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OSTRANDER, William Grant


Posted By: Deidre Badker (email)
Date: 4/10/2015 at 09:38:19

Excerpt from the book "Celebrate a Century", produced for the Buffalo Center Centennial (1882-1992): submitted by Barb (Mrs. Grant) Ostrander:

William Grant Ostrander Story:

One of the earliest residents of Buffalo Center was William Grant (i.e. W.G.) Ostrander. He was born in 1868 near Troupsburg, New York. He came to Iowa from Wisconsin with his parents, Peter and Amanda Ostrander when he was 16 years old. Peter and Amanda were originally from Holland and England. W. G. considered himself a "Yankee" and some remember him saying he was "Pennsylvania Dutch". The name Ostrander means "by the sea" or "from the east bank".

As a young man, W. G. worked as a hired man on a farm near Rockwell-Swaledale, Iowa for $17 per month. Some years later, he met and married Ida Mae Badker of Dumont, Iowa. Ida had come from Germany with her parents when she was a year old. They married December 10, 1890 and took a train to Minneapolis. There they bought a buggy and a horse that had been pulling a street car to come home to a farm near Swaledale.

In 1892, they purchased a quarter section of land near Woden, Iowa, breaking it up and building a homestead. He traded the farm for stock in a livery stable in Forest City, Iowa and then bought one in Buffalo Center, known as the New Livery Barn. The first livery stable which he operated with Alex Wilson, burned, so he built a substantial frame building that was 24x60 foot - there he stabled seven or eight good teams - as good as any in the livery business and "rented out rigs". His carriages were new and consisted of both double and single vehicles. He also furnished good, trusty drivers.

Buffalo Center was just becoming a town. When the work of digging the basements on the east side of Main Street started, W. G. helped to haul the dirt and spread it on Main Street. At the time, there was no such thing as a road grader, so the leveling was done by the use of a float. W. G. became the first marshal and street commissioner for Buffalo Center. One of his purchases was a street grader. It arrived June, 1894. The machine required the efforts of four teams of horses to pull the grader over the proposed streets. In those days, money was scarce and nearly all the tax payers worked out their poll tax by working on the new streets. A man was required to work 2 days to pay the poll tax of $3.00. If he had a team of his own to use for this work, he was allowed $1.50 a day for their use, thus requiring only one day of work.

Finding that his livery stable required his full attention, W. G. resigned his role after one year. His salary had been $70 per month, which was very good at that time. Deciding it was time to try something different, in the summer, he went to North Dakota for a year, then to South Dakota for a year to plant flax.

By this time, his family had grown to seven children: Clarence, Earl, Mabel, Victor, Irene, Ruth and Robert. They also were raising a grandson, Warren Wilson, after Warren's parents died.

The Dakotas proved too dry and inhospitable so he stopped doing that and farmed one-half mile west of Thompson, Iowa. There he operated a hay press for several years before going into farming full time until his retirement. In 1915, they moved to a farm 2 miles south and 1 mile west of Thompson where he built a beautiful home, the first one in the community with running water furnished by a pump in the basement.

Ida died August 7, 1937. The youngest son, Robert, took over the farming operation so W. G. continued to live there until going to live with his son Earl at Buffalo Center. But, even at 81, he would hitchhike to Thompson every day where he worked at Thompson Machinery Company. Eventually he went to make his home at the IOOF Home in Mason City, IA. After many happy years of retirement, he died in August of 1959, at the age of nearly 91 years.

His obituary and census information can be found at this website:


A photo of him and his gravestone is at Find a Grave Memorial #61643378.


Winnebago Biographies maintained by Cheryl Siebrass.
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