Pages 198-199

[Photo included in article]

HERMAN MEISNER   In compiling, for the edification of the present generation and generations yet to come, a record of the lives of those men whose names are so closely interwoven with the history, of certain portions of northern Wisconsin, the list would indeed be incomplete were prominent mention not made of the gentleman whose name is here recorded. 
Mr. Meisner is a native of New York State, born at Lockport April 2, 1856, a son of John D. and Justina (Krumbach) Meisner, natives of Brandenburg, Germany, who in 1855 came to the United States, in 1863 settling in Belle Plaine township, Shawano Co., Wis., where they followed agricultural pursuits; since 1884 they have been residents of Clintonville, Waupaca county.  Of their thirteen children nine are yet living, as follows: John F., a merchant of Clintonville, Wis.; William, a farmer of Belle Plaine township, Shawano county; Herman, subject of this sketch; August, also a resident of Clintonville; Augusta, wife of Ijkirman Beyer, of Grant township, Shawano county; Anna, wife of John Frank, also of Grant township; David, living on the old farm; Emma, wife of Herman Prey, of Clintonville; and Albert, married, and residing in Clintonville.
As will be seen, our subject was about six years old when his parents brought him to Wisconsin and to Belle Plaine township, Shawano county, and here he was reared to manhood. Education, however, does not always come by reading and writing. The boy was possessed of vigorous, natural abilities, and the boy was father to the man. His opportunities for acquiring knowledge were indeed few, but he applied his powers of observation upon the things which were nearest him, and thus became self-educated. Work was plentiful in his boyhood days, and being a strong, robust lad he found ample employment about the farm and parental home. At the age of fourteen years he started out in life for himself, leaving Shawano county for Fond du Lac, his first work being on a farm in that county, which was followed by a somewhat versatile yet decidedly active experience, for a time in the lumber woods of the Upper Wolf, Red and Embarrass river countries, then in the Lake Superior (north shore) copper regions, Canadian side—all the time engaged in various capacities, sometimes as common laborer in the summer time, then in sawmills and in the woods during the winter months. In the spring of the year he "ran the river," and at one time was employed in the Extract Works at Clintonville, Waupaca county, where from hemlock bark was extracted the decoction use in tanning.  At the age of twenty-three years he married, by which time he had saved a little over one hundred dollars in cash, and owned forty acres of wild land, which he had not yet commenced to work. After his marriage he found employment on the Milwaukee, Lake Shore & Western railroad, on supply trains, hauling cordwood, etc.; later was employed on government vessels engaged in making improvements on the Fox river, and, still later, in a blast farnace at Appleton, to which city he removed. Concluding, however, to become his own employer, he in April, 1883, came to Wittenberg, which at that time was a mere hamlet in the midst of a dense forest, and here for twenty-five dollars bought a lot on Main street, which he at once commenced to improve. From the railroad station only one house, or rather shanty, was visible—-the old "camp" built by the railroad company, and once occupied by their employes —and our subject's first shelter here was a blanket stretched over the tops of a few poles placed in the ground.  He had left his wife behind at Clintonville until such time as he should have a place prepared for her reception; but one day he was not a little surprised to see his faithful spouse alight from a train at the Wittenberg depot. In answer to his inquiry as to why she came and where she expected to live, she replied: "To be beside you, and stay wherever you stay;" that settled it, so the blanket-roofed "wigwam" was the family house till the building he had commenced was completed. As soon as everything was ready, our subject embarked in the hotel business, the first to open out in that line in the young village, his hostelry being known as the "Wittenberg House." After about a year he sold out the tavern and purchased the ground where his present business block now stands, his next speculation being in the lumber industry, following the river in the proper seasons, and in general lumbering, chiefly as jobber until May, 1887, when he commenced mercantile trade in Wittenberg, his first stock of goods amounting to about $25., the business month by month increasing until May, 1894, when he sold out, retiring from mercantile pursuits with a comfortable competence. For the past six years he has been largely interested in real estate, at the present time interested in eighteen tracts of timber land, some of which is improved, besides village property, and he represents large tracts for other parties. 

In 1879 Mr. Meisner was married, at Clintonville, Wis., to Miss Augusta Heitzke, a native of Germany, coming to the United States with her parents, John and Louise (Koshel) Heitzke when she was ten years old. To this union have come seven children: Ella, George, Esther, Eva, Katie, Grover and Philip, all born in Wittenberg and all yet living at home.   In his political preferences our subject has always been a stanch Democrat, a leader in the party in this part of the State, has been a member of the Congressional Committee, and at the present time is serving on the Democratic County Committee.   He has twice been honored with appointment as postmaster at Wittenberg, the first time in 1887, serving about two years, again in 1893, and he is at present filling the incumbency.  He has served as deputy and under sheriff four terms; has been treasurer of Wittenberg township,  also supervisor, and was school treasurer nine years; for a time he served as game garden for Shawano and Marathon counties. At present he is a director and trustee of the German Lutheran Orphans’ Home at Wittenberg.  In religious faith he and his wife are consistent members of the Lutheran Church, and toward the erection of the house of worship for that denomination in Wittenberg he rendered substantial assistance.

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