Cedar County Historical Society & Museum

 1094 Hwy 38 * Tipton, IA * 52772

Kemmann's Implement

One of the 3 store fronts is set up as an implement dealership with items on display including a turn of the century carriage, a 2 person horse drawn sleigh, corn sizer and two types of cream separators. The focal piece of the room is our cherished 1905 Orient Buckboard.


H.D. Kemmann was born November 1, 1854 in Germany and immigrated to the United States as a boy of 16 years of age in 1870. Initially he stayed with his uncle in La Grange, IL – a suburb of Chicago. On word that there was a blacksmith looking to hire a man he then moved on to Inland Township, Cedar County, Iowa in 1875. 

Unfortunately, there was no blacksmith position at Inland so he moved on to Lowden when he heard that John Keller was looking to hire a blacksmith. Kemmann worked for Keller for 4 months never receiving payment for his work. To settle Keller’s debt to Kemmann, Kemmann took over Keller’s blacksmith business. Later he bought a building for the business and named it “Blacksmith and Wagon Shop”. 

Blacksmithing would remain a part of the family business until 1921 when the blacksmithing portion of the business and equipment were sold to Charlie Barnes of Lowden.

By 1898 Kemmann’s shop had also become the storage area for Lowden’s fire fighting equipment. To keep the water in the man-pulled tank from freezing a kerosene heater was used to warm it during the winter. On December 17th, an accident occurred and a fire started in the shop where the fire equipment was stored. The shop and fire equipment were a total loss and damage was done to the Kemmann home south of the shop. It is thought that the heater either malfunctioned or was set too high causing the wood floor in the building to ignite. Kemman did his horse shoeing and other blacksmithing outside that winter until a new shop could be built.

Through the year’s H.D. Kemmann worked on expanding his business. He added the sale of buggies and farm implements to his blacksmith shop. In 1904 he had his three eldest sons join him in partnership and opened their dealership in Clarence. Starting in 1912 the business, now called “H.D. Kemmann Sons”, started selling cars. First they sold Marathon’s and then added Fords. They also started selling Case, Overland and Chalmers implements and later added McCormick Deering which became International Harvester. In 1923 they became a Chevrolet dealership and sold this brand of cars until the business closed.

In 1906 H.D. Kemmann purchased the 1905 Orient Buckboard, to use for his commute between his two dealerships. The wood bodied car was assembled by Kemmann’s son Arthur W. Shortly after its assembly it developed a leaky tire which was temporarily repaired by forcing molasses through the valve stem of the tire. This small, one-cylinder car seats up to two people and uses rudder steering to navigate. The last time it was driven in a parade was 1983 after which it was fully restored and displayed in the Chevy dealership and making its parade appearances on a trailer. After some research using the serial number Kemmann’s great grandson, Eugene, confirmed the vehicle was manufactured in 1905. It is now on display in the Prairie Village in H.D. Kemmann’s Implement, named in honor of the man who developed a business that stood the test of time for over a century.


H.D. Kemmann's 1905 Orient Buckboard
and Donor Donna Meier