Cooper County, Missouri

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Hon. Jacob Friedrich Gmelich.—Success is measured by the degree of an individual's accomplishments during his lifetime, what he does in his own behalf and in behalf of his fellow men are taken as true criterions of the measure of his success. If this be true, the late Hon. Jacob F. Gmelich, for many years an influential figure in Cooper County and Missouri, was a successful citizen in every sense. Coming to America from a foreign land in his boyhood days, making of himself a skilled artisan, becoming a shrewd and successful business man, engaging in politics, and evincing ability as a statesman, he held two of the highest offices within the gift of the people of Missouri when at the zenith of his interesting career.
Mr. Gmelich was born July 23, 1839, and died Feb. 21, 1914. At the age of 12 years he accompanied his parents, Jacob and Barbara (Walter) Gmelich, to America. After remaining in Ohio a short time, the family located at Peru, Ill., where Mr. Gmelich was reared and educated, learning the trade of watchmaker and jeweler. He spent two years in Chicago, employed at his trade; then spent one and a half years in St. Louis; was married in 1861, and in May of that year he located in Boonville. During the previous year he had made a trip to Boonville and purchased the stock and good will of a small jewelry store. During the Civil War he was a member of the Missouri State Guards, and participated in the Battle of Boonville. When Shelby's raiders captured Boonville, his store was looted, but Mr. Gmelich induced the commanding officer to give him a receipt for the watches belonging to his patrons which were taken away by the Confederates. His store was closed for six weeks while he was away on soldier duty. In 1864, he went to St. Louis, made a visit to Peru, Ill., and then remained in St. Louis until the close of the Civil War in 1865. A brother, Gottlieb Gmelich, was a soldier in the Union Army. After the war, Mr. Gmelich built up an extensive business in Boonville and the surrounding country, and amassed considerable wealth. He purchased a three-story brick residence on High Street, where the family lived for 28 years prior to taking up his residence in Jefferson City. Upon his return from the State capital he began building one of the finest homes in Boonville, which was half completed when death called him
Mr. Gmelich served as president of the Boonville Commercial Bank for a number of years, and owned considerable real estate in Boonville, besides his controlling interest in the large jewelry store operated under the Lame of Gmelich & Schmidt. He was also interested in Kansas City real estate.
Mr. Gmelich's political career was a noteworthy one. He served as mayor of Boonville for eight years during a time when the duties of mayor included that of police judge. He was always a consistent booster for a greater and better Boonville and continuously advocated the securing of factories and public improvements for the city. One of his ambitions was to secure the building of a wagon bridge across the Missouri River. He became prominent in republican politics throughout the State, and in November 1904, he was elected to the office of State treasurer, and served in this high office from Jan. 1, 1905, to Jan. 1, 1909. His next State office was the post of lieutenant governor of Missouri, with Gov. Herbert L. Hadley's administration.
May 8, 1861, Jacob F. Gmelich and Miss Doris Mueller were united in marriage. Mrs. Doris (Mueller) Gmelich was born in Germany, Sept. 27, 1812, and is a daughter of Carl and Johanna (Bishop) Mueller, who emigrated from Germany and settled in Illinois, later locating at Collinsville, Ill. When 14 years of age, the future Mrs. Gmelich came to America, accompanied by three sisters and a brother: Mrs. Minna Mueller, East St., Louis, Ill.; Mrs. Eliza Raybock, widow of a Union veteran, Collinsville, Ill.; and Mrs. Christina Schappino, St. Jacobs, Ill.; Emil Mueller died in St. Louis. Two brothers were already in America, namely: Ernest Mueller, died later in California, at the age of 94 years; and August, died in St. Louis in 1398 ; Mrs. Annistina Schmidt lives in California; Mrs. Carola Witte, Aberdeen, S. D.
No children were born to Mr. and Mrs. Gmelich, but they have had an adopted child, a daughter of Emil Mueller whom they adopted at the age of one and a half year, Louise, wife of Max E. Schmidt, proprietor of the Gmelich & Schmidt Jewelry Store. The wedded life of Jacob and Doris Gmelich was a very happy and prosperous one. During their earlier years, when trials and vicissitudes often came upon them they stood side by side and bore their hardships with fortitude and with a bright and optimistic outlook into the future. The Gmelich store was frequently raided and stripped by the Confederates during the Civil War, and one of the interesting relics which is preserved as indicating customs of raiders during the Civil War is a receipt signed by the rebel commander for a bunch of watches taken by force from the Gmelich store and which reads: "Taken by Force of Arms—a Batch of Watches."
During the eighties, Mr and Mrs. Gmelich made a tour of Europe and remained for six months. May 8, 1911, their fiftieth or golden wedding anniversary was celebrated in Jefferson City, Mo., in the governor's mansion. A dinner was served and the celebration was a notable one in the history of the State Capital, hundreds of people attending from all parts of the State. Two days later the golden wedding was again celebrated at the Schmidt residence in Boonville, many relatives and friends taking part.
During the early seventies, Mr. Gmelich served as a member of the Missouri State Legislature. At the time of his election to the position of lieutenant governor, the vote was so close that Gmelich's margin was but 75 votes over Painter, his opponent. Painter instituted a contest and it was found that Mr. Gmelich's majority was 275 votes. His attorner at that time was the present Senator Spencer of Missouri. A handsome silver loving cup was presented to Mr. Gmelich by the Senate of the 45th Genera! Assembly of Missouri, over which he presided at the close of the session of 1909, as a token of their esteem for him. A handsomely engraved golden loving cup, presented by relatives on the occasion of the golden wedding anniversary, and highly prized by Mrs. Gmelich, bears the inscription, "1861-1911."
Mr. Gmelich was a member of the Evangelical Church, and lived an upright and Christian life. He was liberal to a fault, loved his home city, was charitably inclined and supported all worthy enterprises with a free purse and an influential voice. He was prominent in the affairs of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows, was patriarch of the Grand Lodge of Missouri, and frequently attended the sessions of the Grand Lodge of America. Aug. 22. 1880, he received a commission as colonel of the First Regiment of Missouri, Patriarchs Militant. He served for one year as grand master of the Missouri Odd Fellows. His life was worth while; he left memories of a man who did his duty by himself, his family, his home city and county, and his country which had give I him the opportunity to make of himself what he was.
History Of Cooper County Missouri by W.F. Johnson 1919

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