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Sheboygan County, Wisconsin Genealogy & History
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Caspar Pfister

Source: "Portrait and Biographical Record - Published 1894 by Excelsior Publishing Co., Chicago" Pages 724 - 725

Caspar Pfister, the pioneer jeweler of Sheboygan, deserves more than passing mention, in as much as by genius and industry he became master of his trade and accumulated a snug fortune. He was born in Krenmedtstet, Wurtemburg, Germany, January 6, 1821. He was reared and educated in his native country, and in early life displayed mechanical genius of a high order. His highest ambition being to become master of the jeweler's trade, he begged his father to let him go to Switzerland and learn that trade. An elder brother, however, interposed an objection, holding that he had learned the cooper's trade, and that the younger brother ought to follow the same. Of necessity young Caspar carried out the wishes of his brother, but so apt was he to learn that he completed the trade in six months. This calling, being unsuited to his tastes, was pursued by him for but a short time, and during leisure hours and on rainy days he would employ himself in repairing clocks brought to him by his neighbors.

Before leaving his native land Mr. Pfister married Miss Jung, and unto them were born two children. In 1847 they set sail for the New World, and after fifty-two days of storm and calm the vessel dropped anchor in the harbor of New York. Coming direct to Sheboygan, Mr. Pfister purchased a small tract of land in Herman Township, which was then all in woods. On this he lived some five years, making some improvements. In the mean time he was also engaged in cleaning and repairing watches and clocks. Having decided to establish himself in business at Sheboygan, he sold his farm and moved to this city. He has the distinction of having opened the first watchmaker's establishment in this place. At first he carried on only a cleaning and repairing shop, but subsequently put in a stock of jewelry. He not only did his own work, but even invented and manufactured the machinery he used in his business. In course of time Mr. Pfister worked up an extensive and profitable business, and became recognized as one of the most skillful workmen in the State.

One of the most trying scenes of our subject's life occurred the same year that he landed in this country. The neighbors, who were few and far apart, were nearly all sick, there being scarcely enough well ones to care for the afflicted. At this time Mr. Pfister lost his wife, and two days later his mother-in-law also passed away, and as there was no one to assist, he was compelled to dig their graves and help lay them away with his own hands. Of the two children born of this marriage, Paul had preceded his mother to the spirit world; John, the elder, is a jeweler of St. Paul, Minn.

In 1848, Mr. Pfister and Miss Catherine Demgen were married, the ceremony being performed by Rev. Dr. Salzmann, in the town of Herman. The lady was born at Coblentz, Rhenish-Prussia, Germany, September 29, 1829, and in 1847 came to this country with her parents, John and Catherine Demgen, who were among the pioneers of Herman Township. By his second wife Mr. Pfister had eleven children, three sons and eight daughters, of whom eight still survive. Kate is the wife of Frank Lawrence, of Milwaukee; Lena married Christ Lehwalder, of this city; Theresa became the wife of Christopher Wolf, a well-known shoe merchant of Sheboygan; Anna wedded John Trester, also a merchant of this city; Josephine is now Mrs. John Froidl, a resident of the Chair City; Clara married Edwin Debell, who is engaged in the electric-light business in the Evergreen City; William A. married Miss Marie Junker and is a leading jeweler of Sheboygan; Adolph J., the youngest, wedded Emma Vogel and is Assistant Cashier in the Bank of Sheboygan. The mother of this family was called to her final rest November 16, 1881.

Mr. Pfister continued in the jewelry business until his death. On Saturday, January 21, 1885, he performed his last day's work; on the Monday morning following he was taken sick, and at five o'clock in the afternoon breathed his last. Both he and wife were members of the Catholic Church, to the support of which they contributed liberally. During a long business career, Mr. Pfister won a reputation for industry and honesty that stands without reproach. His right of franchise was always exercised in the support of the Democratic party, though he never had any aspirations for official distinction. As the pioneer jeweler, and as an example of what a young man can accomplish by determination and effort, the life of Mr. Pfister is of special interest. Commencing without capital or a knowledge of his trade, he accumulated the one and mastered the other by his own unaided efforts, leaving his children not only valuable property, but, better than all, the legacy of a good name.


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