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James Garmer


James Garmer was born on July 5, 1819 in Macungie Township, Lehigh County, PA, the son of Johann Dietrich "Dieter" and Anna Elizabeth (Heinly) Gaumer.

He was baptized in infancy in the Zion Lehigh Evangelical Lutheran Church in Alburtis, Lehigh County, with Isaac Diefenderfer and his wife serving as witnesses.

James was only 11 years of age when his father died.

On Nov. 13, 1838, the 19-year-old James was united in marriage with Lydia Brishe (April 12, 1818- ? ), also spelled "Breisch." She too was baptized in infancy, in what today is the United Church of Christ in Old Zionsville, Lehigh County. Records of her infant baptism were written in German and later digitized for Ancestry.com.


Zion Lehigh Evangelical Lutheran Church today, Alburtis, PA


They produced several known offspring, among them Amanda Garmer, Sarah "Catherine" Litweiler, Margaret E.J. Garmer, John Garmer, Clarissa "Clara" Garmer and Benjamin "Franklin" Garmer. Grief blanketed the family at the deaths of their three-year-old daughter Amanda in May 1843 - two-year-old son John in 1851 - and 16-year-old daughter Margaret in 1860.

By 1843, the Gaumers relocated to Valley Township, Montour County, PA, where they are shown in the 1850 federal census enumeration.

Then during the five year span between 1853 and 1855, the family made the momentous decision to migrate again, this time westward into Illinois. A state census record dates July 3, 1855 shows James occupying a farm in Township 15 of Mercer County. As tenant farmers, they must have moved from time to time without venturing too far. In 1860, they were on a rented farm in Rock Island County, IL, in the community of Copper Creek, Drury Township.

The Garmers returned to Mercer County in the early half of the 1860s. The Illinois State census of 1865 and the U.S. Census enumeration of 1870 show James and family on a farm in Eliza, Mercer County. In 1870, daughter Clara and son Franklin were the only two of their offspring to dwell in the home.

The Garmers again chose to relocate and pushed into Iowa on or about on May 14, 1872, making their residence on an 80-acre tract in Osceola County. The precise location was located in the west half of the northeast quarter of Section 24, Township 98, Range 41.

The day of their settlement, they petitioned the federal government to purchase their occupied land under the terms of the Homestead Act and made an initial payment of $14. In the application, he signed his name with an "X." The transactions were managed through the U.S. Land Office at Sioux City.

On this new farm, they lived in a one-room dwelling measuring 10 ft. by 12 ft., with one door and two windows. They also built a stable, dug a well and planted 300 trees to provide much needed shade.

James died on April 19 (or 15), 1874 at the age of 55. The place of death was either in Iowa City, Johnson County, IA or Sibley, Osceola County, IA, as records differ. His passing occurred before he and Lydia could complete their homestead land purchase. But she remained on the property as a widow.

On the Fourth of July 1877, Lydia was awarded the land, [Application #7034 - Final Certificate #4227] Three days later, at the land office, a payment of $4 was made for the balance owed. In February 1878, the government sent the official land patent document -- signed by President Rutherford B. Hayes -- to her home in Shellsburg, Benton County, IA.

Lydia was enumerated in Shellsburg in the 1895 Iowa State Census, marked as retired and Lutheran by faith.

In recent years, researcher Nancy Brown had information about James from a family Bible.


~ Daugter Sarah Catherine "Katie" (Garmer) Litweiler ~

Daughter Sarah "Catherine" or "Katie" Garmer (1843-1937) was born in May 1843 in Valley Township, Montour County, PA. As a young teen, between 1853 and 1858, she joined her parents in a migration west into Illinois, settling on a rented farm in Rock Island County.

Then on Jan. 13, 1859, at the age of only 15, she was joined in marriage with 39-year-old John Litweiler (1820- ? ), a Pennsylvania native. There was an age difference of 24 years between the child bride and her husband.

John could not read or write.

The Litweilers produced a large family of children -- including William H. Litweiler, Levi "Lee" Litweiler, Mary Ann Haislett Shotwell, James Litweiler, Clara Alice Fifield Petty and Louis Litweiler.

They lived in Illinois for most of the years in which Catherine was bearing children. Then sometime between 1869 and 1874, they relocated to Iowa. The United States Census enumeration of 1880 counts the family in Shellsburg, Benton County, IA, with John earning a living as a laborer and sons William and Levi working as farmhands.

After John's death, Catherine continued to live in Shellsburg and is shown heading her household in the 1895 Iowa State Census, living two doors away from her widowed mother. She eventually moved back to Mercer County.

She died in 1937 and rests in New Boston, IL under the name "Katherine Litwiler."

Son William H. Litweiler (1859-1942) was born on April 16, 1858 in Eliza Township, Mercer County, IL. He was a lifelong bachelor. At the age of 21, in 1880, he lived at home and earned his keep as a farmhand. He was a farmer and dwelled in Joy, Mercer County in 1925, sharing a home with his brother Levi. His final years were spent in Aledo, Mercer County. He suffered a stroke and in March 1941 was admitted to Aledo Hospital. He remained there as a patient for the remaining 10 months of his life. He was cut away by the Grim Reaper of Death on Jan. 20, 1942. The Rock Island Argus published an obituary

Son Levi "Lee" Litweiler (1861-1942) was born on Oct. 29, 1861 in Eliza Township, Mercer County, IL. He never married. Circa 1880, when he was age 20, he resided with his parents and worked as a farmhand. Then at the age of about 30, , he continued to live with his widowed mother in Shellsburg, Benton County, IA. He spent his working life as a farmer. Circa 1925, he was in Joy, Mercer County, sharing a residence with his brother William. He lived during the early 1940s in Joy/Aledo. He passed away in a tri-city hospital in East Moline, Rock Island County, IL on May 13, 1942. Burial was in New Boston Cemetery, and an obituary was published in the Rock Island Argus.

Daughter Mary Ann Litweiler (1863-1925) was born on Oct. 23, 1863 in Illinois. She grew up in Shellsburg, Benton County, IA. When she was 21 years of age, on Dec. 22, 1883, she was united in wedlock with 24-year-old farmer John S. Haislett ( ? - ? ), the son of Hastin and Mary L. (Goodell) Haislett of Bruce Township. Justice of the peace J.C. Straight officiated, with Elma Bigley and Mary's brother Levi Litwiler serving as witnesses. The couple produced four children -- Olive L. "Ollie" Hazlett, Teddy Hazlett, William Haislett and Fred Haislett. The couple separated by 1895, as that year's Iowa State Census shows Mary as married and living (without her husband) under her mother's roof in Shellsburg, Benton County, IA. On Sept. 3, 1902, she wedded a second time to Alfred Shotwell ( ? -1922). He had been married previously and brought three adult daughters to the union -- Alice Diehl, STella Tice and Adeline Ahlf. The couple enjoyed two decades of marriage until his death in June 1922. As her health failed, Mary Ann went to live with her daughter Olive in Joy, Mercer County, IL. She succumbed to death on Feb. 8, 1925. The remains were shipped to New Boston for funeral services, held at the Methodist Episcopal Church, co-officiated by Rev. E.E. Atherton and Rev. Thomas Spencer. Her remains were interred in New Boston Cemetery, and an obituary was published in the Journal.

  • Granddaughter Olive L. "Ollie" Haislett (1890- ? ) was born in 1890 in Illinois. Circa 1925, she lived in Joy, Mercer County, IL and provided a home for her widowed mother, who died there in February 1925.
  • Grandson Fred Haislett (1892- ? ) was born in 1892 in Johnson County, IA. He resided in 1925 in New Boston, IA
  • Granddaughter William Haislett ( ? - ? ) dwelled in Fruitland, Muscatine County, IA in 1925.

Son James Litweiler (1865- ? ) was born in 1865 in Illinois.

Daughter Clara Alice Litweiler (1872- ? ) was born on July 27, 1869 or 1872 in Illinois. Her maiden name has been mispelled over the years, including as "Lewile." Circa 1886, when she was either 14 or 17 years of age, she was united in holy matrimony with Franklin "Frank" Fifield Sr. (1854-1929), the son of Ralston and Margaret Fifield of Michigan. Their wedding was held in Shellsburg, IA, with Clara 18 years younger than her spouse. He had been married previously and brought three children to the second union -- George Fifield, Sherman Fifield and Clara Stone. The couple bore five more children of their own -- Jesse James Fifield, Alta Burrows, Frank Fifield Jr., Oscar Fifield and Mamie Wakeland. The Fifields lived in Jamestown, MO in 1889, Iowa in 1897-1900 and New Boston, Mercer County, IL in 1910. Their address in 1910 was on Wood Street in New Boston, with Frank's occupation as a laborer providing "job work." They appear to have been members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. After about 35 years of marriage, Frank and Clara separated in 1921, with him allegedly moving out. It took Clara five years to file for divorce. News of her legal claim was printed in the Dec. 15, 1926 edition of the Quad-City Times. Then in about 1927, she wedded a second time to Nathaniel Petty ( ? - ? ). The couple's home was at 409 Orange Street in Muscatine. Clara was a member of the Royal Neighbors of New Boston and the Shellsburg Methodist Episcopal Church. Sadly, at the age of 59, she died at home on April 27, 1929. The Muscatine Journal printed an obituary, which reported that her survivors included 17 grandchildren. Former husband Frank Fifield remained in Muscatine. As his health failed, he was admitted to Bellevue Hospital, where death swept him away on Oct. 29, 1929. His remains were interred in Duncan Township Cemetery, with funeral services led by Elder Davis at the LDS Church at Buffalo Prairie. His obituary was published in the Times

  • Grandson Jesse James Fifield (1888-1968) was born on Feb. 10, 1888 in Jamestown, MO. While this needs to be confirmed, evidence suggests that on May 4, 1906, at the age of 18, he married 14-year-old Grace Poland (1892- ? ). Then in July 1906, at the age of 17, he got into trouble with the law when he went to the home of William Curry in an attempt to see someone in the household. Allegations were that when there was no knock at the door, he entered the residence, and then left again when learning his someone was not there. He was arrested later that day, but charges were dismissed due to lack of evidence. Jesse and Grace bore a family of children, among them Clarence Leroy Fifield, LaVella Minteer, Richard Jesse Fifield, Letha Selvig and Nola LaJune Nesbitt. The family dwelled with Jesse's parents in 1910 in New Boston, Mercer County, IL, with him working as a "laborer - job work." They were in Joy, IL in 1925-1929 and in Muscatine in 1952. At the 17th birthday of their son Clarence, in May 1925, they held a surprise party in his honor. Said the Davenport Daily Times, "Various games were played. Later in the evening, the party motored to an open field near the home and enjoyed lunch along with a wiener and marshmallow roast." The couple separated in August 1941, with Jesse moving to Aledo, Mercer County. Clara sued for divorce, claiming cruelty. She also requested that the Mercer County Circuit Court stop Jesse from selling family property. The divorce was granted on Oct. 22, 1941. Jesse's life became even more complicated a week later when he married Beulah Sloat ( ? - ? ) only to find out she was still married to her husband Dewey Sloat of Centralia. In news stories printed in the Muscatine Journal, she claimed she thought she was divorced from Sloat, and so she filed again, citing cruelty, and it the divorce was granted on Dec. 18, 1941. Jesse and Beulah then remarried, on the next to last day of 1941, at Kahoka, MO. She had a daughter from her first marriage, Mildred Howard. The couple belonged to the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, and Jesse was employed by H.J. Heinz Co. He spent his final years at 1709 Miles Avenue in Muscatine. As his health declined, he became a resident of Hershey Convalescent Home and died there at the age of 80 on Dec. 8, 1968. An obituary in the Journal said that he was survived by 33 grandchildren and "a number of" great-grandchildren. Interment was in Memorial Park Cemetery.
  • Grandson Frank L. Fifield Jr. (1893-1952) was born on Feb. 21, 1893 in Shellsburg. At the age of 17, in 1910, he lived at home and earned income as a farm hand. Frank was married two times. He and his first wife Myrtle ( ? - ? ) bore two sons, Loran Fifield and Carl Fifield. They were in Muscatine in 1920 and in Fort Madison, Lee County, IA later in the 1920s but relocated back to Muscatine. Circa 1920, they provided a home for Frank's bachelor brother Oscar. Frank is known to have attended the Fifield family reunion, held at Weed Park in Muscatine in June 1941. Then while in Arkansas, on Oct. 22, 1942, he was joined in marriage with his second bride, Freda (Joslin) Johnson ( ? - ? ). She too had been married before and brought a son into the union, John L. Johnson. Their address was 321½ Orange Street. He earned a living through his work for Roach and Musser Company. Frank suffered a lengthy illness and died at the age of 59 on Aug. 10, 1952. Rev. Henry C. Allen led the funeral service, with burial following in Greenwood Cemetery.
  • Grandson Oscar P. Fifield (1899-1984) was born on Nov. 21, 1899 in Shellsburg, IA. He lived in Muscatine for decades, on East 10th Street. Oscar married Pearl Barrows ( ? - ? ). He worked in 1920 as a button factory cutter. Circa the mid-1920s, he was employed by Hutting Sash & Door Company, operating equipment, and lost two fingers in an accident at work in February 1926. Oscar and Pearl separated, with her filing for divorce, citing cruelty, and the decision granted in her favor in March 1927. That fall, on Sept. 15, 1927, in nuptials held in Missouri, he married Evelyn ( ? - ? ). They lived at 912 Nebraska Street in Muscatine and produced two children, Louise Reynolds and Donald Fifield. History repeated itself when, claiming cruelty, Evelyn sued for divorce in March 1934, with custody of their two minor children awarded to her. Oscar remained in Muscatine and, in company with his children, is known to have attended the Fifield family reunion in June 1941, held at Weed Park. He was employed for 46 years by Huttig Manufacturing Company. In his spare time, he was a member of the local Moose lodge. Oscar married a third time, on Dec. 29, 1949, in Iowa City, to Grace (Cassel) Kile (Oct. 25, 1904-1995), daughter of Ralph F. and Maggie (Goff) Cassel. Their home was located in the 1980s at 419 Iowa Avenue. Oscar died at home at the age of 84 on July 16, 1984. Rev. Tom Farrington led the funeral service, with burial in Greenwood Cemetery. Survivors included 16 grandchildren and several great-grandchildren. The Muscatine Journal printed an obituary. Grace lived for another 11 years. She died in Community Care Nursing Home at the age of 90 on July 24, 1995. Rev. Calvin C. Swan, of the Mulford Evangelical Free Church, officiated the funeral.
  • Granddaughter Mamie Fifield (1905-1969) was born on Sept. 11, 1905 in Illinois. She married Joseph "Joe" Wakeland ( ? - ? ), with the wedding held in Aledo, Mercer County. The couple bore six children -- Joseph Wakeland Jr., Frank Wakeland, June Fifield and Cheryl Engle plus a son and daughter who died young. Their home for two decades was in Muscatine. Later, she relocated to Aledo. The family belonged to the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. She passed away in Mercer County Hospital at the age of 63 on Feb. 11, 1969. Burial was in Muscatine Island Cemetery, with an obituary appearing in the Muscatine Journal.
  • Granddaughter Alta Mae Fifield (1889-1967) was born on May 15, 1889 in Shellsburg. She was thrice married. On Dec. 2, 1902, she was wed to Alfred Sheese ( ? -1922). Offspring born to this union were Mrs. Fred Marple, Leslie Sheese and Verdi Sheese. The couple dwelled on farms in Duncan and New Boston Townships. She was a Methodist in her faith. Sadly, the marriage came to an end with Alfred's untimely passing in 1922. Her next husband was (?) Burrows ( ? - ? ) circa 1925-1929. She wedded a third time to Henry Huier ( ? - ? ), also spelled "Heuer." The couple in 1927 established a home in Chariton, IA. Alta Mae died in Lucas County Hospital on June 21, 1967 at the age of 78. She was survived by 21 grandchildren, 32 great-grandchildren and one great-great grandchild. An obituary appeard in the Muscatine Journal. Rev. Eugene Wisely of Kewanee preached the funeral sermon, with burial in Duncan Township Cemetery.
  • Step-grandson George Fifield lived in Cedar Rapids in 1929 and Muscatine in 1941. In June 1941, he and his family attended the annual Fifield family reunion at Weed Park.
  • Step-grandson Sherman Fifield relocated to Northern California and in 1929 was in San Francisco.
  • Step-granddaughter Clara Fifield married (?) Stone. She dwelled in San Francisco in 1929.

Son Lewis Litwiler (1874-1955) -- also occasionally spelled "Louis" -- was born on Sept. 24, 1874 in Iowa. Single at the age of 25, in 1900, he boarded with the family of Edward and Melissa Rooth in New Boston, Mercer County, earning a living as a farm laborer. Then on May 28, 1901, he wedded Verna Ethel Pearson (1885- ? ), with the nuptials held in Aledo, Mercer County. There was an 11-year age difference between the two. They were the parents of a dozen offspring, among them Lester Letwiler, Elsie M. Lafferty, Ruth Sproston, Freda Tapsott, Helen Lillima, Rex Litwiler, Roy Litwiler, Earl Letwiler, Glen Litwiler and Lewis Litwiler Jr. Two others two died between 1902 and 1910, including a daughter born on Sept. 2, 1904, who "only lived a few hours and was buried in the Mannon cemetery," said the Muscatine (IA) Journal. The Litwilers were tenant farmers for decades. The Journal in July 1902 reported that Lewis had left James Stevenson's farm and moved to Omer Deeds' house. Ethel was injured in a horse-and-buggy accident on Christmas Eve 1904. Said the Journal, "The team she was riding with ran in a ditch and upset the buggy, throwing all out and it was thought her arm was broken. Dr. Allen, of New Boston, was called and attended her." The Litwilers relocated again in August 1907, taking their household goods from Mannon to New Boston, Lee County. In January 1908, they moved once more from the Clyde Pullen farm to a tenant house owned by John Jackson. They resided in Eliza, Mercer County, IL in 1910, as shown by census records. The Litwilers retired in about 1936. Circa 1942, they were in Aledo, Mercer County. Lewis died at the age of 80 on Sept. 13, 1955. Funeral services were preached by Rev. Howard VanDyke, of the First Presbyterian Church. Interment was in Aledo Cemetery, and an obituary printed in the Davenport (IA) Daily Times.

  • Grandson Lester Letwiler resided in Aledo, Mercer County.
  • Granddaughter Elsie M. Lafferty lived in Rock Island, IL.
  • Granddaughter Ruth Sproston was in Aledo, Mercer County in 1955.
  • Granddaughter Freda Tapsott made a home in Miamisburg, OH.
  • Granddaughter Helen Lillima dwelled in Matherville.
  • Grandson Rex Litwiler established a residence in Aledo, Mercer County.
  • Grandson Roy Litwiler lived in Aledo, Mercer County.
  • Grandson Earl Letwiler dwelled in Aledo, Mercer County.
  • Grandson Glen Litwiler dwelled in Aledo, Mercer County.
  • Grandson Lewis Litwiler Jr. was in Joy, Mercer County in 1955.


~ Daughter Margaret E.J. Garmer ~

Daughter Margaret E.J. Garmer (1846-1860) was born on July 22, 1846 in Valley Township, Montour County, PA.

She was not destined to reach adulthood. Sadly, at the age of about 14, she passed away in 1860. The cause of her untimely passing is not yet known.


~ Daughter Clarissa "Clara" (Garmer) Middleton ~

Daughter Clarissa "Clara" Garmer (1852-1930) was born on Sept. 12, 1852 in Pennsylvania. She grew up in the family household in Eliza, Mercer County, IL and was there at the age of 17 in 1870.

On Sept. 16, 1870, she married Isaac Middleton (1850- ? ), with the nuptials held in Clara's home county.

Among the nine children born to this union were Edna Kendrick, Nora Ella Bukey, Lucy C. Middleton, Elsie Erickson, Mabel G. Middleton, Lola Oral Omsted, Roy Everett Middleton and Ethel Fern Gaisford.

The Middletons first dwelled in Illinois and then by 1877 had moved to Osceola County, IA. Sometime between 1877 and 1880, they pushed into Cass, Greenwood County, NE, where they were counted in the 1880 federal census enumeration. In 1886-1888, they lived in Kansas where their daughter Lola and son Roy were born. The Middletons relocated again to Dawes County, NE where they were in 1890 at the birth of their daughter Ethel Fern.

Reported the Beatice (NE) Sun, "The family moved from Nebraska to California in 1894 and located on a ranch."

Sadly, the marriage ended sometime between 1890 and 1900, either via divorce or Isaac's death. The U.S. Census of 1900 lists Clara as widowed and heading a household in Burnett, Santa Clara County, CA. Two years later, circa 1902, she and her children returned to Tecumseh, Johnson County, NE. During the decade between 1900 and 1910, Clara and her son Roy migrated to Wyoming, purchasing a farmstead in Egbert, Laramie County. In the 1910 census, she claimed to be divorced, but in the 1920 census she disclosed her marital status as widowed. Remaining in Laramie County as of 1920, she provided a home for her son Roy and widowed daughter Elsie Erickson.

She passed away in Beaver City, Furnas County, NE on Aug. 14, 1930. Her remains are at rest in the local Mount Hope Cemetery.

Daughter Edna Middleton (1871-1945) was born on Sept. 23, 1871 in Eliza, Mercer County. In girlhood, she moved with her parents to Iowa and thence to Nebraska. She married Frank Irving Kendrick (1868-1942), a native of Sycamore, DeKalb County, IL. Their only known son was Glen Mervyn Kendrick. The couple made a home in 1908 in Carpenter, Laramie County, WY. In later years, they were in Chadron, Dawes County, NE. Frank was cut down by the Angel of Death on April 11, 1942. Edna lived for another three years. She succumbed to death at the age of 73 on Aug. 22, 1945. The Kendricks rest in Whitney Cemetery in Dawes County

Daughter Nora Ella Middleton (1876-1939) was born on Oct. 20, 1876 in Osceola County, IA. She was twice wed. Her first husband was John D. Bagley (1876-1917). They tied the knot in 1899, when she was 23. Sadly, John died at the age of about 40 in 1917, with burial in Arapahoe Cemetery in Furnas County, NE. A year later, in Oct. 1918, she was joined in marriage with Tully Tooke "T.T." Bukey (1864-1946). The nuptials were held in the parsonage of the Methodist Episcopal Church of Rosbury, prformed by Rev. Hall. News of the wedding was published in the Gypsum (KS) Advocate. They dwelled in McPherson, McPherson County, KS. Nora passed away at the age of 62 on July 26, 1939. After a few years as a widower, Tully wedded a second time to Sarah Amelia Grinell (1892-1984) in 1942. He died on March 3, 1946. Nora and Tully rest in the soil of the McPherson Cemetery

Daughter Lucy C. Middleton (1879- ? ) was born in June 1879 in Nebraska.

Daughter Elsie Middleton (1882- ? ) was born in about 1882 in Iowa. She was united in marriage with (?) Erickson ( ? - ? ), a native of Denmark. They produced a son, Melvin J. Erickson, born in about 1910 in California. Sadly, Elsie's husband died sometime between 1910 and 1920. She and her young son then moved into the home of her widowed mother in Laramie, WY, as shown in the 1920 census.

Daughter Mabel G. Middleton (1884- ? ) was born in May 1884 in Nebraska.

Daughter Lola Oral Middleton (1886-1981) was born in Aug. 1886 in Kansas. She wedded Warren J. Olmsted (1885-1960), son of John Jones and Jennie Lind (Joes) Olmsted. They produced three sons -- Lloyd Delbert Olmsted, Everett Gilbert Olmsted and Lawrence Raymond Olmsted. Warren passed away in 1960. Lola outlived her spouse by 21 years. In 1976, she was in Cambridge, Furnas County, NE. She died on May 23, 1981, at the age of 94. Interment was in Mount Hope Cemetery in Beaver City, Furnas County.

  • Grandson Lloyd Delbert Olmsted (1907-1988)
  • Grandson Everett Gilbert Olmsted (1908-1994)
  • Grandson Lawrence Raymond Olmsted (1909-1995).

Son Roy Everett Middleton (1888-1931) was born in June 1888 in Kansas. As a boy, he and his parents moved frequently, to Nebraska, California and then to Wyoming. At the age of 21, unmarried in 1910, he and his single mother made a home together on a farm in Egbert, Laramie County, WY. At the age of 27, in about 1915, he married 23-year-old Mary ( ? - ? ), a native of Arkansas. They lived in Laramie County and bore a family of offspring, among them Kenneth Middleton, Helen Middleton and Gordon Middleton. The family dwelled on a farm in 1930 in Laramie County.

  • Grandson Kenneth Middleton was born in 1917 in Wyoming.
  • Granddaughter Helen Middleton was born in 1928 in Wyoming.
  • Granddaughter Gordon (?) Middleton was born in 1929 in Wyoming.

Daughter Ethel Fern Middleton (1890-1976) was born on Sept. 19, 1890 in Dawes County, NE. As a girl of four, she relocated with her family to California, where they made a home for eight years on a ranch. Then in about 1902, the Garmers moved back to Nebraska and settled in Tecumseh, Johnson County. Ethel Fern was married at the age of 18, on New Year's Eve 1908, to Nebraska native William F. Gaisford (1885- ? ). Their union endured for 45 years until the separation of death. Ethel Fern and William were the parents of four children -- Faye M. Kuper, Ruth Nickerson, Floyd Charles Gaisford and Mildred J. Buess. The Gaisfords were farmers, making homes in Jefferson, Jefferson County, NE (circa 1930) and Ellis, Gage County, NE. They were longtime members of the Ellis United Methodist Church. Sadly, William passed into eternity on March 2, 1953. The widowed Ethel Fern remained on the farm in Ellis for a few years before relocating to Beatrice, Gage County. She died in a hospital in Beatrice, NE at the age of 86 on Sept. 29, 1976. Funeral services were led by Rev. Donald E. Latshaw, and Mrs. Richard Calhoun provided sacred music by singing "How Great Thou Art" and "Going Down the Valley." Pallbearers included Richard Gaisford, Keith Nickeson, Weslee Buess, John Searcey, Delmar Tiaden and Roland White. Her remains were placed into repose in Prairie Home Cemetery in Diller, Jefferson County, NE. An obituary was printed in the Beatrice Daily Sun, stating that her survivors included 11 grandchildren and nine great-grandchildren.


Bridge and mill, Beatrice, Nebraska


  • Granddaughter Faye M. Gaisford (1910-1983) was born on Feb. 24, 1910 in Jefferson County, NE. On April 16, 1922, Faye wedded David W. Kuper ( ? - ? ) in nuptials held in Idana. The couple produced two children -- Marlene Hendrick and Douglas Kuper. Their home in 1942 was in Wichita, and in 1957 they relocated to Topeka, KS. Faye was employed as an elementary school teacher in Topeka and retired in 1975. They were members of Marysville United Methodist Church, and she belonged to the Kansas National Education Association. Their address was 1549 West 23rd Street. Sadly, Faye died in a Topeka hospital at the age of 73 in May 1983. Burial was in Prairie Home Cemetery in Diller, NE, following funeral services held in the Ellis (NE) United Methodist Church. An obituary was printed in the Marysville (KS) Advocate.
  • Granddaughter Ruth F. Gaisford (1914- ? ) was born in about 1914. At the age of 20, on March 3, 1934, she was joined in matrimony with Virgil Nickeson ( ? - ? ). Their three children were Keith Nickeson, Janice Tjaden and Anita Searcey. In 1942, the Nickesons dwelled in Filley, NE and in 1976-1998 in Wymore, Gage County, NE. During the last week of the 1980 presidential election campaign, Ruth was quoted and pictured in the Beatrice Daily Sun when providing her opinion about the Jimmy Carter-Ronald Reagan debates. The couple celebrated their 60th wedding annivesary on March 3, 1994.
  • Great-grandson Floyd Charles Gaisford (1916-1974) was born in about 1916. He grew up in Jefferson, Jefferson County, NE. Immediately after the United States' entry into World War II, on Dec. 29, 1941, Floyd and several friends enlisted in the U.S. Navy. He received a short furlough in August 1942 and returned home, with a family dinner held in his honor by his parents. Circa Sept. 1942, he was aboard a cruiser in the Atlantic Theater. During the war, on Dec. 11, 1943, in a ceremony held in New York City, Floyd married Florence Fiester ( ? - ? ). Their wedding photograph was printed in the Jan. 23, 1944 edition of the Beatrice (NE) Times. By that time, he was a coxswain and, said the Times, had "seen action in the Mediterranean and during the invasion of Africa." After the war, the couple lived in Beatrice and were farmers in the Ellis area. The two children born to this union were Richard Gaisford and Betty Gaisford. They were members of the Ellis United Methodist Church, and Floyd served as Elm Township Clerk. Controversy swirled around the family in February 1968 when son Richard, a Vietnam War veteran and student at Fairview Junior College, and while driving under the influence of alcohol in Marysville, KS, crashed into the plant of Swim's Pony Express Meat Processing Company and was arrested. At the age of 59, on Sept. 18, 1974, Floyd died in a local hospital. An obituary was published in the Beatrice Daily Sun.
  • Great-granddaughter Mildred J. Gaisford (1929- ? ) was born in about 1929. She was united in holy wedlock with Dallas Buess ( ? - ? ), son of Elmer F. and Margaret L. Buess. The couple bore four children -- Dr. Michael L. Buess, Wesley William Buess, Pamela Hormandl and Charles "Chuck" Buess. The Buesses resided in 1953-1976 in Beatrice.


~ Son Benjamin "Franklin" Garmer ~

Son Benjamin "Franklin" Garmer (1858-1911) was born on June 7, 1858 in Mercer County, IL. While in his early 20s, Franklin worked as a carpenter in and around Sibley, Osceola County, IA.

At the age of 23, on Nov. 28, 1881, he wedded 22-year-old Augusta Florence Nichols (Nov. 1859-1920), a resident of Union County, IA and the daughter of Sarah Hackett. The wedding was held in the mother's home. The newlyweds made their residence in Union County.

Children born to this union were Lulah Elsia Hahnen, Henrietta Caira McFarland and Ned D. Garmer.

They are known to have been in Ellsworth, MN in 1886 at the birth of their son Ned. Later, they moved to Des Moines, Polk County, IA and were there by 1900.

The family lived at 2612 High Street, and Frank was a superintendent of building construction for a prominent contractor.

In mid-June 1911, while at work, a finger on his left hand was crushed in what the Des Moines Register called a "trivial accident." He was admitted to Methodist Hospital, in a critical condition, with physicians determining that the finger needed to be removed. After amputation, Frank seemed to be recovering until the incision became infected with blood poisoning. "It became imperative to remove the forearm at the elbow," said the Register. The second surgery did not result in the desired effect. Death carried him away at the age of 53 on June 27, 1911, just three weeks after the initial accident. Ned Garmer of Des Moines signed the Iowa death certificate, with interment in Glendale Cemetery.

As a widow, Augusta was active in volunteer work with the First Baptist Church. Sadly, she hosted the funeral of her married daughter Henrietta McFarland in April 1919.

Augusta died the following year, in 1920.

Daughter Lulah "Elsia" Garmer (1881-1974) was born in Nov. 1881 in Sibley, IA. At the age of 20, she lived in Greenfield and moved to Des Moines. She devoted her life to teaching and was single for many years. She wedded George F. Hahnen (1871-1950) of Des Moines. They lived at 1722 23rd Street. While the couple never reproduced, Elsia helped raise her motherless nephew Lewis Garmer McFarland. George worked for many years at Capital City Printing Company and was a charter member of the local chapter of the Engravers Union. He also served as an officer of the Des Moines Power Boat Club, with activities held on the Des Moines River, and was a deacon with the First Baptist Church. Suffering from cancer, he died at the age of 78 on Oct. 6, 1950. He was pictured in his obituary in the Des Moines Register, and burial was in the local Masons cemetery. Survivors also incuded his brother Walter A. Hahnen of Des Moines and sisters Mrs. Will Ryan of San Francisco and Mrs. Charles Keating of St. Paul, MN. Elsia survived her spouse by 24 years. The final two years were spent as a resident of Indianola Good Samaritan Home, where she suffered a stroke and died on Feb. 25, 1974. Her obituary was published in the Des Moines Tribune.

Daughter Henrietta Caira Garmer (1883-1919) was born on Sept. 2, 1883 in Sibley, Osceola County, IA. She married Lewis Ecwert McFarland (1883-1944), son of Addison T. and Mary Almira (Patterson) McFarland. They moved in 1904 to Des Moines, Polk County, IA and spent the balance of their lives there. The couple bore three children, Dr. Lewis Garmer McFarland, Mary Sorenson and Ned McFarland. Sadly, at the age of only 36, Henrietta contracted a deadly case of influenza and died in the Methodist Hospital in Des Moines on April 4, 1919. Interment was in Glendale Cemetery. An obituary was printed in the Des Moines Tribune. A second wave of grief descended on the family when infant son Ned passed on Jan. 8, 1920. Circa 1920, Lewis earned a living as a foreman for a Des Moines furnace company. He married a second time to Lenore ( ? - ? ) and produced another daughter, Shirley Jeanne McFarland, born in 1928. The McFarlands' address in the early 1940s was 1160 27th Street in Des Moines, and they were members of the University of Christ. Lewis worked for the final years of his career as an interior decorator. Tragedy rocked the family's lives when, while driving his married daughter Mary's automobile in her neighborhood on the fateful day of Feb. 4, 1944, Lewis suffered a heart attack and died at the wheel. The vehicle then swerved and collided with a parked car. The daughter and her husband, in the back seat, were uninjured. An obituary appeared in the Des Moines Register. [Find-a-Grave]

  • Grandson Dr. Lewis Garmer McFarland (1908-1954) was born in 1908 in Des Moines. Rendered motherless at the age of 11, he was taken in by his father's parents and later raised by a loving aunt, Lulah "Elsia" (Garmer) Hahnen. For many years, Lewis instructor of fine arts at Drake University in Des Moines. His tenure there was interruped by service as a lieutenant in the U.S. Navy during World War II. He then underwent specialized training at Harvard University. While on leave, on Feb. 27, 1943, in Cambridge, MA, Lewis married Sarah Morris Mobley ( ? - ? ), a resident at the time of Athens, GA. Wedding news was published in the Des Moines Tribune. A graduate of the University of Georgia, Sarah had been married previously and brought three sons to the union -- Foster Mobley, Colman Mobley and Richard Mobley. Lewis and Sarah produced three daughters of their own -- Dr. Phyllis Correa, Janet McFarland and Nancy McFarland. Then in about 1949, he was named professor in the speech department of Northern Illinois State Teachers College in DeKalb. At the age of 46, after suffering a heart attack, he died at home in DeKalb the day after Christmas 1954. Interment was in DeKalb, with the Des Moines Register publishing an obituary.

Great-granddaughter Phyllis McFarland (1948- ? ) was born in 1948. She was married twice, and bore two children with each husband. Circa 2001, she was employed as Profesor-Investigador de Antropología (Professor of Anthropology) at the Universidad Autónoma (Autonomous University) in Querétaro, Mexico. She is cited as a source in the books Adoring the Saints: Fiestas in Central Mexico by Yolanda Lastra, Joel Sherzer and Dina Sherzer and Carrying the Word by Susanna Rostas. In August 2001, having found her Gaumer/Meinert ancestors on Minerd.com, Phyllis made contact with the founder of this website and shared names and dates in her branch of the family.

Great-granddaughter Janet McFarland (1951- ? ) was born in 1951.

Great-granddaughter Nancy McFarland (1954- ? ) was born in 1954.

  • Granddaughter Mary Garmer (1911-1973) was born in 1911. Her mother died when Mary was a young girl, and she was sent to live with her father's parents in Des Moines. Mary married Pierce Sorenson ( ? - ? ). During the 1940s, they resided in Des Moines at 2940 Brattleboro Avenue.

Son Ned D. Garmer (1886-1969) was born in June 1886 in Ellsworth, MN. As a youth, he moved with his parents to Des Moines, Polk County, IA, where he spent the rest of his 75 years of life. At the age of 22, in 1909, he was united in matrimony with 18-year-old Ruba L. "Ruby" Thompson (1891-1943), daughter of John C. and Laura Thompson of Des Moines. Ned and Ruba initially resided in her parents' home circa 1910, with him earning a living as a carpenter and contractor. The couple produced three children -- Rev. Benjamin F. Garmer, Ward Burton Garmer and Dorothy Ruth Nichols Hadley. Ned eventually co-founded and was president of the contracting firm of Garmer-Stiles Company in partnership with Frank Stiles. Among the firm's best known projects were the original Des Moines Municipal Airport, Newton High School, Central Presbyterian Church, Morehouse Girls' Dormitory at Drake University and an addition to Iowa Lutheran Hospital. He also was an officer with the Des Moines Master Builders Association, and he was a member of the Capitol Lodge of the Masons and Za-Ga-Zig Shrine. The family belonged to the First Baptist Church, where Ned was a longtime trustee. The enjoyed summer getaways to a cottage along Battle Lake in Cicero, MN. Their address in the early 1940s was at 1237 39th Street. Sadly, she endured a lengthy illness and died at the age of 52 on June 12, 1943. Her photo and an obituary were published in the Des Moines Tribune. A year later, on Oct. 21, 1944, he wedded his second bride, Halcyon Brown ( ? - ? ), daughter of V.O. Brown of Des Moines. The nuptials were held at the home of Halcyon's mother, officiated by Rev. Lewis Jacobsen. The marriage was short-lived, and four months later Halcyon filed for divorce in February 1945. She claimed that he was troubled with his "feeling on his former marriage" and that she considered this "cruel and inhuman treatment." Then on Nov. 14, 1948, Ned and Bessie Gertrude Simmons ( ? - ? ) eloped to Chillicothe, MO. She was the daughter of Beatrice Simmons of Winterset. Ned retired from his contracting company in 1955. Following a long illness, he died on April 10, 1969 in Iowa Methodist Hospital. Bessie lived for another 10 years as a widow and moved to Glenwood, IA. She was carried away by the Angel of Death, at Mercy Hospital in Council Bluffs, on Feb. 15, 1979.


Original Des Moines Municipal Airport, which Ned Garmer's contracting firm built circa 1932-1933.


  • Grandson Rev. Benjamin F. Garmer (1911-1970) was born on Feb. 26, 1911 in Des Moines. News of his birth was printed in the Des Moines Tribune. He studied at the University of Iowa and Colgate-Rochester Divinity School and went on to a long career as a Baptist pastor. Benjamin wedded Katherine Lubbock ( ? - ? ). Their two sons were Benjamin F. Garmer III and Robert Dennis Garmer. He was pastor of churches in Schenectady, NY and Beloit, WI, where for a decade he led the First Baptist Church of Racine. Active in the community, Benjamin belonged to the Racine Kiwanis Club and Beta Gamma Sigma and Chi Phi Pi fraternity organizations. Their address in 1970 was 903 Lake Avenue in Racine. He died in Fergus Falls, MN at the age of 59 on July 26, 1970. An obituary was printed in the Racine Journal Times. Rev. Donald R. Brownell and Rev. Richard Fears co-officiated at his funeral service, held at the family church, with burial in West Lawn Memorial Park. In 1970, their son Benjamin III lived in Milwaukee and son Robert in Racine.
  • Grandson Ward Burton Garmer (1912-1993) was born two days before Christmas 1912 in Des Moines. He attended Iowa State University and worked for his father's contracting firm. On Feb. 17, 1944, he wedded Virginia Rose Priebe ( ? - ? ), daughter of Fred H. Priebe of 223 Southwest 42nd Street in Des Moines. He is known to have been in Des Moines circa 1979-1993. Ward died in Des Moines on Dec. 18, 1993, just five days before his 81st birthday.
  • Granddaughter Dorothy Ruth Garmer (1920- ? ) was born in 1920 in Des Moines. On Sept. 19, 1940, she married John Woodrow Nichols ( ? - ? ), son of Louis Nichols. Their wedding was held at First Baptist Church of Des Moines. Dorothy's photograph was printed in a related story in the Des Moines Tribune, which observed that she "wore a gown of ivory brocaded jacquard crepe, made princess style, with lego-o-mutton sleeves and sweetheart neck. The gown had a long fan-shaped train, and her fingertip veil hung from a lace Juliet cap. She carried gardenias and stephanotis." The couple appears to have divorced. Dorothy obtained a bachelor's degree from the University of Iowa followed by a master's degree in journalism from the University of Missouri. Circa 1945, she worked in publicity for the U.S. Ordnance Depot in Richmond, VA. She married a second time on Oct. 20, 1945, in the first Presbyterian Church of Seneca Falls, NY, to Air Force Capt. Howard Hadley Jr. ( ? - ? ). Rev. Samuel H. Holt officiated. Howard received his bachelor's degree from Syracuse University and a master's degree in psychology from the University of Iowa. At the time of marriage, he was stationed on Long Island at Mitchel Field. Eventually they established a home in Bronxville, NY. The couple bore a son, Craig Douglas Hadley. Sadly, Howard was deceased by 1981. Their son Craig graduated from the University of Richmond in 1975 and Columbia University in 1979 and was employed in 1981 by Harper & Row as an analyst. He was married in 1981 to Karen Elizabeth Tranfaglia, a graduate of Ithaca College and an employee of the public relations firm of Ketchum, MacLeod and Grove


Copyright 2000, 2015, 2016, 2018-2019 Mark A. Miner

Many thanks to Paula (Gaumer) Tooke, Stan Garmer and Dr. Phyllis M. Correa for so graciously sharing their research discoveries for this biography.