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George Peter Rupp


Posted By: Deborah Gilbert (email)
Date: 9/10/2016 at 15:39:50

Maxwell Book: 1883-1983

Pioneer George Peter Rupp was born October 26, 1866 at Berlin, Somerset County, Pennsylvania, just a year after his father returned from Appomattox, Virginia at the end of the Civil War. He was the second son of Peter and Lorinda Knepper Rupp who came to Story County, Iowa, by rail in1882. They had two other sons, William Peter born June 5, 1865 and Wilson C. born March 30, 1879. George was educated in Illinois and Iowa schools, barber school and apprentice carpentry.

In 1871, when George was five years old and William six years old, the family journeyed to the state of Kansas, where land was said to be fertile and homesteads available. However, they did not like the barren prairie and went east to West Virginia, where they remained long enough for their father Peter to build two caskets and returned to Pennsylvania. That same summer, they moved to Illinois. On October 8th and 9th, 1871, they watched the great Chicago fire from their new home.

George's parents, Peter and Lorinda, then purchased a farm southeast of Maxwell in 1882. Peter also built their home in Maxwell where George and his wife Harriette (Meyers) lived for 11 years from 1944 to 1955. George worked as a carpenter with his father and brother William (Bill) building in Story County including the buildings on the 80 acres his parents purchased for him north of Maxwell. He first lived in the old claim shack on the farm.

George was a barber for a number of years in a shop located in the basement of the building south of the Garlock State Bank. During his early years as a Maxwell businessman, George not only helped 'build' the town, he helped organize it as a town by taking part in fund raising, celebrations, etc. He was a player for the Maxwell Baseball Team and continued to be a member of a number of years. When the livery stable, owned by Henry and Urias Meyers, on the corner across from the Maxwell Tribune building, was destroyed by fire, George took charge of the very dangerous job of leading the frightened and blindfolded horses to safety. A nail in a board punctured through his right hand that day.

George attended the St. Louis Exposition in 1887 to see planes, automobiles, submarines and other inventions which had not been perfected or commercially used at that time. He enthusiastically told about these wonderful things on his return. In the early 1890's, George and a barber friend, George Mathers, went by horseback to Nebraska and South Dakota, and visited relatives at Tyndall, South Dakota. a cousin, Kate Geeting from Pennsylvania, had homesteaded land and taught school in Tyndall.

George married Harriette Melinda Meyers on February 17, 1897. Harriette, born November 4, 1876, was the 11th child of pioneers Samuel and Barbara Klingaman Meyers. George and Harriette had two children: Eva Irene, born September 8, 1897 and Fay Virgil, born August 26, 1911.

For many years, after he had moved with his wife to his farm northeast of Maxwell, George continued his carpentry, working with Abe Enfield during the summer months. He also continued his barbering and shaving men who were confined to their beds. He made several trips back to Pennsylvania over the years, visiting relatives. It became a family custom to take an after Christmas rail trip to various places such as Chicago or Kansas City.

George, as a member of the Modern Woodmen, and Harriette, as a member of the Royal Neighbors, held offices and were very active in their lodges. Hattie played the organ. Both were active in their separate churches and later joined and were dedicated members of the Maxwell Christian Church.

George did many things besides barbering, carpentry and farming. Most of these things George and Hattie did together, such as butchering and curing meat for themselves as well as others, repairing shoes, filing saws, constructing cabinetry, grinding corn and meal to order, keeping a large garden, growing grapes and making wine, fashioning stocks for guns and making molds for shell casings. They milked a few cows, raised horses and had a fine orchard. The very same Waterloo one cylinder engine George used for grinding feed over the years can still be heard and seen in Maxwell parades. We can say George was a Jack of some trades and master of many!

George and Hattie celebrated their 50th Wedding Anniversary in 1947. A program was presented by the hosts, their children, Eva and Fay. Their first great grandchild, Robert E. Lane, attending with his mother, Gene Holt Lane, along with 130 relatives and friends.George gave Hattie a diamond ring to mark the occasion. They celebrated their golden anniversary in the same house as his parents and spent a total of 58 years together.

After a terrible tornado in 1944 literally destroyed their farm, during which they miraculously survived with Hattie's broken leg, George's broken ribs and granddaughter Sally's bruises, they bought his parent's, Peter and Lorinda's, old home in Maxwell. They were 68 and 78 years-old when they came to Maxwell to continue to grind corn, tend a large garden and continue teaching tricks to their pet dog, Whitey. Because of all the stories he told his peers, his daughter and son, and his grandchildren, we have an enormous volume of memories of George Rupp and the times in which he lived.

George and Hattie had six grandchildren and twelve great grandchildren. George died January 21, 1955. Harriette died February 26, 1961. Their son Fay died December 1970. All are buried in the Maxwell Cemetery.


Story Biographies maintained by Mark Christian.
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