Friday, April 25, 2014

Habbe Boomgaarden (1854-1946)

From the Iowa Official Register, 1909-10.

    A one term member of the Iowa State House of Representatives, Habbe Boomgaarden was an acknowledged leader in agricultural circles in the county of Lyon, Iowa. During a long life that extended 91 years,  Boomgaarden rose from humble origins in Germany to a successful career in farming in both Illinois and Iowa, becoming active in local politics in the latter state. Unlike most of the individuals profiled here in the past, Boomgaarden is far from a "forgotten" figure, as there are a few sources (both from the early 20th century and more recently) that give extensive mention to him.
   Habbe Sievers Boomgaarden was the son of Meard J. and Antje Habbena Boomgaarden, his birth occurring in the small town of Grothussen in Schlessweig, Province of Holstein, Germany on November 30, 1854. The Boomgaarden family resided in Germany until Habbe was seven, whereafter they immigrated to the United States, first settling in Freeport, Illinois. Here Habbe attended school for four years and in 1866 his family relocated again, purchasing a farm in Grundy County, Iowa. Boomgaarden completed his schooling in this county in 1872 and four years later left his family's farm to establish one of his own, later raising both cattle and hogs.
   Boomgaarden married in Grundy County on October 1878 to Trena "Trinky" Schlutter (1860-1945), and their union of over sixty years saw the births of eleven children over twenty years time: Wiena (1879-1885), Anna (died in infancy in 1880), Wieard (1882-1970), Antje (1884-1957), Babe (1885-1892), Vina (1887-1913), John (1888-1933), Ortwin (1890-1955), Habbe (1893-1967), Ellen (1895-1966) and Edward (1899-1964). Boomgaarden and his famiyl would reside on a farm in Grundy County until 1890, whereafter they removed to the county of Lyon, some 200 miles away. Boomgaarden would later purchase a farm near Rock Rapids and resided in that area for the remainder of his life.
   The Boomgaarden farm near Rock Rapids received prominent mention in the 1904-05  Compendium of History, Reminisce and Biography of Lyon County, which notes that Boomgaarden:
"Extensively engaged in chicken raising, making a specialty of borwn leghorns, and two years later turned his attention to sheep culture, having all this time been gradually working into cattle. At present he has a fine herd of shorthorns, numbering about eighty head, some twelve hundred chickens, six hundred sheep, and one hundred and fifty Poland China and mule-footed Ozark hogs."
 The Boomgaarden family, from the Compendium of History, Reminisce and 
Biography of Lyon County, 1904-05.

   In addition to the upkeep and maintenance of his farm, Habbe Boomgaarden took part in Lyon County civic affairs, being a stockholder in the Rock Rapids based Farmer's Elevator Company and was a member of the Lyon County Fair Association, the Rock Rapid's Odd Fellows Lodge, the Modern Woodmen of America Lodge of Rock Rapids and was a longstanding Unitarian Church member.
   Boomgaarden first entered public life in the mid 1890s when he began service on the school board of Rock Rapids. In November 1908 he was elected as one of Lyon County's representatives to the Iowa General Assembly and took his seat at the beginning of the 1909 term. Boomgaarden proved to be busy as a first term legislator, being named to the following house committees: Pardons, the Agricultural College, Telegraph and Express, Roads and Highways, Claims, Pharmacy, Horticulture, Fish and Game, Animal Industry and the Hospital for the Insane.
  In November 1910 Boomgaarden was a candidate for reelection, facing off against Democratic nominee Olaf Olson. In an interesting twist, both candidates received 1272 votes on election day, resulting in an electoral quagmire that continued into the beginning of the 1911 term. The Iowa legislature reviewed the election results and decided that there had been "no election on account of the tie vote" and after a house vote Olaf Olson was declared the victor. Despite being put out of office such an abrupt fashion, Boomgaarden was rewarded by having his "expenses and attorney's fees" paid by the house, the total sum amounting to $316.15.


Habbe Boomgaarden, photo courtesy of Find-A-Grave.

   After many years devoted to farming Habbe Boomgaarden retired in 1918 and settled in the city of Rock Rapids. He and his wife Trena celebrated their 66th wedding anniversary in October 1944, but six months later he was dealt tragedy when Trena died at age 85 on March 15, 1945. Habbe survived his wife by a little over a year, and in early April 1946 suffered a fall at his Rock Rapids home. This fall later was compounded by the onset of pneumonia, and on April 10, 1946 Habbe Boomgaarden died at age 91. Both he and his wife were later interred in the Boomgaarden family plot at the Riverview Cemetery in Rock Rapids, Iowa.

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