Albert J. Hertz

Note by Phyllis Brown:  I love the small towns of Illinois, Iowa and Missouri.  They have wonderful history centers that rival anything in the big cities.  And during the latter part of the 19th century or first few years of the 20th century, county histories were written – with biographical entries of normal, everyday citizens.  What a wealth of knowledge for a genealogist!

History of Johnson County, Iowa

One of the most faithful, painstaking, and efficient public servants of Iowa City in his generation is Albert J. Hertz, the subject of this sketch.  Probably no man has a more complete knowledge of the general conditions of both city and county, and certainly none has a more thorough grasp of the public school system of the city or of matters affecting the welfare of the youth of Iowa City.  He also has special knowledge of as well as long experience in the subject of fire protection for the city, having served actively twenty-five years as a volunteer fireman and three years as chief of the fire department.  For sixteen years Mr. Hertz has been secretary of the board of education of the public schools in Iowa City, and for the past two years has devoted his entire time to that work.  The position involves supervision of the janitors of the various school buildings, as well as of the buildings and grounds, and the duties of truant officer.  To the discharge of his various duties Mr. Hertz applies the power of practical and conscientious effort.

The parents of our subject were Henry Hertz and Anna Tilton.  The former was a native of Darmstadt, Germany, and was born January 9, 1824.  His parents were Daniel and Christina Hertz, natives of Germany, who settled in Easton, Pennsylvania, in 1827, making the voyage from the Fatherland in an old sailing vessel, a journey requiring about nine weeks.  At the age of eighteen Henry Hertz went to Philadelphia, where he became an apprentice at coach blacksmithing for two years, afterwards serving as a journeyman for fifteen years.  In 1857 he came west to Johnson County, where he resided until his death, April 24, 1904.  His wife, Anna Tilton, was a native of Easton, Pennsylvania.  She died soon after the birth of her fourth child.  The names of the children of Daniel and Christina Hertz are:  Henry, William, George, Jacob, Gustave, Dehlia, Lena, Mary, and Sarah.  The three children of Henry Hertz and Anna Tilton were:  Albert J., our subject; Harry F.; Cordelia, wife of G. Blessin.  Mr. Hertz was a man of affairs in Johnson County, serving in many positions of trust in his township.

Our subject was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, November 13, 1848.  He accompanied his father to Johnson county in 1857 when nine years of age.  His education was secured in the public schools of Iowa City.  In the spring of 1880 he entered business for himself in the dry goods trade, and continued therein for sixteen years, when he sold out and went into the employ of Denecke & Yetter as a salesman.  He remained with this firm for three years, after which he entered the employ of H. A. Strub & Co., with whom he continued as a salesman for ten years.  For the past two years, as heretofore stated, he has devoted his entire time to the duties of secretary of the board of education.

Mr. Hertz has a worthy wife in the person of Miss Sarah E. Gobin, a native of Iowa City.  Her parents were natives of Pennsylvania and came to Johnson County in 1849.  They were among the well-known pioneer settlers and were identified with the early growth and development of the county.  Mr. and Mrs. Hertz have six children:  Charles, Henry, George, Sophia, Ada, and Elsie.

The family are all members of the English Lutheran church.  Although a large part of Mr. Hertz’s time has been spent in the service of the public, he has been accumulating a modest fortune, which, with the beautiful home which he owns, guarantees him a competence for the years of retirement, to which, though considerably removed as yet, he naturally looks forward with expectation of comfort and the consciousness of duty well performed.  The family’s residence is at 624 Summit Street, Iowa City.


Note by Phyllis Brown:  Henry Hertz was my husband’s great-great-grandfather.  Since Ritchey’s father was adopted at the age of two, it was only in the last several years that we discovered his family lines.  We knew Rex’s mother was a Hertz and his father was a Jolly. 

The Iowa Citizen – saturday, april 30, 1904

Henry Hertz Passes Away Today

Octogenarian Summoned at a Ripe Old Age – Well Known Throughout Johnson County

Henry Hertz, a beloved octogenarian, passed away this morning at his home in Solon.

Mr. Hertz was 81 years of age, having been born in Hesse Darmstadt, Germany, on January 9, 1824.

When 18 years of age he removed to Philadelphia, where he became a coach blacksmith’s apprentice and he worked for 15 years at his trade in the City of Brotherly Love.

In the spring of 1857 he came to the Hawkeye state and at once settled on the homestead of 150 acres he thereafter occupied and improved finely for nearly a half century.  Thrift and industry marked his life in Johnson county and everybody learned to respect and esteem him.

In evidence thereof, his neighbors and others elected him repeatedly to township offices of trust.

He was twice married, first to Anna Tilton and later to Florentine Probst.  The fruits of the former union were Albert J. Hertz, now secretary of the Iowa City board of education; Harry S. and Cordelia, wife of the Rev. G. Blessin.
Children of the latter marriage are Mrs. Cilena Mardor, wife of Rev. G.
Mardor, William, Jacob, Mary, George, Gustave and Sarah.

Mr. Hertz is one of the fathers of the German Lutheran Church of Solon and has been for many years one of the noblest workers in the cause of the Lord, both in the public and private life.

A host of warm friends will long mourn for this good man.

the iowa citizen – Monday, May 2, 1904

Henry hertz dies at solon

Pioneer Passes Away at Age of 81 Years – Well Know Over the County

Another one of Johnson County’s honored pioneers passed away last Saturday at Solon when Henry Hertz died at the extreme age of 81 years.  The funeral was held this afternoon at Solon.  Mr. Hertz was born in Germany, coming to this country at the age of three.  When a young man he went to Philadelphia, coming to Iowa in 1857 where he has since resided.  He was twice married, his first wife being Anna Tilton.  To this union were born  Albert J. Hertz, Harry S. and Cordelia.  He was later married to Florentine Probst.  The children by the second marriage were Mrs. Cilena Mardon, William, George, Jacob, Sarah, Mary and Gustave.

Solon economy – may 5, 1904

On Monday, May 2, occurred the funeral of Mr. Henry Hertz, our respected fellow citizen and townsman, interment was held at the Oak Grove Cemetery.  Rev. J. G. Hoerlein of Iowa City, the pastor of the deceased conducted the services, very ably assisted by the choir of his home church.

Henry Hertz was born in Hesse Darmstadt, Germany January 9, 1824.  When five years of age his parents, Daniel and Christiana Hertz emigrated to America and settle at Easter, Pa.  At the age of eighteen he went to Philadelphia, learning the trade of a coachsmith.  Here he resided for fifteen years.  In the spring of 1857 he came to Iowa and settled on the well known Hertz farm near this place, where he lived continuously until two years ago when he retired from active farm life, moving to Solon to enjoy his well earned rest.  He was held in great esteem by all who knew him and he has served in many offices.  He has always been
identified with the Lutheran church and it is due to his interest and zeal that
the church of this denomination exists in this place.

He was married twice, first to Anna Tilton and the second time to Florentine
Propst.  By the first marriage there are three children, Albert F. of Iowa City, Harry S. of Calmar, Iowa, and Cordelia, wife of Rev. G. Blessin of El Dorado, Iowa.  By the second marriage there are seven living and four dead.  Those living are Celina, married to Rev. C. Mardorf of Monticello, Mary, married to H. Harms of Langworthy, Iowa, and Sarah, married to Paul Kohl of this place.  William, Jacob, George and Gustave being the sons of the deceased, all living in this neighborhood.  Besides his sorrowing widow and the children above named he leaves 36 grandchildren and 6 greatgrandchildren.  He ever lived in
enjoyment of good health until about two years ago when he began to fail.  But nevertheless, he rallied again, thanks to the care of his faithful wife.  The
infirmities of old age, however, were against his chances for life and death
relieved him from all cares and tribulations of this earth on the 29th day of April 1904.  He died as he had lived, a true Christian and brought his age to 80 years, three months and twenty days.

Card of Thanks

To our many sympathetic friends, who have so kindly assisted in any way during the illness and death of our beloved husband and father, we wish to express our most sincere thanks.

Florentine Hertz and Children

An Angel Mother

Vivian Eleanora Ritchey Brown

Today is the 44th anniversary of the death of Vivian Eleanora Ritchey Brown – my husband’s mother.  The former beauty queen of Fairmont, Nebraska, married Rex Brown, a member of the United States Army Air Force in World War II, whom she met at the training base in Fairmont.  They had five children.

After the war the Brown’s settled in Independence, MO, where Rex practiced law.  He eventually decided to become a Presbyterian minister and the family moved to Washington County, Kentucky.  He attended seminary in
Louisville and served as pastor of Pleasant Grove Presbyterian Church in the
northern part of the county.  After seminary the decision was made to become missionaries.  The family spent one year in Belgium, learning French, and preparing for missionary work.  When they arrived in the Republic of the
Congo (as it was called at that time, now known as the Democratic Republic of
the Congo), the children were left at a missionary school on the outskirts of Lubondai, a small rural area, and their parents moved on to another station.  Vivian saw her children only on holidays and vacations for their three year stint in Africa.  She was a wonderful teacher and cared deeply for the African children
and their families.  But I’m sure she worried about her own children in an area with mambas, lions and crocodiles – among other things! – and longed to have them close to her.

On sabbatical back in the states, Vivian was killed in a car accident while driving to an uncle’s funeral.   Everyone who knew Vivian was devastated.   She was dearly loved by all.  A niece said that her grandparents treasured every time the Brown’s’ came to visit.  She said she loved all her aunts and uncles but Vivian had a special place in her heart – she never got upset and just had an awe around her – she had the face and soul of an angel.

When the news was given to the station in Congo, everyone was stunned.  The only communication with the different stations was by ham radio at noon each day.  A minute of silence was given for Aunt Vivian, who was so beloved by all, and she was deeply mourned for a very long time.

Pleasant Grove parishioners still talk about the memories of Vivian and her happy children.  At the 150th and 175th anniversary celebrations we attended stories were told and pictures handed round of those years in the early 60’s.

Vivian’s death was especially devastating to her children.  I can attest that they received the best of their qualities from their mother – the love and care they show to others – and their beautiful smiles!  How I would have loved to meet this woman that gave me the most precious husband on earth!  But I can see her through him.  And now qualities of this special woman have been handed down not only to her grandchildren, but her great-grandchildren.  So even though she
may be in heaven, the guardian angel watching over all her precious brood, she
lives on in the legacy she left behind.

Linton Cemetery

Note by Phyllis Brown:  Captain John attended Pleasant Grove Presbyterian Church a few miles north of the Linton Cemetery.  He gave some of his land when the church was built.  My husband’s father was minister of Pleasant Grove in the 1960’s.  He and his family traveled on to Belgium, Congo and Switzerland before coming back to the states.  I think it an amazing coincidence that we both have ties to Pleasant Grove.  We have been there for several church anniversaries in the last thirty years.

Washington County Burying Grounds

August 29, 1935

“All the county is a burying ground,” said one prominent citizen of Springfield a few days ago.  Meaning that scattered over the length and breadth of the county are innumerable unrecorded burial plots.  Mr. Baylor is making an effort to
locate and chart as many of these private burying grounds as are brought to his
attention.  The Sun will publish each week the data supplied by its readers and edited by Mr. Baylor.

The Linton Plot

Located on the Springfield and Willisburg Road on the farm formerly owned by Taylor Spalding.  A large plot enclosed with iron fence.  Numerous graves but few stones with inscriptions.

John Linton, Washington County pioneer, was born in Virginia in the year 1750.  He married there, raised a large family, served his country in the War for American Independence and again in the War of 1812.  In his declining years he moved to Kentucky where he settled on a tract of 2000 acres, building his home about two and one-half miles north of Springfield and on what is now the Springfield and Willisburg Road.

After he settled in Washington County, John Linton joined the Presbyterian Church in Springfield.  He was for some time a member of the board of officers thereof.  At one time, when it was proposed to discharge a debt that had
accumulated and in addition assure funds with which to carry on the work of the
congregation by charging pew rent, John Linton vigorously opposed the proposition.  “Never,” he said, “will I pay one penny for the right to sit in the House of the Lord.  You may do as you will but if you vote to charge rent for the pews I will go back to my farm, cut timber and have it made into benches, bring them in and place them about the walls of this church and me and my family and my slaves will occupy them.”  Suffice to say the proposition was rejected.

Some years before his death, John Linton went out on his land and within a few rods from his dwelling-house he stepped off a considerable plot of ground and set up stakes at the four corners.  Returning to the house he announced to the family that he had laid off the family burying ground and stated that he wanted as many of the family as possible to be buried therein, though no outsiders were to rest there.  The burial plot is yet intact though badly overgrown with weeds and briars.  Some years ago Taylor Spalding, while owner of the farm, caused an iron fence to be erected around the plot.  This he did because of a heated controversy at the time over the desecration of another burial-ground elsewhere in Washington County.  He wanted no trouble for himself or any succeeding owners over the desecration of the Linton plot.

John Linton’s children were eleven in number.  His eldest son and principle heir was John H. Linton.   Other sons were Moses, Lewis, Benjamin and William.  The names of his daughters were Martha, Susan, Nancy, Mary, Elizabeth and Catherine.  Of the foregoing William married Eliza Lyon Moran; Susan married William Moran; Nancy married Edward B. Edwards; Catherine married ____ Taylor and Mary married Captain Powell.

Edward B. Edwards died in 1824, leaving his widow Nancy Edwards, who survived until 1862, and the following children:  John, Benjamin M., Jonathan, Mary, Catherine E., Martha, Sarah and Susan.  Of the foregoing Mary married a Janes, Martha a Clarkson, and Susan a Taylor.  Benjamin M. died single leaving his property to his mother and brothers and sisters.

John Linton, before his death in 1836, deeded away much of his lands to his sons and sons-in-law.  These gifts were confirmed in his will.  His son, John H. Linton, got the home tract to hold it but two years for he died in 1838.  William Moran, husband of Susan Linton, and Edward B. Edwards, husband of Nancy Linton, got 200 acres each.

There are seven stones with inscriptions in the Linton burying ground.  These are as follows:

In Memory of

John Linton

Who departed this life

December 4th, 1836 in the

86th year of his age

In Memory of

William Moran

Who died 3rd January 1838

Aged 63 yrs 10 months and 17 days

In Memory of


Benjamin Linton


In the 87th year of his


John L. Edwards

Born October 12, 1800

Died December 23, 1883

Milly N. Edwards

Born Jun 39, 1806

Died February 25, 1873

William Linton

Eliza, Wife of William Linton

Zillah Ward Jewell

Note by Phyllis Brown:  This is a story handed down in the Ritchey family.  The copy I have is written in a beautiful penmanship.  Zillah is my husband’s great-great-grandmother.  The sheepshower leaves that are mentioned in the story are probably sheep sorrel.  Evidently they have a lemony taste – perhaps that is why they were used in a pie!

One of the beautiful quilts still in our family is the “Ocean Wave” quilt pieced by Zillah. Friends and neighbors kept her supplied with small scraps of material;
therefore her patterns were small and very beautiful.  Zillah piece quilts as though it was a salaried position.  She would get up early and work until late on her quilts.

Dark-eyed Zillah was born in Indiana in 1823; her father was Aaron Ward who was born in New Hampshire. On October 7, 1846, Zillah was married to Thomas W. Jewell.  Their nine children were born in Illinois.  In 1881 they moved to Corydon, Iowa.  A year later they traveled on to Fillmore County, Nebraska.  The trip was made in a covered wagon.  Horses and cattle were driven by the men.  (It was on this trip that grandson James Eben Ritchey learned to swear, having been encouraged by the men to do so.).

Zillah was a very busy mother and grandmother.  One beautiful June day, Zillah called her children from play and asked if they would like to have a pie for dinner.  When they replied, “Yes,” Zillah tied sunbonnets on Julie and Lucinda; all wore long sleeved dresses and shirts; the boys wore straw hats because no one wanted to be tanned.  Soon they were off to the meadow to gather sheepshower leaves to make a pie.  In fact, they often made pies of sheepshower leaves.

Zillah and her family also picked ground cherries in the fall to use for jam.  The ground cherries grew mainly in the cornfields.

One day the children were playing outside; Zillah was busy inside.  Suddenly the stillness in the house was completely broken by the rush of the children into the house.  Eagerly, Tom, the oldest, exclaimed, “Ayma ewa evoka a ookyca?” (Pig Latin for “May we have a cookie?”  Of course Zillah couldn’t understand their
strange chatter, but the children thought it was great fun.

Her grandchildren, too, liked to gather around to talk and play with her.  Her small grandsons liked to play tricks on her.  One trick was to hide her pipe, which they might keep for some time before giving it back to her.  She could become quite disgusted with them when they teased her, but she was a wonderfully kind and loving grandmother.

Many women smoked pipes at that time and Zillah and daughter Lucinda, too, had become “addicted”.  One day their supply of tobacco was completely gone and they waited at home for the men to return from town.  The men were
extremely late returning; the women had been without tobacco all day.  By evening, Lucinda decided to quit smoking.  She said, “If I can go without
tobacco for one day, then I can continue to do without.”

Zillah was a devoted reader of the Bible.  In her later years she would arise early on a Sunday, get all dressed up, and then sit by the window reading her Bible.

In her later years, Zillah suffered from cancer of the eye.  It is recorded that the cancer was caused by ill-fitting glasses.  She died at the home of her daughter, Lucinda Ritchey, in Stanton Township, Fillmore County, Nebraska.  She is buried in the Geneva, Nebraska, cemetery by her husband who had died twelve years earlier.

(Oral history as told by Zillah’s grandson, James Eben Ritchey, and recorded by her granddaughter, Mildred Beryl Ritchey, Talkington, Nebraska.)

That Elusive Maiden Name – My Great-Grandmother was a ?

Ellen Lyons Smith - My Great-Great-Grandmother - Proof!

In the generally male dominated world of genealogy, it is much easier to find a long lost great-great-grandfather than it is to find an even more lost great-great-grandmother. Other than a marriage certificate, a woman’s maiden name is listed very rarely.  Once married, it can seem that the bride had no life before that time.  It is imperative that genealogists don’t give in to that unknown and
just, well, give up!  Pieces of information can be found in sometimes unusual places.

My mother has always bemoaned her middle name – Lyons.  I love that her name is so different.  As many Catherine’s as there are in the family, at least her middle name makes her unique!  Her mother always said she was named for one of her great-grandmothers – it was a family name.  Since I had found her other great-grandmothers I knew which one it had to be.  John Smith married Ellen Lyons – there was no proof, just my assumption.  There was no marriage certificate for them in Washington County, Kentucky, so I was sure they were married in Marion County.  In the 1860 census for this county John is listed with the children – Ellen had died in September of 1859 due to childbirth. Unfortunately the marriage records for Marion County – along with the courthouse! –  were burned during the Civil War.  Shame on you General John Hunt Morgan!   You have made genealogy research so difficult for so many!  A few years later I realized John and Ellen had lived in my home parish of St. Charles Church.  Some years previous to my discovery, when the parish removed a few trees from the cemetery, Ellen’s gravestone was destroyed in the process.  I have the information from the stone from a list made years before.  When I found out the parish had some old baptismal records I looked through them and sure enough, several of John and Ellen’s children were listed.   In the baptismal record of their son John Richard Smith his parents are listed as John and Ellen Lyons Smith.  At long last I had found my proof!  Funny how it was right under my nose for years!

Genealogy Ramblings – Family Stories – Fact or Fiction?

I’m sure every genealogist has heard some rather unbelievable family stories over the years.  But before you are ready to throw them out, examine them once again to see if there could be some truth lurking behind the fantastic stories!  A prime example on my dad’s side of the family – my aunt always asserted that we were related to Billy the Kid.  Aunt Catherine could never give me more details than that one simple fact.  She did know the story came from her dad’s side of the family.  I smiled politely and listened – then dismissed the notion as nonsense.  Wasn’t I surprised years later to find the name of Pap’s great-grandmother – Arena Kidd!  She married Tillotson Ross.  They named their son William, probably called him Billy.

As stories are handed down from generation to generation they get turned around a bit, a little embellishment added here and there.  But if you look closely enough there’s generally a kernel of truth hidden somewhere in the middle!  And it sometimes turns out to be a gem!