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Benjamin Franklin Erb
Born October 14, 1867


Dentistry is unique among the professions in that its demands are of a threefold character. He who would win success in this field of labor must possess marked mechanical skill and ingenuity, must have comprehensive knowledge of scientific principles bearing upon the work and, moreover, must possess the business ability so to finance his interests that his labor shall bring its just and merited remuneration. Lacking in none of these qualities, Dr. B. F. Erb is practicing dentistry in Anamosa and the number of his patients is increasing year by year.
A native of Muscatine, Iowa, he was born October 14, 1867, of the marriage of Jacob and Susan (Funk) Erb. The father removed from Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, to Iowa in 1848. The mother, who also spent her early life in Harrisburg, came to this state in 1847. With her parents she started on the Ohio river on a boat which burned below Cincinnati. The family lost all of their possessions, escaping with only their night clothes, and Mrs. Erb, then a little maiden of twelve summers, was badly burned. Jacob Erb was proprietor of the first tobacco store in Muscatine and for a long period was identified with the business interests of that city. In 1850, however, during the gold fever on the Pacific coast, he went to California, spending four years in that state. In 1855, he returned and became a bookkeeper in the lumber office of S. T. Steen, while subsequently he became manager and acted in that capacity until his death in 1895, his connection with one firm covering forty years. He was seventy-one years of age at the time of his demise. His widow still survives and yet makes her home in Muscatine.
Dr. Erb enjoyed the educational advantages offered by the public schools of his native city, continuing his studies in successive grades until he was graduated from the high school with the class of 1887. He afterward attended the Ohio College of Dental Surgery, where he completed a course by graduation in 1889 and in 1892 he was a student in Haskell's Post-Graduate School of Prosthetic Dentistry. When a boy he had delighted in designing and working with the zig saw or any tools which he could obtain. He was always fond of live stock especially horses. After leaving the public schools the desire for mechanical work and the love of instruments led him to take up the study of dentistry which he began at once. He entered upon the work at Iowa City on the 5th of October, 1887, and the following summer worked for Dr. Rundle at Monticello, Iowa. In September, of the same year, he left for Cincinnati and was graduated from the Ohio College of Dental Surgery on the 4th of March, 1889.
He then went to Monticello, Iowa, where he was associated with Dr. Rundle until the 1st of November following, when he opened an office on his own account in Lisbon, Iowa, practicing there until the 15th of August, 1892. On that date he went to Chicago, where he pursued a post-graduate course, and on October, 1893, he came to Anamosa, where he has since practiced. This town is almost in the center of his professional territory so that he regarded it as an excellent location. That he was wise in his choice time has proven. He has been very successful in his practice and has never been away from his work in twenty-two years more than eighteen days at a time. He keeps abreast with the improvements and advances made in the processes of modern dentistry, possesses superior mechanical skill, uses the latest instruments that invention has produced and in all ways his work is so satisfactory that his practice has constantly grown.
On the 8th of July, 1896, Dr. Erb was united in marriage to Miss. Anna Kurtz. Her grandfather, John E. Kurtz, built the first gristmill in Linn county, Iowa, and platted the town of Lisbon. He was also prominent in political circles and served one term as representative from Linn county in the state legislature. Her father, Henry C. Kurtz, was for four years a soldier of the Civil War. He has been engaged in merchandising throughout the greater part of his life and is one of the representative business men of his home town. In politics he is a stanch republican and is active in all that pertains to the welfare and progress of his community. He married Hannah Harper, a native of Indiana, while his birth occurred in Pennsylvania, and in the early 1840s they arrived in Iowa. Unto Dr. and Mrs. Erb have been born three children: Dorothy K., Laurence W., and Marion E. The doctor is a man of domestic tastes. He joined the Knights of Pythias lodge in Monticello in 1889, but gave it up when he was married. He attends the Methodist Episcopal church and contributes liberally to its support. His political allegiance is given to the republican party, and while he keeps well informed on the questions and issues of the day as every true American citizen should do, he does not seek nor desire office, preferring to concentrate his energies upon his professional duties, which are performed with a sense of conscientious obligations, that has brought him gratifying success. He is, however, serving as president of the Anamosa school board.

Source: History of Jones County, Iowa, Past and Present, R. M. Corbitt, S. J. Clarke Publishing Co., Chicago, 1910.
Note: Emily Terrell, their granddaughter, informs us her grandmother was Alma Kurtz, not Anna Kurtz.

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Last updated on Thursday, 20-Feb-2014 20:28:29 MST