Homer Howard Field.

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

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this country. The father was reared in the place of his nativity and in early
manhood engaged in the grain business there. He afterward removed to
Schuylkill county, where he was engaged in dealing in hard coal, and later he
took up his abode in Lawrence county, Pennsylvania, where he operated in
bituminous coal-fields for some years. Subsequently he returned to Myers-
town, where the last years of bis life were passed. He was a believer in repub-
lican principles, stalwart in support of the party and an influential factor in
its local councils but never an aspirant for political preferment. The German
Reformed church found in him an active and devoted member and lie died in
that t'aitli in February, 1876, at the age of fifty-seven years. In early man-
hood he had wedded Leah Tice, and to them were born nine children, of
whom seven are yet living, as follows: Priscilla C, the wife of Henry llaak.
of Myerstown, Pennsylvania; Irad T. ; Melinda, the wife of Harry James, of
Myerstown; Jerome C, who is a miller of Walnut, Iowa; Monroe L., also of
Walnut; Levi T., of Atlantic, Iowa; and Emma M., of Myerstown. Pennsyl-

In the family home in Schuylkill county, Pennsylvania, Irad T. Spangler
received that training which works for honorable manhood and good citizen-
ship. He was educated in the public schools and when eighteen years of age,
aroused by a spirit of patriotism, he offered his services to the government, en-
listing on the 15th of August, 1862, as a member of Company C, One Hun-
dred and Forty-ninth Pennsylvania Infantry, known as the Bucktail Regi-
ment. His military experience is that of thai famous regiment, as he partici-
pated in all of the principal engagements of the war. He was present at the
battle of Gettysburg, the regiment going into action with four hundred and
eighty-four enlisted men and coming oui with only one hundred and thirty-
four, such was the carnage on that Held of battle, where the contesting armies


advanced and retreated again and again until finally the Union forces were
able to meet their opposition on the third day, and thus one of the most im-
portant engagements was brought to a successful close for the northern troops.
Mr. Spangler was slightly wounded in the battle of Cold Harbor but was not
incapacitated for service and following the surrender of Lee was honorably dis-
charged on the 25th of June, 1865. He had never faltered in the perform-
ance of any duty, whether on the firing line or on the lonely picket line
and his military record is altogether a most creditable one.

Returning to the north, Mr. Spangler located in Lawrence count} 7 , Penn-
sylvania, and assisted his father in his mining operations there. He was mar-
ried in that locality on the 11th of July, 1867, to Miss Sarah M. Marshall, and
remained in Lawrence county until 1873, which year witnessed his arrival in
Iowa. He reached Walnut, Pottawattamie county, in the early part of April
and soon afterward became identified with the grain business as a member of
the firm of Avery, Spangler & Company, dealers in grain, coal and agricultural
implements. In 1879 he went to Shelby, Iowa, to look after the business of
the firm at that point, the company having established a branch elevator there.
He continued at Shelby for four years, when the branch elevator was sold and
Mr. Spangler returned to Walnut, where he purchased the interests of his
partners, becoming sole proprietor of the business, which he has since con-
ducted alone, this enterprise making him one of the leading representatives of
commercial interests in the town. He has been in business continuously for
thirty-four years, and he believes therefore, that he is the oldest grain shipper
in the state along the line of the Rock Island Railroad. He has always led a
very busy life.

In 1887 Mr. Spangler was called upon to mourn the loss of his first wife.
who died in October of that year, and in September, 1888, he wedded Miss
Alice D. Depew. By his first marriage there were born five children, of whom
three are yet living. Christ M., the eldest, is superintendent of the Diamond
mine in Diamonetta, Niuras, Geres, Brazil. He was the superintendent of the
building of the Sacramento Street Railway, prior to his twenty-first year and
is a skilled mechanic and engineer by reason of the development of his natural
power and his personal study. Levi is the superintendent of the Centerville
division of the Bay County Electric Power Company, furnishing the power
for San Francisco, Sacramento and the surrounding tow 7 ns, the plant being lo-
cated at Centerville. Charles R., the youngest son, is a member of the Walnut
Milling Company, holding the office of treasurer. The children of the second
marriage are Homer D. and Ronald T., fifteen and thirteen years respectively
and now students in the public schools.

In addition to his home in AValnut, Mr. Spangler owns some extensive
farm property in Layton township, besides being a leading dealer in grain,
coal, farm implements and live-stock in the northeastern part of the county.
His business has been developed along safe lines, bringing him a very gratify-
ing measure of prosperity, his labors being directed into those channels where
keen discrimination and sound judgment have led the way. In politics he is
a stalwart republican and prominent in the councils of his party. He has
been called to various public offices, serving as school director for seventeen


years, as township clerk for two terms, township trustee for one term and mem-
ber of the town council for six years. He has frequently been a delegate to the
state and county conventions, where his opinions carry weight. He belongs
to the Presbyterian church and he is one of its trustees, while socially he is con-
nected with the Ancient Order of United Workmen and with John A. Dix
post, G. A. R. In all the days of peace as in the days of war he has been loyal
to the best interests of his country and his influence has ever been on the side
of justice, improvement and progress. His friends, and they are many, speak
of him in warm terms of praise and commendation, and wherever he is known
he commands the fullest confidence and regard of those with whom he has
been associated.


Charles Lunkley, who for a number of years was engaged in the under-
taking business in Council Bluffs, continuing in that line of operation from
the time of his arrival in the city in Octobi r. 1889, until his death, was a na-
tive nf Stark county, Ohio, Born on the 12th of October, 1846. His parents
were Francis and Margarel (Shields) Lunkley, both of whom were natives of
Germany. At an early day they came to America, settling in Stark county,
Ohio, where the father engaged in general farming for several years. He aft-
erward sought a home in the middle west, taking up Ins abode near Ottumwa,
Iowa, where he purchased a farm and carried on the work of tilling the soil
throughout the remainder of his days. Both he and his wife passed away at
thai place, his death occurring when he had reached the age of seventy-two

Charles Lunkley was only a young child when his parents came to Iowa,
where he was reared If farm work, and in the country schools mar Ottumwa
acquired In- education. Lessons of industry, perseverance and diligence were
early impressed upon Ins mind, and when he was .-till quite a young lad he
received practical training in the work of the fields. During the period of his
hoyhood a Mr. Bachman was engaged in the retail furniture business and in
the manufacture of furniture at Ottumwa. and when Mr. Lunkley left .-chool
he began to learn the trade of cabinet-making with Mr. Bachman. His fidelity.
trustworthiness and ability soon gained him generous recognition and within
a short time he was general clerk in the Bachman furniture store. For eigh-
teen years he was connected with that business, being a most loyal and trusted

It was during hi- residence in Ottumwa that Mr. Lunkley was married to
Miss Amanda Konantz, a native of Craw ford. Indiana, and a daughter of An-
ton and Catherine (Wolfe) Konantz. both of whom were natives of Germany.
On bidding adieu to the fatherland ami crossing the Atlantic to the new world.
they settled in Crawford. Indiana, where they resided for a few years. On the
expiration of that period they removed to the west and Mr. Konantz purchased
a farm near Ottumwa. where he curried on general agricultural pursuits


throughout his remaining days. He worked diligently and persistently and as

the years passed, acquired a comfortable c petence for his family. His wife

died when on a visit in Illinois. There were four children born unto Mr. and
Mrs. Lunkley, of whom two are living. Cora, the elder, is the wife of Henry
C. Scheidle, and with their daughter, Gertrude May, they reside at No. 208
South First street with her mother. May is the wife of John B. Hendricks, a
resident of Cheyenne, AVyoming, who is connected with the Union Pacific Coal
Company. Those deceased are Joseph Francis and Hattie. The son married
Annie Johnson and died in 1896, leaving one child, Clarence.

It was subsequent to his marriage that Mr. Lunkley came to the west, set-
tling in Holdridge, Nebraska, where he established a furniture and undertak-
ing business, which he conducted for three years. He then came to Council
Bluffs in October, 1889, and here opened an undertaking establishment, pur-
chasing his stock from Mr. Field, at No. 322 Broadway. He engaged in busi-
ness at different places on Broadway and finally located a1 No. 226, where he
remained in business until called to his final rest. He built up an excellent
trade and the liberal patronage accorded him made him one of the successful
merchants of Council Bluffs.

For three years prior to his death Mr. Lunkley was in ill health and spent
much of his time away from home in the hope that he might be benefited by
the change but all to no avail, and on the 11th of April. 1905, he passed away.
He had given his political allegiance to the democracy and was well known
as a valued member of the Knights of Pythias fraternity, the Benevolent and
Protective Order of Elks, the Independent Order of Odd Fellows and the
Woodmen of the World. He was also a communicant of St. Francis Catholic
church in Council Bluffs, to which his wife yet belongs. During the dark-
days of the Civil war he enlisted in April, 1863, as a private in Company A.
Seventh Iowa Cavalry and was discharged November 6. 18(35, on account of
disability. His life was in many respects uneventful and yet he displayed
those sterling traits of character which work for good citizenship and for hon-
esty in business and in private life. He therefore left to his family an un-
tarnished name and his memory is yet cherished by the many friends whom
he gained during the years of his residence in Council Bluffs. His widow still
resides here, being located in a pleasant home at No. 624 Sixth avenue.


Among the most loyal of Council Bluffs' citizens is Frank T. True, who
was born in North Stratford, New Hampshire, on December 8, 1861. He left
there at the early age of six and went with his parents to Norway, Maine. Upon
the old farm and under the parental roof Mr. True was reared, and in the free-
dom of the outdoor life developed a reliant spirit and force of character that
has marked his entire career. He attended the schools of the neighborhood
until eighteen years of age but could no longer contentedly remain at home,
for the business world was attractive and he was eager to enter its field. He


was first employed as bookkeeper for a lumber company in North Stratford
and did his work so carefully and accurately that he remained with them for
four years, returning at the end of that time to Norway, Maine, where for two
years he was engaged in the grocery business. In 1886 he was elected treas-
urer of his native city but resigned in October of the following year to come to
Council Bluffs. He entered at once into work in the office of city clerk and
has been in the city's employ ever since, either by appointment or election.
In April, 1900, he was elected city treasurer on the republican ticket and is
now serving his fourth term, which speaks well for his popularity among his
constituents as well as his efficiency in the duties of his office.

On January 27, 1892, in Ashland, Nebraska, occurred the marriage of
Frank T. True and Anna J. Chamberlin, a daughter of Dr. W. E. Chamber-
lin. Mr. True is a Shriner, a Knight Templar, a member of the Independent
Order of Odd Fellows and the Elks, and because of his religious beliefs has
joined the Universalis church. His record is that of a man who by his own
unaided efforts has worked his way to his present position. His life has been
one of industry and perseverance and the systematic and honorable methods
which he has followed have won him the support and confidence of his con-
stituent-. Without the aid of influence or wealth he has risen to a position of
prominence in the city and his native genius and acquired ability are the step-
ping-stones on which lie has mounted.


From an early period in the development and improvement of Potta-
wattamie county Adolph Geise has resided within its borders and has not
only been a witness of its growth and development but has also aided in
its upbuilding, assisting in laying the foundation upon which has been
reared the superstructure of its present prosperity and progress. As the
years have passed he has conducted all business matters capably and with
fairness to others and has prospered in his undertakings until he now owns
five farms, all well improved, in Norwalk township, his home place being
on section 18.

He has lived in this county since 1863. arriving here when a young man
of twenty-two years. His birth occurred in Prussia, Germany, March 22,
1844, and there the days of his boyhood and youth were passed. He is
largely a self-educated as well as a self-made man, his knowledge of the Eng-
lish tongue being acquired after he came to the new world. The favorable
reports which he heard concerning America and its business opportunities
led him to determine to seek his fortune in this country. Accordingly he
bade adieu to friends and native land and in 1866 sailed for New York. He
then worked on a farm and in a brewery in Pennsylvania for about two years
and in 1868 came west to Pottawattamie county. Here he was first em-
ployed by the month in a brickyard at Council Bluffs, spending two years
in that way.


t- 1





By careful expenditure he saved considerable of bis earnings and
bought eighty acres of raw prairie land, whereon he now resides. As the
Years passed he improved this farm, converting the wild tract into productive
fields. The boundaries of the place he extended by additional purchase
from time to time and he also invested in other tracts of land in Norwalk
township until he is now one of the most extensive landowners of the county,
having here nearly one thousand acres, in addition to which he owns a sec-
iton of land in Alberta, Canada. He improved most of his farm himself
and on the home place has built a fine residence and substantial barns. He
raises and feeds stock, shipping annually from, two to five carloads of fat
cattle and also some hogs. In all that he has undertaken he has been prac-
tical, showing an aptitude for successful management combined with keen
discernment and sound judgment in making 'investments.

Mr. Geise was married in this county in 1872, to Miss Margaret Young,
a native of Iowa and of German parentage. They became the parents of
ten children who are still living. William G., of whom mention is made
elsewhere in this volume; Fritz, who assists in carrying on the home farm;
August, a high school student ; Ernest, Carl and Otto, all at home ; Mena, the
wife of Fred Klopping; Mary, the wife of Henry Bonnes; Louisa, the wife
Philip Geise, and Margaret, at home. They also lost two children, Adolph
and Martha, the former dying at the age of ten years and the latter in in-

The parents are members of the Lutheran church at Underwood and are
most highly esteemed people, their lives being in harmony with their pro-
fessions. Mr. Geise for more than a third of a century has lived the life of
an active, energetic farmer, making good use of his business opportunities
and carrying forward to successful completion whatever he undertakes. He
indeed deserves much credit for his splendid record, whereby he has ad-
vanced from a humble position in the business world to a place among the
most prominent and prosperous agriculturists of Pottawattamie county.


Thomas Burke has since 1903 resided upon his excellent farm of two hun-
dred and thirty acres situated just outside the corporation limits of Avoca on
sections 8 and 17, Knox township. Here he is making a specialty of the rais-
ing and feeding of shorthorn cattle and hogs, and his stock-raising interests
are an important branch of his business. He was born in Ireland on the 5th
of December, 1846, a son of Edmund and Abby (Murphy) Burke, who were
also natives of Ireland and passed away in that country. They were the
parents of three sons, as follows : James, who resides in Massachusetts ; John,
living in California; and Thomas, of this review.

Thomas Burke acquired his education in the schools of Ireland and lived
in the land of his nativity until nineteen years of age, when he determined to
establish his home in the new world. Accordingly he set sail for America and


on the 1st of June, 1865, landed at Boston, Massachusetts, where he worked on
a farm for two years. He then learned the trade of a leather finisher, with
which he was identified for six years. In 1873, however, he came west, locat-
ing in Marshall county, Iowa, where he worked as a farm hand for four
months. At the end of that time he removed to Cass county, Iowa, purchasing
a farm of one hundred and sixty acres, which he farmed for one year, when
he moved to the town of Anita. Here he secured employment as a section
hand with the Rock Island Railroad and was engaged in that work for eight
years, at the end of which time he was promoted to the position of section boss
and sent to Avoca, Iowa, being there employed in that capacity for twenty
years. On the expiration of that period he bought a farm of two hundred and
thirty acres on sections 8 and 17, Knox township, Pottawattamie county, just
outside the corporation limits of Avoca, and took up his abode thereon in the
fall of 1903. This is one of the most valuable farms in the county and in
addition to the cultivation of the fields, he makes a specialty of raising and
feeding cattle and hogs, having now a herd of more than one hundred head of
cattle and one hundred and fifty hogs. In all his business interests Mr. Burke
displays an aptitude for successful management, and both as a fanner and
stock-raiser has met with an unusual degree of prosperity, being widely recog-
nized as one of the prominent and representative agriculturists of the county.
His present fine home was erected in 1903, and he has made many other im-
provements on his farm.

Mr. Burke has been married twice. He first wedded Miss Ellen Murrey,
a native of Ireland, and they became the parents of two children : Edmund,
who resides at Omaha, Nebraska, and is a railroad conductor; and Kate, who
died in infancy. Our subject was married a second time, in 1884, to Miss
Margaret O'Neil, who was born in Ireland in 1866 and was one of a family of
six children. She is now the mother of five children, as follows: Daniel,
John, Thomas Margarel and Joseph.

Mr. Burke gives his political support to the democratic party, and he and
his wife and family are members of the Catholic church. His life has been
one of continuous activity, in which has been accorded due recognition of la-
bor, and today he is numbered among the substantial citizens of his county.
He has found in this country the opportunities which he sought, and his pros-
perity is entirely the result of his own perseverance and industry.


Otto Ronna, cashier of the German Bank of Walnut, is one of Pottawatta-
mie county's native sons, his birth having occurred on the old family home-
stead in Lincoln township, on the 19th of December, 1874. He is the oldest
of four surviving members of the family of five children whose parents were
Jurgen F. and Catharina (Dierks) Ronna. He was only five years of age at
the time of the removal of his father from the farm to Walnut and in this
town he was reared to manhood, acquiring his education largely in the public


schools. He pursued a special course and afterward became a pupil in the
Valparaiso (Indiana) Business College. After completing his course he re-
turned to Walnut and entered his father's store, where he was employed until
the 1st of July, 1893.

The German Savings Bank of Walnut was organized at that time and Otto
Ronna was offered and accepted, the position of assistant cashier. A year later,
this institution was consolidated with, and merged into, the Exchange State
Bank, and Mr. Ronna went to Clinton, Iowa, where he secured a position in a
mercantile establishment, where he was employed for four months. In No-
vember, 1894, he returned to Walnut and accepted the position of assistant
cashier in the Exchange State Bank. In July, 1901, he resigned that position
and for four months traveled through the west, looking for a favorable loca-
tion in which to engage in the banking business. Finding nothing to suit him,
he returned to Walnut in November of the same year, and in partnership with
his father purchased the German Bank of Walnut, with which he has since
been identified as junior partner of the firm of J. F. & Otto Ronna. This has
become a strong moneyed concern, having secured a liberal patronage in the
general banking business, and a large clientage in the loan, insurance and
realty business.

On the 4th of April, 1900, Otto Ronna was married to Miss Mabel Bruce,
a daughter of 0. M. Bruce, a prominent business man and one of the old set-
tlers of Walnut. This marriage has been blessed with a daughter, Maxine.
Mr. and Mrs. Ronna are prominent socially, having the warm regard of many
friends, while the hospitality of the best homes of the locality is freely ac-
corded them.

Mr. Ronna is well known in fraternal circles, belonging to Motto lodge,
No. 559, A. F. & A. M., of Walnut, of which he has served as master for four
years. He likewise belongs to Raboni chapter, No. 85, R. A. M., of Avoca;
Kedron commandery, No. 42, K. T., of Atlantic, Iowa; Za-Ga-Zig Temple, A.
A. 0. N. M. S., of Des Moines; Diamond lodge, No. 374, K. P.; Dramatic Or-
der of the Knights of Khorasan of Council Bluffs; Walnut lodge, No. 294, A.
O. U. W. ; and Excelsior camp, No. 6986, M. W. A., of Walnut. Mr. Ronna
belongs to the Lutheran church, and his political allegiance is given to the re-
publican party. While never an aspirant for political preferment, he is an in-
fluential factor in his party's counsels and has always been foremost in any
movement for the advancement of the town of Walnut, being a leading and
representative citizen of this thriving little village.


The subject of this sketch was born in the city of Cincinnati, September
11, 1840. His father, John H. Rothert, and mother, Margaret Rothert, were
early pioneers of the Queen city, having settled there in 1832. After his high
school and college education Mr. Rothert engaged in commercial pursuits, be-
coming a member of the firm of J. H. Rothert & Sons, doing a large hard-


ware, iron and stove business. Recognizing the western tendency of the star
of empire, the business was extended by establishing a branch house in the
city of Keokuk, Iowa. The firm by the retirement of the senior member and
founder was changed to Rothert Brothers, and in 1863 Henry W. Rothert as-
-umed entire control of the Iowa branch, managing its extended interests in
a large territory comprised of western counties of Illinois, northern counties
of Missouri and one-half of Iowa.

Mr. Rothert was married in St. Louis. Missouri, on November 12, 1862,
to Miss Eliza Tebbe, 'of that city, who at his side now enjoys the happy reflec-

Online LibraryHomer Howard FieldHistory of Pottawattamie County, Iowa, from the earliest historic times to 1907 (Volume 1) → online text (page 51 of 59)