IAGenWeb Project

 Iowa History

       An IAGenWeb Special Project









One of the successful business men and influential citizens of Arnolds Park, Dickinson county, is George Lewis Aitchison, president of the Aitchison Lumber Company and mayor of the town.  He is a man of great energy and progressive methods, has been an earnest supporter of everything calculated to advance the community, and is eminently deserving of the respect which is accorded him throughout his locality.  Mr. Aitchison was born in Hancock county, Iowa, on the 2d of December, 1869, and is a son of John and Sarah (Windell) Aitchison, the former a native of Scotland and the latter of Indiana.  The father came to the United States at the age of eighteen years, stopping in Indiana, where he spent some years.  About 1860 he came to Iowa, settling in Winneshiek county, where he bought a farm, devoting his time to its improvement and cultivation.  In 1861, at the outbreak of the Civil war, he enlisted and served until disabled in 1863, when he was discharged and returned home.  In 1869 he moved to Hancock county, this state, where he bought a quarter section of land, on which he established his permanent home, living there until his death, in 1877.  His widow survived him thirty years, passing away in 1907.

George L. Aitchison attended the district schools and the Forest City public schools, and then took a course of normal training at Decorah Institute.  He next engaged in teaching school for five years, and during the last two years of that period and three years following he was also engaged in farming.  He then located at Miller and for eight years was engaged in mercantile pursuits.  In 1905 he came to Arnolds Park and served three years as manager of the W. W. Johnson Lumber Company, followed by twelve years as manager of the Brandon Lumber Company.  In the fall of 1919 he established and incorporated the Aitchison Lumber Company, of which he became president, and during the subsequent years has enjoyed a very satisfactory measure of prosperity.

In 1891 Mr. Aitchison was united in marriage to Miss Rebecca Windell, of Winneshiek county, Iowa, and they became the parents of six children, of whom three are living:  Lisle F., who is manager of the Aitchison Lumber Company, of Albert Lea, Minnesota, a branch of the Arnolds Park Company; Mary Lucile, who is a bookkeeper in the Security National Bank, of Milfords, Iowa; and Clifford Lewis, who is a student in the Arnolds Park high school.  Mr. Aitchison is a member of Gloaming Lodge, No. 482, A. F. and A. M., of which he is a past master; Spirit Lake Chapter, No. 132, R. A. M.; and he and his wife and daughter are members of Gloaming Chapter No. 225, Order of the Eastern Star, and the daughter is a member of Calvary Shrine, No. 18, Order of the White Shrine of Jerusalem, at Spirit Lake.  Mr. Aitchison has taken an active part in local public affairs, serving as mayor of Arnolds Park in 1914-15-16, and was again elected to that office in 1924 and is still serving.  He has given an efficient and satisfactory administration and has gained the confidence and esteem of his fellow citizens, who appreciate his services in behalf of the community welfare.


Of sturdy Scandinavian stock, Carl G. Anderson has inherited the substantial qualities of a long line of worthy ancestors, and his ability is indicated by the fact that when but twenty-four years of age he was chosen postmaster of Arthur, in which capacity he has since served.  He was born April 7, 1898, in the city of Chicago, and is a son of A. G. and Sophia (Johnson) Anderson, natives of Sweden.  They made the voyage to the United States in 1882 and lived for several years in Chicago.  In 1910 they came to Iowa and the father devoted his energies to the occupation of farming, bringing his land to a high state of productivity.  Subsequently he opened a meat market in Arthur and has since made his home in this locality, in which he has many loyal friends.

Carl G. Anderson is the youngest in a family of three children.  He attended the public schools of Chicago and finished his education in Arthur.  He obtained his start in life by clerking in a hardware store and also acquired a practical knowledge of the meat business.  Through the exercise of the qualities of industry, thrift and self-denial he accumulated sufficient capital to enable him to embark in business on his own account and is now the owner of his father's market.  He carries only the best grades of meat, and straightforward, honorable dealing has brought him a large share of public patronage.

In 1921 Mr. Anderson was united in marriage to Miss Lurene Wagner, whose parents are living at Storm Lake, Iowa.  Mr. Anderson is a stanch supporter of the principles of the republican party and in August, 1922, received from the late President Harding the appointment of postmaster of Holstein.  He has since been retained in the office and his work is performed with speed, accuracy and system.  Along fraternal lines he is connected with the Masonic order, belonging to Arthur Lodge, No. 611, F. and A. M., and endeavors to fulfill in his life the beneficent teaching of the craft.  He has made his own way in the world and merits and receives the respect of his fellowmen.


The life of Frank Anderson has been an eventful one, replete with many interesting experiences, and he is now living retired in Aurelia, having reached the venerable age of eighty-one years.  A native of Sweden, he was born March 26, 1846, and was a child of six when his parents, Mr. and Mrs. J. J. Anderson, came with their family to the United States.  He received a public school education and in 1864 his patriotic spirit prompted him to offer his aid to the Union.  He was accepted for military duty and served for one and a half years as a member of Company F, One Hundred and Thirty-second Regiment of Illinois Volunteer Infantry.  He was mustered out at Springfield, Illinois, and worked as a farm hand in that state until 1871, when he came to Iowa.  He purchased a tract of land in Wright county, where he engaged in farming for three years, and then transferred his activities to Colorado, in which he spent ten years.  He next engaged in teaching in Illinois and at the end of a year went to South Dakota, living for twelve months in that state.  He taught school in Minnesota for two years and then became a traveling salesman, filling that position for ten years.  On the expiration of that period he returned to Illinois and resumed his educational work.  He came to Cherokee county, Iowa, in 1910 and has since resided in this section of the state, in which he has many sincere friends.

In 1910 Mr. Anderson was united in marriage to Mrs.  Dell Blackman, who passed away in 1917, and her remains were interred in a cemetery at Cherokee.  Mr. Anderson is a republican in his political views but has never sought office as a reward for party allegiance.  He belongs to Custer Post, No. 25, G. A. R., and deserves the respect and honor which should ever be accorded an old soldier.


Among the men who have contributed in a large way to the general prosperity and upbuilding of the town of Ruthven, mention should be made of John H. Anderson, who for twenty-nine years has owned and operated the leading drug store here, while during the same period he has cooperated in all local movements for the advancement of the community.  He is a native of Sweden, where his birth occurred on  the 23d of May, 1866, and is a son of Andrew and Mathilda (Johnson) Anderson.  The father came to the United  States immediately after the close of the Civil war, locating in Fort Dodge, Iowa, and about three years later sent for his family, who had remained in Sweden until such a time as he should have a home prepared for them.  He engaged in the grain business at Fort Dodge, in which he met with success, becoming one of the most prominent men in that business there.  The last six or seven years of his life were spent with John H. and his brother Edwin in Ruthven.

John H. Anderson received his educational training in the public schools of Fort Dodge and then came to Ruthven, where his brother Edwin had established himself in the drug business several years previously.  He remained in his brother's store until 1897, when he bought the business, which he has conducted continuously to the present time.  He has always maintained an up-to-date store, carrying a full line of drugs, as well as the standard proprietary remedies, and also carries a large and well-selected stock of such auxiliary lines as are usually found in a modern drug store.  He has devoted himself closely to his business and has always enjoyed his full share of the public patronage in his line.

On October 31, 1900, Mr. Anderson was united in marriage to Miss Jane Baxter, of Ruthven, and they are the parents of a daughter, Ruth, who attended St. Catherine's school at Davenport, Iowa, where she completed her four year course, in 1924, and is now a student in Iowa State University.  Mr. Anderson is a member of Highland Lodge, No. 387, Ancient Free and Accepted Masons, of which he is a past master; Earnest Chapter No. 152, Royal Arch Masons; Spencer Commandery, Knights Templar; Sioux City Consistory, No. 5, Ancient Accepted Scottish Rite, and Za-Ga-Ziz Temple, Ancient Arabic Order of Nobles of the Mystic Shrine.  Though unassuming in manner, Mr. Anderson is a man of strong personality, has long held a prominent and influential place in local affairs, and has served a number of years as a member of the school board.  His record here has been a most commendable one and has gained for him the high esteem of his fellow citizens.


Another of the sons of Sweden who have come to northwestern Iowa and, by persistent and indefatigable industry along well directed lines, as well as by careful management of their resources, have won prosperity, is J. V. Anderson, who is now retired from active business and is living in Spencer in the enjoyment of a well earned rest.  Mr. Anderson was born in Sweden on the 12th of December, 1842, and is a son of Andrew and Christina Anderson.  He was reared under the parental roof and secured his education in the public schools of his home neighborhood.  In 1870 he came to the United States and located near Springfield, Iowa, where he was employed as a farm hand for three years.  He then went to Illinois, where he rented a farm for ten years.  In 1883 he came to Clay county, Iowa, and in the following year bought a farm, to the improvement and cultivation of which he devoted his energies with such success that he was enabled to buy more land, until he is now the owner of three hundred and twenty acres of rich and well improved land.  He remained on that place until 1911, when he retired from active farming and came to Spencer, where he has since lived and where he owns a fine home.

In 1865, in Sweden, Mr. Anderson was united in marriage to Miss Matilda Carlson, whose parents spent their entire lives in Sweden, both being now deceased.  To Mr. and Mrs. Anderson were born twelve children, four of whom are deceased, the survivors being:  Carolina, the wife of Axel Johnson; Andrew J.; George W.; Frank A.; Effa M.; the wife of James A King;  Ervin E.; Elsa, the wife of George Cross; and Arthur.  mr. and Mrs. Anderson are members of the Lutheran church.  Mr. Anderson is in the truest sense a self-made man and because of his achievements in a material way and his true, consistent life he has long commanded the respect and good will of his fellow citizens throughout this community.


The life history of Thomas A. Anderson was closely identified with the history of Ida county, Iowa, which was long his home.  He began his career here in the pioneer epoch and through the years which followed was closely allied with its interests and upbuilding.  He was of the finest type of progressive citizen and was held in the highest measure of appreciation by his fellowmen.

Mr. Anderson was born in Belfast, Ireland, on the 4th of January, 1873, and was a son of James and Mary (Fair) Anderson, both of whom were natives of the north of Ireland.  The family came to the United States in 1873, locating first in Delaware county, Iowa, where they remained about five years, and then came to Ida county, where the father engaged in farming.  To him and his wife were born the following children:  Margaret Jane, who is the widow of the late Robert Hall, of this county; Mary Eliza, who is the wife of Robert Lipton, of Ida Grove; William J., of Ida Grove, and Thomas A., the immediate subject of this memoir.

Thomas A. Anderson was reared to the life of a farmer and secured his education in the public schools of his home neighborhood.  He followed farming throughout his active life, being enterprising and progressive in his methods, and achieved notable success, being numbered among the wide-a-wake and up-to-date agriculturists of his locality.  He made many good improvements on his farm and developed it into a valuable and productive property.  His death occurred May 26, 1911.

On March 4, 1896, Mr. Anderson was united in marriage to Miss Gertrude Anspach, daughter of Milton and Ella (Dickson) Anspach, the former of whom was a native of Pennsylvania and the latter of Illinois.  They came to Ida county in 1874 and the father here engaged in farming for many years.  During the period of his residence in this locality he passed through varied experiences, one of which was the terrible scourge of grasshoppers which in early days completely devastated the crops.  Mr. and Mrs. Anspach are now retired and live at Long Beach, California.  To them were born seven children, namely:  Gertrude, Mrs. Anderson; Royal Glenwood, of Colfax, Iowa; Edith, the wife of Albert Kuhlman, of Lake Benton, Minnesota; William E., of Colfax, Iowa; Raymond, of Long Beach, California; Cuma, the wife of Ross Heck, of Brookings, South Dakota; and Vivian, of Long Beach, California.  To Mr. and Mrs. Anderson were born five children, as follows:  Burdette, of Sioux City, Iowa, Vera, the wife of Veirl McClow, of Ida Grove; and Hobert G., Theda and James, who are at home with their mother.

Politically Mr. Anderson was a lifelong supporter of the republican party and took an active interest in local public affairs, having served as a member of the city council.  He belonged to the Knights of Pythias.  He was eminently public-spirited, contributing of his efforts to the prosperity and upbuilding of the community and held an enviable place in  public confidence and esteem.


Among those who have achieved success in their respective lines of business and have also contributed in a very definite measure to the general prosperity and development of the community in which they live, Ben Franklin Arp, member of the grocery firm of Arp Brothers, at Spirit Lake, is entitled to specific mention, for he has shown an enterprising and progressive spirit that has gained for him a high reputation in the business circles here.  Mr. Arp was born in Spirit Laek on the 1st of June, 1884, and is a son of Peter and Mary Dorothea (Bluedorn) Arp, who were natives of Germany.  They came to the United States with their respective parents, the voyage of six weeks being made in a sailing vessel.  Both families settled in Scott County, Iowa, among the early pioneers.  The father was a ship carpenter by trade and bought a boat house and built boats for the trade.  In 1882 he came to Spirit Lake, bought a house on East Okoboji lake and built and operated pleasure boats.  He died in 1891, or the following year, and was survived many years by his widow, whose death occurred in 1918.

Ben F. Arp secured his education in the public schools of Spirit Lake and, his father being in moderate circumstances, was compelled at an early age to earn money.  When a lad of thirteen, he went to work in a clothing store, where he remained eight years, when, concluding it was time for him to begin working for himself, on November 1, 1905, in partnership with his twin brother, Walter Leonard Arp, he established the present grocery firm of Arp Brothers.  During the twenty-two years that they have been in business they have not only enjoyed a gratifying measure of prosperity but have at the same time commanded the confidence and respect of all who have dealt with them, for they have conducted their business according to the highest standards of ethics, square dealing, prompt service and uniform courtesy marking their relations with their patrons.

In 1907 Mr. Arp was united in marriage to Miss Pearl C. Swailes, of Spirit Lake, daughter of James A. Swailes, one of the well known farmers, cattle buyers and business men of Dickinson county.  Mr. Arp is a member of Twilight Lodge, No. 329, A. F. & A. M.; Spirit Lake Chapter, No. 132, R. A. M.; Sioux City Consistory, No. 5, A. A. S. R.' Abu-Bekr Temple of the Mystic Shrine; Twilight Chapter, No. 59, Order of the Eastern Star, of which he is worthy patron and Mrs. Arp worthy matron; and Calvary Shrine, No. 18, Order of the White Shrine of Jerusalem, of which Mrs. Arp is a past high priestess.  Mr. Arp has taken deep interest in everything pertaining to the progress and prosperity of his city, being president of the Spirit Lake Commercial Club and active in educational and civic work.  His business activity and helpful interest in civic affairs has made him a valuable asset in community progress.


James Ashburn has led a life of earnest and well-directed labor, crowned with a degree of success that enables him to lay aside the burden of business affairs and spend the evening of his days in leisure and contentment, in a fine home in Spencer, Iowa.  He was born in McLean county, Illinois, on the 26th of August, 1845, and is a son of George W. and Artemesia (Brown) Ashburn, who were born and reared in West Virginia, whence, after their marriage, they came to Illinois.  They located at Bloomington, where Mr. Ashburn established the first store in town, in a small log cabin.  After living there six or seven years, they came to Delaware county, Iowa, where they settled on a farm, on which they remained about seven years.  At the end of that time Mr. Ashburn engaged in the hotel business at Rockville, Illinois.  Later he moved to Leavenworth, Kansas, where he engaged in mercantile pursuits until 1863, when he returned to Iowa, where he and his wife died.

Of the eleven children born to them, James Ashburn of this sketch is the only survivor.  He was reared and educated mainly in Iowa.  In October, 1862, he enlisted in Company G. Sixth Regiment Iowa Volunteer Cavalry, with which he served until the close of the Civil war, when he was sent to the west and engaged in fighting Indians until October, 1865, when he was honorably discharged from the service.  He then returned to Delaware county, Iowa, where he was employed as a farm hand until after his marriage, when, in 1871 he came to Clay county and took up a homestead.  His first home here was a sod house, with a board door and string latch, but in the course of time he prospered and better living quarters were provided.  He also had a sod barn.  Later he bought one hundred and sixty acres additional, thus owning two hundred and forty acres, but eventually he sold that and bought eight acres of land at the city limits of Spencer, where he erected a beautiful, modern home, which he now occupies.

On February 17, 1869, Mr. Ashburn was united in marriage to Miss Jennie McCardle, who was born in Pennsylvania, and is a daughter of James and Mary Ann McCardle.  Her parents were both natives of England, whence they came to the United States in an early day, locating first in Pennsylvania, where they lived until 1870, when they came to Clay county, Iowa, where they passed away.  They were the parents of six children, all of whom are living.  To Mr. and Mrs. Ashburn have been born nine children, namely:  Frank; Cora M., wife of George Lackner; Charles A; Fred; Edith, the wife of Joseph Lackner; Ella, the wife of A. Darkam; Jennie, deceased; William; and Laura, the wife of Paul Goyette.  Mr. Ashburn is a member of the Annett Post, No. 124, Grand Army of the Republic, at Spencer, and he and his wife are members of the Methodist Episcopal church.  They are genial and hospitable in their social relations, enjoy a wide acquaintance and are extremely well liked throughout the community.


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