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The German Heritage of Carroll County, Iowa
by David Reineke
 

Chapter Two
PAGE ONE


The Founding of Kniest Township and Mount Carmel

 

                   As seen in the previous chapter, Carroll County grew slowly during the first several years of its existence.  By 1865, the population had increased to only about 400.  But the population grew more rapidly after the arrival of the railroad in 1867, and the railroad itself was a major factor in the establishment of the first large-scale German settlement in the county at Mt. Carmel and Kniest Township in 1869.

 

JOHN I. BLAIR AND THE RAILROAD

                    Nationally, the years following the Civil War were a time of Reconstruction in the South and prosperity and industrial growth in the North.  An important aspect of this period was the expansion of railroads around the country, and a major goal was to establish a trans-continental link across the United States.  In order to encourage construction, Congress continued its pre-war policy of financial assistance and huge land grants to railroad companies.  The rail link was finally completed on May 10, 1869, when the Union Pacific and Central Pacific joined their tracks with a golden spike at Promontory Point in Utah.

                    In Iowa, a smaller-scale version of this push was the competition to link the Mississippi and Missouri Rivers by rail.  The first railroad bridge had crossed the Mississippi at Davenport in 1856.  In that same year, Congress deeded to the state of Iowa approximately four million acres of land to be used as an incentive for railroad construction, and the Iowa Legislature in turn transferred title to this land to various railroad companies.

                    The eventual winner of the trans-Iowa competition was the Cedar Rapids and Missouri River Railroad Company, which had been established in 1860.  The company had made only slow progress during the Civil War years, reaching Boone in late 1864.  Construction accelerated after the war, however, and the link across Iowa was completed in 1867.  It ran through central Carroll County all the way to Council Bluffs on the Missouri River, where it would soon link up with the Union Pacific across the river in Omaha.  The Cedar Rapids and Missouri River Railroad Company then leased its Iowa tracks to the Chicago and Northwestern Railroad, which subsequently operated the line. 

                    In the first few years, the land along the tracks in Carroll County was still undeveloped prairie grassland.  Trains on their way through the county would often stop so that passengers and crew could disembark and shoot the abundant prairie chickens in the tall grass.  Another phenomenon of those times was the huge clouds of “grasshoppers” (the common name for the Rocky Mountain Locust) that would occasionally descend on an area.  Into the 1870s, swarms of grasshoppers would occasionally devastate crops in Carroll County and other parts of the state.  During the summer of 1868, a newspaperman from Boone was traveling through Carroll County on his way to Omaha.  He wrote that as his train was ascending the gradual rise to the Tip Top station (now Arcadia), at the summit of the watershed several miles west of Carroll, a swarm of grasshoppers had descended in the area and many of the insects were clustered on the metal rails, apparently enjoying the warmth.  As the train progressed up the grade, it gradually slowed to a halt several times as the crushed insects greased the tracks.  The crew eventually had to sand the tracks, and the train had to back up several times to get a running start before it eventually reached the summit.

                    The Cedar Rapids and Missouri River Railroad Company was controlled by John Insley Blair, a railroad tycoon from New Jersey.  Perhaps not as well-remembered by history as he should be, Blair was one of the largest private landowners and richest men in the country at that time.  He founded or directed a number of railroads, including the Union Pacific.   Several of his railroads were located in the Upper Midwest and had received millions of acres in federal and state land grants.  His Cedar Rapids and Missouri River Railroad, for example, had been granted title to hundreds of thousands of acres across Iowa, including approximately 117,000 acres in Carroll County alone.  Through his railroads, Blair was responsible for establishing a number of towns throughout the Midwest, including several in Iowa: Carroll, Boone, Ames, Blairsburg, and Ogden, to name a few.

                    Blair was a Presbyterian and a supporter of the Republican Party. He was also a large-scale philanthropist and donated millions of dollars in cash and land to various charities and colleges, including Princeton University in New Jersey and Grinnell College in Iowa.  He is said to have built or donated land to over 100 Presbyterian churches in towns his railroads passed through, including the Presbyterian Church in Carroll, to which he donated the corner lot on Adams and Sixth Streets in 1871.  On the other hand, some historians assert that Blair was corrupt, and that he acquired his great wealth, including millions in Iowa, through dishonest dealing and bribery. 

                    Blair also formed various companies in order to dispose of portions of his vast real estate holdings.  One of these companies was the Iowa Railroad Land Company, which at one time was advertising over a million acres of Iowa land for sale.  Among his holdings, Blair owned a township (23,040 acres) in northern Carroll County, then designated only as Township 85 North, 35 West, which was soon to become the site of the first large-scale German settlement in the county. 
 

 

LAMBERT KNIEST AND
HEINRICH BAUMHOVER

                   Although the story of the founding of Kniest Township and Mt. Carmel has been told in several different versions, most agree on the basic outline.  In the late 1860s, two immigrants living in Dubuque, Lambert Kniest of Holland and Heinrich Baumhover of Germany, had conceived a plan to establish a German colony on the frontier of western Iowa.  Similar immigrant-colonizing projects had been attempted before, but they generally met with failure.  For example, attempts during the early 1850s to establish the German colonies of “Communia” and “Liberty” in Clayton County were both abandoned.  Only a few such projects were successful, notably the Dutch town of Pella, established in 1847, and the German Amana Colonies, established in 1855. 

                    Regarding the Carroll County project, there is some debate as to whether Kniest or Baumhover first had the idea of establishing the colony.  Lambert Kniest, however, is generally recognized as the driving force behind the enterprise. 

                    Lambert Kniest was born in 1819 in Doetinchen, Holland.  His first wife died there in 1845.  He immigrated to America in 1847 with his second wife and family, and they settled first near Buffalo, New York.  They later moved to Pittsburgh and then St. Louis, where Kniest was in the business of manufacturing footwear.  His second wife and one child died during a cholera epidemic in St. Louis, and Kniest married Adelaid Kochs in 1850.  The family moved to Dubuque, Iowa in 1852.  There, Kniest became a prominent businessman and owned a large hotel as well as an interest in an insurance firm.  He was also active in local politics, and during the 1860’s he was elected city assessor and held the office for several years.

                                       Heinrich Baumhover was born in 1829 at Ostenfelde bei Muenster, in Westphalia, Germany.  He immigrated to America in 1849.  He went first to St. Louis, then to Dubuque for a short time, and then back to St. Louis.   In 1853, he married Anna Venemann, who was also born near Muenster.  The family was farming near St. Louis when the Civil War broke out, and Baumhover enlisted in a Missouri militia company and served for two years.  After he was honorably discharged, he went to New Vienna, a town heavily settled by Germans in Dubuque County, Iowa, where he again took up farming.  He was also known as a skilled carpenter.  After a time he moved to Dubuque because land was too expensive for him to buy his own farm in eastern Iowa.  It is said that he deeply desired to live among his own countrymen in a German Catholic community similar to that which he had experienced in New Vienna, and that he approached Kniest regarding founding such a settlement in western Iowa. 

                    It was probably 1867 or 1868 when the two men first traveled west to survey the area for a potential colony site, eventually selecting a township in northern Carroll County.  Kniest then signed a contract with John I. Blair of the Iowa Railroad Land Company, agreeing to buy Township 85 North, 35 West, in Carroll County.  Some versions of the story relate that the contract stipulated a small purchase price, but required that within one year Kniest would furnish a particular number of settlers, between 30 and 70 families, depending on the version. 

                    Kniest then advertised the land among the Germans living around Dubuque, Iowa and Galena, Illinois.  At that time, thousands of German immigrants lived in the eastern border counties of Iowa along the Mississippi.  Dubuque had been attracting German immigrants since the 1830s, and immigration was particularly heavy during the 1840s and 1850s. Dubuque County had the greatest number of German-born residents of any Iowa county at the time.  In addition to Dubuque itself, other towns in the county such as New Vienna (Neu Wien), Lattnerville, and Luxemburg also had sizeable German communities.  But since land was more expensive there, many Germans desired to try their luck at farming farther west, even despite the additional hardship involved. 

                    Although the opportunity was advertised, it is said that Kniest agreed to sell only to German or Dutch immigrants who were both Catholics and Democrats.  Exactly when the first group of Germans set out from Dubuque for Carroll County is not known, but it was probably during 1868 or early 1869.  The closest thing to a contemporary description of the events of the settlement is a newspaper article originally published in the Western Herald, one of Carroll’s earliest newspapers.  The article was subsequently reprinted in the Dubuque Herald on May 13, 1869.  The detail contained in the article warrants its reprinting here in full (spelling and punctuation original):

 

The Dubuque Colonists

          The families from this county composing the colony formed in Carroll county, have many friends remaining behind, who will be pleased to learn of the success of their enterprise so far.  The Western Herald, published in Carroll county, contains the following in reference to the colonists and their settlement.

          Our town presents quite a busy appearance particularly in the lumber and agricultural implement trade, occasioned mostly by the go-aheadaditiveness of our German neighbors of the settlement known as the “Kniest settlement” situated about five miles northwest of Carroll.  We were really glad to meet Mr. Kniest and several of his men, who were in town the other day loading their teams with lumber, plows, etc., to take into their settlement.  We understand their meeting house and other public buildings are already built, and that they have regular church services in their town.  It is wonderful how easily it is for some men to make the world progress.  These Germans are a world-moving people and an honor to any country in which they may take up their abode.  Some years ago, when we used to travel over this treeless 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 Indian, and were the habitations of wild beasts, are now dotted with cabins and artificial groves of timber; and the change has been made by just such men as Lambert Kniest and his trusty Germans.  We are pleased to have such men come among us, who so quickly change our fruitless prairies into tillable land.  It takes men of nerve and perseverance to accomplish what our friend Kniest has in the last nine months.  He has in that time succeeded in purchasing of John I. Blair the whole of township 85 north of range 35 west, and bringing to it some seventy-five families, who are nearly all of them breaking up new farms and building new houses and barns, and already have secured shelter and provisions for both man and beast.  We are sorry we missed the pleasure of seeing Mr. Kniest’s train of stock and teams, but understand that it was the best that ever drove into a western county.  We learn that the wagons were euphoniously labeled as follows: Leading the van was a light team with the label, “For the West;” on the second wagon were the words, “To Carroll County;” on the third, “Iowa, the Granary of the World;” on the fourth, “Kniest’s Settlement,” and on the fifth and last wagon, drawn by the heaviest and tallest oxen that ever came to this county, the wagon being loaded with provisions, were the words, “John I. Blair’s Aristocracy.”  Then followed his long drove of loose horses, cattle, and other domestic animals, too numerous to mention, driven by men on horseback.  Such accessions cannot do otherwise than bring great wealth to our county.  Dubuque, the city of the northeastern portion of our state, has done noble in furnishing our county with such a host of good citizens.  We do not wish to boast over that noble county, but we must say that those Germans knew what was best for themselves when they exchanged Dubuque for Carroll county, and hope that many more such men will conclude to settle in our county.  May God speed them on their journey to wealth; for while they are enriching their own lands and town, they are furnishing sustenance to the ultimate glory and exaltation of the thriving village of Carroll. 

                    As noted above, the exact date on which the first colonists arrived is unknown, and there are different versions of the story. The Dubuque Herald article quoted above clearly indicates that the setters were there no later than early 1869, and that church services were already being held.  Paul Maclean’s 1912 county history states that Kniest first acquired the land in 1867.  Yet another version, written around 1919 by Father John Bauemler for the fiftieth anniversary of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Church, states that Kniest, Baumhover, and others first arrived in the spring of 1868 and picked the town site for Mt. Carmel on July 16 of that year.  And a 1906 article from the Carroll Times relates that the little frame church was built in 1868, and that the first Mass was celebrated there on July 18, 1869.  According to this latter article, the first Mass was attended by five early settlers: Heinrich Baumhover, Frank Meis, Conrad Meis, Peter Berger, and Michael Dewald.

                    All accounts agree that Mt. Carmel was named after Our Lady of Mt. Carmel, whose feast day the Catholic Church celebrates on July 16.  However, there is no agreement regarding the significance of that date to the new settlement.  For example, one story states that the site for the new town was selected on July 16, 1868.  Another version states that Lambert Kniest and John I. Blair signed their contract on July 16, 1868.  And a third states that the village itself was first established on that date in 1869.  Both latter claims may be correct, since some early real estate deeds from Kniest Township reference a contract of July 16, 1868, and because Mt. Carmel itself celebrated its centennial on July 16, 1969.

 
 

THE NEW COLONY 

                   Regardless of the exact date of arrival, the new colonists no doubt felt relieved and proud at having completed their arduous trek from Dubuque County to their new home on the prairie, a straight-line distance of nearly 230 miles.  Such a journey by wagon, over rough and winding roads and across the prairie, would have been significantly longer and probably would have taken nearly three weeks to complete.  However, there was certainly no time to rest.  The new settlers would have had to construct shelters and begin preparations for farming as soon as possible.  Notably, the 1869 Dubuque Herald article quoted above states that the colonists were in Carroll to purchase lumber and plows. 

                    The first few years in their new home must have involved considerable hardship for the settlers.  At best, their homes would have been sod houses or rough wooden structures, and the task of breaking the prairie and planting crops for the first time would have been enormous.  In 1894, at Mt. Carmel’s twenty-fifth anniversary celebration, some of the early settlers looked back on the hardships of those early days.  They lacked almost everything, including money, and worked their fields without the aid of any machinery.  They recalled that their homes were barely livable and offered little shelter from the weather, and noted that the stalls they had for their animals in 1894 were better than their own homes had been 25 years earlier in 1869.

                    Until mid-1870, the new township was still governed as part of Sheridan Township.  Even before it was officially established, however, it appears that there was some degree of self-government in Kniest Township.  On March 25, 1870, a meeting of the “Sheridan Township No. 2” council was held at Mt. Carmel.  Wilhelm Lammerding was chairman and Nicholas Roth was secretary. 

                    The meeting was called to deal with the problem of cattle (defined as horses, mules, cows, oxen, sheep, and swine) roaming at large and eating crops, and six resolutions were adopted to deal with the situation.  First, it was decided that all livestock, would be “herded or pastured so that they will do no damage either by day or by night.”  Second, in case of damage to any farmer’s produce, “such as wheat, oats, corn, apple trees, or hedges,” the damage must be paid for by the man or woman owning the livestock.  Third, the owners of damaged crops were to tie up or pen the animals responsible for the damage and give notice to the animal’s owner within three days.  Fourth, the owner of the damaged crops was to select three men to “oversee the damage and tax it and if these three men cannot agree they shall select two more men and what these five men agree upon shall be deemed guilty.”   Fifth, all damages were to be paid within 24 hours after notice was received.  Sixth, all livestock were to shut up in a pen or pasture at night, from sundown to sunup.  In addition to Lammerding and Roth, the resolution was signed by 26 men from Kniest Township.

 

THE CHURCH

                    Religion also played an important role in the lives of the early settlers.  Among the earliest arrivals to the new town was Father Heinrich J. Timothy Francis Heimbucher, a Catholic priest who had been sent by Bishop Hennessy of Dubuque to establish a parish there.  At first, Father Heimbucher lived with Lambert Kniest and held church services in various homes in the new settlement.  But work was soon completed on a new church, a simple wood-frame structure, measuring 24 x 40 feet, as well as a small cottage for priest’s residence.  This church, called Our Lady of Mt. Carmel, eventually became known as the “Mother Church” of all the Catholic churches in Carroll County.

                    Father Heimbucher was born in Sulzbach, Bavaria in 1820.  He was ordained a priest in Germany in 1844 and came to America in 1854.  After spending several years as a pastor in various parishes in New York, he came to Dubuque, Iowa in 1865 and was named pastor at Lyons by Bishop Smyth.  He was assigned as pastor to Mt. Carmel in 1869, although he may have visited there in 1868.  During this time, it was common for priests to do missionary work on the frontier.  While at Lyons, for example, Father Heimbucher also attended to Springbrook as a mission assignment.  Upon arrival in Mt. Carmel, he also traveled to other towns in the county such as Carroll and Hillsdale (Roselle).  Due to poor health, however, Father Heimbucher was transferred to Council Bluffs in 1874, and then to Lattnerville, in Dubuque County.  He died there on September 21, 1875 and is buried in Dubuque.

                    His replacement at Mt. Carmel was Father John Francis Kempker.  The son of German immigrants, Father Kempker was born in a log cabin on his parents’ farm in Pleasant Ridge, Lee County, Iowa, on May 18, 1848.  He was baptized by pioneer priest Father J. G. Alleman, and his uncle, J. H. Kempker, who lived nearby, had immigrated in 1836 and was a pioneer German settler of eastern Iowa.  After completing his schooling at the parish school in West Point, Iowa, he went to Milwaukee in 1865 and received his advanced education at St. Francis Seminary.  After further studies in Bardstown, Kentucky (where he was also a Professor of German), and in Missouri, he returned to Milwaukee and graduated in 1872.  Father Kempker was then appointed an assistant priest in Council Bluffs, where he mainly attended to various missions in southwest Iowa, and founded several new parishes.  His assignment at Mt. Carmel was his first as a pastor of his own parish. 

                    Although he remained in Mt. Carmel for less than two years, he accomplished a great deal in that short time.  The first issue of Der Carroll Demokrat, printed on May 22, 1874, reported that due to Rev. Kempker’s “energetic activity,” the Mt. Carmel Church was being doubled in size with an addition measuring 24 by 40 feet, and a sacristy measuring 12 by 16 feet.   It is said that Father Kempker also erected a parochial school there and obtained Catholic teachers for the other schools around the township.  He also traveled around the county and surrounding area to establish missions and hold church services.  By the fall of 1874, new Catholic churches were being constructed in Carroll, Arcadia, and Hillsdale (Roselle). 

                    In late 1875, Father Kempker was transferred to a parish in Lyons, Iowa.  He was reassigned to many parishes around Iowa during the rest of his career.  In addition to his work in the Church, he was a graduate of the Keokuk Medical College.  He was also an active historian and a member of the Iowa Historical Society and the American Catholic Historical Society.  He wrote several works on the history of the early Catholic Church in Iowa, and published many newspaper articles on the same subject.  He died in Davenport in 1924.     

                    Father Theodor Wegmann, a German priest from Muensterland in Westphalia, took over in Mt. Carmel upon Father Kempker’s departure.  He remained less than year, and was later transferred to Hillsdale (Roselle), and more information about him appears in the chapter on Roselle.  Other German priests followed through the years: Father John Fendrich (1876-79), Father John Anler (1879-87), Father Ignatius Rottler (1887-92), Father Gerhard Luehrsmann (1893-1902), Father Frederick Schaefer (1917), Father John Baumler (1917-21).

                    Until 1874, Mt. Carmel had the only Catholic church in Carroll County and the surrounding area, and Catholics from other parts of the county often traveled there for Sunday services, as well as baptisms, marriages, and funerals.  Christian Loeffelholz and Margaretha Wilkins became the first couple married in the new settlement on June, 15, 1870.  Among the first funerals in the new church were those of four German immigrants who perished in a snowstorm near Hillsdale (Roselle), about 12 miles south of Mt. Carmel, in March 1870. 

 

LIFE ON THE FRONTIER

                    The small church was often inadequate for the crowd of worshippers, and as noted above, it was doubled in size and a sacristy was built in 1874.  Also during that year, Carroll businessman William Trowbridge operated a “post” wagon twice every Sunday between Carroll and Mt. Carmel, so that people could attend church services.  The first trip left Carroll at 7:00 in the morning and returned at noon, and the second trip left at 1:30 and returned at 6:00 in the evening. The round-trip fare was $1.50 for an adult couple, and 50 cents for a woman traveling alone.  A correspondent from Der Carroll Demokrat wrote the following short description of traveling to Mt. Carmel for early services one Sunday morning in May 1874 (translated from the original German):

           A trip in the fresh morning air always has its charms, especially when traveling through such rich scenery as the road to Mt. Carmel offers.  How beautiful must this be early in summer, when the waving grain fields present themselves to the view of the observer.  Along the whole way, one sees the efforts that our energetic and active German farmers are making to improve the land.  We especially appreciated the planting of trees, which took place everywhere this spring.  With a few more years of such work, when the settlers go through their fields, they will be able to say with pride that “these are the fruits of our labors.”

          We arrived on time in Mt. Carmel in order to attend early service.  The church, which due to the fast rise in population has been too small for some time, is being doubled in size (as we reported in our last edition).  The construction is proceeding quickly forward, and when it is finished it will be one of the largest and most beautiful churches in the county.

          After church, we visited Mr. Jos. Drees, whose premises were overflowing with guests.  We were acquainted with most of those present, and everyone with whom we spoke was pleased at the founding of the Demokrat, which they manifested by immediately subscribing.  In the course of a few hours we obtained 73 subscribers, which brings the number in Mt. Carmel near to 100, a result of which we are very proud.  . . .  We will be careful to justify the trust placed in us.  And Mr. W. F. Krause, whose tavern we also visited in the course of the day, promised to support the Demokrat in every way. 

          We learned from the farmers that the field crops, especially the wheat, were in good condition and the prospects were favorable for a good harvest.  Unfortunately, this is not the case with the corn, as the weather is too dry, although a good rain could still be of much help.

 
                   Kniest Township, like much of western Iowa, was still part of the American West in the early to mid-1870s, and occasional events indicated the frontier nature of the area.  In the summer of 1873, for example, the James Gang robbed a passenger train near Adair, only 40 miles south of Carroll.   And in the summer of 1874, a caravan of 75 Winnebago Indians with 22 ponies passed near Mt. Carmel on their way from Nebraska to Marshalltown. 

                    Hardships and dangers associated with life on the frontier also sometimes took their toll in Kniest Township.  Prairie fires were commonplace in the county and often threatened crops, farmsteads, and communities.  Disease was also prevalent.  In October 1870, a seven-year-old daughter of the Dewald family in Kniest Township was burned to death in a prairie fire.   In the fall of 1873, a smallpox epidemic killed several people in the township.  And throughout the 1870s, swarms of grasshoppers appeared and threatened crops in the county, and throughout the West, often doing significant damage. 

                    For several years, the village of Mt. Carmel remained a simple frontier settlement consisting of only a handful of small buildings surrounding the church.  According to Paul Maclean’s history, apart from the church, the little town of Mt. Carmel was hardly distinguishable from the surrounding farms.  An 1875 article in Der Carroll Demokrat describes the town as consisting of eight houses, a church, and a school, and having 42 residents.  For businesses, it had a post office, general store, wagonmaker, two shoemaker shops, and three taverns.

 

BUSINESSES

                    Given the nationality of the settlers, it is not surprising that three of the earliest businesses were taverns. It is believed that Mathias Weber, Joseph Drees, and W. F. Krause operated drinking establishments in Mt. Carmel around the early to mid-1870s.  And Joseph Wiewel, who arrived in 1875 and started a shoemaking business, also opened a tavern, “Zum Bayerischen Hof” (The Bavarian Inn), which he operated until his death in 1900.

                    Additionally, in early 1874, Mr. A. L. Gnam had begun operating the Mt. Carmel Brewery, which produced a large amount of lager beer that was consumed around the county.  Mr. Trowbridge’s wagon service between Carroll and Mt. Carmel was also known to make occasional layovers at Gnam’s brewery, and the stop was known to some passengers as “Brewery Junction.”  The brewery was known as a reliable place to get a good glass of beer.  The establishment was also equipped with a player organ, and hosted dances and parties on special occasions.  In 1875, Mr. Gnam was advertising his “good beer” for delivery around the county, promising to fill orders promptly and to the satisfaction of his customers.

 

FARMING

                    The vast majority of the early settlers in Kniest Township were farmers, and they built their new homes on their farmsteads located around the township.  In the federal census of 1870, taken in July of that year, the new township had not yet been partitioned and was still recorded as part of Sheridan Township.  Based on the nationalities stated by the residents, however, it is possible to distinguish the boundary, and it appears that there were approximately 60 German families, roughly 300 people in all, living in the new township.  With the exception of Father Heimbucher and a few railroad workers, all of the German men in the new township stated their occupations as farmer or farm worker.  Most listed their real estate as having a value between $400 to $800, with some as low as $200 or as high as $2000 or $3000. The two most valuable properties are owned by Heinrich Baumhover ($4500) and Lambert Kniest ($52,000).  Most of the settlers had only a few hundred dollars worth of personal property, with Baumhover ($2000) and Kniest ($10,000) again the most notable exceptions. 

                    The federal agricultural census of 1870 provides more detailed information about the early farming operations.  Although a few farms were fairly large (Kniest’s was 8460 acres, and Baumhover’s was 700 acres), most were small.  A typical farm comprised 70 to 80 acres of land, and only a few farms were larger than 200 acres.  Most farms had only a few head of livestock, typically one or two horses, and a few milk cows or other cattle.  Some farms included a few mules, oxen, sheep, or swine.  The 1870 agricultural census does not list any crops as having been raised by the settlers during the previous year, whereas many their neighbors in Sheridan Township were listed as having raised a few hundred bushels of wheat, rye, or corn.  It is possible, then, that the first harvest was later in 1870.

                    By 1875, Kniest Township was the most populous township in Carroll County with 643 residents.  Although 357 people reported being born in the United States, 286 were born outside the United States, and another 238 had at least one parent born outside the country.  Of 116 registered voters, 89 were born in Germany, 17 in the United States, seven in Holland, and one each in Ireland, Austria, and France.  The census also listed 27 births and 13 deaths for the year 1874.  It further noted that over 7000 acres of land had been improved and over 6600 rods of fence had been built.  The main crops were wheat (4000 acres), corn (1882 acres), and oats (594 acres).  There were 1240 hogs and 234 milk cows.  Numerous fruit trees and even grapevines were also noted.

 

KNIEST AND BAUMHOVER

                    After moving to Carroll County, Lambert Kniest continued in his business and political interests.  Based on the census data, Kniest was one of the wealthiest men in the county in 1870.  Later that year, when the new township he had settled was officially set off from Sheridan Township, it was named Kniest Township in honor of its founder.  Kniest also participated in local politics.  Although the Democratic Party was virtually non-existent in Carroll County at the time, he was elected to the county board of supervisors and served as chairman in 1870.  He was also prominent in the so-called “citizen’s retrenchment convention” held in Carroll in September 1870 for the purpose of stamping out corruption and graft in county politics.  Later that year, he repeated his business deal of a few years earlier and purchased another 23,000-acre township, soon to be called Wheatland Township, from the Iowa Railroad Land Company. In 1871, he purchased a general store in Carroll, which he later enlarged so that it fronted on both Fourth and Fifth Streets.

                    Although Lambert Kniest lived long enough to see his colony become solidly established, he would not see it reach its full potential.  He died at his home in Carroll in August 1878, leaving a wife and 11 children.  His funeral is said to be the largest ever held in Carroll up to that time.  His wife Adelaide died in 1927.

                    Heinrich Baumhover was also an active businessman in his new county.  In addition to farming, he also started a brick manufacturing business in 1874.  And in 1875, he and Frank Brede, a liquor merchant from Dubuque, were partners in constructing the first steam-powered flour mill in Carroll.  It was built near the railroad tracks on the corner of Carroll Street and Fifth Street.  This operation, Carroll Roller Mills, was a successful and prominent business in Carroll for many years.  Baumhover’s wife Anna died in 1875, and he married Helena Bauer in 1877.  In the 1880s, he turned the management of the mill over to his sons, and he continued in farming in Kniest Township.  He died in July 1904.  He also left a wife and 11 children.  Helena died in 1909. 

 

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