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Charles T. Koser (1933)


Posted By: Kent Transier
Date: 9/1/2006 at 16:20:50

The Winterset Madisonian
Winterset, Iowa
Thursday, September 14, 1933

Article written by Elias Reynolds Zeller

A Tribute to Chas. T. Koser

C. T. Koser was born in Illinois in 1855, and died in Denver, Colorado, September 4, 1933. He was one of a large family of children. The father settled on a large farm near Mount Vernon, Illinois, at an early date. There the family was reared. He was a cabinetmaker by trade and when some of the family reached maturity removed into the city where he followed the trade he had learned before coming west. The farm continued to be cultivated by the elder boys. I have examined the old account book which was kept in a beautiful writing and with meticulous care. Many of the items were funeral charges. He made the coffins and superintended the funerals. The charges were from eight to ten dollars each.

After several years going from the city to the farm, it was sold and the boys all engaged in commercial enterprises. Will, Charley and Sam came to Winterset in 1880 and established a dry goods store in the Snyder block east of the southeast corner of the square. They prospered from the beginning and soon moved to a building on the east side of the square and later to the south side. The sign: “Koser Brothers” has adorned that building for many years, and including in all a period of over fifty years.

Will died several years ago, followed by Sam who passed away more recently. At the time of Charley’s departure he was the oldest dry goods merchant of Winterset and probably of any other city in central Iowa. Will was the outside man and spent a large part of his time on the streets getting acquainted with the farmers who congregated around the square, especially on Saturdays. He was a fluent talker and a politician, - a democrat of pronounced convictions as were the other two. Charley’s specialty was buying goods and keeping the books; Sam was the chief salesman and a better one never struck Winterset.

The firm early established a record for the quality of their goods which always was the best. No shoddy goods ever reached the shelves of Koser Bros. Others sometimes sold cheaper but it became known throughout the county that whoever traded with them got something “all wool and a yard wide.” Following Sam’s death Charley assumed responsibility and risk of taking over the entire business at a most critical time. The depression was on and what happened to many prosperous firms overtook him. Also his health failed. He turned everything over to his creditors and went to Denver to die.

C. T. Koser, whom we always called Charley, was a man of sterling honesty and pronounced religious convictions which he inherited from his parents both of whom were pillars of the Methodist church and whose old fashioned virtues of truthfulness and probity were without question.

I wish to write first of Chas. Koser’s generosity. Whether it was an enterprise to promote the good name of the city or an appeal of individuals for financial aid, he always contributed liberally of his time , goods and money without hesitation and with a willing heart. He was one of those whom the Lord loveth for he was a cheerful giver. I once accosted an unfortunate individual at the old settlers picnic and impolitely commended his good clothes. His reply was that Koser gave them to him.

At the incorporation of the Historical Society his contribution made him a charter member an helped materially to make the enterprise a success. The public library was furnished largely by his contribution and work. The beautiful Methodist church could scarcely have been built had it not been for his contribution of time and money. If his donations to all kinds of public welfare and individual need could have returned to him when adversity overtook him, it would have borne him triumphantly through his last year of financial adversity.

Some men have been in business in Winterset during my sixty years of residence here who are gone and forgotten. Charley Koser is gone but he still is remembered by many whose hard path in life was rendered easier because of his help, and there are public enterprises now prospering which will bear record in years to come of his generosity and public spirit. He was just to all an affable but he will be gratefully remembered by many for his fidelity to intimate friends. He followed the poet’s advice: “the friends thou hast and their adoption tried, grapple them to thy heart with hoops of steel.”

He was true to the vows he had taken when inducted into various fraternal organizations and the church of his parents of which he was passionately attached. He seldomly exhorted or electioneered but the religious and political faith he believed steadfastly and defended both publicly and privately. Any one who assailed the democratic party or the Methodist church in Charley Koser’s presence soon found he had run up against something. “The faith of the just is as the shining light that shineth more and more unto the perfect day.” May the memory of Charley Koser’s light shine on.

The Winterset News
Winterset, Iowa
Thursday, September 7, 1933
Page 1, Column 7


Had Been In Business Here Longer Than Any Other Merchant. Rites Today.

Charles T. Koser, 78, president of the Citizens National Bank, who had been in business longer than any other Winterset merchant, died Monday evening about nine o’clock in Denver, Colorado. Mr. Koser sold his business here July 6 to M. Cohen and J. Sandler of Des Moines, leaving shortly after with his nephew and niece, Mr. and Mrs. Guy Landers, to make his home in Denver. He had been in ill health the last year and had failed rapidly after going to Colorado.

Coming from Illinois in 1880 William, Charles and Samuel Koser opened a small store in the Snyder block east of the square. The stock was moved from there to the east side and in 1889 to the south side. William Koser left the firm after a few years, Samuel Koser continuing in the partnership until his death December 15, 1929. Charles Koser had operated the store since then, buying the interest of his brother’s heirs in 1930. Mrs. Koser, who was Miss Jennie Snyder, died about two years ago.

Services will be this morning, Thursday, at eleven o’clock at the Methodist church in which Mr. Koser held a number of responsible positions and had taken an active part many years. The services will be in charge of the Rev. A. P. Keast, and burial with Masonic rites will be in the Winterset cemetery.


Madison Obituaries maintained by Kent Transier.
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