Elliott Centennial, 1879 - 1979

Elliott Centennial Committee

Page 130 - 131




   Unfortunately and sadly, some of us were not too interested or never took the time to learn about how we happened to be born, reared and schooled in the Elliott area. To prepare a brief history of the LATHEN family has been a most welcome exercise. While I cannot spice it with anecdotes without making it too personal, I am grateful to those who have made possible the publication of this history in commemoration of the centennial celebration of the founding of Elliott, Iowa.

   The Lathen family that is a part of the history of the Elliott community begins with Tilman H. Lathen, who was born in Albia, Iowa, in 1858 and came to the Elliott area after his marriage to Laura Giltner in 1881. They were the parents of four children, Jessie, Hoyt, Guy and Geneva, and resided east of Elliott on the Woodling place until 1892 when they moved to a 225 acre farm two miles west and a mile north of Elliott in Pottawattamie County, Waveland Twp., where they resided until moving to Elliott in 1912. Tilman and Laura died in Elliott in 1934 and 1935 respectively.

   Their firstborn child, Jessie, died at the age of four.

   Hoyt spent most of his life in Madison, Nebraska, and his children were Theil, Hoyt Jr., and Jean.

   Geneva, the youngest of the children of Tilman and Laura, married Oliver Howard. They made their home in Red Oak and were the parents of three daughters, Lucile, who died while a young woman in her twenties, Elizabeth Sapp of Red Oak, and Marjorie Dillon, who resides in California. Geneva continues to reside in Red Oak as does Elizabeth, who has two children, Dennis and Sharon.

   After Tilman and Laura moved to Elliott, the farm was occupied by son, Guy Martin, and his wife, Grace Hobson, who had grown up on a farm several miles north.  They had five daughters:

   Cereise Woodworth, who resides in Mesa, Arizona, and has two daughters, Ann Peyton, and Muriel Petsch.

   Clella Landis of Sheridan, Wyoming, and her only daughter is Clella Sue Vittum.

   Darlene Christenson lives in Sunnyvale, California and her children are Jim and Tom.

   Bette McLuen, who was often referred to as "Bette Elaine" by her mother, lives in Anita. Her sons are Doug and Tom. A daughter, Nancy Gustafson of Story City, died in 1976, leaving her husband, Neil, and three children, Ann, Jennifer and Nicholas.

   The last of the five daughters of farmers, Guy and Grace, was Patricia, who was born the year after the big farm house had been razed by fire March 6, 1926. The new house built in 1926 is still standing and was rather unique in that it had inside plumbing, hot and cold running water, and its own light generating plant. Pat Thompson now resides in West Des Moines and is the mother of five children, Mary Sue, Jerry, Michael, Mark and Paul.

   In 1944 at the age of 53, Guy died even as plans were pending to retire from farming. With much help from neighbors, the farm sale was held as planned on a snowy day in January, 1945. Also as planned, Hilton and Mabel Cowley became the tenants, and Grace moved to Red Oak, where she continued to reside until her death in a car accident in 1964. The farm was sold the following year, ending the ties of the Lathen family to that Iowa soil.

   Highlights in the memories of the third generation members of this pioneer family are neighborhood get-togethers, riding the bobsled to the country school for programs, the consolidation of schools in 1919, and the very muddy ruts of the dirt roads after a rain and getting "stuck" when "the bottom went out" of the roads. The isolation during the winter of '36 when farm families were "snowed in" for days on end is another vivid remembrance.


    ~ Pat Thompson