John Edward Vithen and Jessie May Roberts -- 67 years


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John Edward Vithen and Jessie May Roberts -- 67 years.


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John Vithen was born in Poplar, Iowa in 1905. His parents owned the Poplar general store and lived on a farm ½ mile south of the town. Jessie’s background was similar. She was born in Redline, Iowa, that same year. Her parents owned the general store there and resided in the store building. Both were of part Danish descent. The two met at a dance at the Poplar dance hall. At the time Jessie was teaching at Jackson #1 school and boarding with John’s half-sister. They courted for several years, some by horse and buggy, but mostly by Model T or A. They attended lots of dances and other neighborhood social events. ~~ Back then female schoolteachers were not supposed to be married. On August 22, 1928 the couple drove up to Windom, Minnesota, where they were married by a Rev. Olsen. Jessie put off announcing the marriage until her school’s Christmas program. John began farming that year and Jessie was allowed to continue teaching through May of 1930. They had 2 daughters: Jeannine Marie and Jeanette Elsie. During their many years together they held special celebrations for their 25th, 40th, 50th and 60th anniversaries, but didn’t have any overt secrets for an enduring relationship. They worked as a team on the farm. Jessie helped with chores and had a big garden. She also returned to teaching at Jackson #1 school in 1951 and, after county schools were consolidated, went to Elk Horn School. In August of 1960 she received a B. S. degree in Elementary Education from Omaha University and began teaching in Harlan. A very patient man, John never got angry at anyone. Once when daughter Jeanette managed to really tangle a rat-tailed comb in her hair John patiently worked for over an hour to try to get the comb free before giving up and cutting it out of her hair. ~~ John and Jessie held a farm sale in January 1963, and moved into Harlan, where they resided for many years.


  • Photograph courtesy of Jeanette Knudsen, Elk Horn IA.

  • Photograph courtesy of Jeanette Knudsen, Elk Horn IA.

  • Photograph courtesy of Jeanette Knudsen, Elk Horn IA.

  • Photograph courtesy of Jeanette Knudsen, Elk Horn IA.

  • Photograph courtesy of Jeanette Knudsen, Elk Horn IA.


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