Jessie (Hollingsworth) Schipfer, 1877-1956
February 6, 1935

Jessie was the daughter of:
John Wesley Hollingsworth (Sept 5, 1846 – Aug 31, 1928)

and Joanna Matthews Bond (1856 – 1918)

She married Herman Schipfer in 1898.  Herman died in 1945.

Her book is about her grandparents, Jeremiah Hollingsworth and Catherine Amos.  Jeremiah was the son of Ezekiel, of Joseph, of George, of Abraham, of Thomas, of Valentine Hollingsworth Sr.

Below find the transcription of her book – known now as “Jessie’s Little Book,” courtesy of Robert Lynn and transcribed by Rachelle Biggs.   It is a beautifully written recount of a part of her life.   Jessie was clearly a wonderful writer and gifted woman.   She was a true pioneer woman; strong of spirit and pride. 


Long, long ago in 1806, there was born in Bourbon County, Kentucky a little red-headed girl called Catherine Amos.  Time went on, and another baby girl was born whom they named Shannie.

When Shannie was six years old, she was playing in front of the great fire place.  Her dress caught on fire, and she was burned to death, causing a gloom to be cast over the whole family.

Though Catherine’s parents were great slave owners, the Amos family did not believe in slavery.  Slavery in Kentucky had been inherited from Virginia, but Kentucky people had ever a fancy for immigration and a desire to grow up with new Countries.  When Catherine’s parents decided to sell their home and come West, they remembered the teaching of the Bible (Leviticus:  Chapter 25, Verse 10), “Proclaim liberty throughout all the land unto all the inhabitants thereof.”  So, before the commenced their journey, good Christians that they were, they freed their one hundred and one slaves--- all, that is, except the extra one slave, Old Nell.  She would not be freed and begged so pitifully to stay with the Amos family, that they kept her and brought her West with them.  She stayed in their home until her death.

As the Amos family was driving west in a covered wagon, with tall trees and underbrush on each side of the road, Catherine, who was riding ahead, was startled by the cry of Indians.  Quick as a flash, she turned her beautiful saddle horse, for which Kentucky is so famous, and rode back to the wagon to warn her family.  They returned to the nearest village and waited several days before they continued their journey.

On another occasion as she rode ahead of the covered wagon, Catherine stopped at a house in a village to ask for a drink of water.  Imagine her surprise when her Uncle, the Reverent Elijah Amos, met her at the door.  They had not received any letters from his family in months, a not uncommon thing in those days.  The Amos family stayed at his home for a time, and then proceeded on their journey.

Catherine rode her saddle horse all the way from Bourbon County, Kentucky, to Vermilion County, Illinois.  Her riding skirt almost touched the ground as she sat on her horse.  Her side saddle was upholstered with red plush.  I remember her saddle as it hung in the buggy shed for years and years.  Oh, if I just had it now.

On June 30, 1822, the Amos family arrived in Vermillion County, Illinois.  There, at her journey’s end, Miss Catherine met the young man she was destined never to forget, and on April the fifth, 1831, she was united in marriage to Jeremiah Hollingsworth.

In 1840 the whole Hollingsworth family came to Keokuk County, Iowa.  The whole family consisted of Ezekiel Hollingsworth, his wife and twelve children and their families.  Jeremiah was a son of Ezekiel.  Their forefather, Valentine Hollingsworth, came to this country with William Penn, so when Ezekiel’s family settled in Iowa, it was fitting that all the Hollingsworths became members of the Friends church at Rocky Run.  The first minister of this church was John Howard, and another was John Y. Hoover, uncle of the former President, Herbert Hoover.  To go to Rocky Run from the Hollingsworth home, one had to ford the Richland Creek, over which there were no bridges, and sometimes they had to cross in a boat when the water was high.  But they went to Meeting just the same.

When the Hollingsworths settled in Iowa, the state was passing through the earliest stages of pioneer life.  They had come far away from the well-established reign of law and had entered a new country, where civil authority was still feeble and totally unable to afford protection and to redress grievances.  The settlers lived here in Keokuk County for quite some time before there was a single officer of the law in the county.  Each man’s protection was the good will and friendship of those about him, and the thing any man might well dread was the ill will of the Community, a force more terrible than the law.  It was no uncommon thing in the early times for hardened men, who had no fear of jails and penitentiary, to stand in great fear of the indignation of a pioneer community.

One of the peculiar circumstances that surrounded the early life of the pioneers was a strange loneliness, consisting of a solitude which seemed almost to oppress them.  Even so, cut off from the hope of aid in an emergency by the hundreds of miles of forest and plain that lay between them and the eastern population, they stood firm, trusting only in themselves for help.  This self-reliance, constantly exercised through the whole of vigorous manhood and wrought into the character and habits of the young a singular mental robustness and confidence.  They knew the meaning of fortitude.  Success could not have failed them had the difficulty been ten times as great. 

When the Hollingsworths settled in Iowa, their nearest neighbors were the Indians.  Ezekiel and his family saw all the hardships incident to a pioneer life, in preparing a home for themselves and families.  The first cabin the Hollingsworths lived in was a cross between hoop cabin and Indian bark hut.  Jeremiah entered his claim in 1840 and obtained a patent deed from the Government, signed by James K. Polk.  We still have the patent deed.  Jeremiah was one of the Commissioners elected to organize the County, and he also served as a member of the Constitutional Committee that met at Iowa City in 1857.  When Jeremiah went to Iowa City to fulfill his duties with this Committee, he rode horseback all the way from his farm home near Richland, commencing his journey on the twenty first of February.  It took him two days to get there.  The weather was very cold and his saddle was covered with sheep skins, one of which was also strapped around each of his legs.  Now, that is the way they travelled in 1857. 

Imagine, if you can, coming to a new country, building a home in the wilderness, with tall trees, hazel brush without end, and deer, elk, wildcats, foxes, wolves and snakes of all kinds, especially rattlesnakes.  But this wilderness was not to remain for long. It is estimated that before nightfall of the first of May, 1843, there were one thousand immigrants along what was called the Old Strip in Keokuk County, ready to cross over the line and stake their claims, the Indians having left the county. Around Rocky Run, May Day was a memorial to the first settlers for many years. 

Jeremiah and Catherine were the parents of twelve children.  Their names were:  Margrete, Jane, Albert, Mary, Asbury, Amos, Emila and Eliza (twins), America and Amanda (twins), John Wesley and Julia.  One might repeat the verse from a half- forgotten poem, The Graves of the Household, at this time:   …….

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ End of known pages~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

The poem mentioned above;
Felicia Dorothea Hemans, 1793-1835

They grew in beauty, side by side,
They fill'd one home with glee;
Their graves are sever'd, far and wide,
By mount, and stream, and sea. 

The same fond mother bent at night
O'er each fair sleeping brow;
She had each folded flower in sight,
Where are those dreamers now? 

One, midst the forests of the west,
By a dark stream is laid,
The Indian knows his place of rest,
Far in the cedar shade.

The sea, the blue lone sea, hath one,
He lies where pearls lie deep;
He was the lov'd of all, yet none
O'er his low bed may weep. 

One sleeps where southern vines are drest
Above the noble slain:
He wrapt his colours round his breast,
On a blood-red field of Spain. 

And one o'er her the myrtle showers
Its leaves, by soft winds fann'd;
She faded midst Italian flowers,
The last of that bright band. 

And parted thus they rest, who play'd
Beneath the same green tree;
Whose voices mingled as they pray'd
Around one parent knee! 

They that with smiles lit up the hall,
And cheer'd with song the hearth,
Alas! for love, if thou wert all,
And nought beyond, oh earth!

Isn’t it curious that she refers to this poem as “half-forgotten”…   It has surely not been forgotten.  Now in 2014, one can easily google search and find it, among so much more about this poet.


 Jeremiah Hollingsworth was one of the original signers of the Iowa State Constitution in 1857.  He is under the painting.  Below this shows his land holdings in Richland, Keokuk Co, IA.

Photo of Jessie's personal arrowhead collection, which is on the 1st floor at the Sigourney Court House on display under alarmed glass. (Her “little book” is said to have been published in 1950 and is in the Sigourney Library.)

Jessie had three sisters; Eva, Effie and Bessie.   The four sisters:

From Sister Bessie’s writing of Summer, 1946:
(Bessie, 1876 – 1952)


His name was Jeremiah Hollingsworth, but everyone called him “Uncle Jerry.”

He was borne in Union County, Indiana, February 25, 1809.  At the age of fifteen, he moved to Vermillion County, IL.  There he met, wooed and won his life’s companion, Catherine Amos.  When I was a child, she told me she was looking out the window one day and she saw such a fine-looking young man riding by on horseback.  His horse shied at a piece of paper, but he managed it so well and was such a graceful rider and sat his saddle with such ease, that she wished she could meet him.  As fat would have it, she met him shortly afterwards.

He was raised a farmer and lived some few years in Illinois.  He came to Keokuk County, IA in 1840 and settled on the farm on which he died.

He was a worthy, useful citizen.  Many were the trips he made to Iowa City on horseback, a two-days’ journey.  He settled all the difficulties that came up at that time for his neighbors. As no bank was nearer than Fairfield, the farmers would leave their money with him for safekeeping.  At times he had quite large sums of money there.  No one knew anything about it.

He belonged to the Vigilance Committee.  That was a necessity to keep law and order at that time.
He was one of the Board of Commissioners appointed to organize the County of Keokuk and also served as a member of the Constitutional Committee that met in Iowa City in 1857, then the Capitol of Iowa, in the Legislative Assemby Building now referred to as “Old Capitol.” 

He had the honor to help frame and draft the laws under which the citizens of Iowa are now governed.
He was the son of Ezekiel of Joseph of George of Abraham of Thomas of Valentine Hollingsworth, who came to the country from England in 1682 with William Penn on the good ship “Welcome.”
Jeremiah was a very dark-complexioned man and always wore his hair cut Quaker-style.  He had a very pleasing personality.

Everyone loved and trusted Uncle Jerry.

Bessie Hollingsworth Kracht
Summer, 1946
Bessie Hollingsworth

Bessie married Gustave Kracht  (1864-1940) in 1895.

Jessie and Bessie:
Jessie and Bessie Hollingsworth Sisters

Notes from transcriber:

First I would like to thank my cousin Robert Lynn for his enormous contributions to this family’s history and its preservation.  Without those that care about such things, they cannot be memorialized properly.  

I find the Hollingsworth’s journey west very interesting!  How to even imagine what it must have been like to leave known and comfortable land for the unknown territory that Iowa was at that time?  The Hollingsworths came to Iowa circa 1840 – approximately six years before Iowa achieved statehood.  Indians were their neighbors.  Can you even begin to imagine the hardships?

A wonderful and incredibly captivating story of Iowa pioneer life can be found here:  This person is of no relation to myself, but it is the same timeframe and no doubt, the challenges much the same.  One small excerpt:

“The way some people talk about the Indians, I suppose if one didn't know them they would have been afraid to use that sugar for fear it might be dirty but we knew their sugar was clean. I have often heard people make remarks about the dirty Indians with their dirty wigwams full of flies. That is a great mistake for the Indians that I knew were not dirty. They bathed and washed their clothes in the river and if a lodge or wigwam got dirty or polluted with disease they would burn it down and build another out of new material on clean ground.

And flies? Why, the Indians had no flies. It was the white people who brought the flies. Bees came just before civilization, but flies came after. When we came to Iowa Territory there were plenty of bees. All we had to do when we wanted honey was to find a bee tree and gather the honey, but we had no flies in our cabin until several years after the white settlers came in.”

I continue to be in complete awe of our ancestors.

The author of the book excerpted above is Mary Ann Maulsby Mills, one of the oldest settlers in Iowa.   Yet, she was only a few years ahead of the Hollingsworths!   Their battles would have surely been very much the same.

Source:  Past and Present of Hardin Co, IA, William  J. Moir, 1911


 About Me:   (transcriber)  Rachelle L. Biggs
Jeremiah Hollingsworth was my 3rd great grand-uncle; his sister Lydia was my 3rd great grandmother.   She made the journey with Jeremiah and the rest of the family circa 1840 to IA.   She was newly married by then, but she, her husband and first born son also settled with the rest of the family in Keokuk Co for a time.   Most of her children were born there before they moved west to eventually settle in Winterset, IA.

Tracing Lydia’s life has been a primary focus of mine for many years and will continue to be.

I have yet to locate a single photo of her or her husband, nor any of her siblings with the exception of Jeremiah.   I have located only two photos of one of her children.  Perhaps I will find more someday. J  One can only hope.
Be well and keep digging!


A True Pioneer Story: Memories of a Pioneer Girl, Mary Ann Maulsby Mills