J. P. Becker


Probably one of the best known and most popular men in Lansing township is J. P. Becker, familiarly known as “Colonel” Becker to his many friends. For thirty-six years he has engaged in auctioneering here and now has a most important and extensive business of this kind, being associated with his son under the firm name of J. P. Becker & Son. He occupies a fine home upon a farm of two hundred and forty acres on section 34, a well improved and valuable property, reflecting in its neat and attractive appearance the care and skill of the owner. Mr. Becker was born in Luxemburg, Germany, April 3, 1838, and is a son of Henry and Barbara (Fischer) Becker, who lived and died in the fatherland. Of their six children the subject of this review is the only one now living A brother, Henry, came to America, his nineteenth birthday having been passed on the ocean. After landing in New York he made his way westward to Ohio, where he spent three months, going from that state to Dubuque, Iowa, and thence to La Crosse, Wisconsin. After spending a short period in each of those communities he was for two years a rafter on the Mississippi river and he afterward spent some time in St. Louis, returning north just before the outbreak of the Civil war. He purchased at this time eighty acres of land in Lansing township and upon this built a frame house which was later destroyed by fire. It was replaced by a second dwelling which still stands upon the property. In 1893 Mr. Becker disposed of his original homestead and purchased on the same section one hundred and sixty acres of land, constituting the home of his wife’s parents, upon which they had lived and died and upon which he and his wife now reside. For the past thirty-six or thirty-seven years Mr. Becker has been an auctioneer and is considered one of the most able men engaged in this line of business in Iowa. At one time he cried an auction in which four hundred and twenty-two sales were made during the day and he has often conducted large and important sales for three days in succession without apparent fatigue. He conduct his business in partnership with his son under the firm name of J. P. Becker & Son and he has secured a large patronage, for it is known that his business methods are honorable and upright, his integrity unquestioned and his ability of a high order, as is evidenced by the excellent results which have attended his labors.

In Lansing township, the 17th of December, 1862, Mr. Becker was united in marriage to Mary Hirt, a native of Luxemburg, Germany, born march 24, 1839. She is a daughter of Peter and Elizabeth (Yager) Hirt, who came to America in 1856 and in the same year settled on the farm now occupied by the subject of this review. Mr. and Mrs. Becker became the parents of nine children, of whom four are still living. Three died in infancy. Mary, who has also passed away, was the wife of Joe Duchien. Elizabeth, also deceased, married James Riley. Those living are: Henry W., who is serving as assessor of Lansing township and who lives on a farm adjoining that of his father; Barbara C., who lives with her brother Henry; John H., an auctioneer associated with his father in business; and Louisa C., the wife of Joe Chamberlain, of Chicago, Illinois.

Mr. Becker is affiliated with the democratic party, and is a member of the Roman Catholic church. He has lived for many years in Allamakee county and is widely and favorably known here, his many sterling qualities of mind and character having gained him the respect and esteem of all with whom he comes in contact. To his many friends he is known as “ Colonel” and he has made the name a synonym for high standards of business honor, for progressive citizenship and for unquestioned personal integrity.

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

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