In the Spring of 1868, Lambert Kniest heading a train of teams and stock the
best that ever dove into a western country stopped in Carroll. The wagons were
all fittingly labeled for the occasion as follows: first wagon “For the West”; second wagon “To Carroll County,” on the third – “Iowa the Granary of the
World”, on the fourth — “Kniest Settlement,” and on the fifth drawn by the
heaviest and biggest oxen that ever came to Carroll County, the wagon being
loaded with provisions were the words “John L Blair Aristocracy.” Then followed his long drove of loose cattle and other domestic animals, too
numerous to mention driven by men on horse back. It was indeed an occasion of
much interest to the inhabitants of this frontier town.
These colonists were on the way to Kniest settlement situated about eight miles
north-west of Carroll. Mr. Kniest succeeded to purchase from John L Blair the
whole township of eighty five north range west, and bringing to it in a short
time, about seventy families who are breaking up the virgin soil of new farm,
and putting up log cabins, houses and farms.
This was taken from an issue of the Carroll Herald printed in the spring of
1868. Our town (Carroll) presents quite a busy appearance, particularly
in the lumber and agricultural trade, occasioned mostly by the indefatigable
pursuit of our German neighbors of the settlement known as the Kniest
settlement, situated about eight miles north-west of Carroll. We were really
glad to meet Mr. Kniest and several of his companions who were in town the other
day loading their wagons with lumber, plows etc to take into their settlement.
We understand their school house and other public buildings are about finished
and that they have services in the village church. It is wonderful how easy it
is for some men to make world progress.
These Germans are a world moving people and an honor to any county in
which they may make their houses. Some years ago when we traveled over this bare
country, we would not have given ten cents an acre for the prairie land. Whole
townships that were a few years ago the hunting ground of the Indians, and the
home of wild beasts, are now dotted with cabins and artificial groves of timber.
The change has been made by just such men as Lambert Kniest, and his trustworthy
followers. We are pleased to have such men come among us, who so quickly change
our fruitless prairies into fertile land. It takes men of nerve and perseverance
to accomplish what our friend Kniest has done in the last year.
Lambert Kniest also started and named the little village of Mt Carmel. It came
about in this way:
In the summer of 1868 Lambert Kniest, H Baumhover and several others started
out with team and wagons to pick out a township. They were driving about from
place to place and became actually embarrassed because their were so
many fascinating sites, so that when our selection was almost decided on,
another seemed to be better. Finally an elevated plateau was reached, there they
rested while admiring the magnificent scenery, the waving grass in the rich
valleys; and the sloping uplands on every side. The pole was taken from the
wagon, having been brought as a marker for the chosen spot; and they set it
firmly in the ground, whilst they consecrated the land to God in pious prayers,
as their eyes were dimmed with tears of joy. The spot and location being agreed
upon, the question arose: what name shall we give this new colony or parish.
Looking up the date in the almanac--they found it was July 16th--Our Blessed
Lady of Mt. Carmel, which was the name selected.
Without delay Lambert Kniest laid out and platted the little village of Mt.
Carmel in the center of which was a square for the catholic church; to the north
of the church square was another square for the school, and west of this five
acres was laid out for the cemetery.
It will be interesting to know who conceived the idea to start this settlement
years and years ago. It has often been said that women are only the helpmates of
men. That man is the inspiring and creative force in all things. However Joan of
Arc led the French to liberty. Clara Barton was the inspiring spirit that made
the Red Cross a real force for good.
Likewise in the city of Carroll lives Mrs. Kniest--wife of Lambert Kniest--now
ninety four years old. She it was who called attention to the new lands in
western Iowa offered by the Iowa Railroad Land Co. for settlement. Her husband
was taken by the force of her argument, and accordingly consulted his friend
Gen. Geo.. W. Jones. After their conference it was decided to go and see this
land. So in the fall of 1867 Lambert Kniest went out and looked over the big
stretch of land. After viewing from all angles what is now Wheatland, Sheridan,
and Kniest township, Mr. Kniest chose the latter. On his way home to Dubuque he
stopped of at Cedar Rapids where the contract was drawn up, which he signed,
giving him the sole right to start a new settlement.
Then the lands were advertised in Dubuque and surrounding towns and in March
1868 Lambert Kniest in company with his oldest daughter Hannah Kniest-Drees, and
a number of settlers, came overland with ox teams, wagons and cattle via the old
government road to Fort Dodge and thence over a trail to what is now Mt. Carmel.
Although these pioneers sacrificed much, they planted the Cross on these
wild prairies, built homes for themselves under trying circumstances; while a
few became discouraged over crop failures and returned to Dubuque. Those who
remained were rewarded for their fidelity by establishing homes and gradually
seeing their lands develop into the highest priced farms in the country.
True to the predictions (in the forces of encouragement in trying times) of
their leader Lambert Kniest, the old settlers prospered, and came and went in
their buggies and carriages; while now their offspring's spin through the country
in their touring cars.
Would to providence that my grandfather Lambert Kniest, could see the township
he started in all its prosperity and agricultural beauty. It would do his heart
good, and repay him in a measure for the undertakings and sacrifices during his
pioneer days. Although he met with many discouragements, his Christian fortitude
carried him through to success.
The above information is transcribed from a 10 page handwritten
manuscript on microfilm #0985414 from the LDS Library in Salt Lake City. I have
kept the original spelling and punctuation. There is no date noted for when this
was written , but there is a clue, in that she says that her grandmother, Mrs.
Lambert Kniest is 94 years of age when it is written. There is also nothing to
indicate why this manuscript was written. Perhaps Clara just wanted to tell the
story of her grandparents coming to Carroll County. (The first page of the
manuscript was very difficult to read; this coincides with the first and part of
the second paragraphs. In the fifth paragraph there is a quotation mark to
end a quotation, but I have been unable to find another quotation mark that
would indicate where the quote begins.) Perhaps the original manuscript is
somewhere in Carroll County.