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
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
Mercer County, Ohio Biographies
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