"A" Biographies

John Ableman, who has long taken a leading part in the local affairs of Rock Rapids and of Lyon county in general, was born in England, June 2, 1843, where he was reared as a farmer boy, remaining at home until he was nineteen years of age, coming at that time to this country in search of his fortune.

At the time of his arrival on these shores the United States was in the throes of Civil war, and he felt that he was needed at the front in the cause of human liberty and the progress of humanity. So he enlisted in a battery of light artillery, June 3, 1862, and passed through the years of terrible struggle that led to final peace. He proved a gallant soldier, and for conspicuous bravery on the field of battle was made a sergeant. At the close of the war he was mustered out and honorably discharged.

In 1866 he came west, and for a few years found employment as a farm laborer. In 1872 he had become fore-handed, and purchased a quarter section of land in Sioux county. Here he lived and labored with little money at his command, but a strong and resolute heart and steady nerves, together with good health and a clear mind to assist him onward. Many trials and discouragements waited on him, but he remained on the land. The grasshoppers swept the land, but still he remained and planted another crop for the harvest another year. Again the grasshoppers put in their appearance, and again the land was black and bare behind them.

After several repetitions of this discouraging experience Mr. Ableman went to the banker from whom he had secured the money to carry on his operations, and offered to give up the land for what it had cost him in borrowed money, but the banker said, "No," that he should stay where he was, and the banker would furnish seed for another planting, and everything would come right at last. From that time Mr. Ableman's fortunes changed. He had good seasons and fine crops and was soon able to pay off all his accounts, and holds his lands clear of debt. In 1882 he sold out and settled on a farm in Lyon county. Here he led a very successful career, and in 1899 again disposed of his land.

Mr. Ableman was married in 1872 to Miss Jane Stratton, a lady of English parentage. In political matters he has always been a Republican, though never an office seeker.

John Achatz, a prominent and successful merchant of Doon, has had many varied experiences in this part of the world, but has finally emerged from the scent of his trials crowned with a large measure of success.

John J. Achatz was born in Peru, Illinois, August 12, 1852, the son of Henry and Josephine (Firman). Achatz, both born in Prussia, and belonging to a high class German family. In 1856 John J. was brought by his parents to Filmore county, Minnesota, where the family located on a farm. There the young lad attended the district school during the winter sessions, and as he grew older took his full share of the work during the summer season. When about reaching his majority he struck out for himself, and presently out of the savings of his yearly earnings he bought himself a threshing machinge, and for ten seasons was engaged in its operation. Between harvest seasons he worked at various labors, and was long employed in the construction of the great railroad systems of the west. As he was skilled in the use of carpenter tools, he was employed in the construction of some of the largest buildings in Minneapolis. He later formed a partnership with his brother-in-law, and the two started in business in Fillmore county, where he later bought out his partner. For some five years he met with much success and then sold out, to build a store in Larrabee, which he filled with a fine stock of general merchandise, doing a good business for ten years. He then sold out, and removed to Algona, where he entered the mercantile business again. Here he sold out, and as he had been long in business he thought he could afford to take a rest. His was a disposition, however, that could not be satisfied when out of active business, and he bought a half interest in the Algona Telephone Company. This he brought up to a paying line, and then accepted a profitable offer to dispose of it. Coming then to Doon he bought the stock and stand of Gillen Brothers. This was one of the most complete outfits of general merchandise in Doon, and he has greatly increased its value. Here he expects to spend his life, though he still retains his store in Larrabee.

Mr. Achatz was married January 27, 1885, to Miss Maggie, daughter of John and Catherine (Millengood) Milz. Her father was born in Germany. To this union have come four children: Raymond, attending college at Ames, taking a course in electrical engineering; Frances L., Regena M., and Ruth Irene. In politics Mr. Achat is a Democrat, and has been town clerk. While he lived at Granger he was made postmaster under the first administration of President Cleveland. During the second administration of this gentleman he was names as postmaster at Larrabee, serving in each case for four years.

Mr. Achatz and his family are members of the Catholic church. He is known as a generous man, and lives to the golden rule. He has never been a witness in any case, and has never been sued nor has he sued in court.


Albert Albertson, a retired citizen of Inwood, and an honored veteran of the war for the Union, is one of the older settlers of Lyon county, and has played a very active part in the development of this section of Iowa. He was born in Norway in 1844, and in his career exhibits many of the characteristic traits of his ancestral blood. He has led an industrious and honorable life, and now in the afternoon of his day on earth is enjoying the fruits of his upright and manly career.

When Albert Albertson was four years old his parents brought him to the United States, and settled near Argyle, Lafayette county, Wisconsin, where his mother died five years later. This great loss broke up the family, and threw the nine-year old lad on his own resources, as his father was poor and unable to maintain the unity of his family. Young Albert obtained a home with a farmer, where he worked during the farming season, and attended district school for three months during the winter time. After three years had passed Albert obtained a situation where he was engaged in driving cattle and received for his pay his board and clothes. When he was eighteen he was caught up by the tide of enlistment in the Union army, and found his old Norse blood could not resist the war fever. He did not wish to avoid what he felt was a sacred duty, to fight for the land of liberty.

Albert Albertson enlisted in Company E, Thirty-first Wisconsin Volunteer Infantry. The regiment received its drill at Darlington Prairie du Chien and Racine until the spring of 1863, when it was ordered to the front, and found its place on the firing line at Columbus, Kentucky, where it remained on guard duty during the ensuing summer. In the fall it did provost guard duty at Nashville for some two months, after which it was on guard duty for a time at Murfreesboro. There it was under command of General Thomas, but later was attached to the army of General Sherman, and for two weeks was under fire day and night before Atlanta, and when that city fell the Thirty-first Wisconsin became part of its garrison to guard it from an expected assault by General Hood. When that danger was over, the regiment was sent forward to take part in the march to the sea, and participated in the fights at Peach Tree Creek and Goldsboro. Mr. Albertson recalls that during this march the rations were very uneven, for while they were sweeping through Georgia, and approaching Savannah, they had chickens, turkeys, and all kinds of meat; at the two weeks'' siege of that city they lived almost entirely on unhusked rice. From Savannah the regiment went to Washington where it participated in the grand review, later being sent to Madison, Wisconsin, where it was paid off and formally discharged from service. The surviving member entered into civil life, and the Thirty-first Wisconsin became a glorious memory.

Mr. Albertson was married in March, 1866, to Miss Martha L., a daughter of Gilbert and Maria Thompson, both of them were born and reared in Norway. The young couple settled on a rented farm, where they remained for a year, and then removed to a farm of ninety acres, which they had purchased in the meantime. This farm was their home until 1882, when it was sold, after they had brought it to the highest state of cultivation. That year they entered Lyon county, where Mr. Albertson bought a hundred and sixty acres, paying a little over $7 an acre, and shortly after purchased another tract of one hundred and sixty acres, paying $14 per acre, becoming possessed of a half section of very choice and productive farm land. This fine body of highly productive Lyon county soil he brought into the best condition, and in 1890 rented it, to remove to town. At first he lived in what is now the home of Dr. Lewis, but four years later he bought three acres of land on which he built a house, now the family home.

Mr. and Mrs. Albertson have had eight children: Marie, the wife of G. Everson; Hannah, the wife of Rev. S. C. Summers; Mary J., the wife of C. J. Jackson; Tyler, whose death at the age of fifteen years was the result of an accident; Charles L., now in the poultry business in Inwood; Fred Earnest, now a bookkeeper in Minnesota; Ona Dell and Jessie H. are still at home. Mr. Albertson is a Prohibitionist, and has held the offices of school director, assessor and road supervisor. He hired the first teacher in his district, and has been a member of the Methodist church for thirty-three years.

Elijah Albertson came to Lyon county from Lafayette county, Wisconsin, in 1875. He was born in Norway in 1836, and when he was thirteen years old accompanied his parents to this country. They located in Wisconsin, where our subject had to work for board and clothes. They were poor in everything but a family of six sons and two daughters, all stout and rosy children, and all still living and in good circumstances, with the exception of one boy, who passed away years ago. The father lived to be sixty-eight, while the mother entered into her heavenly home at the early age of forty-five years.

Elijah Albertson came to Richland township, Lyon county, in 1875, where he purchased one hundred and sixty acres of choice farm land at the very low price of six dollars an acre, and began the improvement of what has proved to be his home for twenty years. During this time his crops never failed him, and though he had troubles of various kinds incident to life on the frontier, his progress towards competence and financial ease was unbroken. At first he sold his grain at LeMars, forty miles away, and hauled the lumber for his home from Sheldon, Iowa. His post office was twelve miles distant, and many things he patiently and even gladly endured would now be considered intolerable. But things have changed. His market is at his door, and the land which he bought at six dollars an acre is now well worth seventy-five.

Mr. Albertson came into Lyon county with little to help him beyond a sturdy will and a strong determination to succeed. He saw the opportunity of his life, and he determined to profit by it to the fullest extent. Now he can live a life of comfort and ease, and feel that his days of toil are ended.

Mr. Albertson has reared a large family, and given them a good education, and they are all doing well in those avocations to which they have turned their attention. He was married December 26, 1863, to Miss Isabel Johnson, by whom he has had the following family: Ann, who married Harry Skewis, of Seward; John a grain buyer in Montgomery, Iowa; Henry, a clergyman of the Methodist church; Clifton, now in the furniture business in Inwood; Joseph, in the land business in Montgomery, Iowa; William, who died at the age of six and a half years; Elsor, who died at four and a half years; Olive, the wife of William Ladd, a barber of Inwood; Elmer W., a druggist; Clarence, grain and stock buyer in Danbury, Iowa; Delia M., who died when only nine months old.

Mr. Albertson has always held as a sentiment the Prohibitionist ides, and with his excellent wife has been a member of the Methodist church for thirty-three years. In his earlier life he recalls that he was accustomed to drink intoxicating beverages, and both chewed and smoked tobacco, but when he became a Christian he put these things away from him, and has never indulged himself since. His long and useful career has been helpful both as an example and encouragement. In his early day when the need of churches was greatest in such centers as Hull, Rock Rapids, Rock Valley and Inwood, his aid for all was ready, and he did much to encourage a genial and kindly spirit in the community. For six years he was school treasurer, and for twelve years was a member of the town board. Now he lives in Inwood in a comfortable house with seven acres of land, where he keeps his own horses, cows and pigs, raises his own vegetables, and does such work as agrees with him. His good wife has charge of the chickens, and their home is full of peace and content.

C. B. Alexander, who is known far and wide as a leading citizen of George, where he has long been engaged in the blacksmith trade, and has made himself a reputation as a workman whose word can be taken at its par valuation, was born in Illinois in 1836.

When he was thirteen years of age he accompanied his parents to Buchanan county, Iowa, where he finished his schooling, and there at an early age set himself to mastering the blacksmith trade. This he did surprisingly quick, and long before his time was out had become a trusty workman with his services much in demand. In order to gain other men's ideas, and see how the best workmen performed their tasks, he traveled and worked in various places, but his services were in demand in his old county, and he came back to it. There he was engaged for six years, when he sold and with his father established a shop in Rock Rapids. They made a reputation for horse shoeing, and soon drew a large patronage, which they retained with good work and honest prices. After some years the father retired, and presently the son sold out, to go to Dakota, and take up land. He "proved up" on a claim after he had lived on it the required time, and there he remained for several years engaged in general farming.

Mr. Alexander, however, was always thinking of his trade, and of the pleasures and comforts to be found in Lyon county. Finally he came back, and purchased the largest shop in George. Alongside is a commodious and convenient home for his family, and so handy that he can go out of a side door in his shop to a side door in the kitchen of his home, with but a few steps to take. Here he lives in peace and comfort, respected by all who know him for his honest and useful life.

Mr. Alexander was married in October, 1895, to Miss Irene, daughter of Giles E. and Mary (Galbraith) Baker. Her father was born in Pennsylvania, of German descent, and her mother was of Irish descent. Mr. and Mrs. Alexander have three children, Volney, Florence, and Marcella. He is a Royal Arch Mason and belongs to the Rock Rapids lodge of the Knights of Pythias, his name appearing on its charter, and his interest being constant in its welfare. He is also a charter member of the Rock Rapids Sons of Veterans.

John F. Alexander, whose face and form were for many years familiar to all who are acquainted with the people of Rock Rapids and vicinity, and whose experiences as a soldier in the war for the Union are exceedingly interesting, was born in Owens County, Indiana, September 21, 1828, and apprenticed to the blacksmith trade when fifteen years of age. For six years he followed his trade at home, and then became a traveling workman, and spent some years in Wisconsin, where he was in the employ of various firms seeking to perfect himself in every part of his trade. For a time he was in business for himself in Illinois, and again in Shelby County that state, where he was running a shop of his own at the outbreak of the Civil War. He enlisted in November 1861, and was assigned to Company F, Fifty-fourth Illinois Volunteer Infantry.

This regiment was ordered to support General Grant at the assault on Fort Donaldson, where their first work was to bury the dead. At Columbus, Kentucky, Mr. Alexander was detailed as a regimental blacksmith. It was there that he received a kick from a vicious mule he was shoeing, that very nearly took his life. The scars on his back where the corks of the shoe passed on both sides of his spine cutting deeply, but not vitally, lasted until his death. Mr. Alexander was promoted to the position of post blacksmith, having charge of two shops, and only being required to supervise, and not to do the actual work of the shops.

The Fifty-fourth remained at Columbus until the surrender of Island No. 10, (which has since been entirely swept away by the river,) and was then ordered to march to Union City, twenty-five miles away. They covered the distance in a day, and went into camp tired out. In the morning they were covered with snow, which had fallen during the night to a depth of five inches. The regiment spent the winter months in camp at Jackson, Tennessee, and in the following summer took part in a campaign that carried them from Helena, Arkansas to Vicksburg. Their hardest battle was fought at Little Rock, Arkansas where fighting lasted many hours. The regiment remained at Little Rock until spring when it re-enlisted and was given a furlough for thirty days.

When Mr. Alexander reached his home he found his services needed there more than at the front, as the people were very largely sympathizers with the rebel cause, and had already formed a regiment of eight hundred men in its behalf. When the veterans of the Fifty-fourth came home these men concluded to "clean them out," and gathering in squads of fifty or more at the county seat soon sought a fight with the dozen or more Union soldiers in town. A pitched battle ensued in which nine men were killed and thirteen wounded. The soldiers were so incensed at the attack that they followed up the crowd, and arrested thirteen of their assailants. Mr. Alexander was sent to take one of the prisoners to the county jail, and was beset by a great crowd who demanded his release. Mr. Alexander told them he had enlisted to kill just such fellows as they and if they interfered he would at any rate kill two of them before they could kill him. His determined attitude so awed them that he safely delivered his prisoner. During these sixty days he was in greater peril than at the front, for he did not fail to hear daily threats of assault and death. However the time passed and the regiment was again assembled at the front.

Mr. Alexander was again appointed division blacksmith, and accompanied his regiment to the support of General Banks, and at Pine Bluffs they were in camp for a time. They were at Fort Smith during the Indian powwows, and after that the greater part of the Fifty-fourth was captured by Gen. Joe Shelby, Companies F and H alone escaping. Mr. Alexander continued in his position until the closing of the war and was mustered out in Springfield, Illinois in November 1865.

For some years Mr. Alexander worked at his trade in different parts of Illinois, and in 1882 came to Lyon County to go into partnership with his son. In 1888 he retired from active labors. He had a beautiful home in Rock Rapids, which he had built to his own notion, and around it he has planted shade trees and evergreens until it has become a very attractive place.

Mr. Alexander was married in 1850 in Boone County, Illinois to Miss Elizabeth Lewis, by whom he has had two children: Adelia, who is a dressmaker; and Charley B., who is now running a blacksmith shop at George, Lyon County. Our subject was a Mason, and also a member of the local lodge of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows, in which he had filled all the official chairs, and been representative at the grand lodge four times. He was also a member of Dunlap Post, No. 104, Grand Army of the Republic, and of the Sons of Malta. Both he and his wife belonged to the Methodist Episcopal Church, in which they were active and faithful workers many years. In 1900 they celebrated their golden wedding. Mr. Alexander died June 20, 1904.

Andrew O. Anderson holds such a place in the esteem and confidence of the people of Logan township, not to say of Lyon County, that a work like this would be sadly deficient if a sketch of his life did not appear in its pages. He was born on a farm in Winneshiek county, Iowa, April 29, 1865, and is a son of Ole Anderson, who was born in Norway in 1839, coming to this country with his parents when only about two and a half years old. The family were long settled near Belvidere, Illinois. He died in January, 1868, at the time of the smallpox epidemic. He was then a farmer near Decorah, Iowa, where his parents had established themselves in 1850. Their farm name in Norway was Aakre. The mother of the subject of this sketch was born in Norway in 1840, coming to America in 1856, and settling with her parents in Winneshiek County, Iowa.

Mr. Anderson remained at home until he was twenty-one years of age, and being a bright and studious lad, soon obtained an education that fitted him to teach school, which he did in all for eight terms, meeting with much success, and proving himself a natural instructor. In March, 1888, he came to Inwood, and secured the position of the manager of the Inwood Creamery, which he held for two years. In the fall of 1889 he bought the farm where he is found today, and settled here the ensuing spring.

Mr. Anderson was married in September, 1890, to Miss Clara Aae. She died in February, 1892, and Mr. Anderson contracted a second marriage in June, 1894, Miss Matilda Rocksvold becoming his wife. She was born in Winneshiek County, Iowa, and her father, Ole P. Rocksvold, was a farmer and an honored veteran of the Civil war, having served in Company G, Twelfth Iowa Volunteer Infantry. Before her marriage Mrs. Anderson was a very successful school teacher, having taught for fourteen terms in Winneshiek County and in North Dakota. She was reared on a farm not far from the scenes where passed the early life of her husband. They are the parents of a family of three bright-eyed and happy-faced youngsters: Irene Anita, George Orlando and Ernest Rocksvold.

When Mr. and Mrs. Anderson entered upon the work of making their farm a home they found it wild prairie, and their first work was to put up a granary in which they lived while the house was being constructed. The place was bought under contract, but all the obligations have long since been met, and Mr. Anderson owns a splendid establishment, comprising one hundred and sixty acres, with good buildings, and all modern improvements that are needed to make the farm strictly up-to-date. The house is 16 by 28, and 16 by 22; the barn is 50 by 64; the granary 16 by 24, and the corn crib 24 by 24. The grove contains four acres, and there are many fruit trees growing on the place which give promise of good harvest not many years hence. The entire place is under good cultivation, and is completely fenced.

Mr. Anderson is a Republican, and was elected town clerk in 1890, a position he has held continuously to the present time. Since 1892 he has been secretary of the school board. In religious matters he is associated with the Lutheran Church, of which he has long been a trustee. At different times he has served the church as treasurer, and is now its secretary.

Mr. Anderson has proved himself an enlightened and public-spirited citizen, and has done his full share and even more in the great work of improving the county, and making it a home for an earnest and progressive people.

Louis Anderson, whose farm of one hundred and sixty acres in section 1, Lyon township, is counted one of the "show places" of that part of Lyon county, and which has been occupied by him since 1894, has been a resident of the county since 1899. He was born in Clayton county, Iowa, July 23, 1864, a son of John and Barbara (Olson) Anderson, both of whom were natives of Norway.

John Anderson was a carpenter and blacksmith by trade, but on coming to Clayton county, Iowa, in 1854, he engaged in farming. He died in the fall of 1901, at the age of seventy-four years, his wife passing to her rest in 1871, at the early age of twenty-five years. She was the mother of three children: Andrew J., now a farmer of North Dakota; Louis, whose name appears at the opening of this article; and Benjamin, also a farmer of North Dakota. John Anderson was again married, his wife being also a native of Norway.

Louis Anderson was married to Rachel Johnson, of Clayton county, Iowa, November 17, 1882, daughter of Gilbert and Olena Johnson, both of whom were born in Norway. Her father was a life-long farmer and came to Iowa about 1854. He died in 1899 at the age of seventy-four and his wife has also passed to the other side. They reared a family of seven children, of whom Mrs. Anderson was the sixth member. Mr. and Mrs. Louis Anderson are the parents of two children, Etta and Mae, both of whom are at home.

Mr. Anderson is a successful farmer, and at the present time has eleven horses, sixty hogs, and forty head of cattle. He is a student of modern agriculture, and believes in being thoroughly up-to-date in all his methods.

For three years he has served as road superintendent, and in the community where he is passing his quiet and useful life he is highly respected, alike for his manly qualities and public spirit. In religious matters he is associated with the Lutheran church.

William Anderson, who has been engaged in farming in the township of Centennial, Lyon county, for several years, has had a somewhat varied and eventful experience since he began life for himself, and is now enjoying the peaceful occupation of the successful agriculturist.

Mr. Anderson was born in Norway January 2, 1863, a son of Gabriel Anderson a Norwegian sailor who came to America, and is now living in the city of New York. Young William grew up and secured his education in the common schools of his native land. In 1881 he came to this country, and landed at New York, where he worked on the docks for a year, and then spent another year in the United States navy. After his discharge from the naval service he spent four years as a sailor, mostly in the coast-wise trade, and then spent a year and a half in the ship yards at Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and a similar period in a boiler shop in the same city. In 1890 he went to Chicago, where he was employed in an elevator for eleven years. In 1901 he came to Lyon county, and bought a farm, on which he has made his home to the present time.

Mr. Anderson was married September 6, 1889, to Miss Lena Johnson who was born in Chicago January 27, 1870, and to their union have come seven children, one of whom is now dead: Clara, Bella, Johnnie (dead), Josie, Bernard, Lottie and the baby, Irene J. Mr. Anderson is a Republican. He owns and operates a half section of land, and takes his place among the leading citizens of Lyon county.

Charles C. Armour, cashier of the bank, was born in Winnebago County, Illinois, January 30, 1863, and he and a younger brother, with one sister, who is now dead, were the family of Charles and Susan J. (Harvey) Armour. The mother, who came of a Scotch ancestry, is still living. The father was also born of a Scotch parentage. He was a farmer, and died when Charles C. was but four years old. The family removed to Rockford where the future cashier received a business education, and when he was seventeen began his own career as a bookkeeper. After this he became a clerk in a grocery store, and for three years he held this position. He was three years in the street sprinkling business; and for the same period in the Harvey-Armour Company, dealing in agricultural implements. In 1892 he bought an interest in the Little Rock Bank, and the following year entered upon his position of cashier. Mr. Armour is connected with the Modern Woodmen of America and the Modern Brotherhood of America. He and his family attend the Congregational church. For three terms he has been a member of the town board, and is an enlightened and progreswive member of the community. In 1888 he was married to Miss M. Eva Bilsborough, by whom he has had four children: Harvey B., Charles, Margaret and Abner.


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