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Spies, George Albert (1867- 1921)


Posted By: Lisa Spies (email)
Date: 7/3/2008 at 17:10:11

The Life of George Albert Spies

My great-great grandfather was a fairly young man when he died. George Albert Spies was born on December 9, 1867, and passed away on August 26, 1921. George was only 53 years old when he contracted Typhoid Fever from a herd of cattle while selling his herd in Chicago, Illinois.
George was born into a well-to-do farm family in Carroll County, Illinois. In Carroll County, his parents, Henry and Louisa (Weber) Spies owned 800 acres of farm land. Henry Spies' family owned the following but not limited to three horses, 10 cattle, sixteen hogs, one carriage/wagon, one sewing machine, a large amount of farming tools, a large amount of furniture, and other personal effect that totaled $555 in 1874. George was one of six children born to Henry and Louisa. His siblings were Mary, William J., John F. Alfred, and Arvilla. George spent his early years in Carroll County, Illinois, dividing his time between school and farming. This was a close family with strong Lutheran beliefs. George first appears in the 1870 US Census at age two living with his parents and siblings. Also living in the home were his grandparents Jacob and Elizabeth Spies.
At the age of six years old, George and his family moved to Cass County, Iowa. The family legend that prompted the move to Iowa from Illinois was the vast amount of farm land at good prices. Several families migrated from Illinois to Iowa at an earlier time, which would have spread word about the beautiful countryside of Iowa. When the family came to Cass County, he was sturdy boy who assisted his father and brothers in cultivating their first farm in Iowa.2
In February of 1887, George purchased his own farm in Massena township in Cass County, Iowa. He was successful in following his ancestral vocation of farming the 160 acres of his own. George added groves of fruit trees, substantial barns and modern outbuildings. He gradually moved more of his efforts in cattle than farming.
In 1891, George Spies was married to (Mary) Francis Trego, daughter of Jacob and Hannah (Wilkens) Trego. Jacob Trego was born in Pennsylvania, who was brought as an infant by his parents to Illinois. From Illinois, he enlisted in the Civil War, but, after a few months was discharge on account of disability. In June of 1861, Jacob and Hannah were married in Mercer County , Illinois. He was engaged in farming for about ten years in Henry County, Illinois. In 1873 the Trego family moved to Union township, Cass county, Iowa, where he located upon a farm. He later sold it to Hannah's father, Eli Wilkens. Jacob Trego then purchased 160 acres in Union township where he lived the duration of his life.
George and Francis Spies had two sons, Paul and Gilbert. Gilbert was my great-grandfather. Later after the boys were in school, George and Francis adopted a daughter, Minnie, from the orphan train that traveled from train stop to train stop full of children looking for homes. Most of these children were brought from the Eastern part of the United States. Little is known of Minnie. My grandfather Maurice Spies, son of Gilbert, said she was a quiet lady that married a nice man by the name of Engel.2 Minnie was raised learning housework, going to school and church. She married in adulthood to Glen Engel of the Cass County area but then moved to South Dakota. She was said to be a happy child and well loved by the family. Paul married Madge Van Vlack in 1922 and stayed to farm the family land.
George was know as "well known in political, educational, and religious circles, or in other words, is in line with the practical progress of the home community. He is a local leader among Republicans, school treasurer of his township, and steward and treasurer of the Pine Grove M.E. Church".
George A. Spies, age 32, appears in the Iowa 1895 Census, along with his wife Francis, age 32 and their son Paul T., age 4. The census shows that Frances had given birth to two children with only one living. There is only family knowledge that Frances had a hard time carrying a pregnancy and even harder time conceiving children. This would explain the vast difference in age of the two living sons and the adoption of the daughter. George and Francis are shown living on the same farm in Massena, Iowa.
In the 1910 Federal Census, George age 42 and wife Frances age 42, shows that Frances had three births but only two living (Paul age 14 and Gilbert age 8). They are living on the same farm in Massena, Iowa.
According to the 1920 Federal Census, George, age 53 resided in Massena township with his wife Francis, age 52 and son Gilbert age 18. Neighboring George and family on one side was their son Paul T. Spies, and on the other side was George's sister, now married, Minnie and Roy Holaday with their children. George Spies was renting the land to his son Paul Spies.

George, age 53, had made a round trip to Chicago in 1921. While in Chicago, he sold his cattle at market but was exposed to a herd of cattle that had Typhoid Fever. George soon contracted Typhoid Fever himself.2 He died on August 26, 1921, in Massena, at his home. He was buried in the Greenwood Cemetery, Cumberland, Iowa.
George left behind his wife, Francis, sons, Gilbert and Paul, and daughter Minnie. Before his death, George had subdivided his land, and was renting a large portion of the farm land to his son Paul. Paul was learning how to terrace the land for better farming. Paul continued to farm the land and rent it from Francis. Francis received the entire estate of her husband. Gilbert married Mabel Trent in 1920 and worked with his father. Gilbert was sent to Barber school after his father's death and Paul stayed to farm the family land. Francis never remarried.
Death Certificate from the State of Iowa for George Albert Spies. Certificate #s0606407. Certified by the State of Iowa, held by Vital Records Office Public Health, Des Moines, Iowa.


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