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This article, photos and other information provided by Cheryl Locher Moonen






From left in this photo from 1899—Front: Bertha and Joseph. Middle: Harry, Lawrence, Clara, Anthony, Earl, Caroline, Charles and Leo. Back: Minnie, Simon, Fannie, John, Frank and Mary.

How a blacksmith managed to support a large family
by Lillian Locher Strittmatter, Stephen E. Locher and Bertha C. Locher. Published in the Monticello Express July 2, 1986.

Anthony Stephen Locher was 14 when he left home to drive a mule team in the Civil War. He was discharged one year later when his correct age was determined. After establishing his trade as a blacksmith, he married Caroline Bertha Meyer. His blacksmith shop was located where the Schmidt hardware store is now located. Succeeding generations have wondered how his earnings as a blacksmith could support such a large family. He often took a half of hog or a quarter of beef in payment for services. The meat was cut in pieces and stored during winter in the black shed. The sons often went hunting and brought home rabbits and squirrels. The family always had a large garden and cellar filled with as many as 1000 jars of canned fruits and vegetables. There were family outings in the country to pick gooseberries, raspberries, blackberries, wild grapes and apples. Big crocks of sauerkraut were prepared. Heads of cabbage were wrapped with newspaper and placed in a barrel. Carrots and turnips were kept in sand and leaves. Fifty bushels of potatoes lasted all winter. When eggs were cheap (8 cents a dozen) they would be purchased in a large quantity and put in a crock of liquid water glass. Daughter Bertha recalls going to the meat market for a 10-cent soup bone and having enough meat left over for hash the next day. A favorite dish served at the table was a large pan of hot apple dumplings, accompanied by a pitcher of milk flavored with cinnamon and sugar. Washday was Monday and a very big ordeal for the large family. There were two big boilers on the hot kitchen range, each one holding a shortened wooden broom handle used to move the clothes about. Some clothes had to be hand rubbed on the washboards. There were so many processes - soap water, rinse water, bluing, starching, and hanging up to dry, then sprinkling and, finally, many hours of ironing. The girls in the family took turns remaining at home from school to help their mother with the laundry.

Fuel was plentiful in fallen wood chopped by Anthony and his sons. Caroline was a fine seamstress and made the children's clothes. The older children had paying jobs and contributed to the family's income. Six of the children taught rural school at one time or another. Older brothers and sisters helped younger ones further their education. And so it was that one large family was able to manage! School requirements in the 1890s and early 1900s were not as rigid as today. This fact of life enabled Mary, John and Lawrence to further their education in unusual circumstances. Mary dropped out of school after the 6th grade. She then worked at the Hoag Duster Company bunching feathers. After two years she wanted to return to school with her own class. Professor Doran of the Monticello schools allowed that she could try this, but she would have to take "mental arithmetic" in addition to her other studies. Mary re-entered school with her class and graduated with them in 1895.

Anthony & Caroline Meyer Locher. Caroline Meyer Locher.
John Locher, 1877–1967. Fannie Locher McAleer, 1877–1967 & Frank Locher, 1881–1962. Clara Locher Schneider, 1882–1910.
Another time that requirements were waived occurred was when the oldest son John tried to enter Drake University Law School. He had dropped out of school in the 7th grade to go to work on a farm. Later, he successfully passed tests to teach rural school and taught four winter terms at $33.33 a month. He had a six-month course at Gem City Business College at Quincy, Ill. Somehow; he passed the high school equivalency tests required for law school. After he graduated from Drake Law School in 1904, he returned to his hometown to practice. Lawrence wanted to attend dental school at Northwestern University, but he did not have the required high school diploma. When he told the admissions office he had taught rural school, she readily admitted him. The family members lived most of their lives in Monticello were Mary, Minnie, John, Frank, Clara, Fannie and Bertha.

Minnie Locher Muller, 1875–1967.

Mary (1875 - 1984) taught in the Monticello Schools and clerked in the Monticello Post Office. When she died at her home in Monticello in 1984, she was 109 years old, Iowa's oldest citizen. Minnie (1875 - 1967), twin of Mary, clerked at Doutrick's Dry Goods Store before her marriage to Matt Muller. John (1877 - 1967) practiced law here all of his life. He was active in Democratic politics and attended the 1932 and 1936 national conventions as a delegate. His family of five children included Simon (1911 - 1985), who practice law with him; John (1912 - 1967) a lawyer, and Non, a doctor, both of Cedar Rapids; Paul, a teacher in Washington, D. C., and Lillian, who married Ambrose "Andy" Strittmatter, who joined the family law firm here in Monticello in 1952. Of these children only Simon and Lillian remained in Monticello. Simon and Esther Hawkins Locher had five children: Margaret (Jay) Welch of Omaha, Neb., Louise (Ronald) Lankau of Houston, Tex., James of Mason City, Stephen of Monticello, and Thomas of Omaha, Neb. The three sons all followed their father and grandfather in the legal profession. Andy and Lillian Locher Strittmatter had three children: Susan (Eric) Sandeen of Laramie, Wyo., Ellen of Muscatine and Nick of Monticello. Simon Locher, 1879-1909

Frank (1881 - 1962) had a music store on First Street and later a second hand furniture store. He and Lawrence were enthusiastic members of the Monticello baseball team. Frank's son, Francis, lives in Connecticut and his son Gerald in New Mexico. Clara (1882 - 1910) taught rural school before her marriage to Ike Schneider, who managed a drug store. Their two daughters, Janice (Carl "Moon") Olsen and Virginia (Larry) Robertson still live in Monticello. The Robertson's son, Jim is a veterinarian in California. Fannie (1883 - 1965) worked at John Perrine's Cage before her marriage to Jim McAleer, who had a meat market.

Charles Locher, 1886-1972, with his mother. Harry Locher, 1890-1940. Dr. Joseph Locher, b. 1884, married Lucille Jungk.
Bertha (Born 1892) is 93 years old and still lives in her Monticello home. After Business College, she worked in the office of Hall Manufacturing Company. Subsequently, she was with Franklin Equipment Company, serving as secretary-treasurer for many years. The other family members pictured above lived their adult life away from Monticello: Simon, with the railroad in Waterloo, Lawrence a dentist in Farley; Joe and Earl dentists in Dubuque; Leo an engineer in Columbus, Neb., where he still lives; Harry, a lawyer in Dubuque; and Charles, an employee of the telephone company in Dubuque. The Lochers have been lifelong members of the Sacred Heart Church in Monticello. Six generations ago, the family attended services in the frame structure on South Maple Street that was destroyed by a tornado in 1878. Anthony's family then worshiped at the old stone church on Seventh Street until the new brick church on Sycamore Street and was built in 1914. Stephen E. Locher is married to Annie Muller Locher, our city librarian. He and Nick Strittmatter, both practicing attorneys in Monticello, represent the fifth generation of Lochers living in Monticello today. Nick and Anne Strabala Strittmatter's two sons Alexander and David are the sixth generation. Dr. Earl Locher.
Dr. Lawrence Locher, b. 1888 The Locher family home on North Cedar St. in Monticello, Iowa.
Joe, Leo & Earl Locher. Johann Baptist Meyer, Caroline's father, 1826-1855. Constantina Gassenschmid Meyer, Caroline's mother, 1829–1877.
Caroline Meyer Locher was the daughter of Johann Baptist Meyer (born 11 Dec 1826 in Schneisingen, Aargua, Switzerland) and Constantina Gassenschmid (born 15 Oct 1829 in Vöhrenbach, Baden, Germany and died 1877 in Monticello). Her parents were married about 1855 in Cincinnati, Ohio before they moved to Dubuque. Caroline was born on 13 May 1856 at Sherrill's Mound, Iowa and lived in Dubuque for a time. Her father worked as a painter and accountant and died on 23 Feb 1865 of cancer. Her mother then married Johann's brother, Anton Meyer, a beer brewer. Caroline, her mother and step-father and three brothers, John, Albert and Joseph, moved to Monticello when she was very young.

Caroline's maternal grandparents were Dr. John Evangelist Gassenschmid (born 13 Dec 1795 in Burg, Birken, Kirchzarten, Baden, Germany and died in 1866 in Baraboo, Sauk Co., WI) and his wife Fidelia Kirner Gassenschmid (born 17 April 1794 in Bregenbach, Baden, Germany). He was originally a veterinarian and then a practicing homeopathic physician. He would make house calls in Ohio and Wisconsin and his grandson would come along and serve as his English translator. They were married on 16 Feb 1823 in Vöhrenbach, Baden, Germany and came to America about 1849 where they first settled in Cincinnatti.

Dr. John Evangelist Gassenschmid, 1795, 1866, & Fidelia Kirner Gassenschmid, b. 1794.
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