Dr. Erick Christian

     Dr. Erick Christian, son of Christian and Anna Christian was born in Lisbon, Illinois on September 26, 1858.   Erick's mother Anna was born March 9 of 1830, and came to this country as a young lady before marrying Christian Christian during the fall of 1881.   To this couple, seven children were born;  Lewis, Randall, Julia, Fran, Martin, Ellis, and Erick.   Erick was baptised and confirmed in the Lutheran faith in Helmer, Illinois.   He lived in Illinois until the early 1880s.  His mother Anna died March 8 of 1911, and was one day shy of living to the age of 81.

     After moving to central Iowa, Erick married Miss Fannie Garrison on September 26, 1888 in Nevada Iowa.   Erick and Fannie had two daughters; Attie, who died at the age of 3 years, and Cleo, who died when she was about 19 years.   Erick lived in the country east of Ellsworth, and then for many years in the town of Jewell, where he was engaged in his work as a veterinarian throughout a wide central Iowa territory.  In 1905 Dr. Christian advertised in area papers as “veterinary surgeon, dentist, and auctioneer” and was well known for surgeries in the local area and as far south as Story City.

    Two 1914 news articles published in the Jewell Record tell us that Erick purchased lot 2 of block 5 in the addition to the town of Jewell Junction, and says that "Contractor John Klein has work started on a house and barn he will build in the west part of town for Erick Christian."


In 1902, Erick Christian's breeding of horses and his ‘horse-sense’ led to the initial American Cream Horse in the form of a mare, Old Granny.   Old Granny and her babies were actually a whole new breed.   Through Erick’s insight in continuing to follow the foals bred through Old Granny and keeping the offspring in the area of Jewell, Lakin's Grove, Ellsworth and Radcliffe, he was able to continue the newly developing breed of cream colored draft horses.

     Dr. Christian was a visionary in the start and development of a whole new breed of draft horses in America, a fact which has led to the only line of draft horses bred solely in the United States.   Dr. Erick Christian of Jewell, Pat Lakin from Lakin’s Grove, Charles Knox and others from the Ellsworth and Radcliffe area were contributors to a whole new line of draft horses.   It all began when a stock dealer named Harry Lakin bought a small draft mare at a farm sale in Hamilton County, Iowa in 1911.   The mare, whe came to be known as Old Granny, was a rich cream color with a white mane and tail, pink skin and amber eyes.

     No one knows Old Granny's exact ancestry, but whe went on to give birth to many cream-colored foals when bred to other draft horses.   Her ability to pass along her stunning coloring to her offspring let her to become the foundation dam of the breed.   The second was Nelson’s Buck No. 2, which became the foundation sire for the Nelson brothers – Nels, Carl, Fred and John – of Jewell.   In 1926, Erick Christian’s breeding of horses led to ‘Eureka,’ a great-granddaughter of Old Granny.   One prominent founder of the American Cream breed was C. T. Rierson, who carefully bred Creams on his Hamilton County farm north of Radcliffe.   Rierson’s horses set the breed’s signature characteristics: the deep cream coat, pink skin, amber eyes, and compact profile, and he was the first to use the name American Cream.

Erick Christian, the Jewell area Veterinarian, died in the first week of January, 1933, at the age of 74.

     The American Cream Draft Horse has become a less-known symbol of Americana.   The only draft horse breed developed in the United States, the Cream is a much younger breed than its European draft horse cousins.

While the Clydesdale, Percheron, Belgian and other European draft breeds were established several centries ago, the American Cream Draft got its start in the early 1900s.

Although numbers for the breed reached 200 registered horses by 1941, this turned out to be a tough time for many draft horse breeds.   Farmers had already begun working their land with tractors instead of horses, and as a result, the demand for draft horses was dwindling.   Consequently, the American Cream Draft Horse breed was in danger of going extinct.

The Iowa Barn Foundation features many barns, but the three seen below had connections with the American Cream Draft Horse.

The Hans Jensen Barn just east of Jewell
(had connections to the American Cream Draft Horse)
(1957 plat map seen here below.)

     By the time of Barbara Knox Homrighaus’ three presentations given during the summer of 2023 about Dr. Christian and others, approximately 450 American Cream horses were believed to still exist in the United States.

You may learn more by listening to one of the three presentations by Barbara Homrighaus related on our Stories Page.

For more information about the American Cream Draft Horse, you may use this website:
American Cream Draft Horse Association
(opens in a new browser tab)