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Sheboygan County, Wisconsin Genealogy & History
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John M. Kohler

Source: "Portrait and Biographical Record - Published 1894 by Excelsior Publishing Co., Chicago" Pages 676 - 677

John M. Kohler, President of the Kohler-Hayssen & Stehn Manufacturing Company, is a native of Austria, born in Schnepfan, a province of the Tyrol, November 3, 1844. When ten years of age, he emigrated with his father, John Michael Kohler, to the United States. Fifty-three days were consumed in making the voyage from Havre, France, to New York, they leaving home June 1, and arriving in the latter city August 3. Having spent a short time at Galena, Ill., they made their way to St. Paul, Minn., which then contained about forty-five hundred inhabitants. Minneapolis had not yet sprung into existence. Mr. Kohler, Sr., purchased a farm near St. Paul, and became quite an extensive farmer. His death occurred in 1874, at the age of sixty-eight years. He was twice married. Of the first union, eight children were born, and of the second ten. Death has claimed four of the youngest by the first marriage. The mother of the subject of this sketch, who bore the maiden name of Maria Anna Moosbrugger, died in Austria, in 1853, aged thirty-six years. She, as well as her husband, was a native of the Tyrol.

John M. Kohler was reared on a farm, and educated in the district schools, and at Dyrenfurth College, Chicago. Since eighteen years old, he has battled his own way in the world. He began as the driver of a delivery wagon in St. Paul, later was employed as a clerk, and in 1865 became a salesman in the city of Chicago, acting in that capacity until 1868. Thereupon, he took a position as traveling salesman for a wholesale grocery house, but a year later became connected with a furniture establishment in the same capacity, continuing until 1873. In the meantime, he moved to Sheboygan, in 1871, and in 1873 started a foundry and machine-shop, making agricultural implements. At the beginning, a small plant was sufficient, but business so increased that it was found necessary to enlarge the establishment in 1883. In the same year he commenced the manufacture of enameled ware, conducting both lines of manufacture since. In 1888, the Kohler, Hayssen & Stehn Manufacturing Company was incorporated, with a capital stock of $75,000. The officers of the company are: John M. Kohler, President; H. Hayssen, Vice-President; A. Bachmann, Secretary and Treasurer. They employ about one hundred and twenty-five hands, making extensively enameled bath-tubs and cooking ware.

Mr. Kohler was married in Sheboygan, July 5, 1871, to Miss Lillie, daughter of Jacob J. Vollrath. Mrs. Kohler died March 2, 1883, leaving six children: Evangeline A. E., Robert J., Walter J., Marie C , Lillie S. B. and Carl J. J. Mr. Kohler was again married, on the 3d of November, 1887, this time to Miss Minnie Vollrath, sister to his first wife. Of this union one son, Herbert V., has been born.

The subject of this sketch has been a member of the Masonic order since 1871, and is also a member of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows. He has taken an active part in the affairs of the Humane Society of Sheboygan, of which he is a charter member. In fact, he may be said to be one of the founders of the society in this city. A paper having been left in one of the stores for the signature of those favoring the establishment of such a society, Mr. Kohler was the first to sign this paper, thus breaking the ice and making it easy for others to follow his example.

Politically, our subject is a strong advocate of Republican principles, having served his fellow-citizens in a number of official positions. For two terms, 1881-82, he was a member of the County Board of Supervisors, was a member of the Common Council in 1891, and was Mayor of Sheboygan in 1892. Mr. Kohler is recognized as one of the prominent men of the Chair City, whether in business, political or social circles.


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