The Boller Children & Johnson County Schools.

Allow me to digress a moment from the story of Jacob B. and Catharine Boller in order to tell you a bit about their eight children. We’ve mentioned them briefly in an earlier post, but thought we’d take the time here to tell you a bit more about this first generation of Bollers who grew up in Iowa. We’ll go in order of their birth, and then finish up by telling you a bit about their schooling in Johnson County, Iowa…

John J. Boller – Oldest son of Jacob and Catharine, John was born in Butler County, Ohio, on February 17, 1851 and passed away at his home at Truro in Madison County, Iowa on April 5, 1935 at the age of 84. John received his early education in the Johnson County rural schools, finishing in Iowa City, and for several years was a teacher. On January 17, 1878, he married Margaret Myers (daughter of J.G. Myers), beginning their married life in Kalona, later moving to Adams County (near Corning, Iowa), where most of their eleven children were raised. John and Margaret finally ended up in Truro (1914), where both are buried in Worthing Cemetery in Madison County (south-central Iowa). His obituary names their children: Mabel Davitt and Merce Chappell of Hopedale, Ohio, Maude Selvedge of Van Horn, Texas; Lillian Carpenter of Glendale, California, Lora Day of Sacramento, California, Bessie Fletcher, Eldred, Sask., Canada, Ed and Earl of Denton, Montana, Jack of Gillette, Wyoming, Jess of Oakland, California, and Norman of Truro.

Joseph Boller – as discussed earlier, Joseph was born on April 29, 1853 in Butler County, Ohio, prior to the Boller family migrating west to Iowa. On December 19, 1854, at age one and a half, little Joseph suddenly died, and is buried in Peter Miller Cemetery located just north of Kalona.

Magdalena Boller – Born April 11, 1855, Magdalena, who also went by the names of Maggie or Lena, was the first Boller born in Johnson County, Iowa. She never married, and lived with her parents until her death on November 18, 1887, at age 32. She, too, is buried in Peter Miller Cemetery with her younger brother, Joseph, and her parents.

Daniel Jacob Boller – Born November 23, 1856 in Johnson County, my great grandfather is someone we’ll talk about in great detail in the next chapter.

Catherine (Boller) Warey was born in August of 1858 in Johnson County. Katie, as she was called, married John Warey in 1885 and they lived near Kalona, until her death, at age 43, after a lingering illness of consumption, on June 16, 1902. Both Katie and her husband John (d-1926) are buried at East Union Mennonite Cemetery, north of Kalona.

George D. Boller was born in March of 1860 in Johnson County, and married Mary Frances Roberts on July 1, 1883, having two children, Raymond Earl (1885) and Grace M. (1888) in Audubon County in western Iowa. After a divorce, George was married to Angelina Bummer for a short period of time in Waterloo, and then, he married (1905) Caroline (Carrie) Giebrich, with whom he had two more children: Paul (1909) and Joseph Phillip (1912) while living in San Jose, California. In November of 1915, George was ordained by the American Baptist Home Mission Society and served as a pastor until his death on January 7, 1925 (age 64) in Santa Cruz, California. From 1888 to 1892, George D. and Daniel J. teamed up to run a successful furniture business in Grinnell. More details here.

Jacob A. Boller was born June 15, 1862 in Johnson County and married Mary Jane Swartzendruber on October 14, 1888. Together, they had three children: Ida May (1889), Jason Glen (1892), and Willard Paul (1905). When my gg grandparents, Jacob and Catharine, moved into Kalona in 1894, they turned ownership of the farm over to Jacob (and John Warey – husband of Catherine). Mary died in 1933 and Jacob, at age 73, married Elizabeth (Lizzie) Nancy Beckler (1867-1953) on September 25, 1935. Jacob died February 3, 1948, and is buried with Mary at East Union Mennonite Cemetery in Kalona.

Samuel J. Boller, the youngest in the family, was born on July 7, 1866 in Johnson County. He married Ella Nora McIlree in 1887, with daughter, Lulu May, being born in 1888, but sadly, Ella died at age 32 in 1894. Samuel remarried Estella M. Burris in 1895, with Samuel Jed being born in 1899. The Bollers moved to Iowa City (living on Burlington Street) around this time, with Samuel taking a sales job with the Independent Baking Company of Davenport – a job he held right up until his death on July 10, 1940. Both Samuel & Estella are buried at Oakland Cemetery in Iowa City.

Six of the seven Boller children are listed here on the 1871 charter for the Independent Union Sabbath School. The youngest Samuel was only five years old in 1871.

An article found in the Iowa Mennonite Museum and Archives states…

the Boller children all attended the Independent Union Sabbath School organized at Snyders’ Chapel on April 9, 1871 – located one and one half miles north and forty rods west of Kalona. A cemetery marks the location of the chapel

(M-0075) Little Red Brick School House in Iowa City -1870 (above)

Most schools in the late 1800’s were one-room school houses. The Little Red Brick School House in Iowa City (above) was a good example. By the turn of the century, there were numerous one-room schoolhouses located throughout Johnson County, usually one per township.

Now, let me tell you an interesting Boller story that involves Prairie Dale School – known originally in Johnson County as School #7 or the Flea Shed (from Leading Events in Johnson County History, Charles Ray Aurner). Prairie Dale was first built in Washington Township – SW Johnson County in 1869, and then completely replaced in 1881.

Family records indicate that Jacob and Mary Boller were married in Prairie Dale School on October 14, 1888. Prairie Dale also served as the home of Union Mennonite Church from 1883-1889.

Read more about Samuel D. Guengerich – the well-known educator from Amish, Iowa – who taught at Prairie Dale School.

The Jacob A. & Mary Boller family – Circa 1915.
Front row – Jacob, Willard, Mary
Back row – Emma & Jason Boller, Alva & Ida Mae (Boller) Miller

Ida Mae Boller was the daughter of Jacob A. and Mary Boller. Jacob A. is a younger brother of Daniel J. Boller (my great grandfather) and both were sons of Jacob B. & Catharine Boller, who moved from Ohio to Johnson County, Iowa in 1853. Jacob A. and Mary had three children; Ida Mae (1889), Jason Glen (1892), and Willard Paul (1902) and kept much of the original Boller family farm in Washington Township/Johnson County going after my gg grandparents, Jacob B. and Catharine, retired in 1894.


(L-0008)  It’s December 18, 1903 – Ida Mae Boller, age 14, after one month of perfect attendance at school, was awarded the Johnson County Superintendent of Schools Certificate of Attendance from Prairie Dale School in Washington Township/Johnson County, Iowa. Too bad the teacher misspelled “Prairie” on the certificate! Whoops!


(L-0009) It’s February 12, 1904  – Ida Mae Boller was awarded yet another Johnson County Superintendent of Schools Certificate of Attendance from Prairie Dale School in Washington Township/Johnson County, Iowa. Note, this time the teacher has the correct spellings!

Ida Mae Boller (1889-1957) married Alva Miller (1887-1969), and was a first cousin to my grandfather, Waldo Boller (1884-1941). Ida and Alva lived their entire lives in Kalona and are both buried at the Sharon Hill Cemetery in Kalona.


On a personal note – Ida Mae Boller’s 1903 & 1904 Certificates of Attendance came into Our Boller Story collection in a very intriguing way. In July 2020, I saw one of the certificates being sold on Ebay for a few dollars. Knowing Ida Boller was a Kalona relative, I immediately bought it, only to find out the dealer was in New York state and had bought it as part of a huge purchase of miscellaneous documents over 30 years ago. When the dealer found out I was related to Ida, he immediately refunded my purchase, looked through his collection, finding the second one and told me, “You should have these…not buy them! Now, they are HOME!” We were so blessed!

Now…on to the conclusion of Jacob B. & Catharine Boller’s story…

Kudos to the amazing resources below for the many quotes, photographs, etc. used on this page.

Kalona Historical Society, Kalona, Iowa

Kalona Historical Society-Interactive Map, Kalona, Iowa

John J. Boller, Find-A-Grave

Joseph Boller, Find-A-Grave

Magdalena Boller, Find-A-Grave

Daniel J. Boller, Find-A-Grave

Catherine “Katie” Boller Warey, Find-A-Grave

George D. Boller, Find-A-Grave

George D. Boller, American Baptist Missionary, Covelo, California, 1921, American Baptist Missions Magazine, Volume 12, 1921

Jacob A. Boller, Find-A-Grave

Samuel J. Boller, Find-A-Grave

Ida Mae Boller Miller, Find-A-Grave

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