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The German Settlement of Mt. Carmel, 1870-71 Article


Posted By: David Reineke (email)
Date: 1/24/2009 at 13:50:00

I translated the following article, originally titled “Die deutsche Ansiedlung von Mt. Carmel in Iowa” [The German Settlement of Mt. Carmel in Iowa] from a German-language publication called “Der Deutsche Pionier. Eine Monatsschrift für Erinnerungen aus dem Deutschen Pionier-Leben in den Vereinigten Staaten.” [The German Pioneer. A Monthly Journal for the Reminiscences of German Pioneer Life in the United States.], published by Der Deutsche Pioneer-Verein [German Pioneer Club] of Cincinnati, Ohio. The article was contained in the second year’s volume, 1870-1871. The article references its source as the “Wahtheitsfreund,” a German-language newspaper published at the time in Cincinnati, Ohio.

[Page 346]

The German Settlement of Mt. Carmel in Iowa

The following short history of a German settlement is taken from the local “Wahrheitsfreund.”

It was in the summer of the year 1868 when Messrs. Kniest and Baumhoever [Baumhover] undertook a trip with the intention of finding, somewhere in Iowa, a township containing good land with timber or with timber nearby, in order to establish a settlement there. And they were fortunate enough to find it in Carroll County, about 250 miles west of Dubuque, between two railroads—the Dubuque and Sioux City and the Chicago Northwestern, and only a few miles from the latter. The quality of the land—rich, black topsoil with a light addition of sand, and in other places loamy clay soil—is the best that could be desired. There is also good water and lush grass, and in addition the land lies only four miles from the county seat and the main railway, which leads directly to the Pacific Ocean. Steps were immediately taken to procure the land. A contract was arranged with the owners, Mr. John J. Blair and Co., which included a difficult provision stipulating that fifty genuine purchasers and settlers had to be on the land within the first year. And so when the contract was signed, Mr. Kniest alone had the courage to undertake the responsibility. He went immediately to work, had the land surveyed from scratch, and had a large and attractive schoolhouse built for the temporary use of the settlers, which is now being used as a church until a new building is completed. After that, hay was made and stores of provisions were obtained for people and animals. Mr. Kniest then returned to Dubuque and informed German and English newspapers and a published a pamphlet about the advantages of the settlement, and had such good success that by July 16, 1869 he was in a position to report to Mr. Blair and Co. that he had acquired fifty percent more than the number of settlers he had pledged to find. Blair and Co. congratulated him on his success and informed him that he could have as much land as he wanted.

In the same year Bishop Hennessy of Dubuque sent a priest, for whom an attractive house was immediately constructed on a ten-acre lot near the church, and which was landscaped with shade and fruit trees and flowers.

After the settlement received its name of Mt. Carmel and the first annual church fair was held, the settlers’ spirits rose considerably. The fertility of the soil was also a constant motivator for hard work.

During the winter there will be considerable work in the timberland, of which Mr. Kniest has procured for himself a large tract, and where he now has a number of men busy with wagons cutting logs, fence posts, and firewood, the latter being especially important for a brickworks planned for the springtime. A hundred families have purchased land there, most of whom will set to work next spring. Mr. Kniest, who will remain in Dubuque a few more weeks, is now attempting to find men with the resources to build storehouses, mills, and granaries, which will soon be necessary and will turn out to be good capital investments. He is also able to offer a few purchasers already-improved land, of which he has some quantity, at a discount. Next summer he will obtain a half dozen breaking plows and forty oxen to plow under the grass. And at the same time he will sell teams of horses, plows, oxen, etc. at favorable terms for those who want them. He also has several thousand acres of the finest land, for which he will accept partial payment in work at breaking land and partial payment in money.

The town plat is laid out on the prettiest and highest point in the vicinity, almost in the center of the settlement, and several lots have already been sold and will be recorded next summer. Since the population is steadily on the rise, the little town will soon offer a good livelihood for some craftsmen and businessmen. Considering the restless energy of Mr. Kniest, who has accomplished so much in such a short time, we may expect even greater things in the future.


Carroll Documents maintained by Lynn McCleary.
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