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Fayette County, Iowa  

 History Directory

Past and Present of Fayette County Iowa, 1910

Author: G. Blessin


B. F. Bowen & Company, Indianapolis, Indiana


Vol. I, Biographical Sketches



~Page 1222~




Seven years before the opening of the Civil war, a family of this name, consisting of numerous members, were residing at their old homes in canton Bern, Switzerland. They had often discussed the desirability of emigration, as they were not prospering in the mountain commonwealth. Times were hard in Switzerland. Labor was over abundant and poorly remunerated. Heads of families had a trying time to get enough together to support the children in the way of food and clothing. They were growing up in neglect and something had to be done to better conditions. After much discussion around the fireside and while working in the fields, these Swiss laborers finally decided to abandon their native land and seek a better outlook in the great republic beyond the sea. They had heard much of the teeming lands in the great Mississippi valley, of the prodigious crops raised, of the fertility of the soil and ease of working it, compared to the stony acres of the Alpian foothills. From the beginning of their discussions, therefore, the Baumgartners were inclined to seek homes beyond the Mississippi, in the growing young commonwealth of Iowa. So one fine day steamer passage was secured for all the members of the family and after a tedious voyage in the steerage they found themselves in America in 1853. Traveling in those days was not what it is now. There were no Pullman palace cars, no diners, resplendent with lights and silver, no vestibule trains and no tickets reading straight from New York to trans-Mississippi points. The little band of Swiss immigrants, however, managed to make the long trip across the continent without accident and eventually pulled up in the state of Iowa, which at that time was comparatively wild and unsettled. The party consisted of Benedict and Magdalena Baumgartner and several children. Included among the latter was a son named Benedict, born in canton Bern, Switzerland, September 17, 1843. The new arrivals located on the place which is now occupied by Melchior Luchsinger, which they occupied for many years.


In 1880 Benedict Baumgartner, Jr., married Mary, daughter of Rudolph and Marion Sutter, all of canton Bern, Switzerland. Her parents came to the United States in 1866 and immediately pushed their way to the rich and rising state bordering the Mississippi on the west. Coming to Fayette county, he located in Pleasant Valley township, where he pursued the trade of a mason, with farming on the side. After his marriage, Mr. Baumgartner left the home place and worked at various jobs for seven years. In 1887 or 1888 he purchased a farm of one hundred and fifty-two acres, now occupied by his widow, Mrs. Mary Mathys. He greatly improved this place by erecting suitable buildings, tilling and careful cultivation. He and his wife reared five children, Louisa, Rosa, Mary Magdalene, Cecilia, and Benedict. The father died January 12, 1901, and in June, 1905, his widow married Ephraim Mathys, and they operate the home farm. Mrs. Mathys is a member of the Baptist church and takes considerable interest in religious affairs.



~Transcribed for IAGenWeb by Evie Lamb



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