Biography of John J. Pluemer

John J. Pluemer, for many years a resident of Freeport, is now passed eighty-two years, and has given up all active business enterprises. He has been an active and pushing man of affairs, and has borne his part in life manfully. He was born in Ost Friesland, now a part of Prussia, Jan. 3, 1817, where he attended school until he was about 16. To secure for him a better education his father put him into a lawyer’s office where he remained until he was nineteen. His father was a farmer and dealer in peat for fuel purposes, the latter on an extensive scale, and as John J. was an only son, the business required and received personal attention. When he reached the age of twenty-seven his father retired and turned the entire business over to him. Mr. Pluemer conducted it until 1852, but as he was outspoken in his convictions and antagonized the opinions of the world around him, he sold out and sought a home in the freer world of the new west. Despite his peculiar views and the opposition of the ministers, he had been elected to a position in his German home corresponding to that of supervisor in this country. In March 1852 he sailed from Bremen, leaving his wife and family to follow him the next August. He landed in New York May 1, 1852, and in two weeks made his appearance in what was known as German Valley, Stephenson county, Illinois. There his family joined him as agreed in August, and they located on a rented farm for three years. Then he bought four hundred acres in Buffalo county, Wisconsin, and was about to go there with his family, when he heard of a serious outbreak of disease in that region. He would not expose his family to it and so he bought 310 acres in Florence township, Stephenson county, where they lived for the next year. At the expiration of this period he came to Freeport and, buying property at No. 8 South Galena Avenue, engaged in the saloon business. He conducted it for thirty-three years, and the family lived in the house five years longer. About 1889 he retired from active business and has since sold all his saloon interests. In 1895 he bought his present home at 28 Carpenter street. He takes an independent position in politics. He is a great reader and a prolific correspondent for the local press.

Mr. Pluemer was married in his native village in March 1844, to Miss Sophia Hammel. She was born on the island of Helgoland in the North Sea, June 27, 1819, and was a daughter of Robert and Rina Hammel. She died in Freeport, April 17, 1893, and was the mother of eleven children: John J. died in Freeport, July 14, 1894. He was a gallant soldier of the Union in the great Rebellion, enlisting in Company C, 46th Illinois Volunteer Infantry, and serving until the closing scenes of the war. He took part in many important battles, particularly Fort Donelson, Pea Ridge and Pittsburg Landing. Ettina R. was born in Germany, February 7, 1846, and Rina June 18, 1847. She married Rudolph Schultz, and died at a hospital in Chicago, February 20, 1890. Rhinehart was born June 2, 1849, and died November 2, 1853; Gretchen was born June 26, 1851, and is now Mrs. Julius Stommel and lives at Washington, District of Columbia; Ferdinand was born September 17, 1852, and died July 2, 1875, in Newark, New Jersey; Rhinehart was born April 5, 1855, and died March 14, 1857; a third Rhinehart was born August 18, 1857, and died December 6, 1886; John Herman was born October 22, 1859, and died December 26, 1859; John Herman (II) was born October 27, 1860, and died May 21, 1863; John Herman (III) was born August 6, 1863, and is now in the state of Washington.

Johan J. Pluemer, the father of the subject of this article, was born in 1781 and, as it has already been noted, was a man of affairs. He took Miss Etje Johnson DeBur for his wife. She was born in Ost Friesland in 1777 and died October 27, 1842. She was the mother of three children, Aneke, John J. and Gretchen, who married Johannes Kohlmann and died in Germany. Her husband was the son of Johan Heinrich Pluemer and Gretchen Greipenburg. John Cordes DeBur, the maternal grandfather of John J. Pluemer, was also a farmer and turf dealer.



Fudwider, Addison L. History of Stephenson County, Illinois: a record of its settlement, organization, and three-quarters of a century of progress. Chicago: S. J. Clarke Publishing Co. 1910.

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