IAGenWeb Project - Clayton co.

John C. Schmalfeld

John C. Schmalfeld merits definite recognition in this history not only by reason of his prominence and influence as one of the extensive and substantial landholders and representative farmers of Clayton county, but also by reason of being a scion of one of the sterling pioneer families of the county. He is the only surviving member of a family of five children and there came to him as a gracious heritage the fine homestead farm upon which he has lived from the time of his birth to the present day. He is the owner of a finely improved landed estate of two hundred and ninety acres, situated in Sections 16, 17 and 20, Farmersburg township, and he keeps his fine domain up to the most approved standard in all things pertaining to modern and scientific agriculture and stock-growing, with the result that he is essentially one of the representative yeomen of his native county and a leader in the sphere of industrial enterprise in which his productive activities have always been centered.

On the farm homestead which is his present place of residence Mr. Schmalfeld was born on the 10th of April, 1861, and, as before stated, he is the only survivor of a family of five children. He is a son of John and Mary (Wendt) Schmalfeld, both of whom were born and reared in Germany, where their marriage was solemnized and where they continued their residence until 1851, when they immigrated to America and numbered themselves among the earliest settlers of Clayton county, Iowa. Here the father obtained a tract of wild land and set to himself the arduous task of reclaiming the same into a productive farm. He and his youthful wife lived up to the full tension of pioneer hardships and labors and the passing years rewarded their earnest endeavors with well merited success. Their first dwelling on the farm now owned by their son was a primitive structure with a straw roof, and this they occupied until they were able to provide a more fitting habitation. They were loyal, sincere, industrious and religious folk, zealous as communicants of the Lutheran church, and they so ordered their lives as to command the unqualified confidence and good will of all with whom they came in contact. They were venerable and honored pioneer citizens of the county at the time of their death and remained on their old homestead farm until the close of their long and useful lives.

John C. Schmalfeld, the immediate subject of this review, found the period of his childhood and youth compassed by the conditions and influences of the pioneer farm and early began to assist in its work and management. After he had made good use of the advantages afforded in the common schools of the locality and period he began to assume more and more of the responsibilities and toil in connection with the home farm, and as the sole surviving heir he came into possession of the entire property after the death of his honored parents. He has erected fine buildings on his extensive and well improved landed estate and is not only known as a progressive and successful agriculturist but also has won special prominence as a breeder and grower of short-horn best type. He gives his support to those measures and projects that tend to advance the general welfare of the community, but has held no public office save that of member of the school board of his district, of which body he served as president for several years. His political allegiance is given unreservedly to the Democratic party and he and his wife are earnest communicants and liberal supporters of the Lutheran church at Clayton Center.

November 25, 1887, recorded the marriage of Mr. Schmalfeld to Miss Elise Henning, who was born and reared in this county, Garnavillo township, and who is one of the four surviving members of a family of twelve children. Her parents, August and Catherine (Schultz) Henning, immigrated from Germany to the United States in the early ‘50s and became substantial and honored pioneers of Garnavillo township, Clayton county, where the father reclaimed and developed the fine farm upon which he and his wife passed the remainder of their lives.

Mr. and Mrs. Schmalfeld became the parents of three children, of whom the firstborn, Alta M., died at the age of three years. The surviving children, Arno and Elmer, and an adopted child born August 4, 1902, Alice M. Schmalfeld, still remain at the parental home and give their quota of aid in the work of the splendid old farmstead where they are representatives of the third generation of the family in Clayton county.

source: History of Clayton County, Iowa; From The Earliest Historical Times Down to the Present; by Realto E. Price, Vol. II; page 363-364
-transcribed by Mary Cameron


Return to 1916 Biographies Index