Crawford County, Iowa, IAGenWeb


Early History of Schleswig, Iowa

Otter Street in 1908

The history of Schleswig in not complete without the history of the town that preceeded Schleswig, Hohenzollern, whose history is also recorded in the database.

This history includes the founding of Schleswig as a result of the building of the new railroad, and the beginnings of the town government, the U. S. Post Office, the newspaper, the school, the churches, and the bank.

An extensive list of surnames associated with Schleswig appear in the list of original stockholders of the bank at the end of this document. Lists of names are also found in most of the document sections.

The Railroad and Schleswig

The Boyer Valley Railroad Company, organized in October, 1898, had decided to build a branch railroad through the area near Hohenzollern, located in Morgan Township. Ironically, the construction of this line would lead to the complete disappearance of Hohenzollern. However, the coming of the railroad resulted in the new town of Schleswig.

Construction of the railroad branch line began at Boyer and upon completion would extend the sixty-one miles to Mondamin.

The railroad diagonally crossed land belonging to Heinrich Suckstorf in the northwest quarter of Otter Creek Township, section No. 19. For all practical purposes, the corner became a likely spot for a new town. The site contained 114.96 acres and was purchased on March 1, 1899, from Heinrich and Cathrine Suckstorf for $8,047.20. Lots were laid out by the Western Town Lot Company, a subsidiary of the Chicago Northwestern Railroad Company that bought out the Boyer Valley line in 1900.

Since the land had belonged to Mr. Suckstorf he was given the honor of naming the new town; he chose the name Schleswig for the province in Germany, former homeland of many settlers.

It was then that Jurgen Schroeder decided to move Hohenzollern the one and a fourth mile east to the new location. According to Lee Bliesmann, on May 11, 1899, families gathered at the railroad site to bid for lots. Bidding was vigorous. The bank lot, for instance, went for $600.00 and resident lots for as much as $90.00. At noon on that day the people feasted at a picnic dinner by the tracks.

Soon afterwards the move began. Jurgen Schroeder's blacksmith shop was transported to Block 4, Lot No. 9, where with a few changes, it became his residence. The dance hall was relocated in the same block, Lot No. 8, part of the horse barn in the alley, the saloon and two-story store on the corner of Prairie and Otter Streets on Lots No. 1 and No. 2. The move itself was arduous enough, but for Mr. Schroeder it was also a personal tragedy since his wife, Johanna, died before their new home was completed.

Other farmers moved other buildings into town to be converted into stores and homes. Streets had to be laid out and board walks built. People wanted the walks to be level so they laid the boards on beer barrels to raise them in low areas. This necessitated building steps in places.

Theo. and Katherine Brechwald Rohwer, had one of the first new houses "up town". Marie Rath Rohwer still lives in the original house. Her husband Julius remembered there were only three houses east of the tracks when he was a boy. One belonged to Willie Pipgras, one to John Jurgensen Sr. and the other to C.W. Christiansen. At those times he watched the passenger trains come and go daily at 9 a.m. and 5 p.m.

According to a 1946 timetable, Schleswig was part of the Wall Lake to Missouri Valley passenger line going west on Mondays and Wednesdays, and east on Tuesdays and Saturdays. The original branch line built to include Ricketts, Schleswig, and Kiron was often referred to as the "Punkin Vine". Julius Struck says he saw the first train come on July 24, 1899, and the last train go on Saturday, February 23, 1957.

Town Government

The new Town of Schleswig was incorporated in early 1900 with the first city mayor elected being C.C. Walters, a druggist. Among the early councilmen were Jurgen Schroeder, Dr. Schneller, Detlef Wieck, Charles E. Vetta, Claus Gottburg, Theodore Rohwer, Herman J. Boock and George Areman.

Mayors to follow Mr.Walters were: C. Heinrich Moeller, Claus J. Krohnke, O.L. Russell, Herman J. Boock, August Schultz, Sr., S.B. McGarvey, Hugo Wiegand, August E. Schultz, Jr. (Jimmy),Ernest Dahms, H.A. Klotz, Herman Schultz, Sr., Johannes Lorenzen, H.A. Boysen, Emil Else, John Jakso, Sr., John M. Hurd, Fred J. Petersen, Chris Gierstorf, A.W. Stegemann, Glen Evans, Harvey Mohr, and Raymond Bumann.

The U.S. Post Office

Jurgen Schroeder served as Postmaster at Hohenzollern for eight years until the office was moved into the new town of Schleswig on November 16, 1899 and its name was changed to Schleswig. Some of the carriers were Wm. (Bill) Stegemann, Elmer Watson, Barney Boysen, Arthur C. Miner, Hugo J. Kroeger, and Lester R. Weifenbach

The names of the postmasters who served at this office are: Jurgen Schroeder, Court C. Walters, Sidney B. McGarvey, August Schultz, John J. Nicholsen, Emil M. Peters, Albert H. Stoltenberg, August Rickert, Peter C. Hollander, Herbert A. Rickert, Betty E. Weifenbach.

The Newspaper

As soon as Schleswig was established in 1899, a weekly newspaper was started in the town by Mr. Max R. Hueschen. It was called the Schleswig Herold and was printed in the German language. On October 1, 1903, the paper was purchased by F.J. Branaka, who made it into an English paper with a portion printed in German, and who changed the name to "The Leader". Mr. Branaka continued with the paper until August 1, 1909, when it was purchased by R.E. Vaughan.

Mr. Vaughan was the editor and publisher of the newspaper until 1912. Part of this time the inside four pages were still printed in German. In 1910, the German readyprint section was changed to English. On July 5, 1912, Mr. Vaughan sold the Schleswig Leader to Glenn Kirkpatrick, who, on April 24, 1913, traded it to Joseph Dodd for eight acres of land near Colfax, Iowa. Mr. Kirkpatrick stayed on as editor. On December 4, 1913, John Michaelsen became the editor and publisher. On July 23, 1914, W.F. McQuitty of Correctionville, lowa, purchased the paper and sold it on October 4, 1914, to Fred C. Freeman for $1000.00 or $1100.00. On September 6, 1917, Henry W. Faul of Denison bought the newspaper plant and building for $2900.00.

Mr. Faul sold the paper to Percy Lyon on March 1, 1923, and he operated the Schleswig Leader paper until his death in 1945, and since that time the owner and publisher has been his son, Robert B. Lyon.

The School

The first school facilities in Schleswig were located in the hardware building on Main Street in 1900 while the village was still District No. 4, Otter Creek township. In the spring of 1901 an independent district was organized with Theo. Rohwer as president of the school board. An office was built on the finest spot in town, which is still the site of the high school building today.

School in the newly-formed district opened in November, 1901, with F.N. Olry as principal and Elizabeth Brechwald as the primary teacher. The plan of organization called for eight grades.

The first class to graduate was in 1904, and the list of graduates for the next five years follows: 1904--Nelle Frahm, Emma Hoiten, John Kruger; 1905--Fern Wells; 1906--Caroline Hollander, Ella Hoiten, Ella Peters, Ella Kruger, and Edward Schroeder; 1907-- Martha Stegemann, Jesse Kuhlmann, Minnie Hollander; 1908--Amanda Petersen, Letha Jones, Ella Witt, Maggie Rusch and Lulu Girard.

By 1909 the school had grown to the point where a three-year high school course was included in the curriculum, and in 1911 Julius Rohwer and Emil Peters became the first three-year high school graduates from our school system.

Mr. Olry remained at the head of the school until January, 1911, when he resigned to become County Superintendent. Professor Earl Kramer took over the duties of superintendent after Mr. Olry's resignation.

During Christmas vacation in 1911, the wooden frame building burned down. As a result, the high school ciasses were moved to the brick pumphouse by the water tower, and the grade schoolers were sent uptown to the top floor of the Schroeder Building until May. A new brick building with the plan of the former wooden building was constructed on the same site of the old building, and school once again resumed in the fall of 1912 for all grades.

By 1920, the school had progressed to the point where a four-year high school was feasible and was established as a result. The following nine people became the first four-year graduates from Schleswig High School in 1920: Amanda Detlefsen Bumann, Edna Ehler Johns, Louise Jurgensen Schultz, John Evers, Hugo Kroeger, Vernie Krohnke, Malinda Mohr Evers, Laverne Schmidt Holtorff, and Lillian Woock Aronson.

The brick building which was built in 1911 still serves today as the front half of the high school building. The rear half on the present-day building was added in 1918. The new gymnasium and extra classrooms were added to the west side of the existing school building, and this new addition was dedicated in January 13, 1941.

United Church of Christ

Founded on September 17, 1903, as Friedens (Peace) Evangelical Lutheran Church. Read a complete History of the church.

Immanuel Lutheran Church

Founded August 15, 1912 as Immanual Lutheran Church. Read a complete History of the church.

Farmers State Bank

Banking in Schleswig began as early as November 1, 1899 shortly after the town was formed. In those pioneer years of the Schleswig community, there were 2 banks. One was the German Bank later known as the Commercial Bank. The other bank was owned by Baxter-Reed & Company of Ida Grove and was operated by Theodore Rohwer. Records are not available to write much of their history or demise.

In 1919 a group of citizens in the Schleswig community felt that a bank should be owned locally and with leadership from such men as Theodore Rohwer, C.J. Claussen, Wm. Bielenberg, H.A. Boysen, H.A. Klotz, and others, a subscription drive was made for stockholders and by early May they had signatures of 97 individuals pledging $93,500.00 in stock subscriptions. Articles of incorporation were filed dated May 7, 1919, and on Friday, June 6, 1919, a charter was granted by the State Banking Department to the Farmers State Bank. Total resources of the bank were $625,000.00.

The first Board of Directors was Theodore Rohwer, C.J. Claussen, Fred Jepsen, H.A. Boysen, Hugo Krohnke, J.H. Schmadeke, John Ehler, Wm. Bielenberg, and H.A. Klotz. The officers were Theodore Rohwer, President; Hugo Krohnke, Vice President; H.A. Klotz, Cashier and J.A. Rohwer, Ass't Cashier.

Below is a list of the 88 original stockholders:

  • Wm. Bielenberg
  • H.A. Boysen
  • L.H. Bassett
  • August Braase
  • J.D. Bruggen
  • Julius Braase
  • Adolph Bielenberg
  • John Braase
  • George Brodersen
  • Charles Burk
  • C.J. Claussen
  • Andrew Clausen
  • Ernst Dahms
  • M. Detlefsen
  • John Detlefsen
  • John Ehler
  • Gus Else
  • Ed Ebert
  • E.R. Else
  • Henry Ernst
  • Martin Friedrichsen
  • Fred Friedrichsen
  • Knud Friedrichsen
  • Wm. Gierstorf
  • C.H. Gierstorf
  • Otto Huebner
  • Marvin Hollander
  • Thos. P. Hollander
  • August Schultz, Sr.
  • Alfred Hollander
  • Chas. Hansen
  • Matt Iversen
  • Fred Jepsen
  • John Jurgensen
  • H. Hy. Jepsen
  • Jurgen Jepsen
  • Fred Jeschke
  • Fred Jacobs
  • John Johannsen
  • John N. Jensen
  • Julius Jepsen
  • Hugo Krohnke
  • H.A. Klotz
  • Paul Koch
  • J.H. Krohnke
  • Wm. C. Kuehl
  • Herman Korner
  • S. Ketelsen
  • Emil Kahl
  • Wm. Kahl
  • Fred Kastner
  • Hy. Lafrentz
  • Hy. Lafrentz, Sr.
  • C.D. Lafrentz
  • Theo. Munster
  • Harry Miller
  • George Miller
  • W.R. Wetzeler
  • J.D. Moeller
  • P.W. Petersen
  • E.M. Peters
  • Theo. Rohwer
  • Julius Rohwer
  • Louie G. Reimer
  • Fred Rahn
  • Louie Riessen
  • F.D. Reinking
  • Ed Reimer
  • J.H. Schmadeke
  • W.H. Schultz
  • Ed Struck
  • A.W. Stegemann
  • Thomas Schroeder
  • Julius Struck
  • W.H. Schroeder
  • Detlef Schroeder
  • C.F. Schmidt
  • C.J. Schultz
  • Chas. Tamm
  • Ed Tamm
  • Claus Ullrich
  • Louis Wellendorf
  • Hugo Wellendorf
  • Carl Wellendorf
  • John Wittmaack
  • C.J. Welch
  • Hugo Wiegand
  • Ben Zage

Source: Lillian M. (Kuehl) Jakso and Emma L. (Brasse) Struck. Schleswig, Iowa: The First 75 Years. 1974.