Biography of John B. Willenborg, Sr.
Mercer County, Ohio Biographies

JOHN B. WILLENBORG, SR., one of the representative citizens and substantial farmers of Butler township, whose death occurred October 30, 1906, was born in Oldenberg, Germany, November 13, 1826, and was a son of John Theodore Willenborg, who died when his son John was 14 years old. Our subject's mother lived to the age of 85 years but never came to America.

At the age of 20 years John B. Willenborg started for America and landed at Baltimore in 1848, after a voyage of six weeks. He came on to Cincinnati, Ohio, landing in that city during the epidemic of cholera, after which, in the following year, came the smallpox. The healthy German youth assisted to nurse the sick back to convalescence but never was attacked by either disease himself. Later he learned the stove molding trade at Cincinnati, at which he worked for 12 years, during which he made, on an average, $25 per week, a great part of which he providently saved and put into a grocery business that he conducted for some time. He also worked as a street car conductor. He lived in Cincinnati from 1848 to 1882. In the latter year he bought and settled upon a 40 acre tract in section 34, Butler township, where he made his home until his death. To this original tract he added 33 1/2 acres in section 35 and 100 acres in section 3, which his eldest son has farmed. His success in life was the direct result of his own efforts.

On October 18, 1853, Mr. Willenborg was married to Gertrude Caper, daughter of Frederick Cuper. She was also born in Germany and came to America with her parents when 10 years of age. They have had to children, seven of these reaching maturity as follows: John B., Jr.; Anna, wife of Frank Ukutter; Clement, of Covington, Kentucky; Theodore, the home farmer; Benjamin, also living at home, who taught school for eight years, five of these at Coldwater; George, of Gas City, Indiana; and Joseph J., at home. Three sons are married. Mr. Willenborg had 11 grandchildren. John B. Willenborg, Jr., learned the carriage painting trade and for five years was foreman of a factory at Cincinnati. He married Mary Wessel, of Price Hill, Cincinnati, and they have two children, Mary and Gertrude. Clement is a machinist and holds a position as assistant foreman at the American Tool Works, Cincinnati. He married Lizzie Naderman of that city and has three children - Adele, Archie and Mildred.

Mr. Willenborg belonged to the Catholic Church, as do all the surviving members of the family, and all his sons are members of the Knights of St. John. For six years he served as trustee of Butler township and made an efficient and careful official. On the 50th anniversary of his wedding, Mr. Willenborg's large barn burned, but this disaster he met with the same courage and resolution which, in former years, had carried him through many a crisis. He immediately built the substantial barn now standing. Mr. Willenborg was very highly esteemed throughout Butler township, his many sterling. qualities bringing him the confidence and esteem of his fellow citizens.

History of Mercer County, Ohio
and Representative Citizens
Edited & Compiled by: Hon. S. S. Scranton
Published by: Biographical Publishing Company
Chicago, Illinois

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