Pike Township Family Stories

Nichols, Iowa Centennial Book 1884-1984, pages 338-340
By Sydney Borgstadt Harned

         Sydney Marie Borgstadt is the daughter of Ralph Walter Borgstadt and Grace Stella Frye Borgstadt. She was married to Kenneth R. Harned, son of Virgil Harned and Venita Vetter Harned of West Liberty. They are parents of Brandon Harned and Kyle Harned. The family lives in West Liberty. Sydney works as a medical secretary at the University Hospitals in Iowa City; Ken is an auto body repairman at Hartwig’s in Iowa City.
         Michael Tim Borgstadt is the son of Ralph Walter Borgstadt and Grace Stella Frye Borgstadt. He was married to Priscilla Atkinson, daughter of Cecil Atkinson and Lena Atkinson of Red Oak, Iowa. After leaving the Nichols-Iowa City area, Mike lived for several years in Arizona and California before moving to Oak Forest, Illinois, where he and his wife are self-employed as owners of a sales organization for electromechanical computer peripherals for industrial and manufacturing environments.
         Stephen Joel Borgstadt is the son of Ralph Walter Borgstadt and Grace Stella Frye Borgstadt. He married Patsy Bankhead, daughter of Carl Bankhead and Ruth Bankhead of Heber Springs, Arkansas, while he was serving in the United States Marines. After his discharge, Steve went to Mason City Junior college and then became an x-ray technologist, studying at St. Joseph’s Mercy hospital in Mason City. Steve and Patsy now reside in Anderson, Indiana, where they both have worked at St. John’s hospital.
         Ralph Walter Borgstadt, born 2 November 1915, was the son of Amos Henry Borgstadt and Neva Mabel Rice Borgstadt. He was married to Grace Stella Frye of Clinton, Iowa, formerly of Muscatine. They were parents of Stephen Borgstadt, Michael Borgstadt and Sydney Borgstadt.
         After graduating from Nichols High school, Ralph attended the University of Alabama and played baseball for a short time. After he returned to Nichols, he was an avid sports fan and manager of the Vipers basketball team. His hobby was collecting autographs and pictures of sports celebrities. He was very active in the Nichols Christian church; for a time he was superintendent of the Sunday school. He was also a city councilman. Ralph was known as a fine violinist.
         Ralph worked at Rice’s Café after returning to Nichols from Alabama. He later worked for Iowa Electric Light and Power in Muscatine.
         After Ralph’s death in 1956, Grace and the three children moved to Bettendorf, Iowa, for a few months, but then returned to Nichols where they remained for many years. Grace worked at the button factory in Muscatine for part of that time, and later in the Business office of the University hospitals. Grace moved to Iowa City after the children were grown. She later moved to Arizona, where she died in 1982.
         Amos Henry Borgstadt was born 7 February 1892, the son of Joe W. Borgstadt and Anna Stremming Borgstadt. In 1914 he was married to Neva Mabel Rice at the Commercial hotel in Nichols, which was owned by Neva’s father, Ralph Sidney Rice. They had one son, Ralph Walter Borgstadt. Amos’ early childhood was spent in Missouri; he came to Nichols in 1906. Amos was a blacksmith by trade. He died 15 October 1951.
         Neva Mabel Rice was born 4 May 1895. Her son was Ralph Walter Borgstadt. She is best known as an excellent piano teacher for many teachers, teaching in the front room of the house she shared with her brother and sister-in-law, Willard Rice and Helen Mackey Rice, and her mother, Emma Schmidt Rice. The home is across the street from the present Catholic parsonage.
         Neva will also be remembered as running the NRB Gif Shop, a business where she would sell items of all varieties (cards, scarves, knives, knick-knacks) door to door, out of her home and out of Rice’s Café. In 1941 she was also a telephone operator for Conesville. For many years, Neva was a Sunday school teacher for the Nichols Christian church.
         At the present time Neva is living at the Simpson Memorial Home in West Liberty.
         Neva’s brother, Willard Rice, and her sister-in-law, Helen Mackey Rice, owned and operated Rice’s Café with Willard’s mother, Emma Schmidt Rice. A few years before they retired, the Rices celebrated their 40th anniversary in the Café.
         Willard was an avid hunter, and everyone in town easily recognized him in his red Jeep. He owned a cabin along the river with his friend, George Sutton.
         In Willard’s earlier years, he played trombone in a band. He died in 1977; his wife, Helen, preceded him in death. Willard and Helen were married in 1928. Helen was a grade school teacher at Nichols and worked in the Nichols Christian church.
         Neva Mabel Rice Borgstadt’s parents were Ralph Sidney Rice and Emma Schmit Rice. Ralph Sidney Rice owned a wallpaper and paint business with his paint store, which was located where Casey’s General Store is now.
         Some people may recall the clock that occupied the far corner of Emma Rice’s living room. The clockwork was given to Ralph Sidney and Emma at the time of their wedding, and in 1906 Ralph Sidney built the five foot cabinet. He died by accidental electrocution while working on a tower in Lone Tree in 1918.
         Ralph Sidney Rice married Emma Theresa Schmidt in Geneseo, Illinois, on 12 June 1894. Emma was born 30 December 1875. She will always be remembered fondly by everyone who lived, worked or just passed through Nichols as “Grandma” of Rice’s Café. “Grandma” did all the cooking and baking at Rice’s for decades, and then only retired due to failing health when she was in her 80s. Some might remember how scrumptious her pies were; others might remember the lemon tree she cared for in the front window of the restaurant. Some might even remember the article in the Davenport Sunday paper where she was interviewed and dubbed “Grandma Moses of the Pots and Pans,” a very fitting name for a hardworking Grandma. Her hobby was collecting bells.

Cherry Pie Baking Contestants Can Pattern Their Methods After Art Displayed by “Grandma” Rice
Nichols, Iowa Centennial Book 1884-1984, page 137

         8 February 1955 - That well known adage – “Practice Makes Perfect” – is foremost in the minds of scores upon scores of homemakers in the Muscatine trading area as they prepare for competition in the forthcoming big Cherry Pie contest on Saturday, February 12.
         And any who may be skeptical of the voice of long experience to pertain perfection need only sample the “famous” pies prepared by Mrs. Emma Rice at Rice café of Nichols.
         Known as “Grandma” to almost everyone in the town of Nichols, Mrs. Rice bakes all the pies sold at the restaurant – and her home baked pies are a specialty. She’s been following her profession for six days a week over a span of 31 years and while the daily total has varied over the years, her aggregate is far over the 50,000 mark. Her minimum has been six pies per day, but at times she has averaged from 12 to 18 daily.
         Muscatine’s big Sturgeon Bay Cherry Pie Baking Contest is booked for this Saturday – February 12 – at the Muscatine Journal building, Third and Cedar streets. It is being sponsored by the Paetz Grocery Co., The Fruit Growers Co-Operative who process the popular brand of Sturgeon Bay Cherries, and The Muscatine Journal.
         A listing of prizes to be offered, general rules of the contest and other important data will appear in later issues of The Journal this week.

Nichols, Iowa Centennial Book 1884-1984, page 133

         Nichols, Ia., Aug. 5 – There are 86 years of blacksmithing represented in the shop in Nichols. J. W. Borgstadt has been in the business 53 years and his son, A. H. Borgstadt, has hammered anvils for 33 years.
         The shop is not modern, as the men have not taken to the present-day blacksmithing, which is chiefly operating acetylene torches.
         The small blacksmith shop has been in the same location since 1908. While the shop serves as the general repair center for the town, shoeing horses and sharpening the sickle for binders and mowers has been the principal business in blacksmith shops for several years.
         Mr. Borgstadt started in his business in Sweet Springs, Missouri, and then moved to Letts in 1900. Coming to Nichols in 1906, he took his son into partnership and the two have been working together for the past 33 years.
         “I shop a cow once for the oddest thing in my business career,” stated the veteran. He explained that a traveler was passing through Sweet Springs, having the cows hitched to a cart, and as the gravel was hard on the hoofs, the small shoes were put on. “If there is a secret to keep a horse from kicking when being shod, I haven’t found it, and I have shod a lot of horses in my day, as there is plenty of gravel around this community, which still helps the blacksmithing business,” commented Mr. Borgstadt.

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