Baldwin was to manage the business in Gray, but he was unable to make it work.
Louis had to take the business back. At this time he also bought the 240 acres for
$100.00 an acre. The Central City land was kept by Louis until July 29, 1954, when
it was sold for $100.00 an acre, the same price he paid for it. The family referred to
this land (in jest) as Poverty Ridge.
The business of F. C. Hepp and Grotelueschen prospered in 1912. Grote-
lueschen and Company became a sales agency for Buick, Studebaker, and Reo
automobiles in 1917. Louis continued to use confidence, good judgment, moral in-
tegrity, and common sense in all his business endeavors.
During World War I, six men
from Audubon came into the Gray
store to confront Louis with the ru-
mor that he was a German sympa-
thizer. As they walked in, Louis was
in the back waiting on a customer
and speaking in German. A good
friend, Ed Rice, president of the
bank, saw what was taking place so
he came over to the store from the
bank and questioned the six as to
what was taking place. After they
told him, he asked they hold off do-
ing or saying anything until he re-
turned. He went back to the bank
for just a short while. When he re-
turned, he held an envelope of war
bonds. Mr. Rice stated that if the
six of them together had as many
bonds as those belonging to Louis
that he held in his hand, they then
could say or do anything they wanted. When Mr. Rice told them the total value of
the bonds, the six just left the store and went back to Audubon.
On Feb. 7, 1922, Louis Grotelueschen saw much of his hard work go up in
smoke as Gray experienced the most disastrous fire in its history. That night two
general stores, two hardware and implement stores, a barbershop, pool hall, and
an empty drug store building were destroyed. The water supply was inadequate,
so hundreds of people began carrying things out of the buildings to save the be-
longings. According to witnesses, people in the crowd which had congregated
stole the goods about as fast as they were carried out. Louis business was burned
to the ground.
In 1922, immediately after the fire, Louis and his eight children moved from
Gray to Audubon, Iowa. He purchased a building and moved his business to this
location where he continued with the John Deere dealer franchise, pump and wind-
mill repair, and heavy hardware sales. In 1926, Louis purchased a John Deere
dealership at Coon Rapids, Iowa, which was managed by his son Ted who was mar-
ried that year.
Louis Grotelueschen residence
in Gray, IA