Pike Township Family Stories

Nichols, Iowa Centennial Book 1884-1984, pages 270-273
By Jessie M. Mills Lenz

         My great-great grandparents were Eli Smith and Barbara Nye. He is buried at Eel River, Indiana, and Barbara is buried at Churabusco, Indiana.
         In 1834 the first settlement in the present limits of Muscatine county was made by Benjamin Nye at the mouth of Pine creek. Nye laid off a town at a pint about twelve miles east of the present city of Muscatine and called it Montpelier.
         Eli Smith and Barbara Nye Smith had a son, Benjamin Nye Smith, who married on 6 April 1851 Sarah C. Drake. Benjamin was born 20 July 1825 and died 21 April 1889. Sarah was born 22 November 1829 near Coldwater, Michigan. Her parents were Leonard Drake and Elizabeth Cleveland Drake. They are both buried between Bellevue and Castalia, near Coldwater, Michigan. Sarah Drake Smith passed away 21 December 1902. Benjamin Nye Smith and Sarah Drake Smith are buried in Overman cemetery near Atalissa, Iowa.
         They were pioneers who farmed their homestead near Atalissa. Sarah was a teacher and had school in their home. They were parents of six children, all born on their farm, four girls, then two sons, and all became teachers.
         Luna Smith, born 1853, married George Coverston and lived in Fallon, Nevada. Lovisa Smith, born 1855, married Elwood Parker and lived in Moscow, Iowa. Mary Smith, born 1858, married John Walters and lived in Tipton, Iowa. Eugenia Smith, born 1860, married Jessie Van Horn and lived in Atalissa, Iowa. Leonard Benjamin Smith, born 1863, married Mary James. Henry C. Smith, born 1868, married Jeanette Needham and lived in Chico, California.
         When the “Gold Rush” was on, Ben caught the fever and thought he could get rich quick, so he joined the group and went to California to seek his fortune. After several years, he returned home broke and sadly disappointed. His wife, who had earned a meager income teaching, paid his fare to return home.
         Leonard Benjamin Smith was the fifth child of Benjamin Smith and Sarah Smith, but he was their first son, so he was named after his grandfather Drake and his father Benjamin. Leonard was born on their farm on 31 December 1863, the last month, the last day and the last hour of the year. He grew to manhood on the farm and also taught school. He was married to Mary Augusta James on 14 March 1889. Mary was born 12 May 1868 in Henry county, Iowa, the daughter of Thomas Augustus James and Melissa Ann Ross James of Cairo, Iowa. Mary passed away 4 December 1955.
         Leonard and Mary were parents of four children. Jessie Marie Smith was born 25 March 1890 at Atalissa, Iowa. Benjamin Nye Smith was born 2 June 1891 at Atalissa, Iowa. Maude S. Smith was born 1 March 1893 at Conesville. Melissa H. Smith was born 6 September 1900 at Conesville.
         Leonard and Mary married in March and his father died in April, so Leonard farmed the home place for several years and also taught school. In 1892 he accepted the call to Conesville to fill the vacancy of high school superintendent left by A. H. Niles and continued teaching eight years, until 1900. He was the co-owner of the mercantile store in Conesville with A. W. Jones and was cashier of the Conesville bank for five years. In 1908 he was offered the job of cashier of Nichols Savings bank and commuted by train for a time.
         The family left their new home and Reformed church ties and moved to Nichols in 1909. They had purchased the Guy Baker property, where his grandson, Donald Mills and family are now living [1984]. Jessie and ben had both graduated from Conesville High school and both learned bookkeeping at the bank.
         Leonard was cashier at the bank twenty years. He had made many friends far and wide and was known as “Banker Smith.” He liked to play pinochle, smoked “Banker Special” cigars and drove a seven-passenger Buick. He suffered bladder stones, and after a third operation, he died on 2 May 1928 at age 64.
         His son, Ben Smith, was assistant cashier and took his father’s place as cashier, but he became ill with Hodgkin’s disease and died about two years later on 18 February 1930 at age 38.
         Jessie Marie Smith, the first child of Leonard Smith and Mary Smith, was married 29 April 1913 to Ralph K. John (born 13 march 1888, died 18 January 1978) from West Liberty. Ralph was a carpenter with his father and brothers and built large family homes in the Nichols and West Liberty area. They moved to Sioux City, Iowa, where Ralph was associated with F. W. Woolworth company as superintendent of construction. Jessie worked at the Security National bank for many years. Ralph was sent to area towns in near-by states as their superintendent of construction of new and remodeled Woolworth buildings. They lived in many places and made many friends in Iowa, North and South Dakota, Minnesota, Wisconsin and Michigan. At first they lived in rented apartments, but they found it to be more secure and convenient to have their own mobile home, which was easily moved to each new location. When Ralph retired, they moved to Nichols. They both survived a bad auto wreck near Tipton, Iowa, where they had multiple fractures and spent many months in the hospital at Cedar Rapids, Iowa. They spent their last years at the Lone Tree Care Center. They both passed away in 1978: Ralph in January and Jessie on 10 July 1978.
         Ralph and Jessie John had no children, but they became foster parents of her sister’s daughter, Marjorie Lucille Emde. Marjorie was left an orphan as her father, Burl Emde, had married Melissa Smith on 25 February 1918. He was in service during World War I and died 24 January 1919. Melissa Smith Emde died 27 May 1919 at the birth of the baby. Marjorie was raised by her grandparents until age 13, when she went to Sioux City to live with her aunt and uncle. She graduated from East Sioux City High school and Morningside college and later married Anthony Kauspedas. Their son was Curtis James Kauspedas.
         Marjorie and “Tony” were divorced and she married William Huey Jackson, who had been married previously and divorced with two sons. They made their home in Kelso, Washington. Huey worked for Weyerhaeuser company, growers and manufacturers of forest products, while Marjorie was a partner with Russell Louden in the real estate business. Huey passed away very suddenly 23 November 1893 with a massive coronary. Her son, Curtis Kauspedas, is living in Phoenix, Arizona [1984].
         Benjamin Nye Smith, son of Leonard Smith and Mary Smith, had been assistant cashier, cashier and vice president of the Nichols Savings bank. He married 2 January 1914 Mayme Mapes (born 10 June 1894, died November 1963), daughter of Fred Mapes and Sarah Mapes. They had two children: Mary Genevieve Smith was born 29 December 1917, and L. B. Smith, born 2 April 1921.
         Mary Genevieve Smith was married to Thomas Flynn of Riverside, Iowa. They had three children, James Flynn, Nancy Flynn and Thomas Flynn, and were divorced. Nancy Flynn died at age 13 of an accidental gun shot in Des Moines, Iowa. James Flynn died at age 23 after a crash in a motorcycle race at Tipton, Iowa. Thomas Flynn is married and lives in St. Louis, Missouri. Mary Smith Flynn is married Keith Lookabaugh and they live at Ankeny, Iowa.
         Leonard Benjamin Smith II was better known as Little L. B. He was born 2 April 1921 and served in the U. S. Air Force in World War II. He is married and lives in Des Moines, Iowa, with his wife, Nona Smith, and their children: Michelle Smith, Kathy Smith and Benjamin Stephen Smith.
         The third child of Leonard Smith and Mary Smith was Maude Smith, who graduated from Nichols High school in 1911, attended Muscatine Institute and taught school at Buffalo Bluff and Adams schools. She was married 27 February 1913 to Charles E. Mills (born 19 June 1888, died 2 February 1971). She died 10 June 1956. They were parents of four children: Jessie Marie Mills, born 14 December 1913; twins, Donald Virgil Mills and Dorothy Virginia Mills, born 27 September 1916, and Benjamin Charles Mills, born 19 February 1922.
         The Charles Mills family lived on the Albert Lindee farm 3 ½ miles south of Nichols for thirteen years. All the children completed eighth grade at Pike No. 2 school. During the depression years they lived near Iowa City for two years, where Jessie graduated from Iowa City High school in 1931. The other three graduated from Nichols High school.
         Jessie Mills taught Lacey school for five years and was married to Albert Lenz (born 13 Jun 1910) of Lone Tree. Albert was the son of Fred H. Lenz and Sophia Herring Lenz. They farmed the Lenz homestead where Albert was born. Their two sons are Ronald Albert Lenz and Ivan Alfred Lenz.
         Ronald Lenz graduated from Lone Tree High school and farmed. He enlisted in the U. S. Air Force and spent three years in Honolulu, Hawaii. Ronald married Mary A. Scheetz, daughter of Earle “Bud” Scheetz and Katie Winter Scheetz of Oxford, Iowa. The have two sons: Mark Edward Lenz and Kevin Michael Lenz. Ronald farms his own farm and his parents’ farm. Mary is the elementary secretary and hot lunch secretary at the Lone Tree school.
         Ivan Lenz graduated from Lone Tree High school and enlisted in the U. S. Air Force. He served in the Strategic Air Command at Rapid City, South Dakota and spent twelve weeks on the island of Guam during the Viet Nam conflict. He was called out of service after two years to help farm after his father had a heart attack. He was in the Reserves for six years, then he enlisted in the U. S. Navy and lived at Norfolk, Virginia. His last six months of service were on Mediterranean sea cruise. At present [1984] he is in the National Guard.
         Ivan Lenz was married to Marilyn Hora, daughter of George and Helen Phillips Hora. Their first son, Tommy Joe, died at birth. William Alfred Lenz is their second child. Ivan works at The University of Iowa power plant, and Marilyn is a computer programmer at Westinghouse Corporation in Iowa City. They live in Oxford, Iowa.
         The second child of Charles Mills and Maude Smith Mills is Donald Virgil Mills. He farmed, was a butcher and meat cutter at Hudson Locker in Nichols and is a handy man at many jobs. He was married to Marie Rathjen, daughter of Albert Rathjen and Alvena Ratjen of Nichols. They had seven children: Ramona Marie Mills, Judith Ann Mills, Virgil Charles Mills, Nancy Kay Mills, Michael Garry Mills, Timothy Donald Mills and Christine Melissa Mills.
         Ramona Mills was married to Thomas J. Holcomb, Jr., son of Ben Holcomb and Betty Holcomb of Nichols. They had a foster daughter, Patricia Christyne Smith who married John Raymond Green, son of Robert Green and Denise Wolford Green. Their children are Gregory Allen Green and Matthew Raymond Green. Ramona and Joe have three children: Gary Thomas Holcomb, Alan Charles Holcomb, and Jane Marie Holcomb.
         Second child of Donald Mills and Marie Mills is Judith Mills, who married and divorced Douglas Bender. They have two sons, Nick Adam Bender and Chad Douglas Bender. Judy lives in Kalona and has been a nurse aide on the surgical floor at Mercy hospital in Iowa City for many years.
         Virgil Charles, third child of Donald Mills and Marie Mills, married Judith Buline, daughter of Everett Buline and Mildred Musser Buline. They have a daughter, Tresha. Virgil has worked for Old Capitol Motors in Iowa City for many years.
         Fourth child of Donald Mills and Marie Mills is Nancy Kay Mills. She was married to Alan Burr, son of Wayne Burr and Rosetta Halvorsen Burr. Nancy is a registered nurse. They live on the Burr farm, and Alan works at an Iowa City bank.
         Michael Garry Mills, fifth child of Donald Mills and Marie Mills, married and divorced Rebecca Hora, daughter of Frank Hora and Patricia Morgan Hora. Their two sons are Jamey Michael Mills and Jeremy Alan Mills.
         Sixth child of Donald Mills and Marie Mills is Timothy Donald Mills. He married Lori Rogers, and they have a son, Cody Donald Mills.
         Youngest child of Donald Mills and Marie Mills is Christine Melissa Mills. She graduated from West Liberty High school. She won many medals for shot put events in high school. At present [1984] she is attending North East Missouri State university in Kirksville, Missouri, majoring in math education.
         Third child of Charles Mills and Maude Smith Mills is Dorothy Virginia Mills, two to Donald Mills. She married Wallace Hansen. She was a nurse aide for twenty years at St. Luke’s hospital in Davenport and Muscatine General hospital. They had two daughters, Patricia Ann Hansen and Linda Kay Hansen.
         Patricia Hansen married Donald Schneider of Wheatland, Iowa, and they were divorced. They had three children: Debra Lynne Schneider, Kevin Scott Schneider and Todd Frederick Schneider. Debra Lynne Schneider is married to Mark Hagy in Muscatine.
         Linda Kay Hansen was married to Ronald Frieden, son of Floyd Frieden and Frances Frieden of Illinois City, Illinois. They have three children and live in Muscatine. The children are Lisa Virginia Frieden, Lori Angela Frieden, and John Charles Frieden.
         Fourth child of Charles Mills and Maude Smith Mills is Benjamin Charles Mills. He married Edith Zybarth. They live in Muscatine. Ben has retired from John Deere company in Moline, Illinois, and Edith worked at Huttig’s in Muscatine and at a button company for many years. They had three children, James Charles Mills, Jerry Benjamin Mills and Mary Beth Mills.
         James Mills married Linda Seering and they were divorced. Their first child, Angel Mills, died at birth. Brian Lee Mills was their second child. James served in the Viet Nam conflict.
         Jerry Mills, son of Ben Mills and Edith Mills, married Margaret McClure of Morning Sun, Iowa. She was an art teacher in the Dubuque school, and Jerry worked at John Deere there. They livein Sherrill, Iowa. They have four children: Sara Lynn Mills, Lora Jean Mills, Joshua Andrew Mills, and Katie Beth Mills.
         Mary Beth Mills, daughter of Ben Mills and Edith Mills, married David Arthur Sissel, son of Arthur David Sissel and Virginia Wilson Sissel of Muscatine. They live in Muscatine and are parents of three children: Benjamin David Sissel, Bethany Sissel, and Meredith Sissel.
         Leonard B. Smith was a very congenial person. He will be remembered for his generous contributions to needy persons or organizations.
         The Smith family held an annual reunion every year until the death of Leonard B. Smith, and he treated all to ice cream at the Resley’s lake near Moscow, Iowa. He will long be remembered for his good deeds and generosity.

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Page created December 18, 2010 by Lynn McCleary