Nieland Family History     

     David Nieland Remembers

These are some of David Nieland's recollections of his life in Breda, Iowa and of stories told to him by his father, Louis Nieland.

> A Meeting in the Fields
> Making applesauce
> How Henry Nieland got to Breda
> Slaughtering Hogs
> Selling Hogs
> Grafting Trees
> Henry Nieland’s Garden
> Meeting Anna Koster
> The Nieland Home Place
> The Boes Farm
> More Nieland Tales



A Meeting in the Fields

“One day when Henry Nieland [1852-1949] and his first wife, Anna (Berning) Nieland were working in the field – making hay or shocking bundles of oats – several men came past of horseback. They were hunting and shooting prairie chickens. The hunters made a lot of noise and scared Henry’s work horses. He asked the hunters to move on. The leader told Henry, “OK, but soon you will be gone and the Indians will take back this land.” That man was Cyrus McCormick, the inventor of the mechanical reaper. Today we don’t use a reaper to harvest grain – but we still farm that same land.”      >  back to top



Making Applesauce

“One day my mother [Martha Braun Nieland] was making apple sauce. I asked her why she did not peel the apples when she made it. She told me, “Well, this is how your Dad [Louis Nieland] made it, so I just did it like he did.” I asked Leona Buelt [daughter of Anna Nieland Wittry] how she made apple sauce and she said, “Just core and cut up the apples, put them in a saucepan with spices and sugar and cook them until it’s all softened.” That was just like my Dad did. Well, I guess that’s the way Grandma Nieland [Anna Koster Nieland] did it too!”      >  back to top



How Henry Nieland [1852-1949] got to Breda

“Joe Voss called me this morning from Oklahoma. Joe’s mother, Ann [Ann Mueggenborg Voss] was my first cousin. Joe was at the Nieland family reunion July 27, 2007 at the Breda Legion Hall. Joe, who is interested in family history, asked me, “How did Henry Nieland get to Breda, Iowa and why that place?” I asked my Dad [Louis Nieland] the same question when I was working on the family tree in the 1960’s.     

Dad said, “I think it may have happened this way. You know after Grandpa came to America he lived in New Vienna, Iowa, near his sister, Maria Anna (Nieland) Boes. There he worked for various farmers and even the local priests. In July of 1869, Mount Carmel was founded in Kniest Township. This was a settlement planned just for Germans who were Catholic. The people who settled in Kniest Township were, for the most part, immigrants who had come to Dubuque County from Germany. This new settlement was advertised in the local paper and talked about all over Dubuque County, including New Vienna.

Father F.W. Pape was from New Vienna. He was ordained in 1874 and was appointed to attend to the spiritual need of the people in western Iowa. Dad thought Father Pape encouraged the Boes family and Henry Nieland to go west to Carroll County. There was land available there, while the land around New Vienna was already settled. Dad thought Henry Nieland and the Boes family first lived in Arcadia, Iowa. With their savings, the Boes family bought 160 acres and Henry Nieland bought 80 acres, all in Sac County. What Gerhard Boes did in Arcadia, I don’t know, but Henry Nieland “broke” all the land the two families bought. He lived in the barn on his 80 acres and plowed all day – six days a week. He ate bread and butter and ham and drank water from the spring on his farm. His sister provided his provisions. On Sunday he returned to Arcadia from Mass, clean clothes and more food.

Henry married Anna Berning in 1875. They lived on the 80 acres farm. Later Anna died in child birth and he married Ann Koster In the spring of 1884, they moved to the “home place”, north and west of Breda. Sister Florina [Elizabeth Nieland] was the first child born on this farm. Later the Gerhard Boes family also brought a farm west of Breda. John and Maria Angela [Nieland] Hoebing, sister of Henry and Maria Anna Nieland Boes, also lived near Breda, west of Henry Nieland’s farm and on the north side of the road.”      >  back to top



Slaughtering Hogs at the Nieland’s

“When pork was getting low in the locker in Breda, a hog was killed and butchered. Dad [Louis Nieland], Ben, Herman and Frank Nieland usually did the work together. A hog was selected, held by the men and was readied for “sticking” or cutting the hog’s throat. In later years the men used a gun and shot the hog in the head, then cut the throat to get the blood out of the meat.

Cyril and Paul Nieland also remember hog butchering at their farm when they were young. Cyril says he remembers taking the blood from the hog to the house in a big old black iron pot with a handle. He had to stir the blood all the way to the house. His mother, Mary (Grote) Nieland, would then make blood sausage. She cooked the sausage in the family’s big galvanized wash boiler.

The next step usually took place in the corn crib. After the hog was dead, they had a barrel with hot water ready. The hog was put in the barrel head first. This was done to soften the hair. Then, using big butcher knives, they would scrap off the hair. When that was done, they used a singletree attached to the back legs of the hog to hang the carcass upside down. The carcass was cut open and the intestines were removed. They kept the heart and liver to eat fresh and then the carcass was taken to town. The town butcher cut up the meat, packaged it and put it in the locker for freezing.

The butcher also saved the hog fat to be made into lard. Mother [Martha (Braun) Nieland] rendered lard on the stove in the basement. The liquid lard was poured into earthenware jars, called stone jars, and stored in the basement. A lard soaked newspaper was used to cover the jar.

I remember that Grandpa Nieland had a smokehouse, even in town. I only remember seeing him use it one time to smoke bacon and hams, but he must have done that all the time on the farm.

I don’t remember my mother ever making blutwurst or blood sausage, head cheese or stuffing sausage, but Dad said his mother, sisters and sisters-in-law made all of those things. Dad said he thought they usually bought the casing for the sausage, but he did remember them cleaning intestine to be used as casings at the farm. His mother also made cotton bags for the blood sausage. Blood sausage was made with the hog blood, spices, and flour, then put in the cotton bags and cooked. When it had cooled and set up, the sausage was removed from the bag, cut in slices to be fried in butter and eaten with corn syrup.”      >  back to top



Selling Hogs

“When Grandpa [Henry] Nieland would sell hogs, they were loaded into a wagon and off to Breda to the hog buyer; this was in the years before trucks. Grandpa and some of his sons would make several trips back and forth with loads of fat hogs.

Many farmers would go to the tavern for a “treat”, usually several beers, after selling hogs. After Grandpa Nieland and his sons brought the last load of hogs to town, he would stop at the butcher shop and get a little ring of baloney. Then on the ride home, he would cut off slices with his pocket knife for himself and his sons. He said, “Now we can all have a treat.”      >  back to top



Grafting Trees

“When Henry Nieland was working for a farmer near New Vienna, he grafted apple trees for the farmer’s orchard. He would graft “tame” or domestic apple trees on wild apple tree roots from the area. He then planted the trees in the farmer’s orchard. This was something he had learned to do in Prussia, before leaving home.

Years later, Louis Nieland took Henry and Anna (Koster) Nieland to Lacrosse, Wisconsin, to visit his daughters, Sister Florina [Elizabeth Nieland] and Sister Sigmunda [Mary Magdalene Nieland]. On the way home he asked Louis if they could go thorough New Vienna so he could see the farm and that apple orchard. Some of the trees were blown over because he grafted the domestic branches on too tall a trunk. The domestic branches were also larger than the wild root.”      >  back to top



Henry Nieland’s Garden

“Henry Nieland [1852-1949] loved to garden. He had a huge garden on his farm. When he moved to town, he still made a big garden and planted the garden at the Sister’s convent. He usually took care of that garden during the summer, when the Sister’s traveled back to LaCrosse. When they returned in the fall for school, there were fresh vegetables waiting from them in the garden.

He raised tomato and cabbage plants to sell as starts. He knew how to gather seed from cabbage and carrots.

Henry kept geese for several reasons. They were put in the potato patch to eat the potato bugs. Grandma Nieland (Anna Koster) picked the down from the geese for pillows and feather beds. And my Dad [Louis Nieland] said the goose grease was also used as a hard cream and on the cows when they had sore teats.”      >  back to top



Meeting Anna Koster

“When Henry Nieland’s wife Anna Berning gave birth to George on October 25, 1883, she suffered complications after the birth and Henry rode to Lake View to get the doctor. On the way he met a stranger. They talked a bit and Henry told the man that his wife was very sick. The neighbor told Henry that if his wife died, “I have a sister in Germany – she will come and take care of your children.”

The doctor did come to care for Anna, but five days after the birth of the child, she died. My Dad always added that the doctor had been drinking and said Anna would be “just fine.” One of the Nieland’s neighbors wrote to his family [Anna Koster was a cousin of the neighbor and likely living in Illinois by this time] and Anna Koster moved to Iowa. Family stories say she was living with cousins in the area around Minonk, Illinois. Soon she and Henry married and she became a second mother to the oldest five children. She and Henry had eleven children together.”      >  back to top



The Nieland Home Place

“One afternoon Dad [Louis Nieland] and I went out to the “home place” and the house was vacant. In fact the house had been vacant for several years and run down. As we walked around Dad said, “I always feel at home here.” He pointed out where the supply tank for water was, the shed with the electric light plant, Henry Nieland’s garden spot, etc. Most of the buildings were gone.

We went into the house and were in the dining room. He looked into the bed room too; it was west of the dining room. This bedroom on the main floor had been his parent’s room. He remembers that as a small child, he and his sister [Anna Nieland Wittry] were in that bedroom because they were sick. Dr. A.M. Laugel came out from Breda to see them. The doctor told their mother to mix three teaspoons of turpentine to six tablespoons of goose lard to make a poultice. She should use this on a piece of flannel on the chests and throats of the children, to help their breathing. Dad said they got better!

Dr. Laugel came to Breda in 1895 and practiced medicine there for 59 years.

Another home remedy was Grandpa Nieland’s tea. He would gather elderberry blossoms and dry them. The dried flowers were then made into tea, given to ease a cold.”      >  back to top



The Boes Farm

On Saturday, September 8, 2007, 100 acres of land was auctioned and sold in Breda. This was part of 200 acres of land half a mile west of Breda that Gerhard (1837-1915) and Maria Anna (Nieland) Boes (1843-1919) bought from William Arts on December 13, 1898. Gerhard paid $9600. for the 200 acres or $48. per acre. In 1915, Gerhard and Anna’s daughter, Mary Ida Boes (1882-1946) was given the west 100 acres and their son, Joseph Anthony Boes (1884-1959) was given the east 100 acres, along with the farm buildings. Ida Boes married Joe Grabner (1884-1955) and their daughter, Mary Ann (1920-2007) received the land from her mother. Mary Ann married Matthias H. Stork (1914-1976) and her children became owners of the 100 acres. The land was sold for $6175. per acre. The property was in the Boes family for 109 years.      >  back to top



More Nieland Tales

My Dad [Louis Nieland] told me:

  • John Henry Nieland [1809-1888] was in the German Army. He told his children that his commander marched the soldiers down to the river and made them pound holes in the ice and then wash in the cold river water. This kind of story may be one reason Henry Nieland [1852-1949] left Ramsdorf without permission when he was just about old enough to be drafted into the Army.
  • John Henry Nieland [1808-1888] parted his hair on the right side of his head, not on the left, as most of us do.
  • Henry Nieland [1852-1949] had wavy hair that turned gray-white as he got older. He would let his hair grow a bit longer, just over his ears, in the winter.
  • Henry Nieland had one tooth of the bottom set pushed back farther than the others, a trait that many of the Nieland’s have inherited.     

     >  back to top


   Back to History Page