Lee County Biography

Ernest Wernick
Dixon Township

Wernick Residence

Ernest Wernick, one of the early settlers of Dixon township, who since 1848 has resided in the county, now makes his home on Section 19. It is with pleasure that we present to our readers the portrait and biography of a self-made man, who by his own efforts has worked his way upward to a position of affluence. In many respects his example is worthy of emulation and in tbis sketch there will be much to encourage those who like himself have to begin life empty handed, depending only on their own exertions.

Mr. Wernick was born in Prussia , July 8, 1832 and came of Saxon parentage. He is a son of Andrew and Mary (Bunker) Wernick. His father was born in Saxony and served with valor on i throughout Prussian campaign as one of the Magtaburg Blue Hussars. He fought at the battle of Lipsing and at Waterloo and and in many other engagements served with valor in the front mnk$. On one occasion he rescued the horse that was secured for Gen. Blucher, whose steed had been shot from under him. Mr. Wernick was twice wounded but did not allow himself to be captured. He was a brave and undaunted cavalryman and with a comrade, Mr. Comstadt, who was later frozen in the mountains in the Prussian campaign, succeeded in capturing five mounted Cossacks, killing four of the number and taking their horses.

In after years, accompanied by his two sons, our subject and Lewis, Mr. Wernick sailedl from Bremen and after a voyage of forty-two days landed at New York City whence he made his way to Chicago.

As their money gave out father and son walked from that city to Dixon, where a year later they were joined by the mother and other members of the family. Mrs.Wernick did not long enjoy her new home, her death occurring in 1854. Mr. Wernick. died February l4, 1888; at the advanced age of ninety-five years. He possessed remarkable powers of endurance and physical strength and was never sick a day in his life while in the fatherland. He and his wife were members, of the Lutheran Church.

Our subject was yet a youth when he came to this country and in Lee County he attained his majority, i For some time.he worked as a day laborer and in 1854 purchased thirty-six acres of unbroken land with money acquired. by his own industry and economy. To its improvement he devoted his energy for sometime and afterwards went to Grand Detour, where he engaged in team­ing for the plow factory a time. He then fol­lowed farming pursuits near Amboy for a few years his farm work. being done withoxen. In the meantime he had. wedded Mary Page, whose parents were pioneer settlers of this community She died in 1861, leaving three children. The following year . Wernick enlisted in the service of his adopted country as a member of Company F, Seventy-fifth Illinois Infantry. He wore the blue for three years participating actively in twenty-three battles and during the engagement at Resaca, he was wounded in the shoulder.

At the expiration of his term of service Mr. Wernick was honorable discharged and returned to his home and his three little children. Soon afterward he began farming and that time his cash capital consisted of $200. He purchased a team and then rented forty acres, where he now lives. A few years later he made a partial payment on one undred and sixty acres and by his industry, good management and perseverance was soon enabled to pay off all indebtedness. As his financial resources increased he also extended the boundaries of his farm, which now comprised five hundred and fourteen acres of valuable land, well improved, highly cultivated and stocked with fine horses and cattle. He has one of the best barns in the county and recently erected a commodious and substantial residence built in modern style and supplied with all modern conveniences. A glance at the Wernick farm indicates that the owner is a man of progressive and practical ideas and careful manager.

The children born unto Mr. Wernick by his first wife are: Henry, who wedded Ida Sheffield and resides in Lake City, Iowa; Anna, wife of George HIckman, a farmer of Sioux County, Neb.; and Mary, wife of Martin Funk, a farmer of Cass County, Iowa. Mr. Wernick was again married in New ALbany, Ind., his second union being with Mrs. Catherine Helfrich, who as born in Baden, Germany, in the town of Stein, and came to this country during her girlhood, with her parents, the family settling in Forreston, Ogle County, where her father, John Rupert is now living. He is a stone and brick mason by trade and served for three years in the late war, participating in many battles, but escaped uninjured. In Ogle County, Catherine Rupert gave her hand in marriage to Jacob Helfrich who enlisted with the boys in blue in 1862. He took part in some improtant battles and at Chickamauga was taken prisoner. He was placed in Andersonville, where he died some time later in 1863. At his death he left one son John, who amrried Jennie Wooley and is now a farmer of Ogle County IL.

Unto Mr.a nd Mrs. Wernick have been born eight children; George at home, Minnie, the wife of James Howell, a farmer of Dixon Dixon Township; Wesley, Oscar, Carrie, Vernon, Bert and Stanley, under the parental roof. The Wernick household is the abode of hospitality and the members of the family rank high in social circles. Their home is one of the best in the community and in it there many friends delight to congregate. Mr. and Mrs. Wernick attend the Lutheran Church and he exercices his right of franchise in support of the Republican party.

1892 Portrait and Biographical Record Lee Co Pg 277


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