IAGenWeb Project - Clayton co.

Henry Meder

No history of Clayton county can be really consistent with itself if it fails to pay high tribute of honor to the sterling and venerable citizen whose name initiates this paragraph and who was the virtual founder of the now thriving village of Mederville, which was named in his honor. In the pioneer period of Clayton county history Mr. Meder caple to the county as a young man who had but recently emigrated from his German fatherland and whose fortification for the success-battle of life was represented in his own integrity of purpose, his energy and his ambition. Such was his ability that he became a leader in industrial and civic affairs in the county and within more than sixty years of residence in the county he has marked the passing days with large and worthy achievement and has contributed much to the civic and material development and progress of the county whose manifold advantages and attractions he is now able to enjoy in the gracious evening of a well spent life. Mr. Meder was born in Mecklenburg, Germany, the ancient home of both his paternal and maternal ancestors, and the date of his nativity was January 20, 1834, so that he has now passed the age of four score years. He is a son of Louis and Frederica (Sauerbray) Meder, the former of whom passed his entire life in Germany and the latter of whom, after the death of her honored husband, came with her children to America and established her home at Guttenberg, Clayton county, Iowa; she passed the remainder of her life in Valya* township. Both she and her husband were earnest members of the German Lutheran church. Of their ten children the first five, Sophia, Frederick, Mary, Hannah and Augusta, are deceased; Caroline is the widow of Ferdinand Albrecht and resides in Cox Creek township, this county; the subject of this review was the next in order of birth; Frederica maintains her home at La Crosse, Wisconsin; Louisa is deceased; and Charles was in Capetown, Africa, at the time of his death. In the schools of his native province Henry Meder acquired his early education, and he was a youth of nineteen years when he came to the United States with his mother and three other of the children. They arrived in the city of Chicago on the 4th of July, 1853, his mother providing the money to defray the cost of his transportation to the new home in Guttenberg, Clayton county. Upon arriving at his destination he forthwith turned his attention to whatever honest work he could obtain, and the harvesting of grain with an old-time cradle represented one of his early experiences in the pioneer community. He finally purchased one hundred and twenty acres of land in Cox Creek township, and later he gave eighty acres of this property to one of his brothers-in-law. He proved successful as a farmer and finally became associated with two other enterprising citizens in the purchasing of two hundred acres of land in Cox Creek township, this tract including the site of the present village of Mederville. The three far-sighted men erected at Mederville a grist mill, and later Mr. Meder purchased the interests of the other two and associated his sons with him in the operation of the mill. The plant was finally destroyed by fire, but he promptly rebuilt the mill and resumed operations. His courage and self-reliance were shown forth in bold reIief at this time, for the loss of his mill had crippled him financially and he was paying also ten percent interest on an indebtedness of $13,585. His energy and good management proved equal to the heavy responsibilities thus placed upon him and he in due time paid every dollar of his obligations and was once more on a firm financial footing. A second disaster came to his mill, a cottonwood tree being carried through the- mill flume and greatly damaging the m;!chinery, as well as the building itself. This damage likewise failed to check his ambitious purpose, and he has not only been a leader in the material upbuilding and business activities of his home village and county, but has also been influential in the advancing of those things that contribute to the social welfare of the community. To him more than all others is due the development and upbuilding of the village that bears his name, and the history of the county should record that he donated to Mederville four acres of ground for its present cemetery, a half acre of land as a site for the public school building, and about four acres to the railroad company for the freight and passenger station. He still owns a valuable tract of one hundred and sixty acres and he still takes a lively interest in community affairs. He has served as township trustee and was a member of the board of county supervisors for a period of six years. He has given loyal support to the Republican party and he and his family hold zealously to the faith of the Lutheran church. As a young man Mr. Meder wedded Miss Dorothy Brookman, and the supreme loss and bereavement of his life came when his devoted wife and helpmeet was summoned to eternal rest, her death having occurred June 10, 1904. In conclusion is given brief record concerning their children: Barney was born July 30, 1857, and is now a resident of the state of Oklahoma; Louis was born September 21, 1858, and he is now deceased; Emma, who was born April 2, 1860, is the wife of John Nugent, and they reside in the state of Wisconsin; Henry was born July 30, 1861, and died August 12, 1874; Lena was born February 12, 1863, and resides with her venerable father in the pleasant home at Mederville; Albert, who was born July 13, 1865, is a representative farmer near Mederville; August was born on the 22d of March, 1867, and died on the 22d of the following month; Clara was born March 9, 1869, and is the wife of Herman Dittmer, a prosperous farmer of Cox Creek township; Rosa, who was born July 14, 1871, is the wife of M. M. Marshall, of Elkader; the next child, a daughter, was born in December, 1873, and died the same day; Ida is the widow of John Dinan and maintains her home at Elkader. the county seat; and Charles B., who was born February 13, 1879, resides at home.

source: History of Clayton County, Iowa; From The Earliest Historical Times Down to the Present; by Realto E. Price, Vol. II; page 270-272
-submitted by S. Ferrall

*submitters note: I am unable to find a Valya twp. in the United States (perhaps the author meant to write 'Volga twp.' )


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