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Iowa Farm Life Video Project

Waterloo, Iowa

Voices of Iowa Agriculture

by Carol Bodensteiner
photo courtesy Downtown Partners, Inc.

Mathias Miller came to Iowa from Pennsylvania in 1856 because he heard about the good land with no rocks. He cut cottonwood trees south of Cedar Falls and floated them downriver to Prairie Rapids (now Waterloo) to build the second house in Orange Township.

His descendants — including Bob Tannreuther, who today continues the farming lineage in Black Hawk County — witnessed immense changes in mechanization, electronics, and genetics. Understanding the human side of that progress is the aim of stories collected by historians at the Grout Museum in Waterloo as part of the Iowa Farm Life Video Project.

Sponsored by Silos & Smokestacks, the project is reaching out to farmers throughout the 37-county National Heritage area and plans to expand interviewing throughout Iowa. “It’s important to preserve the stories that span the period from the Great Depression to today’s world,” says historian Bob Neymeyer. “This generation is an invaluable resource whose remembrances will soon be gone.”

If you or someone you know would like to share your story, contact Silos & Smokestacks (319-234-4567, email or the Grout Museum (319-234-6357, email


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