Lee County Biography

Jacob Hepperlin
Paw Paw Township


Jacob Hepperlin left the German Fatherland in the prime of early manhood to seek a new home in America, and after journeying thousands of miles over sea and land, found himself in the heart of a strange country, among an unknown people, with but little in this world that he would call his own. He, however, had that within him that would overcome all difficulties in his pathway, as was proved by his subsequent career, and today he is living retired from farming or other active business in his comfortable home in Paw Paw.

Mr. Hepperlin was born in the village of Neidlingen, near Wurtenberg, Germany, July 26, 1827. His father, John Hepperlin, was also born in that place and was the son of another John Hepperlin, who was a farmer and a life long resident of that locality. The father of our subject was bred to the life of a farmer and always followed that occupation, with the exception of the time when he was serving in the German army, in accordance with the laws of the land. He accompanied Napoleon in the campaign against Moscow, and suffered some of the terrible horrors of the retreat from that Russian city. He died in the land of his nativity in l856. He was the father of seven children, of whom only two came to America, his daughter Katherine Gseller and our subject, and three of his grandsons and two of his granddaughters.

The subject of this sketch passed his early life in his native land and received a very good education in its schools. He at last decided to emigrate to America, whither so ninny of his countrymen had gone to seek the competence denied them at home, and in May, 1854, he set sail from Havre, and thirty-seven days later disembarked in New York City. He came directly to Illinois, and at Princeton found work on a farm, being employed by the month. Hehad but little spare cash when he went there, but he worked hard, and in time saved money enough to buy a farm seven miles northwest of that town. In 1874 he sold that place, and coming to Paw Paw, bought village property and established himself in the furniture business. He was thus engaged until 1877, when he resumed farming. Six years later he abandoned agricultural pursuits, and has since lived retired, in the enjoyment of an income amply sufficing for all his wants. He has a comfortable property, including a double brick block in Paw Paw, which came into his possession in 1882, through his exchanging land that he owned in Iowa for it, and he has a farm of two hundred and thirty-four acres in Willow Creek Township, that is well improved.

Mr. Hepperlin was flrst married in Bureau County in 1859, to Miss Rebecca Duestin, a native of Ohio. She departed this life in 1865. His second marriage was in 1867 to Miss Maggie Mercer, a native of Bureau County. She died in 1868. in 1869 our subject was wedded to Mrs. Cynthia (Mercer) Baker, widow of the Rev. D. S. Baker, and unto them has been born one son, Jesse Ellis. Mrs. Hepperlin by her former marriage had one daughter, Leonora. She married J. A. McCulloch and they have one child, Ada C. Mr. and Mrs. Hepperlin are among the most worthy members of the Methodist Episcopal Church, and are held in high consideration in the community.

Mrs. Hepperlin comes of the pioneer stock of this State. She is a native of Belmont County, Ohio, and a daughter of Ellis Mercer, who was born in Virginia, and was a son of the Rev. Edward Mercer, who was also a Virginian. The father of the latter, who was of Scottish birth and ancestry, came to America at the time of the Revolution and secured quite a large tract of land near Williamsport, Va., and ended his days there. He was a Quaker in religion. Mrs. Hepperlin's grandfather was reared and married in the Old Dominion, and subsequently went from there to Greene County, Pa., and a few years later went to Belmont County, Ohio. making the removal with a team. He was a millwright and carpenter by trade. but after marriage he studied medicine, and became a practicing physician. He was also somewhat noted as a preacher of the Methodist Protestant Church, and did good service as a missionary in Belmont County. After his arrival in that section he had bought land ten miles from Claresville, and lived there until 1836, when he again became a pioneer, journeying to Illinois through the intervening wilderness, and locating at Princeton, where death found him at a ripe age.

Mrs. Hepperlin's father was very young when his parents went to Pennsylvania, and he was fourteen years of age when he accompanied them on their migration to Ohio. He worked at the trades of millwright and carpenter in that State until he came to this one in 1836. He was accompanied by his wife and four children, and they traveled to their destination on the waters of the Ohio, Mississippi and Illinois Rivers to Hennepin, and thence by team to Bureau County. At that time Northern Illinois was sparsely settled, and the greater part of thie hand was owned by the Government, and has since been sold at $l.25 an acre. Mr. Mercer entered two hundred and forty acres of land three miles southwest of Princeton, and he bought a squatter's claim to a part of a grove, in which there was a set of log buildings and wigwams still standing there, showed the recent presence of the Indians, while deer and other kinds of game denoted that the country was but little advanced in civilization. Mr. Mercer improved his land, and after living on it a quarter of a century he sold it, and passed his remaining years in Webster County, Iowa. The maiden name of his wife was Nancy Bush, and she was a native of Pennsylvania. Her father, `William Bush, was a native of England; and her mother, Mary (Larwood) Bush, was born of English parents in the State of Delaware. Mr. Mereer died in Bureau County.

Mrs. Hepperlin was nine years old when she came to Illinois with her parents, and she made her home with them until her first marriage in her twenty-first year to the Rev. Dennis Stephen Baker. Mr. Baker was a native of New York, and was educated for the ministry of the Methodist Protestant Church. On account of ill health he had to abandon his profession, and he turned his attention to farming in Bureau County, where he died in l865.

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