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Kappen Furniture Store, Guttenberg


Posted By: Reid R. Johnson (email)
Date: 7/6/2014 at 17:09:54

source: Clayton County Register, Centennial Edition, July 1936

Oldest Furniture Store Founded By Guttenberg Man.

Albert Kappen Still Runs Business In Building Erected In 1862.

Clemens Kappen, founder of Clayton county's oldest furniture store, and one of the oldest businesses in Guttenberg to be located continuously in one building, was born in Zueschen, near Winderberg, Festfuhlan, Germany, August 27, 1825. He came to Cincinnati, Ohio, in 1851, taking 66 days to cross the Atlantic.

Mr. Kappen worked as a cabinet maker with a Cincinnati furniture company for four years, when he became connected with a group being sent to Gutenberg by the Cincinatti Settlement company, and came here with them in 1855.

Immediately after his arrival here he set up a cabinet maker's shop and in 1857 entered a partnership known as Kappen and Bolle. This partnership lasted for several years and was located in a building where the dining room of Hotel Ahlers is now.

In 1862 Mr. Kappen built a permanent store of native stone, and opened a furniture store and undertaking business by himself. This same business has been the site of the Kappen furniture store and is today run by his son Albert.

On February 25th of that same year Mr. Kappen married Anne Maria Nutt who was born in Balzers, Liechtenstein, Austria. She preceded Mr. Kappen to Guttenberg, coming directly here directly from Austria in 1848. The sailing vessel on which she crossed the ocean took 93 days to make the trip. Many of her companions died from lack of drinking water, as adverse winds blew the ship back out to sea after they had nearly reached America.

The first hearse used by the Kappen undertaking establishment was merely a platform built on running gear, which had brought the Winkle family to Guttenberg from Cincinnati in 1848. About 1864 Mr. Kappen built a very fine looking box on this same running gear, making the first hearse in Clayton county, and one of the first in Iowa. This hearse has made many long trips to distant towns including Waukon and Lancaster. It also served the other communities in the county.

Clemens Kappen, Sr., died in 1888, and the business was carried on by Clemens Kappen, Jr., until his death in 1924. Since then, a son and bother, Albert Kappen, has carried on the business under the old firm name.

The Kappens always kept an accurate record of funerals and deaths, such records running back as far as 1860. Mr. Kappen is often called upon to refer to them to look up death dates.

Records of the old firm show that back in the 1860's coffins sold from $6.50 to $9.00. An extra charge of $1.00 was made for the use of the hearse with one horse, and $1.50 for its use with a team on longer trips.


Additional info. & notes:

1870 Federal Census, Guttenberg, Clayton Co., Iowa:

Clemens Kappen, 45, Cabinet Maker, Born Westhall, Germany.
Mary Kappen, 27, Keeping house, Born Prussia, Parents Born Prussia.
Theresia Kappen, 7.
Pauline Flor Kappen, 4.
Clemens Kappen, 2.
Babary Nott, 19, Female, Domestic Servant, Born Switzerland.

All children born in Iowa. The census image clearly shows Babary Nott, but may be a misspelling of Babary Nutt - a possible relative of Mrs. Anne Maria (Nutt) Kappen.


1880 Federal Census, Jefferson Township, Clayton Co., Iowa:

Clemens Kappen, 54, Born Prussia, Parents Born Prussia, Cabinet Maker.
Therese Kappen, 17, Dau., keeping House.
Clemens Kappen, 11, son.
Albert Kappen, 9, Son.
Hubert Kappen, 7, Son.
Sarah Kappen, 5, Dau.
Maria Martha Kappen, 3, Dau.

All children born Iowa, father born Prussia, mother born Lichtenstein.


WPA records for St. Mary's cemetery, Guttenberg, record these burials:

Clemens Kappon, Sr., 1825 - 1888
Anna Kappon, 1842 - 1789
Clemens Kappon, Jr., 1868 - 1924
Maria Kappon, no dates shown.

The death date for Anna is an obvious error, but is probably between 1877 and 1880, which would match the time period between the birth date of Maria Martha Kappen on the 1880 census and Anna's absence on the 1880 census.


The photo (below) of the first hearse in Clayton Co., built by Clemens Kappen, Sr. accompanied the news article. Also, click on the link for Albert Kappen's obit.

Albert J. Kappen obituary

Clayton Biographies maintained by Sharyl Ferrall.
WebBBS 4.33 Genealogy Modification Package by WebJourneymen


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