ried (1) Donald E.N. Falk 25 1970, divorced and married (2) James Hair 29 Jul 1989; Frank Neal  married Suzanne Kay Heise 28 Apr 1979; and Paul Edward married Gaye Elise Vander Giessen 21 Jun 1985. the Neal Davises have six grandchildren and five grandchildren adopted by the Petersens.

DeCou, John and Tillie (Peck)

(Evelyn Underbakke)

Eber and Anna DeCou lived in Winneshiek Co. all of their lives. For years they lived on a farm about three miles northeast of Ossian. Upon retiring they bought a house in Ossian. They had two daughters, Edith and Ethel, and one son, John. Edith never married and always lived with her parents. Ethel married August Peck. (See August and Ethel Peck history.)

John married Tillie Peck (my parents). John and Tillie were born in Winneshiek Co. Their parents had farms a few miles apart and they attended the same country school. They were married 24 Feb 1906. For three years they rented a farm a few miles northeast of Ossian. The first two years their crops were destroyed by hail. Also, the first year their baby, Leslie Harold, died when a few months old. The second child, Evelyn, was born 9 Dec 1908. They next moved to a farm two miles east of Ossian.

John and Tillie had three more children: Mary (b. 19 Feb 1914); Donald and Paul .

Mary graduated from Ossian High School and left to attend school and teach school for a while. She married Ralph Gunderson. For a few years they farmed in Winneshiek Co. before buying a farm in Minnesota. Years later they moved to Cresco, IA and started a business. Ralph has passed away, but Mary is still living in Cresco (1995).

After high school Donald started farming, first working with his dad and then for himself. He married a neighbor, Anna Grace Ryan, and they had two children: Shirley who died when she was 5 years old, and David DeCou. After David graduated from high school Donald sold the farm and bought the Burr Oak Mercantile General Store as David was interested in working there.

About the time the DeCous moved to Burr Oak it was learned that the Laura Ingalls Wilder family had come to Burr Oak many years ago to help run a hotel. Some thought they came to the American House. Some Laura fans had read Irene Lichty's book The Ingalls Family from Plum Creek to Walnut Grove via Burr Oak, IA and they thought the Ingalls family had come to the Masters Hotel, so David and several others checked the records at the courthouse. They discovered the Ingalls had come to the Masters House or, as it was sometimes called, The Burr Oak House. The DeCous and many others restored the old hotel and in 1976 it opened for visitors.

In the late 1980’s the Board members of the Laura Ingalls Wilder Museum encouraged the DeCous to open a restaurant. Soon after that they began serving lunches. They spent several years making changes in the building. They took out the low ceiling the previous owner had installed. The restroom was made into a kitchen and an old fashioned outhouse built in the corner of the dining room. They planned to make pizzas so added an extension to the back to hold two big ovens. A balcony was built around the sides of the dining room which enabled them to sell antiques as well as other things.

A few years ago David decided to move to Minneapolis so Donald sold the Mercantile Building to Doug Corson. Donald is the only one of John DeCou’s family who has always lived in Winneshiek Co.

Evelvn lived in Winneshiek Co. until she graduated from Ossian High School. She attended Upper Iowa University for two years and then taught in the primary room at Castalia, IA for two years. From that time on she was either going to school or teaching except for summers when she would come home to visit her parents.

In 1946 Alice Krumm, a member of the Burr Oak Methodist Church, asked Evelyn to teach Bible School in June. She had taught there a week in June 1932 and was glad to teach again. About 1935 her parents sold their farm east of Ossian and bought a farm northwest of Burr Oak and began attending the Methodist Church. In 1932 Evelyn stayed with the pastor’s family at the parsonage. In 1946 they had rented the parsonage to Ella Reed so Evelyn stayed with her and thus met Ella's brother, Melvin Underbakke, who lived a block from the church.

Evelyn learned that Melvin had known her parents ever since they moved to the Burr Oak area. For ten years he did their income tax work. She also learned that she had met his brother Louie and family in 1932. Their children were in the Bible School where she taught.

Melvin and Evelyn were married 2 Nov in the Presbyterian Church at Canton, MN. She did not come to Burr Oak until Jan 1947 as she had the first semester of teaching to complete. Shortly after coming to Burr Oak she joined the Lutheran church where Melvin was a member.

After marrying Evelyn taught only the first semester. From then on she worked with Melvin. He sold insurance, worked at the Cedar Rapids Schools, did income taxes for several hundred people and had a herd of Jersey cows. In the 1950’s Evelyn and Melvin helped organize the school in the northern part of Winneshiek Co.

Melvin and Evelyn had two daughters: Karen and Melva . Karen and her husband, Tom Keast, live in Decatur, IL. They have three sons: Joe a truck driver for Olsons in Decorah; Rick in the Air Force in Japan; and Adam in Decatur.

Melva and her husband live in Florida. Melva's husband is Ted Miccer; Melva kept the name Underbakke. Melva graduated in the second graduation class from the North Winneshiek Community School. For several years she has been teaching English as a Second Language to the foreign students at the University of South Florida. They have two sons, Lars in the sixth grade, and Juan, a first grader. Juan came from Peru about three years ago.

In 1980 she volunteered to work at the Laura Ingalls Wilder Museum and soon was doing all the work of a manager. Melvin passed away Jul 1985. Evelyn continued to work at the museum until 1992 when the museum

Partial OCR transcription, some sensitive personal information such as the birth dates of people that maybe still living was not transcribed. See the associated scan to compare with the published information.

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this page was last updated on Sunday, 28 March 2021