Pages 471-3

HERMANN NABER, one of the most extensive agriculturists of northern Wisconsin, especially of Shawano county, is a representative German-American, one in whom is exemplified the truthful saying that "intellect and industry are not incompatible."   There is more wisdom, and will be more benefit, in combining these attributes, than scholars like to believe, or than the common every day world imagines. Life has time enough for both, and its happiness will be increased by their union.

Mr. Naber was born November 12, 1825, on a farm in the Grand Duchy of Oldenburg, Germany, the country whence the Saxons of old departed for England centuries ago. He is a son of John Diedrick Naber, a well-to-do farmer of Oldenburg, and of the better-educated class, for ten years holding the position of president of an Agricultural Society, besides filling other important offices in his locality. "Diedrick" has for many generations been a family name with the Nabers, and the Hollandish or Dutch admiral, Diedrick, is said to have been the original "Flying Dutchman" of romance. To John D. Naber and his wife. Annie Catherine (Hillen), were born ten children, as follows: Hermann; Diedrick, of Mayville, Wis., a merchant; Gerhard, a retired farmer of Mayville, Wis.; Charles, who at the age of thirteen was afflicted with some non-ossiffic disease, and died in Mayville, Wis., at the age of twenty-two, after years of helplessness; Henry D., who was a well-to-do merchant, deceased in California; Margaret, wife of Charles Rudebusch, a merchant of Mayville; Gesine, deceased in infancy; Sophia, widow of J. D. Koch, of Dodge county, Wis.; Mary, Mrs. August Mann, of Dodge county, Wis., and a daughter, deceased in infancy.

Our subject received a common-school training, and later a special agricultural education, when he enjoyed, for about six weeks, two lessons a week in English—all the schooling he ever had in that language. In the spring of 1848, at the age of twenty-two, he was sent by his parents to the United States in order to prospect in that country, especially in the State of Wisconsin, for future homes for their own family and for those of others, under agreement to report by letter, or in person, inside of three years, which was done, resulting in the Naber and many other families coming to Wisconsin and establishing comfortable and prosperous homes. Our subject on his voyage out sailed from Bremen on the ship "Wieland," and after a voyage of seven weeks landed at New York, thence proceeding direct to Wisconsin. In the fall of 1850 he made his return trip to the Fatherland, in the meantime "spying out the land" and posting himself in the mode of farming in America, especially in Wisconsin, which was at that time a new State. In Germany he stayed long enough to plunge into the sea of matrimony, the ceremony being performed June 6, 1851, while his choice of partner on life's voyage was Miss Margaret Schweers, who was born in the Grand Duchy of Oldenburg in 1833. On the fifteenth of the same month he and his youthful bride set sail from Bremen on the good ship "Stephanie," bound for New York, which port they reached after a most pleasant voyage of over seven weeks, the sea during the entire trip being as placid and calm as "love's young dream." Nor were Mr. and Mrs. Naber the only passengers, for he had chartered the entire second cabin, which was filled with acquaintances of the happy couple, bent, like themselves, on seeking new homes in the New World.

Our subject first located in Mayville, Dodge county, where he remained until October, 1858, at which time he moved his family to Shawano, the journey being made by team to Oshkosh, thence by steamer. This was not his first visit to Shawano county, for on his last trip from Mayville he brought some produce with him which he conveyed to Shawano and sold to the new settlers there. Mr. Naber fully intended at that time to return to Mayville, but the prospect of a railroad being constructed to Shawano induced him to remain there, and he purchased 160 acres of land near to that city, through which the contemplated railroad would pass. This was never built, and the grand prospect of Shawano was blighted. Embarking in mercantile business, in partnership, with Mr. Rudebusch (the style of the firm being Naber & Rudebusch), our subject became sole proprietor of the concern later on. They did a vast trade in produce, bringing the goods all the way from Mayville, a distance of over one hundred miles, the trips during the winter having to be made with sleighs, the river being frozen over. Mr. Naber also built the first sawmill at Shawano, operating same many years, and he owned the first hay-press and scales ever seen in Shawano, the pressed hay being sent to the lumber camps. He also owns a farm of one thousand acres in the county.

A brief record of the twelve children born to Mr. and Mrs. Hermann Naber is as follows:  F. D., a prominent citizen of Shawano; Adaline, deceased in infancy; Matilda, deceased in infancy; Hermine, living at home; Charles C., who was a druggist and one of the prosperous business men of Shawano, where he died; Emma, at home; Hermann L., a liveryman of Cecil, Wis.; Mary A., Mrs. William C. Zachow, of Cecil, Wis.; Margaret, a bright young-lady, who commenced teaching school at the age of fifteen, and died at the early age of nineteen; Henry G., attending Rush Medical College, Chicago; Annie, a school teacher; and Gerhard, who died in infancy.

Mr. Naber, in spite of his various and extensive business interests, has yet found time to devote to the service of his fellow citizens, his adopted county and State. In both Dodge and Shawano counties he held minor offices; in 1875-76 he was mayor of Shawano; in 1876 was candidate for Presidential elector, and in 1888 was a candidate for railroad commissioner, both on the Democratic ticket.  In 1889 he was elected county judge of Shawano county, by all the votes in the county except ten.

In 1864 he was sent to the Assembly, by the vote of the people, to secure for Shawano the U. S. military road about to be built from Ft. Howard, Wis., to Ft. Wilkins, Mich., and he succeeded in his mission. In 1875 he was elected to the same office in order to secure better educational facilities for Shawano, resulting in the passage of the present free high-school law, for the whole State. In 1880 he was again sent to the Assembly, chiefly by the votes of the high-minded Republicans of Oconto, for the desperate task of securing State aid of swamp land for the building of what was then called the St. Paul & Eastern Grand Trunk railway, which road was a last possibility for Shawano getting a railway at all (all other chances having passed by), and for Oconto to get a road into the interior of the State. The enterprise was a success, so far as legislation could assist it, but proved a failure for lack of money to build a "trunk line," as contemplated. In 1883 Mr. Naber was again elected to the Assembly, when Shawano county became for the first time an Assembly District. A disgraceful quarrel among Democrats, in their county convention, over the spoils of office, disgusted the better elements in the party, and they, together with many Republicans, forced Mr. Naber onto the ticket just a week before the election, and after nearly every voter was supposed have been pledged. The advent of the two railroads, the one through the western, the other through the eastern, portion of Shawano county, changed it from a Democratic to a Republican county, by reason, Mr. Naber avers, "of the large population of 'floaters' which followed the roads and which were here for 'the money there was in it,' and, among others, I was twice in Succession defeated for the Assembly."

The above has been gleaned, for the greater part, from a brief and modest autobiography of Mr. Naber, intended specially for this work, the following being his concluding sentences: "While in much other business during my life, I have never claimed any other profession than that of a farmer, and the height of my present ambition is not 'office,' but to be allowed to retire to our family farm, on our beautiful Lake Shawano, to develop and cultivate it—not for profit, for there is no profit in farming now, but for a family life insurance, the cashier of which can not lose the cash in gambling or otherwise, and for a harbor of refuge for all of my numerous descendants, who may get wrecked in the storms of business life."

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