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. 428-30.

Transcribed by Mary Alice Schwanke and Cyndi Vertrees

Biography of  Charles Porath

Charles Porath, residing on section 2, Newell township, is the owner of nearly six hundred acres of valuable farm land, which he has accumulated as the result of his well directed thrift and enterprise. He started out in the business world empty-handed, but he realized the fact that success can always be gained by industry and perseverance, and he determined that some day it should be his. His record may well serve to encourage and inspire others, showing what can be accomplished if one but sets himself seriously to the tasks of life..

Mr. Porath was born in Hermeldorf, province of Pommern, in the kingdom of Prussia, Germany, August 21, 1845. His parents were Michael and Charlotte (Kelle) Porath, both of whom were natives of Germany. The father was reared to the occupation of farming and worked at that pursuit nearly all his life. He served for three years in the regular army and was one of the King's Guards. He died when about fifty-seven years of age and his wife, surviving him for a few years, passed away at the age of sixty-three. Both were members of the Lutheran church.. Mrs. Porath was a daughter of Fritz Kelle, who died in Germany at an advanced age. His wife in her maidenhood was a Miss Born, and she lived to advanced age. In the family of Mr. and Mrs. Porath were nine children, four sons and five daughters, of whom six are yet living: William, of Newell township; Wilhelmina, the widow of Carl Schumann and a resident of Quincy, Illinois; August, a resident of Varina, Iowa; Charles, who makes his home in Newell township; Fredericke, the wife of Christopher Nitzke, of Storm Lake; and Johanna, the wife of William Degner, of Coon township.

Charles Porath spent the first twenty-three years of his life in the land of his nativity and then, thinking to find better business opportunities in the new world, he sailed for the United States and made his way at once to Milwaukee, Wisconsin. He was employed in and near that city for several months but in the fall of that year (1868) came to Iowa and worked on the construction of the Illinois Central Railroad. For twelve years he devoted his time and energies to railroading, after which he was married and settled in Newell township, Buena Vista county, where he purchased a farm of seventy-two acres, for which he paid fifteen dollars per acre. To that place he added from time to time until he now owns nearly six hundred acres of well improved land, together with some town property in Varina. He has brought his fields under a high state of cultivation and the land is rich and productive. He is justly accounted one of the leading agriculturalists of Newell township, having a valuable property which he developed from the raw prairie. He has done as much as perhaps any other man toward improving Newell townships. He and his brother dug the large drainage ditch at their own expense and made tillable an extensive tract of land. They worked for five years on this ditch. They worked for five years on this ditch. Having no modern machinery with which to dig it, they resorted to the pick and shovel, and hauled all the dirt a considerable distance to fill up a slough. Mr. Porath has always kept in touch with the most progressive methods of farming and his labor have been attended with a measure of success that is the merited reward of his earnest labor.

On the 8th of May, 1881, Mr. Porath was married to Miss Ulrika Degner, who was born in Schoen Valley, Pommern, Prussia, a daughter of Peter F. and Wilhelmina (Sell) Degner. She came to America when twenty-one years of age, settled in Newell township, this county, and was married in Coon township. Her father died in Prussia but her mother afterward came to America and made her home with Mr. and Mrs. Porath until her demise at the age of sixty-three years. Unto Mr. and Mrs. Porath have been born nine children: Martha, the wife of Reinhold Hanke, by whom she has one daughter, Bernice; Elizabeth, the wife of Otto Haag, of Newell township, by whom she has one daughter, Leola; Augusta, the wife of Louis Nitzke and the mother of one son, Victor; and Herman, Charlotte, Minnie, August, Elsbert and Agnes, all of whom are under the parental roof.

Both Mr. and Mrs. Porath were reared in the faith of the Lutheran church but are now identified with the German Methodist church. In politics he is a republican and has served as school director for several terms but otherwise has never sought nor desired office, preferring to concentrate his time and energies upon his business affairs, in which he has met with significant success. He is one of the old settlers of the county and has lived to witness a remarkable transformation here as the wild prairie has been converted into rich and productive fields, while hamlets have grown into villages and cities. He has the high regard of his neighbors and acquaintances, his friends being many in the county, while all who know him entertain for him respect and admiration for what he has accomplished. His life has indeed been well spent and his record is a most creditable one.