Born August 24, 1855
||Not only has Ricklef Gerdes won success in his vocation so that he is one of the leading farmers of Richland township but he has generously given to others of his skill and knowledge so that much of the prosperity of his township can be placed to his credit. He owns one hundred and sixty acres of land, but more than the area of his fields is the influence he has exerted for the progress and advancement of his fellow citizens. He was born in Hanover, Germany, August 24, 1855, and is a son of Gerd and Grace (Kruse) Gerdes, also natives of the fatherland. In 1872 they came to the United States, locating in Wayne township, this county. Later they made their home with their son John, in Cass township, where they passed the remainder of their lives.
Ricklef Gerdes was reared at home and, as he was about seventeen years of age when his parents came to America, he had obtained his education in the German schools. He spent one term in the schools of Jones county, however, to become more familiar with the English language. Since he has been a resident of this country Mr. Gerdes' life has been devoted to hard work. Immediately after his arrival he found employment as a farm hand, working by the month for the next six years. In 1878 he married and engaged in agricultural pursuits for himself. For five years he tilled the soil as a renter and then, in 1883, purchased the place in Richland township on which he now lives. He has added to its original area, however, from time to time until he now owns two hundred and forty acres, one-third of which lies in Scotch Grove township. While he has engaged extensively in a diversified line of agriculture he gives his especial attention to dairying, milking on an average twenty-five cows. In both of his industries he has been very successful and receives a gratifying income from his labors.
Of more value to his fellow citizens than his own prosperity is the influence he has wielded in their midst, for during the period of fifteen years he has served as township trustee and for almost a quarter of a century has been continuously the president of the school board. In the administration of his duties he is both upright and progressive, never failing to prove true to the responsibilities reposed in him.
It was in 1878 that Mr. Gerdes was united in marriage to Miss Mary S. Grumm, of Wayne township. She had been born, however, near Dixon, Illinois, where her parents had lived for a time after coming from Hanover, Germany. Thirteen children have been born of this union, all of whom are living: William, of Tulare county, California; Gerd, of Wayne township, this county; John, also of Wayne township; Margaret, who is at home; Fred, of Tulare county, California; Sophia, who is the wife of Arthur George, of Pomeroy, Iowa; August, who is at home; Hannah and Anna, who are twins and live at home; and Henry, Carl, Paul and Louisa, who are also at home.
Politically Mr. Gerdes is in sympathy with the democratic party, in his public life evincing fidelity to its principles, and he does all within his power to advance the best interests of his constituents. Regarding cooperative dairying of great value to the community, as director of the Klondyke Creamery Company he has promoted its interests. With his wife he belongs to the German Lutheran church, of which he has been director for the past fifteen years, in this fact again proving that his interests are those which most deeply concern the community.
Source: History of Jones County, Iowa, Past and Present, R. M. Corbitt, S. J. Clarke Publishing Co., Chicago, 1910, p. 326.
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