Conrad Ernest Gundrum, one of the representative citizens of Sugar Creek township, Hancock county, Indiana, and one of its most progressive agriculturists, is a native of the county, born in New Palestine, April 9, 1877, a son of John and Mary Jane (Gates) Gundrum. John Gundrum was born in Sugar Creek township, August 10, 1843, and died there on August 10, 1904. He was a son of Conrad and Elizabeth (Gemmer) Gundrum, the former born in Hesse, Darmstadt, Germany, in 1820 and died in 1889 on the old Gundrum homestead in this county. Conrad Gundrum came to America shortly after his marriage, making the voyage on a sailing vessel and consuming three months in making the trip. He came directly to Indiana and located in Hancock county, Sugar Creek township. He purchased land located near New Palestine, procuring this from John Faugher, who had entered it from the government in 1825. Conrad Gundrum purchased land from time to time until his holdings amounted to two hundred and forty acres, which constituted the old Gundrum homestead, and on his land he built a hewed log house which was occupied for many years. As he prospered, he desired a more pretentious residence and himself made the brick which entered into the erection of a fine eight-room house which is standing today. Conrad Gundrum prospered and reared a family of eight children, only three of whom survived him. These were John, Mary and Emma, and the latter is the only one living at the present time.
John Gundrum grew up on the family homestead amid pioneer surroundings, receiving his early education in the schools of New Palestine. He remained under the parental roof until the time of his marriage when for a time he lived in New Palestine an operated a saw-mill. However, he soon engaged in farming east of New Palestine and still later settled on the northern part of the old homestead, where his father erected for him a splendid nine-room frame residence, which is still considered one of the best built houses in the county. This home was almost entirely built from material grown on the home place and the timbers are very much heavier than those entering into modern construction. It was on that farm and in that home John Gundrum spent the remainder of his life, and at his death in 1904, he owned a splendid farm on one hundred and ten acres.
When a young man John Gundrum was united in marriage with Mary Jane Gates born in Rush county, this state, November 2, 1847. She was a daughter of Henry and Annie Gates, who were pioneers of Rush and Hancock counties. Henry Gates came to this section of the state from Chillicothe, Ohio, and his parents were born in Pennsylvania of Dutch ancestry. To John Gundrum and Mary Jane Gates, his wife, were born three children, namely: Una, wife of James Daugherty; Harry and Ernest, the latter being the immediate subject of this sketch. John Gundrum's widow married again, her husband being J. C. Shockley, formerly of Hancock county but now residing at Randolph, Iowa.
Conrad Ernest Gundrum spent his childhood and youth in New Palestine and Sugar Creek township, his first school being district No.6, where his first teacher was Miss Love. After finishing the grades, he entered the high school of New Palestine and was graduated with the class of 1898, the first class to be graduated from that school. He then turned his attention to farming, assisting his father on the home place and virtually taking charge of it. On November 2, 1902, he was united in marriage with Alice Banks, born in Columbus, this state, January 3, 1882, a daughter of Hiram K. and Florence (Fraker) Banks. Hiram K. Banks was born in Page county, Iowa, in November of 1857, a son of Elijah and Lulu Ann Banks, who were natives of Shelby county, Iowa, and Florence Fraker was born near Fairland, Shelby county, this state, January 6, 1861, daughter of Anthony and Malissa (Bishop) Fraker, both of whom were also born in Shelby county. Hiram and Florence Banks were the parents of nine children, two boys and seven girls, three of whom died in youth. The eldest of the family is Alice, wife of Conrad Ernest Gundrum; and then follow Edna, Russell, Eva, Thelma, John, Minnie, who died at the age of eleven; Dessie, who died at the age of four, and Jessie, who was eight months old.
Conrad Ernest Gundrum continued in the management of the home place after his marriage and has always made his home thereon. In 1906 or 1907 he, in company with his brother Harry, bought the old Pitcher farm, adjoining them on the east, thus giving them three hundred acres, and there they carry on extensive farming. They put seventy-five to ninety acres to corn every year, averaging fifty bushels to the acre; the same acreage to small grains, besides other crops. They feed out on an average one hundred and twenty-five hogs per annum, all thoroughbred Duroc breed and keep on hand from twenty-five to thirty head of cattle. They have eighteen head of good grade draft horses, most of which are used in the work about the farm. The Gundrum brothers attribute their success financially to hogs, and advocate diversified farming, feeding to the hogs the grain raised on the farm. Ernest Gundrum has a beautiful residence and a large barn forty-eight by sixty-five feet, with other buildings in keeping with the general air of the entire farm.
To Ernest Gundrum and his wife have been born two children: Lewis, born on August 22, 1903, and Robert, May 16, 1915. Both Mr. and Mrs. Gundrum are faithful members of the Methodist Episcopal church and he holds fraternal affiliation with the Improved Order of Red Men through lodge No. 217 of New Palestine. The Gundrum family has been identified with the life of Hancock county for many years and the various members thereof have always been men of the highest type, who have representative citizens in their day.
Transcribed from History of Hancock County, Indiana, Its People, Industries and Institutions by George J. Richman, B. L., Federal Publishing Co., Indianapolis, Indiana, 1916. Page 1022-1024.
Submitted by Sylvia (Rose) Duda, Laingsburg, MI October 25, 2001.
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