I don’t know how many of my readers will remember Otto J. Reimers? He was a farmer, worked in the Farmers Elevator Office in Alvord, Iowa, was a lawyer, a teacher, and a state representative from Lyon County in the Iowa Legislature.

Otto Reimers was born on a farm in Scott County, Iowa, and in 1885, came with his parents to Lyon County where he was destined to make his home for the rest of his life. He attended a country school, graduated from the Wilson High School, and completed the commerce course at Western Union College in Le Mars, Iowa. After he was 13 years of age, he never was able to attend classes for a complete school year; he was obliged to work on the farm during the spring and fall months when planting and harvesting crops took place, so he actually was only able to attend the winter terms of school. He was determined to make up the classes he missed by doing the work at home. He got his normal training degree in high school, and he taught in the rural schools of Lyon County for three years.

He made good use of his time while teaching; he used his spare time studying various correspondence courses; his greatest interests were history and political science.

A couple of interesting anecdotes surfaced about Otto during his child hood years. When Otto was about 9 years old, his father, along with a hired man and the small lad, went to Rock Rapids from the Doon Township farm where they lived, with three loads of grain to be sold. While the men un loaded the grain, in those days it was done with man—powered scoops, young Otto was allowed to tour the town. At noon they had their meal at a restaurant  in the basement of a business building on the south side of Main Street. They had a good meal, and when the waitress asked if anyone wanted an other piece of pie, the boy said he did. Otto’s Father paid the bill which came to 25 cents per meal. The Father said be sure and include the boy’s meal. The waitress said, “Oh, the boy; well, we just charge 15 cents per meal for children.” They chuckled about that f or some time as the boy had eaten the biggest meal! After selling the grain, the wagons were loaded with lumber for a new granary on the Cleveland Township farm, later known as Clara Sheneberger’s farm.

On another trip to town, Otto was given 10 cents to spend. He passed by a butcher shop which had a display of bologna.  He was hungry and the bologna looked great so he spent the 10 cents on a ring of bologna and then went on sightseeing while happily munching on his ring of bologna.  When his mother heard about it, she asked, "What did people think?" Otto replied, "Oh, they laughed a little and asked how come I liked bologna so much and stuff like that!"  Apparently it didn't make any difference to the bologna eater!

Otto, who had married in 1905 and had one daughter, was engaged in farming when he moved from the Reimer farm in Doon township (later known as the Meiburg farm) to the Busch farm three miles south of Rock Rapids. They had purchased a farm in Colton, South Dakota, which they then sold to purchase the Busch farm in the early 1920’s

However, all the while he was farming, Otto became interested in and studied law via correspondence courses. At the age of 48, he was admitted to the Iowa State Bar without ever having attended a law school and after having obtained his early education under very adverse conditions.

Years later, while he was serving as a Representative in the Iowa Legislature, a newspaper interview, included the following information about Otto Reimers: Although deeply appreciative of the advantages of a college or university education, Otto J. Reimers, state representative from Lyon County, believes that it is not always necessary to spend a large amount of money to secure an education.

“Library facilities and a wide range of valuable information is available to anyone,” says Mr. Reimers, “and it is possible for any person to plan for himself a definite program of study. If he is willing to persistently and conscientiously stay with it, certain definite results commensurate with his ambition, will be obtained.”

The article continues, “Mr. Reimers himself is a practical. example of the soundness of this theory.”

Although he now had his law degree, he continued on the farm. When the Depression years arrived on the scene, the Reimers found they could not make the farm payments as crop failures and low farm commodities’ prices forced them to sell out and relinquish title to the farm. This was a very common practice during the Depression years. The Reimers then moved to Rock Rapids where he went into a law practice with an Otho Thomas who later became better known as Judge Thomas. Thomas had earlier practiced law with Sam Riniker and Homer Meyers. Thomas was appointed third judge of the twenty-first judicial district.

One of Otto Reimers first legal matters was the abandoning of the Bonnie Doon right-of-way, from Luverne, through Lyon County to Doon, Iowa.

Some of his friends urged him to run for the legislature as he was always interested in law and politics. After he won his first election, he began a systematic course of study of the various branches of the law and was awarded appointment to conduct research work for the purpose of reducing public expenditures.

Provided by Evelyn Halverson
Transcribed by Roseanna Zehner

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