Homer Howard Field.

History of Pottawattamie County, Iowa, from the earliest historic times to 1907 (Volume 1) online

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he has secured thereby a gratifying competence.

Mr. Stephan belongs to the Benevolent & Protective Order of Elks and the
Fraternal Order of Eagles. He is likewise identified with the Commercial Club
and with the Council Bluffs Rowing Association. A friendly spirit, cordial na-
ture and deference for the opinions of others, have gained for him warm regard
and a constantly increasing circle of friends.


There are in various communities in this land citizens whose nationality
is easily recognized, not by reason of any national trace of face, feature or
name, but because of certain strongly marked characteristics in business,
among which are a persistency of purpose and a determination to accom-
plish what is undertaken. These qualities plainly indicate the German na-
tion and arc manifest in Frederick Rohrs. who first opened his eyes to the
light of day in Hanover, Germany, on the 25th of June, 1858, his parents
being William and Anna (Witte) Rohrs, of whose family of four children
but two are now living, the younger brother being Christopher, a resident
of Shelby, Iowa. The father, also born in Hanover, was reared and mar-
ried there, and in 1870 sailed for the United States establishing his home in
Durant, Cedar county, Iowa. Three years later he removed to Nebraska
and homesteaded one hundred and sixty acres of land in Knox county, but
the grasshoppers destroyed all crops produced and after two years he re-
turned to Iowa, his possessions at that time consisting of only a yoke of oxen
and two head of cattle. Taking up his abode in Pleasant township, Potta-
wattamie county, he there lived up to the time of his death, which occurred
in 1890. His widow still survives at the age of seventy-five years and makes
her home with her son Frederick.

Mr. Rohrs of this review acquired his education in the public schools,
while spending the days of his boyhood and youth in his parents' home. His
opportunities in that direction, however, were necessarily limited because it
became necessary for him to provide for bis own support. He was twelve years
of age at the time of the removal of the family from Germany to the United
States. He lived at home and assisted his father, ultimately becoming a
partner with him in the ownership of two hundred acres of good land on
section 2, Pleasant township. In 1885 he and his brother took charge of
this farm, which they operated together, and in 1900 they purchased the
present home farm of Frederick Rohrs, comprising two hundred and forty




acres — the northwest quarter and the west half of the southwest quarter of
section 4, Pleasant township. In 1904 the brothers made a division of their
property, Frederick Rohrs taking the two hundred and forty acres just
mentioned. He is engaged extensively in the raising of Hereford cattle,
having thirty head on his place, and in addition he also has one hundred and
thirty head of high grade hogs. He is well known as a feeder and feeds
not only all the grain which he raises but also buys extensively for this
purpose. His business interests keep him constantly engaged and his energy
and diligence are well known traits of his character.

In 1898 was celebrated the marriage of Frederick Rohrs and Miss Ma-
tilda Bohlander, of Shelby county, Iowa. Unto them have been born a son
and daughter, William and Emma. In his political views Mr. Rohrs is a
republican, for he feels that the platform of that party is most conducive
to good government. He has served as township clerk for two terms. He
belongs to Canopy lodge, No. 401, I. 0. 0. F., to Shelby encampment and
to the German Lutheran church. He is justly regarded as a representative
agriculturist and stock-raiser, and though he came to the new world prac-
tically empty-handed, he is now one of the prosperous residents of Potta-
wattamie county. He feels that he made no mistake in choosing this land
as a place of abode, for in its business opportunities he has found the condi-
tions he sought and has won the competence with which fate always crowns
the success of men when their persistent efforts are guided by sound judg-


Hon. John H. Jenks, president of the Avoca State Bank and former
representative of his district in the legislature, is a man strong in his indi-
viduality, never lacking the courage of his convictions, while the sterling integ-
rity and honor of his character have naturally gained to him the respect
and confidence of men. In every relation of life — in the government service,
in political circles, in business or in social circles, he has proved a force in
attaining desired results, his abilities well fitting him for leadership.

A native of Massachusetts, Mr. Jenks was born in Hampshire county,
on the 26th of September, 1855, his parents being Simeon L. and Sarah
(Thomas) Jenks. The father was also born in Hampshire county. Massa-
chusetts,, on the 5th of October, 1824, and was of Welsh ancestry. The
paternal grandfather, however, was Jeremiah Jenks, a native of Massachusetts.
Both the grandfather and father were farmers and in 185'8 the latter emigrated
to Bureau county, Illinois, while one year later he removed to La Salle county,
that state, where he resided up to the time of his death, which occurred on
the 20th of March, 1906. He was very successful as a farmer and breeder
of cattle and in an active business career acquired extensive farm lands, own-
ing over one thousand acres, the greater portion of which he bought at a low
price and held till it became very valuable as the years advanced and improve-
ments were made upon it. Thus in later years he acquired a fortune. He


made his way to Illinois with only two thousand dollars, for which he was
indebted to his father. His business enterprise and capable management were
such, however, that as the years passed he worked his way steadily upward,
becoming one of the county's men of affluence. In politics he was a repub-
lican and although he was never an aspirant for office be was for several
years a member of the city council of Earlville, Illinois, where he was then
residing. He was widely recognized as one of the influential men of his
district and as the years progressed he left the impress of his individuality
upon public thought and action. In his family were two children, the younger
being Ida, the wife of E. M. Currier, of Aurora, Illinois.

John H. Jenks was reared upon the home farm in La Salle county,
Illinois, and acquired his education in the Earlville schools and in the old
Chicago University, where he pursued the work of the freshman and sopho-
more years. By reason of an attack of typhoid fever he was compelled to
discontinue his studies in 1878. In the following year he came to Avoca,
his father and others having purchased nine hundred acres of land in this
locality, and Mr. Jenks came thither to superintend it. Here he turned his
attention to the stock business, with which he was closely and actively associated
until 1902, being a heavy buyer and shipper as well as breeder and feeder
of stock. He possesses keen business discernment and unfaltering energy,
combined with an aptitude for successful management, and his salient charac-
teristics in commercial lines are such as have brought to him gratifying suc-
cess. On the 1st of August. 1873, the Avoca Bank was organized by J. W.
and E. W. Davis and Charles N. Voss. In 1887 E. W. Davis withdrew from
the bank, at which time J. \Y. Davis and Mr. Voss each acquired a half inter-
est. The bank, however, was reorganized into a state bank in 1885, although
the name was not changed until the law required it in 1901. On the 1st
of January. L892, Mr. Jenks purchased Mr. Voss' interest in the bank and
became vice president of the institution, acting in that capacity until 1900,
when he was elected to the presidency. Such has been his official connection
with the bank since that time. The charter was renewed in 1905 and the
Avoca State Bank is now in a most flourishing condition. A general banking
business is carried on and the institution from the beginning has borne an
unassailable reputation for reliability and progressive methods, tempered with
a conservatism that renders it safe at all times, la addition to bis interests
in the bank Mr. Jenks own- a good farm adjoining the town.

While his business inten-t- have made heavy demands upon his time
and energies he has yet found opportunity for co-operation in public move-
ments and is a citizen who stands for progress and advancement in all that
pertains to the work of general upbuilding. In politics he is a republican
and has served as a member of the city council. He was also for eight years
a member of the school board and from 1900 until 1902 he was representative
from his district to the state legislature, serving in the twenty-eighth and twenty-
ninth general assemblies. lie gave careful consideration to each question
which came up for settlement and aided in promoting much effective legisla-
tion which was .secured during that period. Socially he is connected with the
Knights of Pythias, becoming a charter member of Avoca lodge, No. 104.


On the 16th of June 1881, Mr. Jenks was united in marriage to Miss
Anna Heslet, of La Salle county, Illinois, and unto them has been born a
daughter, Florence M. Mr. Jenks is a prominent representative of financial
interests in Pottawattamie county and is widely and favorably known through-
out this part of the state, his abilities well fitting him for leadership in political
and social life. By perseverance, determination and honorable effort he has
overcome all obstacles which have barred his path to success and reached
the goal of prosperity, while his genuine worth, broad mind and public spirit
have made him a director of public thought and action.


In a record of the leading and representative men of Pottawattamie county
mention should be made of Oscar F. Lodge, who in former years was actively
associated with agricultural and with mercantile interests, gaining thereby
the measure of success which now enables him to live retired. His life proves
conclusively that success may be obtained by earnest effort, for it has been
owing to his strong purpose and diligence that he has gained his prosperity.
He has now almost reached the age of four score years, his birth having
occurred in Greenville, Mercer county, Pennsylvania, on the 31st of December,
1827. His parents were Samuel and Jane Lodge, the former a native of
Westmoreland county, Pennsylvania, and the latter of Mercer county. The
father always followed the occupation of farming and at an early day made
his way westward to Illinois, settling in Henry county, where his death
occurred. After his demise the mother removed to Iowa, where she passed
away. In their family were eleven children, five of whom still survive, namely:
Oscar F., of this review : Margaret, the widow of V. M. Tabers and a resident
of Omaha, Nebraska; George M., who resides at Long Beach, California;
Leander, also living in California; and Ada, the wife of Robert Gilbert, also
of California.

Oscar F. Lodge accompanied his parents when they left Pennsylvania
and went to Illinois, and in 1851 he came to Iowa. He had acquired his
education in the schools of his native state and was early trained to farm
labor. On removing to Iowa he first located near Davenport, where he rented
a farm, which he cultivated for three years. On the expiration of that period
he took up his abode in Cedar county and bought a farm upon which he
lived for nine years. In 1871 he came to Pottawattamie county and settled
at Walnut, where, abandoning agricultural pursuits, he turned his attention
to general merchandising for four years. On selling out he opened a hard-
ware store, which he conducted with success until 1890, enjoying a large and
constantly growing trade. For the past seventeen years he has now lived
retired in the village of Walnut, where he has a magnificent home, except for
four years spent in Chicago. He has been enabled to enjoy the comforts and
many of the luxuries of life by reason of the fact that in his earlier years he


carefully managed his business interests, gave close attention to his mercan-
tile affairs, and so directed his labors that success resulted.

The only interruption to his continued activity in business up to the
time of his retirement was when he served his country as a soldier of the
Civil war, enlisting in August, 1861, as a member of Company D, Eleventh
Iowa Infantry, with which he was connected for a year. He participated in
the battle of Shiloh, one of the most hotly contested engagements of the war,
and was mustered out in 1862, after which he returned to this state. He is
now a member of John A. Dix post, No. 408, G. A. R., of Walnut, and in
his political views he is a republican. He has served as school director and
also as trustee and in every duty of citizenship manifests the same loyalty
which he displayed when he followed the old flag on southern battle-fields.

In 1880 Mr. Lodge was married to Miss Jennie Elliot, who was born in
Knox county, Illinois, a daughter of Benjamin and Pheba Elliot, the former
a native of North Carolina and the latter of Ohio. Their family numbered
seven children. The father died in Illinois, while the mother's death occurred
in Independence, Kansas. Unto Mr. and Mrs. Lodge were born six children:
Arthur E., who is a graduate of the Morgan Park Academy at Chicago and
is now in Wyoming; Walter B., who likewise attended the same academy in
Chicago, and in in Wyoming; Oscar L., who graduated from a commercial
college and is now employed on the United States steamer Washington; Harry
G., who is now pursuing a course in veterinary surgery in Chicago; Helen,
who after graduating from the Walnut high school, studied music for one
year at Lincoln, Nebraska, and is again ;i student there; and Edna S., who
is attending the Walnut high school and is with her parents.

.Mr. and Mr-. Lodge hold membership in the Presbyterian church and
are people of the highest respectability, enjoying in large measure the con-
fidence and esteem of all with whom they have been associated. His has been
an honorable, nprighl career, and now in the evening of life Mr. Lodge can
look back over the past without regret. He has undoubtedly made some mis-
takes, for who is free from them, but it has never been a matter of intention,
and throughout bis entire career he has endeavored to live at peace with his
fellowmen, has practiced justice, to speak the truth and be charitable in his
opinions of those with whom he has come in contact.


William Stewart Keeline, a resident of Council Bluffs, with business
interests that connect him with the raising of cattle and fruit in Pottawattamie
county, was born in Bridgeport, Belmont county, Ohio, on the 2d of December,
1862. In 1870 his parents took up their abode in Council Bluffs and much
of his life has since been passed in this city. He acquired his education in
the public schools and in Blum's Academy here, pursuing his studies to the
age of seventeen or eighteen years, when he put aside his text-books and
went upon his father's cattle ranch in Wyoming, there remaining until 1886,


during which time he gained a comprehensive knowledge of the cattle busi-
ness in all of the work of the ranch and the shipment of stock to market.
In the year mentioned he returned to Council Bluffs and in connection with
his brother-in-law, C. L. Felt, he embarked in the wholesale hardware business,
conducting the store with good success for seven years. In 1893, however,
he sold out and has since given his undivided time and attention to the rais-
ing of cattle and fruit in Pottawattamie county. In both lines he has prospered
and has produced some of the finest stock as well as some of the finest fruit
ever seen in this part of the state.

In June, 1887, Mr. Keeline was married, in Council Bluffs, to Miss
Julia Dohaney, a daughter of John Dohaney, and unto them have been born
six children, namely: Clarence D., Margaret, John Frank, Katherine, Adele
and William Stewart Keeline, Jr.

Mr. Keeline holds membership in lodge No. 531, B. P. 0. E. He is a
republican where state and national questions are involved but casts an inde-
pendent local ballot. His well directed labors are bringing to him a goodly
competence, which is increasing annually as he enlarges the scope of his


John Matthies derives a good annual revenue from his landed interests of
four hundred and eighty acres, and in addition to general farming he is ex-
tensively engaged in raising and feeding stock of good grade. He was bj>rn
in Holstein, Germany, March 19, 1833, of the marriage of John and Margaret
(Morthorst) Matthies, who were likewise natives of Holstein, where they spent
their entire lives. The father reached the advanced age of eighty-four years,
while the mother died when about fifty years of age. He was a farmer by occu-
pation and thus provided for the support of his seven children, four of whom
are yet living : Peter and Claus, of Holstein, Germany ; John ; and Christina,
the wife of Peter Petersen, of Monona county, Iowa.

John Matthies was a public-school student during the days of his youth
and on reaching early manhood he began providing for his own support as a
farm hand, being thus employed while in Germany. As a companion and
helpmate for life's journey he chose Miss Margaret Hagge, to whom he was
married in December, 1866. and who died thirteen months later, leaving a son,
John William, now living in Layton township. In 1868 Mr. Matthies came to
the United States, landing at New York in the latter part of June, after a voy-
age of two weeks. Making his way westward he located in Clinton county,
Iowa, where he engaged in farming, working by the month for one year, and
for six years he cultivated rented land.

Removing to Pottawattamie county in the spring of 1875 Mr. Matthies
purchased one hundred and sixty acres of land, constituting a part of his pres-
ent farm on section 17, Lincoln township, and thus became identified with
agricultural interests. The tract was unbroken prairie on which he built a lit-
tle frame house, fourteen by twenty-two feet. In this habitation he took up his


abode with his wife and children, having been married again in Clinton
county, and turned his attention to the development of his land. He began
breaking prairie and in course of time gathered good crops. He has set out all
the trees upon the farm and now has a beautiful place. He prospered and after
five or six years he purchased one hundred and sixty acres adjoining his orig-
inal tract on the west. To this he has added one hundred and sixty acres on
section 20, Lincoln township, and two eighty-acre tracts on the same section.
Still later he bought three hundred and twenty acres on section 19, but after-
ward sold that, while one hundred and sixty acres — the southwest quarter of
section 17, has been deeded to his son, Henry F., leaving his present holdings
four hundred and eighty acres. His land is favorably located and is rich and
productive. Large crops are annually gathered and in addition to his grain-
raising interest he is extensively and successfully engaged in raising and feed-
ing cattle, making a specialty of raising shorthorn cattle and Poland China
hogs. He brought with him to this country a capital of twelve hundred dollars
and with this as a foundation he has raised the superstructure of his prosperity.

Mr. Matthies was married for the second time in Clinton county. Iowa, to
Miss Margaret Langhorst, a native of Holstein, Germany, and unto them were
born six children: Anna, at home; Bertha, the wife of Fred Krambeck, of
Cass county, Iowa; Peter, of Jackson county. Missouri; Henry, living in Lin-
coln township; Otto ami Mary, at home. The wife and ihother died on the
29th of October, L906 She was a consistent member of the Lutheran church
and a most estimable lady.

Mr. Matthies is also a member of the Lutheran church and gives his politi-
cal support to the democracy. He has served on the school board for a long
period and has been it- treasurer for six years, lie is interested in the cause
of education, believing in the employment of competent teacher- and the adop-
tion of advanced methods of instruction. Although he has now reached the age
of seventy-four years he i- an active factor in community interests and business
affairs, giving personal supervision to all his farming and stock-raising, where-
by he is gaining a very desirable annual income.


George T. Phelps, assistant postmaster of Council Bluffs and a well known
citizen of this place, was born at Chatham Four Corners (now Chatham), New
York, July 13, 1842, hut his boyhood was largely passed in Springfield, Massa-
chusetts, lie was left fatherless at the age of ten years and two years later went
to live with a sister in Harvard, that state, where he attended school. Later
be pursued his studies at Fast Hampton, Massachusetts, and was a student there
when the Civil war broke out.

Prompted by a spirit of patriotism, Mr. Phelps enlisted on the 13th of
August, 1862, as a private in Company G. Thirty-sixth Massachusetts Volun-
teer Infantry. He rose to the rank of quartermaster sergeant, in which ca-
pacity he was serving when mustered out at Alexandria, Virginia, June 8,


1865. He participated in the battles of Antietam, South Mountain and Fred-
ericksburg; went with Burnsides to the west; and was in the Vicksburg cam-
paign from the 17th of June. 1863, until August following. His command
then proceeded to Kentucky and on to east Tennessee, and were in the engage-
ment at Campbell's Station and the siege of Knoxville, after which they re-
joined the Army of the Potomac and took part in the Wilderness campaign, the
battle of Spottsylvania, the second battle of Cold Harbor, and were in front of
Petersburg from June 17, 1864. until March. 1865. They were also in the
final campaign which ended in the surrender of Lee at Appomattox.

When the war was over and the country no longer needed his services, Mr.
Phelps returned north and for two years was engaged in business at Springfield,
Massachusetts. He then came to Council Bluffs, Iowa, to assist his uncle, Willis
Phelps, in the construction of the Council Bluffs & St. Joseph Railroad, now a
part of the Chicago, Burlington & Quincy system, but at the end of two years
returned to Massachusetts, where he became a sub-contractor in railroad build-
ing and was thus employed until 1873.

During that year Mr. Phelps again came to Pottawattamie county, Iowa,
and for three years farmed sixteen hundred acres of land, after which he took
charge of the Ogden Hotel in Council Bluffs, conducting the same for seven
years. He was next engaged in cattle raising in Texas and New Mexico for two
years and for a year thereafter turned his attention to the manufacture of char-
coal at Durango, Mexico, making one hundred thousand pounds per day and
employing seven hundred men. He prospected for gold for several years in
Montana, Idaho, California and other western states but was never very success-
ful along that line, and finally returned to Council Bluffs, where he now makes
his home.

In 1889 Mr. Phelps received an appointment in the postoffiee at this place.
He rose rapidly and finally in 1890 was made assistant postmaster, which posi-
tion he filled until 1893. During the following four years he was out of office
but was re-appointed assistant postmaster in 1898 and has since served in that
capacity to the entire satisfaction of all concerned. He has always been found
true to every trust reposed in him and is as faithful to the interests of his coun-
try in days of peace as in time of war. He is an honored member of the Union
Veteran Legion and religiously is connected with the Presbyterian church.


Edward D. Sharpies, dealer in cream separator supplies in Council Bluffs,
was born in Westchester, Pennsylvania, on the 13th of March, 1861. His boy-
hood and youth passed uneventfully, being largely devoted to the acquirement
of an education in the common schools and to the enjoyment of the sports of
the playground, which usually occupy the attention of the alert boy of the pres-

Online LibraryHomer Howard FieldHistory of Pottawattamie County, Iowa, from the earliest historic times to 1907 (Volume 1) → online text (page 33 of 59)