the 3rd child and eldest daughter of the 7 children of Herman Axtell and Leah Lamphiear. She attended the elementary grades in a one-room schoolhouse near the family farm, graduated from the Strawberry Point High School, and then taught in the same one-room school-house she had attended. After saving enough money, she attended Iowa State Teacher's College at Cedar Falls. Upon graduation, she taught in the high schools at Riceville and McGregor, IA until she entered Iowa State College at Ames in 1920. She graduated in 1922 and then received a Master of Science in Home Economics in 1923. On 4 Jun 1923 she married Kenneth Reeves, a World War I veteran and also a student at Iowa State College.
Fannie Reeves became a housewife and bore two sons, Robert and Gordon. The family lived in Waverly, Stratford, and Buck Creek, IA. In 1928 the Reeves traveled to Kavaja, Albania, where Kenneth Reeves became Headmaster of the Albanian-American School of Agriculture. When they first arrived in Albania the homes for the faculty of the school had not been completed so they all occupied temporary quarters at the girls' school, where Mrs. Reeves cooked for all of them on a charcoal brazier. She became director and a teacher at the girls’ school the first year until a permanent director was hired.
Returning to the United States in 1931 (after all except Fannie had contracted malaria) they lived in Madison, Wl, where Kenneth Reeves did post graduate studies, then lived in Waverly and Plymouth, IA. In 1935 they came to Decorah in Winneshiek Co., where she lived the remainder of her life. In the early years she occasionally substituted as a home economics teacher at Decorah High School. She was active in community organizations: the Fortnightly Club, Stitch & Chatter Club, American Association of University Women, Eastern Star, the Garden Club, and the Congregational United Church of Christ.
In 1988, due to continuing ill health, she entered the Aase Haugen Home at Decorah, where she died 31 Jan 1994, eleven days short of her 100th birthday.
The Reeve/Reeves family originated in England and emigrated to the Colonies in the early 17th Century, their exact origin yet unproved, but two Reeves, possibly brothers, met while “adventuring" in Chowan country for “sperrits resin” about 1636. Thomas Reeve came from the Summer Isles (Bermuda) and James Reeve apparently from Sudbury, MA. After their unsuccessful foray into the area now known as North Carolina, they both settled in Hashammomock on the eastern tip of Long Island, the area now encompassing Mattituck and Southhold. James Reeve, our forebear, married a daughter of William Purrier, one of the largest landowners in the area. Both James and Thomas appear to have done well and raised large families. During the Revolution against England in the late 1770’s many of the families siding with the Colonists were forced to flee Long Island, controlled by the British. The Reeve families were among those “Refugees of 1776” who fled to Connecticut. Most of them returned to Long Island after the war, but those who remained established themselves as prominent citizens of the state, particularly in the late 18th and early 19th Century.
The course of the family trek from Long Island to Iowa is not yet completely documented. Suffice to say, in the early 1800’s, William Harmon, brother-in-law of Norman A. Reeves (30 Jan 1833, died 1899), founded the town of Waverly in Bremer Co. (Harmon was reading The Waverlev Tales by Walter Scott at the time, and for some unknown reason dropped the final “e” in naming the town.) Norman A. Reeves was a farmer and nurseryman in nearby Janesville, IA. His son, Elmer M. Reeves (28 Jun 1859-7 Mar 1947) became a nurseryman, locating first near Shell Rock and then in Waverly, where he operated his business until his death in 1947 at the age of 86. He and his wife Eva Cadwallader from Janesville (30 Mar 1863-24 Oct 1958) raised a family of 3 boys and one girl: Ralph (20 Feb 1887-22 Dec 1969), Chester (24 Aug 1893-31 Aug 1975), Kenneth, and Laura (21 Mar 1903-7), who later married Robert A. Bailey (11 Sep 1904-7).
Kenneth Reeves (30 May 1897 at Waverly, IA) the youngest of the three sons, attended the Waverly schools and then entered Iowa State College at Ames in 1915. His schooling was interrupted when he enlisted in the U.S. Army during World War I. He returned after the war and earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Horticulture and Botany in 1922 and a Master of Science in Plant Biology in 1923. On 4 Jun 1923, he married Fannie Axtell of Strawberry Point, IA, daughter of Herman A. Axtell and Leah Lamphiear. They had two sons: Robert A. Reeves, born at Waverly and Gordon L. Reeves. at Waterloo.
Kenneth Reeves taught at schools in Plymouth, Strawberry Point, Stratford and Buck Creek (where he also served as superintendent) in IA. From 1928 to 1931 he served as headmaster and teacher at the Albanian-American School of Agriculture for Boys at Kavaja, Albania, a two-year high school founded by the Near East Foundation. He spoke fondly of his experiences during this period and was proud of his role in helping improve farming methods in this Balkan country.
Kenneth Reeves came to Decorah in 1935 as a faculty member of the Decorah High School where he organized the vocational agriculture department, planned and set up the bus system which would make it possible for students from the rural community to attend school and many of the other facets of the high school experience. After 32 years and his retirement in 1967 at the age of 70, he worked for the Soil Conservation Commission and later became its assistant commissioner. He also served as City Forester of Decorah for 16 years. During World War II he was responsible for civil defense in Winneshiek Co. and was an officer and instructor in the Civil Air Patrol at Decorah.
He served as judge of floral exhibits at the Winneshiek County Fair for over fifty years and judged agricultural exhibits at other nearby county fairs during the same period. He became an advisor on senior citizen matters for the Area Agency on Aging and twice represented
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this page was last updated on Monday, 29 March 2021