A native of Linton township, Allamakee county, Albert H. Gast has become prominent in that locality as one of the substantial farmers, owning Sunnybrook Farm, a property largely devoted to stock-raising and comprising one hundred and seventy-five acres, of which eighty-six are in Linton township and the remainder in Paint Creek township. He was born May 15, 1863, and is a son of John and Catherine (Heimbruch) Gast, both natives of Hesse, Germany. The father was born September 12, 1839, and now lives retired in this state, while the mother, who was born June 8, 1839, passed away June 6, 1911. The father always followed farming and was brought to this country by his forebears when but five years of age. The family first located in Canada, where he grew to manhood, remaining there until about twenty years of age. In 1861 he came to Iowa and bought eighty acres of land, which is part of the farm upon which our subject now resides. It was then nothing but a wilderness, abounding in game and not much else. He cleared and improved this tract and later added thereto until he owned more than two hundred acres, all of which he cut out of the timber, our subject ably assisting him in this deterring and slow labor. The father continued there until 1910, when on account of this wife's health he left the farm and went to McIntire, Mitchell county, this state, where she subsequently passed away. Mr. Gast has continued to reside there since his retirement. He has always participated in any movements undertaken in the public interest and for six years served as township trustee, also holding various other local offices. In his family were eleven children, of whom Albert H. Gast is the second in order of birth. He is one of twins, his brother having died in infancy.
Albert H. Gast, in the acquirement of his education, attended the school in Linton township now known as the Big Foot school. He worked at home with his father from the age of ten years, early becoming used to the hardships of agricultural life under pioneer conditions. He remained at home until twenty-six and then hired out as a farm hand, saving during that year one hundred dollars, which he put out on interest and which he has never touched since but is still drawing dividends. This is mentioned as an example of the determination, thrift, industry and ambition of Mr. Gast, who by exercising these qualities has attained to the prominent position which he now occupies. After one year he engaged in threshing during the season, finding this a very profitable occupation, and in the rest of the time worked at the carpenters' trade, continuing along both lines until 1895, when he married and bought his present farm in March of that year. He has made many valuable improvements thereon, erected modern and substantial buildings and instituted the latest implements and machinery. Sunnybrook Farm comprises one hundred and seventy-five acres, of which eighty-six lie across the line in Linton township. It is mostly devoted to stock- raising and there Mr. Gast gives his close attention to these interests. Everything about the place is up-to-date and modern and the farm has a reputation of producing the largest yield and the best stock in the vicinity. Mr. Gast is also a stockholder in the Monona Creamery.
On February 26, 1895, Mr. Gast was united in marriage to Miss Martha M. Kelly, a native of Mason City, Iowa, born November 29, 1871. She is a daughter of William and Sarah (Lewis) Kelly, both natives of Harrison county, Ohio. Her father in early life was a farmer and became a pioneer in this section of Iowa in the '50s. Later he went to Mason City, where he engaged in the mercantile business and then came to Rossville, this county, where he opened and conducted a general store. However, later he returned to his farm in Paint Creek township and continued thereon with gratifying success until his death, which occurred January 18, 1907. He was nearly seventy-four years of age, the date of his birth being April 7, 1833. His wife survives and still resides on the old homestead, making her home with a son. Mr. Kelly was prominent in official circles, having served as county supervisor for one term and also as township assessor and in other local offices. He was public-spirited, exemplifying in his life true American citizenship and was ever ready to five of his time and money in the furtherance of the public welfare. Mrs. Gast is the seventh in order of birth in a family of eight children and she became the mother of two, the first of whom died in infancy, while the other is Esther Pearl, born July 6, 1898.
Both Mr. and Mrs. Gast are members of the Presbyterian church at Rossville. In his political views he is a republican, although he often votes independently, following his own judgment especially in supporting local candidates. He is a trustee of Paint Creek township. Such success as has come to him is highly merited, for it is the outcome of strenuous and well directed labor. Mr. Gast, however, has not only brought about his own prosperity but has been a valuable factor in raising agricultural standards in Allamakee county and promoting agricultural development here. He is conceded to be one of the influential men in his section and enjoys in full measure the high regard of all who know him. He is also very progressive and up-to-date, being the first man to install a telephone in his neighborhood and he purchased the first automobile taken south of Waukon, it being a Ford which he still runs.
-source: Past & Present of Allamakee County; by
Ellery M. Hancock; S. J. Clarke Pub. Co.; 1913
-transcribed by Jan Miller
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