As we mentioned in an earlier section, in 1894, my gg grandparents, Jacob and Catharine Boller, both age 69, left their farm to the children, and moved into town, taking possession of their new home at 408 4th Street in Kalona.
A revealing article was published in The Kalona News in November, 1899. This article covers the golden (50th) wedding anniversary party held on Saturday, November 18, 1899 for Jacob and Catharine. Certainly, it must have been a big day for the entire family! The article states that five of the six children still living were present…only John J. who was, by that time, farming in southwest Iowa, was unable to attend.
Two Mennonite pastors were there to lead the singing and prayer service that followed the dinner party. All the children presented Uncle Jacob an “elegant gold watch” and Aunt Catharine received “a handsome pair of gold-rimmed spectacles” (glasses). Friends and family alike surrounded Jacob and Catharine that day and many times, I’ve thought how wonderful it would have been to be in the crowd that special day in the autumn of 1899.
One can only imagine how Jacob and Catharine might have reminisced on how so very much had changed in the life of the Boller family over the one hundred year span since Jacob’s father, George, was born in Germany! I’ve often thought how very enjoyable it would be to have been present for this special family celebration.
To review – In the beginning (1852-53), the Boller Farm consisted of eight 40-acre parcels – 320 aces (above left). By 1889 (above right) the farm had expanded to nine 40-acre parcels – 360 acres.
Above – The Boller Farm looking east (left) and looking west (right).
As of this writing, the original Boller homestead is still owned by the Boller family. Jacob A. Boller (1862-1948) gave the farm over to his son, Jason Glen Boller (1892-1961), who then turned the property over to his son and daughter, Martin Dean Boller (1924-2010) and Wilma LaVerne Boller (1914-1991). The property is now under the ownership of Martin’s oldest son, James Boller, born in 1947, and his extended family.
Below – The Boller Farm looking north on Cosgrove Rd (left) and looking south (right).
As you’ve seen from our previous posts, the first two generations of the Boller family had a strong faith in God, and their Amish-Mennonite communities played an important role in the everyday life of each family member. In the early 1880’s, as the Mennonite community continued to grow throughout Johnson and Washington counties, new churches were opened to give families a place to worship.
During this time, the Boller family helped organize the Union Mennonite Church, which was an off-shoot of the Old Order Amish South Sharon Church. “Old Order” simply refers to a much more ultra-conservative branch of the Amish-Mennonite faith, and like today, this younger Boller generation desired a more progressive, less legalistic, church setting in which they could worship God. Meeting first in homes, Catherine (Katie) Boller’s father-in-law, Christian Warey, pastored Union Mennonite until his death in 1914.
In the mid-1880’s, Union Church met in the Prairie Dale schoolhouse (click here to read more about this Johnson County one-room school house).
By 1889, the group built their first meeting house located three miles north and two miles west of Kalona. In 1897, the growing church family divided into two congregations – West Union and East Union – churches that remain to this day.
Just east of East Union Mennonite Church is Peter Miller Cemetery. A small private cemetery located 3 miles northeast of Kalona, we first visited this out-of-the-way spot in the late-90’s when our own Boller children were still young (see pics above). Miller Cemetery is not only the resting place of Jacob and Catharine Boller, but also hosts their daughter, Magdalena; their son, Joseph (who died within a year of their move to Iowa); and their grand daughter, Mary A. Warey.
On Jacob’s and Catharine’s tombstone, located in the midst of quiet cornfields in the Heartland of America, we find these words…
FATHER…In Loving Remembrance of…Jacob Boller…Died Sep 14, 1907…Aged 82 ys, 6 ms, 16 ds
MOTHER…In Loving Remembrance of…Catharine Boller…Died July 3, 1902…Aged 77 ys, 1 day
A precious one from us has gone, A voice we loved is stilled, A place is found in our home, That never can be filled.
Catharine Smucker Boller died on July 3, 1902, one day after her 77th birthday, of a throat condition that prevented her from speaking or swallowing. She wrote of it, “living in a land of plenty and starving to death”.
Jacob B. Boller, after Catharine passed in 1902, moved back in with his son, Jacob A. Boller. He died five years later on September 14, 1907.
Just as we owe a great gratitude to George F. and Elizabeth Boller for their braveness in settling the Boller family here in America, we owe an equal amount of thanks to Jacob and Catharine Boller for their willingness to venture away from the familiar surroundings of Ohio and carve out a new life amongst the rolling hills of Iowa, near the banks of Deer Creek. Their pioneering spirit established the Boller family name in a vibrant Mennonite community in the Heartland of Iowa that remains strong even to this day.
Jacob B. Boller (1825-1907), Catharine (Smucker) Boller (1825-1902)
John J. Boller (1851-1935), Joseph Boller (1853-1854), Magdalena Boller (1855-1887), Daniel J. Boller (1856-1946)
Catherine (Boller) Warey (1858-1902), George D. Boller (1860-1925), Jacob A. Boller (1862-1948), Samuel J. Boller (1866-1940)
In the records of Jacob and Catharine’s son, George D. Boller, there are two letters (above) from Jacob – one dated October 3, (1906), and one marked “Father’s last letter” dated August 7, 1907 – just a few weeks before his death in September.
Kudos to the amazing resources below for the many quotes, photographs, etc. used on this page.