then the terminus of the Union Pacific Railway. They returned by train to Galena, Illinois, and after spending the winter there Mr. Arts went to the mines for one more season. He disposed of his interest and on October 7, 1868, bade farewell to Idaho City, once more returning to Galena. In passing through Iowa he was much pleased with the appearance of the country and accordingly in October, 1869, came to Wheatland township, Carroll county, Iowa, and purchased section 12, which became known as the Arts section. Here he erected the first building of the locality, in which his family took up their residence the next spring. In 1871 he removed to Carroll, which he made his permanent home. He soon became a leading business man and also took a prominent part in public affairs, serving as a member of the city council and also from 1880 to 1882 as county treasurer, but declined re-nomination at the close of his first term. He engaged in grain buying in the early days and was a partner of D. Wayne in a general merchandise store, later purchasing his partner's interest. In 1884 he associated with A. C. Manemann in the general merchandise business, in which they continued for more than ten years. In 1888 he assisted in organizing the German Bank of Carroll county, buying out Patterson Brothers, and served as president of the bank for many years. In 1887 he organized the German Printing Association, which acquired Der Carroll Demokrat, and Mr. Arts was the first president of this association. Through his influence the Carroll Times was organized in 1897. This proved an enterprise in which he was greatly interested, its success affording him probably as much satisfaction as any investment that he made in his later years. He was the founder of the German-American bank, which began business February 1, 1898. This institution may be regarded as a monument to Mr. Arts' energy and ability and he took great pains to provide for its continuation according to his sterling ideas of honesty and integrity. He was followed by his two sons, W. A. and J. C. Arts, who are worthy successors to him in business. Beside his banking interest he had extensive real-estate holdings in this and adjoining counties and was also the owner of large tracts of farmland in western Canada. He left an estate probably the largest ever accumulated in Carroll County.

On the 24th of January, 1865, Mr. Arts was married, at Galena, Illinois, in St. Mary's Catholic church, by Rev. Father Powers, to Miss Christine Manemann, a daughter of Clemence and Mary Anna (Stockel) Manemann, who were natives of Lengeringen, Germany, where they were married January 4, 1843. Two years later, with their son, Bernard, they came to America, landing at New York, whence they made their way to Nauvoo, Illinois. After a short time they removed to Galena, where the father engaged in farming. However he had previously learned the trade of carpentering in Germany, where he had built many residences, mills and public buildings, and also conducted a carpenter shop on his farm. In 1893 he and his wife celebrated their golden wedding. They were members of the Catholic Church and Mr. Manemann was a stanch supporter of democratic principles. He died November 16, 1895, and his wife passed away January 4, 1906. Unto Mr. and Mrs. Arts have been born the following children: Emma, resides at home. William A. is mentioned on another page of this volume. Frank H. wedded Mary Mikesell and resides in Fremont, Nebraska, where he is engaged in the mercantile business. He has three children, Graydon, Gretchen and Stanford. Anna is the wife of Frank J. Rettenmaier, a pharmacist of Carroll, Iowa, and has four sons, Wilbur, Paul, Lewis and Gerald. J. C. is mentioned on another page of this volume. Louise is the wife of Fred A. Pielsticker, of Eldorado, Kansas, who is manager and owner of the Eldorado Electric Refrigerator Company. They have two children, William and Robert. Augusta, the next member of the Arts family, and Mary, the youngest, reside at home. Mr. Arts was a man of fine social characteristics but his greatest happiness was found in the society of his wife and children. He was a valued member of the Knights of Columbus and in religious belief was a lifelong adherent of the Catholic Church. He was the leader in the organization of the SS. Peter and Paul Catholic church in 1885, becoming one of the three trustees of the church. He was a generous contributor to religious objects and to all movements that aimed to promote the welfare of the community, giving freely of his time as well as his money and asking no return except the approval of his own conscience. He was a public-spirited citizen and did his part in every enterprise that looked to the advancement of the general welfare. He was active in politics and at one time was treasurer of this county and held many positions of trust in the city. Whatever he did was for the best interests of the community and his labors were an element in promoting the material, intellectual, political, social and moral progress.

This noble citizen, who won and retained the good will of all who came within the circle of his influence, died September 22, 1910, being then nearly seventy years of age. He suffered for over eight years from diabetes and, although he secured the best medical advice, the disease slowly advanced until the spirit was freed from its earthly tenement. It was only through the exercise of a masterful will that he was able to endure for this long period, but he bore his sufferings heroically to the last and spoke calmly to his sons of the approaching change and unflinchingly prepared for the end but out of the depth of his sympathy and love sought to conceal the gravity of his real condition from his wife and daughters.

One of the local papers said of him: "The importance of Mr. Arts as a business man, his intimate relations from an early day with the affairs of Carroll and Carroll county, makes his death in the fullness of years and in the esteem of all who knew him somewhat of an epochal event as between the old and the new generation, the pioneers and the sons of pioneers. Very few are left of the hardy generation to which he belonged, whose lives surveyed the vast building which has fashioned the present from its beginning in the far past. Many have already gone and few remain. No one has given in greater measure of himself and of his talents to Carroll and Carroll county than has William Arts. In a sensible and un-ostentatious way he was a charitable man, helping many in their struggles to get a start or tide over difficulties, and to the church and its charities and enterprises he was a prodigal giver. By the exercises of a powerful will and good judgment he made his way to a success that others with the same opportunities could not reach, but it was done by prudent investment, not by speculation. It was his pride that not a dollar of his fortune was made in a questionable way."

The following summary of his character appeared in the Carroll Times and as it was written by one who knew him through years of intimate association the tribute is especially appropriate in this place: "In the death of William Arts this city and county is deprived of the influence for good of a man incorruptible in his sterling integrity, a powerful factor in seeking the bettering of wrong conditions affecting the body politic, and whose views, freely expressed, always carried great weight in influencing thought and the study of questions among those who might have differed with him through erroneous impressions. He will be missed by high and low, rich and poor, all of whom will recall his many good acts and qualities. The business sagacity of William Arts, his enterprise, integrity and solidity, were of the old school, all based on unswerving honesty and the sense of duty to God and man. His moral life, clean habits, honesty and sturdiness of character are virtues that should keep bright the lamp of his memory to generations yet to come. He has passed to his eternal reward, let us hope, and believe as we hope that an all merciful Father may grant us everlasting life when this earthly career ends. We sadly miss our fellow citizen, neighbor, friend, benefactor. Henceforth we can but cherish his memory, seek consolation in the thought that his pains, trials and vexations are over; that beyond the vale of shadows his spirit emerged into the world that we can but mistily view by the power of our imagination, but which faith depicts and assures us, abounds with joy that shall never cease."

Source: History of Carroll County Iowa, by Paul MacLean, Illustrated, The S. J. Clarke Publishing Company (1912) Chicago, Volume II, page 18.


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