Henry Gehling




Henry was the first son born to Herman and Ella Gehling on their farm a mile and a half south of Carroll, Iowa. Henry was born at home on 30 May 1890. He was baptized at Sts. Peter and Paul Catholic Church in Carroll and later attended classes at the parish school. He began to help around the farm almost as soon as he could walk. Before long he was feeding the chickens, gathering eggs, and doing the endless chores associated with farm life.

The story is told of Henry's teenage encounter with a band of thieving hoboes. The hoboes had roped one of his father's calves, and were leading it off to their rendezvous site under the Carroll railroad bridge. As soon as he saw what was happening, Henry mounted his horse and followed them to town. At the railroad bridge he demanded the animal's return. Despite being outnumbered a dozen to one, Henry somehow managed to deny the hoboes their dinner and return the calf to his father's farm.

Gradually Henry took over much of the work on the family farm. Two years after coming of age he met and courted 19-year-old Regina Reiling of nearby Breda, Iowa. They were married on 2 September 1913. Father Gehling officiated at the ceremony, and a large dance followed. After the honeymoon, the newlyweds settled down on a farm south of Carroll, which he had received from his his father. They stayed there for nearly a quarter of a century. All of their seven children were born there: Frances, Lawrence, Erwin, Clarence, Paul, Albert, and Viriginia.

The 1930 Depression years were hard ones for Henry. Corn prices were low. Cattle feeding was no longer profitable. There was always plenty of food, but the bills kept mounting. In June of 1939, Henry gave up the Gehling homestead and moved to a rental farm near Humbolt, Iowa. Several other rentals followed. Finally, in 1945, he bought an 80-acre farm just north of Gilmore City, Iowa. Here he stayed until ill health forced him to move to town.

Henry spent his retirement years driving the backroads of Iowa in an old pickup truck. He always rose at 4 A.M. After breakfast, he was off to check the crops and perhaps talk soil bank or hog prices with any farmer he met on the road. Afternoons he usually spent at the local salebarn swapping stories , checking weights, and looking over the livestock brought in. Mid-afternoon was nap time, followed by dinner and the inevitable pipeful of Prince Albert tobacco. By 7 or 8 P.M. he was ready for bed. Early to bed, early to rise - it was a schedule he had followed his whole life.

The end came one cold winter day in 1958. Henry had just returned from his daily rounds. He parked his truck, entered the house, and sat down in a chair near the doorway. He was tired, he said. Moments later he suffered a fatal heart attack. The date was December 7. Henry was buried in St. John's Cemetery, Gilmore City, Iowa. His grave rests on a hill overlooking the rich black farmland he loved so well.



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