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Fayette County, Iowa
Past and Present of Fayette County Iowa, 1910
Author: G. Blessin
B. F. Bowen & Company, Indianapolis, Indiana
Vol. I, Biographical Sketches
From sturdy and worthy Swiss parents, as good blood as could course through the veins of any man, comes John Rothlisberger, an enterprising and highly respected farmer of Illyria township, Fayette county. He was born in Wagner township, Clayton county, Iowa, October 6, 1853, and is the son of Simeon and Elizabeth (Neuenschwander) Rothlisberger, both natives of the canton of Bern, Switzerland. They grew to maturity in their native land and were married there, coming to America about 1851 and located near Mansfield, Ohio. However, they soon came on to Clayton county, Iowa, where they secured forty acres of land; after retaining this a short time, they sold out and came to Pleasant Valley township, Fayette county, and purchased one hundred and sixty acres, which was soon cleared and a comfortable home established on it. The parents lived there until 1867, when they sold out and located in section 1, Illyria township, on a tract of one hundred and sixty acres; later additions brought this place up to two hundred acres, and here the father spent the rest of his life, dying in July 1887, his widow surviving until November 24, 1908, reaching an advanced age. Simeon Rothlisberger was a hard working, successful agriculturist, honest and a man who had hosts of friends wherever he was known. He and his good wife were members of the Reformed church. He voted the Democratic ticket. The following children were born to them: Alice married L.H. Oswald, of Elgin, Iowa; John, of this review; Simeon is a farmer in Plymouth county, Iowa; Emma is deceased; Louisa married G.W. Bowder of Ft. Collins, Colorado; Pauline married C. Oswald of Gary, South Dakota; Fred married Mabel Humphrey and is farming in Illyria township; Rosanna is single and is living in Illyria township; Ida and George are twins: the former married John Mattox, of Illyria township, and one child which died on the ocean and is buried in New York City; George is deceased. John Rothlisberger was educated in the common schools and he remained on the home place until he was thirty years old. On January 11, 1883, he married Cora M. Kohler, who was born in Elgin, Iowa, the daughter of Benedict and Magdalena (Wenger) Kohler, both natives of Switzerland, from which country they came to America in 1854, he at the age of seventeen and she when fifteen years old, each with their parents.
Mr. Kohler spent three years in Elgin,
Iowa, with Benjamin Dimond in a grist-mill. Three trips to Kansas, with
a view of locating there, ended in a final location in West Union, Iowa.
The first trip, in 1857, was made by steamboat, the return being made
afoot, in order to view the country. After this trip, Mr. Kohler never
refused lodging or food to any wayfarer who appealed to him. In August
of the same year he returned to Kansas, taking with him a bride,
Magdalena Wenger, and his older brother, John Kohler, the wedding trip
being made in a "prairie schooner," drawn by oxen. Mr. Kohler found that
his claim had been taken by frontier sneaks, and, with his wife and
brother, he pushed on farther south and then west. After three years of
sickness and frontier hardships, drought compelled them to abandon
Kansas and they again came to Elgin. Three years were spent in Elgin and
twenty-seven years on a farm three miles south of that place, and then
Kansas lured him again. This time, however, the trip was made by rail.
Less than a year in Kansas sufficed to send them back to Fayette county,
locating near West Union, where they remained for sixteen years. Then
came a trip to California and a final location in West Union, where Mr.
Kohlerís death occurred on April 22, 1907, his remains being laid to
rest in Leo cemetery, Illyria township, a burying ground to which many
are brought great distances for burial near their old homes. His widow
is living in West Union. Ten children were born to them, namely:
Esmeralda died in Kansas; Angeline married Sampson Humphrey, of Pacific
Grove, California; Cora M., wife of the subject; Josephine married
William Boyer and lives in Decorah, Iowa; George is deceased; George,
the second, is living in Kansas; Ida lives in West Union; Frank is
deceased; Cecelia married William Stirk and lives near West Union;
Lillian is single and is living with her mother. Three children have
been born to Mr. and Mrs. John Rothlisberger: Charles E., who married
Lulu Kerr, is living in Illyria township, and they have two children,
Earl and Helen; Walter S., who lives at home, is a graduate of the
Oelwein Business College, of the class of May, 1907; Leo E. is the
youngest child. After their marriage the subject and his wife lived one
year on his fatherís farm, then rented land in Illyria township for two
years, then bought where they now live in section 3, of this township,
which is known as the Charles Speed place. This excellent place consists
in all of two hundred and twenty-seven acres, a part of which is the W.
Boyle place in section 3, Illyria township. The subject has a well
improved farm in every respect, which is well kept, and his home is one
of the most desirable and attractively located in the community. General
farming has always claimed his attention for the most part, though he is
known as a raiser of fine Durham cattle, Belgian and Norman horses,
Poland-China and Duroc-Jersey hogs. His stock always finds a very ready
market, owing to the fact that they are well cared for and are admired
by all. He has been very successful considering the fact that he is a
self-made man and has but little assistance in all his operations. Mr.
Rothlisberger is a Democrat and he has held many of the township
offices. He is a member of the Modern Woodmen of America. His wife is a
member of the Ancient Order of Gleaners, as is also their son, Walter S.
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