A very prominent resident of Des Moines County, Iowa, and one who is numbered among the most influential citizens of Benton township, is Walter G. Steingreaber, who was born in Saxony, Germany, Dec. 27, 1844, the son of Charles and Henrietta Steingreaber, both natives of Saxony. The father of our subject was by trade a glazier, an occupation which he followed until coming to America, but after purchasing a farm here he devoted himself exclusively to its cultivation, and continued to reside upon it until his death, which occurred in 1889, in the seventy-ninth year of his age; while the mother died in 1893, aged eighty-three years. Both were faithful members of the Lutheran church, and the father, who took an active interest in political affairs as a member of the Republican party, was very successful in a material way, becoming one of the notably prosperous and influential men of his day in this section. The mortal remains of both were laid to rest on the home farm, which is still owned by members of the family. To them were born six children, as follows: Charles, who died at the age of thirty-six years; Agnes, Hetwig, and Louise, also all deceased, and Walter G. and William R., the latter of whom being the only one born in America.
In November, 1850, our subject came to America with his parents, landing at New Orleans, whence they proceeded up the Mississippi River to Burlington, and located on an eighty-acre farm purchased by the father in Burlington township, four miles north of Burlington, on the Irish Ridge Road. Here Mr. Steingreaber passed the days of his youth as his father's assistant in the work of the farm, and meantime acquired a good common-school education in the district schools of his township, which he later supplemented by a complete course of training in the Commercial College of Burlington, thus evincing an unusual enthusiasm for the cause of education, and at the same time acquiring exceptional preparation for the business and duties of his later life.
On Dec. 27, 1871, Mr. Steingreaber was united in marriage to Miss Rebecca Hunter, daughter of William and Rebecca (Givens) Hunter, the father being a native of Ireland, whence he emigrated to the United States in 1838, settling in Burlington township, Des Moines county, in 1840, purchasing a farm there and engaging in farming very successfully. He died at the age of eighty-three years, while the demise of his wife occurred in her seventy-sixth year, and both are interred in the Wykert cemetery, in Burlington township. It may be here recorded as a matter of interest that the fathers of Mr. and Mrs. Steingreaber, respectively, were born on the same day; namely June 11, 1810. To our subject and wife have been born seven sons and daughters, as follows: George, who resides at his father's home, and works the farm; Bessie A., wife of William I. Burkholder, of Wisconsin, who has four sons, Richard, Walter, John, and Ralph; and Laura, William C., and Hettie R., who are still at home; while the third and fourth children in the order of birth died in infancy. All were born at the present home of the family, and here have received the best educational advantages as well as an excellent home training.
Upon his marriage Mr. Steingreaber settled in Benton township, where in 1871 he purchased his present large and valuable farm of two hundred acres of fertile and productive farming lands; and here he has engaged in farming and stock-raising, placing most of the land under cultivation, and by means of ceaseless and unflagging industry, combined with sound business judgement, has secured from the soil in various forms a very generous return for the outlay of labor, capital, and ability which has gone toward its development. It now bears the appearance of a modern establishment of the very highest class, and the owner has installed many up-to-date improvements, among which might be included the large and impressive structure which serves as the family residence, and has become the center of a large hospitality.
At the beginning of the Civil War our subject was still a very young man, but in February, 1864, he enlisted for the service of his adopted country in Company E, Twenty-fifth Iowa Volunteer Infantry, and proceeding at once to the front, received two serious gunshot wounds in the battle at Atlanta, Ga., on account of which he was honorably discharged as unable to perform further military duty. As another and highly regrettable result of his wounds, he was compelled to suffer the loss of his left leg below the knee. The public spirit which he showed in time of war by thus exposing himself to all its perils for the sake of the general welfare, has remained with him through life, and has been carried into other fields of endeavor where its usefulness has been no less important, for as an influential worker in the ranks of the Republican party he has borne a very important part in shaping the affairs of the community in which he resides, so that he has fully discharged the responsibilities belonging to the high station in which he is placed by the confidence and esteem of his fellow citizens. Many public trusts have been his, as he has been at various times elected to the several township offices, and for six years was a member of the board of supervisors of Des Moines county. Fraternally, he sustains membership relations with the Independent Order of Odd Fellows in Benton Lodge, No. 277, at Latta, Iowa, and is also an honored member of Matthies Post, No. 5, Grand Army of the Republic. He is widely known as a successful farmer of the most progressive type, while his political activities have made his name familiar throughout the extent of Des Moines and neighboring counties; and wherever he is known, he has made many friends by his genial traits of character and by the well-known facts of the honor, uprightness, and fairness which have marked his whole career.
Transcribed by Karen Davis McAtlin from Biographical Review of Des Moines County Iowa.