KEOTA CENTENNIAL HISTORY
                             1873 - 1973

A glimpse into the past...

EARLY SCENES OF HARPER, IOWA

Levi Bower in front of his store.
Levi Bower in front of his store in Harper. Before 1910.
Harper Windmill
Harper water supply. Old windmill torn down 1923.

St. Elizabeth's Choir
St. Elizabeth Choir - 1901.

Striegels Store - Outside

Striegels Store - Interior
Interior of John Striegel's grocery store.

Harper Street Scene 1

Haroer Street Scene 2

Harper Street Scene 3

W.C. Gretter & Sons
W. C. Gretter & Sons, Harper, Iowa. Dealer in livestock,
grain and fertilizer.

 

241


A glimpse into the past...

BIOGRAPHIES

Baker Family

Old 76 Township Settlers

James Wesley Baker
J. W. Baker

James Wesley Baker was a Civil War Veteran and after his discharge in 1865 he returned to the State of Pennsylvania. It was soon after this that he and Susan Rebecca Marker eloped by horseback, a 25 mile ride, to Cumberland, Maryland, where they were married. They lived in Mineral County, West Virginia, before coming to Washington County, Iowa, and locating in 76 Township in 1867.

Mr. Baker was a farmer and he raised lots of sugar cane and had his own sorghum mill. He made sorghum molasses for everyone in the community. When finished for the season, the few remaining old timers tell of the wonderful times they had at the Baker home and the annual molasses taffy pulls held there. In the winter Mr. Baker did butchering for neighbors either at his place or at their farm. Many times he was given meat as his pay for his labor. He had a beautiful well-kept orchard and as a hobby he grafted trees to produce many varieties. Mr. Baker even acted as a dentist for the community, pulling teeth and giving relief.

Mr. and Mrs. Baker had a family of nine children. They attended West Minister, neighborhood church, and Mr. Baker was Sunday School teacher there for many years.

In later years Mr. and Mrs. Baker moved into West Chester, Iowa, and both are buried in the West Chester cemetery. One son, George, is the only remaining member of this family and he lives in Detroit, Michigan.

Two of Mr. Baker's grandchildren live in the Keota community and they are Mrs. Marie (Bill) Yoder and Mrs. Opal (James C.) Bowen.

By Mrs. James C. Bowen

Baumert Family

George Baumert was the son of John and Margaret Baumert, hardy pioneers of Germany. He was born in Keokuk County in 1850. He married Katherine Mohme of Sigourney, October 17, 1874, at the Lutheran Church, known as the brick church, three miles east of Sigourney. They began housekeeping on a farm near Harper. To this union five children were born: Oscar, Emma, Clara, Katherine, and William. They were residents of Keota since 1910, moving here from their homestead, a log cabin, located one mile west of Harper. They were devout members of the Presbyterian Church. They observed their Golden Anniversary in 1924. George W. passed away at the age of 76, Katherine at the age of 81.

Oscar, the oldest child of George and Katherine, was born July 31, 1875. He married Bessie B. Chesney, the daughter of William and Harriette Chesney, born October 5, 1880, at Keota. Bessie was a graduate of Keota High School in the class of 1898. They were united in marriage June 10, 1900. To this union four children were born: Floyd, Raymond, Harriette, and George. Their married life was spent on a farm in the Scotland Community until 1931. They then moved to their home in Keota. Bessie B. passed away February 27, 1939. Oscar A. passed away July 18, 1948.

Floyd, the oldest child of Oscar A. and Bessie B., was born October 14, 1900. He married Pearl E. Brock, the daughter of Horatio and Mati Ida Brock, born March 21, 1900. Pearl became a member of the Christian Church in 1912, Floyd in 1917. She was a graduate of Keota High School in the class of 1920. They were united in marriage June 15, 1921. To this union 15 children were born: Dorothy, Donald, Howard, Harry, Marilyn, Darlene, Margaret, Duane, Norma, Loretta, Glen, Paul, Dennis, Larry, and Gene. They farmed for a few years in the Scotland Community, then moved to Keota in the spring of 1926, where Floyd farmed and had the grocery delivery business, later operating his agricultural lime and rock business. Floyd E. passed away June 9, 1964, after suffering a stroke in 1955.

George & Katherine Baumert
George & Katherine Baumert
Oscar & Bessie Baumert
Oscar & Bessie Baumert

Biewen Family

Peter and Anna Mary Wallerick Biewen were born in Prussia — Peter in 1814 and Anna in 1817. Peter was a shoemaker by trade in the old country. There was no church in the village in Germany where Peter and his bride-to-be lived and it was necessary for them to walk to another village to be married. They came to America in 1856. At that time there were four children in the family. The only son Mathias, who was born in Germany in 1844, was a young lad at that time. After a 58-day ocean journey the family landed in this country and came directly to Keokuk County and to the farm in Clear Creek Township, later known as the Black Hawk Community because of the Blackhawk Mill which was located nearby on Skunk River. Mathias grew to manhood on this farm. His father died in 1905 and the mother in 1896.

 

242


A glimpse into the past...

Mr. & Mrs. Mathias Biewen
Wedding Photo - 1868
Mr. & Mrs. Mathias Biewen

Mathias was married to Miss Louisa Klett at the old Baden Catholic Church in German Township, Keokuk County, on April 21, 1868. The new Mrs. Biewen was a daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Casper Klett who were among the first white settlers in the "new purchase." (The Kletts had squatted on the land, but it was not until May 1, 1843, when the whole of Keokuk County was thrown open to white settlement and the land was offered for sale that the Kletts managed to raise enough money to pay for it. The farm located in what is now Plank Township is still in the Klett family.)

After their marriage Mr. and Mrs. Biewen began their home on the farm, six miles south of Harper, with his parents. As an early settler, Mr. Biewen suffered many hardships of pioneer life. He was a very kind neighbor and often walked miles to assist a neighbor who was in need. Mr. and Mrs. Biewen became the parents of several children; three sons; Matt, Jr., Charles, August; and two daughters: Mary (Mrs. Wendol Baker) and Theresa, who became the wife of Lawrence Bohrofen of near Keota in 1898.

Matt Biewen was chairman of the Board of Supervisors of Keokuk County at the time the present court house was built (1909) and served in that capacity for three terms.

In 1910 Mr. Biewen and his wife left the old homestead in Clear Creek Township and moved to Harper, to spend the declining years. He died in 1930 and his wife in 1934.

phonograph graphic

 

Bohrofen Family

The first generation of this family in America was Mathias Bohrofen. He was born in Prussia, May 18, 1844. He served during the war of 1866, then being honorably discharged he came to America in the late 1860's. Tradition says that because of the strict military rule in his homeland, Prussia, and the fact that they could own no land of their own was the reason Mathias Bohrofen came to America.

When he came to America, $100 was paid to an agency in Germany for all expenses, the agency agreeing to land him at Washington, Iowa. It seems he immediately came to Clear Creek Township, Keokuk County, to seek his fortune in the fertile fields of Iowa. He was not only a farmer but a stone-mason having built the picturesque stone arched bridge one mile west of Talleyrand in 1870. It has been said that he also helped in the laying of foundations of buildings in the new town of Keota.

It was on May 11, 1871, at the old Ss. Peter and Paul Church in Clear Creek Town ship that he was united in marriage to a daughter of another pioneer family, Miss Theresa Conrad. Her parents were Jacob and Margaret Wilhelm Conrad who had settled about one mile north of Talleyrand. (The Conrads were natives of Bavaria).

Mathias and his bride started housekeeping on a farm three miles south of Keota which he had bought in 1871. (A great-granddaughter, Mrs. Elmer Peiffer, and husband now reside on this farm).

Mr. and Mrs. Bohrofen became the parents of a large family of boys and girls — Mary (Mrs. Peter Greiner), Margaret (Mrs. George Greiner ), Lawrence, Josephine (Mrs. Nicholas Heisdorffer), and Anton, Caroline and Katherine, all grew up and remained in the Keota area. Mr. Bohrofen died in 1920 and Mrs. Bohrofen in 1930.

Mr. & Mrs. Matt Bohrofen
Mr. & Mrs. Matt Bohrofen
Mr. & Mrs. Lawrence Bohrofen
Mr. & Mrs. Lawrence Bohrofen

Son Lawrence was born October 22, 1876. On November 22, 1898, he was married to Miss Theresa Biewen, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Matt Biewen, of the Black Hawk neighborhood in Clear Creek Township. They purchased and started housekeeping on the farm one mile south of Keota. Mr. and Mrs. Bohrofen became the parents of four children. One son died in infancy; the others: Lucille (Mrs. Herbert Royce now living in Keota); Ivola (Mrs. Francis Chacanaca) now living in California; and Alva of Keota. Mr. Bohrofen's death occurred in 1929 and Mrs. Bohrofen's in 1957.

Alva and his father not only farmed the 360-acre farm on which Alva still lives, but also we reactively engaged in extensive cattle feeding operations.

Alva was married to Miss Cleo Clubb of Sigourney, September 7, 1922, and they celebrated their Golden Wedding Anniversary in 1972. Cleo's great-grandparents were also early settlers of Keokuk County. They were Phillip and Elizabeth Randolph Clubb who with a large family migrated by covered wagon to Van Buren Township, Keokuk County, in 1848. The brick home which they built in 1856 is still

well preserved and occupied by the owner of the land. Due to the fact that the ancestors on all sides of the family were early settlers, she became extremely intrigued with family genealogy; also having had connections with the Keokuk County Historical Society since its start. Consequently she became deeply interested in preserving local history.

 

243


A glimpse into the past...

Cleo's chosen work was secretarial and stenographic work and in 1918 became office assistant in the newly organized Keokuk County Farm Bureau when it was organized as a War Emergency Agency, and remained with this organization until September 1922. They started housekeeping in a new home which Alva's parents had built for them and this has since been their home.

The Bohrofens became the parents of one son Dennis (Denny), September 13, 1923. Denny was married January 21, 1945, to Miss Evelyn Baird of Morning Sun, Iowa.

Her ancestors were very early settlers in Louisa County, Iowa. Evelyn graduated from The Burlington Beauty Academy and came to Keota first to work as a beautician in Scotty's Barber and Beauty Shop in 1941. For the past 32 years she has maintained a beauty shop, most of which time has been located in her home. However during the war years she took the California State Board and was employed in Burlingame, California.

Denny received an appointment to the Merchant Marine Cadet Base at San Mateo, California, and during the war years served as a Merchant Marine Cadet, Engineer third class. He made many trips at sea which included the Hawaiian Islands, his first assignment being on a troop ship headed for the war zone, New Guinea, New Caledonia and Australia. Sinee 1946 he has been engaged in the farm operations with his father. Along with farming Denny has been a bus driver for the Keota Community School for 13 years and has been Bus Transportation Manager for the school for the past six years.

Denny and Evelyn became the parents of two children. Monte, 18, is a senior, and Tracy, 13, is a seventh grade student in the Keota Community School.

To the Bohrofen Family, Keota is truly home.

Bowen Family

Fifth generation on one farm and fourth on another.

Coming from New Florence County, Pennsylvania, a family by the name of Jonathan Bowen settled on a farm in Washington County, Dutch Creek Township, Iowa, in the year 1867. This farm was located one and a quarter miles north of Dublin, Iowa, and the buildings were back in the field to the west. It was on this farm that Arthur Noble Bowen was born in the year 1869. This would make two generations living there.

The Jonathan Bowens soon after 1869 moved one and one quarter mile farther northwest across the field to the place now owned by Donald McCrabb. Jonathan Bowen passed away in the year 1891 and is buried in the Talleyrand cemetery south of Keota, Iowa.

Arthur & Myrtle Bowen
Arthur & Myrtle Bowen

Mrs. Jonathan Bowen and her four daughters and son Arthur continued to live there and farm the place until the daughters were married and left the farm. Then Arthur married Myrtle Long of Keota, Iowa, in the year 1898. The Arthur Bowen family of three daughters and five sons were all born and raised on this farm, making three generations there. The Arthur Bowens moved to California to make their home when James C. Bowen, their son, was married to Opal West in June 1929. The James C. Bowens had one son, James Victor, born in 1937, and this made the fourth generation to live on this one Dutch Creek farm which had been named "Happy Hollow." The James Bowens sold the farm to Donald McCrabb in 1950, thus ending the continued residency of the fourth generation of Bowens on this one farm.

Now, we go back to the first farm that the Jonathan Bowens lived on and where Arthur Bowen was born.

We find the James C. Bowens bought this farm in 1955 and he and his wife and their son, Victor, living there which made the third and fourth generation on it. Victor later married and moved away but in 1968 he returned to this farm with his wife, Nancy, and their two children, Robin Marie and Jeffrey James, and continue to live there and farm the place. This to date makes the fifth generation to live on this one Dutch Creek farm which is located southeast of Keota, Iowa, and the Victor Bowen children attend school in Keota, Iowa.

By Mrs. James C. Bowen

Brock Family

James & Sarah Brock
James & Sarah Brock

James A. Brock was born December 23, 1846, in Knox County, Illinois. He was united in marriage to Sarah E. Miller October 15, 1868. They moved to Iowa in 1872 settling in Plank Township. To this union nine children were born: Horatio, Grace, Ida, James, Anna, Gurtha, Mary, Charles, and Bertha. Sarah E. passed away March 12, 1923, and James A. passed away March 26, 1923, both of pneumonia, at their farm home four and one-half miles northwest of Harper.

 

244


A glimpse into the past...

Horatio and Matilda C. Brock
Horatio and Matilda C. Brock

Horatio, the oldest child of James and Sarah Brock, was born at Knoxville, Illinois, November 19, 1869, making the trip to Iowa at age three. He married Matilda C. Jelly, daughter of Richard and Sarah Jelly, born October 19, 1869. They were united in marriage at Iowa City, July 30, 1897. They spent their first year together on a farm in the Lexington Community, moving to Keota in 1901. To this union three children were born: Pearl, Harry, and Blanche. Horatio was a member I.O.O.F. for 50 years, and was a Past Noble Grand. Matilda was a 25-year member of the Rebekahs. They became members of the Christian Church in 1912. They observed their Golden Anniversary in 1947. Horatio S. passed away at his home in Keota, November 6, 1955, of a cerebral hemorrage. Matilda C. passed away at the home of her daughter Pearl in Keota, January 7, 1960.

 

Bryson Family

J. K. Bryson and wife came to Iowa in 185 [sic] from Pennsylvania. They migrated by boat down the Ohio River and up the Mississippi River to Keokuk, Iowa. There J. K. offloaded his wagon, assembled it, loaded up his possessions and drove northward along the Des Moines River to Van Buren County where he lived among his cousins and rented a farm for four years.

In the spring of 1861 they bought the south half of the southwest quarter of Section 28 in 76 Township, now owned by Mr. and Mrs. Clarence Aller. Mr. Bryson went to work breaking the virgin prairie sod, putting in crops, fencing, planting a maple windbreak for his large apple orchard and began building a house. A few of the maple trees are still there.

For several years the shopping was done by farm wagon at Washington, Iowa, going by the "Prairie Road" or "Timber Road." Church was attended at a country church which was along the prairie road. The early Brysons were Scotch-Irish Presbyterian. J. K. and other related Brysons became Baptists. The Baptist Church in Keota was the first church built in the town and the Brysons were charter members. J. K. served the church as a Deacon and Trustee. The family attended "Covenant Meetings" every Saturday afternoon in the church when most farmers were doing their shopping in town.

J. K. ran his farm as usual raising hogs which he sold to Warren Stewart and sometimes at West Chester. He sold his fattening steers for the Chicago Stock Yards (now no longer in existence), raised his own horses, sometimes exhibiting in the Washington County Fair for which he won a blue ribbon once. He faithfully attended the World Fairs in New Orleans in 1876; Philadelphia in 1900 and St. Louis in 1904. He was a life-lon g Democrat.

In 1893-1894 J. K. Bryson and Son erected the "Bryson Block" in Keota. It was a fine two-story brick building which housed the Columbian Hotel, Eaton and Holmes Drug Store on the corner and the barber shop of Sherman and Carris in the room adjoining the hotel. Mr. E. E. Neal operated the Photographic Studio upstairs for 46 years. The Long Branch is the location in 1973 of the old Bryson Block.

J. K. d ied in 1909 and his wife in 1914. Both are buried in the Keota Cemetery. They had eight children. Three passed away when small. Ida Mae married Thomas Nycum; Nettie married Professor Douglas, a Professor at Parsons College, Fairfield, Iowa; LaRue married Dr. Chas. Trumbauer who practiced in Keota for a number of years about the turn of the century; Frances married Dr. Ross Crawford who practiced dentistry at Baxter, Iowa; and John married and lived in Washington, Iowa.

By — Mrs. Earl Chambers

 

Conklin Family

George A. Conklin was the son of Joseph and Martha Gano Conklin originally from Champaign County, Unionville, Ohio. He moved with his parents to Illinois when a small boy and from there to Iowa when a young man settling at Talleyrand, and a year later moved to Keota.

Among the earliest residents of Keota were Mr. and Mrs. Joseph Conklin. Joseph served with the Ohio Regiment in the Civil War from 1861 to 1865. Joseph was a carpenter and taught that trade to his son, George A. Conklin, who worked with him in literally building the new town; homes, stores, churches, took form under their hammers.

On December 19, 1873, when Keota was little more than a year old, the first marriage to occur in the town was performed by Rev. Mr. Gortner, pastor of the Methodist Church. The ceremony took place in the hall above the Smock Wagon shop. The bride and bride-groom were Isadora Fulton and George A. Conklin. The next year when the Methodist Church was built she and Mr. Conklin were among the first to enroll as members. Isadora Fulton was born on a farm near Fairfield, Iowa, April 10, 1855. The young couple began housekeeping in one room and lived there while Mr. Conklin built a four-room cottage as a nucleus for the house which was to be their home for the remainder of their lives. They bought a lot in west Keota where they raised a garden the first summer.

They expected to build there, but changed their minds before the year was over and built in the east part of Keota. Theirs was the third house in the east part of town and there was no well closer than Singmaster's barn, where they got all their water. They established themselves in a new home in 1874 and it was there that their family of six sons and three daughters were born and reared. As the family grew in size, the house kept pace. The father, building two additions, working to the completion of the original plan. Thus- the house became a home in an unusual sense. At the present time this house is owned by Mrs. LaRue (Jim) Conklin.

 

245


A glimpse into the past...

The Conklin children were John S., Bert, Charles, Anna (Mrs. Roy White), Earl D., and Pearl (Mrs. H. B. Crawford), (twins) Eddie, Rollie, and Grace (Mrs. Archie Miller). All are deceased except Eddie, living at Fairfield, and Mrs. Grace Miller of Keota.

At times the family seemed to have more than the allotted tragedies. John was extensively burned by the explosion of a gasoline stove and then later, at the age of 16, received a skull fracture and lacerated head when thrown from a horse enroute to his work in the country.

Then many months were spent in confinement for the family as they suffered with scarlet fever one by one. Mr. Conklin continued supporting the family, living in the woodshed or as commonly called then, the summer kitchen, bringing in daily supplies.

After Joseph's death in 1900, his son George carried on the occupation of carpentering and also did much of the architecture and drew his own blue prints for many houses and buildings in Keota. Working with him was his brother (Link) William Lincoln Conklin (the father of Mrs. Bess Lantry and the late Mrs. Alma Mound of Keota).

In 1900, George Conklin the Contractor, and his crew, built the Singmaster barn located in the east part of downtown Keota. It took approximately 2 1/2 months to build the structure and it was completed the first week in August.

The barn was built at the cost of $4,500. There were 78 doors and 49 windows in the building which had a hay mow that would hold 110 tons of hay. There were also living quarters in the front part of the upper story consisting of four rooms. The barn at that time was lit at night by electricity with 22 lights of 32 CP. each.

The barn was built that Singmaster might have a place to conveniently exhibit their stock to those coming here for that purpose. Also Mr. Conklin constructed many or most of additional barns and buildings for the Singmasters both in town and northwest of town at what was known as Maplehurst Ranch. He built the Tom Singmaster house occupied by the John Flynn family, and Charley Singmaster house occupied by the Dr. Richard Carmichael family, and other Singmaster homes now destroyed.

It would be impossible to enumerate many of the houses and buildings which are still landmarks in the town. It seems well to mention the many buildings he erected for the Stewart families, including the present site of Lagos Acres Club. His contracting work served the area within a 40-mile radius of Keota.

Three of George's sons, — John, Charley and Earl — worked with their father. Earl continued the trade the greater part of his life until he went to the Harper Gas booster station. Charley continued in the trade until he retired.

Today the traditional trade of George Conklin is being carried on by two grandsons, Wayne and Lyle Miller, sons of Mrs. Grace Miller.

The only member of the family carrying the Conklin name living in Keota or vicinity is Clifford L. Conklin, son of Charles and Bertha Conklin. The late Charles Conklin's greatest unfulfilled hope and wish was to live to help celebrate the Centennial in Keota.

A quote from an item in The Keota Eagle in about 1929: "Mrs. George Conklin says she and her husband became subscribers to The Eagle from its first issue in December of 1875 and their subscription has been a continuous one for almost fifty-four years now. There may be and probably are a few others who have taken The Eagle just as long but there is no subscriber who has been a better friend to The Eagle or a more faithful reader throughout the years than Mrs. Conklin."

A great deal of the foregoing information and history was obtained from family records and articles clipped and saved from The Keota Eagle by John Conklin and handed down to his daughter Harriett Conklin of Fairfield.

 

Conrad Family

Liborius Anton Conrad was born in 1806 at Neukirchen, Konigreich, Beiren, Europe, and came to America when he was 26 years old. He settled in Lebanon County, Pennsylvania, and in 1845 was married to Rachel Macinson. Rachel was born in Pennsylvania of Danish parents in 1810, but nothing can be found as to when her ancestors came to America. Liborius and Rachel were the parents of two children—Mary Margaret born in 1847 and Liborius Anton Jr. born in 1849.

Liborius Anton Conrad, Jr., came to Iowa with his family and settled on a farm north of Talleyrand in 1862 when he was thirteen. Four years later in 1866 his sister, Mary Margaret, who had never enjoyed good health, died. His father died in 1879 and his mother lived until 1896. Liborius, Jr., married Margaret Vogel, November 10, 1891. Margaret was the daughter of John and Otellea (Greiner) Vogel, and they continued farming in the Talleyrand area. They were the parents of seven children—Mrs. Frank (Mary) Osweiler, Mrs. Elmer (Otellea) Kiracofe, Liborius Anton III , Rosalie Anna, Mrs. James (Rena) Monaghan, Leo, and Mrs. Maynard (Naomi) Forwald. Two of the children survive and are residents of communities near Keota—Rena lives on a farm north of Kinross and Naomi lives in Lone Tree. Liborius, Jr., died July 16, 1924, and Margaret died May 16, 1944.

The family name of Liborius Anton was passed on to the eldest son of each generation. When Liborius Anton III was born May 1, 1895, his grandmother gave him an 80 acre farm for being named in the family tradition, and she gave a comparable amount of cash to his two older sisters. The Conrad family Bible dating back to 1855 records the vital information of the family, and a family ledger lists business transactions, buying and selling of products and merchandise, employees, etc., from the family's early days in Pennsylvania.

Liborius Anton III married Leona Kiefer December 26, 1917. Leona was the daughter of Nickolas and Anna (Horras)

 

246


A glimpse into the past...

Kiefer who also descended from early residents of the Keota and Clear Creek areas. They became the parents of four daughters, and one, Mrs. James (Isabelle) Flander lives south of Keota. Liborius III and Leona farmed for several years on the family farm north of Talleyrand before moving to the Blackhawk area east of Lancaster where they continued farming until retirement in 1957. Liborius III died June 20, 1968. Leona lives in Sigourney.

In addition to the daughter of Liborius III, three other f ourth generation descendants live in the Keota area. They are Mrs. James (Lillian) Coffman, Cyril Osweiler, and Mrs. Paul (Marlene) Sieren, all of whom are children of Mary (Conrad) Osweiler. There are 13 fifth generation descendants of Liborius, Sr., and Rachel Conrad that presently live in the Keota area, and one from the sixth generation—Chris Lillig, son of Michael and Jane (Coffman) Lillig.

Nehemiah Newton Conrad was born in Wheeling, West Virginia, Apri l7, 1839. He served in the Civil War as Private, Company B, 16th Regular Infantry, in West Virginia. He came to Iowa in 1866 and was married to Rebecca Singrnaster. February 12, 1864. She was the daughter of Charles and Eliza LeHeist Singmaster.

Mr. Conrad was a retired farmer. He died Jul y 12, 1915. Rebecca, his wife, died March 29, 1910. They were the parents of five girls and one boy.

Mr. and Mrs. Conrad were the grandparents of Mrs. Andy Sheetz.

Dildine Family

Dildine Family

Abram Thomas and Sarah Elizabeth Dildine were born in the early 1820s and grew up in western New Jersey. Later with their families they moved to eastern Pennsylvania. Here they were married and their daughter, Anna Mary, and son, Henry Thomas were born.

They were farmers and heard of the "Great Western Prairie Land" so while the children were st i l l small they moved to Iowa settling first in Muscatine County and then in Louisa County. Later Mr. Dildine and family came to Keokuk County and bought a farm five miles north and one mile west of Keota: They began tiling and improving the land, planting fruit and shade trees with a maple grove to the north and west sides of the buildings as a windbreak from cold winter winds.

In the early 1880s they built the new house and eventually the old one was torn own. Anna Mary married Edwin B. Brown March 23, 1880, and they had two daughters,

Sarah Euphemia, 1881, and Ella Mae, 1886. Henry Thomas remained a bachelor and tilled the farm. He also joined Matt Fisher, the Kinross general store owner, in erecting the big brick building which still stands in Kinross. Abram Thomas and Sarah Elizabeth lived on the farm until their deaths in 1893 and 1900.

In 1901 Sarah Euphemia Brown married Homer Alden Coffman and they moved to the Dildine place and farmed with Henry Thomas until he died in 1903. To this couple three daughters were born with only one surviving, Eloyce Euphemia. In 1913 the Coffmans remodeled the farm home as it stands today. They decided to move to California where Ella Mae was living in 1923 and rented the farm to Will and Ida Sheets.

Eloyce Euphemia Coffman and Harold Anderson were married in 1930 and two children were born, Erla Mae, 1933, and Lynn Alden, 1937. In 1939 the Anderson family returned to Keota bringing the fifth generation of Dildine descendants to the old homestead. However, because of the doctor's advice, in 1945 the farm was sold to Guy Lyle and the Dildine descendants again moved west.

Erla Mae Anderson married George Arthur Richards in 1953 and four children were born to them. Michael George, 1955; Mark Scott, 1957; Kristen Eloyce, 1959; and Matthew Harold, 1961. They have a farm near Independence, Oregon.

Lynn Alden Anderson married Aria Mae Nelson in 1961 and two daughters were born; Karen Mae in 1962 and Kelly Irene in 1965. They live in McMinnville, Oregon.

Ella Mae Brown Potter died in 1972 in Oregon where she lived with her sister and family. Sarah Euphemia Brown Coffman is now 91 and lives with her daughter, Eloyce, and husband Harold Anderson, near Woodburn, Oregon.

Feltz Family

John Rhineart came to this county from France and in August 1850 purchased a farm in Dutch Creek Township, Washington County, Iowa. When he came to this country he was accompanied by his daughter, Theresa, and her husband, John Feltz. They were the parents of six children, three of whom were born in Alsace Lorain in France. Son Firmin Feltz was the first of the children born in the United States on this farm. The second son born in the United States was Frank. He remained on the land, became president of the Rubio Savings Bank when it was organized, and retired from that position a few years before his death in 1949. Eventually the farm became the property of Francis R. Feltz, a great-grandson, of the original owner. Mr. Feltz is now a resident of Keota but the farm is still in the Feltz family after 119 years.

 

Flander Family

Nickolas Flander was born in Sehndorf, Rheinsprovinz, Germany, September 9, 1856, the son of John and Katherine (Theobold) Flander. The family emigrated to America in 1871 when Nickolas was 15 years old and settled two miles west of Keota on the Keota-Harper road in Keokuk County. John and Katherine were the parents of four boys and three girls. One of the reasons the family left Germany was because of the strict military obligations placed on the

 

247


A glimpse into the past...

young men at that time.

In 1886 Nickolas married Anna Lutz who was the daughter of Frank and Catherine (Conrad) Lutz. Anna was born June 10, 1862, in Peoria, Illinois, and came from a family of three boys and seven girls. She and her family came to Keokuk County in 1865 and settled southwest of Clear Creek.

Nickolas and Anna f irst made their home on a farm two and one-half miles south of Keota before buying the farm in 1894 that is still owned by members of the Flander family. They purchased 320 acres of flat marshy ground at a time when the most desirable farms were rolling because of the drainage problem. Their ground had to be tiled, but once that was done it developed into a most productive farm. Nickol as remained on the farm until his death February 8, 1924, and Anna stayed until 1929 when she moved into her home in Keota, living there until a few years before her death March 21, 1959.

Nickolas and Anna were the parents of ten children—Mrs. Pete (Katie) Hammen, William, Edward, Mrs. Wynn (Margaret) Gretter, John, Mrs. Edd (Burga) Peiffer, Mrs. Carl (Mary) Foster, Frank, Mrs. Vera Jackson, and Mrs. Bob (Elizabeth) Singmaster. Five of the children survive—Mary and Vera live in Riverside, California, while Burga, Frank, and Elizabeth are residents of the Keota area.

In 1943 Anna sold her farm to two of her sons, John and Frank, both of whom had been renting from her since the death of their father, John taking the east half of the farm and Frank the west half. Frank and his wife, M. Lillian (Singmaster) still live on the home place, having changed it somewhat by the construction of new out buildings through the years, and in 1951 they built a new home. Their farmstead was featured on the 1962 Iowa map published by the Iowa Highway Commission, and their home was pictured in Successful Farming Magazine in 1954. After their marriage, Frank and Lillian were kept very busy farming the Flander farm and also land Lillian had inherited from her father, Thomas Singmaster.

Frank and Lillian are the parents of three children—Jo Ellen is married to Richard Cruse, has six children, and lives in Fresno, California; James is married to Isabelle (Conrad), has four living children—Murray, Gary, Randy, and Melinda and one deceased daughter Victoria, and lives south of Keota; Thomas was born December 10, 1937, and was killed in an auto crash September 22, 1962.

 

Frank Family

The town of Paris (Valley) in Dutch Creek Township was laid out by Eleazar Kincade (who donated the land) while Iowa was still a territory. Marcus Hull, surveyor of Washington County, territory of Iowa, surveyed and platted the town on April 23, 1846. The first building was a blacksmith shop built by George Frank who was born in 1821. He married Margaretta Triebel who was born November 3, 1828, in Suhl, Germany, and came with her parents to America, to Dutch Creek Township, Washington County, Iowa. In the year 1849 they moved to Paris, later known as Valley, Iowa. Mrs. Frank was the only member of the St. Paul's Church present at the dedication of the first church building of the congregation in 1857. Mr. Frank died in 1874 and Mrs. Frank in 1909. They were the parents of 13 children.

Mr. Frank made many of his own tools; hammers and nails. He also made plows, wagons, horseshoes, oxen shoes, etc. During the gold rush to California in 1849, the people had trouble getting wagons that were strong enough to cross the desert. The dry hot sand would dry the wood and make them rot and fall to pieces. Mr. Frank made a wagon which withstood the dry hot sands and it was the only one of the caravan that reached the gold fields all intact. The Indians stopped the caravan, rummaged through their belongings, slitthe feather-beds and after scattering the feathers they let them go on unharmed.

Mr. Shipley had a store and saloon in the building just north of the church. Other stores were owned by Jim Jenks and William Hollingsworth. Henry V. Frank, son of George and Margaretta, was born March 11, 1863. He married Eliza Conrad in July 1887 and she died one year later. He then married Cora B. Conrad, December 27, 1893. She died December 24, 1901. They were both daughters of Newton Conrad and Rebecca Singmaster. Henry Frank bought the Christian Church building and started in the grocery business while he was going over the country giving music lessons. He bought a barrel of oil and a few sacks of f lour and kept adding to his stock until he had a general merchandise business started. He managed the grocery store for over 50 years.

The post office was located in the store. Some of the post-masters were: Charles Singmaster, Frank Singmaster, Mort Young, John Frank. Henry was assistant postmaster until his brother John moved away. Henry then was appointed postmaster on May 5, 1885, by William F. Vilas, Postmaster General.

lantern graphic

 

Greiner Family

Fred Greiner
Fred Greiner, Sr.

Mr. Fred Greiner Sr. purchased a farm seven miles south of Keota in Clear Creek Township in 1854 from the government. After his death his son, Fred Greiner, Jr., became the owner of the land and at his death his son, William J. Greiner, became the owner. He still lives on the same farm making a total of 119 years that this farm has been in the same family.

 

248


A glimpse into the past...

Gregory Family

Goldsmith & Catherine Gregory
Goldsmith and Catherine
Gregory

One of the early settlers around Keota was Goldsmith Gregory, born December 5, 1831, on a dairyfarm in Orange County near Goshen, New York.

Like many young men he heard of the great west and in order to satisfy himself left his home and in 1852 at the age of 21, came through Illinois to Iowa locating in Chicasaw County, where he purchased some land. He soon departed for Minnesota and there engaged in various pursuits.

In 1857 he returned to New York and on the 18th of February, 1858, he was married to Catherine Sinsabaugh, a native of the same county as himself. After his marriage they came to Rice County, Minnesota, near Northfield, where he was engaged in farming for eight years, but concluding that Iowa was the belle state.

He sold his farm in Minnesota and in 1866 came to Washington County. Thinking there would probably be a town between Washington and Sigourney, he bought 320 acres on four corners of a road one mile east of north-east Keota. Here he built the house, which was then one of the largest in Washington County (Mark Weber farm).

He held various offices of honor in his township and was also a member of the Board of Supervisors. He died at an early age of 63, May 21, 1894. Many thought his death was caused by a fall from a bridge.

He was instrumental in organizing the Farmers Savings Bank of Keota and was President and principal shareholder at the time of his death.

He had purchased lots in east Keota with intention of being the site of an Advent Church.

There were five children: Frank H., father of Ethel Walker; Frank Gregory; William Gregory; Kate Gregory Stevenson, mother of Nelle Littlefield and Mabel Morris; Elizabeth Gregory Stevenson, mother of Loyd Stevenson, Florence Stankee, Roy Stevenson, Margaret Freeman, James Goldsmith Stevenson; Marie Faris; Bartlett, father of Mary Henderson, Hilton Gregory, Samuel Gregory; William, father of Donald Gregory.

By grand-daughter, Mabel Morris, Keota, Iowa

stove graphic 

 

Hahn Family

Nicholous & Margaret Hahn
Nicholous & Margaret Hahn

Nickolous and Mary Yohahn came to the United States from Tinsdorf, Germany, at an early date and settled on a farm south of Keota in Clear Creek Township. One of their children, Nicholous Hahn, was born January 21, 1876. He was married to Margaret Palm, February 12, 1901, and they resided on the farm south of Keota for 42 years before moving into the town of Keota. They became the parents of three children; John, Albert and Bernard.

Son Albert married Miss Irma Black and they resided on a farm south of Keota before moving to Keota. They were the parents of one son, Gerald Joseph. There are two grandchildren, Denise and Charles Hahn.

Bernard married Miss Opal Robert son of Wellman and have resided in Keota since 1945. Bernard served in the Uni ted States Navy from 1942-1945. They became the parents of three children: Berna (Mrs. James Waterhouse) Dana (Mrs. Arthur Peck), and Bern ard Thomas of Keota. There are two grandchildren, Lynnette and Janette Waterhouse, Keota.

Hammes Family

Peter Hammes, born in Fryen, Germany, came to the United States with his father, four sisters and five brothers in 1868. His mother passed away a few weeks before leaving Germany. An older brother, Nick, came a year earlier. The family located one mile north-west of SS. Peter and Paul's Catholic Church, Clear Creek Township. Most of the children located in the western part of Iowa, with the exception of Nick and wife, Kate (Bohr) who located on the Hammes homestead. Jake and wife, Mary (Weber), owned and ran a shoe store in Keota for a number of years, later moving to Terril, Iowa, to continue his shoe business there.

Peter and wife, Anna (Buch), lived on several farms locating six miles south of Harper. They became parents of 11 children: Lena (Mrs. Pete Greiner); Katie died in infancy; Nick; Constant; Pete; Anna (Mrs. Jake Vogel); Mathias; Mike; Cecelia (Mrs. Mike A. Hammes); Zeno and Margaret (Mrs. Walter Reed).

Constant P., besides farming, also was a carpenter. One of the f irst houses he built was the Charles Kreger home south of Keota in 1906. He boarded at the American Boarding House in Keota, now the location of McNurlen Produce. He drove a pair of buckskin ponies hitched to a spring wagon or "Democrat" as it was called in those days.

Constant, with his four men that were working for him, Sam Grabner, Frank Vogel, Will and Mike Hammes, drove back and forth to work. The ponies were put up at night at the livery stable in Keota and fed during the day at Kregers.

 

249


A glimpse into the past...

Jake Hammes, whose shoe store was located where Central Cafe is now, made leather shoes and boots besides the ready-made footwear. He sold many shoes on credit and for payment from one of his creditors he became the owner of the buckskin ponies mentioned above, which he sold to his brother Peter. These were the ponies C.P. (as he was often called) drove to work. C.P. has built many homes and farm buildings in and around Keota.

Mrs. Walter Reed and Paul Hammes are descendants living in Keota.

By Mrs. Walter (Margaret) Reed

 

Hanno Prentice Newton Family

Hanno Prentice Newton was born September 17, 1838, at Hinsdale, New Hampshire, and passed away at his home in Keota, Iowa, January 22, 1929, at the age of 90 years.

He was the only child of Hosea Newton and Mary Ann Fisk Newton. In 1856, when he was 18 years old he came with his parents to Lafayette Township, Keokuk County, Iowa, and settled on a tract of land of 160 A. which his father had purchased from the government and located one mile west of the town of Keota. The nearest points were Talleyrand on the stage route to the south and Lafayette Center on the north.

For anything to buy as common purchases, trips were made to Iowa City and Burlington. Neighbors helped them raise the barn the first fall and the family lived in the barn through the winter. In the spring a house was built from hewn logs being used for the frame work. The finishing lumber was from Iowa City. His father was an expert cabinet maker.

Some of the neighbors were the Wilsons, Battersons, Shermans, Aliens, Wilkins, DeBerards, Carrises, Gilberts and the McClouds.

He recorded his own marriage to Maria DeBerard on Wednesday, February 5, 1862.

The first rails for the railroad were laid in this county February 8, 1872. H. P. and his Father H. N. and J. Sherman were on hand to have the honor of fastening the first rails. On February 26th Mr. Newton took a ride on the new cars over the new Clear Creek Bridge. The entire family was on hand to hear Reverend D. V. Smock deliver the first sermon preached in Keota.

In 1896 Mr. and Mrs. Newton retired from the farm and moved to Keota. He was appointed Postmaster and served for several years. He also conducted an insurance business and was secretary of the Keokuk County Farmers Mutual Insurance Association for 34 years, relinquishing that position in 1921 to George Lyle, whom he had recently taken into partnership.

He was a faithful member of the Methodist Church from the time it was organized. He was also a member of the Masonic Lodge in Talleyrand in 1864 and in 1865 became a Charter Member of the Keota Lodge being the last Charter Member to survive. He was a Master for two years and Secretary for 28 years; also a Charter Member of the Order of the Eastern Star, and secretary of Star for three years, Worthy Patron for three years.

Athe [sic] age 86 he joined the Harned Chapter, Royal Arch Masons at Richland. He was a long-time member of the Odd Fellows and held all the principal offices of that Lodge.

His wife died in 1904.

 

Heisdorffer Family

In 1866, the late Michael Heisdorffer was married to Margaret Baker. They began housekeeping on a farm five miles southwest of Keota in a log cabin. Later in 1872 a house was built at the cost of $800.00.

In 1903 a son, Michael A. Heisdorffer, was married to Mary A. Redlinger, and they began the second generation to farm the land and to occupy the home. They later remodeled and added to the home, but today five of the original rooms still remain.

M. A. Heisdorffer and his seven children were all born in this home. His children: Harry, Alvie, Edward , Milo, Leo, Gertrude and Valburga, are all residing in the Keota-Washington, area.

For 70 years Mr. Heisdorffer farmed and lived on the same place, until he retired and moved to Keota.

He sold the farm to his son, Leo W. Heisdorffer, and his wife, Dorothy. This began the third generation to farm the land and occupy the home.

The fourth generation to live in the home are their children: Mike, Tom, Steve, Mary Pat. The sons are farming the four-generation farm.

By Valburga Heisdorffer

 

Henderson Family

The first "Squire" Henderson set foot on North America alongside of Henry Hudson, accompanying him in the small vessel, making the precarious crossing in the year of 1610. For the next 200 years this family grew and filled its part in colonization and several westward movements that took place at this time. In the ensuing years the Henderson name came west to Madison County, Ohio, with a group of settlers looking for more room to grow and prosper.

On October 8, 1855, H.T.D. Henderson was born to the parents of William W. and Priscilla M. (Becks) Henderson, natives of the state of Virginia and North Carolina respectively. The year of 1878 found H.T.D. arriving in Iowa where he worked as a farm laborer and on the railroad until he rented and later bought a farm in Seventy-six Township of Washington County. Along with grain crops he raised Chester White hogs and some of the best Short-horn cattle in the area.

In 1882 Mr. Henderson was married to Miss Mary Ann

 

250


Previous Pages Table of Contents Next Pages

Source material provided by Rebecca Callahan. Thank you, Becky!

Page design © Copyright 2015, Keokuk County, IAGenWeb.
For personal use only.

Keota Cenntinial Book © Copyright 1973
Keota Centennial Committee

This book is provided for reference purposes only. Used here with permission obtained from the Keota, Iowa, City Council.

Permission for published reproduction of this book either electronically or in print, in whole or part,
must be obtained from the Keota, Iowa, USA, City Council.

http://www.keotaiowa.org/gov/

These pages were designed and are maintained by IAGenWeb solely for the  use and benefit of the  IAGenWeb Project, a part of the USGenWeb Project.
Copyright © 1997 by IAGenWeb & Other Contributors        
Please read the IAGenWeb Terms, Conditions, & Disclaimer  --all of which apply to Keokuk Co.

Back to top of page                             Return to Keokuk Co. IAGenWeb                             Back to top of page

Photo background collage is made from penny postcards of Keokuk County, donated to the USGenWeb Archives