To James and Sarah Sophia Relf, 10 children were born in Mt. Vernon, OH, 7 daughters as follows: the first daughter born 16 Mar 1834 died in infancy, Matilda Sophia (25 Dec 1837), Caroline Eliza (21 May 1839), Victoria Maria (22 Mar 1841), Catherine E. (15 Jul 1849), Clara Ellen (9 Apr 1851). The family came to IA by covered wagon and lived on a Winneshiek Co. farm in Madison Twp. Here Elizabeth Jane (21 Jan 1868) was born. Their 3 sons were: John T (8 Jan 1836), William Edward (7 May 1843) and James Thomas (27 Jan 1847). John T enlisted in the Civil War with Co. E of the 38th Iowa Infantry. In the marshes and swamps of the South, this brave young soldier fell victim to a malarious disease, and for the cause of liberty gave his life for his country. His memory is long remembered by his relatives. William Edward was engaged in the photography business in Decorah with his brother, James. William married Martha Jane Gardner of Monroe, Wl, a sister of Capt. George Ouigley Gardner. Capt. Gardner married Miss Carrie Humes of Monroe, sister of Mrs. James Relf. Capt. Gardner had a distinguished service record in the Civil War but in the spring of 1865 was forced to resign because of physical disability. When he lived in Decorah he was associated with the First National Bank. James Thomas operated a mercantile store in Decorah. On the second floor he maintained a photo studio and traveled throughout Winneshiek Co. taking pictures. It was said: “When important events happened, James Relf was there with his camera.’’

Thanksgiving Day, 1876, at Monroe, Wl, James Thomas Relf married Fannie Augusta Whittier, the daughter of Albion and Louise Humes Whittier, a descendent of the American poet, John Greenleaf Whittier, who was born at Haverhill, MA, Dec 1807. James Relf died 24 Jul 1909. Mrs. James Relf died 8 May 1928. Her funeral was on the 73rd anniversary of her birth 11 May 1855.

James Thomas Relf and his wife Fannie Relf had two sons, Robert James and Roy Whitttier. Robert James (4 Jan 1884-20 Mar 1945) started the Princess Theater in

Decorah 1 Jan 1914 and managed the Star and the Grand Theaters. He was honored by the Paramount Company when he retired as the oldest exhibitor of Paramount pictures. James married Lillian L. Rudy. They had one daughter, Geraldine Whittier Relf who attended Luther College, graduated from the State University of Iowa and married John E. Perdock at First Lutheran Church in Decorah. Rov Whittier (21 Oct 1877) was educated in the Decorah Schools, Valders Business College and the LaGrange School of Refraction in Chicago. The Northwestern Jeweler Magazine recognized him as an Outstanding Jeweler and Optometrist in his 35 years of business. Meanwhile, Sarah “Sadie” Hanna of Manchester, IA had graduated from Drake University in Des Moines, IA, came to Decorah as a teacher in the public schools and became acquainted with and later married Roy Whittier Relf. Together they operated the jewelry store and a gift shop. Both were members of the Decorah Congregational Church.

Epilogue: I, Janice Whittier Relf, daughter of Roy and Sarah “Sadie” Relf, have related Story Number one of my ancestry. (See Story Number Two of the Hanna-Hoyt family)

Retterath, Norbert and Marian (Reicks)

(Norbert & Marian Retterath)

Norbert Retterath was born to Mike and Anna (Heimer) Retterath in Meyer, IA, Mitchell Co. of German descent. He worked as a carpenter until 1960 then worked at John Deere in Waterloo until his retirement in 1990.

Marian was born to Victor and Mary (Heying) Reicks of St. Lucas, IA of German descent. She married Roche Lensing of Festina, IA 25 Sep 1954. He was the son of Joe and Elizabeth (Schmitt) Lensing of German descent. They had 12 children: Wanda (m. Duane Cole), Marvin , Joe

Bio Photo

Norbert and Marian (Reicks) Retterath family

Andy and Jill Lensing, Ernie and Sherri Lensing and Emily; Russell and Teddie Lensing, JoMarie, Katilynn and Dominic;
Ivan and Jackie Lensing, Daniel, Heather and Hannah; Duane and Wanda Cole, Rochelle, Lindsey and Devin;
Joe Lensing; Eugen Lensing; Marian and Norbert Retterath; Marvin and LaDeane Lensing, Brad, Cassie, Dexter and Brittany;
Dave and Irene Novak, Stan, Deanna and Amy; Bruce and Wanita Phillips, Sarah, Jalissa and Tanner;
Darrel and Tammy Schmitt and Alex, Howard Lensing, Roman.


Partial OCR transcription, some sensitive personal information such as birth dates of people that maybe living is not included.

See the associated scan to compare with the published information.

Please, contact the County Coordinator to submit additions or corrections.

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this page was last updated on Monday, 29 March 2021