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Cerro Gordo County >> 1910 Index

History of Cerro Gordo County, Iowa
Ed. and comp. by J. H. Wheeler. 2 vols. Chicago: Lewis Pub Co., 1910


Biographies submitted by Kay Ehlers.  

F. J. Hanlon

F. J. Hanlon, secretary and general manager of the Mason City & Clear Lake Railway Company, Mason City, Iowa, has as an officer been identified with this road from its inception in 1897.

Mr. Hanlon is a native of Wells, Minnesota, where he was born in 1876, and is a son of Mr. and Mrs. Thomas Hanlon. The Hanlon family left Minnesota and came to Iowa in 1890, taking up their residence in Mason City, where they now reside. For many years Thomas Hanlon was an engineer on the C. M. & St. P. Railroad, but is now retired from active life. In Mason City, F. J. Hanlon completed his schooling, graduated here in 1892. He began life as an employe in the [transportation] department of the Mason City & Ft. Dodge Railroad, and was occupied in that capacity until 1894, when he accepted a position, at Marshalltown, as chief clerk in the superintendent's office, Iowa Central Railroad. There he remained until 1897, when he was made an officer of the Mason City & Clear Lake Railway Company.

Mr. Hanlon's standing among the foremost business men of his town is evidenced by the fact that in February, 1910, he was elected president of the Mason City Commercial Club. Politically he is a Republican ; fraternally, a B. P. O. E., a K. of C., and a M. W. A., all of Mason City. He and his parents are members of the Holy Family Catholic church.

Jesse S. Hanson

Jesse S. Hanson, a representative citizen of Clear Lake Iowa, has for years been a prominent factor in the real estate activities of this place. He was born in Lafayette county, Wisconsin, November 11, 1870, a son of Nelson Hanson, a retired resident of Clear Lake.

Nelson Hanson was born in the town of Laholm, Sweden, January 8, 1836, a son of Hans Peterson and his wife, nee Petervuella Alhberg, who lived and died in Sweden. His father was a land owner and by trade was a shoemaker. In their family of seven children, Nelson Hanson is the only one now living. In 1854, at the age of eighteen, with a limited education and enough borrowed money with which to pay his passage to this country, he left the old home in Sweden and embarked for America. His first work here was as a farm hand in Lafayette county, Wisconsin. Afterward for four or five years he followed the stonemason's trade, later was employed with a lumber firm, spending several years in Milwaukee and Chicago, and from that turned his attention to farming. He came to Cerro Gordo county, Iowa, in 1880, and settled on a farm in Clear Lake township, five miles and a half south of Clear Lake. At the end of three years he traded his farm for a nursery at Clear Lake, which he conducted for ten years, after which he sold out and moved to St. Paul. At St. Paul for twelve years, with the assistance of his wife and daughter, he conducted the "St. Paul Commons," on the corner of Jackson and Eighth streets, this being a home for clerks and laborers, where good, comfortable rooms were furnished a nominal cost. During the past year he and his wife have traveled through the east and south, visiting relatives. Nelson Hanson married in Wisconsin in 1863 Miss Jennie Moody, a native of Bradford county, Pennsylvania, and a distant relative of Rev. D. L. Moody. Of their family of eight children five are living, namely : Bertha, wife of Frank Boeye, a Methodist Episcopal minister of [Fort] Worth, Texas ; Joseph M., secretary of the Associated Charities, Youngstown, Ohio ; Eleanor, of Pittsburg [sic], Pennsylvania, is a lecturer, engaged in charity work ; Jesse S., whose name introduces this sketch ; and Rev. Harry O., for the past seven or eight years in China missionary field, under the auspices of the Methodist Episcopal church. Of the three children deceased, one son, Benjamin M., died at the age of twenty-four years, a daughter, Chene, at twenty-two, and a son, Ira, in infancy. Politically Nelson Hanson has in the main supported the Republican ticket, voting first for John C. Fremont, but he has always maintained a certain independence in the matter of his franchise. He voted for St. John, the prohibitionist. He has membership in the People's church of St. Paul.

Jesse S. Hanson passed the first ten years of his life in his native county. Then he accompanied his parents and other members of the family to Iowa, and in Cerro Gordo county he grew to manhood and received a public school education. For some years he was interested in trotting horses, and handled in 1892 sixty-five head. Later, with his father, he was interested in the nursery business, and for the past fifteen years he has been engaged in the real estate business, in company with others owning considerable land. Also he is interested in automobiles.

Mr. Hanson has been twice married. His first wife, formerly Mrs. Hattie Hubbard, died in the fall of 1903. His present wife was Miss Zeta Hubbard, she being a daughter of the late O. R. Hubbard of Clear Lake. They have one daughter, Mary, born in 1908. Like his father Mr. Hanson is an independent Republican. He and his wife worship at the Congregational church.

Archie W. Harroun

Archie W. Harroun, of 314 West Eighth Street, Mason City, Iowa, has for eighteen years been engaged in the railway mail service on the line between Dubuque and Sanborn, with headquarters at Dubuque. While a native of Minnesota, born in 1869, Mr. Harroun has made Cerro Gordo county, Iowa, his home since 1875, when he came here with his parents, John and Lydia (Greenlee) Harroun, natives of Crawford county, Pennsylvania. Early in life John Harroun and his wife left the "Keystone state" and came west to Minnesota, settling near Rochester long before that city was started. There for a number of years and later in Portland township, Cerro Gordo county, Iowa, he successfully carried on farming operations and he died at his home in the last named place in 1899, at the age of seventy-one years. He served in various local offices, such as justice of the peace, school director, etc., and was an officer in a creamery company. Both he and his wife were members of the Christadelphan church. She died in 1902, at the age of sixty-seven years. In their family of five children, Archie W. was the fourth born, the others being Park B., of Austin, Minnesota ; Miss Alma E., bookkeeper for the Damon-Igou Company, in which she is a stockholder ; L. Laville, wife of Frank Miller, a merchant and alderman of Mason City ; and Miss Carrie.

Archie W. Harroun previous to his entering the railway mail service attended normal school at Algona, Iowa, and taught one term of country school. He is married and has one child, Margaret, born February 1, 1910. Mrs. Harroun, formerly Miss Jessie Stevens, is a daughter of Charles J. Stevens, a resident of Mason City and an engineer on the C. M. & St. P. Railroad.

Politically Mr. Harroun is what may be termed and Independent Republican. In religion he firmly maintains the views held by his parents and is a member of the same church. Mrs. Harroun is a Methodist.

George Helm

George Helm, a substantial and influential farmer of section 3, Falls township, Cerro Gordo county, Iowa, was born in LaFayette county, Wisconsin, November 25, 1843, son of Jonathan and Sarah (Shay) Helm. The boyhood of George Helm was spent on a farm and he worked at farm work summers, attending school in the winter. In 1868 he went to Illinois and spent the summer, returning to his native state in the fall, for a brief visit, then went back to Iowa and purchased wild land where he now lives. He erected buildings and made all possible improvements, developing a fine farm in time. His first buildings were destroyed by a severe wind storm in July, 1882, and when he rebuilt he put up better ones. In March, 1867, he married Lucretia Lewis, a native of Coles county, Illinois, who died in April 1885, having had two children : Lewis C., of St. Paul, and Lillian E., wife of Clarence Cleveland, of South Dakota.

Mr. Helm married for his second wife, March 1, 1886, Amelia Cleveland, who was born in Plymouth, Iowa, November 1, 1865, daughter of George and Melissa (Redington) Cleveland. Mr. Cleveland who was born in Albany, New York, February 19, 1834, died August 7, 1879, and his wife, who was born in Illinois January 14, 1848, is now living at Plymouth, Iowa. By his second marriage Mr. Helm has children as follows : Clarence A., born March 1, 1887, is conducting the home farm ; George F., born September 1, 1888, lives in this county ; and Gladys I., born June 3, 1893, is at home.

For the past three years Mr. Helm has been an invalid and confined to his bed. He had previously been a very active man[,] ambitious to bring his property to a fine condition and taking great interest in the affairs of the community. Politically he is a Democrat, and he has served as director and president of the school board and as road superintendent. He and his wife are members of the Brother of American Yeomen, Homestead No. 279, of Plymouth, and so are their children. He owns one hundred and sixty acres of fertile land, and has modern equipment and appliances for carrying on his work. He has always displayed excellent judgment in the conduct of his affairs and has been successful in his operations.


One of the estimable and progressive young agriculturists of Cerro Gordo county is L. D. Helm, who is of that sound and sterling stock upon which the material prosperity of this section of the state is securely founded.  He is a native Iowan, his birth having occurred September 2, 1878 , at Plymouth , this county, and his parents being Matthew and Esther (Blair) Helm.  The first of the Helm family in America was the grandfather of him whose name initiates this sketch, Jonathan, who settled in Darlington , Lafayette county, Wisconsin , and was soon numbered among the respected people of that section.  His son, Matthew, Mr. Helm's father, was born March 7, 1840 , and died April 22, 1903 .  He was a farmer and a man who enjoyed the esteem of his contemporaries, one of the distinctions being a valiant Civil war record.  At the time of the inception of the conflict between the states he joined the support of the Union cause, enlisting at Darlington , Wisconsin , August 14, 1862 , and being honorably discharged June 16, 1865 , at Camp Madison , Wisconsin .  Some years after the termination of the war, in 1872 to be exact, Matthew Helm came to Cerro Gordo county, and being pleased with the aspect of things purchased a farm here and remained actively and successfully engaged in this quarter for the remainder of his life.  He and his wife resided on the farm until the spring of 1899, when they removed to Plymouth , in which place the father died in 1903.  The marriage of Mr. Helm's father and mother was solemnized December 16, 1874, the latter Esther Blair Helm, born April 27, 1852, and died December 9, 1909, over seven years after the demise of her faithful and devoted husband, being a daughter of James and Nancy Blair. Both of the parents of Mr. Helm were Methodists, consistent and helpful in the good causes of the church.  The father was a life long Democrat and a prominent member of the Masonic fraternity.

L. D. Helm received an excellent education, his preliminary training being acquired in the public schools.  He early decided to follow in the parental footsteps in the matter of a life work.  He engages in general agriculture and his efforts have been crowned with success. He laid the foundation of a congenial life compan[ion]ship, when on August 16, 1899 , he was united in marriage to Josie Reynolds, daughter of Anna L. and Charles (Henry) Reynolds, the former a native of New Hampshire and the latter of Vermont .  The date of their wedding was August 16, 1899 , and its scene Plymouth , Iowa .  They have become the parents of the following seven children : Winnie E., born May 14, 1900 ; Flossie M., born September 24, 1901 ; Harold H., December 7, 1902 ; Olive E., born February 23, 1905 ; Wayne L., July 13, 1907 ; Melvin D., December 15, 1908 ; and Bruce, July 4, 1910.

Mr. Helm, like his father, has ever given his hand and heart to the men and measures of the Democratic party and his lodge affiliations are with the Independent Order of Odd Fellows and the Modern Woodmen of American.  He is one of the well known farmers of the community and can ever be depended upon to give his support to all measures likely to result in the attainment of the greatest good to the greatest number.

William F. Henkel

William F. Henkel, of the firm of Henkel & Bruns, general contractors and builders, Mason City, Iowa, has been identified with this place for a period of twenty years and has contributed materially to its growth and development.

Mr. Henkel was born in Germany in 1871, and was reared, educated and learned the trade of mason there. In 1889, at the age of eighteen, he left his home in the old country to try his fortunes in America, and on landing in this country, went to Wisconsin, where he spent one year. Then he came to Mason City, Iowa, which has been his home and where he has established himself in a prosperous business and accumulated some valuable property. His own handsome residence is at 703 East Huntley street. For seven years he has been associated in business with George Bruns, under the name of Henkel & Bruns, Mr. Bruns having worked with him for five years previous to the formation of this partnership. Besides many fine homes in the city they built the Decker Packing plant, the St. Joseph's Catholic church, the E. P. Higley block, and the Harding & Farrell building, the last named now being occupied by the Cobb Furniture Company. Also as cement sidewalk contractors they do a large business. They furnish employment to from fifteen to twenty men, many of them skilled mechanics.

Mr. Henkel is married and has two children, Carl and Leona, aged fifteen and fourteen years respectively. Mrs. Henkel, formerly Miss Ida Lehmann, was born and reared in Mason City, daughter of E. Lehmann, one of the old residents of the town.

Politically Mr. Henkel has always maintained an independent attitude, preferring to vote for men and measures rather than confine himself to any one party. Socially he is identified with the M. W. A. and B. P. O. E. He and his family are members of the German Lutheran church.

Iver Hodnefield

Iver Hodnefield, a native of Norway and one of Lake township's enterprising agriculturists and good citizens, belongs to the ranks of the self-made men, having been left an orphan at the age of fifteen years in a comparatively strange country. He was born in Stavanger, Norway, January 9, 1864, his parents being John and Gunnild (Olson) Hodnefield. He came to Cerro Gordo in June, 1875, with his elders who located in section 33, Lake township. The mother died that same year, at the age of forty-one years, and four years later seven children were left alone in the world by the death of the father, he being at the time forty-eight years of age. The family had emigrated to the United States in 1873 and had spent two years in Story county. Upon his coming to Cerro Gordo county the father had purchased some wild land and had improved it to some extent. After his death the homeplace was sold and the estate settled, the children being left with practically nothing. The helpless little band made their home for a few years with an uncle in Hardin county and then made their own way in the world. The seven children are as follows : Carrie died twenty years ago as a young woman ; Christina is the wife of Dr. Charles Flynn of Postville, Iowa ; Iver is the third child ; Olive for the past seventeen years has been a missionary in China under the auspices of the Norwegian Lutheran church ; Julia is the wife a J. William Brown of Colorado ; John is a farmer in Lincoln township ; and Cornelius is a train [dispatcher] on the Chicago & Northwestern Railway.

Iver Hodnefield went forth in the world as a self supporting member of society at the age of sixteen years, and he has been thoroughly successful. In 1887 he made his first purchase of land which was the nucleus of his present homestead. He now owns and operates two hundred and forty acres of finely improved land in section 34, Lake township, and raises stock in addition to this general farming. He has some registered sheep. Politically Mr. Hodnefield is an adherent of the Republican party, and in evidence of the confidence in which he is held by his neighbors the offices of trustee, school director and other public duties have been bestowed upon him. He and his family are members of Bethlehem church (Lutheran) of Clear Lake.

In the fall of 1888 Mr. Hodnefield was married in Lake township to Miss Eliza Colby, born in Dane county, Wisconsin, in October, 1871. She is the daughter of Colburn and Ann (Oscars) Colby, who located in Cerro Gordo county in 1876, their land being situated in section 27, Lake township. Afterward the parents removed to Mason City where they resided until their demise, the father's death occurring in 1903, at the age of sixty-six years and the mother's, in 1907, at the age of sixty-six years. Mrs. Hodnefield is a sister of William M. Colby of Mason City, the promoter mentioned elsewhere in this volume. Four children have been born to Mrs. And Mrs. Hodnefield : Clara Jessie, aged nineteen, is a student at Jewell College ; Ella Ann died in 1898, at the age of four years ; Elmer Iver is aged eleven ; and Lillian Eliza is aged seven.