John Rath






































Rath, John, the well-known banker of Ackley, is a native of Germany, and came to this country when he was 13 years old with his brother George, who was only one year older than himself. They came by way of Havre, France, in a sailing vessel, which was forty-seven days making the voyage. The boys had only money enough to pay their fare to Galena, Ill., and walked from there to Dubuque, following the telegraph line, as they could not speak English to inquire the way. They arrived in Dubuque in the month of November, 1853, footsore and tired, and were warmly welcomed by their uncle, George Rath, who lived in that city. There was no railroad west of Freeport, Ill., at that time. Their father, Andrew Rath, was a weaver by trade, and their mother's maiden name was Anna Reich.
John remained in Dubuque in the employ of his uncle, who was engaged in the pork packing business, until 1861. During this time he attended a private school for about six months, which was all the English education he received. He had previously attended the common schools of his native town for several years. He was born November 26, 1840, in Breitenau ober amt Sulz, Wurtemberg, Germany. In the spring of 1861 he went to Cedar Falls, and was employed there until August, 1862, when he enlisted for three years in Company B, Thirty-first Iowa infantry, and served until the close of the war. With the First division of the Fifteenth corps, Army of the Tennessee, he took part in the first attack on Vicksburg in December, 1862; battle of Arkansas Post, Ark.; battle of Jackson, Miss.; siege of Vicksburg; battle of Lookout Mountain and Missionary Ridge; all the battles of the Atlanta campaign and Sherman's march to the sea; battle of Savannah, Ga. He was in the first boat that crossed the river at Columbia, S. C., at midnight, by which the army gained a foothold on the Columbia side of the river. This movement resulted in the surrender of the city to Colonel Stone, commander of the Iowa Brigade of the Fifteenth army corps. He was in all the minor engagements up to the surrender of Johnston at Raleigh, N. C., and marched to Washington, D. C. Participated in the grand review in May, 1865, in that city, and was mustered out at Davenport, Iowa, at the close of the war.
When Mr. Rath came to Ackley, after the close of the war, it was a town on paper and contained only one house. The railroad, now the Illinois Central, was not completed to the town until November of that year, 1865. He was employed by Mr. Burns to manage a grain warehouse and lumber yard, and in 1868 bought an interest in the business. In 1870 he bought the other interest and remained sole proprietor until 1880, when his brother, Andrew Rath, became interested with him. During that year Mr. Rath established the banking business which he has carried on very successfully since that date, under the name of the John Rath Exchange bank.
Mr. Rath has always been a republican, for several years was mayor of his town, member of the county board of supervisors for three years, and has held many minor offices. He is an active member of the G. A. R., was commander of the post for two terms and is now aid-de-camp on the staff [p.499] of Commander-in-Chief General Clarkson. He is a charter member of the Presbyterian church of Ackley, organized in 1867.
October 5, 1865, Mr. Rath was married to Miss Elizabeth Moser, of Dubuque, Iowa. They have had nine children, all but one of whom are living: Carrie M., who died in infancy; William T. S., who is now assistant cashier of the bank; John W., who is married and lives in Waterloo; Amilia M., Elizabeth C., Charles E., Clara E., Walter F., and Howard G. Ruegnitz.

Excerpt for "Portraits of the Progressive Men of Iowa" [p.147]

Source Information: Iowa Progressive Men [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: The Generations Network, Inc., 1998. Original data: Gue, B.F. Biographies and Portraits of the Progressive Men of Iowa. Des Moines, IA, USA: Conaway & Shaw Publishers, 1899.

These are John Rath’s distinguished military service and burial records:

American Civil War Soldiers Record about John Rath
Name: John Rath ,
Residence: Cedar Falls, Iowa
Enlistment Date: 07 August 1862
Distinguished Service: DISTINGUISHED SERVICE
Side Served: Union
State Served: Iowa
Unit Numbers: 206 206
Service Record: Enlisted as a Private on 07 August 1862 at the age of 21
Enlisted in Company B, 31st Infantry Regiment Iowa on 12 October 1862.
Mustered out Company B, 31st Infantry Regiment Iowa on 27 June 1865 in Louisville, KY 

Iowa Civil War Soldier Burial Records Record about John Rath
Name: John Rath
Birth Information: 1840
Death Information: 20 Jun 1914.
Cemetery: Oakwood
Cemetery Location: Ackley Franklin IA

Comments: CW Vet per WPA

Additional Biographical Information