Beginnings: Louis A Barkus

William and Ella Barkus, Louis, parents, were married in Missouri in 1882. Within 3 years, they had moved to Mills County, Iowa, residing in. Emerson, Glenwood, and, lastly, Malvern by 1890. It is not known what caused th.e couple to move to Iowa. Perhaps it was because of the railroad that ran through all three towns, local farming opportunities, or some other employment opportunities in the various towns. Malvern1s population in 1890 was 1,003.

Louis A Barkus, the third of nine children, was born on 9 November 1889 in Glenwood, Mills Co., Iowa. The “A”1 was a middle initial only. Why the parents chose to use only a middle initial is unknown.

William Barkus opened a laundry in Malvern after moving there in 1890, operating in the Churchill block of 3d Street. He later bought a house to which he added several rooms for his laundry work. Both he and his wife Ella worked in the laundry.

1900 US Federal Census, Malvern Township, Mills Co., Iowa
Last name:    First name:    Relation:    Age:    Sex: Born: Occupation:
Barkus W. A. Head 42 IN Laundryman
Ella Wife 37 IA Laundress
Frederick Son 15 IA At School
Bessie Daughter 14 IA At School
Louis Son 10 IA At School
Willie Son 7 IA At School
Elsie Daughter 6 IA At School
Harry Son 2 IA
George Son 3/12 IA

A letter written to Maynard Jones who was researching the Barkus line in 1979 noted, "Mr. Barkus (Louis, father William) was a colorful character and had a family of very active boys, as well as a daughter or two. He ran an early-day steam laundry here (Malvern) for a number of years but this burned and probably caused financial reverses.”  The fire likely occurred before 1910.

Louis Barkus' certificate of promotion to the 6th grade Malvern public schools, dated May 30, 1902

Louis Barkus' certificate of promotion to the 6th grade
Malvern public schools, dated May 30, 1902

Perhaps because of the loss of the laundry, Louis quit school at Malvern after the 6th grade to work for Oat Strahan farms for several year to supplement the family income. He was probably only 11 or 12 years of age at the time, and he appeared not to have had any further formal education. At this time others in the family also were also pitching in financially to support the family.

The following was written by F. R. Chantry and printed in the Malvern Leader newspaper at the time of Louis' death, but seemed appropr iate to include here:

... He (Louis) started to school here. All through his boyhood years he attended earnestly to the matter of securing an education. (Several certificates of promotion would attest to his doing well in grade school, scoring above 90 in all subjects except physiology.) This training, aided by good home influence, and his own native ability, prepared him to play the role that he did as an honored and respected citizen. Upon completing his school work (As noted earlier, he quit school after the sixth grade to work to help provide income for is fa mily.) he engaged in various types of employment for a few years ...

1910 US Federal Census, Malvern, Mills Co., Iowa
Last name:    First name:    Age:    Born: Occupation:
Barkus William 53 IN Laundryman
Ella 46 IA Laundress
Louis 21 IA Farm Hand: Working Out
Will 17 IA Helper: R. R. Depot
Elsie 16 IA
Harry 12 IA
George 10 IA
Fay 7 IA

In January 1914, Lou, now aged 22, became a member of the Malvern Volunteer Fire Department and was later elected 'captain'. At some point before his World War I service, he began working in H. R. Landis' hardware store.

William Atterbury Barkus, Louis' father, died in 1916 at the age of 59, while Louis was just 26 and probably still residing at his parents' home. Ella continued to take in laundry and sold pastries to supplement the family income.

Undated photo of Ella Barkus, Louis' mother

Undated photo of Ella Barkus, Louis' mother

Louis became a member of the Masonic Silver Urn Lodge in Malvern in January 1918.

Louis' siblings included:

Fred Buren Barkus, b. 5May1885, d. 25May1950
    m. Jenny Van Doren
Bessie Mae Barkus, b. 15 May 1886, d. 10 Dec 1967
    m. William Edwin Jefferson
William Atterbury Barkus, II, b. 6 Sep 1893, d. 20Oct1976
    m. Janet Ewing
Elsie V. Barkus, b. 14 Feb 1894, d. 29 Dec 1914
Harry La Verne Barkus, b. 11Feb1898, d. 27 Jun 1966
    m. Lillian Alice Allely
George Washington Barkus, b. 22 Feb 1900, d. Feb 1957
    m. Eunice Harriet Askelson
Faye Nettie Barkus, b. 3 Dec 1904, d. Sep 1983
    m. Carl William Newquist
Hazel Barkus, b. 6 Jun 1896, d. 30 Oct 1897

Unfortunately, there are no photos of Louis' father, his brothers, or his sisters from this time period.