Michael J. Barthell


A power of initiative, ambition, energy and a progressive spirit, directed into important business channels, have carried Michael J. Barthell forward into close relations with the general business life of Allamakee county and of Waukon, where he makes his home. Under the firm name of Barthell Brothers he is associated with his brother in the conduct of one of the largest and most profitable real-estate enterprises in this county and he is also a force in agricultural circles, owning and developing two fine farms in Winnesheik county. His enterprise and business aggressiveness, dominating and influencing all the activities of his career, have made the various interests with which he is connected successful and profitable and place him today among the leading and influential men of Allamakee county.

A native of this county, Mr. Barthell was born on a farm in Makee township, April 6, 1871, a son of John M. Barthell, who is numbered among the earliest settlers in Iowa, having located in Allamakee county in pioneer times. For many years he was a prosperous farmer in Makee township but later he removed to Waukon where he turned his attention to the live-stock business, becoming a dealer and shipper on an extensive scale. His death occurred in the city, March 6, 1902, and he is survived by his wife who makes her home in the family residence in Waukon. They were the parents of ten children, six sons and four daughters, all of whom grew to maturity. Of this family, four sons and four daughters still survive, the sons being: M. J., B. F., and Charles, who live in Allamakee county; and George, who makes his home in the state of Washington.

Michael J. Barthell was reared on the home farm in Makee township and from his childhood aided in the operation of the property, gaining in this way a practical knowledge of the best agricultural methods, which has been invaluable to him in his present farming operations. He acquired his education in the district school but is largely self-educated, having made up for his early deficiencies in this line by reading, observation and study since reaching mature years. When he left the farm he came to Waukon and for a few years thereafter was associated with his brother in the conduct of a hardware business. This enterprise they later sold and turned their attention to the real-estate business in which they are now engaged under the firm name of Barthell Brothers. They handle a great deal of valuable property, dealing extensively in Waukon residence and business property and in Allamakee and Winnesheik county farming lands, and they control an important and growing trade having won the confidence of the public at large by their straightforward and honorable business methods. They conduct also a loan department in connection with their real-estate enterprise and have done much to stimulate general business activity in this way. Michael Barthell and his brother also own and operate two fine farms in Winnesheik county, which they have improved and developed along modern and scientific lines, making their properties among the best and most profitable in this part of the state. Along the lines of his interests Mr. Barthell has proved himself a reliable, far-sighted and resourceful business man, modern in his views, progressive in his ideas and honorable and upright in his standards. He has done a great deal of important work in the development of the county where he was born and his private prosperity is counted a public asset.

In Waukon, on the 27th of December, 1905, Mr. Barthell was united in marriage to Miss Jessie Stilwell, a daughter of C. S. Stilwell, one of the well known lawyers of Waukon, of whom further mention is made on another page in this work. Mrs. Barthell was born and reared in this city and after graduating from high school took a two year kindergarten course. Mr. and Mrs. Barthell have a daughter, Barbara Elizabeth.

Politically Mr. Barthell is identified with the republican party but has never sought nor held public office, preferring to devote all of his time to his business affairs. He belongs to the Masonic order, holding membership in the lodge, chapter and commandery, and in his religious views he is a devout Presbyterian. He and his wife attend the Presbyterian church in Waukon to which he is a contributor, although he has also given generously toward the building of the Baptist and German churches. He is preeminently a business man and the energy, aggressiveness and determination necessary for success in business life are dominating forces in his character. Waukon is fortunate in numbering him among her citizens, for his work has been a potent force in the city’s development and the record of his career is worthy of a place in a history of its successful and able men.

-source: Past & Present of Allamakee County; by Ellery M. Hancock; S. J. Clarke Pub. Co.; 1913
-transcribed by Linda Earnheart

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