"G" Biographies

Captain Washington W. Gardner, an honored and much respected resident of Rock Rapids, Iowa, was born October 2, 1839, at Howard, Center County, Pennsylvania, a son of Samuel and Nancy (Tipton) Gardner. The father, who was a native of Pennsylvania, followed the vocation of lumberman, and was also a farmer and miller. He came of German ancestry, and died at the age of fifty-nine years.

Washington W. Gardner lived at home until May 1855 when he accompanied his father and family in their removal to West Union, Iowa, and there assisted his father in the cultivation of the homestead until the breaking-out of the Civil War in 1861. He attended the West Union high school, and taught school for a time. At school he had for instructors Principals J.P. Wallace and S.S. Ainsworth, noted teachers of their day, and when he graduated from the high school stood at the head of his class. He was just ready to enter the upper Iowa University, at Fayette, when his country called him, and he enlisted in Company C. First Batallion Thirteenth United States Regular Infantry, with headquarters then at Jefferson Barracks, Missouri. He enlisted at Dubuque, and was appointed company clerk. After several months drilling the regiment was sent to Alton, Illinois to guard rebel prisoners then confined in the old state prison, and the result of General Grant's operations at Fort Henry and Fort Donelson. He was made corporal of his company March 19, 1862.

Further details concerning Walker Washington Gardner are found in this document, compiled from the July 11, 1861 issue of The Aurora Beacon of Aurora, Illinois.

The regiment was ordered August 1, 1862 to go forward to Newport, Kentucky, to meet a threatened attack by General Marmaduke. October 14, 1862 Corporal Gardner became First Sergeant Gardner. Soon after this the command joined General Sherman at Memphis, and was stationed at Fort Pickering, soon taking part in the campaign known in history as the Tallahatchie March. The first of the following December the regiment was assigned to the First Brigade, Second Division, Fifteenth Army Corps, and on the 20th day of that month started for Vicksburg under command of General Sherman, being transported on board the steamer "Forest Queen." It participated in the battle of Haines' Bluff, on the Yazoo Bayou, fought December 28th and 29, and assisted in the capture of Arkansas Post, January 10, 1863. After this battle the regiment went into camp at Milliken's Bend, Louisiana, but was sent into action in the Steel's Bayou expedition and Black Bayou, and had a hand in certain fierce fighting at that time. The regiment was again camped at Milliken's Bend, but took part in the running of the Vicksburg Batteries by gunboats and transports, and in the demonstration again made against Haines' and Drumgolds Bluffs by way of the Yazoo River, made about the first of May. This was a movement made for the purpose of detaining the rebel troops in Vicksburg while General Grant was crossing the Mississippi River below Grand Gulf.

Mr. Gardner was again under fire at the battle of Champion's Hill, May 17th, and at Black River the same day. On the next day he met the enemy outside the Vicksburg entrenchment's, and the following day, May 19, 1863, was in that deadly charge made against the north face of Stockade Redan on the Grave Yard road. In this charge the regiment lost forty-four percent of the men in line, its colors being struck fifty-five times and the flag-staff being nearly shot off in two places, there being seventeen men killed and wounded with the colors. Sergeant Gardner was the only sergeant left alive in his company. He was one of a few who reached and entered the ditch on the outside of the rebel works. After this the military experiences of Sergeant Gardner were somewhat quiet until the surrender of the rebel army July 4, 1863, "though something was always doing."

On the day following the fall of Vicksburg Captain Gardner's regiment was sent to meet the rebel army under General Johnson that had been threatening to attack from Jackson, Mississippi. He was in a skirmishing that lasted from July 10th to the 17th, when Johnson retreated to the south and the strain was over. During the engagement on the 17th Sergeant Gardner personally captured four rebels, soldiers of the command known as the New Orleans "Tigers." For some weeks the regiment was in camp at Fox's Plantation, but September 27th was ordered to Vicksburg, and from there to Memphis, to reinforce General Grant at Chattanooga. While on the way the command was attacked by General Chalmers, with not less than 3,500 troops, while the entire Union force did not exceed 600 men, without artillery, of which the enemy had five pieces. The rebels were held off four hours by fierce fighting when reinforcements arrived from Germantown, and the day was saved, though at an expense of one hundred and twenty killed and wounded. The regiment reached Corinth October 12th, and continued its line of march across the Tennessee River, and over the mountains to Chattanooga, reaching there November 20th. After three days of rest in camp the regiment moved with three days cooked rations and a hundred rounds of ammunition, the brigade crossing the Tennessee River in one hundred and sixteen pontoon boats. After crossing the river it captured the entire rebel picket line, one man only getting away, which cried out, "Yanks! Yanks! My god the river is full of Yanks." The regiment took a gallant part in the battle of Mission Ridge and in the pursuit of General Bragg and his beaten army to Greysville, Georgia. The next duty of this emphatically fighting regiment was to march to the relief of General Burnside at Knoxville, Tennessee. After the retreat of General Longstreet, the regiment went into winter quarters at Huntsville, Alabama, where it remained until the last of April, 1864, when it received orders to march to Nashville.

Sergeant Gardner was made first lieutenant, May 26, 1864, and was assigned to the One Hundredth Colored Infantry as senior First Lieutenant, at once reporting for duty at Camp Foster, where he was assigned to the command of Company A. Until the 10th of August he was actively and laboriously engaged in fitting his men for the field. They were then pronounced fit for active service, and were detailed to guard the railroad from Nashville to Johnstonville. Company A had in its special care a long trestle work and bridge, and here a strong block house was built, in which the company was stationed until the near approach of General Forest called in all near by forces to protect Nashville from a threatened attack at his hands. Captain Gardner and his colored troops took part in the battle of Nashville, fought December 15th and 16th, 1864, having charge of the skirmish line in front of his brigade. His regiment lost one hundred and thirty-three men, and the brigade four hundred and sixty-eight, --fifty percent more than was sustained by any other brigade on this bloody field. He assisted in the pursuit of the retreating rebels, and ended with a battle at Decatur, Alabama, with the rebel General Roddy. After this engagement Mr. Gardner and his command returned to Nashville, where he resumed his former occupation of guarding the railroad at the old station. He was promoted captain of the One Hundredth United States Colored Infantry, July 18, 1865, rounding out a service of four years, two months and twenty-four days, without a wound or a day in the hospital. This is a record of which he may justly be proud, covering as it does a period of long and bloody warfare, in which he was an active participant most of the time, always being found among the "bravest of the brave." The pen of the historian lingers lovingly over such a story, and is reluctant to dismiss it.

After his return from the army Captain Gardner engaged in the milling business at Auburn, Fayette County, Iowa, where he remained until 1873 when he removed to Elgin to engage in the grain business. In August 1877, he set up in the same line at West Union, to which he added stock buying. In August 1880 he left West Union, and located at Rock Rapids, Lyon County, where he built the first grain warehouse on the line of the Chicago, St. Paul, Minneapolis & Omaha railroad, and soon became a prominent dealer in all kinds of grain, fuel and farm machinery. He built elevators at Doon, Ash Creek, Lester and Larchwood. For years he has been an active member of the Grand Army of the Republic, and is a past commander of Dunlap, Post No. 147, Department of Iowa. He has been quartermaster general of this department, and was aide de camp on the staff of Governor Larrabee, with the rank of Lieutenant Colonel. Captain Gardner was married April 6, 1866, to Miss Emma Celestia Simar, "the girl he left behind when he went forward to fight the battles of his country." She was a daughter of Ephriam and Lurinda (Sweet) Simar. Her grandfather was born in Saxony, Germany, where he was educated as a priest, but not liking the profession, and disbelieving the creed, he refused to be ordained. This stand upon his part compelled him to leave his native land. He fled to the United States, where he lived and died in peace. He excelled as a musician.

The Thirteenth regiment of the regular army has a long and brilliant history. At onetime, General Sherman was its commanding colonel, and General Sheridan was a captain of one of its companies

Captain Gardner and his wife are members of the Christian church at Rock Rapids, Iowa, and have been for years.

Louie F. Getting, the owner of "Morning Star Farm," the northeast quarter of section 30, Elgin township, is numbered among the early German settlers of this township, and from the beginning he has maintained a fine standing. Born in Freeport, Illinois, September 9, 1866, he was the oldest of nine living children of Fred and Minnie (Gootman) Getting. The parents are now living in Grundy county, Iowa, of which county they were early settlers. Mr. Getting was reared to farming and remained at home until his marriage when he rented a farm near by. His brother shipped a car load of horses and farm implements later on, and the two came through with the car to Ellsworth, Minnesota, where L.F. Getting rented a farm, and moved his family March 6, 1889. For three years he rented in Midland township, Lyon county, and then purchased the land on which he now makes his home, paying for it $25 an acre. Upon this farm, on which as yet little improvement had been made, Mr. Getting has expended his best physical energies with gratifying results, and now owns a farm which is a credit to the township. The home in which he lives is a comfortable house and is surrounded by a beautiful grove of cottonwood and box elder trees. His barn which was built in 1896, is 30 by 40 feet, with a shed 16 by 40 feet. He has a large wind mill, with which he pumps and grinds the feed and corn cobs, and other out-buildings as well to complete the prosperous look of the place.

Mr. Getting is a man who loves a good horse, and has paid much attention to horse breeding. In his judgment the Percheron horse surpasses all others in value to the Iowa farmer, and in his stables this breed predominates. Three thorough-bred Percheron mares are owned by him, one of which, Mignonine, a 1,500-pound animal, is the envy of the neighborhood. The others are Ruby and Belle. His Poland China hogs are carefully bred and thoroughly cared for. Mr. Getting is a farmer who works with both his head and hands.

The subject of this narrative is a Republican, and stands high in the opinion of all who know him as an honorable and fair-minded man. Fraternally he is a member of the Modern Woodmen of America, and in religion is a devoted member of the German Reformed church. For eight years he was road supervisor, and is now school director. His wife, who was born Lizzie Andressen, and is a native of Germany, has borne six children: Minnie, Dora, Lizzie, Fred, Lucy, and Henry, who is now dead.


Dr. Gillen, by general consent one of the leading physicians of Lyon county, and a much respected citizen of Doon, came to that point, where he began the practice of his profession in 1890. His professional attainments and personal character at once won the respect and confidence of the community, and from the first he has taken a leading place in the medical world. In 1898, on account of his health, he was obliged to retire from professional activity, as he was not able to meet the demands upon him. He could refuse no call as he felt the obligations of his great profession, and the only way to regain his health, was to get out of the work entirely. At Waterloo he had undertaken to build an office practice, but on account of ill health he was also compelled to give it up, and came back to Doon, and opened a real estate office in his own home, where his wife can assist him. In this enterprise he has met with much success, and has organized the Gillen Land Agency with branch agencies in southwestern Minnesota, southeastern Dakota, and does business in northwestern Iowa. His prospects are very flattering, as he also holds the agency of the lands for the Great Northern and Northwestern railroads.

In 1890 Dr. Gillen engaged in a drug business at Doon in company with his brother and a Mr. Anderson under the firm name of Gillen Brothers & Anderson. In 1896 Mr. Anderson retired, being succeeded by J.O. Hoff, the firm then becoming Gillen Brothers & Hoff. The store was sold in 1898 to Mr. Hoff, who still retains the ownership and management.

Dr. Gillen was born in Cambria county, Pennsylvania, in September, 1865, and two years later was brought west by his mother, his father having died in the meantime. The mother was left with ten children, and determined to invest her little patrimony in cheap Iowa land for the benefit of her children. She bought land in Black Hawk county, Iowa, and there was able to keep her family together, and bring them to maturity. This was a remarkable achievement, and shows her a woman of much force of character and noble spirit. Three of her boys are successful merchants in Doon, while all have won an honorable standing in life. Dr. Gillen graduated from Rush Medical College in 1890, and was granted a certificate of practice from the State Medical Association as well as the County Medical Association. He is a member of the Knights of Pythias, the Modern Woodmen of America, and the Ancient Order of United Workmen. In politics he is a Republican.

Dr. Gillen was married May 3, 1893, to Miss Nora L., a daughter of George and Emma (Jones) Peck. They are the happy parents of a family of three children: Donald, Miriam, and the baby. Mrs. Gillen come from the old pioneer stock, is of Welsh descent, and traces her ancestry to Major Anderson of Revolutionary fame. Among the Doctor's ancestors is Samuel Leyden, who was a sergeant in the Revolution. He is also connected with the Brombaugh family, one of which was appointed by President McKinley superintendent of public construction in Cuba, soon after the termination of the Spanish war. Eliza Brallier, his mother, came of English parentage, while the Gillen family is of Scotch-Irish descent, the name being originally McGillis. It has long been represented in this country.

W. F. Gingrich, a skilled mechanic and engineer in Rock Rapids, was born on a farm January 7, 1870, in Livingston county, Illinois, where he remained until he was nineteen years old, working summers and attending school during the winter season. He then secured a position as fireman on the Great Northern Railroad, where he worked for four years. For a number of years he had charge of an engine in a mill.

Then he took charge of the water works plant of Rock Rapids as an engineer. He then went to work on the Great Western as fireman. When the city of Rock Rapids put in a lighting plant, three years later, he became its engineer and has held the position ever since. He is studious and has taken a course with the International Correspondence School at Scranton, Pennsylvania. This has greatly helped him to understand the electric lighting system in all its varied working. He never tires of learning new things in connection with his chosen profession, and sees that one to keep pace with the world must be forever mastering new things himself.

Mr. Gingrich is a member of the Modern Woodmen of America, and of St. Julian Lodge, No. 322, Dubuque, Brotherhood of Locomotive Firemen. By close reading and careful observation he has embraced the Socialistic theory of politics.

In 1895 he was married to Miss Ethel A. Baker, a daughter of George A. Baker, a farmer and a resident of Dakota. He comes of English ancestry. To this union have come four children: Harold, Inez, Hazel, and Verna.

William Gingrich, the father of W.F., was born in Germany, and at the age of nine years, came to the United States. He was here at the outbreak of the Civil war, and quickly responded to the call for troops. He was a gallant soldier and made an honorable record. His wife, the mother of W.F., was Emma Crosbauer, a native of Germany, and an immigrant to this country when twenty-three years old.


Historian: -- In reply to yours, asking information regarding my personal history, am pleased to say that my father was Adam Goetz, who was born in Hesse Darmstadt, Kingdom of Hessia, Germany, January 1, 1810. He immigrated to the United States in 1830 and settled in Cincinnati, Ohio, where he married my mother, Sophia Wellman, who had come to this country when a child five years old, from Hanover, in Germany. Thus I am of German parentage. I was born in Cincinnati, Ohio, May 18, 1849. My father was then in the lumber business. In the summer of 1854 my father came to Iowa to look over the new territory, being induced to do so by a company of friends and acquaintances, who had purchased the town site of what is now Guttenberg, in Clayton county (it being called "Prairie La Porte" at that time -- French for the Gate to the Prairie). He liked the appearance of things and purchased a saw mill and lumber yard there.

He returned to Cincinnati for his family and effects and in early October, 1854, we landed at Guttenberg, coming by steamboat, there being no railroads at that time in Iowa. Our mill and lumber yard were destroyed by fire upon the evening of our arrival. However, my father remained and rebuilt the mill and established himself in business the following year. My mother died in 1879, aged sixty years. My father lived until January, 1897, being eighty-seven years and two weeks of age at the time of his death.

Of my early education there is not much to say. I was given a common public school education, the best the place afforded at that time. We had nowhere near the excellent school system that now is afforded even in the rural districts in Iowa, and when fifteen years of age, I branched out to make my own way in life.

I have a very good recollection of the Civil war period, although too young to participate, as it was in 1864 that I went over into Grant county, Wisconsin, and commenced a business career at a cross roads country store, at what was then called Olliver's Mills. After working there one summer and winter, I went to Dubuque and took a commercial course at Baylie's Commercial College. In the following spring I went to Elkader,Iowa, and began a clerkship with A.W. Dougherty & Co., dealers in general merchandise, and remained with them until I came to Sioux City in 1869, which I have narrated before. I was married at Beloit, Iowa, April 14, 1874, as before stated, to Miss Gora Thorsen. Her father was Sven Thorsen, who was born in Norway in 1809, immigrating to this country from there in 1854, locating at McGregor, Iowa, where my wife was born in August, 1856. Mr. Sven Thorsen lived to the age of ninety-three years, passing away at Beloit in the spring of 1902, leaving as survivors, a wife, now aged eighty, three sons, Thomas, Chris, and Sam, and one daughter (my wife). Mr. Thorsen had been engaged more or less actively in farming in Lyon county for thirty years.

While living in Beloit, Lyon county, there was born to us two daughters, Mattie on September 7, 1875, and Nora on October 29, 1878. One of the inducements which caused me to leave Lyon county and take the position of station agent at Canton in 1882, was the prospect of better school advantages than we could expect at Beloit. Later, in 1888, the same desire to better the school advantages for our children, was the principal motive of our removing from Canton to Sioux City, where we hoped to finish the education of two naturally bright and promising girls. However, man proposes and God disposes. We were not to be permitted to follow our desire and inclination, and so in January, 1890, the year known to all Sioux City, as the great diphtheria year, we were called upon to give up both of our dear ones, our daughters being taken from us by death, Mattie, the eldest, on January 3, and Nora, the younger, on January 8, 1890, leaving us childless. What it means to give up all your loved ones within one week, I cannot here describe. Suffice it to say, that to us life has not been the same since.

Our religious affiliation is with the Congregational church. I am a member of the Masonic fraternity, blue lodge and chapter, receiving my blue lodge degrees in LaMars in 1872. I was one of the charter members of Borderlodge at Rock Rapids, afterwards dimitting to Canton, South Dakota, and later to Sioux City.

In September, 1889, I was appointed assistant postmaster in Sioux City, by E.R. Kirk, then just appointed postmaster, which position I held during his term of office, retiring with him in February, 1894, when, owing to poor health, I followed no particular business for about two years, when feeling fully restored, in the fall of 1896 I accepted the position of bookkeeper with the Sioux City Gas & Electric Company, in whose employ I am at the present time.
Very truly yours,
Charles E. Goetz.

Henry Grafing, who is noted above as deceased, was born in the Kingdom of Oldenburg, Germany in 1839, and attained his majority in his German home. As a man he became a sailor, and penetrated at different times into the remotest regions of the world, South America, Africa and Asia. In 1870 he was married to Miss Mattie Wubbenhorst, who was also born and reared in Germany. To their union were born four children: John, who is married, and engaged in farming; Claus, who has charge of the work on the home farm; Bertha and Freda. All but the youngest of these four children were born in Germany.

The family of Mr. Grafing came to America in 1882, and made a home in Scott County, Iowa, where he found employment for a time as a farm laborer, being engaged in this manner for some two years. For the ensuing four years he lived on a rented farm, and in 1888 came to Lyon County, where he rented a farm for six years in Cleveland Township. Here he met and overcame many difficulties, succeeding in getting his affairs into such a shape that in 1893 he was able to buy the farm in section 6, Garfield Township, where his family is to be found. Here their home was made in 1894, and the first building on the place was a granary in which they lived for four years. In 1898 was built a good house, whose dimensions were 16 by 28 and 16 by 24. There was also built a barn 34 by 60, a granary 16 by 14, with an addition 12 by 24 feet, a chicken house, a hog house, and corncribs. There are two acres of forest trees with many side features and unusual improvements.

Mr. Grafing died in 1896, passing his last hours on the farm which he had made a home for his people, and rejoicing in the good fortune that had come to them, under their own roof and on their own land. He was held in much respect by his neighbors and in many respects more than an ordinary citizen was.

As noted above, Claus Grafing has charge of the home farm, which comprises three hundred and fifty-three acres, and is engaged in both stock and grain farming. The Rock River intersects this place, and makes it an admirable stock ranch. It is well handled, its young manager proving himself a thoroughly alert and vigorous farmer and a businessman of much sagacity as well.

Alonzo W. Grisell, long a prominent figure in educational matters in Lyon county, and for several terms county superintendent, now a resident of Rock Rapids, was born in Ohio, March 13, 1852, a son of Simeon and Rebecca Grisell. The father was a cabinet maker, and followed the ministry of the Methodist church. He died March 8, 1903, in Nebraska, aged seventy-six years. He was a son of Thomas Grisell, who was a blacksmith in Pennsylvania and Ohio, and died at the age of seventy-two years. Edward Grisell, the great-grandfather of Alonzo W., was in the Revolutionary war. He was captured and sentenced to be hung as a spy, but was reprieved. The grandmother of Mr. Grisell was closely connected with the Penn family.

Alonzo W. Grisell was educated mainly in the local schools before he was seventeen years of age, and became a teacher, following this calling until about 1874, when he attended the Normal school at Lebanon, Ohio, for several years.

Mr. Grisell came west and in 1888 was elected county superintendent of Sioux county, Iowa, a position he held for two terms, after which he was engaged in the hardware business for some three and a half years in the same county. In 1896 he returned to the school room, taking charge of the schools in Doon, and continued there as principal through 1897 and 1898. In the fall of 1899 he became county superintendent of Lyon county, a position to which he was elected by a majority of only eight votes. He was re-elected in 1901 by a majority of 450 votes. This was on the Republican ticket. He has always been a straightforward member of that party.

Mr. Grisell belongs to the Ancient Order of United Workmen, and is connected with the Masonic body at Hull. For thirty-seven years he has been a member of the Methodist church, having united with it when he was only fourteen years old.

The wedding ceremonies of Mr. Grisell and Miss Lottie M. Yockey were celebrated April 7, 1878. She was a daughter of Charles and Belinda Yockey. Her father was a life-long cabinet maker, excepting the four years when he served his country as a member of the Ninety-second Ohio Volunteer Infantry. He was at the front and saw much hard service. He was under General Sherman in his celebrated march to the sea, and was mustered out in 1865. He was born in Germany, and came to this country when only four years old. To this union were born three children: Edna Mabel, now deceased; Guy, also dead; and Vera Inez, now a student in the high school.
In another part of this volume will be found an article on the "Schools of Lyon County" written by Mr. Grisell.

Louis P. Grotewold, who is known far and wide as one of the old pioneer settlers as well as one of the wide-awake and progressive business men of the village of Larchwood, was born in Fayette county, Iowa, February 20, 1861. The family is of German

Louis P. Grotewold

descendants, and his father, Henry Grotewold, was born in Germany in 1837. He came to this country in 1851, and made his home in Iowa, where he was a life-long farmer.

Mr. Grotewold grew to manhood in Fayette county, where he obtained his education in the common schools. In 1881, when he was twenty years old, he came into Lyon county, where he found employment as hired help on the farm for a number of years. In 1891 he bought a farm, and the same year accepted a position with the W.H. Bradley Lumber Company, with which he continued for ten years, in that time doing a vast amount of business and making a host of friends among the farming community. In 1900 Mr. Grotewold took a position as manager and salesman for the John W. Tuthill Company, and this position he is still holding.

Mr. Grotewold was married in 1889, when Miss Anna J. Wickstrom became his wife. She was born in Sweden, February 11, 1869, and came to this country in 1887. To them have come five children, Frederick H., Louis A., Ernest L., William S., and Tressie,--all natives of Larchwoodl.

Mr. Grotewold is a Republican, and has been on the town board. He has served as assessor for thirteen years, and at present is mayor of Larchwood. He is a public spirited man, and has done much to build up the town. By hard work and good management he has made his own fortune, and is very comfortably well off. At present he owns one hundred and fifteen acres inside the corporate limits of Larchwood, and is numbered among the solid and reliable business men of the town.
On another page of this volume will be found a portrait of Mr. Grotewold.

John Groth, who is now engaged in tilling the soil of Lyon County, Iowa, has won for himself an honorable standing among its honorable and industrious farmers. He was born in Germany December 18, 1864, a son of John Groth. The father was born and bred a farmer in Germany, but removed to this state in 1893, settling at Alvord, where he died. He was a veteran of the German war of 1848, and is remembered as a man of more than the usual force of character and intelligence.

The subject of this article received his education in the public schools of his native land, and when he was nineteen years of age sought a home in this country. He first set foot on American soil in New York City, but hastened on to friends in eastern Iowa, where for some four years he found employment as a farm laborer. Later on he started in farming for himself, and in 1898 bought a farm in Lyon County, on which he at once located, and which remains his home to the present time.

In the month of October 1892, Mr. Groth was married to Miss Katje Spier. She was born in England May 16, 1868, and came to the United States in 1876. To this union have come the following children: Flossie, Carrie, Nellie, Mabel and Alfreda, --all natives of Lyon County.

Mr. Groth is a Democrat, and has served on the school board. His progress toward a competency and financial independence has been rapid. He has never been afraid of the hardest work, and by the exercise of that thrift and prudence that are inherited characteristics, he has already become forehanded. He owns a choice quarter section of land in Sioux Township, on which he has erected very comfortable buildings, and has a fine grove.


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