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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 970~




The subject of this sketch is one of the few remaining links that connect the present days with those of long ago, more than half a century having dissolved in the mists of the past since he crossed the prairies to his new and strange surroundings. Jacob Kunz was born in the canton of Zurich, Switzerland, September 4, 1825, and spent the first thirty-six years of his life in his native land. In early manhood he became a proficient workman at carpentry, which trade he followed in the country of his birth until he sought a new home in the great republic across the sea, meanwhile, at the age of twenty-six, taking a life companion in the person of Eliza Gieryzendanger, an estimable young lady of the same part of Switzerland s himself, who for nearly sixty years has been his faithful wife and helpmate In 1858 Mr. Kunz bade farewell to the familiar scenes of his native land and came to the United States, proceeding direct to Iowa, where he was informed land could be procured at reasonable prices. Being pleased with the appearance of Fayette county, he invested about eight hundred dollars he had received form his father’s estate, in a tract of land about three-fourths of a mile north of Waucoma, for which he paid at the rate of two dollars and fifty cents per acre. Being skilled in the use of tools, he was not long in erecting a small but comfortable frame grout house, which answered the purposes of a dwelling until replaced by a larger and more commodious edifice some years later. Before locating permanently in Fayette county Mr. Kunz spent a short time in the county of Winneshiek, where several of his early friends and army comrades were then living, among the number being a Mr. Hiker who served in the same company with himself during their military experience in the old world. Although enrolled for nine years in the reserve corps, which was in readiness for duty whenever called upon, the active service of these two comrades covered a period of only eight months, during which time they took part in the civil war which then disturbed Switzerland, but did comparatively little fighting. During the Civil war he organized a company and was elected captain, was also justice of the peace and school director. After providing a shelter for his family and clearing a small portion of his land, Mr. Kunz found plenty of work at his trade, as settlers were arriving in large numbers and their demands for his services were urgent. In those times wild game of all kinds was plentiful and , being an expert shot, he experienced no difficulty in supplying the table with an abundance of fresh meat, prairie chicken, ducks, deer and other denizens of the woods and prairies, affording an agreeable variety to the daily bill of fare. The nearest market was the town of McGregor, on the Mississippi river, sixty miles distant, and to that place Mr. Kunz was obliged to haul his wheat, which he sold at thirty cents per bushel after paying freight at the rate of a shilling per bushel. He marketed his entire crop at one time, hiring seven teams, which with heavy loads made a considerable cut in the amount received for his grain. hogs butchered and hauled the same distance brought from two dollars to two dollars and fifty cents per hundredweight, but during the Civil war prices rose to a very high scale, pork selling for fourteen dollars and fifty cents per hundredweight and wheat at two dollars and fifty cents per bushel. Mr. Kunz in due time cleared and improved a fine farm and became comfortably situated in the matter of worldly wealth. He bore his full share in the development of the country and has lived to see Fayette county redeemed from a wilderness and converted into one of the finest and most prosperous sections of the great state of which it forms a part. After living fifty-two years on the place which he originally purchased and improved, increasing its area in the meantime to one hundred and forty acres, he sold his land for fifty-five dollars per acre and moved to Waucoma, where, in a beautiful and comfortable home, he is now living in honorable retirement. After a long and strenuous life, beset with difficulties and hardships not a few, he has well earned the rest which he now enjoys and with sufficient means to insure him ample comfort in the future, he is passing toward the twilight of the journey’s end in peace and quiet, cheered by the approval of his conscience and the good will of his fellow men. Mr. Kunz was originally a Democrat and as such filled various local offices, but of recent years he has been independent in politics, voting for the candidates best qualified for the office to which they aspire, irrespective of party ties. To him and his good wife have been born fourteen children, only three of whom survive. Two daughters are living at Waucoma, namely: Bertha, whose husband, Fred Babcock, owns and operates a farm near the town, and Eliza is the wife of S. Perry, the latter also a farmer and stock raiser in the same vicinity. One son, Jacob, left home twenty-five years ago, since which time no knowledge of his whereabouts has been ascertained.

~transcribed for the Fayette Co IAGenWeb Project by Mary Aldrich


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