Lee County Biography


There is a considerable German element in the citizenship of Lee county, and it has constituted a force in the material development and progress of this section of the state, for the sons of the fatherland brought with them to the new world the qualities of determination and enterprise, which have been factors in the attainment of success on this side the Atlantic just as they had been in the old world. Born in Germany on the 6th of June, 1866, Henry Semmler is a son of August and Anna Martha Semmler, who were likewise natives of the fatherland. The mother died in that country, but August Semmler is still living. He remains, however, in his native land. In their family were six children, four of whom survive.

Henry Semmler remained at home until nineteen years of age and during that time acquired his education in the schools of his native country. He has also learned many valuable lessons in the school of experience. Ambitious to enjoy better opportunities than he believed he could secure in Germany, he came to America in 1886 and settled in Lee county, Illinois. Here he worked on a farm as a hired hand for three years, but he was not content to continue in such a position. He believed that he was capable of doing something better, and just as soon as he had saved a sufficient sum from his earnings he rented land and began farming on his own account. Seven years were spent in that way, during which period he saved a sum sufficient to enable him to purchase a farm. He became the owner of the one hundred and sixty acre tract upon which he now resides on section 18, Reynolds township. It was partially improved when it came into his possession, and he has since added various improvements and wrought a change in the appearance of the place through his careful manner of tilling the soil and caring for the crops. He has always made a specialty of feeding sheep, and this has constituted a successful feature in his business. He has never been afraid of hard work, and it is this which has brought him the success which has crowned his labors.

Mr. Semmler is a republican in his political views. He has never sought nor desired office, however, preferring to concentrate his energies upon his business affairs. He has acted as school director, believing firmly in the cause of public education and the employment of competent teachers.

In 1890 Mr. Semmler was united in marriage to Miss Catherine E. Gonnerman, who was born in 1863 and is a daughter of Marcus and Christine E. (Ferneau) Gonnerman, both of whom were natives of Germany and in 1860 came to America. The mother died here in January, 1905, but the father is still living, making his home in Franklin Grove. They had a family of ten children, of whom two have passed away. Unto Mr. and Mrs. Semmler have been born four children: Oswin Marcus, who was born May 22, 1891; Annette L., born December 5, 1893; Marie E., December 12, 1898; and Gertrude E., January 19, 1902. The parents are members of the Lutheran church and are well known in the community in which they live, enjoying the warm regard of their many friends.

Transcribed by Karen Holt - 1914 History of Lee County Illinois Vol 2 by Frank E. Stevens.


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