Riha, Wendel and Anna (Bina)

(Marie Riha)

Wendel Riha, the 2nd child of Frank and Anna Riha, was born 5 Nov 1879 on a farm southeast of St. Lucas, IA. Anna Bina, the 5th child of Mathias Sr. and Mary Bina was born 25 Jan 1881 near Spillville, IA. Wendel and Anna were married 6 Oct 1906 at Spillville and made their home on the Aaron Young farmstead, southeast of Fort Atkinson.

The Winneshiek Co. farmer and his wife had 2 children: Mary Ann and Arthur. Mary Ann better known as Mayme (26 Sep 1908-17 Apr 1991) married James Pavlovec 20 Dec 1926. Their children were: Victor, Daniel, George. Mary Ann, Arthur, James, Clarence, Paul, and Rita. Arthur (24 May 1912-29 Mar 1978) married Evelyn, the daughter of Frank and Mary (Dobrodinsky) Leibold on 7 Jun 1937. Their children were: Gerald, Robert, Alvin, Duane, Larian, Dianne and Charles.

Wendel, a Winneshiek Co. farmer, was very well known in the county for his top quality mules and Morgan horses. He and his son Arthur were responsible for donating and hauling the very large stone found behind the smallest church between Fort Atkinson and Festina. This rock was hauled from the Riha farm directly 2 miles northwest of the church by an A-frame and dragged along the roadway by three of his mules. It was placed there to honor Johann Gaertner who fought with Napoleon in 1812.

Wendel and Anna Riha associated with a number of Indians who lived in the area. Some summers the Rihas allowed them to live and trade on their farm property. One such Indian woman was named “Emma Big Bear,” a direct descendant of Chief Decorah of the Winnebagos. Emma and her daughter, Leonella, spent several summers living on the Riha property. Emma Big Bear is buried at Marquette, IA.

Wendel and Anna raised their children in a stone house which has legends of its own. The origin of the house dates back to 1859 when Francis Rogers, father-in-law of Aaron Young, built it with two-foot thick walls. It still remains as a historical landmark today. An intriguing story claims that this same location was once the location of a town called “Lewiston.” Lewiston never materialized because of an argument between Francis Rogers and another farmer about land ownership. Another rumor passed down through history was that there were rich coal deposits here. For one reason or another a mine never materialized. This stone house, occupied by the Rogers and the Riha families brings to mind dusty trails of wagons on the old road which crossed the front of the house. This was a resting spot for many weary travelers.

Wendel and Anna spent many years living on this historical site. Arthur bought the property after his father’s death. Today (1995) Arthur's son Robert owns the property. Wendel and Anna are buried in St. John’s Catholic Cemetery in Fort Atkinson.

Rikansrud, A.R. and Grace (Nelson)

(Grace Rikansrud)

Arthur Roland "Doc” Rikansrud was born 12 Nov 1902 to Engebret and Clara (Anderson) Rikansrud on his parents’ farm in Allamakee Co. He graduated from Waukon High School, attended Luther College 3 years and graduated from St. Olaf College, Northfield, MN in 1926. He was a teacher, coach and administrator in high schools and colleges in Minnesota, Texas, Nebraska and Wisconsin.

A.R. married Grace Helen Nelson 29 Aug 1928 in Clifton, TX (Bosque Co.). Grace was born 16 Jan 1911 to Albert G. and Anne Marie (Jorgenson) Nelson in rural Clifton. Grace graduated from Clifton Academy College in 1928. After their marriage Doc entered Palmer Chiropractic College in Davenport, IA, graduating in 1934. He opened an office in Decorah 15 Feb 1935. Grace and Doc continued to make their home in Decorah. They had 3 children: Erling, Alphea Corrine  and Betty Jane.

Bio Photo

Betty Nelson, Erling Rikansrud, Alphea Iverson, Doc Rikansrud and Grace Rikansrud.

Doc was a member of the Luren Singing Society beginning in 1937 and held various offices from 1938 to 1990. He was a member of the Norwegian Singers Association of America, serving as state president, vice president, and national recording secretary. He was a member of First Lutheran Church in Decorah. He sang in the senior church choir and served as congregational president and deacon. Doc died 10 Mar 1993. Services were on 17 Mar with interment at the Lutheran Cemetery.

Grace has been a volunteer at the Vesterheim Museum, Decorah, beginning in 1967. She learned authentic Norwegian handiwork - first Klostersom from Marit Gunerson, then hardangersom and other stitches from Norwegian teachers both in Norway and those demonstrating as featured artists during Nordic Fest. Among her many talents is knitting Norwegian sweaters. Hosts of Nordic Fest visitors have seen her beautiful Norwegian blackwork as well as other intricate handiwork. Daughter Alphea volunteers along with her mother and exhibits her lovely work. Both Grace and Alphea help interested folks with the important techniques needed.


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.

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this page was last updated on Monday, 29 March 2021