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Sheboygan County, Wisconsin Genealogy & History
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0tto Schucht

Source: "Portrait and Biographical Record - Published 1894 by Excelsior Publishing Co., Chicago" Pages 434 - 436

0tto Schucht is well known as the owner and proprietor of the Sheboygan Gardens, which are only a quarter of a mile from the western limits of the city. He has been a resident of the county since 1849, and is well and favorably known in this region. He was born May 20, 1828, in Germany, and is a son of John W. and Fredericka (Runge) Schucht. His boyhood was passed in his native land, where he received a superior education in the German, Swedish and French languages, also in the English language.

When twenty years of age our subject sailed from Hamburg, and during the eight weeks of the voyage on the Atlantic the vessel encountered severe storms. He resided in New York City for one year, and then proceeded westward by way of the railroad to Buffalo, thence by the Great Lakes on the steamer "Niagara." On his arrival in Sheboygan in 1849, the population of the city was only about two thousand. He remained in this locality for ten years, when, in company with four gentlemen and his wife, he went to the Pacific Slope, taking the Panama route. For several years he made his home in the Suisun Valley, and in Stockton, where he engaged in merchandising. Afterward, he went to Vancouver's Island in a sailing-vessel, where he found that his exchequer was in a depleted condition. Both himself and wife, being active and industrious, found employment, but had many hardships to overcome. He took a farm on shares, and succeeded fairly well in his business ventures. He has traveled extensively, and his career has indeed been a checkered one. About forty-five years of his life have been spent in travel, and he has crossed the Atlantic Ocean five times.

Mr. Schucht has been twice married, his first union being with Miss Eliza Reichel, a native of Germany. Their daughter Emma is now a resident of California, in which State the mother's death occurred. In 1862 our subject wedded Miss Theresa Arnel, who was bora November 29, 1837, in Germany. To them were born two sons and five daughters. Antoinette, born on Vancouver's Island, British America, is now the wife of William Lewis, of Portage County, Wis.; Emil, who was also born on the same island, is a carpenter and joiner by trade, and a resident of this county; Freda was bora in Calumet County, Wis.; Dora lives in this county; Eliza is the wife of Frank Dewey, a resident of Sheboygan; William also lives in that place; and Mary is at home.

The children have all been educated in the English and German languages. The mother is also familiar with those languages, and with the French tongue. She is a highly-cultivated lady, and is accomplished as a musician. Her musical education was commenced in Hamburg, Germany, when she was only six years old. Her grandfather secured for her a position as saleslady of musical instruments with a firm which had a branch house at Valparaiso, Chile. Accordingly, she set sail for that far distant land, the voyage consuming six months. Many interesting incidents occurred on the trip, and while in the British Channel their vessel collided with another one, which went to the bottom, with not a soul saved. When rounding the Horn, the ship on which she was a passenger came very near going to the bottom, and when crossing the equator the sailors followed the time-honored custom of paying homage to the shrine of Neptune. Mrs. Schucht remained in Chile for about six months, when she was obliged to leave on account of the financial failure of the firm with which she was connected. She therefore started for San Francisco, where she arrived after a three-months voyage. She met her future husband in Stockton, where their marriage was celebrated, February 21, 1862.

To return to the personal history of our subject: Having become a practical merchant, he followed that calling for some years, and in 1851 embarked in the grocery business in Sheboygan. A year later he disposed of this and went on a visit to Germany. Returning in 1852, the year that the cholera raged in Wisconsin, he took a position as salesman in Chilton, but the firm soon failed, and, acting on the advice of friends, and with the aid of his father-in-law, he started out as a merchant, and continued in business at that point for a year. At that time he was Postmaster and Town Clerk. Next, going to Chicago, he obtained a position as salesman in a tobacco store, where he was for a year, wdien he returned to Sheboygan. and commenced business on Pennsylvania Avenue, under the firm name of Reichel & Schucht, in the wholesale wine, liquor and tobacco business. In a year they opened a branch establishment in Fond du Lac, which was continued for twelve months, and then transferred to New Holstein, Calumet County. Leaving there, our subject returned, to embark in the feed business in Sheboygan, but in a short time went to California, where he engaged in the fur trade with one of the largest merchants in San Francisco. This was after his return from Vancouver's Island.

Taking a fine recommendation from his western employer, our subject went to New York City, and was for one year in a hat and fur store. His next move was to engage in the fur business in Fond du Lac, whence he went to New Holstein, and commenced teaming and transporting merchandise. Through the treachery of a supposed friend he lost $2,000, and being cast adrift and not knowing what to do, he went with his wife to Chicago, where he found employment as a clerk at $12 per week. He was shortly raised to $20, and then became a traveling salesman for a clothing house. The firm soon failing, he went to Milwaukee, and through the influence of a friend obtained a position. In the summer of 1870, he went to a place near Steven's Point, and worked for a farmer at $1 per day. Afterward he secured a position in a mill, and then taught school for four months, at $37 per month. In the spring he went to settle upon a farm of forty acres, which he had purchased at a cost of $4 per acre. His neighbors aided him in breaking up the land, and this was his home for ten years. He became familiar with gardening and floriculture. During the time he was employed at Steven's Point, he worked on his farm during the summer, and during the rest of the year as a clerk, at $40 per month, having to walk eleven miles to his home to spend Sundays. The first grain he sowed on his farm was carried this distance by him in a sack holding two bushels. The Wisconsin Central Railroad was then being laid to this part of the State, and our subject took the agency for the steamship line and for several fire insurance companies. He had erected a nice home, and anticipated taking a trip to Europe with his eldest child, when his wife wrote him to return, as his partner had absconded with $800 in money. Only a year afterward his house was struck by lightning, and everything was destroyed. All he possessed was some young trees, and he took the road to dispose of them, as this was his only resource.

Leaving his devastated home, Mr. Schucht located between Chilton and Gravesville, where he remained for four years. Since 1885, he has resided at his present place. He became the owner of five acres of land, for which he paid $200 per acre. He has beautified and improved it, and these attractions have brought others to the vicinity. At the end of five years he commenced selling lots, and disposed of them at high figures. It was in 1891 that he purchased five acres and established the well-known Sheboygan Gardens. The property has been greatly beautified, and upon the grounds are six large greenhouses, filled with the choicest plants, and warmed by two Bermuda motor heaters, made at Rochester, N. Y. His home is a beautiful country residence, and the grounds are laid out as a park. The Sheboygan Garden Company is now incorporated, with a capital of $10,000.

The first Presidential vote of our subject was cast for Millard Filmore, but he has kept entirely out of politics. On the 17th of August, 1887, while attending the American Florists' Convention in Chicago, he met with an accident in stepping off a cable car, and fell under the wheels, which passed over his legs. Amputation was thought necessary, but his rugged constitution brought him through. Each year he makes a point of attending the florists' conventions, having been to the ones held in Chicago, Toronto (Canada), Minneapolis and Washington, D. C. He and his wife anticipate a journey to Germany in the near future.


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