“Your sincere friend, Bernhart Henn”
Bernhart Henn (1817-1865), Fairfield Iowa’s pioneer banker
The son of Bernhart and Ann (Hudson) Henn, Bernhart was born in Cherry Valley, New York in 1817. As a young man, Henn mined lead in Wisconsin with General Augustus Caesar Dodge, and clerked for him when Dodge became register of the land office in Burlington in 1838. He married Elizabeth Price of Baltimore in 1841, and the couple had six children.
Henn himself became Fairfield Iowa’s land office register from 1846 through 1849, was elected president of the Fairfield branch of the State University in May 1849, and was senior member of Fairfield Iowa’s first bank: Henn, Williams & Co., founded on January 1, 1851.
Bernhart Henn served as Democratic U. S. Congressman from 1851 to 1855, during which time he supported the controversial “pro-slavery” Kansas-Nebraska Act. After returning from Washington, D.C. to Fairfield, Iowa, he remained involved in banking and real estate until his death on August 30, 1865, a scant four months after the end of the Civil War.
His gracious 1857 brick mansion – for years affectionately called “the Henn House” – was restored in 1986 and still stands just north of downtown Fairfield Iowa on the college campus of what is now Maharishi University of Management.