J.H.H. Fretheim
John H. Hermanson


John H. Hermanson Fretheim, or as he was better known in Allamakee county, John H. Hermanson, proved his loyalty in citizenship by active and able service in the Union army during the Civil war, his reliability in business by his many years of close connection with farming interests of Allamakee county, and his faithfulness to all ties and obligations by his upright and honorable life. He passed away on his farm in Waterloo township, July 6, 1904, and his death was widely and deeply regretted, for in his passing Allamakee county lost a pioneer citizen and a man who during the half century of his residence here made tangible and substantial contributions to the agricultural development and general upbuilding of this part of the state.

Mr. Hermanson was born in Norway, in which country the family name was Fretheim. He came to America with his parents in 1854 and the family remained for a short time in New York where the father and one brother of the subject of this review passed away. Afterwards the mother and the remainder of the family came west and after spending one year in Wisconsin, settled in Allamakee county, Iowa, where they took up government land and also added to their holdings by purchase. Assisted by her sons the mother operated this tract for many years thereafter and under her able management it became a productive and valuable farm. Eventually she retired from active life, selling the land to her sons, and a few years later passed away. She and her husband became the parents of nine children, three of whom survive: John, of Decorah; Mrs. Christina Ellingson, of Austin, Texas; and Mrs. Ellen Peterson, of Allamakee county.

John H. Hermanson began farming in Waterloo township at an early age, cultivating first an eighty acre tract of land which he purchased from his mother's homestead. He suspended his agricultural labors in 1861, when he enlisted in Company B, Twenty-seventh Iowa Volunteer Regiment, for service in the Civil war. He went to the front as private and served for three years, taking part in many of the important engagements of the war and also the battle with the Indians at Lake Mills, Minnesota. With a creditable military record he returned to Iowa and resumed the operation of his farm, remaining active and prominent in this line of work for forty years thereafter. During this period he won success, prominence and substantial fortune and his landed holdings increased steadily until he owned a one hundred and eighty acre farm in Allamakee county with one hundred and thirty acres in a high state of cultivation and an eighty acre tract in Wharton county, Texas. He gave practically all of his time to the cultivation of his Iowa farm and upon it steadily carried forward the work of improvement and development, erecting upon it substantial buildings and installing modern equipment. In the course of years it became a valuable and productive property and stands today as a worthy memorial to his life of industry and thrift.

Shortly after his discharge from service in the Civil war Mr. Hermanson married and to him and his wife were born eleven children: Albert, who is engaged in farming in Ross, North Dakota; Anna, who married Albert Langen of Allamakee county; Mrs. Nettie Loe, of Pekin, North Dakota; Iver, a farmer of Ross, North Dakota; Henry, engaged in farming in the same locality; Emil, a farmer of Elsworth, North Dakota; Mrs. Andrew Klefstad, of Pekin, in the same state; John, who is assisting his brother and mother in the operation of the homestead; Ida, who lives at home; Sanders, aiding in the conduct of the home farm; and Mayme, at home. All these children received excellent educations in the public schools of Allamakee county and Mrs. Loe engaged in teaching previous to her marriage. The family are devout members of the Lutheran church.

John H. Hermanson gave his political allegiance to the republican party and was eminently progressive and public-spirited in matters of citizenship, cooperating heartily in all measures and projects to advance the general interests of the community. On several occasions he rendered the township excellent service as trustee and was found always prompt, capable and reliable in the discharge of his official duties. His death on the 6th of July, 1904, took from Allamakee county one whom she could ill afford to lose - a man of high principles, progressive standards and upright life, who during almost a half century of earnest and capable work along agricultural lines made many substantial contributions to the upbuilding and development of the state.

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

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