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