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Sheboygan County, Wisconsin Genealogy & History
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John F. Sell

Source: "Portrait and Biographical Record - Published 1894 by Excelsior Publishing Co., Chicago" Pages 614 - 615

John F. Sell, the leading merchant of Waldo, needs no special introduction to the readers of this volume, for he is both widely and favorably known throughout the western part of Sheboygan County. He claims Wisconsin as the State of his nativity, his birth having occurred in Calumet County, November 25, 1862. His father, Hans Sell, was born in Holstein, Germany, in February, 1837, and when a young man of twenty years crossed the Atlantic to America, locating in Calumet County in 1857. There he has since followed farming. In politics, he is a Republican, and is a man of strong convictions. He married Catherine Kloth, also a native of Holstein, and they became the parents of twelve children, six sons and six daughters, of whom eight are yet living.

Our subject is the fourth in order of birth. He remained at home until seventeen years of age and then began life for himself. He possesses an industrious and enterprising nature, and his business career has already given evidence of a very successful future. After attending the common schools, he pursued a course of study in the Milwaukee Business College. When he began to earn his own livelihood, he had no capital, but by perseverance and good management he has steadily worked his way upward. He became a salesman in Brillion, working in a general store for eight months for $12 per mouth. He then returned to his father's farm, where he spent the summer, after which he resumed clerking, and since that time he has been engaged in commercial pursuits. Removing to Grovesville, Wis., he there secured a position as salesman in a general store, where he spent about two years and a half. Later he went to Davenport, Iowa, and entered the employ of August Steffen, a large wholesale and retail dry-goods merchant of that city. Our subject was in the retail department, and there remained for nine months, after which he went to Avoca, Iowa, where he entered a general store, there spending one year. His next place of residence was in Hancock, Iowa, where he served as manager of a store owned by his former employer in Avoca. A year later we find him in Chilton, Wis., where he began general merchandising as a member of the firm of George Nicholson & Co. That partnership continued three years, when Mr. Sell disposed of his interests, and on the 1st of July, 1891, came to Waldo. Here he purchased the stock of general merchandise of W. T. Armstrong, and is now the leading merchant of the place.

The lady who bears the name of Mrs. Sell was formerly Miss Minnie Nicholson. She was born in Calumet County, Wis., November 19, 1864, and became the wife of our subject April 26, 1888. She is a daughter of George and Katie (Newman) Nicholson. She was educated in the common schools, the High School of Chilton, and the Oshkosh Normal School, and for some time was successfully engaged in teaching. She has also acted as saleslady and book-keeper. Two children have been born of her marriage, J. Curtis and Vivian I.

Mr. Sell is a true Republican, and cast his first Presidential vote for James G. Blaine. He belongs to Waldo Lodge No. 239, I. O. O. F., and is one of the charter members of the Encampment of Sheboygan. He and his wife are respecters of all moral teachings, and uphold the best interests of the community. Since 1891 Mr. Sell has filled the office of Postmaster of Waldo. His store here is the best in the place. He carries a full line of dry goods, hats and caps, boots and shoes, queensware, staple and fancy groceries, trunks and valises. He is fair and upright in all his dealings, is pleasant and genial in manner, and by his earnest desire to please his customers he has won a liberal share of the public patronage, which is certainly well deserved. A wide-awake and enterprising young business man, his career will certainly be a prosperous one.


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