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The Echelberger Family

By Ina Echelberger Williams
1954 at age 87 years Lehigh, Iowa

To All The Descendants of
J. D. and Keziah Echelberger

Re-typed by: Oct. 1992
Melvin Benny Echelberger
512 N 1st Ave.
Oakdale,Ca. 95361


It has required considerable time and effort upon the part of part of Ina Echelberger Williams to fulfill the requests of several relatives to write this history of the Echelberger Family. It has been a pleasant task and the details herein are written from the inexhaustible well-spring of her childhood memories.

In the back of this book you will find some blank pages, on which you may bring your individual family history up to date. It would be an almost impossible task to try doing this at the present time for this book.

Very little is known about the Echelbergers prior to George and Jane, however we do know that his father Jacob and brother Samuel came to Pennsylvania from Germany some 200 years ago. The other members of the family remained in Germany. We may assume that these brothers, migrated to this country so long ago helped play a part in the early development of our country.

We do know that the author's father Jacob Daniel Echelberger, fought for his country in the Civil War spending a year in combat,(1) enduring hardships and privations known only to those who served. Her mother kept the family of nine children together until his discharge. They were hard working, God-fearing, well respected people of whom we all may be justly proud.

(1)mbe...From the dates involved later in this book it would seem that he left from Iowa (Clinton Co) to serve.

The Echelbergers

My Paternal grandparents were George Echelberger and Jane Echelberger (nee Mowrey).

Grandpa George Echelberger was 6 feet tall and weighed 175 pound but Grandma was rather short and weighted 335 (three hundred thirty- five) pounds. I have a piece of the cap and shroud in which she was buried in 1860. He was German and she was Irish with red hair.

They had twelve children: Theodore, Godfrey, Samuel, Jacob Daniel (my father), George, Roseann, Mary, Elizabeth, William, Benjamin, Kate, and Frank. Grandma and Grandpa both died at the age of 57 years.

My maternal grandparents were Henry and Margaret Slagel. He was born in 1763 and she in 1773. They were Pennsylvania Dutch, and the parents of five children: John, Samuel, Mary, Polly, and my mother Keziah.

Grandma Slagel died in childbirth when she was 45 years old. She and the baby were buried in the same casket. Grandfather Slagel lived to be 97 years old. He died in 1860. (Mansfield,Ohio)

My mother Keziah Slagel was born near Pittsburgh, Pa. on August 25, 1823. She was only 5 years old when her mother died. When she was ten grandfather married a widow with seven children and they moved to Mansfield, Ohio. Mother had to work out and earn a living. She went to school but very little. She could read but could not write. Schooling in those days consisted mainly of learning to read the Testament and the spelling book. School's duration would be only three or four months per year. To pay tuition the parents were obligated to take turns boarding the schoolma'am or school master. Because of the step-mother situation my mother didn't even get the meager schooling of the time but she became a very religious and intelligent woman nevertheless.

My father, Jacob Daniel was born in Mansfield, Ohio October 6, 1829. He was a soldier in the Civil War and was wounded in battle-- one finger was shot off.

Father and mother were married in Mansfield February 2, 1848. They lived there until 1862 when they moved west to Clinton County, Iowa.

A group of New York financiers and crooked politicians had formed The Des Monies River & Navigation Company. They made a contract with the State of Iowa to make the Des Monies river navigable for steamships and barges. In return for this they were to receive every other section of land six miles back from the river on both sides--and from Keokuk to Humbolt, at that!

About the only actual work they ever did on the project was two dams- -one at Keosauqua and the other at Eddyville. As proof that their contract had been fulfilled they took advantage of extremely high water and managed to run a steamboat up the river as far as Fort Dodge. For this crooked scheme they received thousands and thousands of acres of rich Iowa land. They cashed in by selling it all to the Litchfields of Brooklyn, New York for $1.25 (one dollar twenty-five cents) per acre. The Litchfields then formed The Riverland Company.(2)

(2)mbe...From further reading it seems that the Riverland Co. then wanted the homesteaders to pay for the land they had settled and built on or move off. Which more than a few had to do, for lack of hard cash.

The government opened for settlement other lands along the Des Monies river, so after the Civil War was over my parents decided to take up a river claim in Webster County, Iowa. They waited until the fall of 1867 when I was five months old and moved by covered wagon to a claim south of Homer, Iowa. They lived there until all the children were grown-up and them moved into Lehigh where "Pap" could follow the line of work he loved--carpentering and blacksmithing. He also made all the burial caskets used in our surrounding territory. He made them from black walnut wood. Then he would polish and varnish them and my sister "Vinnie" and I would line them with white muslin. The most famous casket "Pap" ever made was for the remains of Alfred Daniels of Lehigh, a 500 pound former circus fat man. That casket was so big it barely fit into a wagon box.

Father was considered the best horse shoer in Webster County. He went so far as to make his own shoes and also shod many oxen in his day. He was always interested in politics and served many terms in public offices such as Constable, Justice of The Peace, and Township Clerk. In fact, my son Delmege who has been Township Clerk for many years uses the very same docket my father used. Incidentally, Delmege's other grandfather, N.J. Williams used that same docket. So did Delmege's father John WIlliams


J.D. Echelberger was a large man and proved his prowess many times by winning fights which usually settled the arguments in those days. (Lehigh had kind of a tough reputation up till the 1940's) (3)

I'll never forget the occasions when father left for Webster City to sell the hogs, we kids would yell "Don't forget to bring us copper-toed shoes."(We got one pair of shoes each year). "Pap" was a good fiddler and was much in demand at the nearby dances.

My mother was always busy, sewing by hand all of the clothes for her large family, first spinning then weaving the woolen yarn. She combined the wool and flax to make what we called "linsy-woolseys." The men's work shirts were made of heavy blue and white striped cloth called "hickory." Their pants were made of jeancloth in gray or black. All underwear was made of cotton flannel. She spun the woolen yarn and knit all of our sox, stocking, and mittens. As a small child I recall sitting with my mother in the evenings helping her patch mittens by candlelight.

During the summer months mother picked and dried wild grapes, wild plums, apples, rhubarb and pumpkin. She made lots of crabapple butter, using sorghum as the sweetening agent. She fermented sorghum to make our vinegar. In the fall she put up barrels of salt pork, pickles, sauerkraut and the like and we always had at least one barrel of sorghum. Father took the wheat thirty miles to Boone to the flour mill where it was ground. It took at least two days to "go to the mill." Yes, we were always prepared to be well fed during the long, cold winters.

Father died of Bright's Disease and Diabetes February 28, 1905, aged 75. Mother died March 28, 1908, aged 84, after a stroke of apoplexy suffered two days previously. My parents are buried in West Lawn cemetery at Lehigh.

In the Jacob Daniel Echelberger family there were nine of us children that grew to manhood and womanhood. Also one child Benjamin who died from burns when a year old and a pair of stillborn twins, a boy and a girl.

(3)mbe...I have talked to people from Fort Dodge and surrounding area who's father's would not let them come to Lehigh because of that reputation. These are people who then went to WWII.

The children who reached maturity were George the eldest, then Roseann "Rose," Henry Slagel "Hence," Jacob Franklin "Frank," William Leroy "Bill," Edwin Lincoln "Link," Charley Fay, Carrie Lovina "Vinnie," and Ina. I was the youngest.

George born March 20, 1849 married Julia Ann Ross. Their family was six in number: Benjamin "Ben", Solomon? (my father told me that his middle name was Stephen) Alice (Van Valkenburg), George D. "By- Daddy," Andrew "Andy" F., Jennie (Crouse) and Harley.

When Ben was a baby George and Julia took him and went to Nebraska to homestead. They drove a team of cows all the way. It took them a month. They stayed two years, losing both crops to the grasshoppers. My father sent them money to come home on. Alice was born while they lived in Nebraska.

Julia died of cancer (buried in Homer,Ia cem) of the breast and some time later George married Mrs. Clara Hays. George suffered many years in later life from a huge goiter but he seldom complained. He died of pneumonia on March 14, 1925. (buried in Homer cem)

Roseann, born July 7, 1851, married Charles Hill, an Englishman. To them were born fifteen children. Seven of them proved to be left- handed like their mother. (her nephew Ben S. was also left-handed) The children were Ellen Ethel Keziah "Nellie" (Anthony), Lorenzo "Bud," Wayne, Melvin, Bird, Owen, Orlin, Merlin, Lovena, (Grosevenor), Reno, Perry, Zetta, Mabel (Masters), Eva who died in infancy and a baby named Rose Ina Lovina for the three Echelberger sisters. Rose Ina Lovina also died in infancy.

Charles Hill inherited the then magnificent sum of $1500 and so, with their first two children, went by covered wagon to a homestead in Nebraska. They settled near York and lived in the wagon box six weeks before the dugout was ready. It was a cave-like structure. One time, while they were still living in the dugout, Rose found a rattlesnake in bed with "Bud" the baby.

Charles and Rose also took out a timber claim and with their inheritance were able to live through two years of grasshopper years. The third year they got a good crop of wheat and oats and thereafter prospered. It is interesting to note that Charles Hill was born in York, England and settled in York, Nebraska, U.S.A. Rose died January 5, 1921 of pneumonia.

Henry Slagel, born May 13, 1853, married Lorraine Westerbrook. They had four children: Mabel (Kenser), Nellie (Grinell), Carl and Olive "Ollie" (Johnson).

"Hence" had four front teeth kicked out by a frisky colt and had them replaced with a partial denture when he was about 19. Before he became accustomed to them he engaged in a wrestling match with Anestle Furman and put the denture in his pocket. It was lost during the match and he went the rest of his life without his front teeth.

During his final illness, brother Bill and I went up to Humbolt, (Ia) and he asked Bill to sing for him. Bill sang "Sweeping Through the Gates," and Hence joined in the chorus. Two hours later he passed away, age 66, in December, 1918.

Jacob Franklin, born December 2, 1855, married Ella Haines (? Haynes). To this union five children were born: Ernest, Willie, May, Dessie and Earle. Frank and Ella migrated to Nebraska, in a covered wagon in 1886. My brother Charley and I went with them. Charley brought his violin along and would entertain us nightly with it. Sometimes Frank and I would waltz in the moonlight. They took along 8 cattle including a calf which near Creston,Iowa, got footsore. It wandered off and got lost in the high grass. We couldn't find it so had to continue on without it. At night Charley and Frank slept under the wagon, protected by two strips of canvas. The rest of us slept in the wagon. I left the party at York and visited my sister Rose and family. Frank continued on to Holbrook, Furnace County in the south- west corner of Nebraska, where they settled. He died in March 1914. I remember how polite Rose's children were to their parents. It was always "Sir" and "Ma'am" to them.

I had been keeping company with John Williams in Lehigh so I wrote him several letters during my month's stay in Nebraska. I came home by train to Burnside where I hired Milton Alsever to bring me to Lehigh in a sled. Although it was in the month of March, it was so bitter cold that we had to stop at a farmhouse to keep from freezing.

Brother Charley stayed with Frank about a year and spent about the same length of time with Rose and Charles before coming home to Lehigh.

William Leroy married Susan Barton. William was born October 1, 1858.

They had seven children: Lottie (Linn), Agnes (Harlow), Blanche (Harper), Thomas, Frank, Millie (Collingsworth), and Eldon.

Bill followed father's profession as a blacksmith and farmer. Bill was a good fiddle player and had a nice singing voice. One time as a guest at a Salvation Army meeting, Bill the "happy blacksmith" got so enthusiastic he beat in the head of the drum. William died on May 9, 1931 of kidney and liver trouble.

Edwin Lincoln, born December 20, 1860, married Laura Whitaker. To them ten children were born: Maude (Eslick, Taylor), Floyd, Ellege, Keziah (?Robbins or Robins), Tressa (Taylor), Ina (Newkirk), Walter, Verne, and Lyle. One died in infancy. Verne served during World War I in France and drowned shortly after returning(in the Des Monies River July,1921). About 1910 Link and Laura divorced. Several years later Link married Mrs. Jean (Barrowman) Grimes. He died September 14, 1931 of kidney and liver trouble.

Charley Fay, born November 27, 1862, married Lillian Bertha Bird. They had three boys: Loren, Glen, and Milburn.

Lillian died in 1900 (Lehigh Argus reports dec 3, 1901) after a two week illness. Several years later Charley married Mrs. Alice (Pettibone) Cavanaugh. Her children were Emmett, Edward, Alma, and Erma. Charley ran a dray wagon and farmed the acreage on the side. Of the five brothers who stayed in Iowa, four of them lived on acreages and were draymen, doing much the same work as today's truckers. Charley died of liver and kidney trouble on October 6, 1939.

Carrie Lovina, born November 11, 1864, married Albert "Allie" Tucker. There were no children. She died of congestive chills when only 26 years old on March 16, 1891. "Allie" lived to be 86 and never remarried. He lived his entire life 5 miles east of Lehigh.

I was born "on the banks of the Wapsie" (Wapsipinicon river) in Clinton county May 18, 1867. My family migrated in October, 1867 by covered wagon to a river claim about three miles south of Homer. There my father built a one room log cabin in which we lived for one year. Then father built on another large room and a loft where the boys slept.

When I was about seven years old a band of Indians made camp along Brushy Creek to trap and to make syrup in the Spring. My mother was extremely afraid of them and had warned us repeatedly to stay away from their camp. Nevertheless, one morning I decided to go see the Indian baby. I slipped away and went to the Indian Tepee. Mother became alarmed when the other children came in for the noon meal and I wasn't with them. She sent Link and Charley to hunt for me. Well, they found me in the tepee contentedly rocking the cute little papoose and crooning the lullaby it's mother had taught me. It sounded like this: "Ah - pi - nee - nee, Ah - pee - nee - nee."

I married John Albert Williams July 3, 1887. We were married in the Lehigh Methodist Parsonage by pastor "Uncle Walter" Goodrich. Walter "Daunt" Williams and Rachel Linn (Williams) were our attendants.

There were nine children born to us: Daisy Eleanor (Newkirk, Lynch), Merritt Fay, Lovina May, Esther Eulalia (Hinds, Bales), Melvin Shelby, Delmege Lincoln, the twins Glida Glenadeth (Miller, Woodbury), and Vida Valeen (Ellenwood) and Winona Maurene (Swalla).

Daisy married Roscoe Newkirk and they raised three children: Cyril, Doris, and Helen. Later Daisy married Joseph Lynch. They had two children: Dr. William and Mary. Daisy's daughter Doris is a grandmother three time so, of course that makes me a Great - Great - Grandmother.

Esther wed William V. Hinds and they had Neil and Dorothy. Years after Mr. Hinds death Esther married John Bales.

My son D.L. ("Ching") married Winifred Diggins. They lost a son John and have a daughter Leatrice.

Glida married Claude Miller and had two boys Bruce and Donald. She is now Mrs. Leland Woodbury.

Vida married S.O. Ellenwood and has a daughter Rosalie. Many years ago the twins moved to Los Angles and opened "The Twins Beauty Salon".

I live with Winona who is married to Charles H. Swalla: they have three children: Charlene, Sharon Kay, and Charles.

Merritt when 14 years old shot himself accidently while cleaning his rifle.

Lovina May died of pneumonia when three months old.

Melvin Shelby died of whooping cough at 18 days.

My husband John A. Williams was a Barber and also sold Fire Insurance. He was mayor of Lehigh three terms, Justice of The Peace 20 years and President of our Board of Education 19 years. He was accidently killed by the C.G.W. (Chicago Great Western) train that ran down the main street of Lehigh. That happened October 4, 1927.

Brother George died at 77, Henry at 65, Frank 56, William 72, Lincoln 70, Charley 76, Rose 70 and Lovina at 26.

As I finish this brief history I am in my eighty-eighth year. It has been a new experience attempting to be an author but I've loved it and hope that you get some enjoyment reading this short history of a family of which I am proud to be a member------THE ECHELBERGERS.

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