Buena Vista County, IA
IAGenWeb Project

Extracted from:  Wegerslev, C. H. and Thomas Walpole. 
 Past and Present of Buena Vista County, Iowa
Chicago:  S. J. Clarke Publishing Co., 1909, p. 583-85.

Transcribed by Paul Nagy

Biography of  Charles A. Ponser

Through struggle and adversity Charles A. Ponser has worked his way and today he is classed among the well-to-do and retired citizens of Albert City, having for many years been identified with the agricultural interests of Buena Vista county.  He is a native of Sweden, born November 20, 1848, and when a young man of twenty years accompanied his parents, Andrew and Anna Ponser, on their emigration to the United States.  When the family reached American shores they at once made their way into the interior of the country and located at Watertown, Illinois.  There the father and sons secured employment on the government dam in the Mississippi river.


In March, 1869, the father having secured a claim in Buena Vista county, with his sons started on the journey here, stopping at Fort Dodge.  They had accompanied a colony of settlers and leaving their families at that city, nine men out of the party started for their new homes.  It was a rainy season and the whole country was flooded.  The father and his son Charles finally located his claim and started on the return trip to Fort Dodge to secure their household goods.  There was not a single house to be seen on the journey from what was called the Norwegian settlement near Sioux Rapids until they were within sight of Fort Dodge.  On making the return trip to their claim they had to cross the North Sigard [sic], which on account of the wet season, was very high.  In doing so they lost their team and household effects and barely escaped with their lives.  The son fell between the two horses and would have been drowned had his father not thrown to him the whip, by which he was rescued.  This proved a trying experience.  They were strangers in a new country, without friends and without money.  The father instead of being able to improve his tract of land was forced to go to work on the Illinois Central railroad, which was then in course of construction west of Fort Dodge.  In this way he earned the money to get his family from that city to their new home in Buena Vista county.  This was a tract of one hundred and sixty acres of wild prairie, situated on section 20, Fairfield township.  The father developed and improved the place and made it a valuable property, which he cultivated until the time of his death in 1901.  The mother, however, still survives and makes her home with her only daughter, in Fairfield township.


Charles A. Ponser of this review is the eldest of three children, his brother being Axel, a farmer of Fairfield township; and Mrs. Charles Anderson, also of this township.  Charles A. Ponser as previously stated, was a young man of twenty years when he accompanied the family on their emigration to the new world and be remained under the parental roof until he had reached the age of twenty-four years.  He shared with the other members of the family in their struggle for an existence during the first years of their residence here, assisting his father in the development of a new farm.  Eventually he himself took up a homestead claim of one hundred and sixty acres in Fairfield township and this proved the nucleus of his later success.  Locating thereon he developed a good farm, to which he later added from time to time as his financial resources permitted until his possessions now embrace five hundred acres, all in Fairfield township.  For many years he was actively and busily engaged in general farming, whereby he acquired the competency that three years ago enabled him to retire, since which time he has made his home in Albert City.  He derives a splendid income from his farm property and is numbered among the substantial citizens of his home city.


In 1873 Mr. Ponser was married to Miss Augusta Molmberg, their marriage being celebrated in Sioux Rapids, in the old courthouse that was four years later destroyed by fire.  Mrs. Ponser was likewise born in Sweden and by her marriage has become the mother of three children:  Albertina, who died at the age of three months; Ellen, who makes her home with her parents; and Albert, a farmer of Fairfield township.  The parents are members of the Swedish Lutheran church and they were prominent factors in the organization of the society, which formerly held services in the schoolhouse.  Mr. Ponser is now serving as a trustee of the church.


Politically he is a republican and for nine years served as township trustee, while for a long period he was also a school director.  He is a stockholder and a director in the Security Bank of Albert City.  He has encountered many obstacles and difficulties in his path but each has seemed to serve as an impetus for renewed effort and gradually he worked his way upward until he is today classed with the substantial citizens of his community.  The ideals of men like this, their personality, the history of their lives, and their profound sense of integrity could be made the text of a lesson from which the young men of today could study success.