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Sheboygan County, Wisconsin Genealogy & History

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Anton Diefenthaler

Source: "Portrait and Biographical Record - Published 1894 by Excelsior Publishing Co., Chicago" Pages 531 - 532

Anton Diefenthaler, a worthy pioneer and old settler of Sheboygan County, came from his far-away home in Germany to make his fortune in a new and strange land. Like so many of his countrymen who have become residents of this county, he has proven a valuable citizen. He was born December 28, 1827, in Spiesheim, Hesse-Darmstadt, and was a son of Anton and Magdalena (Scheib) Diefenthaler. In the village of his nativity he received a common-school education. Mr. Diefenthaler had the misfortune to lose his father when but seven years of age. The latter was a farmer in a small way, and after his death Anton, with the assistance of his brother, supported and cared for his mother. When he was seventeen years of age, his mother was laid to rest by the side of her husband in the village cemetery, and the son was left without the guardianship of father and mother.

A few years later Mr. Diefenthaler determined to come to the United States, and in the spring of 1848 sailed from Antwerp for New York. The journey was made on the good ship "Cornelius Grinnell," and after fifty days of storm they reached their destination. So rough had been the voyage, that when the three hundred passengers were finally landed in New York, a general thanksgiving was offered for their safety. Only a few days were spent in that city, when our hardy pioneer proceeded to Albany, from which place he took passage on a canal-boat for Buffalo, and a week later arrived in that city. From the latter city he went by way of the Great Lakes to Milwaukee, Wis., where he spent only one night. The following morning the journey was resumed, he going on foot to Germantown. His mission to the latter place was to look for a brother, who had preceded him to America by several years.

During the summer season, for the next five years, Mr. Diefenthaler worked in Milwaukee, in a brickyard, and in the winter time remained with his brother on the farm. In the fall of 1851, he again crossed the ocean, and after visiting his old home, he turned his face Westward once more. Leaving Antwerp on the 2d of April for America, this time spending thirty-six days on the ocean, he went direct to Germantown, Washington County, Wis. From that village he emigrated with an ox-team to the town of Rhine, where he bought eighty acres of land on section 11, a part of the present farm owned and occupied by him. Later, Mr. Diefenthaler purchased forty acres more on the same section, the last land being secured in 1852.

On the 1st of November, 1852, Mr. Diefenthaler brought his bride to his home. Her maiden name was Elizabeth Gerlach, and she was born in the same place as her husband, August 24, 1827. With her assistance our subject erected their first log cabin, 18x24 feet in size, where they began domestic life in a style known only to the pioneers of a new country. This first house still stands as a monument to noble sacrifice, and as a lesson to the younger generations of hardships and privations of which they can know only as they are told. In 1866 Mr. Diefenthaler erected his present home. He has a good, comfortable house and all the necessary outbuildings.

Unto Mr. and Mrs. Diefenthaler eight children were born, four sons and four daughters, five of whom are living. George, born May 12, 1854, is a resident of Elkhart; Lena, born May 12, 1857, became the wife of William Streibel, of Kirwin, Kan.; John, born March 9, 1859, is at home; Mena, born July 23, 1861, wedded Henry Menne, and resides in Millhome, Manitowoc County; and Margaret, born December 13, 1864, married Conrad Bub, a farmer of section 22.

In his political relations, Mr. Diefenthaler is independent, preferring to support the man rather than the party. He has served in various official capacities; has been Town Treasurer for three terms; Town Clerk one term; Supervisor one term; and Assessor for two terms. Mr. Diefenthaler came to this country a poor man, but by energy and industry has accumulated a good property. He is a man who commands the respect and admiration of all with whom he comes in contact. He is a very popular man in his community, as his many years of official service would indicate. He and his wife are numbered among the worthy citizens of their town.

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