The Klontz Family of Cherry Valley

Dr. Charles Edward Klontz brought the Klontz name to Cherry Valley in 1904 when he began his medical practice after graduating from Northwestern University Medical School. He married Elizabeth Wilmira Case, a Knox College Conservatory of Music graduate and daughter of David and Emma Case. The couple initially lived in Rockford but soon returned to Cherry Valley, where Dr. Klontz practiced until his death in 1947. They had four children: Edward, Gladys, David, and Charles Jr. Dr. Klontz was known for his dedicated community service, house calls, and contributions to the local medical and farming communities. His legacy continued through his children and their contributions to Cherry Valley and beyond.

The Klontz name came to Cherry Valley in 1904 when Dr. Charles Edward Klontz, soon after receiving his M.D. degree from Northwestern University Medical School, began his medical practice. He was single at the time but soon acquired a wife, Elizabeth Wilmira Case, a graduate of Knox College Conservatory of Music, and the daughter of David and Emma Case.

He was a second doctor in the community. The first was a Dr. Woodard, and, whether or not that was a factor, the young Klontzes stayed in Cherry Valley only a short time, one or two years, electing to move to Rockford to practice and live. Home and office were on West State Street in the vicinity of Grace Methodist Church. But the big city didn’t appeal to them, and after about two years they returned to Cherry Valley where Dr. Klontz practiced until his death in 1947. For the first year or so they lived on State Street across from the school while the white frame house was being built, presumably as a delayed wedding present from David Case, near the center of town. Both structures are still standing. Son, Edward, and wife, Kathryn, now live in the one which had been Dr. Klontz’ office.

Dr. Klontz was born December 21, 1879 in McConnell, Illinois, the son of farmer John Klontz and Lavina Reedy Klontz. They had come from Pennsylvania and Ohio, respectively, but prior history of the Klontz clan is not known to the writer; he was told they were of “Pennsylvania Dutch” background, and had migrated from Germany some generations earlier. Father John died in 1897 when Charles was 17 years old, and at that time he went to Forreston, Illinois to live with his older sister, Ida. (there were 5 children altogether and also 5 older half brothers and sisters from Lavina’s former marriage in Ohio). Ida was married to John Lins, an employee of the U. S. Railroad Mail Service. Charles attended high school in Forreston for one year, then a year at Mt. Morris (Illinois) College, and after the Linses moved to Rockford went to Beloit Academy for one year–all in preparation for medical school.

There were four children of Charles and Elizabeth Klontz: Edward Case, born in 1908 while his parents were living in Rockford; a daughter, Gladys, who died at age 5 of pneumonia; David Leroy, born in 1912; and Charles E. Jr., born in 1916. Interestingly, this youngest son and parents as well were for twenty seven years under the impression they had a “Jr.” named after the father. Only upon obtaining a copy of the birth certificate in 1943 when Charles Jr. was entering the Navy was it discovered he had been named Charles Elvin. His name was then legally changed to Charles E. (initials only) so that he could continue using the “Jr.” as he had been doing for some twenty to twenty five years.

Edward for many years farmed the two Klontz farms north of Cherry Valley. In later years, he worked for the Wilbert Vault Company in Rockford until retirement about a year ago. He and his wife, the former Kathryn Phillips, have no children.

David, after graduating from Rockford Central High School in 1930, attended Worsham College of Mortuary Science in Chicago. He then served as an apprentice at the Atkins-Johnson Funeral Home, Belvidere. While there, he served as deputy coroner under Boone County Coroner, Floyd Atkins. In 1933, David became a partner in the Ochsner-Klontz Funeral Home in Rockford, continuing until about 1940. He then was associated with Burpee-Wood Funeral Home before starting Long-Klontz.

Long active in Republican politics, he served as county coroner for three consecutive four-year terms, from 1940 to 1952. He formerly was vice chairman of the GOP county central committee and a Republican precinct committeeman. He was a candidate for the Republican nomination for coroner in the 1960 primary election.

In 1964, David served as Potentate of Tebala Shrine Temple; he was a member of many Shrine and Masonic groups, and a past master of Cherry Valley Masonic Lodge, #173, A.F. & A.M. He was also a past president and lieutenant governor of the Rockford Kiwanis, a member of the Elks Club, Eagles, and other groups. He was a member of Court Street United Methodist Church and had served on both the church board of trustees and board of stewards.

David married Lily Anderson, daughter of the L.A. Andersons who farmed south east of Cherry Valley. They had one daughter, Kathryn, who is married to John Emmert, an Episcopal minister, pastor of a church in Valdez, Alaska from 1973-1975. In July 1975, they returned to Virginia. Subsequent to Lily’s death, David married Ruth Spaulding. David died in 1974 of an apparent heart attack.

Further information regarding the youngest of the Klontz children, Charles Jr., the writer of the account, will be given later.

Medical practice of Dr. Charles Klontz was of a type which has virtually disappeared from the American scene. Excepting the earliest few years of practice, he was the only physician in Cherry Valley, and his practice extended to the rural areas several miles in every direction, with some patients in Belvidere, Rockford and nearby towns. Usually they were ex-Cherry Valleyites or relatives or close friends of those from Cherry Valley. His mornings were spent on house calls or visiting the occasional patient hospitalized in Rockford, usually at St. Anthony’s Hospital. Night calls were not infrequent, and were accepted as a service to be expected. He held office consultation hours each afternoon, Sundays excepted, from 1-3 P.M. and each evening from 7-9 P.M.

Medicines were included as a part of the office or home visit; the medicinal smell of the office and cars and his clothing remain a vivid memory to the writer. Equipment was modest; a cabinet of instruments, a large diathermy machine and an ultraviolet lamp suspended from the ceiling. Urinalysis and hemoglobin tests were the only ones done at the office.

The writer recalls seeing an office ledger from about 1930 with office call charges, including medicines, of $1.00, $1.50, and $2.00 and home visit charges of $3.00 and $4.00. The charge for home delivery with pre and post-partum care at the time of that ledger was $35.00. During his first 20-25 years of practice, Dr. Klontz kept a horse, “Mac”, with buggy and also sled for inclement weather and appropriate road conditions, but he relied on the automobile throughout most of his period of practice. In addition to a long series of Model T’s, the writer remembers a Franklin, a Star, and a Studebaker designed to serve also as an ambulance.

Dr. Klontz’ only avocation, other than an occasional evening of cards, (“Five Hundred”), was farming. Immediately after the afternoon office hours, he would frequently hurry to the farm, don overalls and pitch in with whatever work was in progress haying, harvesting, fighting “Canada Thistles” and milking. The only vacations that are remembered are his driving his family to Lake Worth, Florida where they would stay for several weeks while he returned to his practice. Once he drove the three boys to Niagara Falls.

The most vivid memories of the writer, Charles E. Jr., are of his schooling, but that’s not surprising when he realizes that 25 years were spent in formal education. As vivid memories as any, although few in number, are those of the first year at Miss Yates’ Kindergarten in Rockford, located on a triangular lot at the intersection of Charles Street, East State and Seventh Street. There was daily commuting, at age 5, on the interurban. The only kindergarten friend with whom there has been a continuing contact–admittedly infrequent-is Axel Eklund of Rockford’s Sweden House.

Then eight years at the Cherry Valley School with these teachers: Miss Dornick (I think) for grades 1 and 2; cousin Alchee Case Waddell for grades 3 and 4; Mrs. Lottie Gannon for grades 5 and 6; and Mrs. Marie Markham for grades 7 and 8. There was intermittent contact with Marie over the years, and in fact, the teacher-student relationship of Cherry Valley days had changed to patient-physician relationship at the time of her death in Rockford 30 years or so later. Memories of school years are many, but only two will be recorded: the pleasure of “spelling-bees” or “spell-downs”, and the frustration of a compulsive determination to be at the top of the class scholastically, continuously, or at least repeatedly, being thwarted by a classmate, Helen Rita Healey.

For 9th grade, there was a return to daily commuting on the interurban line, and attendance at Lincoln Junior High School. At about this time, 1931, the Klontz family moved from the “big white house” in Cherry Valley out to “the farm” 1 1/2 miles north on the so-called Mill Road running past the mill race, Cherry Valley Cemetery, Bremer farm, Lantz farm (son, Revel, was a grade school classmate, a baseball enthusiast, and a diabetic who died of his disease in his late teens), the Ira Green and George Larson farms.

Playing tuba in the band is one of the fondest recollections of three years (1931-1933) at the Rockford Central High School. This was followed by four years, actually five, because the senior year had to be dropped and repeated due to a prolonged illness, the nature of which remains a mystery to this time, at Beloit College with graduation in 1938 (B.S. in Chemistry). Even more rewarding and meaningful, however, was the acquisition at Beloit of the friendship of Lucile Worcester of Oak Park, Illinois – later to become my wife.

Then came four years at the University of Illinois College of Medicine in Chicago, a four year scholarship at Illinois taking precedence over a sentimental desire to attend his father’s Alma Mater, Northwestern, and a one year internship at Research and Educational Hospital in Chicago. June, 1943 marked the receiving of M.D. and M.S. degrees, and marriage to Lucile at the Wesley Methodist Church in Oak Park. During those five years of Charles’ medical school and internship, Lucile had spent two getting her degree at Beloit (B.A. 1940), one teaching high school at Bloomer, Wisconsin, and two as a United Air Lines stewardess – in the first groups of non-nurses taken by an airlines.

The newly marrieds started life together at Rochester, Minnesota as Charles began a Fellowship in Internal Medicine at Mayo Clinic. This was interrupted by two years active duty (1944-46) in the Navy. Duty consisted of: an indoctrination period in Seattle and Oceanside, California, six months on an APA (attack transport) ship for the Okinawa invasion, one year as Medical Officer on an ammunition ship in the Pacific, and finally, a few months as Medical Officer at the U. S. Naval Hospital in Vallejo, California.

In 1946, the Klontz couple (during the war years while Charles was overseas, Lucile spent a year teaching in California and a year writing “society news” for the Rockford newspapers) returned to Rochester, completed the three year specialty fellowship and, in may, 1948, moved to Rockford to begin private practice.

Almost immediately after beginning practice, Charles and a few other young doctors in various specialties began dreaming and thinking of practicing as a group. This moved on to an intense planning phase, and within three years they had formed their group, built their building, and in the fall of 1951 started group practice functioning as the Medical Clinic of Rockford, now known as the Rockford Clinic on North Rockton Avenue. Those years of practicing and living in Rockford (1948-1955) were extremely busy, full and satisfying; first in establishing a practice and home, then the years of forming the group, and finally, levelling off as far as family. Four children were born to the Klontzes during these Rockford years while living at 2112 Harlem Boulevard: David Stephen, January 15, 1949; Elizabeth Ann, May 24, 1951; Jonathan Charles, April 20, 1952; and Karl Case, December 27, 1954.

In 1954-55, with a practice as busy as the day would allow, the Klontzes decided to follow an inclination which had either to be done then, while the children were small, or deferred until after they had completed high school – they began what they thought would be a 2-3 year leave of absence from the Clinic and practice and went to Vellore, South India as missionaries at the Christian Medical College and Hospital, a large inter-denominational and internationally supported medical school and 900 bed teaching hospital. The work was fascinating and fulfilling, and a period of five years went rapidly. Although electing not to continue as missionaries, they found the variety, interest, and ever challenge of overseas life and work unequalled, and followed their 5 years in India with 3 years in Kathmandu, Nepal with the State Department.

In 1964, Charles was asked to take a position in the home office of the Department of State in Washington. While there, on a 3 year tour, they recognized that this life fulfilled all of their expectations, and so in 1966 Charles became a career Foreign Service Officer. Life since then has consisted of 3 years in Vienna, Austria as Regional Medical Officer for Europe (with the exception of 4 countries), then from 1970-72, tour in Bogota, Colombia as Science Attache and Regional Medical Officer for several countries in the northern part of South America, the Caribbean and Central America.

Since 1972, Charles has been “grounded” in Washington because of a medical problem and has been unable to be assigned to another full tour overseas. But the varied and even exciting life has continued with several unexpected – and on very short notice – trips and brief tours of duty: in 1974, tours of 2-3 months each in Tunisia, Viet Nam and Nepal (Lucile came along on these tours at personal expense; the Government doesn’t pay for spouse or family on less than the full–usually 2 years or longer–tour; in 1973, a 2-1/2 weeks “red carpet” visit to the Peoples Republic of China as medical attendant to a group of Congressmen and wives; a whirl-wind trip to 13 countries in 13 days with the Secretary of State; and a recent (1975) two-week visit to 5 West-African countries where we have U. S. medical officers assigned. A life of expecting the unexpected, learning to enjoy the excitement of unsettled existence, and coming in contact with many cultures and peoples have been some of the rewards of the past twenty Years for the Klontz family.

Since Dr. Charles E. Klontz wrote this family history, news was received of his death in his Washington D.C. home on March 19, 1976.

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