In a history of the pioneer settlement and agricultural
growth, development and upbuilding of Allamakee county it is
imperative that mention be made of Jacob Spieler, who is not only
one of the oldest men in this section of the state but was also
one of the first settlers. That his life history is a record of
success is due to the persistent efforts and intelligently
directed industry he displayed during the years of his connection
with farming interests here, and the retirement which he is now
enjoying is the natural reward of his energy and determination in
Mr. Spieler was born in Canton Unterwalden, Switzerland, September 8, 1825, and is a son of Frank and Anna Marie (Seibert) Spieler, both of whom lived and died in their native country. There Jacob Spieler remained until he was twenty-seven years of age and then, in 1852, crossed the Atlantic to America, locating first in Illinois and later in Iowa, where he spent some time in Muscatine and Dubuque. He was afterward employed in various capacities in Stillwater, Minnesota, and was then for eight summers cook on a raft on the Mississippi river, going as far south as St. Louis and meeting with many unique and remarkable adventures on that historic stream. He delights in recalling these days and the incidents which made them interesting and he relates many stories of the life and condition of the river men of those times. When he left the Mississippi he came again to Iowa and, settling in Allamakee county, worked for a time as a farm hand, being employed by Albert Hess and Fred Riser for a number of years. He was also for three years engaged as a cheese maker on the farm belonging to Jacob Marti. An ambitious, energetic and determined man, he steadily worked his way upward to prosperity and saved his money, purchasing land of his own in 1872. At that time he bought one hundred and ten acres, slightly improved, lying on section 1, Makee township, and with characteristic energy he began its further development, success steadily attending his well directed labors. He took rank among the substantial, able and progressive agriculturists of this section of the state and made his farm one of the finest properties in Allamakee county, neat and attractive in appearance and equipped with all the buildings and accessories found on a model agricultural enterprise. He continued to reside upon this property until 1906, when he purchased a house and three acres of land near Lycurgus. Here he and his wife now reside, Mr. Spieler having well earned the leisure and rest he enjoys.
Jacob Spieler has been twice married. In June, 1871, on the day when the first train ran through Lansing after the completion of the Chicago, Milwaukee & St. Paul Railroad, he wedded Miss Mary Feller, a native of Switzerland, who came to the United States with her mother and sister. To this union were born five children, three of whom died in infancy. The others are: Jacob J., who makes his home upon the Spieler homestead; and Frances, the wife of Henry Engelhorn, of Lansing township. The mother of these children died March 25, 1879, and on the 9th of October of that year Mr. Spieler was again married, his second wife being Miss Louisa Zimmerman. She was born in Wittenberg, Germany, April 19, 1853, and with her parents crossed the Atlantic in 1866. Mr. And Mrs. Spieler became the parents of a son, Carl William, who makes his home with his half-brother, Jacob J.
The homestead is now in charge if Jacob Spieler, Jr., who was born there on March 5, 1874. He acquired his education in the district schools of Makee township and from his early childhood was familiar with the best agricultural methods, having learned farming through practical work upon his fathers property. When the older Mr. Spieler retired he purchased the farm and has since carried forward the work of developing and improving it, being numbered today among the enterprising and progressive agriculturists of this vicinity. He married, in September, 1906, Miss Anna Gruber, a daughter of Thomas Gruber, of whom further mention is made elsewhere in this work. They have three children, Katie, Francis and Elsie. The house in which this family reside is one of the old landmarks of Allamakee county, for it was one of the first buildings erected on the ridge and in the early days served as a schoolhouse and church, the first school and the first meeting having been held in the building. It has since been remodeled but the old house forms a part of the new structure. Jacob Spieler, Jr., who has proven himself a worthy son of his father, both being men who have never faltered in the performance of any duty whether of a public or private character, and who have long since proven themselves worthy and valued citizens of Allamakee county, their labors constituting elements in the general progress and improvement.
-source: Past & Present of Allamakee County; by
Ellery M. Hancock; S. J. Clarke Pub. Co.; 1913
-transcribed by Diana Diedrich
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