The Massena, Iowa Ansteys

by Gary. M. Ansteychief researcher of the Anstey story project.

Overview of the Massena, Iowa Ansteys

The Massena, Iowa Ansteys of America are a sub-branch of the Llandenny Ansteys, themselves a sub-branch of the Stoke Gifford Ansteys, headed by George James Anstey (b 1858 Llantrissent), who was first cousin to William Daniel Anstey, patriarch of the Cumberland, Iowa Ansteys.

George James Anstey (b 1858 Llantrissent)

George James Anstey was born on 24 October 1858 at White Hall Farm, Llantrissent, Monmouthshire to parents John Anstey of Llandenny and Elizabeth Pullen Lloyd.

As a young man, in either 1876 or 1877, George emigrated to America, settling for an initial period in Grant County, Wisconsin where he worked for his aunt Maria Briscoe. According to a biography which appeared in the December 2009 edition of  ‘Hereford World’ magazine: “George moved to Iowa [in 1878], where he began working for a farmer for $15 per month. George and his employer ventured to Minnesota for a cattle purchase – a state where grasshoppers had riddled the crops and farmers were dispersing their cattle herds at low prices. Upon the suggestion of his employer, George invested $150 of savings to purchase cattle of his own. He sold that herd for $300 the following spring and returned to Minnesota to purchase more cattle. George continued this process until he had built a herd of 60 head of mixed breeds. In 1881 he married Ada Louise Alway [of Canada] and they purchased 240 acres at $12.50 per acre in Massena, [Cass County], Iowa

[Note: Some reports state that George bought Fairview Farm in Massena in 1885 (880 acres in size); others state that he bought the farm in 1878 (for example, the ‘Compendium and History of Cass County, Iowa’). In any case, George lived in Massena, Cass County, for most of his life, and his Anstey descendants live there still today.]

George and Ada had eleven children in America, namely

  • John Alway Anstey (b 1882 Cass County – see below);
  • Ada Elizabeth Anstey? (b 1884?, died before 1945 possibly as an infant);
  • Elizabeth Mary Anstey (b 1884 Massena, married Lawrence Joseph Jennings in 1904 in Reno. She died in 1937)
  • Eleanor Helen Anstey (b 1886 Cass, known as Nell and Helen, living with her family in the 1910 American Census. She was alive in 1945 living at Massena. She appears never to have married and died in 1971 in Atlantic, Cass, Iowa, buried at St Timothy’s Cemetery in Cass);
  • Phoebe Florence Anstey (b 1887 Massena, known sometimes as Florence, living with her family in the 1910 American Census. She married Henry Joseph Spiese [Spies] in 1911 in Reno, Cumberland. They were living in Anita in 1945);
  • Kathleen Harriet Anstey (b 1890 Massena, married Joseph Peter Kordick in 1908 in Reno, Cass County. They were living in Des Moines in 1945);
  • George W. Anstey (b 1892 Massena, died an infant);
  • Lloyd Robert Anstey (b 10 September 1896 Massena, living with his family in the 1910 American Census. In the June 1918 Draft Registration for World War One, Lloyd noted that he was “a native of the United States living in Massena” and that he was working for his father. Lloyd married Lois Parker in 1920 in Corning and they lived in Benton, Cass County and Edna, Cass County – we find no children of this marriage. Lloyd died in December 1942; he was buried at St. Timothy Cemetery, Cass, Iowa);
  • Charles Lawrence Anstey (b 1899 Massena, living with his family in the 1910 American Census. In the September 1918 Draft Registration for World War One, Charles wrote that he was farmer living at Massena, Iowa. According to a biography from an unknown author “Charles Anstey was born on October 2, 1899 to George J. and Ada Anstey. He married Sarah Marcella Hatton, known as Marcella, of Corning, Iowa on October 14, 1919. They were the parents of nine children. Marie Sarah Anstey (b 1920) married Eugene Carper, and lives in Glendale, California. Edward Eugene Anstey (b 1922), known as Eugene, married Phyllis Pigsley, and lives in Boca Raton, Florida. Geraldine Anstey (b 1924) married Ambrose Kommes. and lives in Exira, Iowa. Charles James Anstey Junior (b 1929) married Ruby Bolz and lives on the home place in Massena [see this pdf for more on this family, who still live in Massena]. Rita Anstey (b 1930) married Lloyd Worthington. Lawrence Lewis Anstey (b 1936), known as Larry, married Mary Ann McLaren and lives in Atlantic, Iowa. Leo Darwin Anstey (b 1937) married Beverly Shewman, and lived in Ralston, Nebraska, and passed away in July 1985. Thomas Anstey (b 1940), known as Tom, married Marilyn Westman and lives in Harlan, Iowa. John Anstey (b 1942) married Kathy Lucas and lives in Omaha, Nebraska. Charles [Lawrence Anstey] Senior spent his entire life in Edna Township. He was a breeder of Registered Herefords and Hampshire hogs. He was a member of the American Hereford Association and Knights of Columbus. Charles passed away on April 18, 1956. After the sale of Charles‘ herd of Hereford cattle, Marcella moved to Omaha, Nebraska, and later returned to Atlantic, Iowa. She passed away on April 12, 1985, at the Exira Care Center, where she had made her home for two years. The Ansteys were members of the Reno Catholic Church and are both buried at the cemetery there“);
  • May [Mae/Mary] Victoria Anstey (b 1902 Massena, living with her family in the 1910 American Census. She married first Chester Arthur Wyckoff in 1922 in St Thomas Reno and later Martin Eagan Dunn. She was living in Roseville, California in 1945); and
  • George James Anstey Junior (b 1908 Massena, known as James and Jim, living with his family in the 1910 American Census. He married Vivian Margaret Landstrom and they had six children. He was alive in 1945 living in Massena carrying on the family business and died in 1972, buried at St Timothy Cemetery, Cass County, Iowa).

In the ‘Atlantic Daily Telegraph’ (5 June 1883 edition), it stated that “George J. Anstey Esq. started to Chicago May 25th, with seventy five head of fat cattle of his own feeding. Mr Anstey is a successful feeder, but missed it this time on the price like all others who fed late.” In 1887, he bought his first Hereford Bull, an act which was to define his legacy; indeed, according to the ‘Atlantic News Telegraph’, in 1939 when he was 81 years of age, Georgewas the oldest breeder of registered Hereford cattle in the United States“. In 1895 according to the diary of his first cousin William Daniel Anstey, patriarch of the Cumberland, Iowa Ansteys, Georgepopped over on 13 January“.

According to a 2009 biography, “George began Fairview Herefords with the purchase of one registered Hereford cow – Irene 31572 – at the Iowa State fair from the McKnight herd of Pennsylvania, and one registered Hereford bull – Lord Hewer 31443 – from the Iowa Hereford Cattle Co. of Indianola, Iowa”. According to the ‘Iowa Barn Foundation’, “by 1927 every major Hereford show winner in the USA was a product of an Anstey Hereford. The Anstey barn, built in 1920, is still used in [George’s] family’s Hereford cattle business [today]”. According to the ‘Monmouthshire Beacon’ newspaper in 1931, “[George has] built up their farm [in Massena] of 800 acres and made it nationally known as a home of the world’s finest breeds of Hereford cattle” and “at present over three hundred of these beautiful white faces [Herefords] are in the pastures. Present day Hereford breeders in that country are well acquainted with the Anstey herd of today, a herd almost entirely composed of females bred on this farm for many generations.

In 1909, George returned to visit England, the ‘Adams County Free Press’ reported that: “George J. Anstey left last Wednesday for England where he will visit his mother and several brothers. His daughter Miss Nellie accompanied him. It has been about eight years since he has been there and he goes this time on account of the illness of his mother, although he had intended making the trip this fall. They will leave New York tomorrow (Saturday) and will take one of the fast ships and will be in Liverpool about Thursday evening or Friday morning. Mr Anstey has crossed the pond [Atlantic Ocean] seven times and every time he gets seasick.” In the 1910 American Census the family were living at “Edna Cass County Iowa“.

In 1931, George and Ada celebrated their Golden Wedding anniversary, a write-up in the ‘Monmouthshire Beacon’ newspaper stating that: “[George James Anstey] emigrated to the United States on 4 April 1877 and was married to Miss Ada Louise Alway at Des Moines on 2 November 1881. There have been eleven children of the marriage, nine of whom are still alive. Mr and Mrs Anstey have lived at Fairview Farm, in Cass County, Iowa near the little village of Massena. They have built up their farm of  800 acres and made it nationally known as a home of the world’s finest breeds of Hereford cattle…Mr and Mrs Anstey are 73 and 69 years of age respectively and have 36 grandchildren and four great grandchildren.

In the ‘Atlantic News Telegraph’ on 23 October 1939, another article appeared about George, stating that “like all farmers and cattle men [George] has suffered reverses many times during his career and was at one time more than $50,000 in the red, but by sheer perseverance and faith in his herd and in Iowa agriculture he pulled out of the hole”.

George James Anstey died on 9 February 1945 in Massena, Cass County, Iowa, from a fall and an age-related illness; he had been bedridden since Christmas 1944. His funeral was held at Reno Catholic Church in Cass County; he was buried at St Timothy’s (Reno), Cumberland, Iowa, where incidentally there is a stained glass window commissioned by George in memory of his parents John and Elizabeth.

An obituary reads “George J. Anstey, widely known Cass County Cattle Breeder, died at his home six miles southwest of Massena. Death was due to a fall and his advanced age. He was born October 14, 1858 at Whitehall, near Newport, England, a son of John and Elizabeth Anstey. He came to America at the age of 16 locating in Wisconsin, where he lived before coming to Iowa. On November 2, 1885 he was married to Miss Ada Louise Alway of Canada who departed this life May 8, 1940. To them eleven children were born, four preceded their father in death, George, Ada, Elizabeth and Lloyd. Those living are two sons, Charles and James and one daughter Nell at home another son John of Massena. Three other daughters, Mrs. Florence Spiese of Anita, Mrs. Kathleen Kordick of Des Moines, and Mrs. Mae Dunn of Roseville, California. Two brothers, Fred of Prescott, Iowa and Arthur in England. He also leaves 44 grandchildren, 26 great-grandchildren and many other relatives. He entered the business of raising Hereford cattle and is credited with having played a big part in developing and popularising the breed. Mr. Anstey judged at the National and International shows. Illness had stifled his activity in recent years but the business has been carried on by his two sons, Charles and James who were his partners.”

George James Anstey‘s 44 grandchildren and 26 great grandchildren ensure that his Stoke Gifford ‘Anstey’ bloodline in America is surely secure.

John Alway Anstey (b 1882 Cass, Iowa)

John Alway Anstey was born on 25 August 1882 in Cass County, Iowa to parents George James Anstey and Ada Louise Alway. He married Mary Ellen Cruise (eldest daughter of George and Mary McGarry Cruise, born November 24, 1881) in 1906 at the Catholic Church in Reno and they had children in Massena:

  • Veronica Mary Anstey (b 1909, known as Mary, living with her parents in the 1910 American Census. She married John Francis O’Neal in 1940 in Clarion, Wright, Iowa);
  • Helen Bertha Anstey (b 1911, married Lee Douglas Van Antwerp);
  • Marjorie K. Anstey (b 1913, married John C. Hughes in 1948 in Kodiak, Alaska);
  • George Cruise Anstey (b 1917, “Anstey, Dr. George Cruise 95, fortified with the Sacraments of Holy Mother Church on Friday, March 2, 2012. Beloved husband of Catherine Anstey; loving father of G. Stephen Anstey Ph.D., John T. (Colleen) Anstey M.D., James P. Anstey, Mary Ellen (L.W. Whitaker) Anstey R.N. and Joseph G. (Erika) Anstey M.D.; dear grandfather of Christopher L. (Melissa) Anstey, Tom (Katherine) Anstey and Pete (Bridget) Anstey; dearest great-grandfather of Allie, Margaret, Miles and Jacob. George served as a Battalion’s Surgeon in WWII with the 3rd Armoured Division. He was a charter member of the Mid-Town Hampton Kiwanis, a member of St. Margaret of Scotland Catholic Church and a long time member at Norwood Hills Country Club. Services: Visitation from 9 a.m. to 10 a.m., Tuesday, March 6, at St. Margaret of Scotland Catholic Church, 3854 Flad Ave. with Mass at 10 a.m. (MEET AT CHURCH). Interment Jefferson Barracks National Cemetery.“); and
  • John Eugene Anstey (died an infant)

In the 1910 American Census the family were at Massena. In the September 1918 Draft Registration for World War One, John Alway Anstey wrote that he was a “veterinarian stock raising” working for himself in Massena. He was still alive in 1945 living in Massena when his father died.

According to a biography from an unknown author, “John [Alway Anstey] and Mary were residents of Massena for more than 60 years. Their first home was ‘on the corner’ on Main Street across from the Baptist Church. Dr. John, a veterinarian, graduated from Iowa State University in Ames, Iowa in 1905 and began his practice in Massena that same year. He was on the school board for 12 years; mayor for eight years; a director of the Farmers Savings Bank; was active, generous, and interested in helping the 4-H Club members, as well as the high school athletic department by providing the playing field on their nearby farm. Mary‘s interests were their family and home, the auxiliary of the American Legion, the Altar and Rosary Society, and the Garden Club. Both were very active members of St. Patrick Catholic Church. They had five children: Veronica, Helen, Marjorie, George, and John Eugene, who died in infancy. They also had 10 grandchildren. Both John and Mary passed away at the nursing home in Anita in 1975 and are buried at the St. Patrick Catholic Cemetery in Massena.

The ‘Anita Tribune‘ on 19 June 1975 wrote “Funeral services for Mrs. Mary Anstey, 93, will be held at St. Patrick’s Catholic Church in Massena at 11 a.m. today (Thursday, June 19), with Fr. James Wadsworth offering the Requiem Mass. Interment will be at Calvary Cemetery, Massena. Mrs. Anstey died at Crestwood Nursing Home in Anita at 9:45 a.m. Tuesday, June 17; she had been a resident there since 1966. She was born on November 24, 1881 in Adams County, the daughter of George Cruise and Mrs. McGarry Cruise, and married Dr. John Anstey on June 6, 1906, at St. Timothy’s Catholic Church (Reno). The couple were life-long residents of the Massena community; Dr. Anstey carried on a veterinary practice for many years. Survivors include her husband, a resident of Crestwood Nursing Home, Anita; three daughters, Veronica O’Neill of Clarion, Helen Van Antwerp of Chicago and Marjorie Hughes of Anchorage, Alaska, and a son, Dr. George Anstey of St. Louis, Missouri. The late Mrs. Anstey and her husband observed their 69th wedding anniversary last Thursday.

Further Details on the Massena, Iowa Ansteys

#1. Frederick C. Anstey and his family, including his son William Cecil Anstey (Bill Anstey) also lived in Massena, Iowa – they are covered in the Llandenny Ansteys page.

We are actively on the lookout for Massena, Iowa Anstey experts alive today who are willing to add their findings and knowledge to this project. We are particularly interested in research regarding Massena, Iowa Anstey who fought in World War One, preferably with personal souvenirs such as letters sent by the soldiers or military photos etc. 

Anybody who has such expertise and inclination, please contact us at research@theansteystory.com.

We have already uploaded bits of information and documentation about the Massena, Iowa Anstey, and continue to upload more all the time (see Project Updates), however it is spread over various segments of the website.

The best way to find said information is to enter ‘Massena’ in the search box at the bottom of this page and a list of relevant pages will appear.

Anybody who finds any mistakes on this page, please contact us at research@theansteystory.com and we will correct it.

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