[ View Thread ] [ Post Response ] [ Return to Index ] [ Read Prev Msg ] [ Read Next Msg ]

Auer farm history, 1840-1949


Posted By: S. Ferrall
Date: 7/25/2006 at 04:20:44

[originally posted 2006]

Family Lives on One Farm 109 Years
Des Moines, Iowa - (AP) - The Auer family has lived on the same farm near Garnavillo, Iowa, 109 years. The Auer farm of 240 acres is said to be one of the richest farming areas in Iowa. In 1840, Mr. and Mrs. Frank Auer left Germany and emigrated to America in a sailing vessel. Their son, Frank, Jr., took over operation of the farm at the age of 16. He died in 1925 and his sons, John and Oscar, have since operated it. The brothers have raised purebred Brown Swiss cattle. They bring high prices and some have been shipped ot Cuba and South America.

-Wisconsin Rapids Daily Tribune, November 21, 1949


[Added by S. Ferrall May 23, 2020, the original articles from 2 newspapers & a photo printed with the Clayton County Register article. All surname spellings have been transcribed as they appeared in the original articles.]

Clayton County Register, Thursday, September 29, 1949:

Clayton Center Farm in Auer Family Since Pioneer Days

A stone smokehouse over a century old, near a sparkling spring and a depression in the ground where once stood a log cabin marks continuous one-family ownership of the Auer farm over more than one hundred years.

Oscar and Rose Auer are grandchildren of the Frank Auer who bought the 240 acre place near Clayton Center from a man named Smith in 1840. Earlier Frank emigrated to American because of a revolt which threatened in Germany in 1840.

Leaving the ancestral home near Landschut, Bavaria in the hands of friends, Frank came here with an overseer, spending 53 days on the Atlantic crossing in those times. He first settled temporarily in Indiana while the overseer came further west, purchased their present farm.

They erected their one-room cabin on the side of a hill near the spring of clear cold water. All that now remains to mark the spot is a depression in the backyard "Just can't fill it in," Oscar says, "It keeps settling."

Winnebago Indians were not so distant neighbors at that time. In those early days the family had to make a 50 mile pilgrimage to Dubuque when they wanted to go to church or do their trading.

Later on a Jesuit started riding circuit on horseback bringing Masses more frequently and today the family goes to church at Garnavillo.

Frank Jr., father of Oscar and Rose, was 13 when his family settled on the place. When the family overseer returned to Germany, Frank, then 16, took over management of the farm, added more acres.

In 1871 Frank Jr. married Mary Schmeltzer and claimed 200 acres for his own. Within ten years he owned it free of debt and began building the huge two-storied nine-room house which still dominates the place.

Timbers floated down the river from Minnesota went into the big barn, begun about the same time. As the farm expanded forty more acres were added.

When his first wife died in 1887 Frank was left with five children. Mrs. Mary Schafer died later but the four now surviving are Sister M. Columba (Helena) and Mrs. Katherine Wissell, Dubuque; Frank and Ed on farms near Monona.

A second marriage in 1888 brought five children; Mrs. Tom Garaghty and George, living near Elkader; Oscar and Rose, on the home place and John who lived with them until his death in 1941.

Frank Jr. died in 1925 and left the farm to John and Oscar. They read about a new breed of cattle in a farm magazine, decided to try them and spent $500 apiece for two of the new Brown Swiss heifers.

Their sizeable purebred herd now shows the success of the brothers' experiment. Just last year some of their stock was sold to South American to start herds there.

During the last couple of years Oscar has rented much of his cropland and now gives more of his time to his purebred herds. He raises McIntosh apples too, was picking some of them Friday.

Oscar told of a windstorm which devastated the orchard some years ago, ruining trees his grandfather had cared for. "But we started over, built it up again." he said, looking over the trees which will eventually go to his nephews, who will carry on the farm in the Auer name during a second century.

[A photo of Oscar Auer standing in front of the old smokehouse on the Auer farm was included with the write-up, but reproduced as a grainy image on microfilm]

--- --- ---

A slightly different version of the article was printed in the Dubuque Telegraph-Herald, Sunday, September 25, 1949:

Auers on Clayton Co. Farm for 109 Years

While continuous ownership of a farmstead by the members of one family for over a century is not rare in this northeast Iowa area the history of the Auer family, near Garnavillo, probably provides as typical an example as can be found anywhere in the state.

The Auer farm of 240 acres lies within the triangle made by highways 52, 13 and 128 in what is said to be one of the richest farming areas in Iowa.

Because of a threatened revolution in Germany early in the 19th century Mr. and Mrs. Frank Auer and family left their estate near Landschut, Bavaria and emigrated to America in 1840.

They engaged friends to settle upon their lands, took what cash they had and such possessions as they could carry and departed hurriedly for the new land and comparative peace and security. The voyage across the Atlantic in a sailing vessel took 53 days. The Auers had seven children, Magdelene, Frank, Theresa, Catherine, Caroline, Mary and Joe. Edward, the eighth child, was born in America.

Accompanying the family here was the overseer of the Auer estate, who proved exceedingly helpful in the quest for a new home and the subsequent land clearing and building.

The Auers found a temporary haven with friends in Indiana and later moved to National. The land which was to become the family home for more than a century was purchased near what is now Garnavillo from a man named Smith.

Near a spring which still furnishes clear, cold water, Frank Auer, with the aid of the former overseer, built a one room log cabin to which additions were later made. Crops were planted in the small clearing grubbed out after the cabin timbers had been cut. Friendly Winnebago Indians lived nearby.

Frank, Jr., who was 13 years old when he arrived, was able to take over the management of the farm when he reached 16 and the overseer returned to Germany. the original farm of more than 200 acres was later enlarged.

In 1871 Frank, Jr. married Mary Schmelzer, of Garnavillo, and took over a portion of the home farm, about 200 acres. By 1881 he was free of debt and had built the nine room house which still stands. He also erected a large barn and later purchased an additional 40 acres.

Mrs. Frank Auer, Jr., died in 1887 survived by her husband and five children. Four of the children are living. They are Sister M. Columba (Helena), and Mrs. Katherine Wissell, both of Dubuque; and Frank and Edward, who live on farms near Monona. Mrs. Mary Schafer died some years ago.

In 1888 Frank Auer, Jr. married Mrs. Margaret Beck, of Dubuque who had a son, Otto, now living on a farm near Elkader. Five children were born, four of whom survive. They are Mrs. Tom Garaghty, of Elkader; George, of near Elkader; and Oscar and Rose, now living on the old family homestead. John, the other son, died in 1941.

Back in those early years the nearest trading center was Dubuque, 50 miles away. Once a year a journey was made to Dubuque over the Mississippi river ice to procure provisions and other supplies. The nearest Catholic church was also located in Dubuque and the family made several trips a year to attend masses. Later a priest came by horseback from Dubuque and offered masses in the several homes in the community. Members of the family today attend church in Garnavillo.

After the death of their father in 1925 John and Oscar took over the home farm and began raising purebred Brown Swiss cattle. the Auer cattle, considered among the best in northeast Iowa, bring high prices and have been shipped to Cuba and South America. Two years ago Oscar rented the crop lands and now devotes his entire time to the purebred stock. When the REA line came through five years ago Oscar had all buildings wired for electricity.

The only hope of continuing family ownership of the Auer acres through succeeding generations now lies with nephews, several of whom show the traditional family interest in tilling the soil.

Messages In This Thread


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


Post Response

Your Name:
E-Mail Address:
One Genealogy Document per submission please!
Please include the source of the Document. Thank you!

If you'd like to include a link to another page with your message,
please provide both the URL address and the title of the page:

Optional Link URL:
Optional Link Title:

If you'd like e-mail notification of responses, please check this box:

Verification Test: Please type the two letters
before submission   (helps stop automated spam):  



[ View Thread ] [ Post Response ] [ Return to Index ] [ Read Prev Msg ] [ Read Next Msg ]