top of page

1884 On The Bluff


Martin Spring

The Man Who Built *1884 On The Bluff*

Martin Spring was born October 18, 1836, in Bavaria, Germany. By 1859, at the age of 23, Spring left for a life in America. (His name, at the top of the web page header, a documented immigrant at Ellis Island: 

Port of Arrival: New York, New York. Declared Profession: Farmer

Destination: Iowa

Martin Spring's obituary says: he was a native of Germany, but a pioneer of Lee county.


In 1861, a young man of 25, Spring served 39 months as a Private in the Civil War for Iowa's Grand Army of the Republic, Fifteenth Infantry, Company H, of the Union Army.

Martin Spring's 1st wife was Mary Kraymaer. In 1870, Mary's profession on the US census read: Keeping House.

The couple had seven children: Lena, Mary, Willie, Georgie, Joseph, Clara, and Kate. Two, Willie & Georgie, passed in infancy. Mary's died in 1879, at the age of 29.


In 1881 Martin Spring married a second time, to Elizabeth M Schmidt, 32, and had two more children: Lizzie and John Peter.

Martin Spring was a Brewer and a Farmer and operated Martin Spring Brewery, Montrose's first brewery, from 1874 until it closed in 1888.

Martin Spring was 45 when he married Elizabeth in 1881. Etched in granite, the header above the front door of the stone house reads:

M. & E. Spring 1884

Their love story began with the building of our stone house. We feel certain the barn was built prior to the house, as Spring's profession was that of Farmer and his original homestead spanned 90 acres.

The stone farmhouse, grainery's foundation, and barn's foundation were built from limestone dredged from the Montrose rapids, an unnavigable portion of the Mississippi River.  In the 1880's the limestone was cultivated from the river in preparation of the Keokuk Dam build.

April 21, 1890, the old stone house was host to its very first documented wedding. Martin Spring's oldest daughter, Lena, married E.J. Reeves in the home. Approximately 25 guests were present.

Martin passed away in stone house he built, at the age of 61, from stomach cancer, October 31, 1897.

He was surrounded by his wife, Elizabeth, and seven children at the time of his death.

Martin Spring is buried next to his 1st wife, Mary and their two children, Willie & Georgie, who passed as infants, in the Oakland Cemetery, Old Catholic, Block GG, Lot 35, in Keokuk, IA. Martin Spring's headstone reads:

Gone But Not Forgotten

Elizabeth is buried in Fort Madison. She lived to be 76 years old, passing July 14, 1925.

Interesting side note: 

I read the United States today has more descendants of German immigrants than any other European ethnic group. In general, Germans emigrated to find adventure and greater prosperity. However, Germany, particularly Bavaria, was hit by the potato famine in the mid 1800's. In the 1850's, from Germany, ships fitted with paddle wheels and steam engines took about six weeks to arrive to the US. Most German immigrants to the US settled in rural areas. 

German customs in America:


Fasching: The German celebration of the period before lent. 

Sommernachfests: A beer celebration just before Easter. 

Whit Monday: Everyone (8 - 80) celebrated with: beer to drink, worst to eat, Oompah bands. Singing. Dancing. Feasting.

(Sounds like a wedding!)

A guy named Saint Nicholas.

(There's more. use Google.)


The Civil War

German/Americans were the largest ethnic group to fight on the Union side in the American Civil War.

brewery Screenshot_20180719-230313.jpg
bottom of page