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SPIELMAN, John - 1890 Bio (1808-1889)


Posted By: Joey Stark
Date: 8/28/2007 at 17:00:37

Portrait and Biographical Album of Jefferson and Van Buren Counties, Iowa, Printed 1890 by Lake City Publishing Co., Chicago
Pages 375-376

John SPIELMAN. Among the worthy pioneers of Jefferson County, no one is more worthy of honorable mention in this volume than he whose name heads this sketch. While of foreign birth and education he was capable of adapting himself to the conditions peculiar to the opening up and settlement of a new country. He not only secured a good home for his family but was the means of aiding hundreds of others in a wise selection of lands for future homes.

Mr. SPIELMAN was born in Baden, Germany, on the 18th of August, 1808, was reared and educated in his native land and there learned the trade of a weaver. At the age of twenty years he emigrated to America and for a short time resided in Baltimore, Md. From there he removed to Frederick City of the same State, where in December, 1829, he was united in marriage with Miss Saloma BERGE (sic - BERTSCH), a daughter of Christian BERGE, and a native of the town of Lichtenau, Province of Byriam, Bavaria, who came to America on the same vessel on which her future husband was a passenger.

Mr. SPIELMAN was employed in a packing house in Frederick City until 1830, when he removed to Columbus, Ohio, where he purchased a tract of land and became a market gardener. What was then his farm is now comprised within the city limits of Columbus. His union with Miss BERGE (sic) was there blessed by the birth of two sons and two daughters. In the early spring of 1840, accompanied by his family, he set out for the Territory of Iowa, then the far western border land of civilization. They traveled by boat on the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers and landed in Burlington on the 1st of May. After a brief stay at that place they proceeded to Bloomington, now Muscatine, Iowa, but after a short time returned to Burlington, and on the 1st of June following, came to Jefferson County, locating in Walnut Township, on section 32, where Mr. SPIELMAN pre-empted a tract of land and made a home for his wife and children. The family circle was afterward extended, six children, five daughters and one son being added to those before mentioned. Lewis, the oldest of the family, married Matilda OTTERBIEN, followed farming in pursuit of fortune and continued his residence in Walnut Township until his death, which occurred in March, 1876; John A., the second son, is mentioned elsewhere in this work; Sarah died in New London, Henry County, in 1855; Mary who was the youngest of those born in Ohio, died during infancy in Burlington, in May, 1840, soon after the family had reached that city. The next child, who was also given the name of Mary, became the wife of William J. CLARKE, and died in Fairfield in 1878; Caroline married Michael GRAFF and resides on the old home farm; Amelia is the wife of James M. HEATON, a member of the McConnell Mercantile Company of Burlington; Christina died at the age of nineteen years; Fred, who was a member of Company D., Seventeenth Iowa Infantry, died in this hospital in Corinth, Miss., September 1, 1862, at the age of eighteen years; Maggie was also eighteen years of age at the time of her death; Louisa, the youngest of the family, is the wife of M. A. REPASS, agent of the American Express Company in Fairfield.

Mr. SPIELMAN continued farming until the winter of 1864, when he removed to Fairfield and joined his son, John A., in the hardware business. In 1876, he laid aside all business cares and for nearly thirteen years lived in easy retirement. His death occurred on June 8, 1889, at the old home farm in Walnut Township, where he had settled almost half a century before. It happened that he caught a severe cold while on a visit to his children in Walnut Township, and was unable to return to Fairfield. He was eighty-one years of age at his death and had he lived until the succeeding November would have been married sixty years. He was rugged and healthy up to his last illness and maintained his mental faculties unimpaired. His wife still survives him and resides in Fairfield, and although not physically strong for some years past, is yet well preserved. Although eighty-one years of age, her hair is still untouched with the gray that generally distinguishes those of her advanced years. The greater part of her life has been spent as a follower of Christ, she being a devout member of the Lutheran Church and a consistent Christian woman. She has proved a devoted and loving wife and mother and her kindness and good example cultivated the affections of her children, so that the family ties have always bound them strongly together.

On coming to this county in the days of its early settlement, Mr. SPIELMAN readily adapted himself to the conditions of a life on the frontier, leanred the descriptions of land and was well informed in regard to the locations of lands open to entry and the system in force in acquiring title. He had a brother who was a minister of the Lutheran Church and President of Capital University, of Columbus, Ohio, who directed many of his countrymen and others who were emigrating to Iowa to seek his brother John in Jefferson County. For these and many besides, Mr. SPIELMAN sought locations and aided them in securing land. Uncle John, as he was familiarly called, was widely known and highly esteemed for his open hospitality and genial, kindly ways. He was a Whig in early life and his family had had the honor of entertaining Gen. William Henry Harrison, while that illustrious soldier and statesman was a candidate for the Presidency. In 1836, Mr. SPIELMAN cast his first vote for the General as did the three other voters of his family in the country. When Benjamin Harrison became a candidate for the Presidency there were twenty-eight SPIELMAN voters, lineal descendants of the original four, and although living separated and without preconcerted action, all voted for the grandson. At Mr. SPIELMAN's home in Walnut Township some of the most prominent Republican statesman of Iowa were frequent guests; Grimes, Gear, Wilson, Harlan and others partook of his hospitality. In matters of education and religion he was an earnest worker and was among the foremost and most liberal supporters of schools and churches. He organized the first Evangelical Church in Jefferson County, and was the leading spirit in building the first church there and organized the first Sunday-School. For many years the church was known as the SPIELMAN Church and the schoolhouse of his district still bears his name. Mr. SPIELMAN was gifted with strong social and benevolent symyathies (sic) and won the friendship and regard of all who knew him. While an earnest partisan he was never ambitious to fill public office and only accepted some minor ones. He lived a useful and upright life, was true to every legal and moral obligation and died at a ripe old age, leaving only friends to mourn his loss.

*Transcribed for genealogy purposes; I have no relation to the person(s) mentioned.


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