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Family Directory



The Michael & Catherine (Jochum) Gassmann Family

Compiled and contributed by Ron Seymour

Mike was born on April 12, 1851 in Erie County, NY just south of Buffalo. He was the first son and named after his father. He was the middle child with two older sisters and a sister and brother younger. When he was three years old his family moved to Iowa and settled just south of Balltown. Nine years later his father enlisted, went off to fight in the Civil War and never returned. By then his two older sisters had married and moved out to start their own families, leaving Mike and his mother to manage the farm and help with his two younger siblings. At about the same time the Gassmann family moved to Iowa, another family also arrived and settled nearby. The Jochums arrived in New York on Oct. 23, 1854 aboard the ship “Far West” that had sailed from Harve, France. They immediately set out for Iowa and purchased forty acres of land between Balltown and Sherrills Mound. Four sons crossed the sea with them and six more children were born after their arrival. Kate, or Katie as she was known, was the first daughter born to the Jochums. When Katie was around seven years old her mother died possibly while giving birth to her tenth child, although that cannot be stated with certainty. A few years later Katie’s father married Eliza Knabel on Oct 5, 1868 and one more child was added to the family-her three-year-old daughter, Margaret Ann.

Michael was 24 and Catherine Jochum was 18 when they took out a marriage license on Feb. 18, and were married by Fr. G. Ignatius Rottler in Sherrill on Feb. 29, 1876. The Jochums were Catholic so Mike converted to Catholicism before his marriage. He would have had to take instructions for two months and then show himself to be a practicing Catholic for a year before the marriage could take place. Michael and Katie lived with Michael’s mother and his brother and sister for several years after their marriage. Nine months and a couple weeks after their wedding their first child, Lena was born on Dec. 4th. A son, Frank was born a year and a half later followed by another son, Peter exactly four years to the day after Lena. By then the house must have started to become crowded, and by 1882, when Mike’s younger brother Peter married Katie’s younger sister, Margaret, Michael leased 80 acres a few miles west in Concord twp. He farmed half of it and his newly married brother-in-law, Frank Jochum farmed the other half. Mike paid the taxes on both farms. Two more daughters and a son were born on this farm, Margaret on Nov. 9, 1882, Katie on Oct. 20, 1884 and Mike on Dec. 10, 1887.

The following year Mike’s father-in-law, Nicholas Jochum, and his second wife, Eliza, sold 80 acres in Section 3 to Michael on Feb. 17, 1888 with a $1500 mortgage on it. Nick specified that he retained rights “for life” to the fuel (timber) on the land. Nick had purchased 200 acres in Concord Township from Thomas McGuire for $5900 on January 7, 1875.

Another 40 acres in Section 2 may have been sold at the same time, but that particle of land is not included in the existing document. Mike and his family, now numbering six children moved again. Three more children were born there including John (Murphy) on Mar. 28, 1889, Matt on Feb 28, 1891 and Clotilda in Dec of 1893.

Katie’s father Nick died of pneumonia on April 6, 1891. He had made out his will the day before naming his son-in-law, Michael Stager as executor. He listed personal property with a value of $5000 (more than $100,000 in today’s economy) that included the $1500 mortgage on Mike and Katie’s farm. It also included seven other notes for $500 each-probably to each one of his sons. Nick also owned Lot 297 in the Davis Farm Addition in Dubuque. The lot was located on the NE corner of 19th and Central and remained in the family for many years-Nick’s step-daughter, Margaret Crawford died in the home on Aug. 24, 1937.

Three years later Mike and Katie sold the farm, now consisting of 120 acres to his sister, Lena and his brother-in-law, Peter Brimeyer on Feb. 7, 1894 for $2500.

Mike and Katie then moved to Holy Cross where their last two daughters Bernadetta and Lizzie were born on Feb. 18, 1896 and Jan. 6, 1899. Their house was on the corner in the northwest part of town, across from the church cemetery. Mike became the caretaker of the cemetery and did odd jobs. Katie’s stepmother died in Aug. 1905 and each of the twelve Jochum children received $501.28 from the estate. That would be around $10,000 in today’s currency.

Mike ran for councilman in Holy Cross, and in the election on March 30, 1906, he and John Reichman tied, but Reichman won the office in the end, although how it was decided is not known.

Peter Brimeyer sold the farm to his son Ray about a decade later. The existing structures on the farm were built by the Brimeyers around 1907-08. According to the 1906 plat map the Potosi Mining Company owned 80 acres just north of the Brimeyer farm and the foundations of the smelter and other equipment near the creek still remain but all the mine shafts have been filled in.

There is a story that has become almost legendary in the region that a small band of Indians lived in the timber on the hill just east of the farm. The year is not known, but it was an exceptionally cold and snowy winter and the Indians were almost freezing to death. Whoever it was that owned the farm at the time went up the hill and told the party of Indians that there was an abandoned log cabin about a mile to the west that would provide better protection from the elements and they could use it for as long as they liked. The Indians took the farmer up on his offer and remained there for about two years, but then suddenly they were gone and no one ever knew where they went.

The 1910 census shows Mike as a Laborer doing odd jobs. The five youngest children still lived at home and John (Murphy) was working as a harness maker. Mike died at age in 1918. His namesake, son Mike, was serving in France in WWI. Two years later, Mike (the 3rd) had returned from war and moved back in with his mother and brother, Murphy. Kate’s daughter, Clotilda had remarried and her two children by her first husband Ben Meyer who had died, were also living with the Gassmann family. The family apparently did not approve of Clotilda’s marriage to Adolph Cooper because he was not Catholic and she eventually joined the Summit Congregational Church. Several years before her death, Kate apparently was quite ill and she had her daughter Clotilda Cooper appointed her guardian on Oct. 18, 1937. So there must have been some reconciliation by the family. Then on Apr. 23, 1940 Kate had recovered enough to have the court remove the guardianship. She then moved in with her son Matt and his wife until her death in 1944.

Children of Mike & Kate Gassmann

Lena b. Dec. 4, 1876; d. Nov. 12, 1973; m. John Roth. Her obituary said that: Mrs. Lena M. Roth, 96, of 921 Gilliam St. died at 6:30 pm. Monday in Mercy Medical Center. She was the widow of John A. Roth, who died in 1953.Mrs. Roth was born in Sherrill, la. Surviving are a daughter, Mrs. Emest (Bernadette) Leuenberger, and a son, Arnold Francis Roth, both of Dubuque; five grandchildren; eight great-grandchildren.

Frank b. June 6, 1878; d. Oct. 2, 1937; married Elizabeth Ruden on Jan 26, 1904. She was born Oct. 13, 1881 and died on Sept. 9, 1961. They had 11 children: Matilda Ries, Aloysius, Cecelia Hennen, Cletus, Germaine Heying, Cyril, Francis, Arnold, Clarence, Leora Seymour and Harry.

Peter b. Dec. 4, 1880; d. Aug. 4, 1961; m. Ann Meyer on Feb. 8, 1910; she died in Dec. 1960. She was a sister to Ben Meyer who married Clotilda, Peter’s sister. They farmed near Bernard. His funeral was held at Holy Family Church, New Melleray and he was buried in the church cemetery. Their surviving children were sons Sylvester, Luke, Dorrance and Edward and daughter Mrs. Jeanette McGuire

Margaret b. Nov. 9, 1882; d. Feb 20, 1978 m. Frank Meyer on Jan. 22, 1907. He was born at Freeport, IL on Nov. 12, 1880; d. Sep. 15, 1952. They had 2 sons, Norbert & Edmund and 8 daughters: Sr. Mary Zita, Mrs. Johanna Motschm, Mrs. Coletta Downey, Mrs. Salome Pfieler, Mrs. Rita Conlan, Mrs. Agnes Spect, Mrs. Mary Ploessel, and Mrs. Edna Link. They farmed in the Dyersville area.

Katie b. Oct. 20, 1884; d. July 18, 1954; m. John Noeges. Her obit provided the following information: Mrs. Catherine Mary Noesges, 69, 2461½ Central Ave. died at 7:45 p.m. Sunday at Xavier Hospital. She had been seriously ill for five weeks. Burial will be in Mr. Calvary Cemetery. Born at Holy Gross, Ia., she was a daughter of the late Michael and Catherine Yokum (sic) Gassmann. She came to Dubuque after her marriage Oct. 19, 1909, to John Noesges.

She is survived by her husband; two daughters, Mrs. Carol (Celeste) Erlich and Mrs. Clarence (Mary Catherine) Hirsch, both of Dubuque; a son, Harold Noesges, Dubuque; two grandchildren; Mike b. Dec. 10, 1887; d. May 28, 1948 at Sunny Crest sanitarium. Never married. Served in WWI: (Co. G, 316 Inf. 79 Div.) from July 25, 1918 to Jun 8, 1919. He was Overseas from Sept. 13, 1918 until May 29, 1919. He was wounded twice. He worked as a farm hand for Peter Smith, Holy Cross before enlisting. Mike developed TB from being gassed in the war and in the mid forties he lived with Alan and Leora and helped on their farm near Edgewood. Because of his disease and proximity to the Seymour family they were all tested for TB and Leora and Sandy tested positive. Thankfully no one in the family contracted the disease.

John (Murphy) b. Mar. 28, 1889; d. July 5, 1970; m. Katie Brecht on 2-1-1921. She was born on June 4, 1892 and died Oct. 17,1994. At the time of their marriage he was doing harness work and shoe repair and she clerked at Mike Clemens General Store, both in Holy Cross. After their marriage, she purchased the “Restaurant” in town and ran it until they moved to 258 E.15th St. in Dubuque in 1945. He then worked at Unique Balance until his retirement. They had no children.

Mattie b. Feb. 28, 1891; d. June 27, 1960; married Cynthia Mast on Nov. 23, 1915. He died unexpectedly at the Guttenberg Hospital. He was a retired farmer and left no surviving children.

Clestilla (Clotilda) b. Dec. 1893; m Ben Meyer (who was a brother to Anna, Peter Gassman’s wife) on Feb. 12, 1912 and had two children: Elaine and La Verne; he died in Chicago of some type of Kidney problem on April 17, 1915. A few years later she married Adolph Cooper. They had two sons. He was not Catholic and her family was not very excited about their marriage. Her Obituary in the TH included the following: COOPER-Departed this life on Wednesday, June 4, 1952, at 7:20 p. m., at Finley Hospital, Mrs. Clotlida Cooper of 1097 Rush St., age 58 years. Beloved wife of Adolph Cooper; beloved mother of Donald Cooper of West Point, N.Y., Robert Cooper of this city. Mrs. Eugene (Elaine) Lees of Cascade, Ia., LaVerne Meyer of Torrance, Calif.; Burial will be in the East Dubuque Cemetery.

Bernadetta b. Feb. 18, 1896; d. Jan. 19, 1990 at age 93 in Minneapolis. She married John Heidersheidt in 1905. He died on July 13, 1967. They had 3 sons and 8 daughters.

Lizzie b. Jan. 6, 1899; d. Jan. 15, 1953 m. Ed Otting Her obituary included the following: Services for Mrs. Elizabeth (Gassmann) Otting, 54, Rockford, Ill., who died Saturday morning at St. Anthony’s Hospital, Rockford, after an illness of several months, were held at 9 a. m. Monday from a Catholic Church at Rockford, with burial in an adjoining cemetery. Mrs. Otting was born in 1898 near Balltown, the daughter of the late Michael and Catherine Gassmann. During her early life, she lived at Holy Cross. She was married to Ed Otting, Cascade. The couple moved to Rockford. Surviving besides her husband are four sons, Merlin, Harlan, Eddie and Gene Paul; a daughter, Mary Agnes.


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