Some men are endowed with a capacity that overcomes every obstacle. They are the leaders in a community and whether in business or professional life easily occupy the first rank. To this class belongs George Naeve, vice president of the Crawford County State Bank, and one of the largest landowners of the county.
He is a native of the village of Gross-Wittensee, Schleswig-Holstein, Germany, born October 11, 1857, and is the only son of Jurgen and Catherina (Fleck) Naeve. The father was an industrious farmer of good reputation, he and his wife being members of the Lutheran church. The grandfather Fleck on the maternal side married Marie Stroch and they lived to be quite advanced in years, rearing a large family.
George Naeve received his preliminary education in the schools of his native land and as soon as he was old enough began working in a nursery near the city of Kiel, where he continued for two or three years. He then went to Hamburg and on arriving at the age of nineteen decided that he would seek his fortune in the new world. Accordingly, in 1876, he bade farewell to his relatives and friends and crossed the ocean to America, going to Jackson and Clinton counties, Iowa, where he was employed at farm work.
In the winter of 1878 he removed to Kiron, Crawford county, and continued at farm labor in the summer, while attending school during the winter months. In the meantime he had gained a good knowledge of the English language and of the habits and customs of the people of his adopted country. In the spring of 1879 he came to Denison and entered a hardware store as a clerk, in which capacity he continued for four years, when he became connected with the McHenry Bank, being identified with that institution for five years.
After resigning from his position in the bank he entered the real-estate, loan and abstract business, which he conducted with very marked success, becoming widely known on account of his large operations in real estate and investments. On January 1, 1907, he became vice president and a very large stockholder of the Crawford County State Bank, a position which he still occupies. He is very largely interested in real estate and did own several thousand acres of land in Crawford county and still has about eight thousand acres in partnership with Carl Gronau in North and South Dakota, these gentlemen also owning several town sites. His home in Denison is one of the most beautiful private residences of the city. He is vice president of the German Bank of Schleswig and the Farmers State Bank of Charter Oak and also a stockholder in the Kintyre State Bank of Kintyre, North Dakota, the Denison Improvement Company, the Denison Hospital Company and the Oakland Cemetery Association, being president of the Denison Improvement Company and a trustee of the Oakland Cemetery Association.
In December, 1885, Mr. Naeve was united in marriage to Miss Anna Knaul, a native of Berlin, Germany. She came to America with her parents at the age of four years, making her home in Clinton, Iowa, where her father was the owner of a drug store. He was three times married. His first wife died in Germany. The second passed away in Clinton, Iowa, and was the mother of Mrs. Naeve, while the third wife survived her husband, who died in middle life. There was one child by the first union, Rudolph Knaul; three daughters by the second, Gertrude, Anna and Lena; and two children by the third, Otto and Bertha.
The home of Mr. and Mrs. Naeve has been brightened by the birth of four children: Marie, who is a graduate of the Denison high school and Lake Forest (Illinois) University and is now living at home; Louis, who died at the age of ten months; Erma, also a graduate of the Denison high school and now attending Lake Forest University; and Margaret, who died at the age of two months.
Mr. Naeve started as a young man in a strange country upon his own resources. Difficulties served only to spur him to renewed effort, strengthening his will and developing an indomitable spirit of self-reliance that are his prominent characteristics. Today his name represents the highest business foresight and integrity, and he ranks as one of the most energetic and capable business men of Crawford county. His religious faith is indicated by membership in the Lutheran church, while his wife is a member of the Presbyterian church. He is a trustee and stockholder of Denison College and is well known as a stanch friend of education.
Source: History of Crawford County, Iowa. Vol. II. Chicago: The S. J. Clarke Publishing Co., 1911.