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Condon, Kleckner, Gilles, Ethen, Milton, Meyer, Mitchell, and Liston Family History

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In 2016 I came into possession of a file box containing old financial records that had been passed down from my grandmother, Isabelle Condon, to my father, Bill Condon. The documents are records of some Kleckner and Condon financial transactions in the years between 1900 and 1950.

This page contains links to scanned images of the documents for the Kleckner family from 1900 to 1947. There are a large number of documents, so the list here summarizes the contents of this page.

1900 Redemption Receipt from South Dakota
1898-1909 Tax receipts from farm in Mitchell County, Iowa
1902 Mortgage
1907 Mortgage
1909-1912 First State Bank loans
1914-1915 Probate papers for Mathias Kleckner
1916 Letter from Mary Mayer
1917-1919 First State Bank loans and letters
1919 Dubuque College Endowment Fund
1924 Mortgages
1924-1933 Tax receipts for property in New Haven
1933 Lawyer letter
1934 Insurance for house in New Haven
1937 Warranty Deed for property in New Haven
1937 Homestead Tax Credit for property in New Haven
1938 Construction materials & labor bill
1944 Construction bill/receipt
1945-46 Archdiocesan Council of Women receipt
1947 Loras College Fund
Consent to sell letter (undated)

The first document is a Redemption Receipt for taxes due on a parcel of land in Spink County, South Dakota (SE 1/4 of Section 28 Township 119 North, Range 60 West). This is land that Mathias Kleckner received a patent for in 1890. The surprising thing is the date of the document--1900. The Kleckners were back in Iowa by then, and I had assumed that they had sold the land in South Dakota by that time. Even though the patent date is 1890, Matt probably acquired the land somewhat earlier. It was not uncommon for the patent papers to be signed well after the land was homesteaded and paid for. In following up on this document I found that the land was sold to a J.O. Ayers of Laramie, Wyoming in 1901. Interestingly, the land that the Kleckners bought in Mitchell County was purchased from a Lillie B. Ayers, of Elma. I haven't been able to establish a connection between the purchaser of the land in South Dakota with the Ayers in Iowa yet.

I've obtained the Land Patent documents and the Warranty Deeds of two parcels of land in South Dakota that belonged to Matt and Mary Kleckner, as well as similar documents for Matt's sister, Annie Kleckner, who married Mease Gilles. I have put links to these documents in the Kleckner and Gilles section on the Historical Documents page.

1900 Redemption Receipt

The second group of documents are property tax receipts for the land that the Kleckners eventually bought and settled on in Mitchell County, Iowa. The records from 1898 to 1900 are for 156 acres of land in SW1/4 Sec. 2, T. 97 N., R. 15 W. The records from 1901 to 1908 are for this first parcel, plus another 156 acres in the adjacent NW1/4 Sec. 11, T. 97 N., R. 15 W. The record from 1909 is marked 'Full pmt', but the location is not indicated. The receipts from 1898 to 1908 are in Mathias's name; the 1909 receipt is in Alfred Kleckner's name, following the death of Mathias.

1898 Tax receipt

1899 Tax receipt
1900 Tax receipt
1901 Tax receipt
1902 Tax receipt
1903 Tax receipt
1904 Tax receipt
1905 Tax receipt
1906 Tax receipt
1907 Tax receipt
1908 Tax receipt
1909 Tax receipt
1908-1909 Assessments

The next set of documents is for a mortgage on the land in sections 2 and 11, T. 97 N., R. 15 W. The mortgage was obtained from Shaffer Brothers of Elma, Iowa on May 29, 1902 in the amount of $6,600. The mortgage was paid off June 12, 1907.

The first three files show the terms of the mortgage with the combined value of $6,600. For some reason, the full amount was broken into two separate loans for repayment.

1902 Mortgage 1
1902 Mortgage 2
1902 Mortgage 3

The next two files show the notes and payment coupons for the separate loans, one in the amount of $4,600 and the other for $2,000.


Shortly before the above mortgage was paid off in 1907, Mathias and Mary took out another loan in the form of a mortgage from the Connecticut Mutual Life Insurance Company of Hartford, Connecticut (the note was executed in New Hampton, Iowa). This loan was for $4,000 and the land in sec. 11, T. 97 N., R. 15 W. was used as collateral. It was paid in full on June 5, 1912.

1907 mortgage 1

1907 mortgage 2
1907 mortgage 3
1907 mortgage 4
1907 mortgage 5

The repayment of this loan is interesting because it occurred after the death of Mathias on August 31, 1909. According to the record shown in file number 4, above, the sequence of payments began in June of 1908 (for $500), and continued in June of 1909 (for $1,000) and May of 1910 (for $1,300). The payment of $1,300 is also shown in file number 5. The curious thing is that the payment on May 30, 1910 shows that the money was received from Mathias Kleckner, not Mary or one of their children. Apparently the mortgage company was not aware of his death.

The rest of the coupons shown in file number 5, in 1910, 1911, and 1912 also show that the money was received from Mathias and Mary. Although I don't know for sure, I believe that all the coupons were signed at the time the loan was executed, and that they were filled out with the payment details when each payment was made.

I note that for these coupons with Mathias' signature, the signature is somewhat shakey, perhaps indicating that he was in poor health when the loan was made. For instance, compare his signature to that on the payment coupons for the loan taken out in 1902. There is a clear deterioration of his handwriting. He died of diabetes in 1909 (see his death certificate) and his declining health could have been the cause of the change in handwriting.

The death of Mathias must have been a devastating event for the family. Mary was a widow with five minor children in charge of a farm of about 320 acres and a mortgage on half of the farm land. The following table indicates the composition of the family at the time of Matt's death.

Birth date
Age when Matt died
Mary (wife)
Mar 12, 1868
Apr 6, 1887
Jun 22, 1888
Sep 23 1889
Apr 24, 1891
Dec 9, 1894
Apr 11, 1895
Jun 25, 1899
Dec 31, 1900
Jul 17, 1902

Money must have been tight, as shown by the series of small loans from the First State Savings Bank of Elma, documented in the following files. The loans that I have records for run from July, 1909, just prior to Matt's death, to 1912. The last document is actually a loan made to Ernest payable to Mary, not payable to the bank.

First State Loan 1

First State Loan 2
First State Loan 3
First State Loan 4
First State Loan 5

The loans were taken in the names of Matt Kleckner, Mrs. M. Kleckner, Alfred Kleckner, Ernest Kleckner, and Kleckner Bros, in the total amounts of $500, $3,140.24, $136.94, $1,125, and $103, respectively. Interest rates varied from 5.25% to 8%, 8% being the most common amount.

The table below details the loans.

Loan made to:
Date of loan
Payment due date
Date paid off
Matt Kleckner
July 1, 1909
Jan. 1, 1910
Feb. 21, 1911
Mary Kleckner
Feb. 16, 1910
May 1, 1910
May 27, 1910
Ernest Kleckner
Aug. 12, 1910
6 months (Feb. 12, 1911)
Feb. 21, 1911
Mary Kleckner
Dec. 1, 1910
One yr. (Dec. 1, 1911)
Feb. 21, 1911
Mary Kleckner
Dec. 29, 1910
One yr. (Dec. 29, 1911)
Feb. 21, 1911
Kleckner Bros.
Jan. 7, 1911
On or before April 1st
Feb. 21, 1911
Alfred Kleckner
Feb. 21, 1911
One yr. (Feb. 21, 1912)
Feb. 3, 1912
Mary Kleckner
April 29, 1911
One yr. (April 29, 1912)
Mar. 7, 1912
Mary Kleckner
Aug. 12, 1911
6 months (Feb. 12, 1912)
Mar. 7, 1912
Alfred Kleckner
Jan. 6, 1912
On demand
Feb. 3, 1912
Mary Kleckner
Feb. 6, 1912
On demand
Mar. 7, 1912
Mary Kleckner
June 5, 1912
On demand
Nov. 6, 1912
Mary Kleckner
Jun 28, 1912
Feb. 1, 1913
Nov. 6, 1912
Ernest Kleckner
Nov. 6, 1912
Two years (Feb. 1, 1915)
*Payable to Mrs. M. Kleckner

I have the sense that these were mainly small loans to cover cash-flow needs of the farm and family. Several of the loans were taken in the same months in successive years, and repayment was made on the same days for several of the loans in successive years. Perhaps sale of grain or livestock on recurring dates provided money for repayment.

An important point to note is that although many loans were necessary to keep the farm going through these years, all of the loans from the bank were paid back, as well as the larger mortgages that had been taken previously by Mathias and Mary.

It took a while for the affairs of Mathias to be settled, but the following documents are the final papers involved in the probate process in the years 1914 and 1915.

Probate 1 - note to Mary (probably from her lawyer) requesting information for probate

Probate 2 - receipt from Ernest for his bequest from Mathias
Probate 3 - page 1 of final probate papers
Probate 4 - page 2 of final probate papers
Probate 5 - page 3 of final probate papers
Probate 6 - receipt from Mary for her bequest
Probate 7 - receipt from Alfred and Ernest for their bequests
Probate 8 - settlement from William for his bequest

In 1916 Mary Kleckner received a letter that is not financial document, but is an acknowledgement of a debt. The letter was written in German and came from somewhere possibly called 'Grapahoe'. The letter was from a Mrs. L. Mayer (misspelled Mayers in the translated letter).

The letter describes a series of problems that Mrs. Mayer has had, including the death of her husband, illnesses of two of her daughters and of one son and of a 17-month old baby. Then there was a hail storm that damaged their house and wheat crop. She finishes up by saying that she will pay the interest on a loan that Mary Kleckner apparently made to her at the rate of 7 or 8 percent.

The letter was translated by someone, and I have included scans of both the original letter and of the translation. I suspected that the name 'Grapahoe' was incorrect and that the name was, in fact 'Arapahoe'. I searched online for an Arapahoe State Bank that is mentioned in the letter, and found that it was located in Arapahoe, Nebraska. A search of the Find A Grave website turned up a Leonard Mayer, who died and was buried in the Arapahoe Cemetery in 1915. Luckily, his citation included an obituary, the contents of which are shown below:

Arapahoe Public Mirror, June 17, 1915

Leonard Mayer was born April 6, 1863, in Johnsburg, McHenry county, Illinois. He lived with his parents until 1870 when they moved to Stacyville, Iowa, where he resided until 1893, when he came to Lexington, Nebr.

On January 30, 1894, he was united in marriage to Mary Gertrude Lauby. They moved back to Stacyville, Iowa, remained there one year and returned to Lexington, Nebr. In 1900 they moved to Gosper county and lived in the vicinity of Arapahoe until his death on June 11, 1915. He has always been a faithful member of the Catholic church, a devoted husband and father, and was loved and respected by all who knew him.

To this union were born ten children, all living except Francis, who died in infancy. He leaves to mourn his death, his wife and nine children, Kathryn, Edward, Joseph, Josephine, Hubert, Rudolph, Clara, Leona and Cecilia; also three brothers, Mike, Peter and Joseph, who reside all Stacyville, Iowa; two sisters, Mrs. Matt Lauby and Mrs. Otto Gelhaar, who reside near Lexington, Nebr., besides a host of relatives and friends.

The Find A Grave website also has an entry for Mrs. Mayer:

Arapahoe Public Mirror, January 10, 1946

Mary Gertrude, only daughter of John and Katherine Lauby, was born June 28, 1873 in Town Harrison, Wisc., and departed this life January 4, 1946 in a hospital at Lincoln, Nebr., at the age of 72 years, six months and seven days.

When a small child she came with her parents to Otoe county, Nebr., remaining there until 1887 when they moved to Whitman county, Washington. In 1892 they returned to Nebraska, settling at Lexington.

On January 30, 1894 she was united in marriage to Leonard Mayer of Stacyville, Iowa, where they resided for one year, when they came to Lexington, Nebr. In 1900 they came to the vicinity north of Arapahoe, where they lived until the death of her husband on June 11, 1915. Soon afterward she, with the children moved to a farm south of Arapahoe, living there until March, 1929, when she came to her present home in Arapahoe.

To this union were born ten children, four of whom preceded her in death.

She leaves to mourn her death, four sons, Edward and Hubert of Arapahoe; Joe of Milwaukee, Wisc.; and Rudolph of Chico, Calif., and two daughters, Kathryn Snyder and Leona Mayer of Arapahoe. All were present for the funeral. Also surviving are seven grandchildren, Mary and Martha Mayer, T4 Richard W., S Sgt. Robert M., Margaret Ann and Marian Snyder, Mary Jane Lawson and one great-grandson, Jimmy Lawson, besides a host of relatives and friends.

Her mother preceded her in death by only three weeks.

She was a faithful member of the Catholic church, a devoted and cherished mother, and was loved and respected by all who knew her.

Relatives from out of town who attended the funeral were Wm. A. Lauby of Sterling, Colo., Mr. and Mrs. Mike Lauby and Mr. and Mrs. H.C. Kjar of Lexington, Nebr.

So, apparently the Kleckners and Mayers were acquainted, through friends or relatives in Stacyville, Iowa, and at some point the Mayers had borrowed money from the Kleckners. Leonard Mayer's parents and several siblings continued to live and were buried in Stacyville, and the family remains there today. Interestingly, Ruth Condon, wife of Jack Condon, my aunt and uncle, was part of the extended Mayer family (she was the grand-daughter of the Peter Mayer mentioned in Leonard's obituary).

1916 letter 1a
1916 letter 2a
1916 letter 3a
1916 letter 1b
1916 letter 2b

Several documents record financial affairs in the years 1917 and 1918.

The first set is a series of small loans again from the First State Savings Bank in Elma. They are marked for Liberty Bonds and taxes.
Three of the four loan notes have documentary revenue stamps attached to them, used for fees for legal documents. More information on revenue stamps can be found here.

Liberty bonds were issued during World War I in order to finance the war. More information on these bonds can be found here.
1917-18 First State loans

In November of 1918 Mary received a note from the Cashier at First State Savings Bank regarding more bond notes.
1918 First State letter

Then in March of 1919 Mary received another note regarding the payment for three notes, some money sent to William, and tax receipts.
1919 First State letter

In 1919 Mary committed annual payments to the Dubuque College Endowment Fund. The documents below show the agreement and the payments made (the coupon for 1921 is missing). The payments were in the amount of five dollars annually for five years.

Endowment Fund 1
Endowment Fund 2

In 1924 two mortgages were taken on both parcels of land that the Kleckners owned in sections 2 and 11, T. 97 N., R. 15 W. The loans were dated January 14, 1924 and were to be paid in installments to Hugh H. Shepard, owner of the Shepard Abstract Company of Mason City. The documents that still exist are a little puzzling, probably because the main mortgage documents are missing.

The documents that I do have consist of (1) two signed notes with the location of the separate parcels of land noted on each (files 1 and 2, below), along with the signatures of all involved; and (2) a series of signed payment coupons that range in date from 1925 to 1929 (one coupon for 1924, three for 1925, four for 1926, and two for 1929 are not included in the saved materials) in files 3 and 4, below.

The loans were somewhat unusual for the number of people involved. As shown in the first two scans, below, the installment notes were signed by Mary and all of her nine children, plus the spouses of all eight of the married children (Bill wasn't married until 1925). It appears that the two notes plus all of the coupons were signed at the same time because of the order in which they were signed as well as the different pens used by each individual. I can imagine them all sitting around a big table passing the documents from one to the other and each signing their name in turn.

If nothing else, these documents are interesting because of having all the signatures of the Kleckner children and their spouses. As an aside, the signature of my grandfather is unusual because of the spelling 'Morris'. In all other documents that I have he spells his name 'Maurice'. Note also that Isabelle spelled her name the 'e' on the end instead of as 'Isabell', as opposed to her marriage license in 1920 where she spelled it 'Isabell'.

The two installment notes do not specify the total amounts of the mortgages or the date when each should be paid off. Each has the amount of $250.00 in the upper left corner, and the text of the notes reads that "...we promise to pay to the order of Hugh H. Shepard the sum of Two Hundred Fifty and No/100 Dollars in ten installments..." Of course, this would only amount to $2,500. One payment of $25.00 was to be made on the 1st day of August, 1924, and $25.00 was to be paid on February 1st and August 1st in subsequent years until the whole sum was paid.

If each of these installment notes was really for just $250.00 then payments of the initial $25.00 plus $50.00 per year would have meant that repayment would have been completed in February, 1929, and in fact, the signed coupons do not extend past Feb. 1929. The back of the installment notes also indicate when payments were made in the years 1924 through 1928, but not in 1929 (although some were not made by the specified first day of February or August). These two installment notes were puzzling because it is highly unlikely that Mary and all of the children and spouses were committing themselves to payments of only a total of $500.

The payment coupons in files 3 and 4, below, seem to tell a different story. Each of them is signed by Mary plus all of her children and their spouses. Each is marked in the amount of $250.00 in the upper left corner. After the dates the coupons read "...I promise to pay the Bankers Life Company, or order, Two hundred fifty dollars at its office in Des Moines, Iowa, this coupon being for interest on my note of this date for 10,000 Dollars..."

So it appears that there were two mortgages of $10,000 each for the two parcels of land, with total interest payments made of $2,500. This works out to an interest rate of 12.5%. The larger loan amounts explain the participation of the whole family in the repayment process. Note that each payment coupon is stamped 'CANCELLED', and the installment notes are stamped and the words 'Cancelled Paid' are written on each of them. Another mortgage was successfully paid off.

1924 Mortgages 1

1924 Mortgages 2
1924 Mortgages 3
1924 Mortgages 4

  After Mathias died, Mary continued to live on the farm for an uncertain amount of time. Based on the following tax receipts, she eventually moved to New Haven in 1924, because the receipts from 1924 to 1932 were issued to her; the receipt for the 1933 taxes is for the same property, but in the name of Mary's brother, William (Billy) Gilles. This property is in SW1/4 SE1/4 SW1/4 Sec. 20, T. 98 N., R. 15 W. The house has now been torn down, but the property is listed under parcel number 12-30-377-002 in the records of the Mitchell County Assessor. This property is west of the curve by the cemetery in New Haven, on the south side of the road.
1924 Tax receipt
1925 Tax receipt
1926 Tax receipt
1927 Tax receipt

1928 Tax receipt
1929 Tax receipt (part)
1930 Tax receipt
1931 Tax receipt
1932 Tax receipt
1933 Tax receipt

 In 1933 Mary received a letter from Darwin J. Paulson, a lawyer in Osage. He had apparently been acting on her behalf to collect rent from someone and was sending her his bill. I have redacted the named person to avoid any embarrassment on the part of the family involved.

The last paragraph is intriguing because of the statement that a Mr. Shepherd "...had judgement entered in his case against yourself and the rest of the heirs except Mr. & Mrs. Robbins." This almost undoubtedly involved the mortgages of 1924 in which the entire family participated, but it is puzzling because the documents, shown above, all indicate that payments were made, at least on the interest. Perhaps there was something else involved with payment of the mortgage principal that led to a lawsuit. It seems odd that lawyer Paulson didn't mention what the judgement was.

No other documents have been found to shed any light on the lawsuit.

1933 Lawyer letter

In 1934 Mary insured the house and outbuildings in New Haven for $2,425.00. At first I thought that the photo on the insurance policy was of the Kleckner farmhouse and outbuildings, but the description of the property on the policy is definitely for the New Haven property in Douglas township. Note that Mary is listed as the owner.

1934 insurance 1
1934 insurance 2

A document from 1937 is somewhat surprising. It is a Warranty Deed for the property in sec. 20, T. 98 N., R. 15 W. in New Haven--the property where Mary had been living for a number of years. The date is surprising because she had been paying the property taxes on this parcel since 1924 (see records above), and she had taken out insurance on the home and buildings in 1934 and had stated that she owned the property.

The Deed transfers the land from William (Mary's brother) and Rose Gilles for the sum of 'One Dollar and other valuable considerations'.

Without a more complete record of the sales of this parcel of land, it's impossible to know just who owned the property at what time.

The document is interesting for the content of the signatures of Billy and Rose Gilles, and of Melvin Weinschenk, the County Recorder, and Clifford Moss, the County Auditor.

1937 Warranty Deed 1
1937 Warranty Deed 2

The same day that the above Warranty Deed transferred the New Haven property from Billy & Rose Gilles to Mary Kleckner, Mary applied for a Homestead Tax Credit on the same property. The application form states that she became the owner of the property on May 27, 1937. The document was signed by Mary, by Clifford Moss, and by witnesses Perle Green and George L. Helfter, and was notarized by Lorenz P. Helfter.

1937 Homestead Tax Credit application

There are several miscellaneous bills and receipts from the years 1938 through 1947

First is a bill in 1938 for construction materials and for labor for electrical work, probably for the house in New Haven.
1938 construction bill

Next is a bill/receipt from 1944 for material and labor for 'cupbord & alterations' from H. H. Kienast. Probably also for the New Haven house.
1944 construction bill/receipt

Mary paid 25 cents in 1945-46 for membership in the Dubuque Archdiocesan Council of Catholic Women as shown by this receipt.
1945-46 Council of women receipt

Mary pledged $10 to the Loras College (Dubuque) expansion fund. She saved her receipt for the final payment of $5.00 in 1947. This receipt is dated August 5th, and Mary died at the Savre hospital in Osage on October 26, 1947.
1947 Loras College Fund

The final document in this collection is a Consent To Sell letter, for the property in New Haven, signed by Mary's daughter Isabelle and her husband Maurice (Red) Condon. Isabelle appointed Walter E. Sheldon as the real estate agent, who was directed to distribute the proceeds of the sale of the property equally to the 9 branches of the Kleckner family after deducting his fees and other closing costs. Isabelle and Red would then convey the property to the purchaser via a 'special warranty deed'.

Although this document is an original and is signed, it is not dated.

Consent to Sell document

Steven M. Condon. All Rights Reserved.