Waldo Emerson Boller (above left) was born to Daniel J. Boller and Barbara Miller on June 15, 1884 in Washington Township of Johnson County, Iowa. Named after the famous 19th century American author, poet, and philosopher, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Waldo and his younger brother, Ora Francis Boller – nicknamed Frank (above right) – grew up together in small Iowa farming communities. Records show that they bounced around from town to town – 5 different homes in Waldo’s first 12 years – until their father, D.J., finally settled in Wayland, Iowa in 1896.
The Deer Creek area of SW Johnson County (see maps above) was the original Iowa home of the Boller family in 1853, when Waldo’s grandparents, Jacob & Catharine Boller, first came here from Ohio. Waldo’s parents, D.J & Barbara, were married here on the Miller farm near Amish, Iowa in 1881, and lived, most likely, on either the Boller or Miller farm until sometime after 1884.
Sometime after Waldo’s birth in 1884, Daniel & Barbara moved to 80 acres of farmland in Greene Township in Iowa County (see maps above). It’s here the Bollers had their second son, Ora Francis (Frank) Boller, born June 20, 1886 in Parnell, Iowa County – located just NW of the Boller farm in Greene Township.
In a 1935 Boller wedding anniversary article (click here), it states that D.J. decided to leave Iowa County, setting out in a different direction with his life around 1888. While census records are silent on the subject, Grinnell newspaper reports indicate that Daniel picked up his family of four and moved further west to Grinnell, Iowa (1888-1892), where he went into the furniture business with his younger brother, George D. Boller. Read more details here.
After a devastating fire in Grinnell (1889) and a couple of years trying to recover, Daniel & Barbara Boller and their two children, Waldo and Frank, left Grinnell, moving back to the Kalona (Washington County) area, living in Kalona (1892-1895) prior to their final move to nearby Henry County. At this point in time, Waldo & Franks’s grandparents, Jacob & Catharine Boller, had retired from farming and were living in Kalona as well. Read more here.
Finally, in 1896, D.J. and Barbara Boller found their permanent home – Wayland, Iowa, where D.J. opened Boller Furniture Company – bringing to the area both a fine selection of furniture and the much-needed skills of a mortician. The new Boller adventure begins!
So, when D.J. and Barbara finally landed in Wayland in 1896, Our Boller Story now turns its attention away from Deer Creek in SW Johnson County to focus on Henry County, Iowa for much of the next seventy years (1896-1966)!
Waldo and Frank Boller had a very unique honor that came their way in 1903 – being a part of Wayland High School‘s first graduating class! There were a grand total of four students who graduated on May 1, 1903 and Waldo (age 19) & Frank Boller (age 17) comprised half of the class!
Actually, the commencement program (above) states “Second Annual Commencement”, yet other sources point to the 1903 class as the first. Hmmm.
Pictured above is Wayland High School’s 1903 graduating class: Frank Boller (left), Leroy Schantz, Edwin Martin & Waldo Boller (right) with J.W. Purcy, Superintendent.
In the story (below) told by our Boller cousin, Glen R. Miller, from his 1979 book, Deer Creek Story, we find out about Waldo & Frank Boller’s unique collection of bird eggs. I’m guessing that this Boller/Miller ‘egg story’ that Glen recalls took place in September 1910, most likely at the big Miller 50th Wedding Anniversary party (see family pics below), when Glen was about 8 years old.
In November 1899, when Waldo was 15 and Frank was 13, the D.J. Boller family traveled to Kalona to join in the 50th Wedding Anniversary celebration of D.J.’s parents: Jacob & Catherine Boller. Above is an article from the Kalona News – read more here.
And, in September 1910, another big 50th Wedding Anniversary party was held – this time for Barbara’s parents, Jacob & Catherine Miller, on the Miller farm in Deer Creek. In the picture above (back row), Waldo (#2 with glasses) is now 26, and brother, Frank (#3) with wife Stella (#4), is 24. Glen Miller (#21), admirer of Waldo & Frank’s bird egg collection, age 8, is in the front row.
As you keep reading, you’ll find that very soon after this 1910 celebration, Waldo will be joining the ranks of those married as well!
Kudos to the amazing resources below for the many quotes, photographs, etc. used on this page.
(BH-108) The Deer Creek Story – Glen R. Miller, pp 108, 130
(BH-105) Wayland – The First Century contains a treasure-trove of information about our Boller family’s first home in Henry County, Iowa.