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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 672~




"All deaths are mournful, but at times circumstances seem to conspire to make it seem an especial hardship. When a man is taken in the very prime of life and success, prospering in every material way, possessing a loving wife and happy family, with everything progressing as he could wish - then the ways of providence seem inscrutable. But we have no reason to believe anything else but that all things work for the best in the end, even in the case of this widow and children whose bereavement was more than ordinary. One thing above price the husband father left them and that was the memory of his excellent life and strong character.


John Peter Nicklaus was born near Bern, Switzerland, April 26, 1831, the son of Frank Henrick Nicklaus. He learned the cabinetmaker's trade in Switzerland and came to America in 1852, and located at Pittsburg, working at his trade, and here, and here married, on November 2, 1854, Elizabeth Schnider, also a native of Switzerland, who had come over with her parents at the age of eighteen. Her father, who was a farmer, located near Pittsburg, and died there. In 1856 Peter Nicklaus and his wife came to Elkader, Iowa, where he followed his trade for two years, then went to Clermont, ran a cabinet shop until 1861, then bought a saw-mill, and later added a stove factory. In 1872 he moved the mill to Elgin. A few years later he started a canning factory, which his son Charles later took over, the father retiring in 1903, and dying September 19, 1907. He also owned a large amount of land and carried on an extensive farming business. To him and his wife eleven children were born, four of whom survive. They were Presbyterians. He was a Mason, an Odd Fellow and a member of the Legion of Honor. For many years he was trustee of Pleasant Valley township. His success was remarkable, but was due to his excellent business ability.


Charles W. Nicklaus was educated in the Elgin public schools and the Cedar Rapids Business College. After graduating from the latter, he accepted a position as bookkeeper for George Weeks at the creamery, which he occupied for five years. He was married on November 27, 1889, to Agatha Keenen, who bore him four children, Ruth, Helen, Harry and Theodore. He gave up his position at the creamery to organize the present Elgin Canning Company, succeeding his father in the management of the same. At the outset he was made secretary and manager and filled the office fifteen years until his death. His success and good management is shown by the development of this industry. He was born July 31, 1865, and was taken away before his time, on the 27th of February, 1905. By his death Elgin lost one of the most active and the most promising of her younger business men, a loss by no means easy to fill, for he was a man of rare ability.


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