Transcribed by Teresa Kesterke 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.


Henry Thie, who now resides on his large and well-improved farm of one hundred acres in Franklin township, is a worthy representative of the sturdy German-American stock to which Des Moines county is so deeply indebted for her present day prosperity. Although past the allotted mark of threescore years and ten, he is a strong, active man, taking part not only in the work of his own farm, but also retaining a deep interest in the affairs of the community.

Henry Thie, son of Henry and Louisa (Ellerhof) Thie, was born in Prussia, West Phalen, Germany, Feb. 18, 1834. There he received his education in the common schools. When he grew to manhood he was exempt from serving in the regular army of the Fatherland, not being accepted on account of having a stiff finger. He was raised with a thorough practical knowledge of agriculture, and followed this occupation until he came to America, in 1857.

In this country he began to climb the ladder leading to success by working at first by the month on a farm, receiving seven dollars a month for his services. He worked in this way for about four and a half years, and rented farms for the next seven years. He was located for a time in Burlington township, and for three years in Union township. Through thrifty ways and careful management of farm affairs, he made such a success of these ventures that in 1869 he felt warranted in purchasing a farm of his own. He bought eighty acres in Section 26, Franklin township, the only improvement then on the place being an old log shanty. He lived in this for a year, then added one room, and made this his home for several years. Then he built his present comfortable residence, and has from time to time built a number of other commodious farm buildings, as they were needed, and has otherwise generally improved the place until it is one of the best equipped farm homes in the community. In 1878 he bought eighteen acres of timber land, and has at other times added to his original holdings, until now he has one hundred acres after signing over sixty acres to one of his sons. His farm is unusually well stocked with fruit, as he has set out about one hundred fruit trees, besides a fine vineyard of about two hundred stocks. Water is furnished for the farm by a good wind pump, and the conveniences of the farm are such as to make it a most desirable home.

Feb. 25, 1862, Mr. Thie was united in marriage to Miss Christina Distelhorst, daughter of Charles and Christina (Diercks) Distelhorst. She was also a native of West Phalen, Germany, being born there May 17, 1843, and coming to America when she was only two years of age. They became the parents of eight children, of whom seven are still living. The children are as follows: Henry, Charles, William, and John are located near Mediapolis, Yellow Springs township; Fred lives next to his father; Herman and Louisa are at home: Edward died in 1880, aged about two years.

Mrs. Thie died June 17, 1905, aged sixty-two years and one month. She was an earnest Christian woman, a faithful wife, and a loving mother, and she left a place in the home circle that can never be filled, the memory of her loving kindnesses and her unselfish acts of service remaining in the hearts of husband and children like a benediction.

Both Mr. and Mrs. Thie were members of the Evangelical church. Mr. Thie was baptized in this faith in Germany, and has been a member ever since coming to America. He is now president of the organization, having held that office for many years. In his political belief, Mr. Thie is an adherent of the Republican party, and is a trusted counselor in the assemblies of the party, always standing for the best interests of the entire community, as he sees them. That he enjoys the confidence of the neighborhood, is evidenced by the fact that the citizens of his township have repeatedly bestowed upon him the highest honor in their power to give, by electing him trustee of the township. The first time that he was thus honored, he was elected for two consecutive terms, but resigned during the second term, serving two years. Later he was again elected to this same office, and after serving two years was elected to the office of county supervisor, being elected in 1903, and still serving in this capacity.

Aside from farming, Mr. Thie has never been identified with any business except during two winters, when he, with a cousin, was engaged in work in a pork house: but that he has undoubted business talent and sagacity of a high degree is amply proved by the success he has made of all his ventures in connection with his farm, as well as by the unqualified success that he has made of the affairs of the township that have come under his supervision during the years he has served the public as trustee and as supervisor. He is a man who has won success not only in a material sense, but also in the better sense, in that he has won and well merited the confidence and respect of all with whom he has come in contact in the various relations of life.

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