Christian Frahm


The history of the pioneer settlement of Allamakee county contains the record of no more honorable, worthy and upright man than that of Christian Frahm, who landing in America with only one dollar in his pocket, has worked steadily and courageously during the intervening years, winning finally success, prominence and an honored name. He is one of the earliest settlers in Allamakee county, his residence here dating from 1856, and he has borne an active part in the work of progress which has since reclaimed the wilderness for purposes of civilization. He was born in the province of Holstein, Germany, December 23, 1830, and in 1853 took passage aboard a three-masted vessel called Hemisphere, sailing from Liverpool. After a long journey he arrived a New York and pushed westward to Chicago, landing in the latter city with a capital of one dollar. He found employment in Chicago, working at anything he could find to do, his occupations including the plowing of a cornfield which grew where the business section of the city now stands. From Chicago he made his way to Dubuque, Iowa, and there worked on the railroad and at other occupation until he came to Allamakee county, settling in Lansing, November 10, 1856. He proceeded to Waukon, where he spent three months, but in the spring of the same year obtained a position as a farm laborer on what is now known at Lansing Ridge. He later was employed by his brother in Lansing township and afterward was for seven years on the Adam Hirth farm. Being ambitious, economical and energetic, he saved his money, gradually accumulating enough to rent land. He engaged in farming in this way for one year and then, on the 7th of March, 1864, purchased the farm, buying at the time sixty-two acres, about forty of which could be cultivated. He erected a home upon this property and with confidence, courage and steadfast purpose carried forward the work of development, replacing the old buildings by new ones when necessary so that only one of the original structures now remains. He later added forty acres to his holdings, so that his farm now comprises one hundred and two acres. It is said that in the early days he could plow a straighter furrow across eighty acres of land with a yoke of oxen with no reins nor anything to guide his team but “gee” and “haw” than can be done today with a team of horses and the best plow manufactured. He engaged in general farming for many years, success steadily attending his well directed and practical labors, and he accumulated finally a comfortable competency, on which he was able to retire from active business life. He has given over the management of the homestead to his son and daughter, who care for their father in his old age.

In Lansing township, in 1868, Mr. Frahm married Miss Mary Wessel, born in Hanover, Germany, August 7, 1840. When a young woman she crossed the Atlantic to America, landing in this country after a journey of forty-nine days. After her arrival she worked for wages in order to obtain the money to pay for her passage over, and her life was afterward filled with the hard work always to be found upon a farm. All difficulties she faced with confidence and courage, proving a worthy helpmate to her husband and aiding him materially in his struggle upward to success. She passed away in Lansing township, August 8, 1893. Mr. and Mrs. Frahm became the parents of five children, two of whom survive, Sophia and Henry. They live upon the homestead, Henry managing the work of the farm and Sophia taking charge of household matters.

For the past fifty years Mr. Frahm has been a member of the German Methodist church. He affiliated with the republican party until the election in November, 1912, when he allied his interests with the progressives. He is a splendid example of the self-made man, for, unaided by capital or influential friends, he has worked out his own success. His life of toil and labor has been crowned with a gratifying measure of prosperity and by his perseverance, industry and integrity he has won an honored name as well as success.

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

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