John Charles Konzen – One of Chickasaw County’s Bright Boys

My great uncle Karl told me years ago that his father John Charles Konzen (my great grandfather) had gone to business college in Cedar Rapids and that he had taught at the college afterward.  I’ve never been able to find any information about him going there or teaching until Michelle found out that old New Hampton newspapers were going to be online.  For some reason, I thought I had heard that these papers no longer existed (maybe I just told myself that to feel better about never making it to the archives in Iowa to look at the papers on microfilm – who knows).

The newspapers are a treasure trove of John Charles (and his siblings)!  And yes, they talk about him going to college in Cedar Rapids.  According to the 19 Dec 1889 edition of the New Hampton Courier, John Charles was traveling to Cedar Rapids for school.

John Charles Konzen of Jacksonville started Monday for Cedar Rapids to attend school in that goodly city of railroads and business enterprise - 19 Dec 1889 - New Hampton Courier copy

“J. C. Konzen of Jacksonville started Monday for Cedar Rapids to attend school in that goodly city of railroads and business enterprise.  J. C. is a student and thinker, and will make every hour of his stay in Cedar Rapids, sixty minutes of application to study or legitimate rest.”

The 27 Mar 1890 issue of the Courier says “J. C. Konzen is making this vicinity a short visit.  He reports good success at the Cedar Rapids Business College, to which he will return in the near future.”  On 8 Jan 1891 the New Hampton Courier reports that John Charles will be attending school in another town.

John Charles Konzen, who has been attending school at Cedar Rapids now goes to Cedar Falls to school - 01081891 - New Hampton Courier copy

“J. C. Konzen, who has been attending school at Cedar Rapids for the past year, spent the holidays at home with his friends.  He goes now to Cedar Falls to school.  J. C. will reach a first class place in his chosen work, if steady industry will accomplish it.”

I had never heard of John Charles attending school anywhere but Cedar Rapids, so unfortunately I do not know the reasons behind it.  In the 3 Sep 1891 issue of the Courier, John Charles is heading westward to teach in Kansas.

John Charles Konzen was in town last week, he has been attending school in Cedar Rapids and now goes to Emporia Kansas to teach - 09031891 - New Hampton Courier copy

“J. C. Konzen was in town last week, he has been attending school in Cedar Rapids and now goes to Emporia Kansas to teach.  He intends to make his way through college.  J. C. is a worthy young man and we predict will make his mark in the world.”

A week later on 10 Sep 1891 the Courier reports that John Charles is in Emporia and “has taken charge of the penmanship department of Parker’s Business College.”  On 21 Jan 1892, John Charles is quoted in the New Hampton Courier as saying “‘I am getting along nicely with my school and am well pleased with the country.'”

John Charles Konzen one of Chickasaw county's brightest boys who is seeking his fortune in the West writes us from Emporia Kansas - 01211892 - New Hampton Courier

“J. C. Konzen, one of Chickasaw county’s bright boys, who is seeking his fortune in the West, writes us from Emporia, Kansas, where he is now located, and he says, ‘I am getting along nicely with my school and am well pleased with the country.’  We are glad to hear of his success.”

In the 16 Jun 1892 issue the Courier states that John Charles has returned him from Emporia.  The New Hampton Courier doesn’t have much information on John Charles’s whereabouts or activities.  On 7 Nov 1895 the Courier reports that John Charles has been living in Fort Pierre, South Dakota, and he is going to Cedar Rapids for a college course.

John Charles Konzen - JC Konzen, of Ft Pierre, SD, was in town the first of the week shaking hands with friends and relatives here. He goes from here to Cedar Rapids - 11071895 - New Hampton Courier copy

“J. C. Konzen, of Ft. Pierre, S. D., was in town the first of the week shaking hands with friends and relatives here.  He goes from here to Cedar Rapids, where he will take a course in the college of that city.  He is a fine, steady young man and is preparing himself for active business and we wish him success.”

Almost three years later on 23 Jun 1898 the New Hampton Courier says “Mr. Konzen has been in Ft. Pierre for some time and has made a fine reputation as a business man.”

John Charles Konzen - JC Konzen, of Ft Pierre, South Dakota came down to attend the weddign of his sister and will remain for a few weeks - 06231898 - New Hampton Courier copy

“J. C. Konzen, of Ft. Pierre, South Dakota came down to attend the wedding of his sister and will remain for a few weeks.  Mr. Konzen has been in Ft. Pierre for some time and has made a fine reputation as a business man.  He is one of many young men who have gone out from this county and started in business and made a success, but he had a good capital to start with for habits of industry, sobriety and frugality make a splendid capital for a young man and such are sure to succeed.”

So from the New Hampton Courier articles, I now know he did teach at a college, just maybe not at Cedar Rapids Business College.  After 1898, there’s not much more information about John Charles, but in 1903 he is living in Montevideo, Minnesota.  John Charles lived out the rest of his life in Montevideo, where he owned a successful furniture store.  He met my great grandmother Ella Kuske – a teacher – and they married on 20 Jan 1914 in Olivia, Minnesota.  The couple had three children: Kermit, Kathryn, and Karl.

SCAN2623

Ella holding Karl, Kathryn, Kermit, and John Charles.  Circa 1923.

The family survived Ella’s bout of Scarlet Fever and the Great Depression together.  In the 1940 census, John Charles was 70 years old and he had worked 60 hours in the week prior to the census.  He had worked 52 weeks in 1939, but he earned $0 in income during 1939.  The census did note that he’d earned some non-cash income, but it’s hard to imagine that amounting to much.

SCAN1416

John Charles, Kathryn, Ella, and Karl on Karl’s final furlough before he shipped out to Europe.  This is most likely the final photo taken of John Charles because he died soon afterward.

John Charles and Ella lived a very happy life together until he died of a heart attack on 17 Nov 1942 at his home in Montevideo.

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52 Ancestors: Pinky the Black Sheep

When you think of a Konzen black sheep you probably think of my 2nd great uncle Peter Hubert Konzen – also known as bad Peter.  But there’s more than one black sheep in the Konzen family. Harold Mathias Konzen, also known as Pinky, was born 27 Jun 1900 in Lawler, Chickasaw, Iowa, USA.  Harold’s parents were John G Konzen (1862-1913) and Mary A Connors (1866-1953).  His grandparents were Johan Mathias Konzen (1818-1900) and Sophia Conrad (1832-1905).

At first, Pinky seemed to live a fairly average life.  He lived in Mason City, Iowa, and worked as a clerk in 1918 according to his WWI draft registration card.  In 1919, the Mason City Directory listed Harold as a waiter at Vermilya Cafe.  He was also listed as a waiter in the 1920 census. Harold still lived in Mason City when he married Loduska Marie Hays on 6 Jun 1924 in Eldora, Iowa.  According to the 1925 state census, the couple lived in Hansell, Iowa. Then Pinky started appearing in newspapers.

In the 8 Aug 1929 issue of the Mason City Globe-Gazette, he had been charged with illegal possession and transportation of intoxicating liquor.  The article reads: “Harold Konzen, Hampton, Taken By Federal Man: Jailed Here Pending Posting of $1,000 Bond on Two Charges.  Harold ‘Pinkey’ Konzen, Hampton was arrested there lated Thursday afternoon by John P. Johnson, federal agent, and charged with illegal possession and transportation of intoxicating liquor.  The arrest of Konzen was said to have occurred after the federal agent had made a ‘buy.’  Two gallons of alleged alcohol were found by the officers.  A Hudson coach valued at $1,800 was taken by officers.  Konzen was [brought] to the county jail here Wednesday night where he will remain until the bond set at $1,000 is posted.”

8 Aug 1929 issue of the Mason City Globe-Gazette

8 Aug 1929 issue of the Mason City Globe-Gazette

On 16 Nov 1929, the Mason City Globe-Gazette reported that Harold plead guilty to violating Prohibition.  “Fines totaling $2,600 were assessed against nine Mason City men in United States district court Friday at Fort Dodge on liquor charges.  Harold Konzen, Hampton, was fined $300 on a liquor charge.”

Harold and Loduska were still married and living in Hampton in the 1930 census.  His occupation was a cafe proprietor and he could have been violating Prohibition for his business.  Maybe he needed liquor to make a living because it brought customers into his cafe.  Or maybe he violated Prohibition only for extra money and not because he was worried about his business.  Or he might have just been running liquor because he wanted it for himself.

16 Nov 1929 issue of the Mason City Globe-Gazette

16 Nov 1929 issue of the Mason City Globe-Gazette

Pinky was back in the news in 1930 facing another liquor charge.  The Mason City Globe-Gazette reported on 29 Apr 1930 that “Franklin county district court was reconvened for the April term here today, with Judge H. E. Fry of Boone on the bench.  Two cases are assigned for trial this term: State versus H. M. Konzen on a liquor charge, and that of State versus Dick Blair on a statutory charge.”

It seems that Harold stayed out of the news for a few years – maybe because Prohibition ended in 1933.  Somewhere along the way, he and Loduska divorced and he married a woman named Imogene.  In the 1 Apr 1937 issue of the Mason City Globe-Gazette, Imogene had filed for divorce from Harold.  The divorce must have been completed quickly because in the Mason City Globe-Gazette on 28 Jun 1937, Imogene Konzen, 23 years old, and Lamont J Johnson had been issued a marriage license.

On 13 Aug 1938, Pinky was in the Mason City Globe-Gazette for a charge of disorderly conduct.  The paper said “A hearing on a charge of disorderly conduct filed against H. M. Konzen, Hampton, was continued by Acting Judge Haynes.  Konzen was arrested by police at 5:30 o’clock Saturday morning in front of 13 West State street, where he was alleged to have been sitting in a car drinking.  Officers stated he had a small quantity of whisky and alcohol with him when arrested.”

According to the 1939 Des Moines City Directory, Harold was a manager for Food Shops, Inc.  In the 8 Jul 1939 issue of the Mason City Globe-Gazette, he had been charged with intoxication.  The article reads “Francis E. Turner, Kansas City, Kans.; Harold ‘Pinky’ Konzen, Hampton; Albert Redding, 119 Seventh street southwest, and Delbert ‘Red’ Faust, Prairie du Chien, Wis., were each fined $10 and costs on charges of intoxication.  Arrested by Police: Turner was arrested by police in the 400 block on Fourth street northeast, at 1:10 o’clock Saturday morning.  Konzen was arrested by a deputy sheriff on highway 106 at 2 o’clock Saturday morning.”

8 Jul 1939 issue of the Mason City Globe-Gazette

8 Jul 1939 issue of the Mason City Globe-Gazette

Harold was in the Mason City Globe-Gazette again on 15 Dec 1939.  “Three Forfeit Bonds In Court: Intoxication and Disorderly Conduct Charges Filed Here.  Stella Mandt, Manly and Harold M. Konzen, Hampton, each forfeited $10 bonds before Police Judge Morris Laird Friday on charges of intoxication.  They were arrested at 2:20 o’clock Friday morning in the 300 block on North Federal.”

15 Dec 1939 issue of the Mason City Globe-Gazette

15 Dec 1939 issue of the Mason City Globe-Gazette

In the 1940 census, Pinky was living in Hampton with his sister Ruth Konzen and her husband Mathias Brun.  He worked at Ruth and Marius’s Brun Inn as a waiter. Harold reappeared in the Mason City newspaper on 29 Feb 1940.  “Harold M. Konzen, Hampton, and Alice Milnes, 1431 Jefferson avenue Northwest, each forfeited $10 bonds on charges of disorderly conduct.  They were arrested at Fourth street and Jefferson avenue southwest at 4 o’clock Thursday morning.”

The next time Harold appeared in the Mason City Globe-Gazette it was on 12 Mar 1940 when he and some friends purchased the Hampton Cafe.  He became the active manager of the restaurant.  Then he was in the paper on 12 Oct 1940 for reckless driving.  “Hampton Driver Fined $100 Here: Harold M. Konzen Arrested on Charge of Reckless Driving.  Harold M. Konzen, Hampton, was fined $100 and costs Saturday by Police Judge Morris Laird on a charge of reckless driving.  Police arrested Konzen at 4:45 o’clock Saturday morning in the 100 block on West State street, when he was alleged to have nearly struck a bakery truck with his car.  Police said he had been drinking.”

On 18 Sep 1942, Harold was living in Hampton and he had been selected for physical examination prior to induction.  I couldn’t find any Pinky sightings in Iowa papers between 1942 and 1951.  Harold was living in Des Moines on 12 Jul 1951 according to The Hampton Chronicle.  He died on 25 Nov 1953 in Des Moines.  His obituary reads “Former Resident of Hampton Dies.  Hampton – Funeral services for Harold M. [Konzen], 51, former Hampton resident, were held here Tuesday at the Greenfield Funeral Home.  He died of pneumonia at a hospital in Des Moines Sunday.  He lived in Hampton a number of years until 1941 when he went to Mexico where he remained four years.  For the past six years he operated the Dutch Mill cafe at Des Moines.  His mother, Mrs. John [Konzen], died here last month.  He is survived by a sister, Mrs. Marius Brun, of Hampton.”

Harold's obituary in the Mason City Globe-Gazette on 25 Nov 1953

Harold’s obituary in the Mason City Globe-Gazette on 25 Nov 1953

His obituary says he lived in Des Moines from about 1947 until his death and that he’d left Hampton in 1941.  The 1941 departure must not be accurate since he was in the newspaper living in Hampton in 1942.  So if he left Hampton around 1942 for Mexico then he would have been in Mexico until at least 1946. I think Pinky was more than a little bit of a black sheep.  After all he was charged with violating Prohibition multiple times and with disorderly conduct.  I’ve also heard him described as a womanizer.  However, he might have been worse than all that.

Since he was absent from Iowa and living in Mexico – according to his obituary – probably between 1942 and 1947, it made Michelle, Sandy, and I wonder if our Harold M. Konzen is the same as the Harold M. Konzen in the Arizona Republic? “Grand Jury Presents 11 Indictments Here.  Nine open and two secret indictments were presented for action of the Phoenix branch of the U. S. District Court by the federal grand jury which closed its two-day session here yesterday.  Among the alleged offenses for which men will be held for court action here are two Dyer act cases, a rape charge and a white slave traffic act violation.  Harold M. Konzen and John Turner were indicted for allegedly transporting a woman from El Paso to Jerome in September in violation of the Mann act.”

23 Nov 1946 issue of the Arizona Republic

23 Nov 1946 issue of the Arizona Republic

“Mann Act Trial Opens.  Testimony on behalf of the defense will be resumed in U. S. District Court today when the trial of Harold M. Konzen and John Turner, Albuquerque, N. M., on charges of violating the white slave traffic act, enters its second day before Judge Dave W. Ling.  The government’s evidence, intended to prove that the defendants transported a young Mexican girl from El Paso, Tex., to Jerome for immoral purposes, was presented yesterday by four witnesses.  Maria Garcia Carrillo, native of Juarez, Mex., testified, through an interpreter, that she made the trip with the men.  Others called to the stand by E. R. Thurman, prosecutor, were Jesus Puentes-Nava, Juarez cab driver who allegedly introduced the principals; Fred N. Thomas, border patrolman, and William B. O’Mahoney of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.  Bertha Cooper, serving a sentence in Arizona State Prison on conviction of operating a house of prostitution, was the first witness called for Turner.”

23 Nov 1946 issue of the Arizona Republic

5 Feb 1947 issue of the Arizona Republic

In my opinion, the Harold M. Konzen in the Arizona Republic articles is more than just a black sheep.  I don’t know if that Harold M. Konzen is the same person as our Harold, but it does seem very possible.  Maybe we’ll eventually find enough information to prove one way or another.  Until then I’ll choose to think of our Pinky as just a black sheep.

Who is Jacob Konzen?

There are some things in life that we love to hate and hate to love.  I’d probably tell you that Konzen mysteries are one of those things for me.  But it would be a lie, because I secretly love that there are always more mysteries to be solved with the Konzens.  I hate leaving any stone unturned and I’ve always wanted the answer to every single question.

Sometimes, I have to put a mystery on the back burner because there are so many of them and only so much time available to look into these mysteries.  One of these back burner mysteries is Jacob Konzen.  My cousin Michelle pointed out that Jacob’s “story” should be told, so here it is.

Jacob was born about 1840 in Luxembourg and he came to America sometime in 1860 or earlier.  The census taken on August 10, 1860, states that he was living and working as a farm laborer on Theodore Konzen & Marie Demuth’s farm in Iowa Township, Dubuque, Iowa, USA on June 1, 1860. After 1860, we have no idea of what happened to Jacob.  He could have died, but most likely he left Theodore’s farm and probably moved out of Iowa.

We’ve found some Jacob Konzens who could possibly be our Jacob.  One Jacob marries Anna and lived in Ohio until his death on 23 Sep 1916.  They had at least three children: John H Konzen (born about 1881), Jacob Konzen (born about 1876), and Peter Konzen (born about 1872).  I received a copy of this Jacob’s death certificate and it states that his father was J Konzen who was born in Germany.  It also says Jacob was born on 23 Nov (presumably in 1842) in Germany and he was 73 years old at his death.  I also found a naturalization index record in Family Search for this Jacob and it says he didn’t immigrate until 1867, so he’s probably not our Jacob.

Another Jacob lived in South Bend, Indiana, and he died in 1920 leaving behind a wife and four children.  It looks like this Jacob was born about 1852 according to census records, so he’s also probably not our Jacob.  The third Jacob married Rosina and lived in Wisconsin.  If our mystery Jacob could only be one of these three – my bet’s on this Jacob.

There’s also a Jacob Konzen who arrives in New York in 1843 from Antwerp, Belgium.  He’s 3 years old and he arrives with Johan Konzen, 45 years old; Anna Konzen, 38 years old; Magdalena Konzen, 15 years old; Franz Konzen, 12 years old; and Cath Konzen, 8 years old.  This could also be our mystery Jacob.  It seems that this family lived in Hinterweiler, Germany, because Tom Pick’s index shows a Konzen family with the same names and approximate birth dates living there.

And, Wilhelm Konzen – brother to Peter Konzen and son of Theodore Konzen and Catherine Schuler – and his third wife Maria Margaretha Kieffer had a son named Jacob/Jacques Konzen born in Olingen, Grevenmacher, Luxembourg, in 1842.  This Jacob/Jacques would have been Theodore Konzen’s first cousin and that makes him a possibility for the Jacob Konzen in the 1860 census.

I’m hoping that somebody will read this and have a lead for us.  Maybe we’ll be able to find Jacob and connect him to our Konzens one day.