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Marcus Memories

The Ernst Home

by Arlene Hollenbeck

Marcus Historical Society

I was contacted by a lady that had found an old postcard in  an antique shop in Idaho Springs CO with a picture of a large home and on the back was simply written “The Ernst home, Marcus Iowa”.  If I could identify the home she would donate the postcard to the Marcus Historical Society.  A little research of census records found the Ernst family had lived south of Marcus.  John J. Ernst and his wife Theresie were the parents of four children, John, Anna, Katie and William (Bill).  They lived on a farm in section 22 of Amherst township approximately 2.5 miles south of Marcus.

I have little information about the son John except he married and also lived in the same section of Amherst Township.  I have no information at this time on Anna, I don’t believe she ever married as she is buried in the Marcus/Amherst cemetery with her parents, brothers and sister.  Katie and Bill continued to live in this home after their parents passed away.  The home along with the other farm buildings was at the end of a long driveway and mostly hidden from the road by a large grove. 

John Ernst raised Poland China pure-bred hogs and at some point had visitors from Russia and some of these hogs were shipped to that country.  A hog show ring was located on the farm and apparently John spent a lot of time working with his livestock as the story is told of loading hogs into a truck with nothing but a ramp of boards and John guiding the hogs with a cane up the ramp.

Not much is said about Bill but many stories exist about Katie who was said to be somewhat eccentric.  One such story is of her banking activities.  She would drive her car to Marcus and park in front of the bank until a teller would walk out to her car at which time she would conduct her business with the bank.  Gerald Pallesen tells that she would call the McKernan grocery store in Marcus and order her groceries and then Gerald would deliver them to her.  Because of this, she allowed him to hunt pheasants in her grove.  She once told Gerald she had run off some coon hunters by shooting at them through an upstairs window.  She stated they ran until they hit a barbed wire fence.  Apparently Katie could defend her home along with the help of a large dog named Duke.

In early years Katie would harvest corn with an Oliver tractor with cleat wheels and a one row picker.  The last crop she harvested was stored in a ring on the farm.   Larry Clausen of Marcus states he shelled that last crib of corn after the Bindner family had purchased the farm from Kate’s estate.

The house along with all the buildings and grove were torn down at some point as no buildings exist at this site today as is the case of many of the old farm stead's.  Sadly the land will always remain but the homes disappear. This has become all to common today as a drive through the countryside will show.

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