Pages 531-2

JOHN T. BECKER, of Lessor township, Shawano county, a successful farmer and miller, was born in Austria, in 1847, and is a son of Thaddeus and Jo-sephine (Erhart) Becker.

Thaddeus Becker was a learned shoe-maker, and also a blacksmith, though he never worked much at this latter trade. In 1850 he sailed with his wife in a two-masted ship from Bremen to America landing in Philadelphia after a very rough passage of sixty-five days.  From Philadelphia they went to New York, then came to Milwaukee, Wis., where Mr. Becker was employed in the Bradley shoe shop, doing the fine work, and remained about a year.  He then made the trip with oxen from Milwaukee to Ellington, Outagamie Co., Wis., where he bought eighty acres of land, and building a log house thereon began the work of making a home, subsequently adding forty acres to his original purchase. The journey thither occupied about two weeks, and on July 4, while on their way, they passed through Fond du Lac, Fond du Lac county, then but a small town. He brought leather enough with him from Milwaukee to last him one year, and was thus enabled to provide for his family until he could get a start. There was but one road there at the time, known as the military road. He was among the early settlers in that region, and in the opening up and clearing of his land endured all the hardships and privations of pioneer life. Thaddeus Becker died on the homestead in Ellington during the Civil war, leaving five children, namely: Antone, married, now a successful farmer in Greenville, Outagamie county; Joseph T., subject proper of these lines;  Anna, wife of Conrad Kractcberk, a farmer of Ellington, Wis.; John, living on the homestead, where his mother, now eighty years of age, lives with him; and Andrew, a farmer of Ellington, who is married and has a family.

Joseph T. Becker had very meager opportunities for an education, for the school was four miles distant, and he could not attend more than half the time. He was put to hard work rather young, and has earned his own living since he was about seventeen years old. He learned the carpenter's trade, at which he has always worked, and has also been engaged in the sawmilling business. He made his home in Ellington, Outagamie Co., Wis., until 1868 when he was united in marriage with Margaret Stroup, who was born in Austria, and they have had six children, namely: Fannie, who is now the wife of Louis Gokey, a landlord in Pulcifer, Shawano Co., Wis.; and Mary, Albert, Joseph, Frank, and Emma, all at home.  Margaret Stroup accompanied her parents to America, and they came to Wisconsin, locating at Greenville, Outagamie county, where they bought a farm on which they spent the remainder of their lives, Mrs. Stroup passing away about 1865.
When Mr. Becker was married he bought his wife's father's farm, which was nearly cleared, and engaged in farming there about three years, after which he went to Colby, Clark Co., Wis., where he erected a temporary shingle-mill and remained about one year, in that time losing about three thousand dollars. Returning to the farm, he lived there about five years, also working in the sawmill in Black Creek, Outagamie county. About 1884 he came to Lessor township, Shawano county, here building a mill costing three thousand dollars; he first had a partner, but soon bought him out, afterward conducting the mill himself. In 1888 he was burned out here, losing some three thousand dollars, and he had previously been burned out on the farm. Thus he had been unfortunate, and it is only by his own hard labor and that of his family that he has kept afloat. Today he has 280 acres of land, and contemplates building a planing mill at a probable cost of two thousand dollars. He has operated the threshing-machine twenty-five years, and at the present time owns one threshing machine and self-traction engine.  Twenty-three years ago he owned two engines, one of which he sold to his brother, while the other he converted into a self-traction engine by adding more machinery to it. This was the first of the kind in his part of the country, and Mr. Becker hauled it from place to place with a team of oxen. At present (1895) he owns the "Briarton Hall," hotel and saloon, combined, besides a lumber-mill, shingle-mill, planing-mill and feed-mill, all combined. Politically, he is a Democrat, and has always supported that party; the family are members of the Catholic Church. When he was eighteen years old Mr. Becker went into the service of the Union as a substitute for his brother Anton.

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