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CONRAD, Jacob L. 1837-1928


Posted By: Tammy (email)
Date: 4/27/2015 at 06:16:01

Jacob L. Conrad First Resident of Grundy Co. Dead

A Resident Of The County For Seventy-Five Years, Coming From Indiana

He Was The First To Break Grundy Soil

In Those Days Indians and Wild Game Roamed the Prairies in This Section of Iowa

Jacob L. Conrad passed away at his home in Conrad early Monday morning, Sept. 3, 1928, after a brief illness. He was the son of John and Mahala Conrad, the oldest of a family of seven children. He was born in Harrison county, Indiana, Dec. 20, 1837. He came to Iowa with his parents in 1853, arriving at what is now Albion the last day of August. They started in April from Indiana with two covered wagons, one horse team and two ox teams. When they got to Knox county, Ill., their teams were tired out, as it had been a wet spring and the roads or trails were very muddy and made it very bad traveling. The family stopped there eight weeks, while the father, John W. Conrad, came on horseback to Iowa, entering land in Grundy county at what afterwards became known as Conrad Grove, that being the second entry in the county. Land was subject to entry in Grundy county in 1851, but none was entered until 1853. Grundy Center did not exist at that time.

March 6, 1856, Grundy county was reorganized as a separate commonwealth. By act of Jan. 22, 1853, it had been attached to Black Hawk county. The first election was held at the home of Thomas Copp at Grundy Center, May 5, 1856. The officers had their offices in their homes. The first mail route in Grundy county was from Waterloo to Hudson, Grundy Center and Steamboat Rock. Mail once a week. Thomas Copp was the first postmaster of Grundy Center.

Jacob Conrad often spoke of Jan. 1, 1854, what a fine day it was--there was no ice in the streams and he shot wild duck in the creek that day.

At that time there was only one house between Conrad Grove and Albion, that being at Gowen's Grove, and is now owned by Dr. Burrows.

In the spring of 1854, he and his father began breaking prairie sod west of the grove with ox teams. As there was no grain to feed the animals, they let them feed on grass morning and evening. They planted this to corn and received 20 bushels per acre. They also planted some watermelons and had a fine crop. They were quite a treat for the travelers, hunters and Indians. In riding across the prairie in those days one could see herds of deer and some elk, prairie chickens by the thousand and wolves by the dozen. Some people have great fear of wolves, but the most the early settlers feared was prairie fires. If fire got started it would sometimes go for one hundred miles, taking nearly everything in its path.

At that time, Iowa City was the nearest market. After a few years Cedar Rapids and then Waterloo became their market. To those places he made many trips. At that time Marietta was the county seat of Marshall county. Marshalltown did not exist, only a blacksmith shop and one other building there.

The first school they had in the district was held in the stone house his father, John W. Conrad, had built for a smoke house. It still stands at the home of W. A. Conrad. Dr. Elias Fisher was the teacher. It was also used for church and Sabbath school. As the building was small, it was not long until they had to build a larger one. They decided to build so as to accommodate all, and a frame building was built southeast of the grove on what is now the G. C. Hurlbutt farm, near where Clyde Fink now lives.

In December, 1856, he saw the worst snowstorm residents of Grundy county ever saw. Several days that winter the thermometer registered 38 and 42 degrees below zero. During 1857, 1858 and 1859 they had very hard times. Wheat was worth 25 and 30 cents per bushel and it was a long ways to market.

He was married to Phoebe Ann Glass Sept. 13, 1863, at Marietta, Marshall county, by Rev. Burkhart. Nine children were born to them, five sons and four daughters. Three children preceded him in death. His wife passed away Oct. 3, 1899, and the youngest son, Fred E., Jan. 8, 1928.

In 1868 he bought the farm which was his home until his death. In 1875 he saw a narrow gauge railroad built from Liscomb to what is now the town of Beaman. In 1880 he saw the Northwestern railroad built that gave the town of Conrad birth. He saw the vast Iowa prairies change to beautiful farms, cities and towns with all the modern conveniences.

He was in his ninety-first year.

He leaves to mourn his loss five children: J. E. Conrad, Austin, Minn.; Mrs. Mary Tapps, Radcliffe; Mrs. Olive Sharp, Conrad; Mrs. Maggie Tapps, Radcliffe; W. H. Conrad, Runnels, Iowa; also 12 grandchildren and 12 great-grandchildren, four sisters and one brother, and many other relatives and friends.

--The Grundy Register (Grundy Center, Iowa), 13 September 1928, pg 1


Grundy Obituaries maintained by Tammy D. Mount.
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