|On the 4th of July, 1890, I was sent to Sigourney
after 50 lbs of salt. On my way there I overtook Mr. and Mrs.
Berg, who were horseback and on the way to Herr Blaise's from
where they intended to go to a picknick and celebration.
Arriving at B's., we found the Misses Katy and Eva Blaise- the
latter was married later to Mr. Phil Michel- and they and their
brother were preparing to go to Charles Bakehouse's where a
celebration had been arranged. I went with them. An arbor and
a round shady place had been fixed up out of green young trees
for ornament and a shelter against the burning sun. The ladies
were busy arranging dishes and eatables on a long table for the
dinner. I went on to Sigourney, bought my salt at a little
14 x 16 grocery store kept by James Bowen, the popular sale crier
in later years. At about two o'clock I got back to the picknick
grounds. The crowd was at work with shovels and picks, leveling
and polishing a piece of ground to hold a dance on, waxed floors
were not in vogue at that time.
Mr. Bakehouse noticing me, said something to a lady
near him, who thereupon motioned for me to come to the table,
where in a few minutes a splendid dinner was ready for me. A
flaxen haired, blue eyed little girl stood beside the lady- her
mother. When the latter left to attend to other duties, the
little one came nearer and we soon became friends. She said she
was six years old.
Toward evening John Hartmann arrived, he was the
band and orchestra combined- of that day- being an expert French
harp or harmonica player,- and then the dancing commenced.
Everybody seemed happy and enjoyed himself,
prospects for the future welfare were bright, eatables plenty,
and taxes below zero.
People had adapted themselves to rely on their own resources for
clothing, and new comers were helped; nobody had to suffer like
those who came 5 or 7 years earlier. Those that had plenty of
chickens and stock freely shared with others in need, what they
could spare. "It is more pleasant to give than to take" was not
an idle phrase in those days.
Only a short while after the above, a dark gloom was cast over
that settlement. Mrs. Bakehouse sent her daughter, this flaxen
haired little maiden, one afternoon on an errand to her aunt-
Mrs. Christian Duensing. She was accompanied by the trusty dog.
As it was getting towards evening, Mrs. Duensing hesitated to
let the child go home, but she told her aunt, that Mother had
told her if it got dark, just to follow the dog, he would bring
her home. She never found her home here on earth. For three
days the entire neighborhood was hunting for the lost child.
People from far and near searched in vain for a trace of the
little girl. It was said that Mr. Bakehouse had followed some
white men or Indians as far as Des Moines on the presumption
that the child had been abducted. Having to cross the main
Sigourney road on her way home, led the searchers astray. A
long time afterwards the mystery was solved by a 9 year old boy-
August Klett- who had been hunting work-oxen and was driving
them towards the Stoermer place. In a brush patch near where the
branch which comes from the north-west empties into German
Creek, some of the steers sniffed the air and bellowed in an
excited manner. August went to the spot to ascertain the cause,
and discovered there a skull with some flaxen hair on it and
some torn clothing led to the identification of the remains of
the lost child. The dog in this case proved an unreliable
guide. It is to be presumed that the child mistook the path
leading to Fred Runges for her own, and when finding that she
was in the wrong road, followed some cattle trail down the
branch toward German Creek, over two miles east of Duensings
place. Nobody knows how far she may have wandered during that
My humble opinion is, that in that thicket a number of the half
wild hogs of those days congregated, which made an attack upon
the dog and when it got out of the way tore up the child.
This sad occurrence and some others were hardly ever mentioned
during the lifetime of those people. It had a most depressing
effect upon not only the parents, but also upon the whole
community. Years passed before we heard of another frolic in
Bakehouses lived a very secluded life, when I was at their house
the next time. It was in 1855. Goodhart sent me one Sunday to
take $30.00 over to Charles Bakehouse, which the latter loaned
him a few months before without interest. A meeting was held
there by some Missionary, who had come to consult the settlers
in regard to establishing a Lutheran church and congregation, to
ascertain the prospects of raising the necessary funds for the
erection of a house of worship, and also to collect some funds
for some ecclesiastical or synodal college somewhere in the
A vote was taken concerning the organization of a congregation
and the engagement of a permanent minister.
The collection turned out very liveral as Mr. Bakehouse tendered
money to those who were not prepared for such an occasion. Wm.
Mohme got on his cay horse and rode home in a gallop, soon
returning with more funds to help out. A fine Brick Church was
built on the hill west of German Creek on the northwest corner
of the Seger farm, who donated several acres of land for the
site. It was quite a commodious building for those days. For
50 years it stood there a monument to the religious spirit and
fervency of those early pioneers.
Among those of the early settlers of the northern part of German
Township not mentioned heretofore were: Joel Long, Geo. Payton,
Shanafelt, John House, Mathias Blaise, Robert Mann, W. Kinney,
Squire Dicky, Morre, S. Richardson, Storm, Blacks, Jerry
Garrett, W. Trotter, W. H. Clary, Jessup Jackson, Leander DeLong,
Claus Ehlen, John Witten, Scharnhurst, Chris. Crawford, etc. In
the southern and eastern part were:- Mertens, Kohlhaas, Wm.
Jugenheimer, etc., all these came here during the forties.
We lived then not as close together as today, and yet, how much
closer to each others hearts. In the course of these many
years, we have moved from the hovel to the palace, but the noble
spirit of those early days, which "made all human kin," it has
not moved, it stayed in the hovel.