Levi Kauffman

I was born near Reading, Pennsylvania, March 28, 1844. In 1856 I came with my parents to Maquoketa, Jackson county, Iowa, on the Rock Island, which was as far as the road was built at that time. We traveled 40 miles by wagon, which took us two days on account of the very bad roads.

In 1863 I enlisted in the Civil War, but my father would not sign the papers, so I could not go.

1869, I was married to Kate K. Forney, of Maquoketa.

The fall of 1870 I came to Union. That was as far as the Iowa Central was built. My brother bought the SE 1/4 of Section 6 for $25 per acre in Felix township, Grundy county. I bought the S 1/2 of NE 1/4 for $10 per acre. This was raw prairie, not a switch on it. We moved out in March, 1871. My nephew and I came thru with teams. The bridge across the Cedar was out at Vinton, so we came around by Cedar Rapids. The roads were so bad it took us eight days to make the trip. My wife did not come until June. I had to build a shack first 14 ft. by 20 ft. by 8 ft. high. I had a straw barn.

I had nothing to pay on my land and there were a couple of years before I had any income from it.

I had learned the carpenter trade and this helped me out. I could do my own building and help some of my neighbors. Then I taught singing school in the winter evenings.

We lived very economically. We had no table until I got time to make one, but placed a wide board across the saw horses, which answered the purpose. We had no napkins or silver.

We used to go together, two or three neighbors, in a lumber wagon to Grundy Center to pay our taxes. We would go diagonally across the prairie. At one place we went between a little house and a straw stable. The man was out feeding his hogs. My neighbor said, "Gee! that feller must have been hard up for souse." His pigs had had their ears and tails frozen off the winter before.

In 1894 I bought another 80 acres adjoining mine on the north. I paid $2800 for it, which was a great deal easier to pay for than the first. In 1900 I bought 20 acres more on the south for $60 an acre for which I paid cash.

Times are different now. On Sundays we used to hitch up in the wagon and go to church and Sunday school. Now, if it is fair, we go in the auto, if not, we stay at home and get a couple of sermons by radio. If we want to talk to our neighbors we go to the telephone. What will it be in the next fifty years?

Best of all, I have enjoyed good health. All the fevers I have had were malaria and the flu: very good health for the last year. Not so spry as I used to be, but I manage to keep on my feet, if I can't, I sit down.

My wife passed away July 17, 1923. We lived together nearly 54 years, and all of that time except two years on the farm where I now live.

--The Grundy Register (Grundy Center, Iowa), 28 February 1924, pg 1