Upon the list of Allamakee countys honored pioneers
appears the name of Fred Riser, whose residence in this section
dates from 1851 and whose active career has been closely
identified with its growth and development. He has borne an
honorable and worthy part in the work which has transformed the
region from a wilderness into a populous and wealthy community
and he is today one of the most prominent and popular men of
Lansing township, where he is living retired. He was born in
Berne, Switzerland, June 14, 1834, and is a son of John and
Barbara (Orli) Riser, natives of that country, who emigrated to
America about 1843 and settled on one hundred and sixty acres of
government land in Madison county, Illinois. In 1851 they sold
the farm and moved to Allamakee county, Iowa, after the father
and his son John had made two trips to this state and to
Minnesota looking for a suitable location. Having finally
determined upon Lansing township John Riser purchased three
hundred and twenty acres of school land, unimproved, and while he
was engage in building a stable upon this property he and his
family lived in a rude shanty on the Andrew T. Sandry property.
They made their home in the stable for some time after it was
completed and then moved into a frame and log dwelling which they
had erected and which still stands with the additions that have
since been made. Both parents have passed away, the mother dying
in Madison county, Illinois, and the father in Lansing township
when he was seventy-nine years of age. He was a member of the
Reformed church in Switzerland and in America a devout adherent
of the German Methodist Episcopal religion. In his family were
five children besides the subject of this review: Anna and
Elizabeth, who passed away in Illinois, Christ, a retired farmer
living in Lansing township; John who passed away in 1907 and
Peter, who died in 1902.
Fred Riser was nine years of age when he was brought to the United States, his ninth birthday having been spent on the Atlantic ocean. The family landed in New York, July 4, 1843, after fifty-two days on a sailing vessel, and from there they pushed onward to Madison county, Illinois, where the subject of this review remained until he was seventeen years of age and where he acquired such education as could be gained during a few months attendance at a country school. He came to Allamakee county with his father and assisted with the work of the homestead until after the latters death, when the land was divided, Mr. Riser receiving as his share one hundred and sixty acres, including the buildings upon the farm. He made further improvements, erecting one of the largest barns in the township, and he steadily carried forward the work of development through the years, becoming one of the prosperous and substantial agriculturists of this vicinity and winning a competence sufficient to enable him to retire from active life. He sold his farm to his son Toto, with whom he continues to reside.
Mr. Riser has been twice married. His first union occurred July 10, 1854, when he wedded Miss Barbara Marti, a native of Switzerland, who passed away in 1862, leaving five children: John, deceased, who was a minister in the Methodist Episcopal church; Kate, the wife of John Sharff, of St. Paul, Minnesota; Fred, a practicing physician residing near Denver, Colorado; Henry William, who formerly engaged in the practice of dentistry and who resides in Minneapolis, Minnesota; and Jacob, a dentist of Spokane, Washington. On the 10th of March 1864, Mr. Riser was again married, his second wife being Miss Eva Margaret Swartz, who has also passed away. She became the mother of thirteen children: George, deceased; Wesley, who resides in California Matilda, also deceased, who was married and had two children, Fred and Theodore Fisher, the latter of whom makes his home with his grandfather, the subject of this review; Edward, who has passed away; Lidia, the wife of Albert Ross, of Washington; Julia, who married Fred Sharff and maker her home with her father; Otto, who recently purchased his fathers farm; Ida, who married John Long, of Montana; Benjamin; Selma, the widow of John Wild; Gertrude, who married Philip Rogensack, of North La Crosse; Manda, who married Ben Feuerhelm, of Lansing township; and Adeline, who makes her home in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
Mr. Riser is a member of the German Methodist Episcopal church and helped in the erection of the church building. He was for many years in his early life a democrat in his political beliefs but of late has affiliated with the republican party. He was for some time a member of the board of school directors and served ably and efficiently for one term as township assessor. At the age of seventy-nine he enjoys remarkable health considering his life of hard and unremitting work and in spirit and interests seems yet in his prime--a straightforward, honorable and progressive citizen, thoroughly alive to the best interest of the community he has aided so greatly in upbuilding.
-source: Past & Present of Allamakee County; by
Ellery M. Hancock; S. J. Clarke Pub. Co.; 1913
-transcribed by Diana Diedrich
Return to 1913 biographies index