Transcribed by Pamela Wagler from: Biographical Review of Des Moines County, Iowa: Containing Biographical and Genealogical Sketches of Many of the Prominent Citizens of To-day and Also of the Past, Hobart Publishing Company, Chicago, 1905.


John F. Gerdes, who is proprietor and manager of a model grocery store at 1200 North Seventh Street, Burlington, is a young man of exceptional ability and enterprise, and has enjoyed unusual preparation for the work to which he is now devoting his talents. Mr. Gerdes was born Dec. 11, 1872, in Oldenburg, Germany, a son of Henry and Louise (Schwarting) Gerdes, who now reside in Burlington, where the father owns a tract of twenty acres of agricultural land within the city limits, and pursues his vocation of farming.

The days of his boyhood and early youth were passed in the work of the farm in his native land, and there also he obtained his early education in the public schools. In 1889 he accompanied his parents to America, locating in Burlington, where he supplemented his schooling by taking a course in Elliott's Business College, and later began his business career by entering the employ of Mr. Henry Luchner as a delivery man. Desirous, however, of enlarging the domain of his experience, and wishing to gain a better insight into business methods, he then went to the city of New York, and obtained employment in a grocery store, where he remained for two years, at the end of which time he was sent by his employers to Spartanburg, S. C., to take the direction of a large mercantile establishment which was under their charge at that place. There he met with conspicuous success, and after a further period of two years he returned to Burlington in 1897, and established an independent grocery business at the location which he still occupies. The store is one of the neatest and most attractive in the city, while the stock is always kept in the best possible condition, and by unfailing courtesy and consideration, combined with absolute integrity and frankness in all his dealings, he has built up a valuable reputation and secured a large and ever-increasing support from the appreciative public.

At Aplington, Iowa, in 1899, Mr. Gerdes was united in marriage to Miss Carrie Wagner, who like himself, was born and reared in Germany, and to them have been born two sons, Carl and Emil. They are active members and supporters of the German Baptist church, and take an abiding interest in the work of the Sunday-school, of which Mr. Gerdes is assistant superintendent. Too much can not be said of the high quality of Mr. Gerdes's business ability, nor of the vast amount of careful and conscientious attention which he devotes to his stock, consisting of groceries, hay, and feed, for he realized that eternal vigilance is the price of success in these times of close competition, and that he who would succeed must excel. He has built up a large business, and earned the confidence and esteem of the people, so that while there is no doubt that still greater triumphs await him in the future, it may be justly said that success is already his.

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