"Our Friends on the Acres"
Mr. Theodore R. Klemme
Theodore R. Klemme is another veteran farmer who has been working the soil of Allamakee county for a long time. Although he has only been located on his farm, four miles northwest of Postville, for 28 years he has been identified with farming since he was a boy.
Mr. Klemme was born April 30, 1871, on a farm near Sheboygan, Wis., a son of Mr. and Mrs. Conrad Klemme. His father was one of the substantial farmers in that vicinity as he spent over 50 years on the same property. When Theodore Klemme became old enough he assisted his father with work about the farm. In 1894, at the age of 23, Mr. Klemme decided to strike out for himself, so he came to Iowa. "My first job was on the Chas. Helming farm east of Waukon," Mr. Klemme said. "I worked for him eight months, then I went to the Jacob Martie farm at Lansing Ridge, and worked two years for him." At this time Mr. Klemme decided to go into the farming business with his cousin, Herman Klemme. They rented the old Beard farm northwest of Waukon and this partnership lasted three years.
Mr. Klemme came to Postville in 1901 and immediately went to work for John Schuette on the farm now occupied by Alvin Kahle. He stayed two months with Mr. Schuette, when worked the next two months for Will Meyer, near Springfield. In the harvesting months he worked with August Lange. "Threshing has changed a lot since then," he stated. "During those early years we fed the threshing machines by hand, and don't let anyone tell you that it wasn't hard work. It's much easier today and much quicker as the threshing machines have been improved." In the fall of the year he purchased a corn shredder and took care of many jobs in the Postville vicinity.
On November 14, 1901, he was married to Miss Dora Brockmeyer, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Carl Brockmeyer, and the young couple made their home in Postville, where Mr. Klemme had a job at the Hall Roberts elevator. He worked seven years for Mr. Roberts, one year for the Farmers Store and two years at the brick yard.
In November of 1911 he purchased an 86 acre farm from Fritz Koenig, who is now living at Burr Oak. The Klemme family didn't take immediate possession of their new property, living in Postville until March 1, 1912. At that time they moved to the farm where Mr. Klemme is located today.
"I paid about $80 an acre for the property in 1911, but as there was no driveway leading from the farm to the main road, I purchased nine acres of land adjoining the farm on the west in 1919 from Wilbert Dresser," he stated. "I paid plenty for it as it cost me $300 an acre. The nine acres were heavily wooded, so I got a saw mill and cut down all of the trees. By selling 25,000 feet of maples to a house mover in Cedar Rapids, my original purchase price was cut down quite a little." The land was grubbed and then cultivated. Mr. Klemme's crops on the new acreage were especially good as the soil was new. "That piece of ground is still above average," he remarked, "and last year we received a yield of from 80 to 85 bushels of corn to the acre. We still have corn planted on it and if we don't get an early frost, the yield will again be high."
Mr. Klemme is not only a good farmer, but he is also quite a carpenter. When he first settled on the property, the only buildings on the place were a barn and a frame house (20X16) with a log shanty (18X24) adjoining the house. One of the first things he did was tear down the log shanty and replace it with an addition measuring 16X24 feet. He remodeled the house proper and constructed another addition on the south side of the home which measured 20X10 feet. Today the house consists of nine rooms and is 24X32 feet in size.
The second year he was on the place he tore down the barn and put up a new one, 50X50 feet. "Wm. Brockmeyer helped me raise that barn," Mr. Klemme explained, "and, believe it or not, the two of us put it up in one day. Of course we had horses to do the heavy work, but just the same it was quite an accomplishment. Ed Oldag is the only carpenter we have ever had on the place. he helped me build a 16 foot addition to the barn, making it 50X66 feet." Mr. Klemme has also erected other farm buildings himself - granary, corn crib, hog house, chicken house and other small buildings. He has nine cows, Jerseys, Holsteins and shorthorns, four horses, 60 pigs, 100 hens and about 150 spring chickens, and two calves.
Mr. Klemme did a little reminiscing at the conclusion of the interview. "Three years after buying this property we had a complete crop failure. I'll never forget that season (1915) as we had a heavy frost in August. I had 45 pigs and when the corn froze I went into the field and picked out the best corn and carried it to the pigs. They didn't gain very fast on that frozen corn and when they were sold they averaged about 113 pounds." Another year Mr. Klemme well remembers is 1916. "I started hauling cream for the Postville creamery that year and when I left the creamery my first day, February 1, it was 40 below zero. That's the coldest day I ever experienced, but as I had on heavy clothes and thick felt boots, I managed to complete my route without suffering very much from the cold." After hauling cream on routes 3 and 4 for four years, Mr. Klemme quit that work to devote his entire time to the farm.
This year Mr. Klemme has 11 acres of corn and five acres of soy beans. He recently threshed 19 acres of oats, receiving a yield of 635 bushels. Four acres of flax were combined, bringing about 15 bushels to the acre.
On August 18, 1935, Mrs. Klemme passed away and since then Mr. Klemme and his son, Arnold, have lived alone. Mr. Klemme has two other sons, Emil, of Stevens Point, Wis. and Leslie of Postville, and one daughter, Mildred, Mrs. Rudie Marten. Mr. Klemme has five brothers: Anton is located at Kenosha, Wis.; August, Guido and Otto are all living near Plymouth, Wis. He also has three sisters: Mrs. Mathilda Blanke of Plymouth, Wis., Ida (Mrs. Herman Schnuelle) of Portland, Ore., and Laura (Mrs. Robert Gaffron) of Plymouth, Wis. Mr. Klemme hasn't seen his siter, Mrs. Schnuelle, for 32 or 33 years and is planning on making a trip to Portland to see her within a few days.
~Postville Herald, September 11, 1940
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