Sebastian Heitz, for the last thirteen years a resident of Burlington, was born Oct. 28, 1819, at Niederschupheim, Overamt Oftenburg, Baden. His father, Kaspar Heitz, a carpenter by trade, was twice married. The first wife was a daughter of Andreas Harmon, a stone mason of Niederschupheim. Of this marriage there were three children: Joseph, Sebastian, and Theresa, the mother dying when Sebastian was three years old. Kaspar Heitz died when about sixty years old, his death being occasioned by a fall from a tree he was cutting. His father lived to be ninety-five years of age. Andreas Harmon lived to be eighty-two years old. Kaspar Heitz by his second marriage was the father of two children, Louis and Valentine. In February, 1843, Sebastian Heitz sailed from Havre de Grace and reached New York after a voyage of thirty-five days on a sailing vessel. He soon went to Philadelphia, and in the vicinity of that city worked in Pennsylvania and New Jersey for four years, on farms.
In 1847 he returned to his native town by way of London and Amsterdam, ascending the Rhine to Mannheim and thence home by railroad. Soon after his arrival there he married Genevieve Gallus, born Oct. 4, 1819, daughter of Alexander Gallus, a butcher of Niederschupheim.
On his return to America Mr. Heitz was accompanied by his wife and her sister Katherine, and his brother Louis, and eleven other persons. They traveled across France in a diligence, or stage coach, to Havre, and were forty-four days on board ship between that place and New Orleans. From the latter place they came by river to Cincinnati; but as Louis could not find work there, he and Mr. Heitz and wife crossed the Alleghanies and returned to the neighborhood where Mr. Heitz had formerly worked. The brothers stayed at Malaga, N. J., three years, and were all that time in the employ of a Mr. Rosenbaum. In 1850 Mr. Heitz and wife returned by way of Pittsburg to Cincinnati, where they visited Mrs. Heitz's sister Katherine, who had married Florien Berckley. Coming West by the great rivers they reached Ft. Madison, Iowa in October, 1850. Louis Heitz came to Ft. Madison and settled in 1852. Soon after Sebastian Heitz reached Ft. Madison, he rented land and raised vegetables and fruits to supply the town. He was the first man who raised cultivated strawberries in that city. After a time he bought a block of land, on which he carried on the business of green-gardening and fruit-raising till 1892, when he sold out after a residence of forty-two years in the city. He was never an office seeker but served two years as supervisor. He was one of the charter members of Empire Lodge, No. 31, Independent Order of Odd Fellows, of Fort Madison, organized in 1852. On Sept. 9, 1861, the Germans of Empire Lodge, of whom Mr. Heitz was one, preferring a German ritual, established Concordia Lodge No. 133. He was noble grand of this lodge two terms. Subsequently Concordia Lodge was merged into Empire Lodge, of which he is now a member. His membership in the order is now well beyond the half century mark, making him one of the oldest Odd Fellows in Iowa. Mr. Heitz's affiliations were with the Catholic church, but after joining the Odd Fellows the church required him to decide between itself and the Odd Fellows, and he chose to remain with the latter organization, and since then he has not considered himself a church-member. Six children were born to Mr. and Mrs. Heitz: Joseph, the eldest, died in Union, Ore., in 1891; Florien lives in Anaconda, Mont.; William lives at Frontier, Wyo.; Abbie, who married August Fogel, lives in Burlington; Hattie, who married Benjamin Thompson, lives in Fort Madison; Edith, the wife of Edward Benbow, also lives in Fort Madison. Mrs. Heitz died in that city in April, 1902, at the ripe old age of eighty-two. Mr. Heitz has made his home with his daughter in Burlington since 1892, and though past eighty-five years old, he goes about like a man much younger in years.