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Otto Raymond Beeler


Posted By: Madison County Coordinator (email)
Date: 1/21/2016 at 09:04:45

Otto Ray Beeler was born December 24, 1889 to Othello and Emma Beeler at their rural home southwest of Truro, the white two-story home just north of Carlís home. He attended Oak Run School (later the residence of Charlie & Jolene DeCarlo) through the eighth grade, and completed ninth grade in the Peru school. After working for relatives out on a ranch in Colorado, Otto returned to Madison County, resumed his farming career, and at the age of 23, married Nina Porter, daughter of Fletcher and Alberta Porter.

World War I began in 1914, and when the United States became involved, Otto enlisted in the Army (1917). Because of his German ancestry, he was not sent overseas, but served in the coastal defense unit in Seattle as a mess sergeant (cook). Nina was pregnant with their first child, Lula Josephine when Otto left, but she traveled by train to live with him after the baby was born. Following his honorable discharge in 1918, the family returned home to Iowa and resumed farming. A few years later a second child, Carl Eugene, was born on January 8, 1922.

Otto and his brothers Leo and Pleasant Fred had been raised on the farm, and they continued the practice of working together even when they had land of their own. They put the crops in together and rotated from farm to farm as a group to harvest the crops as well. Carl recalled that his dad and brothers always got along and even worked out dividing household items and land without any squabbles after their parents died. Their parentís will was not considered to be fair by Leo, the youngest son. Leo felt that he had received more than his share, so he redistributed things equitably among the brothers of his own volition. The brothers didnít complain about the depression, or the many troubles they encountered: drought, cinch bugs, and grasshopper plagues. They just worked steadfastly and joked among themselves. In addition, Otto was very interested in livestock and was well known as a horse handler. He developed breeding stock for his purebred Jersey dairy herd.

Otto and Ninaís first home burned in 1924 when Carl was two years old. Carl and Josephine were locked in the privy (out house) for safety while their parents fought the flames. Then, a new home was built just east of the original site where Carl would live his entire life. When Carl was thirteen, his younger brother Billy was born. Carl recalled that Josephine was favored as the oldest child and the only girl, and that Billy was special as the youngest. But Carl adored them both even though the brunt of the work and the responsibility for helping Otto was left to him. Carl worked long hours rounding up the cows, milking, caring for the horses, and mowing the lawn. Otto was a strict disciplinarian and a stoic German, so there was little time for activities other than the annual trip to the State Fair and to community and church activities. Convinced that a man could educate himself, Otto made it a point to read each night.

The children grew up and married, but did not move far away. Josephine married Laverne Neidt; they lived and farmed just one-half mile south of the Beeler family home. Carl married Louise Swan, and Bill married Donna Burger of Van Meter. In 1951, Nina died, and Otto suffered a stroke. He moved upstairs in the home with son Billy, and newly married Carl and Louise and baby Carla occupied the downstairs. Two more children, Tim and Rod were born. Otto continued to live with Carl & Louise and family in the family home until his death in 1955.

Biography and photos supplied by Karen Beeler.


Madison Biographies maintained by Linda Griffith Smith.
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