Harper, Iowa Centennial
                         NOT TOO BIG. . . BUT NOT TOO LITTLE


The history of Baden is intimately entwined in the early adventures of pioneer days. The eastern half of Keokuk County was sparsely settled but its growth became apparent between the years 1840 and 1860, when various groups of German immigrants arrived to plan, prepare and purchase per- manent homes in the County.


The early 19th century brought many hardships to the thickly populated Rhine Provine, Germany. Along with the crowded conditions, land was expensive, crops failed and there were many religious and political strifes which made it almost impossible for a man to earn a livelihood for his family. In addition, there was the military law which required every young man at the age of 18 to enter military training for three years, followed by reserve duty in which they could be recalled at any time. Men heard of America with its rich land, boundless acres and above all, liberty and freedom, so they planned flight and sought America’s shores.


In the early part of 1844, Mr. Peter Besser decided to take his wife and six children, the eldest, Nick 11, and the youngest, a babe of six weeks, to America. On May 4th, they left Pearl, Germany, floating down the river to Trier, and then to Amsterdam where they boarded the American vessel, "Harry Shelton", for New York. This was a sail boat and required three months on fairly smooth waters to reach America’s shores. From New York, they traveled to Quincy, Ill. where Mr. Besser left his family to seek a permanent settlement and decided to try Iowa, finding his way to Burlington, then on to the small settlement of Dublin. Here he was told of a promising new territory recently purchased by the government from the Indians. The land was still guarded by soldiers, so no man could settle in it. Mr. Besser made efforts to purchase a tract of land, (forty acres for fifty dollars), west of the present Clear Creek area. He then sought to bring his family, traveling by way of the "Prairie Schooner” up the Mississippi to Burlington, then by a hired wagon, arriving in Sept. 1844. Work was immediately begun on a log cabin. Mr. Besser had to travel to Iowa City to purchase corn at 25 cents per bushel and flour at $2.00 per hundred. The weather was chilly and wet and he took sick with malaria. He died October 11, 1844. His widow married Joe Kramer, of Dublin and their son, Joseph, was the first white child born in Lafayette Twp. Mrs. Kramer often wrote letters to her friends in Germany and in this way, people became familiar with this part of the country. By 1847, other families were arriving and bought land at $1.50 per acre. This was open prairie and at that time was considered a very risky undertaking as the horrors of prairie fires and shelterless positions during storms and blizzards had heretofore kept all early pioneers from settling here. Anna Maria Besser Kramer purchased land in German Twp. from Mr. Rosia Clements. This tract was located six or seven miles west of Clear Creek and north. The Besser family made it their home and soon made friends with the Indians, whose chief, Keokuk, often visited them. During the years 1853-1854, large immigrant families arrived, settling in German Twp. as near to each other as possible, creating a boom in the price of land and stock. They called their new settlement, "New Baden" but for brevity the name was quickly changed to BADEN.




Baden is located on the S. E. 1/4 of the S. E. 1/4 of Section No. 36 in Township No. 76 North of Range No. 11 West Keokuk Co. Iowa. Lot No. 8 in Block No. 11 is appropriated to School purposes. The courses of the streets and alleys are N. & S., E. & W. Width of the streets are 1 Ch. = 66 ft. Alleys are 25 links = 16 ft.


Surveyed on the 29 & 30 days of November A. D. 1854. By Joel Crofman Co. S of Keokuk Co. Iowa.


Stones are placed at each corner of the public square A B C D also at the N. E. corners of every Block. Also at E. & W. being the S. E. corners of said section. The lots are 1 ch. by 2 ch. or 66 ft. by 132 ft. There are 12 Blocks 11 by 8 = 88 lots.


Names of the proprietors of the Town property warrant the title of the same property against all persons whomsoever in witness where of they have hereunto subscribed their names this (14) day of November A. D. 1855.


Sabastian Striegel Sen.
Lugardo X Striegle


State of Iowa, Keokuk County
On the fourteenth (14) day of November A. D. 1855 before me the undersigned a Justice of the Peace in and for the said County appeared Sabastian Striegle Sen. & Lugarda Striegle who are personally known to me to be the identical persons whose names are affixed to the foregoing Town plat as grantors and acknowledged the same to be their voluntary act and deed. In witness whereof I have hereunto set my hand.

Sabastian Striegle

Justice of the peace

The foregoing Town plat was filed in this office for record January 5th A. D. at 10 o'clock a. m.

A. C. Romig



The early town of Baden was laid out in 1865 by Sebastian Striegel, original owner of the 40 acre tract and one of the early settlers. Roads bounded the south and east boundaries. The south road has become Highway 92 and the east road is a county gravel road. One block was designated as the public square and streets were named, one bearing the name Striegel. Houses stood on both sides of long village streets, running north and south. Blocks were smaller than in towns today. As the first town in German twp. (now Plank Twp.), Baden thrived and prospered, from a Post Office Station, established November 7, 1862, it soon grew into a hamlet, a trading center for miles around. It had several fine merchandise stores, where one could buy in a limited way, almost everything from a needle to a farm implement. Baden was never incorporated.


Baden Directory. . . . 1874 Atlas

R. L. Jay, Physician & Surgeon

P. Turk, Physician & Surgeon

S. Striegel, Jr., Prop, of Boarding House and Dealer in Notions

M. Leuck, Prop, of Boarding House and Saloon also, Dealer in Groceries



Franklin, Bartholomew

Gear, John H.

Kohlhass, Jes

Hemens, Charles W.

Choata, G. & Co.

McIntosh, C. C.

Hockenberg, Jas.

Bowen, James

John, Henry B.

Hamman, Frederick Landreth

Streigel, Christian

Hamman, J. Y.

Seaba, Herman

Aldred, W. W.

Striegel, Sebastian Jr.

Fachs, John

Winegardner, Susan D.

Dold, Lucas

Allen, Nicholas

Valerius, Peter

Beck, Martin

Striegel, J. D.

Buckley, H. S.

Butcher, Conrad

Seged, Peter

Steivers, Mathias


In 1872, the Rock Island Railroad was being built from Washington to Oskaloosa. The Company promised to pass through Baden provided the people would vote a 5% tax to aid the proposition. The tax was paid, but alas, the railroad was run one and one-half miles northeast of Baden. At this point, the town of HARPER was founded. During the construction, many of the people living at Baden left their homes to settle at Harper. The rise of the new town was fatal to Baden.



Town Lots

P. 366


J. H. B. Striegel & wf.


The Public


Filed for record

May 28, 1886

at 3 o'clock p. m. and

recorded in Book _____

page _____

Hi Gillifoy, Recorder


Known all men by these presents that Sebastian Striegel, the owner of the SE 1/4 of the SE 1/4 of Section 36, Township 76 Range 11 West Keokuk County Iowa did cause to be surveyed and platted in Lots Streets Alleys and Public square on said land the town of Baden. Said plat was on the 14th day of November 1855 duly acknowledged by said Sabastian Striegel and his wife Lugarda and on the 5" day of January 1856 duly recorded in the office of the Recorder of Keokuk County in Book A page 99.


Now whereas we J. H. B. Striegel and his wife Catherine Striegel have since the platting and recording of said Town plat of Baden became the sole and absolute owners in fee simple of all that part of said Town of Baden described on said plat as follows towit:


Commencing at the N. E. Corner of Lot No. one Block No. 11 at the West line of Chestnut Street thence south on said West line to Main Street thence West on Main street to West street thence north to North street thence East to place of beginning. Except Lots 6, 7, & 8 Block 2 said boundry includes all the blocks Nos. 9, 10, 11, 2, 3, 6, 7, 8 & 12 as shown on said Town plat also including the public square 12 and said Territory having long ceased to be owned, used or occupied by any adverse claim or title and being desirous of enclosing said plat of said town plat for agricultural purpose. Now by virtue and in such cases made and provided, We J. H. B. Striegel and his wife Catherine Striegel do declare and make known that part of plat of the Town of Baden to wit:


Commencing at the North East corner of Lot No. 1 Block No. 11 on the West line of Chestnut Street thence South on said West line to Main Street thence west on said street to West Street thence North to North Street thence east to the place of beginning. Except Lots Nos. 6, 7, & 8 Block 2 including the Public Square (Block 12) is hereby declared to be vacated, annulled and set aside. Said vacation does not include Lots 6, 7, & 8 in Block No. 2.


Witness our hand this 27 day of May 1886.

Witness William Keeley

J. H. B. Striegel


Catherine X Striegel



State of Iowa

Keokuk County


On the 27 day of May 1886 before me William Striegel, the owner of the SE 1/4 of the SE 1/4 of Keeley a Notary Public in and for said County Section 36, Township 76 Range 11 West Keokuk personally appeared J. H. B. Striegel and his wife County Iowa did cause to be surveyed and platted Catherine Striegel personally known to me to be in Lots Streets Alleys and Public square on said the identical persons whose names are affixed to land the town of Baden. Said plat was on the the foregoing instrument and acknowledged the 14" day of November 1855 duly acknowledged by same to be their voluntary act and deed for the purpose therein contained.


Witness my hand and Seal Notorial this day and date above written.


William Keeley

Notary Public

Keokuk County Iowa


Only one family remained through the years. John Seiwert, a cobbler, kept his shop and acreage along the east road. His widow and daughters continued to live in the home until their deaths. The land owner at that time, Mrs. Joseph (Ethel) Linnenkamp, a great-granddaughter of Sebastian Striegel, purchased the thirteen acre tract from the estate, hence the entire area of Baden village was returned to the farm of its origin. All that remains of Baden is a cemetery and a home that was the parish rectory.


The house is a well preserved two story brick home located on Highway 92, on a farm owned by F. Wm. Gretter. Across the front are numerals 1870 laid in the brick.


Also an original Baden house, which in latter years was converted to a granary, but today is unused, still stands in favorable condition on the Striegel - Linnenkamp farm, now owned by J. R. Gretter.



The post office, discontinued September 16, 1872. two general stores, two doctor's offices, hotel, church and school, wagon and blacksmith shop were soon relocated at Harper. The original road from Baden to Harper, county road number 19. will be vacated this year, following a decision by the Board of Supervisors.


Levi Whistler, one of the pioneer settlers of Lafayette Twp. was the first man to do business in the town and gave the new town its name, HARPER. He was an idealist and a great admirer of the "Harper's Weekly", published by Harper Bros, of New York.

BIOGRAPHY OF LEVI WHISTLER . . . reference: Keokuk County History, 1880.

Dealer in drugs, stationery, etc. Harper; born in Shenandoah Co., Virginia, November 26, 1832, and was there raised a farmer; he attended school until thirteen years of age, when he was engaged to learn the trade of cabinet-maker, continuing at that business for four years; until 1873 he was in the business of mill-wright and other branches; then engaged in the grain business and in 1875 he purchased an interest in the drug store, the firm name being Whistler & Rosencrans; Mr. Whistler came to Iowa, September 26, 1856, stopping at Davenport; from there he came to this county and has since resided here; in 1875 he settled in Harper; he gave the town its name, naming it after Harper Bros., the publishers in N. Y., the latter donated liberally toward the erection of the Methodist Episcopal church; April 12, 1860 he married Miss Rosencrans; they have seven children, William, Maggie M., Minnie C., Hattie B., Edwin J., Homer L, and Viola; lost one son Lee; Mr. Whistler is a member of the I. O. O. F. Harper Lodge #353; he is a good merchant and is doing a thriving business.


No. 16

John P. Yerger and wife, Matilda Yerger, to The Town of Harper, Iowa.
Plat Dated June 21, 1872 Filed June 28, 1872 Land Deed Record X, page 114


Note: The body of the instrument reads as follows:


"I do hereby certify that the plat hereto made is a correct plat of the town of Harper, situated

on The West half of the Northeast quarter of Section 30, Township 76 North of Range 10 West of the 5th P. M.,


and that the size of the lots are fully indicated by marks on the plat, stones being set as therein shown, and I further certify that stones were planted as indicated by said plat at the corners of said streets; said town was run at a variation of the magnetic needle of 9° 45' and the angular lots run at an angle of 54° 15' east along the line of the Rail Road, and said town and plat commencing at the northwest corner of said piece above described and running as indicated by plat as surveyed by me June 17, 1872. The streets are 66 feet, except Main Street, which is 80 feet in width and its course is north 64 1/4 east; the alley immediately north of Main Street runs at the same angle, the south of Hutchinson Street from said alley and Baden Street is 100 feet wide and runs at a right angle with Main Street. The direction of all the streets and alleys are parallel with the North and East line of said lands except those mentioned and German and Lafayette Streets south of alley which are parallel with the south end of Hutchinson Street. The width of the alleys are 20 feet.

G. Wilkinson, Surveyor


Know all men by these presents, that we, the proprietors of


the West half of the Northeast Quarter of Section 30, Township 76 North of Range 10 West in Keokuk County, Iowa


do hereby declare that we have laid out a portion thereof, a village as shown by the above plat, and have adopted said plat and dedicate to the use of the public the streets and alleys as therein designated.


In witness whereof, we have hereunto set our hands this 21st day of June, A. D. 1872.


John P. Yerger

Matilda Yerger


State of Iowa,

Keokuk County.:


I, L. McCoy, a Notary Public in and for said county, commissioned by the governor and duly qualified according to the laws of said state, do hereby certify that on the 21st day of June, A. D. 1872, personally came before me John P. Yerger and his wife, Matilda Yerger, personally known to me and before me acknowledged that the disposition of the lands as shown by the map hereof of the Town of Harper is with their free consent and in accordance with their desire and requested that the same may be ceretified there-on.


In testimony whereof, I hereunto subscribe and affix my seal notarial at Sigourney, in said County, June 21, A. D. 1872.


L. McCoy,

Notary Public.


State of Iowa,:


Keokuk County.


The plat hereof and acknowledgment of the Town or Village of Harper having this day been presented for approval by John P. Yerger and it appearing to my satisfaction that all the requirements of the law have been fully complied with for the laying out of a village plat, it is therefore ordered that the whole be recorded.


Witness my signature hereto affixed at Sigourney in said County, this 27th day of June, A. D. 1872.


E. S. Sampson, Judge of the

6th District Court of Iowa.

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