Homer Howard Field.

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

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would prove a favorable business opening. For one year he remained in
the county seat, employed in the jewelry house of Mr. Savely and in early
spring of 1871 he came to Avoca, Iowa, where he established himself in
business, renting a small corner in the store of G. Diedrich. TTh quarters
were so tiny that on the arrival of a customer he was compelled to rise in
order to face his caller. However, he had thoroughly mastered the watch-


maker's trade and jeweler's art and in later years when he employed a num-
ber of people in his store none of the more particular work in that line was
ever entrusted to his assistants, but was performed by his own hand. He
possessed superior mechanical ingenuity and skill which had been directed
along the lines of the watchmaker's art and he had attained a degree of
proficiency far surpassing that of most followers of the business. Within a
few months after his arrival in Avoca he had gained the entire confidence
of the people and soon the increase in his patronage demanded more room.
He therefore rented larger quarters where he might keep house and also have a
business room. He then sent to Wisconsin for a sister whom he bad been
educating. She joined him in Avoca about Christmas time of 1871 and they
lived together until the following August, when both Mr. Maier and his sister
became ill with typhoid fever. The latter's death occurred two weeks later
and it was four months before Mr. Maier had sufficiently recovered to resume
his business duties. His patronage grew rapidly, however, and he removed
to more commodious quarters, constantly enlarging his stock to meet the
growing demands of his trade.

In 1877 Mr. Maier erected a brick business block at Avoca and equipped
it second to no jewelry establishment in this section of the state. Each
forward step brought him a broader view and wider opportunities and, seeing
a chance for advantageous investment elsewhere, in 1880 he opened a branch
store in Shelby. In 1881, however, ho was advised by hi-^ physician to give
up some of his business cares, which were making too great demands upon
his strength and accordingly he disposed of the business at Shelby. He then
admitted Fred Woltman, who had for some time been in his employ, to a
partnership in the Avoca store. Mr. MaieT then turned the management
of the busines over to his partner ami removed to Stuart. Eowa, where he
opened a store, but the enterprise in Avoca missed the attention and guiding
hand of the master and one year later Mr. Maier returned to Avoca, where he
resumed his business cares. Hi- patronage steadily increased and he was in
command of a very large and profitable business when, in 1891, he sold his
interest to his partner, Mr. Woltman, who removed the stock to Rook Island,
Illinois. The store building was then leased for a short time but in December,
1892, Mr. Maier resumed business at his old location, refitting his store with
solid black walnut and rosewood fixtures, fine showcases and everything to
correspond. He continued to conduct a most gratifying and prosperous
trade until January 21, 1904, when failing health forced him to consult a
specialist. Mrs. Maier had been of great a-sistance to her husband in his
business career, often taking care of patrons in the store while Mr. Maier
did some intricate work in connection with watchmaking. He relied greatly
upon her sound judgment and keen business discernment and attributed
no little of his prosperity to her aid and guidance. On the 21st of January.
1904, however, they locked the store door and started for Chicago for medi-
cal advice. This proved the close of Mr. Maier's commercial connection with
Avoca, for he was never again able to resume active business. On the 7th
of February Mrs. Maier opened the store and supervised the business during
certain hours of the dav until the 1st of Mav. when the store and fixtures


were sold to E. E. Wilcox, who thus succeeded to the business which Mr.
Maier had built up in preceding years. He lingered until the 14th of June,
1904, and was then called to his final rest, his death being mourned by a vast
circle of friends.

Mr. Maier was a charter member of the Gesang Verein and one of its
most active representatives, being its treasurer from its organization until
his demise. He was reared in the faith of the Lutheran church and through-
out his life remained a liberal and generous contributor to church and
charitable work. In politics he was a republican in his endorsement of
many issues before the people, yet in his later years he cast an independent
ballot. He was never an office seeker but bis interest in the cause of edu-
tion led him to serve for some time as a member of the school board. He
sstood for all those things which are a matter of civic virtue and civic pride
and in citizenship was progressive and helpful.

Mrs. Maier, who survives her husband, was born in Davenport, Iowa,
a daughter of Mathias J. and Elise (Rode) Rohlfs. Her father was for
many years a prominent resident of eastern Iowa and served at one time as
county treasurer of Scott county. Few, if any, old settlers were bettor known
than he and in his death one of the noted characters of the county passed
away. For more than a half century he there resided and during the greater
part of his life was identified with its interests, while in every capacity in
which he served he was always found the careful, honest, vigilant and en-
ergetic worker that characterizes the thorough and progressive man of affairs.
He was born in the town of Tondern, Sohleswig-Holstein, Germany, April
19, 1816, and during the years of his young manhood he attended the
teachers' seminary of his native town. He taught school for -several years
in the fatherland and in 1847 crossed the Atlantic. After a brief residence
in New York he decided to locate in the west, journeying by way of the
Erie canal, the lakes and by wagon to Davenport. He was the first German
educator of the locality and both preached and taught school to some extent,
but more of his time and attention were given to farming. He rented land
two miles north of Davenport and proved himself a successful agriculturist.
While engaged in farming, however, he found time to give some attention
to outside matters and organized a German society and a German school,
in which he taught several days in the week and on Sunday. There were
many of his countrymen who took advantage of the opportunity to learn
from him, for he was an excellent German scholar. He was looked upon as a
leader in all community interests, especially among the Germans. He it was
who organized the first singing society — the earliest organization of the kind in
Scott county, now known as the Maennerchor. He desired that it should
be a permament thing and today it is a great and powerful organization in
the musical circles of the city.

Continuing his farming operations, Mr. Rohlfs bought land in Lincoln
township in 1850 and upon one of his farms there resided until 1873. He
laid out gardens according to principles of landscape gardening and soon
the beauty of his place attracted the attention of others, who followed his
example. He was also a man of influence in political circles, being first


elected justice of the peace in Lincoln township. In 1866 the republican
party elected him to the eleventh general assembly and for four successive
terms he was chosen to that office. In that position he urged the adoption
of every measure that would promote the interests of the public schools
and that in any way promoted the educational interests of the state. He was
the first man in Iowa elected for three successive terms and he left the im-
press of his individuality upon the legislation enacted during his incum-
bency in office. The commercial and agricultural interests of Iowa and
matters pertaining to immigration received his careful consideration and
aid whenever the interests of the state demanded it. He was bitterly opposed ■
to all sorts of sumptuary laws, or anything that was regarded by him as a
barrier to personal liberty.- His opposition to such legislation was shown in
a most energetic manner. While a member of the legislature he belonged to
the committee on immigration, and during the time he served on that
committee he published a pamphlet, "Iowa, the Home for Immigrants,"
which received a large circulation. It did much toward directing the stream
of immigration to this state.

In 1872, when the corruption of the Grant administration was being
discussed in many of the leading newspapers of the country, it became ap-
parent that a liberal republican party should be called into existence, and
when it was Mr. Rohlfs joined it. At the state convention of that party
held some time afterward, he was nominated as its candidate for state treas-
urer. He was also a delegate that year to the national convention of the
party which met at Cincinnati and which nominated Horace Greeley for
president. He took an active part in the campaign and made a canvass of
all the counties, but the state ticket met the same fate as the national, and
Iowa lost the opportuntiy of having Mr. Rohlfs as its treasurer.

The republican party, however, continued to exist in Scott county and
in the following year, 1873, Mr. Rohlfs was nominated by it for county
treasurer and elected by a great majority. He served so faithfully in this
office that he was continued in it for fourteen years, a record unprece-
dented in office-holding in this county. He also served one year as deputy
treasurer, the first year of Colonel McManus' incumbency of that office.
Mr. Rohlfs was active not only in the political arena, but in the business
world he demonstrated his tact and ability. He was the founder of the
Mutual Fire Insurance Company of Scott county and proved one of its most
industrious and energetic workers for years. He served as its president and
its secretary from the inception of the company to January 1, 1900, when
he was retired at his own request on account of the infirmities of age. For
many years he was president of the German School Society and he had been
second speaker of the Turngemeinde, member of the Schuetzen-Vercin and
of Odd Fellows lodge, No. 37.

He was married in 1840 to Miss Eliza Rode and she proved a faithful
wife and companion. Her death occurred about twenty-seven years ago.
They had six children, four of whom are living: Theodore, who is in the
insurance business at Avoca, Iowa; Mrs. Emma Maier; Emil. who resides
in Eldridge, Scott county; and Rudolph, who was a member of the firm of


Rohlfs & Bishoff in Davenport, but for the last six years has been county
treasurer of Scott county. The daughter deceased was the former wife of
Charles Hetzel, of the board of public works. August, who was a farmer
living near Avoca, died February 3, 1907.

It was Emma, daughter of Mr. Rohlfs, who became the wife of George
Maier and to them were born two children : Zoe, educated in the high school
of Avoca; and G. W. Marque. The latter was educated in the public schools,
being graduated therefrom in 1895, and from Princeton College
with the degree of B. S. (magna cum laude) in 1901. He afterward pursued
a post-graduate course at Princeton, receiving his master of science degree
in 1902 for work done in mathematics and astronomy. From 1902 until
1904 he was connected with the observatory at Beirut, Syria, and was in-
structor of mathematics at the American College of that place. Returning
to America on account of his father's death in 1905, he took charge of math-
ematics and physics in the Preparatory School for Boys in Chicago, in which
position he is still serving. He is a republican, consistent in his support of
the party because of his firm belief in its principles. His church relationship
is with the Presbyterians. The daughter, Zoe Maier, was educated in the
high school of Avoca and in Iowa Wesleyan University, winning the degree
of Bachelor of Music in the conservatory. Five years later she returned to
the conservatory for a post-graduate course but while pursuing her studies
there sprained her wrist and was thereby forced to discontinue her practice.
Up to the time of her father's death she taught music in Avoca. Mrs. Maier,
while not a member of any church, has always worked for the interests and
upbuilding of the Presbyterian church.

The husband and father was a man whom to know was to respect and
honor. As a pioneer business man he contributed to its commercial prosper-
ity from an early day and as the years went by his position in public regard
was strengthened by an irreproachable life and unfaltering moral worth.
In manner he was entirely free from ostentation and display but the quali-
ties of true manhood cannot be hid. They show forth in one's daily conduct
and speech — they are the real basis of character. Such was the case with
Mr. Maier and wherever he went he was respected and most of all in Ihe
communities where he was best known.


Theodore Henry Dingman, who is now engaged in the production of
berries and in general farming on section 8, Garner township, was born in
this township, June 16, 1858, a son of John Boyd and Martha (Ritter) Ding-
man, of whom mention is made on another page of this volume. His ma-
ternal grandfather, Adam Ritter, came to Garner township in 1846, being
one of its first settlers. He was born in Wythe county, Virginia, July
24, 1812, and was seven years of age when he accompanied his father to
Burkes Garden, Tazewell county, Virginia. In 1837 he married Nancy T


Ward and in 1842 became a resident of Hancock county, Illinois. In the
spring of 1846 he came with a colony of Mormons to Pottawattamie county,
traveling by team and wagon to Council Bluffs, which was then called Kanes-
ville, and the same year settled on the farm which for a very long period
was his home. He lived in Garner township until within a few years of his
death and then removed to Neola, this county, where his last days were


It will thus be seen that Theodore H. Dingman is a representative of
one of the oldest pioneer families of this section of the state. He was edu-
cated in the common schools and reared to farm life, early becoming familiar'
with the duties and labors that fall to the lot of the agriculturist. Having
arrived at years of maturity, he wedded Miss Eliza Butterfield, a daughter
of Charles and Annie Butterfield, of Kane township, this county, the mar-
riage being celebrated on the 31st of January, 1883. They became the
parents of nine children: Oscar Henry. Nancy May, Frank Robert, Luella,
Myrtle Emma, Zoe, Flossie Leona, Jessie and Lottie, all of whom are still
under the parental roof, the family circle yet remaining unbroken by the
hand of death.

Mr. Dingman has made his home upon the old family homestead dur-
ing the greater part of his life. In 1893, however, he went to Oklahoma,
to which place he removed his family in the fall of that year, remaining
there for three months. He then came home on a visit and continued here
for five months, after which he again went to Oklahoma, where he lived
for one year. He bought a quarter section of land and homesteaded a claim
there, but before returning he sold the property. He now owns thirty-six
acres of his father's home farm and has a tract of fourteen acres in addition.
He is now largely engaged in fruit-raising, making a specialty of blackber-
ries, raspberries and strawberries, having about eight acres planted to fruit.
The fruit that he raises is of good quality, finding a ready sale on the market
and bringing to Mr. Dingman a gratifying and profitable income. His
political allegiance is given to the democracy but he has never been an office

^t $m fork public ^ibrarg
Jkstet Jfcitax anb filbcn JlfoimiiatJons


JUQL&, August 2Z /^/3

Mr. George E. Warner,

Minneapolis, Minn.
Dear Sir:

On your invoice of June 3rd, you billed
the "History of Pottawattamie County, Iowa," by
H. H. Field and Hon. Joseph R. Reed, in two vol-
umes at $7.00. In collating these volumes we
find that a plate is apparently missing, between
pages 412 and 415 of Vol. 1. Will you kindly
try and find this plate and send it to us that
it may be placed in the volume?

Very respectfully,

t^iOv *\ ttrcrv^^

Chief cf Order Division

v<1 it




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