A worthy ambition is a powerful incentive and without it very little can be accomplished along lines of human progress. It is the key that unlocks the door of opportunity and the young man who possesses it, if he is guided by sound judgment, is on the highway to fortune. The truth of this statement is clearly illustrated in the life of Hermann Koenekamp, whose name stands at the head of this sketch.
He was born in Oldenburg, Germany, March 21, 1849. His father, who was a farmer, died in Germany when our subject was four years old. He was by occupation a farmer and religiously was identified with the Lutheran church, as was also his wife. The mother, who before her marriage was Catharina Doris, lived to the age of eighty-three years, passing away in 1893.
Hermann Koenekamp was reared and educated in his native land and at the age of fourteen was apprenticed to the blacksmith's trade, which he followed until the outbreak of the Franco-Prussian war in 1869. He then enlisted in the regular army, in which he continued about three years, being honorably discharged from service August 5, 1872. Laying aside his military accoutrements he returned to his old home, where he was married, and six weeks after his discharge from the army started with his young wife for America.
After living for eleven months in the city of Chicago, he engaged for two years in farming in Cook county and in the fall of 1875 came to Crawford county, Iowa, and rented a farm in Goodrich township, upon which he lived for two years. Later he lived in Hanover and Morgan townships, and about 1881, having acquired the necessary capital, purchased two hundred and forty acres in Denison township of Hon. Leslie M. Shaw, upon which he lived until 1894, disposing of it three years later.
In 1894 he purchased a farm of four hundred and forty acres near Dow City, Iowa, from the Crawford County State Bank, which he sold in the spring of 1910, and in 1908 he bought one hundred and sixty acres in Faulk county, South Dakota, purchasing another tract of one hundred and sixty acres in 1910, which is located near Watertown, South Dakota. He still owns both of these farms and also a beautiful residence in Denison, which he purchased in 1904. He has an improved farm of four hundred and eighty acres in Kansas, which he bought in 1910. His undertakings have been accompanied with a gratifying measure of success and he has for years been known as one of the highly prosperous citizens of this county.
On the 6th of October, 1872, Mr. Koenekamp was united in marriage to Miss Eliza Meyer, who was born at Oldenburg, Germany, March 14, 1853, a daughter of Christ and Margaret (Choringer) Meyer. Her parents were both natives of Germany and her father died in that country in 1895, at the age of more than seventy years, her mother having passed away in 1863 at the age of forty-five. There were six children in their family: Helena, Wilhelm, Christian, Eliza, Henry and Johanna. The father was a soldier in the regular army of Germany and became a teamster and farmer.
Eleven children came to bless the union of Mr. and Mrs. Koenekamp, namely: Emma married Wilhelm Plahn, of Pierce, Nebraska, and has nine children, Lena, Herman, Anna, Henry, Amelia, Wilhelm, Hilda and Hattie, twins, and Emma. Ida died at the age of nine months. Mary married Jacob Mehman and they now live in Denison township. Lena married Hans Blom, of South Dakota, and they have one son, Julius. Christ and Herman are both farmers of the state of Washington. Bertha is now Mrs. Joseph R. Best and has two children, Louisa and Homer. Bernhardt is a resident of Raymond, Washington. Johan and Hans are both living in Los Angeles, California. Louisa is living at home and is a student in the high school.
Mr. and Mrs. Koenekamp are members of the Lutheran church and active workers in its behalf. He is identified with the Denison Lonverin, the German soldiers society, and also with Die Deutsche Bruederschaft, the German brotherhood. Politically, he gives his support to the republican party. He has not aspired to the honors and emoluments of office as he prefers the quiet life of a private citizen. Essentially a self-made man, his example has been to others an inspiration and support, the value of which can never be known.
Source: History of Crawford County, Iowa. Vol. II. Chicago: The S. J. Clarke Publishing Co., 1911.