Amandus A. Werkheiser


As a representative of the younger portion of the farming community of Ward's Grove Township, the subject of this record is performing his part in a most admirable manner. His industry and energy are phenomenal, and have resulted in the accumulation of a snug property, including a well-improved farm of 119 acres, lying on section 9. He commenced life dependent upon his own resources, and under many difficulties made his way upward to a good position, socially and financially. His household is presided over by an amiable and excellent wife, a well-born English lady, who looks well to the ways of her household, is extremely neat and tasteful, industrious and frugal, and without question has very near at heart the welfare of her family.

Our subject comes of good stock, being the son of John and Deborah (Hone) Werkheiser, who were natives of Pennsylvania. The paternal grandfather was a well-to-do farmer of the Keystone State. The great-grandfather was born in Germany, and emigrated to America in time to carry a musket in the service of the Colonists during the Revolutionary War. On the mother's side Grandfather Hone was a prosperous farmer of Northampton County, Pa., and it is believed that all the grandfathers closed their eyes upon the scenes of earth in the Keystone State.

John Werkheiser, the father of our subject, learned blacksmithing when a young man, and established himself in the business on his own hook, becoming an expert, and continued in this business until 1853. That year he left Pennsylvania for Northern Illinois, making the journey overland with teams. He first purchased eighty acres of land in Kent Township, Stephenson County, where he engaged in farming and blacksmithing combined, and sojourned until 1858. Then, selling out, he came to this county, and purchased 100 acres of land in Ward's Grove Township, put up a house and blacksmith-shop, and carried on a prosperous business. Later he purchased forty acres in Stephenson County, and operated the two farms and his blacksmith-shop until retiring from active labor. He affiliated with the Republican party, and served as Commissioner of Highways, besides occupying other positions of trust and responsibility. In religious matters he was an active member of the Dunkard Church. He died very suddenly of apoplexy, at his home in Ward's Grove Township, on the 8th of July, 1865, in the fiftieth year of his age; the mother is still living, and makes her home with one of her daughters in Lena, Ill.

To the parents of our subject there were born eleven children, the three eldest of whom, Ephraim, William, and John, are deceased. Amandus A., our subject, was the fourth son and child; Sarah is a resident of Wisner, Neb.; George lives in Stephenson County, this State: Henry and Emma in this county; Amos and Ella are at Lena, in Stephenson

County; Aaron died when a child; Ephraim and William during the late war enlisted, in 1862, in the 92d Illinois Infantry. Ephraim was taken sick, and received his honorable discharge on account of physical disability, was taken home and died one month later. William was wounded in battle, in the fall of 1863, and died two days later. John first enlisted in an Illinois regiment with the 100-days' men, and, after serving his first term, veteranized (sic), and followed the fortunes of war until its close.

The subject of this sketch was born near Wilkes-barre (sic), Northampton Co, Pa., May 9, 1848, and was a child of four years when his parents came to Illinois, overland in a wagon. The scenes of his first recollections are in Stephenson County, where he pursued his lessons in a log school, house, and later was employed upon the farm. He was a youth of seventeen years at the time of his father's death, and staid (sic) at home assisting his mother in paying for the property. He was married in 1875, Oct. 21, at Freeport, to Miss Mary Coomber. This lady was born in Sussex, England, Nov. 30, 1850, and is the daughter of Thomas and Emily (Wybourn) Coomber, of the same place. The paternal grandparents started for America, but died soon after their arrival. Grandfather Wybourn, a native of England, spent his entire life upon his native soil.

After their marriage Mr. and Mrs. Werkheiser settled upon the farm which they now occupy, which had been previously purchased by our subject. He has made all the improvements here; and has now a neat, new residence, with a good barn, corn-cribs, and plenty of running water supplied by Yellow Creek. He has five acres of timber land in another part of Ward's Grove Township. At the homestead he has planted an orchard and grove, together with evergreen trees about the residence, which gives it a very attractive appearance. The farm is chiefly devoted to the raising of grain and stock.

The father of Mrs. Werkheiser, before coming to America, served for a time in the English army. He crossed the Atlantic in 1853, and proceeded directly to this county. The first two years he operated on rented land, then purchased land in Stephenson County. He, however, continued his residence in this county, and operated 300 acres. He spent his last days at his homestead in Kent Township, Stephenson County, dying at the age of fifty-four years, in 1878; the mother is still living there, and is now sixty years old. Both were members of the Methodist Episcopal Church, and the father, politically, a strong Republican. Their ten children were named respectively: Mary E.; Thomas, now a resident of Jewell County, Kan.; Ellen M., in Humboldt, Neb.; William H.; Albert S.; Emily A., in Stephenson County; George Franklin; Charles W.; Matthew; and Lewis E., at home.

Mrs. Werkheiser was a child of five years when her parents emigrated to America, and remembers that they embarked at Liverpool on a sailing-vessel, which, seven weeks later, landed them in New York City. She received her education in the common schools of Illinois, and remained under the parental roof until her marriage. She is now the mother of six children: Loella L., John F., Edith M., Emery A., Arthur M., and William L. The eldest is thirteen years of age, and the youngest two years, and they are all at home with their parents.

Mr. Werkheiser cast his first Presidential vote for Grant, and is a stanch supporter of Republican principles. He has served on the Grand and Petit Juries, been a School Director for three years, and has for the last six years officiated as Commissioner of Highways, which position he still occupies. Both he and his estimable wife are members of the Methodist Episcopal Church at Kent, in which Mr. W. has for the last two years been Superintendent of the Sunday-school. He is thus filling up the measure of a useful and honorable career, and no man is more highly respected by his neighbors.

Source: Portrait and Biographical Album of Jo Daviess Co., IL (1878)