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Othello Beeler


Posted By: Madison County Coordinator (email)
Date: 8/29/2016 at 17:31:21

Biography of Othello Beeler
submitted by Karen Beeler

Othello was the first Beeler of his family born in the United States. The eldest son of Fred Beeler (born in Germany) and Nancy McClure Beeler (English descent), he was born near Peru, Iowa on April 4, 1865 just as the Civil War was ending. “Thell” and his three brothers were raised on the farm which is currently the Larry Beeler farm located southwest of Peru near Ebenezer Cemetery. They worked cooperatively with their father on the farm, but were never allowed to learn the German language. Fred spoke only English unless he was conversing with visiting relatives.

At the age of 22, Othello married Emma Deardorff; they established their farm on the 120 acres given to Thell by his father which is located at 3256 Settler’s Avenue southwest of Truro. Thell and Em had five children, three of whom lived to adulthood; Pleasant Fred born in 1888, Otto Ray in 1889, Lulu May in 1893, Clarence in 1895, and Leo Dennis in 1899. Tragically, Lulu May (2 years) and Clarence (7 months) died in 1895.

Emma, Othello’s wife, nicknamed “Em”, was born to Pleasant and Catherine Deardorff on August 9, 1867. Her parents had moved from Poweshiek County to Walnut Township in Madison County between 1866 and 1870, but her father, a Civil War veteran, died in 1872 when Emma was only five years old. Her mother (alone with the combined group of children from Pleasant’s first marriage, her first marriage, and their children together) raised the children on a widower’s pension of eights dollars a month. She lived on the farm at the top of the hill at the intersection of the Peru Road and the Truro highway.

Othello and the boys farmed the 120 acres with horses; they also continued the strict German upbringing and strong work ethic. The three sons were very close, and they all remained in Madison County as adults. Pleasant Fred farmed north of his parent’s home and then moved to Peru when it was a bustling town with a railroad yard and depot, and a bandstand. He lived on the NE side of Peru at the top of the hill and ran a dairy farm. He delivered milk all over Peru and managed the Union State Bank office in Peru as well. Otto served in the Army during WWI in Seattle and then returned to Iowa making his home with Nina just a quarter mile south of the home place (the Carl Beeler farm). Leo married Bessie and remained on the original farmstead when Othello and Emma moved to Peru in 1923 and lived in the large square two story house on the hill on the south side of the road heading out west from Peru.

Grandson Carl remembered Othello as a “real grand man.” He was very nice to people and was especially fond of Otto’s wife Nina. Very soft-spoken and easygoing, Thell loved having his grandson Carl visit for a week in the summer. Carl would saddle up Nellie, his black pony with white markings, and ride to Peru to his grandparents’ home. Carl was the only child in town with a pony, so he was very popular with the “town kids” during his visit. Carl remembers his grandfather’s Rhode Island Red chickens, the beautiful vegetable and flower gardens, and his black Model T Ford (which was kept in the shed and rarely used because Em said Thell’s health was too poor).

Carl remembers his grandmother, Em, as being very kind to all the grandchildren and remembers the beautiful flowers she raised. Perennial gardens full of iris, daylilies, and peonies endured on the farm for many years and at the home where she and Othello retired to in Peru. Carl recalled that she was definitely the “one who wore the britches” and that she wanted everything going her way. He attributed her behavior to the “Deardorff temperament” which according to him meant being “head strong and showing favoritism”. When the couple died in 1937, the favoritism was evidenced when the boys opened the lock box. Emma had divided things up giving the most to Leo. Leo, however, said that it was unfair, so he redistributed the land so that it would be equitable.

Othello died on March 9, 1937 of coronary thrombosis. His wife, Emma died of a stroke 7 months to the day after her husband, on October 9, 1937. They are buried in the same plot with their two children who died as toddlers (LuLu and Clarence) at Ebenezer Cemetery, just one third of a mile from where Othello grew up.


Madison Biographies maintained by Linda Griffith Smith.
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