Lee County Biography

South Dixon Township

Among those who have contributed to make this county one of the richest and best developed farming regions in the State, is Mr. George Ortgiesen, who forms the subject of this biographical review. South Dixon Township counts him one of her most prosperous farmers, and his large farm, located on sections 29 and 32, is comparable in all points with the best in the vicinity.

Our subject was born over the sea in the Kingdom of Hanover, Germany, July 10th, 1843. His father, George Ortgiesen, Sr., was also a native of that kingdom, and came of German blood. His father, a Hanoverian by birth, had died when he, the son, was very young. The latter grew up on a farm, and in due time married and settled down in life. His wife, Myra Newmann, who was born in Hanover, was of similar ancestry as himself and she too lost her father when she was a small child. After the birth of all their eleven children, of whom four died in their native land, in childhood, George Ortgiesen, Sr., and his wife and seven surviving children sought a new home on American soil, leaving the old country in the spring of 1857, on board the good ship “Orpheus,” which sailed from Bremerhaven, and arrived at New York on the 10th of the following June, after a prosperous voy­age of five weeks and four days. From that city the family came to Dixon, and one year later Mr. Ortgiesen began to farm in South Dixon Township, where he and his wife subsequently died at a good old age, the father being seventy-two when he died in 1874, and the mother seventy-four at the time of her death, four years later. Brought up in the faith of the Lutheran Church, they always re­mained in the fold, and were valued members of the church of that denomination, with which they connected themselves in this county.

Our subject is the youngest but one of the six children who are yet living of the large family born to his parents. He was a bright, active lad of fourteen years when the family came to this county, and here he grew to manood, learning the lessons in farming that have been of use to him since he became a farmer on his own account, and at the same time acquiring those habits of diligence and careful attention to business details that are a part of the secret of his success in life. With the exception of a year or two in the city of Dixon, and two years in Whiteside County, his life, since coming to the United States, has been spent in South Dixon Township, where he has made a name and a place for himself as a farmer of rare skill. He made his first purchase of land here in 1866. It consisted of one hundred and twenty acres of unbroken prairie land. He set himself courageously to the pioneer task of reclaiming it from nature, and not only placed that under good improvement but bought other land and in time became the possessor of three hundred and twenty acres of as fine farming property as is to be found in the township. He has erected a good class of farm buildings, and the new residence recently completed is a model of comfort and convenience in its arrangements and furnishings.

The marriage of Mr. Ortgiesen with Miss Mar­garet Levan took place in this township. Mrs. Ortgiesen is a native of Northern Prussia, born October 5, 1849, in the vineyard district, not far from the River Rhine, and near the French border. She is the eldest daughter and child of Jacob Levan. She was but a child when she accompanied her parents to their new home in the far-away western wilds of America, and she was reared and educated in this township. She is the mother of twelve children, all of whom are at home with their parents, and are named as follows: Minnie U., Jane A., Margaret, George F., Clara, Jacob W., Charles, Nellie, Daniel, Burton, Walter and a baby unnamed.

Mr. Ortgiesen‘s polities are of the Democratic order. In religious matters he upholds the Lu­theran faith, he and his good wife attending the church of that denomination, and giving generously of their means to help pay its running expenses. They are large of heart, pleasant and obliging in manner, and their neighbors regard them highly.

1892 Portrait and Biographical Record Lee Co

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