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.


Among the worthy citizens that Germany has furnished to Des Moines county is Fred Gerling, who was born in Prussia, Germany, May 26, 1850, his parents being Charles and Illsabine (Teimann) Gerling. The first representative of the family to come to America was Charles Gerling, a brother of our subject, and the parents also crossed the Atlantic after Fred Gerling had made his way to the New World. Both died in Des Moines county, Iowa, and were buried near the Walker settlement, the father passing away in 1880, when sixty years of age, while his wife departed this life when fifty years of age. They were the parents of seven children: Charles F.; Fred; Mary, the wife of Herman Bischer, a resident of South Dakota; Christian, living in Benton township; Caroline, the widow of John Cleek, and resides in Burlington; Louisa, the wife of Spencer Husted; and Henry.

Fred Gerling was educated in the common schools, and in his youth learned the baker's trade, which he followed until he came to America. In August, 1868, then a young man of eighteen years, he sailed for the United States, and landed at New York, where he remained through the succeeding fall and winter. In the spring he went to Madison, Wis., and in the vicinity of that city worked on a farm through two summers and one winter season. In September, 1870, he arrived in Burlington, where he was again employed as a farm hand by the month for four and a half years.

About the end of that time Mr. Gerling was married Jan. 7, 1875, to Miss Susanna Butcher, a daughter of William and Elizabeth (Gerling) Butcher. Ten children were born unto them: Mary, born Sept. 17, 1875; Carl, Feb. 1, 1877; William, Feb. 19, 1879; Edward, Sept. 6, 1880; Emma, Jan. 13, 1882; Fred H., Dec. 9, 1884; Amelia, July 14, 1886; Lawrence, Jan. 26, 1888; Christian, May 8, 1891; and Albert, July 30, 1894. The family circle yet remains unbroken by the hand of death, and five of the children are yet living at home, while the eldest is in Linton. Mrs. Gerling was born in Pleasant Grove township, March 1, 1854, upon the farm that Charles Gerling now occupies. Her mother died in 1870, at the age of fifty-two years, and her father in 1873, at the age of sixty-six years. They were buried on the old home farm, in the cemetery which was set off from this place.

Since 1892 Mr. Gerling has owned the farm which he now cultivates. He has one hundred and sixty acres of land on Section 20, and one hundred and twenty acres on Section 29, Yellow Springs township. He has practically made all of the improvements upon the place, having erected a new house and barn, and also other buildings. He raises and feeds about a car-load of cattle each year, and he now has sixty-five head of cattle and keeps upon his place on an average of one hundred hogs of the Poland China and Chester White variety.

Mr. Gerling has served as school director for twelve years, and is now holding that office, the cause of education finding in him a warm friend. He belongs to the German Lutheran church. He has never had occasion to regret his determination to seek a home in America, for here he has found the business opportunities which he sought; and is today one of the substantial farmers of the county. When Mr. and Mrs. Gerling began housekeeping they had only enough money to buy one-half dozen spoons and three chairs. He has worked hard, and has accumulated until he is now in very comfortable circumstances.

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