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Van Auken


Posted By: Kaye Sanchez (email)
Date: 9/1/2012 at 19:50:43

Source: Book written by Merritt Melberg:
David H. Van Auken married Ruth Helen Merritt, third daughter of Richard and Agnes Rosencrantz Merritt. Ruth was born 29 July 1897, on the family farm three miles SW of Norway, Iowa. She went to the Prairie Belle country school and started out at Norway High School. Her Mother took her out of high school when her brother drowned and they traveled to California, where they spent a year. Ruth returned to high school and graduated mid-year in 1921.
David was born 24 February 1922 and lived at South English, Iowa when he married Ruth. David had been married before and had one son, Lyle. Lyle was raised by his maternal grandfather on a farm east of North English, IA.
David and Ruth farmed on the land she inherited from her father, a farm of some 107 1/2 acres about three miles SE of Norway, IA. During the "Great Depression of the early 1930's, they lost the farm. They then moved to the farm on which David had been raised, three miles east of South English. This was a poor farm and after 2-3 years, they were forced to take bankruptcy.
For the next 20 or more years, David earned his living as a carpenter in South English. In 1930, Ruth suffered a breakdown and spent two years in the state mental hospital at Mt. Pleasant, IA. David died in 1967 from complications of old age, David being several years Ruth's senior. Ruth returned to the mental hospital for a month or so, then moved to a trailer in Norway, IA., where she lived next door to her sister, Ollie Melberg. When Ollie went to Winston-Salem, NC to spend the winter, Ruth moved into Ollie's home. She died in a nursing home in Cedar Falls, IA. on 8 Dec 1976. She is buried at North English, IA. David and Ruth never had children. They did have a great love of music and played at many country dances. David had the ability to play any instrument from a trombone to a violin.


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