Biography of Henry F. Willmann
Mercer County, Ohio Biographies

HENRY F. WILLMANN, a representative citizen of Recovery township, owning 469 acres of valuable land in Recovery and Washington, townships, was born July 16, 1839, in Germany, and is a son of Claus Henry and Mary Ann (Evers) Willmann.

Claus Henry Willmann, father of our subject, was born in the Kingdom of Hanover, Germany. When Napoleon invaded Hanover, on his triumphal way to Russia, he impressed all the young Germans and Prussians who came within his reach, and Mr. Willmann happened to be one of these. Thus, although unwillingly, he accompanied Napoleon to Moscow. On several occasions he endeavored to escape and once, when seemingly successful, was recaptured and with others was confined in a church under sentence of execution. Fortunately, on the night before the sentence was to be carried out, he, with his companions, escaped. Shortly before the battle of Waterloo, he joined the Prussian forces and on that memorable field he fought against Napoleon. For his loyalty he received a medal from the Kingdom of Hanover, which he displayed with justifiable pride until the day of his death, which occurred in Germany. The mother of Mr. Willmann also died in Germany, but her father crossed the Atlantic Ocean when he was go years of age, in 1844, and died at Cincinnati, Ohio, in 1846. The parents of our subject had three sons and four daughters, viz.: Mary, who lived and died in Germany; William, who came to America in 1840 and was never more heard from; Angelina, who resided in Baltimore at the time of her death; Frederick, who resides at Dillsburg, Indiana; Henry F.; and Louisa and Eliza, who died in Germany.

Henry F. Willmann came to America when he was 17 years old and the story of his many adventures, trials, hardships and final defeat of misfortune, reads as an interesting romance. He had been giv,en the good, common school education which Germany accords every one of her sons, but the labor field in his native land did not seem so large or promising as in America, and before he reached the age of necessary military service, in 1856, Mr. Willmann crossed the ocean to the United States, coming to this country with many companions of his own land, as a passenger on the sailing vessel "Roland," which required six weeks and two days to complete the voyage, landing the passengers safely, however, at the port of Baltimore, Maryland.

The young German youth landed in the strange city without understanding the language of the country to which he had come, on October 2, 1856, but he was fortunate enough to have a sister living in Baltimore, and through her he was bound out to a cabinet maker to learn a trade, to receive $20 the first, year; $25, the second year; $30, the third year; and $35, the fourth year. He worked there six weeks and then seeing nothing promising in the job he left, after having a few words with his sister who wished him to remain. As a brother was established at Cincinnati, he then decided to join him; and the fact that he also had an uncle living in that city made it still more likely that he could find remunerative work there. When he left Baltimore, he had in his pocket money amounting to about 6 1/4 cents. Walking was the only means of transportation possible with him, and he started out with his clothes done up in a handerchief. At every likely place on the way toward Cincinnati, he asked for work and when he was about three miles out from Baltimore he obtained a job with a farmer, who offered him for his services $4 a month and board. Mr. Willmann remained here three weeks and then went to work for the brother of this man, in an ore mine. The pay was the same but the work was very hard.

Mr. Wellmann was patient and persevering and continued to work in the mine all winter, but in the spring he went back to Baltimore and secured work there in a shipyard, handling iron ore, railroad rails, etc., doing extraordinarily laborious work, for which he was paid $1.25 per clay; as he worked over time, he secured about $9 or $10 per week. Probably he overtaxed him¬self, for in the latter part of July he was taken seriously sick and he learned from his physician that he could never again work in the same manner. As soon as he had sufficiently recuperated, he started again for Cincinnati, having previously saved his money; when he reached there he still had $14. He at once went to work for his uncle, Mr. Evers, who was a gardener, receiving $8 per month. After two months with his uncle, he entered a cooper shop in order to learn the cooper's trade. This entailed his working for one year for his board and washing. When the year was up he left for Indianapolis and reached that city practically in a penniless condition. As he could not work at the trade he had learned without tools, he was obliged to borrow $10 to purchase tools, and these same tools he still has in his possession.

Mr. Wellmann worked in Indianapolis until the spring of 1860, although in the previous year he had had another setback, being attacked with typhoid fever and having to spend all his money in paying doctor's fees. From August, 1859, until the spring of 186o, he was able to work only enough to about pay his board, and thus at this time he returned to Cincinnati just about as poor as when he had reached Indianapolis, a year and a half before. He soon found employment at his trade but was again taken ill, so ill indeed that he had to have two doctors attend him and came very near to death, but by the middle of March was back at work again and worked from March, 1860, to April, 1861, when he enlisted for the three-months' service, in the First Regiment, Ohio Vol. Cav. His company remained at Cincinnati about six weeks, the members boarding themselves; then, as the time of enlistment was so short, the company disbanded and our subject went to work on a farm in Indiana, about 30 miles from Cincinnati.

Mr. Willmann was working on this farm when the news of the battle of Bull Run reached him and he immediately determined to reenlist; for this purpose he made his way to Rising Sun, Indiana, where, on July 23, 1861, he enlisted in the Second Indiana Battery and was attached to the Army of the Frontier, in which he faithfully served from the above date until September 4, 1864, when he was mustered out at Fort Smith, Arkansas, being finally discharged and paid at Indianapolis in the succeeding month. During this long period of service, Mr. Willmann had participated in 28 different battles and engagements and was never disabled except for about six weeks which he spent in the hospital at St. Louis, when he first went out, suffering from malarial fever.

Upon his return from the war he tried work again at his trade, but army rheumatism had attacked him and he found himself unable to keep on in this line. It required trial of about 10 different jobs before he found the one that suited him as to work and also as to pay. In 1865 he engaged at $12 a week as porter with a wholesale liquor house, with. the agreement that in three months, if mutually satisfied, he was to be paid more. His first raise was to $15 a week and then to $100 per month, in 1866; for the next two years his salary was $2,100 per year. He filled both the positions of salesman and of foreman. In 1868 he left this store and embarked in the wholesale liquor business for himself at Cincinnati, entering into partnership with Mr. Kren and George H. Branshire. In 1872 he sold out his interest and within 10 days was in business for himself, but two weeks later took in John H. Gen-trip as partner, and they continued together until 1879, when Mr. Willmann retired to his farm in Mercer County, which he had purchased in 1877. It consists of 335 acres in Recovery township and 134 acres in sections 3o and 31, Washington township. Although he continued in business at Cincinnati until 1879, he made his home on the farm in 1878, and since the followingt year has remained continuously on it. It is fine land, richly cultivated and well-improved.

On December 21, 1865, Mr. Willmann was married to. Louisa Margaret Muthart, and they have had six children, namely: William H., living at home, who has two children - Lorena Anna Louisa and Clifford H.; Edward Frank, who died in infancy; Ella, who married George Geyer, of Cincinnati, and died of consumption February 1, 1904; Harry E., who married Ida C. Rabe, lives on the home farm and has four children - Edward, Helen, Henry F. and Hazel Louise; and Amelia Matilda, born March 2, 1879, Who married John Heiby, and died March 29, 1897, leaving an infant daughter, Florence Ida, who was born February 12, 1897, and died August 6th of the same year.

Mr. Willmann has served as township trustee and as school director in Recovery township. Fraternally he is an Odd Fellow and a member of the Protestant Protective Association, of Cincinnati.

In 1903 Mr. Willmann took, a trip to his old home in Germany: He says he found the same straw roof, but the building was more dilapidated. He made extended visits to different parts of Germany and was there about two months.

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

Privacy Policy for OnlineBiographies

Mercer County, Ohio Biographies




New York

For all your genealogy needs visit Linkpendium

Family Tree Maker 2012