The Louis Gund Family
by Arlene Hollenbeck
Marcus Historical SocietyAt
our November meeting I was given a letter and an old postcard that we
received from a member in Iowa City. She had been shopping in a
mall where a flea market was being held. A booth selling items
from all over Iowa caught her attention and she asked if they had
anything from Marcus Iowa. One postcard was from Aug. 12, 1895
sent to Louis Gund Esq. in acknowledgement of his insurance premium
payment of $89.13 to the German Insurance Co. of Freeport
Illinois. The postcard is in excellent condition and will
be a very nice display item with a brief history of the Gund family .
Gund family was of German ancestry and came to America in 1848 settling
on a farm near Freeport, Ill. Louis had a brother Frederick
who was associated with the Freeport Insurance Company, founded
February 16, 1865 in Freeport Ill. On June 23, 1866 it was
purchased by a number of local businessmen of German extraction and the
name was changed to The German Insurance Company. During that first
year the company issued only 411 policies. In December of 1867
Frederick Gund became secretary of the company. He was a dynamic
young man of only 21 when he joined the company. He promoted and
developed “The German of Freeport” and was an active civic
leader. By 1896 the company was doing business in 14 states and 1
territory and it’s assets exceeded $3,000,000.00. It was said to
be the largest insurance company west of Philadelphia. A
new building was built in 1898 and still stands today. The
company was a vigorous lender in mortgages to keep it’s capitol
working and prospered until April 18, 1906 when the great San
Francisco earthquake and fire brought down $5,000,000.00 in
claims. The company went into receivership and
closed. Frederick Gund died in 1889.
and Louis Gund’s parent’s died of cholera in 1850 and they were raised
in Galena, Illinois by his sister. Louis learned the wagon
making trade and in 1867 he moved to Benton Co. IA. where he met and
married his wife Margaret. They had three children, Minnie, Cora
and William. Mr. Gund and his family arrived in Marcus in 1876
and he became involved in the community as mayor in 1882 and also with
a grain elevator, an implement business and later a bank. William
L. Gund along with his sisters ran the bank after the death of their
father in 1917 until it’s liquidation in 1929. William
maintained an office in the bank building until his death in 1955.
and Cora never married. William married Ethel Lytle but had no
children. All of the Gund family was very involved in the
community during their lives. Some of their gifts to the
community include the brick entrances and fences at the cemeteries, a
water works system at the cemetery, a scholarship for Marcus Community
students, property east of the former Catholic school which was a
playground and the W.L. Gund Library.
The Gund’s owned a
large amount of farmland. I grew up on one of those farms.
It was located one mile west of the Tilden Township School.
None of the buildings remain today. This 160 acres is in a
permanent trust that provides the scholarship’s for the Marcus
My parents, Elmer and Irene (Digel) Anderson
moved onto this farm after their marriage in 1935 and lived there until
the mid 1960’s when they moved 1/2 mile south of the Tilden School to
the former Gus Olson farm. William Gund (my Dad called him
Billy) rented the 160 acre farm to my Dad in 1935 and loaned him the
money to buy start up machinery. After “Billy” passed away his
wife Ethel took control of the the farming operations. I remember
when she would drive into the yard and honk the horn until Dad would
come to the car. She had a small dog with her and she wouldn’t
get out of the car for fear our farm dog would hurt her dog.
Gund had a house keeper. I’m sure many Marcus people remember
her. Alice (Anderson) Dunn, my Dad’s little sister.
Aunt Alice inherited Mrs. Gund’s house when she died and Alice and Jack
Dunn raised their four girls in that house.
Ethel Gund was killed in an airplane explosion over Indiana in 1960.
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