Joseph William Konzen was born in Nov 1858 in Lawler, Chickasaw, Iowa, USA, to the son of Johan Mathias Konzen (1818-1900) and Sophia Conrad (1832-1905). We don’t know very much about Joe – he wasn’t in the paper all the time like Harold or Bad Peter. It doesn’t seem that Joe ever married, but he lived in Chickasaw County for most of his life.
In the 1880 census, he is 22 years old and living with his parents and siblings. His occupation is listed as “at home” and since his father was a farmer at the time, Joe probably worked on the farm with his father and younger brother John. Joe is living with his parents, his sister Mary, and his brother-in-law James in the 1900 census. At that time he was working as a piano dealer. There are also mentions in the Nashua Reporter of Joe having a store in the early 1900s.
Joe sold pianos for a while. In the 29 Nov 1908 edition of the Nashua Reporter, “J. W. Konzen put a nice new piano into the Albert Wolff home one day last week.” In 1910, the census lists Joe as living as a boarder in New Hampton. He’s in the same profession, listed this time as a traveling piano salesman. He was self-employed, but he was out of work for 25 weeks in 1909.
In the 29 May 1913 issue of the Nashua Reporter it says that J.W. Konzen sold some land to D.A. Weaklin for $1 and “valuable consideration.” Joe lived in New Hampton in the 1915 census, and real estate was listed as his occupation. Joe earned $1,000 from his real estate work in 1914, which would be about $24,000 today.
For a couple of years, Joe seemed to just disappear off the family tree after the 1915 census. We didn’t really have any idea where to look for him, but then Michelle found some articles on him. And we learned that Joe moved to Mission, Hidalgo, Texas, around 1916. He farmed for at least part of his time there.
On 18 Mar 1920, the Dyersville Commercial published an article entitled “J. W. Konzen Died in Texas.” The article said “J. W. Konzen, a former New Hampton business man, who was operating a truck farm near Mission, Texas, died at that place last Saturday. He was found dead in bed. He was for several years engaged in the merchandise business and real estate business at New Hampton. P. H. Konzen of Hallock, Minn., a brother has gone to Mission to attend the funeral. It will be held at Mission.”
Joe died 12 Mar 1920 in Mission, Hidalgo, Texas. However, the first Dyersville article didn’t tell the full story. A second article published in the Dyersville Commercial on 22 Apr 1920 was titled “See Foul Play in Joe Konzen’s Death: Was Shot in Back through Window in Dark of Evening. Intimated that He Feared His Partner was After Him – Operated a Farm in Texas.”
The article stated, “It now develops [sic] that Joe Konzen, of Chickasaw county, mention of whose mysterious seat at Mission, Texas, was made in the Commercial several weeks ago, met death by foul play. The Lawler Dispatch in an account of the affair says: ‘Atty. P. H. Konzen of Hallock [sic], Minn., spent several days of last week visiting with his sisters, Mrs. Buchholz and Mrs. Wheeler and old Lawler friends. He was enroute home from Mission, Texas, where he had been to attend the funeral of his brother, J. W. Konzen.
‘The body had been embalmed and rested at the home of friends, Dr. and Mrs. Stidger. Funeral services were held at their home and he was buried at Mission. Mr. Konzen tells us that his brother, Joe as we all know him, is suppose to have been killed by his partner, a Missourian named Hacker, who is now bound over to the Grand Jury for trial in September. The morning of March 13th, Dr. Stidger saw a light shining from a lamp through the window of the Konzen shack and went to investigate. Joe had fallen forward, shot in the back of the head by some person outside the window. There was [sic] no evidence of a struggle, not even the chair being tipped. Several witnesses were found who had heard a shot at about 8 o’clock of the evening before and apparently Joe had sat down to ear and smoke as his pipe and newspaper indicated. During the week previous Joe had remarked to two men in different conversations, that he felt that Hacker was after him and he planned to sever the partnership relations as soon as the cabbages were marketed. Prices were high and Hacker, an extremely ignorant man seemed to think, making a way with Joe would leave him with the proceeds of the whole crop.
‘That the killing was premeditated is recognized now from remarks Hacker made in the presence of others in which he reviled the Mexicans (although his wife is a Mexican) and when Joe would defend them as being peaceful in and around Mission, he would say, “They’ll get you yet.” A few weeks ago five cottages, among them Mr. Konzen’s were burned and suspicion pointed strongly to Hacker. About two weeks ago, Joe had two horses stolen and previously a set of harness and he had remarked to close friends that he could not help believing Hacker knew of their whereabouts [sic]. So far as known the two men had never quarreled or had disputes over their business affairs and friends her know that Joe had a peaceable, non-quarrelsome [sic] disposition. His tragic death is much regretted by many friends and it is hoped that the man who so treacherously murdered him may be brought to justice.'”
According to his death certificate, Joe died “from a shotgun wound in right side of head – (Homicidal).” I’ve tried to find out what happened to Hacker – from what I’ve been able to find in census records, it seems that his name is William Hacker. I haven’t found him in the Texas convict ledgers in Ancestry.com so it doesn’t look like he served time for Joe’s murder. I’ve been unable to find any newspaper articles to confirm if he was indicted or stood trial. Hacker died on 8 Jan 1925 in Mission.