The owner of four farms, one of them consisting of five hundred and seventy acres of well improved land in Crawford county and the head of a family of eighteen children now living, Gustav Rabe may be justly regarded as a remarkable man. He has won his way to fortune assisted by his estimable wife, who has indeed been to him a true companion and to her children a wise and loving mother.
Mr. Rabe was born at Vor, Pommern, Germany, June 1, 1850, a son of Johann and Mary Rabe. The parents were also natives of Germany and the mother died in the old country in 1857. In 1882 the father came to America and spent the remainder of his days with his son Gustav. There were five children in the family, two of whom are now living: Frederick, of South Dakota; and Gustav, of this review.
Gustav Rabe received his education in his native land and in 1869, being then nineteen years of age, he came to America and began work in a lumberyard in Chicago. He started at the bottom of the ladder but applied himself with such diligence to his work that he was promoted to various positions, becoming foreman and salesman in the yard. He continued with his employers for ten years, in the meantime, however, preparing to start in business independently.
In 1879 he came to Crawford county, Iowa, and took up his home on one hundred and ten acres of land in Morgan township, which he had bought four years. previously. He has ever since continued on this place and has conducted his affairs with such ability and clear judgment that he now owns eleven hundred and seventy acres of land, which is divided into four farms. The homestead consists of five hundred and seventy acres and is very highly improved. He has four hundred acres in Monona county, Iowa, and two hundred acres of good land in Knox county, Nebraska. He is a large raiser of grain and also an extensive feeder of cattle and hogs. In addition to his agricultural interests he is a stockholder and vice president of the German Savings Bank of Ricketts, Iowa.
In 1875 Mr. Rabe was united in marriage to Miss Frederica Fischer, who was born in Germany, May 2, 1859, a daughter of Johan and Sophia Fischer. Her parents were both natives of Germany, They came to America in 1869 and took up their residence in Chicago, Illinois. The father died four years later. In 1879 the mother came to Crawford county and made her home with Mr. and Mrs. Rabe during the remainder of her life. There were two children in her family: Frederica, and John, who is engaged in farming in Hanover township, Crawford county.
Nineteen children have been born to Mr. and Mrs. Rabe, all of whom survive except the youngest, Sophia, who died in infancy. Those now living are: Gustave J., born December 1, 1876, who is married and occupies a part of his father's farm; Martha, born August 3, 1878, and is the wife of Fred Gierstorf, a farmer of Crawford county; Louisa, who was born October 2, 1880, and married Henry L. Mueller, proprietor of a barber shop in Chicago; John B., born March 3, 1882; Caroline, born October 18, 1883; William, born July 11, 1885; Bertha, born October 11, 1886, who lives with her sister in Chicago and is engaged in dressmaking; Anna, born August 19, 1888; Emma, born January 29, 1890, who has a high-school education, passing as the best penman in Crawford county; Albert, born May 11, 1891; Bernhard, born January 21, 1893; Freda, born December 24, 1894; Matilda, born April 28, 1896; Walter and Paulina, twins, born February 18, 1898; Gertrude, born September 24, 1901; Henry, born December 7, 1903; and Theodore, born November 26, 1905. Thirteen of the children are still living at home.
The parents have given their children good opportunities of education and training. They have been reared to systematic habits of industry and all who have arrived at the age of discretion have shown themselves to be useful and honorable members of society. It is doubtful whether a similar record of such a large family can be presented in Iowa or any other state of the Union.
Mr. Rabe and his family are sincere believers in the Bible and all are identified with the German Lutheran church. Politically he is in thorough sympathy with the republican party and he has found time to serve as member of the school board and also for six years as township clerk. The success he has attained has been due to untiring diligence and a capacity in management not possessed by ordinary men. He has set a worthy example to his children and in all relations with his fellowmen has ever attempted to perform his duty. It would be difficult indeed to find a more capable or patriotic citizen in Crawford county than the gentleman whose name stands at the head of this sketch.
Source: History of Crawford County, Iowa. Vol. II. Chicago: The S. J. Clarke Publishing Co., 1911.