Franz W Brockman

An account of the life of Franz W. Brockman taken from an old record in Union County, Iowa, and information published in the AFTON STAR ENTERPRISE.


The passing of F. W. Brockman removes one of the pioneer citizens of this community, one who for almost a century assisted in its development.  Practically all of his mature years were spent in Afton, many of them in the mercantile business.  He came to Afton in the spring of 1858 and on February 29, 1860 was married to Christina Barnhart, thirteen children were born to them, five having preceded him. Mrs. Brockman died February 8, 1913.  The living children are; Charles, Frank, and Earl of Seattle, Washington; Arthur of Templeton, Calif.; Harry of Lincoln, Nebr.; Mrs. Pearl Leech of Conrad, Montana; Mrs. Belle Keating and Mrs. Linna Emerson of Afton, Iowa.


Franz W. Brockman has been a resident of Afton since 1858.  At that time he was in the employee of William Williams, with whom he came to Afton, IA, from Winterset, as a shoemaker.  In the spring of 1859 Mr. Williams removed to Bethany, Missouri, and afterwards died in the Insane Asylum.  Mr. Brockman contemplated leaving with Mr. Williams, but was prevailed upon by the citizens to remain and open a shoe shop for himself, and there was a vacancy made by the removal of Mr. Williams.  Afton had no railroads then, and goods were hauled in wagons from Keokuk. Mr. J. S. Elliott, then a merchant of Afton, sent his teamster to Keokuk for a load of goods. The wagon was drawn by several oxen. Mr. Brockman improved this opportunity to send for his first stock of leather.  His wealth consisted of about $150, all of with which he had to purchase the lasts that were required and leather necessary to open up business.  This was his beginning.


He soon established a large patronage and his business increased rapidly.   After a time he began keeping a ready-made stock.  He was in the boot-and-shoe business, including the year he worked for Williams, sixteen years.  He gradually went into the mercantile trade in connection with his other business, and was for years engaged in general merchandising.


Mr. Brockman was born in Westphalia, Germany, October 21, 1833.  When nineteen years of age he became apprenticed to the shoemaker’s trade for a period of three years. While still serving his apprenticeship, in 1853, his father, Franz Joseph Brockman immigrated with his family to America.  Franz W. remained to finish his apprenticeship.  The family settled in Iowa City, where the father died in December, 1884.  He had been a farmer by occupation.


Having served his time at his trade, Franz W. sailed from the port of Bremen in May, 1855 and was seven weeks making the voyage to New York City.  Here he, with others of his party who came with him, was induced to purchase tickets to Rock Island from a brother countryman who promised to provide dinner for them free, and to see that they were started all right on their westward journey.  He did not fulfill his promise, and charged immigrants an exorbitant price for their dinner.


Their troubles did not end here.  The baggage-man, to whom their tickets and baggage were entrusted, disappeared with the tickets, and they were compelled to purchase others before resuming their journey.  Fortunately, arrangements are now made to prevent other such frauds being practiced on the emigrants.


From New York they went to Albany by Steamer, thence to Buffalo by railroad, thence to Detroit by Steamer, thence to Chicago and Rock Island by railroad, by river to Muscatine, and then on foot to Iowa City. His parents brought with them to this country six children, and one son was born in this country.


Franz W. Brockman died November 30, 1927.  Funeral services were held Sunday at two o’clock at the Evangelical church, conducted by Rev. L. E. Crippen and the body laid to rest beside his loved ones in Greenlawn Cemetery.


[The transcriber is not related to this man, and has no further family information.]