Marlene Ann Fennern Overton Memories
By WGS Member Marlene Overton
On Sept. 24, 1937, Marlene Ann Fennern was born in Pottawattamie County, Iowa about two (2) miles south of Neola, Iowa, high on a farm hill at the farm that her parents had rented.
August Henry Fennern and Josephine Ann Pauley had received their fourth daughter into the world. The eldest daughter died at birth and was buried in an unmarked grave in the Shelby, Iowa Cemetery, near her great-grandparents, Heinrich F. Castens and Sophie M. Hoppe Castens.
Two siblings of Marlene survive, Audrey Fennern Mayhew is widowed, and living in Hillsboro, Oregon. Lorrene Fennern Anderson is divorced and living in Venice, Florida.
In the winter of 1938-39, after crop failures, the family moved two hundred miles east to near Vinton, Iowa (Benton County, Iowa). The farm was on Mud Creek two miles south of Vinton.
August H. Fennern raised registered prized shorthorn cattle, as did his father August R. and his brothers, Walter, Edward, and Erwin, who all eventually moved to Benton County, Iowa. The cattle were frequently shown in stock shows throughout the Midwest, winning many awards.
The August R. Fennerns came to the Avoca/Shelby, Iowa areas by way of Davenport, Iowa, coming from Schleswig Holstein, Germany on the ship Westphalia in the early 1880’s.
His father, Heinrich was widowed shortly after arriving in Davenport, Iowa when Margaretha died following a fall off a hayrack and breaking her back. Heinrich and Margaretha Fennern are buried in Davenport in Fairmont Cemetery. He later remarried.
August R. Fennern worked as a hired man and when he didn’t receive his wages, he apparently beat up the man, and hopped a freight train, ending up in Omaha, Nebraska.
He then went to Avoca, Iowa where he worked as a hired man. He married the farmer’s daughter, Sophie Castens.
They lived on several farms east and west of Avoca, Iowa while the family grew up and later moved to Benton County, Iowa. They are both buried in the Shelby, Iowa Cemetery.
August H. Fennern and wife, Josephine Ann Pauley, daughter of the late Joe and Gusta Sohl Pauley from the Shelby County area, farmed in and around the Avoca, Iowa area until moving to the Benton County, Iowa area. They retired there and are both buried in the Evergreen Cemetery in Vinton, Iowa.
Josephine suffered from severe rheumatoid arthritis throughout her whole life, and finally was confined to a wheelchair in her final years.
Marlene attended various schools around the Vinton, Iowa area as her parents moved to different rental farms. She graduated from the Dysart High School in Dysart, Iowa.
In her younger years, she worked in retail as an secretary to the Dysart High School Superintendent. Later, she worked at Collins Radio in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.
She married Lee R. Overton on Nov. 2, 1957 in Dysart, Iowa. (The two previous Walnut Antique City Roots featured Lee and his family.)
At the age of 35, Marlene went to LPN school.
Four children were born to Lee and Marlene. Son Mark is married to Kathryn Steiner with daughter Jamie and son Robert, residing in Fort Worth, Texas. He is in hospital management and she is a school secretary. Daughter Diane is married to Jeff Hanft with daughter Elizabeth, residing in Commerce Township, Michigan. He is CEO in Ekstrom and Diane is a nurse, working for a cardiologist. Daughter Ann is single, living in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, a supervisor of Pediatrics and of the pediatrics ICU at St. Luke’s Hospital. Daughter Mary is married to Michael Symmonds with sons, Jacob and Mitchell and daughter Laura, residing in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. He is an electrician with his own business and Mary is a remedial elementary teacher. A step-grandson, Matthew Reinertsen, living in Minneapolis, Minnesota and attending college, completes our family.
Marlene Ann Fennern Overton
6514 Asbury Lane NE