It all started with one Riensche.
Friedrich Wilhelm Riensche (1826 – 1908) was working as a farmhand in Berenbusch, Germany when he decided to make the trip to the United States and begin his own farm. In 1861, he boarded a ship in pursuit of the American Dream. Upon his arrival, he began working on the railroads in Indiana.
After six years, he moved to Black Hawk County, Iowa. At the time, he and his father-in-law each had a single ox. Together, they teamed up their oxen and cut open the unbroken prairie soil. As they cultivated the soil, they also cultivated a long line of Riensche farmers.
Soon after, Friedrich’s son, Ernst Heinrich Christian (Henry) Riensche (1867 – 1952), arrived from Germany with the rest of the family. Henry began working on the new farm with his father. Friedrich and Henry became dedicated to continuously making the farm a better place to live and helped to build a community in the area. This little community would come to be the town of Jubilee.
Jubilee was both a stop on a horse and carriage line and part of a regular mail route. There was an assortment of small stores on the corner of the Riensche’s home farm today, where Jesup Road and Rickard Road now intersect. Among the stores were a post office, a grocery store, and a doctor’s office. There was also a blacksmith shop, a harness shop, and a butcher shop, as well as a photographic gallery where you could have your picture taken. The largest business in Jubilee was the creamery.
The town also had a German school. The first school was made of wooden logs and, in 1856, cost $110 in total to construct. In addition to helping grow the town of Jubilee, Henry also helped build the Zion Lutheran Jubilee Church. Until the church was built, Lutherans in Jubilee traveled thirty-five miles to the nearest church for services every Sunday. They would leave their homes as early as two o’clock in the morning, forming a wagon train and reaching the church just in time for services to start. This went on for years until arrangements were made for the pastor to hold services in one of their homes. Then, in 1861, Zion Lutheran Jubilee was built, also as a log cabin, just one mile south of the town.
Henry’s son, Irwin William John (Erwin) Riensche (1899 – 1959), was a progressive farmer. He brought modern agricultural equipment to the farm. In addition, he had a reputation for being a good businessman. He bought the current Riensche farm for just $150 an acre.
Roland Wallace Riensche (1930) took over the farm from his father. As a child, Roland rode his horse, Toots, to the Jubilee School and back every day. However, by that time, the rest of the town of Jubilee had quietly faded away. This was due to the railroad company deciding not to build their new line through Jubilee as planned but through the next town north—Jesup. The Jubilee post office officially closed on January 15th, 1911, but the school continued to hold classes for years afterwards, where Roland attended. Roland continues to farm today under Riensche Farms, Inc.
Today, Benjamin R Riensche, and his wife, Lisa Marie (Marquart) Riensche, run the Riensche family farm, now the Blue Diamond Farming Company (est. 1993), with their four children—Lauren Marie, Hannah Lisa, Hans Adam, and Faith Rachel. The farm still retains Erwin’s barn and Roland’s shop, and, in recent years, has seen Ben’s addition to the farm—two shops, a Quonset, and a new family residence.
The community of Jubilee maybe be gone, but there remain remnants of its existence. The old school has been converted into a home, the church still draws a regular congregation every week, and the Riensches still live and farm on the same ground that their ancestors did before them.