Since civilization took root in Europe the German race has sent its representatives into all sections of the community to become factors in planting the seeds of development and improvement. The sterling traits of character of the German people are manifest in Godfrey Quaas, who was born in Saxony, on the 13th of June, 1823. His parents were Christopher and Elizabeth Quaas, who spent their entire lives in Germany, where long since they passed away. Their family numbered eight children, including the subject of this review, who remained at home until sixteen years of age and during that period pursued his education in the public schools. He then began learning the wagon-maker's trade which he followed for a number of years, working diligently and persistently in his native land in order to gain a good start in life.
On the 12th of April, 1846, Mr. Quaas was united in marriage to Miss Mary Lantman, who was born May 20, 1823. Her parents were born in Germany and both died in that country. Their family numbered five children including the daughter Mary, who in 1846 took charge of her own household, the young couple beginning their domestic life in their native land. In 1849 they started for America, hoping to find here the improved business conditions which they had heard existed in the new world. At that time it took about six weeks to cross the sea for it was before the period of steam navigation and most ocean vessels were propelled by sails. On the 25th of May, 1849, they arrived in Marion, Linn county, Iowa. The town was small and the county but sparsely settled, but the young couple possessed stout hearts and willing hands and Mr. Quaas improved every opportunity that would enable him to provide a comfortable living for his family. He began work at the carpenter's trade and in connection with John Marion he built the first two-story buildings in Cedar Rapids. These were located on First avenue and were built for William Stuart. In September, 1849, Mr. Quaas purchased eighty acres of land in Rapids township and took up his abode thereon, the family occupying a little log cabin which was covered with a clapboard roof and had a puncheon floor. There was not a nail in the whole house. The door was made of upright boards joined together and hung with wooden hinges. There was no window but the little cabin was well ventilated by a large fireplace eight feet long and four feet deep. Mr. Quaas and his family occupied this primitive home until 1860, when his prosperity enabled him to erect a two-story frame residence, commodious and comfortable in its equipment. He resided upon the farm for forty-nine years, during which period he brought the land under a high state of cultivation, transforming the once wild prairie into rich and productive fields, from which he annually gathered abundant harvests. When almost a half century had passed he sold the farm, then comprising two hundred and sixty acres, to his oldest son, Louis, and removed to Cedar Rapids where he lived retired. He owned a fine residence at No. 1615 C Avenue, which he recently sold to a grandson and he and his wife now reside with another grandson on the old home farm. His former labor, intelligently directed, brought to him a substantial competence which enables him to enjoy many of the comforts of life.
Unto Mr. and Mrs. Quaas have been born nine children of whom six are yet living: F. A., whose home is in this county; Matilda: Anna M.; W. H.; E. E.; and Sarah. There are also thirty-one grandchildren and fifteen great-grandchildren. Fifteen of the grandchildren are now married.
Mr. and Mrs. Quaas have long been devoted and faithful members of the Evangelical church and their lives have been permeated by their Christian belief. Mr. Quaas has always given his political allegiance to the republican party since becoming a naturalized American citizen, but has never sought nor desired office, preferring to give his time and attention to his business affairs whereby he provided a comfortable living for his family and laid by a handsome competence for old age. He has now reached the eighty-seventh milestone on life's journey and is one of the venerable and honored citizens of Cedar Rapids, deserving much credit for what he has accomplished.
Source: History of Linn County Iowa, From Its Earliest Settlement to the Present Time, Vol. II, Chicago, The Pioneer Publishing Company, 1911, p. 804-5.
Submitted by: Terry Carlson
W. H. QUAAS
W. H. Quaas, who has met with success in his operations as a farmer and stock-raiser, is the owner of three hundred and two acres of rich and productive land on sections 13, 19 and 24, Monroe township. His birth occurred in Linn county, Iowa, in 1858, his parents being Godfrey and Mary Quaas, who are mentioned at greater length on another page of this volume [see above]. His educational advantages were such as the common schools of the period and locality afforded and he remained under the parental roof until the time of his marriage at the age of twenty-three years. He then devoted his attention to the operation of rented land for two years, on the expiration of which period he purchased one hundred acres of his present farm and began improving the property. As his financial resources increased, owing to his untiring industry and capable management, he added to his acreage by additional purchase until his holdings now embrace three hundred and two acres of valuable land on section s 13, 19 and 24, Monroe township. In connection with the tilling of the soil he makes a specialty of raising and feeding hogs and cattle, which branch of his business adds materially to his income.
In early manhood Mr. Quaas was joined in wedlock to Miss Maria C. Vannote, who was born in Linn county, Iowa, in 1864, her parents being Brazilla and Maria (Wolfe) Vannote, both of whom were natives of Indiana. The year 1849 witnessed their arrival in Linn county and here they continued to reside throughout the remainder of their lives, the father passing away in 1908 and the mother in 1907. Both had attained the ripe old age of eighty-five years. They were the parents of nine children, seven of whom still survive. Unto Mrs. and Mrs. Quaas were born six children, namely: Walter W., who is deceased; Selma E., the wife of G. R. Hagerman, of Linn county; Stella V., at home; Opal and Orville, twins, who are likewise under the parental roof; and Hattie M., also with her parents.
Mr. Quaas is a republican in his political views and has capably served his fellow townsmen in the capacity of trustee and also as a school director. Fraternally he is identified with the Modern Brotherhood Association, belonging to lodge no. 51. His religious faith is indicated by his membership in the Evangelical church, with which his wife is also affiliated. They have always resided within the borders of this county and the circle of their friends is almost coextensive with the circle of their acquaintances.
Source: History of Linn County Iowa, From Its Earliest Settlement to the Present Time, Vol. II, Chicago, The Pioneer Publishing Company, 1911, p. 855-6.
Submitted by: Terry Carlson