"This looks good to me. Plenty of timber, water, good land. This is where we will stay."
— Johann Plumer, June 1, 1851

Early Immigrants gather in Ohio in the 1830s

In the 1830's in Mercer County, Ohio, not too far from the city of Dayton, some emigrants from the Kingdom of Hanover, Germany, gathered. They were Johann Diedrich Frohardt, John H. and Mary (Meyer) Kinning and their daughter, Wilhelmine Christine Kinning, and the Meyer family. This information comes from family histories of the Plumers and Frohardts and the 1850 and 1860 Federal Census of Missouri and the 1860 and 1870 Federal Censuses of Iowa, which lists Ohio births within those families. The above mentioned families are not found on the 1830 or 1840 Federal Censuses for Ohio, but that does not prove they were not there.

Johann Plumer & family emigrate to Ohio

Johann Heinrich Plumer ( photo at left, above, courtesy of Mary Plumer — "click" or "tap" the photo for a larger version) was born on 01 October 1795 in Tchobrink (Aschen), Kingdom of Hanover, Germany. He had been a soldier in the Prussian Army, fighting in the Battle of Waterloo with General Blucher's Army. In 1840, Johann, his wife Maria, and family also emigrated from Deipholz to near Dayton, Ohio. The Plumer family family consisted of the following children: Caroline, Sophie, Heinrich, Frederick, Wilhelm and Christopher. The Plumers cannot be found on the 1840 Ohio Census either. Perhaps they immigrated after the census was taken that year.

The families settle in Missouri

In 1842, these families migrated to Missouri and settled. The Plumers and John Frohardt settled in Moniteau County, Missouri, near the town of California. John H. Kinning is found on the 1850 Census near Moniteau County in Miller County, Missouri.

In 1843, Henry Saar of Bavaria arrived at the port of New Orleans. He traveled up the Mississippi and Missouri Rivers by steamboat, and he too eventually settled in Moniteau County, Missouri.

While in Missouri, marriages took place within these families which tied them even closer together. Johann Frohardt was married in 1845 to Wilhelmine C. Kinning. Henry F. Plumer was married in 1849 to Sophie Kinning, a sister of Wilhelmine C. (Kinning) Frohardt. Sophie was born in Mercer County, Ohio, while her elder sister was born in Hanover, Germany. Henry Saar was married in about 1846 to Sophie Plumer.

The migration to Iowa & beginning of the "plumer settlement"

By 1851, the climate in Missouri was becoming unhealthful due to malaria, and a migration toward Iowa had begun. Henry Saar (who had married Sophie Plumer) rode on horseback from Moniteau County, Missouri to Mills County, Iowa to explore the area and to determine if it was suitable for settlement. He reported back favorably and, on 03 May 1851, Johann Heinrich Plumer began the migration with his family to Iowa, hoping to find it more healthful, as well as to seek more fertile prairie land and better markets. According to a Plumer family account, submitted by Albert Plumer, in the "History of Pottawattamie County, Iowa 1978",  "Johann sent word to his former neighbors in Missouri of the rich land here ...many others followed. Now many log cabins were built and the area became known as 'The Plumer Settlement'."

At least two more marriages later took place in Iowa within these families which had become so closely connected. Frederick Plumer was married in March 1856 to Carolyn Rebecca Meyer/Meyers who was born in or near Dayton, Ohio, in 1836. Wilhelm Plumer was married the day of Christmas Eve in 1856 to Margaret Ann Wintz, born in Massillon, Ohio, in 1839.

An early history account

The following story of the Plumer family was shared by Martha (Plumer) Young, granddaughter of Charles Jürgen Green and Julia Anna Elizabeth Bauer. The author is unknown. Taken from "The Familie Green of Slesvig — Jürgen Green & Dorothea Goldstedt Ancestors & Descendants 1709-1995" by Vera Eloise Jepsen & Lowell Wesley Wiseman.

early days of the plumer settlement

Home built by Johann Plumer. Photo ca. June 2002The Plumer family lived in the log cabin for thirteen years. It was built on the farm where the present Plumer home ( see photo left) now stands; the one which rests on the forty feet long hand hewn walnut beams and which was once a stage coach station where passengers slept on the floor.

Albert Plumer, great-grandson of Johann Heinrich and Maria Plumer, in an interview published in the Council Bluffs Nonpareil  (date unknown) said, "When my family first came here, they built a log cabin to live in. I can remember when we were kids we used to play in it. But it's long gone." It was in the log cabin where travel-weary Mormons halted their wagon trains to rest and feed horses and stock, and bartered horses with Omaha braves.

Original Mail Stage

Henry and Sophia (Plumer) Saar built their log cabin on an adjoining farm of Sophia's parents. Their son, Henry F. Saar states in his biography in the “History of Pottawattamie County 1883” that “His father's farm in Mills County lies on what was once an old stage route, which was one of the thoroughfares for emigrants going to California.

Heritage Farm
At one time, a train of 1,000 mules stopped to feed at his father's place, and they had to haul corn by the load and scatter it over the ground in order to feed them...He has seen the stage drive over his father's fence many a time in the winter. It was a rail fence which would be completely buried in snow, so severe would be the storms in that locality.”

According to Alan Wortman's “Ghost Towns of Mills County Iowa” (1975), the Western Stage Line ran from Council Bluffs to Des Moines, coming south through the Plumer Settlement. Mr. Wortman further adds that in December of 1869, the last of the Western Stage Lines Company's wheels rolled through Mills County and that the old coaches were shipped to Idaho and Montana. (A photo of an original Mail Stage is shown here above on the right.)

The Plumer Farm has been designated a "Heritage Farm", a farm that has been in the family for at least 150 years.

Johann plumer dies

Death of John H. Plumer

Mr. John Henry Plumer, an aged and highly esteemed resident of this part of the state, died at the residence of his son, Christopher Plumer, in Oak township, Mills county, on Monday, April 2, (1883) at the age of 90 years. The deceased had resided in this and Mills county about thirty-one years, and came to America about fifty-five years ago.

Some weeks since the venerable gentleman was taken sick, and his sands of life gradually ran out, until the close, when the sleep of death came upon him peacefully and quietly. Having outreached the average allotted time of three score years and ten, Mr. Plumer passed away contentedly, peacefully and resignedly.

He leaves four sons and one daughter to revere his memory. The sons are Frederick, William, Henry and Christopher Plumer, and the daughter is Mrs. Sophia Soar. (sic)

The funeral will occur from the residence of his son Christopher, to-morrow morning at 11 o'clock, services to be held at the Brick church in the Plumer settlement.

Council Bluffs Nonpareil
Wednesday, April 4, 1883