Home History Townships & Maps Birth, Marriage & Death Biographies Census Military Churches Schools

Floyd Biondi Family

Photo page 343-345

Around the time of the Spirit Lake Massacre in the State of Iowa, the Indians were similarly attacking and terrorizing the settlers in and around New Ulm, Minnesota. Jesse Franklin Birdsall (Frank) was just a small child on the day his mother gathered him and his brothers and sisters together and fled from their home to seek shelter in the woods. Crouched in the undergrowth, she held her hand tightly over his little mouth, so that the Indian raiders would not hear his frightened cries. His father, Jesse W. Birdsall, was away from home at the time. It was this event that convinced the Birdsall family to pack their belongings and move to Iowa.

Jesse W. and Mary Catherine Birdsall brought their family to Iowa in 1866, by covered wagon. It was a difficult trip which took three months. Rough trails led the way south, and thick prairie grasses met them when they finally arrived in northern Polk County. Frank was only six when the family arrived in Iowa, but his impressions of sunflowers and cockleburrs that grew as tall as the neighbor's barn lasted the rest of his lifetime. The Birdsall family purchased land and built their first home. It was here that young Frank was to see his Canadian-born father naturalized as an American citizen in 1877. Ten years later, Frank married Laura Wright, and built a home nearby. Their small home still stands today as a part of the present Birdsall home, one mile south of Madrid.

Frank and Laura were the second of three generations to be engaged in farming in Iowa. They also raised livestock. They continued to build their home, and it was here that their three sons: Harry, Edwin, and Frederick, were born. They were saddened by the loss of their son, Harry, at the age of 5 to spinal meningitis. Edwin and Fred grew up on the farm and attended the nearby Prairie School. They worked alongside their parents on the farm, which was one of the first in the area to own a mechanical reaper. The family attended the Hopkins Grove United Brethren Church, where Laura Birdsall was active in the ladies society. She also enjoyed sewing and often joined in the neighborhood quilting bees.

As they approached adulthood, the Birdsall sons chose different avenues for their futures. Ed attended Drake University in Des Moines, receiving his degree in engineering. His work carried him to various locations in Iowa. He married Kathryn Zenor of Luther, in 1922, before moving to Colorado. She was known fondly as "Kittie" to those closest to her. Eventually, they settled in southern California, where they raised three children. Their eldest daughter, Marjorie Yanca, makes her home in Santiago, Chile, with her husband, Jos'e. They have three children and two grandchildren. Edwin Fred Birdsall is married, with two children. He and his wife, Ann, live in Denver. The youngest daughter, Helen Kathleen, is an author, living in northern California. She and her husband, Edmund, have two children.

Frederick, the youngest of the three Birdsall sons, chose to remain on the family farm. In 1930, he married Marjorie Allen. They lived with his parents, working the farm with them. Laura Birdsall died in 1934, and her husband passed away ten years later, in 1944. Six children were raised by Fred and Marjorie Birdsall, five of them born at home, in the house built by Fred's parents.

William Frank, Paul, and Elizabeth Ann (Betty) all attended the Prairie School, like their father, until its closing. Later, young Edwin, Corinne, and Connie joined their brothers and sisters at the Madrid Community Schools, where all graduated. Each of the Birdsall children chose different walks of life, none of which was farming, and the Birdsalls ceased active farming in the 1950s, when Fred's health declined.

Today, the Birdsall home bears little, if any, similarity to the first home of Frank and Laura on the outside, but the old windmill and pump on the property continue to stand as reminders of what was once an active farming operation.

Frank Birdsall, Betty (Mrs. Victor Brown), and Connie (Mrs. Eldon LaValley) continue to make their homes in the Madrid area. Edwin Birdsall and his wife, Jeanne, live in southern California, as does Corinne (Mrs. Delaney Hebert). Paul and Anna Birdsall reside in Pennsylvania with their family.

Fred Birdsall passed away in 1973, after an extended illness. Marjorie will soon be retiring from her work at the Woodward State Hospital, and is busy keeping up with her 20 grandchildren. She also has seven great-grandchildren, who represent the fifth generation of the Birdsall family to call Madrid, Iowa, the place of their "roots."

[an error occurred while processing this directive]