Carroll County IAGenWeb
History Journal

Breda Centennial Book
Older Days Renewed, Breda: 1877-1977

The following information is from pages 9, 10, and 11.

Breda is a town in Iowa located in the heart of the Corn Belt. It is situated in Wheatland and Kniest Townships in the Northwestern part of Carroll County, being thirteen miles from Carroll, the county seat. Breda is on the Sioux City Branch of the Chicago and Northwestern Railroad which was built in 1877. The town of Breda was technically founded when this railroad was built. This typical American rural town has a population of 553 people. Friendliness, honesty, and loyalty are natural customary habits which may be expected from every citizen of the community.

It was in 1869 that the first settlers came from Galena, Illinois and Hazelgreen and Dickeyville, Wisconsin to establish new homes on the prairies of Northwestern Iowa. These early settlers were for the most part sturdy Germans and thrift Hollanders. Among the early pioneers were the families of Richard and Henry RICKE, Martin LUDWIG, John LeDUC, Mathew SNYDER, William LAMMERDING, Henry OLERICH, and Ben and Clem KNOBBE. These men bought land from the Railroad Company for $4 an acre.*

On the barren prairie lands not a piece of wood as thick as a finger was to be found and not a tree was to be seen. Before many years had elapsed however, these lands, which a short time ago were the hunting grounds for Indians and roaming lands for buffaloes, were dotted with cabins and neatly planted groves of timber and the fruitless prairies were changed into fertile fields. It took men of courage and perseverance to accomplish what these pioneers did. The breaking up of these lands was no easy task for a man could only clear between 10 and 15 acres a season with continued hard labor.

Since there were no roads or as yet no church in Breda, people traveled on horseback, in wagons or walked through swamp grass to attend services at Mt. Carmel Church. The children would walk to Mt. Carmel twice a week through the tall prairie grass and mud for religious instructions, and often they were obliged to take their shoes and stockings off and wade through water and swamps.

Before the grain elevator and the railroad came to Breda the farmers would load their livestock, potatoes, vegetables and grain on a wagon pulled by oxen or horses and take them to Carroll. They started very early in the morning and came home late in the evening. Since there were no roads on which they could travel, these early pioneers had to make their own trail through the swamps and tall grass. The farmers were later aided in selling their products by railway when the railroad came through Breda in 1877. Eventually the greatest step in aiding the pioneers by way of transportation was the automobile and the truck. The automobile aided in taking people to town, to church and for business purposes. The truck was used for hauling the needs of the farmer or businessmen in town and for the selling of goods to another city or farm.

The first roads that the farmers made were very crude. They took a walking plow and made furrows for the ditches. Then they cleared the tall grass from between the two furrows. When it came to grading the road they used a crude grader consisting of large heavy planks which they dragged on the ground. Later the county furnished heavy steel graders with a long blade underneath to cut down the roots in the road. Although Carroll County is not rich in gravel deposits they later obtained it from neighboring counties to surface the roads.

A great inconvenience for the early pioneers was the snow storms in the winter season. Sometimes the settlers would not see one another for weeks and in some severe cases for a month or more.

In 1869, before Breda was an incorporated town, the inhabitants were governed as a part of the township. Trustees of the township attended to all business and local affairs. The Secretary of the Board of Trustees was in charge of legal documents and transactions. Elections were held at appointed posts such as school houses and community centers.

In 1871, the Chicago fire caused many who had lost their homes to come to the plaints [sic] of Iowa. Many settled in Wheatland Township.

In the summer if [sic] 1877, the Sioux City Branch of the Chicago and Northwestern Railroad was built through the community. The question arose as to the location of the depot. This question brought up a discussion and several pioneers were in favor of having it built one mile from its present site. The company finally bought 177 acres from Clem KNOBBE, Benedict SCHETTLER, Henry RIETER, and William ARTS and located the depot at its present site. Other buildings soon surrounded the little station, and the town of Breda was formed.

The question is often asked why the town was named Breda. Some of the first suggestions for names were St. Clemens and Artsville. Because Superintendent Hall and the building force of the Northwestern Railroad were then stopping at the hotel of John LEDUC and during November of that same year the town was founded, he gave Mrs. LEDUC the honor of naming the town. At first, the names of New Holland and Roermond were suggested, but as there were already other towns in the state whose names were similar to these, they were rejected. Then Mrs. LEDUC suggested the name of Breda in honor of a city in Holland. As there were no other towns of that name in Iowa, the town was named Breda. Mrs. John LEDUC had the honor of naming the town in return for the painstaking services she rendered Superintendent Hall and the construction crew of the Northwestern Railroad Co.

On October 30, 1877, an election for the incorporation of Breda was held. It carried by a vote of 36 for and 5 against the measure. The names of the 44 men voting in this election were as follows: S.N. MCCORMICK, J.H. KNOBBE, J. VANEVENTER, A.J. POWELL, Joseph DYKE, Ubba ALBERSON, H. SCOTT, Henry BRUNING, Henry OLERICH Jr., U.C. JONES, Henry OLERICH Sr., H.W. LAMMERDING, W. LAMMERDING, J.H. BOHNENKAMP, Frank SALMEN, Joseph KEMPKER, J.B. EBERLY, R. RICKE, J.L. PERRY, A.T. OLERICH, John OLERICH, Frank LAKE, Anton STORK, Joseph OLERICH, John FRANZEN, Theodore LOCH, John LEDUC, Joseph SCHELLE, Fred GEETS, G. HANNSEN, J. Frank DERNER, N. CORTENBACH, C. KNOBBE, Henry PAPER, Wm. LEETS, B. BRUNING Sr., J.H. BRUNING, V.R. JACKSON, A.L. GNAM, Herman GNAM, and C. BRUNING, Sr.

Thus through the efforts of our pioneers and the continued progress throughout the ensuing years, Breda has developed into one of the cleanest rural cities to be found anywhere. It is most progressive and therefore offers the community many advantages rarely found in other cities of its size.


1883 - 1902 Frank SALMEN
1903 Dr. A. M. LAUGEL
1904 Joseph OLERICH
1905 - 1911 Frank SALMEN
1912 - 1923 Frank VAN ERDEWYK
1924-1935 John SCHULTE
1936 - 1947 Frank VAN ERDEWYK
1948 - 1953 John SMID
1954 - to date Leo HEISTERKAMP

The citizens of Breda are deeply indebted to these men for their leadership and for their time spent in developing our city into one in which we can be truly proud of in this our Centennial year.
 *In reviewing the land records in Carroll County, Mathew Snyder, one of my ancestors, paid $3.75 an acre for his land in Kniest Township, which he contracted to buy in 1869. 

Page 65

As a prerequisite to becoming a citizen the immigrant took an oath to the effect “that it was bona fide his intention to become a citizen of the United States and to renounce forever all allegiance to any foreign Prince, Potentate, State or Sovereignity (sic) whatsoever” at least two years before the application. This affidavit was also necessary before an immigrant could buy land from the government.

After an applicant had resided in the United States for five years, without being out of the territory and within the State for one year and “has behaved as a man of good moral character, attached to the principles of the Constitution” a final court hearing reviewed the petition. If approved by the Court the alien took a final oath again renouncing all foreign titles and allegiance, and that he will support the Constitution. The court clerk then gives the applicant a certificate of naturalization and the alien becomes a citizen.


Listed below are the last names of the families included in the Pioneers Section of this book, pages 67 to 157. The information for each family is fairly brief, but often two or more generations of the family are included. Most also include a picture of some of the family, sometimes just of the couple, but many pictures include the children.

Bachman Lammers Schwarzkopf
Becker Ludwig Thelen
Bruning Ocken Wernimont
Determan Olerich Woerdehoff
Heisterkamp Ricke Wolterman
Knobbe Snyder  

Pages 297, 299.

Breda has always been known as a "wet" town, and though the young people of Breda may think this is new, it is not. We come by it honestly and from way back. In the early days of this century, we had anywhere from seven to thirteen saloons at one time. In comparison, our Fourth of July celebration is rather pale to those of earlier days. Today, the selling of four hundred cases of beer is usually maximum, where before prohibition they might sell two to four train car loads. Why the big difference? In the early days of this century, liquor was a local option. Sac County was dry so the only watering hole was Breda.

Saloons were similar to those you may have seen on "Gunsmoke"; no self-respecting lady ever went in. however, there was one great difference. All the saloons were to be closed at 9:00 P.M. The prices, of course, were a drinker's delight". A four gallon keg of beer sold for 60 cents, and a gallon of whisky sold for around $2.00.

On January 4, 1912, the residents of Breda were hit with startling news. The headlines read: "One saloon in Breda...That's it". "Friday evening the town council met for the purpose of determining how Breda would conform to the recent Supreme Court decision on the 'Moon Law'.  According to the decision, towns of less than 2000 population are allowed to run but one saloon. Breda has three, operated by Frank Brinker, Lammers and Heisterkamp, and J. Berkemeier. These men have all been conducting their business in such satisfactory manner that the council regretted to be forced to ask any of them to go out of business and hesitated in deciding which two would be the unfortunate ones.

The council was saved this trouble by getting the firms together and deciding among themselves who should remain in business. On Friday evening Mr Brinker was granted the licenses and hereafter he will own the only saloon in town. We understand that Mr Brinker squared matters with the other firms in such a way that everyone was satisfied. He took over the entire stock of liquors that the other firms had on hand and has given ample payment to those who would have otherwise been out of a job."

Frank Brinker went from here and became, perhaps, the best known saloon keeper of his day. Owning half the town, Mr Brinker paid up to as much as $3,500 in liquor taxes a year. This monopoly was short-lived. On January 1, 1916, Iowa went dry. This was three years before national prohibition; three years of bootlegging to perfect their talents before the Federal government stepped in. The first liquor runs were to Minnesota to obtain beer and whiskey. Local stills blossomed.

Prohibition lasted until 1933. During that time bootlegging and moonshine became a way of life for many. Vast amount of money were acquired by those who pursued this form of activity.

The saloonkeeper, in many instances, turned their establishments into restaurants, only to reopen them in the winter of 1933 when the 18th Amendment was repealed.

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Transcribed June 2001 by
Anita Henning
Lemon Grove, CA

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