Biography of the Hon. William Gonnerman
Posey County, Indiana Biographies

Hon. William Gonnerman. - Success in any line of occupation, in any avenue of business, is not a matter of spontaneity, but represents the result of the application of definite subjective forces and the controlling of objective agencies in such a way as to achieve desired ends. Mr. Gonnerman has realized a large and substantial success in the business world and his career has well exemplified the truth of the foregoing statements. He occupies today a large place in the commercial circles of the city of Mt. Vernon and is a potential force in its most important industry. He has large and varied capitalistic interests and is one of the distinctively representative men of Posey county. Progressive and energetic in the management of these varied affairs, loyal and public spirited as a citizen, he holds a secure position in the confidence and esteem of the community and has contributed in large measure to the industrial advancement of Mt. Vernon. He is vice president of the Keck-Gonnerman Company and the People's Bank and Trust Company and president of the Industrial Brick Company, specifically mentioned on other pages of this volume. William Gonnerman is a native of Germany and was born in Solz, county of Rodenberg, Province of Hessen-Nassau, on January 5, 1856, the son of Adam and Martha (Ripple) Gonnerman. The father, Adam Gonnerman, owned and managed a bakery in the town of Solz, having learned the trade when a boy, and the business has, since his death, been conducted by his son-in-law. Mrs. Gonnerman survived the death of her husband but three years, passing to her reward in 1904. The surviving children by this union are: Catherine, the widow of Johann Schaefer, machinist of Sontra, Germany; Christina, the wife of William Shaus, a farmer of Armstrong, Vanderburg county, Indiana; Conrad, foreman of the Louisville & Nashville railroad's freight depot in Evansville; Rudolph, in the forestry service of the German government; William, the subject of this review; Henry, secretary of insurance for the Province of Nassau; Elizabeth, the wife of George Gross, of Sontra; Herman, a retired baker, of Eschwege, Germany; Eliza, the wife of Fred Eichholz, a saloonkeeper, of Cassel; Christian, proprietor of a bakery in Eschwege, Germany; and Julia, the wife of Henry Abel, baker, of Solz, Germany, and successor to Adam Gonnerman. Adam J. Gonnerman, the eldest child of this union, died in 1883. William Gonnerman received his education in the public schools of his native town, was apprenticed to the machinist's trade, which he learned under his brotherin-law, Johann Shaefer, and became a journeyman machinist at the age of seventeen. In 1873 he decided to avail himself of the broader opportunities offered in the United States. He landed at Castle Garden, and later came to Evansville, Ind. He secured employment in the foundry and machine shops of Conrad Gratz, and was made foreman in 1878, a position which he creditably filled until 1884. In the year mentioned he removed to Mt. Vernon, and here instituted his first independent business venture. With John Keck and Henry Kippler he formed the firm of Keck, Gonnerman & Co., and engaged in the foundry business. From the modest enterprise thus established has been developed the extensive and important industry of the Keck-Gonnerman Company, the most important industrial plant in Posey county, and one of the largest and most successful in southwestern Indiana. As vice-president in charge of the manufacturing and sales departments of the company he has been responsible for the high standard of quality maintained in its products, their efficiency in performance, and improvement in design. That he possesses the qualifications necessary to the successful management of the departments under his charge is proven by the highly satisfactory growth of the business of the corporation. He is also president of the Industrial Brick Company, of Mt. Vernon, of which he and Louis A. Keck were the principal organizers. A review of these enterprises is found in the chapter, "Manufacturing and Commercial Enterprises," to which the reader is referred for supplemental information. In 1908 he, with Charles A. Greathouse, organized the People's Bank and Trust Company, of Mt. Vernon. He was elected vice president on its incorporation and is still serving in that capacity. A review of this institution is found in the chapter, "Banks and Banking." For some time he was the senior member of the form of William Gonnerman & Co., who owned and operated the electric lighting plant at Mt. Vernon. Mr. Gonnerman has always taken an active interest in the questions of the day and he has actively supported, both with time and money, those measures which have had for their object the betterment of civic, commercial and social conditions. He is a Republican. He was elected to the city council in 1890 and served for ten years. He introduced the measure, which was passed, providing the fund for the building of the present city hail, and it was through his efforts that modern fire equipment was provided by the city. He was elected to the State senate in 1904 and served one term, which included the regular sessions of 1907 and 1909 and the special session of 1908. He was made chairman of one of the most important of the committees, that of manufactures, and was a member of those on banks and banking, agriculture, executive appointments, labor, fees and salaries, claims and expenditures, and congressional apportionment. He refused to become a candidate for renomination, as his business affairs required his attention. His election to the senate was a distinct personal victory, as he received a majority of 198 in a district having a normal Democratic majority of 6oo. Mr. Gonnerman is a member of Mt. Vernon Lodge, No. 277, Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks; Criterion lodge, Knights of Pythias, and the Modern Woodmen of America. He is a member and generous supporter of the German Lutheran church. Mr. Gonnerman married, on September 7, 1875, Miss Lena Alexander, the daughter of Henry Alexander, a farmer of Rheinfaltz, of Germany. She died on April 5, 1891. They were the parents of the following children: Margaret, born November 13, 1876, the wife of Joseph Forthoffer, a machinist in the employ of the Keck-Gonnerman Company; Catherine, born July 20, 1878, the wife of William Espencheid. an attorney of Mt. Vernon, a sketch of whom is published in this work; Caroline, born May 15, 1880, the wife of Ray Smith, lumber dealer of Mt. Vernon; William H. Gonnerman, born July 23, 1884, mechanical engineer, KeckGonnerman Company, and a graduate of Purdue University, class of 1906, and Lena, born December 31, 1888.

History of Posey County, Indiana
John C. Leffel, Editor
Standard Publishing Company
Chicago 1913.


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