Source: "Portrait and Biographical Record - Published 1894 by Excelsior Publishing Co., Chicago" Pages 491 - 492
John DeMaster, a dealer in agricultural implements, and a farmer
residing at Cedar Grove, is one of the most widely known men in the
county, as his business has brought him in contact with the people in
nearly every township. He was born in Zerkzee, Zeeland, Holland,
October 15, 1844. His parents, Peter and Johanna (Blanker) DeMaster,
were natives of the same province. In his native land the father was
foreman on a large farm. In 1846, the parents and five children,
three sons and two daughters, came to America, spending the first
four years at Newport, N.Y. In 1850, they continued their westward
course, making a final settlement one mile south of Cedar Grove,
which then consisted merely of a post-office. For hauling the family
from Sheboygan to their new home, Mr. DeMaster was to pay the
teamster $5, but as that took all the money he had, he borrowed $1 of
it to buy bread for his family, and later repaid it. Such incidents
show how hard pressed the early settlers were for money, and also
what inconveniences and privations they were compelled to undergo.
Having accumulated a small sum, he purchased forty acres of timer
east of Cedar Grove, which, with the help of his sons, he converted
into a farm. This was subsequently sold, and twenty acres bought on
section 25, where he spent his last days. His death occurred in
1872, and that of his wife four years before. Both were consistent
members of the Dutch Reformed Church, and, in politics, he was a
In the parental family were six children, but, like the parents,
some of them have passed to "that bourne whence to traveler returns."
Sarah, who became the wife of N. Rottear, died, leaving a family;
Josephine, who married John Van der Jagt, and became the mother of a
large family, has also passed away; Peter, the youngest of the
family, and the only one born in this country, died in Waupaca
County. The living are: Matthew, who served three years during the
late war, in the First Wisconsin Regiment, and is a farmer of Holland
Township; John, of this sketch; and William, a farmer of St. Croix
John DeMaster is the fifth child in order of birth in the above
family. Being six years of age when his parents moved to the county,
he well remembers many of the incidents of early days. As the
schools during his boyhood were very inferior, and work exceptionally
plentiful, he devoted more time to the latter than to securing an
education. However, his experience in business affairs, and his
acquisitions through reading, have made him a well-informed man.
After ten years of age he never entered a schoolhouse as a pupil.
When only eleven years of age, he hired to work on a farm, receiving
for his services his board and $1 per month. Four years later, he
hired to a farmer, John Kempers by name, who lives near Brandon, Wis.
Though a lad of only fifteen years, Mr. DeMaster cradled forty acres
of wheat, seven acres of oats, and five acres of barley during the
first harvest. He would swing the cradle all day, while his employer
bound the grain, and after supper they would put it in shocks.
Working hard as he did, almost day and night, for the first year he
received only $75, and for the second year $90. Returning home, he
engaged in farm work and in running an engine in a grist and saw
mill. The succeeding six years he worked on the farm, and teamed for
C.M. Van der Jagt. As a teamster, he hauled wheat, pork, etc., to
Milwaukee, Sheboygan, and Port Washington.
Like Jacob, Mr. DeMaster found a wife among the daughters of his
employer, though he did not have to work fourteen years for her. On
the 15th of February, 1866, he and Miss Mina Van der Jagt were
married. She was born on t he island of Schouwen, Zeeland, Holland,
June 11, 1845, and when four years of age came with her parents to
this country, settling in the town of Holland.
Mr. and Mrs. DeMaster have had five children. Jennie became the
wife of H.J. Huenink, a cheese-maker of Holland Township; Cornelius
is a machinist of Sheboygan; Peter and John are at home; and the
second child died in infancy. In addition to rearing their own
family, Mr. DeMaster and his wife have reared and educated the
latter's niece, Martha Van der Jagt.
The same year of this marriage, Mr. DeMaster assisted by his father-
in-law, purchased eighty acres of land, upon which the former still
resides, and upon which a portion of the village of Cedar Grove lies.
For this tract they paid $2,125. Later, Mr. DeMaster became the sole
owner, and has since increased his farm to one hundred and twelve
acres, on which he has built fine barns, and made other substantial
improvements. Besides, he owns sixty acres in Ozaukee County.
In his political views, the subject of this sketch is a stanch
Republican, and is an active and influential worker in the
conventions of his party, though he has never sought official honors
for himself. For sever or eight years he was a member of the Town
Board of Supervisors. He then resigned, refusing to accept the
position any longer. In 1889-90, he served as Deputy Sheriff, and
was again appointed in 1893. For the past twenty years Mr. DeMaster
has been dealing in agricultural implements, selling over this and
adjoining counties. As a salesman he has few superiors. His
success, therefore, in that line of business has been exceptional. By
honorable dealing, and careful oversight of every detail of his
business, he has not only acquired a competence, but has also won the
confidence and high regard of his fellow citizens.
In the work of the Presbyterian Church, Mr. and Mrs. DeMaster take
an active part, the former having been a Trustee for some eight
years, a Sunday-school teacher for many years, and is now serving as
Assistant Superintendent of the Sunday-school. Our subject is a man
of more than ordinary ability; shrewd and far-sighted in business,
thoroughly reliable, full of push and energy, he has achieved a
success and a consideration among his fellow men of which he has no
reason to be ashamed.
Copyright 1997 - 2009 by Debie Blindauer