Muscatine County, Iowa




My grandma, Mary Edith Raff was born in Muscatine, Iowa, November 17, 1883 to A.K. (Almon Keeler) and Ella (Sanders) Raff. She died December 17, 1968. Edith had an older sister Nellie, who died at the age of twenty one, on February 8, 1894, of consumption (tuberculosis) and a younger brother Fred, (Alfred) who was born April 23, 1877. Fred moved to Chicago when he grew up and never married, his death occurred in 1935. Edith attended the public schools and graduated from Muscatine High School in 1903. Upon graduation, she attended the Teachers College in Cedar Falls, Iowa, and graduated in 1909 or 1910. She taught school in Muscatine for many years before marrying and finally moving to Davenport in 1932.

Almon Keeler Raff was born in Stark County, OH, in 1842. He served with the 19th Ohio Vol. Infantry from 1861 until mustering out in 1865, at which time he held the rank of Captain. He removed to Davenport Iowa after the war with several family members and embarked on his own farm implement business. He met Ella Sanders about this time and married her in 1871 in Davenport They moved to Muscatine, Iowa. A. K. Raff sold farm implements for the Rock Island Plow Company for many years. He was the City Recorder for Muscatine when he died in the council chambers at his desk on October 30,1903.

Ella Sanders was the daughter of Alfred Sanders and Marie Antoinette Sanford. She was born in Davenport December 22, 1849. Alfred Sanders was the owner/publisher of the Davenport Daily Gazette and a founder of the Davenport Academy of Sciences, the forerunner of the Putnam Museum. Marie Sanford Sanders was a founder of the Ladies Industrial Relief Society, and worked closely with Annie Wittenmyer in establishing the Soldiers Orphans Home in Davenport. She was also active in the Davenport Academy of Sciences. Ella died January 12, 1918 in Muscatine, Iowa, after a short illness. She was very active in the Baptist church in Muscatine.

It is my belief that after A. K. Raff’s death, Ella was very worried about how she would live. Her daughter Edith was a teacher and I believe the only source of income for the two of them. If Edith married, Ella would be without income and she probably did not want to be dependent on a son-in-law for her living. However, Edith wanted to be married and have children. This subject was a bone of contention for many years between the two, and from little hints my grandmother and mother gave me while I was growing up and from clues in the diary itself, the disagreement becomes visible. After Ella died, Edith continued living and teaching in Muscatine, although she had no remaining relatives there. However, in less than two years after her mother’s death, Edith eloped, completely surprising her remaining family in Davenport, and her out-of-town friends, who had never heard of this fellow.

I transcribed this diary and the accompanying letters and postcards verbatim. I did not correct spelling, grammar, or any other irregularities in writing. I believe Edith wrote the diary at times using a “secret code”, especially in regard to her beaus (hence her use of initials for them.) Therefore, the diary contains abbreviations which, upon reading over several entries, become recognizable.

I am admittedly ignorant of Edith’s career record; I don’t know what schools she taught in other than Jackson and I don’t know the dates of her teaching career. I believe she told me she had been one of the first female school principals in Muscatine, but I don’t know when she became a principal or of which school. As time permits more research and as new information comes to light, I will submit the findings to the County page. Meanwhile, if any reader has new information for me, I will be delighted to communicate with them! I have attempted to footnote the diary to the best of my ability, but again, if anyone cares to share an opinion or has concrete information re: events, locations or additions, I will be glad to hear from them and update the notes!

"My warmest thanks go to Norma Rogers of Muscatine for her untiring help, humor and patience in researching and answering my numerous questions."

Elaine Rathmann
Davenport, Iowa
June 27, 2002

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Page created August 4, 2002, by Dave Dunston