Marshall County

HELD, Conrad J.

Conrad J. HELD, a well-known and progressive farmer of Hopewell township, Marshall county, resides upon section 36, where he owns a fine farm of over seven hundred acres, all of which he has himself greatly improved. His father, Conrad HELD, is a native of Baden, Germany, and came to America in 1845, a single man, locating at Hennepin, Illinois. He there married Apalona FREEZE, a native of Bierne, Germany, November 2, 1845, and shortly after settled on section 11, Hopewell township.

On arriving in this country the father found himself the possessor of only seventy-five dollars in cash, but with true German grit, he determined to achieve for himself a home if not a fortune. The land which he purchased was in a wild state. He first built a log house and then began clearing and grubbing out the brush. In due course of time, he had the farm well improved, and built a frame house which is still standing. He there lived until 1861, when he sold the place to Enoch SAWYER, and removed to section 25, Hopewell township, where he purchased a farm of Charles PARKER, comprising a half section of land partially improved, for which he paid twenty-five dollars per acre. He fenced the entire tract and in due time tiled the same and the farm became one of the most productive in Marshall county. The house which he found upon the place on his removal thereto was burned some years ago, after which he erected a large residence now occupied by his son, Peter HELD. After being actively engaged in farming and stock raising for some years, in about 1884 he retired from active life, removing to Lacon, where he resided three years. He then moved to Varna, where he still resides. He was a very successful farmer and also a stock dealer, which line of business he followed some years, and all that he now has is the result of his perseverance, industry and good management.

To Conrad and Apalona HELD were born six children, three of whom are now living. Mary married William KOCK, and now resides in Roberts township. They have three children, Emma, Conrad and Lizzie, the first named now being the wife of Albert HOFFERT, also residing in Roberts township; Peter W. married Tillie HOFFERT, by whom he has three children – Loretta, now the wife of John J. MYERS; Olive and Mary. They reside on section 25, Hopewell township. Our subject completes the family.

Religiously, the father has been a lifelong member of the Lutheran church, while his wife is a member of the German Methodist church. Politically, he has always been a democrat, and while caring nothing for the honors of office, he has yet served his fellow-citizens in official capacity, serving three years as supervisor of Hopewell township, and road commissioner two years.

He has always taken a great interest in the public schools and has done all in his power to advance their interests. Purely a self-made man, he is entitled to great credit for what he is and what he has been.

On the 2nd of November, 1895, Mr. and Mrs. HELD celebrated their golden wedding, at the residence of their daughter, Mrs. William KOCK. It had not entered the mind of the aged couple to celebrate this event, but their three children determined it should not pass without being properly observed. With the exception of the Rev. William SCHULTZ, of Washburn, there were none present but relatives of the couple to the number of thirty-five. A sumptuous dinner was served, one specially fine cake being contributed by Mrs. Conrad HELD, Jr., which was decorated with monograms. After a very pleasant day and evening being spent all retired to their respective homes with the hope that the father and mother might be spared to celebrate their diamond wedding.

The subject of this sketch, who is the youngest child living of Conrad and Apalona HELD, was born January 18, 1851, on the old farm on section 11, Hopewell township, where the first ten years of his life were spent. The family then removed to section 25, in the same township, and there he remained until after attaining his majority. His primary education was obtained in the district schools, and his literary training completed at the Northwestern College, of Plainfield, Illinois. The succeeding two years were spent on the farm with his father, and in 1872, he married  Miss Helen M. STRAWN, a native of Richland township, Marshall county, and a daughter of William and Helen M. (BROADDUS) STRAWN, and a granddaughter of Colonel John STRAWN, the first settler of Richland township. She was born July 21, 1854, and was educated in the district schools of Richland township, and in the high school at Lacon. She received her musical training at Lacon, and has kept up her practice, being a musician of more than ordinary ability.

After his marriage, our subject was in the stock business with his father for one year, and in 1874, settled on his present farm on section 36, Hopewell township. The farm at that time was but little improved, and Mr. HELD went to work at once, fencing and tiling and otherwise improving the same. He has put down over three thousand rods of tilling and has erected the present residence, barns and other out-buildings. In addition to general farming, Mr. HELD has usually been engaged in stock raising and also for a time as dealer in stock. The family consists of three sons – Ralph Waldo, Edward Lester, and J. Foster. The first named has been a student at Eureka College, and at present Edward Lester is attending the same institution.

Politically, Mr. HELD is a republican, and has taken more or less interest in political affairs since attaining his majority. He has been collector of Hopewell township, and is now serving his seventh year as a justice of the peace. He is also serving his twenty-first year as director of school district No. 2. No man in Marshall county has taken greater interest in educational affairs, and he has ever endeavored to make district No. 2, one of the model school districts of the county. In doing this he has aimed at all times to secure good teachers, and has always been willing to pay well for the same. Mrs. HELD is a member of the Congregational church at Lacon, and takes an active part in the same.

Extracted March 2011 by Norma Hass from The Biographical Record of Bureau, Marshall and Putnam Counties, Illinois, 1896.

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