Israel KOEHLER is one of the most extensive landowners of Marshall county. His possessions, however, largely lie outside of the state, and in Henry he has been best known in connection with industrial interests, having for a long period engaged in the manufacture of carriages here. At the present writing he is practically living retired, merely giving his supervision to his invested interests.
Mr. KOEHLER was born in Northampton county, Pennsylvania, July 6, 1830. His father, John KOEHLER, was likewise a native of the Keystone state and was of German lineage. He became a prosperous farmer, devoting his life to general agricultural interests, and he died in 1871 at the age of seventy-one years. He held membership in the Lutheran church, and his political allegiance was given to the whig party until the organization of the new republican party, when he joined its ranks and supported its men and measures. His wife, who in her maidenhood was Sarah SEIP, was also born in Northampton county, Pennsylvania, and was of Dutch descent. She held membership in the Lutheran church, and died in 1856 when about fifty-four years of age. Their family numbered eight children, of whom Israel is the fourth in order of birth. Five are yet living, although four of this number are still residents of Pennsylvania.
Israel KOEHLER was reared upon a farm in the state of his nativity and acquired his education in the schools near his father's home. He came to Illinois in the spring of 1855, when a young man of twenty-five years and settled at Annawan, in Henry county, where he was employed as a cabinet-maker, remaining there for three years. In the fall of 1858 he came to Henry and embarked in business on his own account as a manufacturer of carriages. He remained in business until 1890, or for a period of almost a third of a century, and for many years this was one of the leading industrial concerns of the city, its output finding a ready sale on the market because of the excellence of the product and the unsullied reputation of the house for business integrity. At length Mr. KOEHLER retired from manufacturing interests, and in the meantime he had invested largely in land and has since added to his realty holdings, until he has today between two and three thousand acres in Nebraska, Texas, Kansas, Iowa and South Dakota, of which two-thirds is under cultivation. This land has increased five-fold in value since he bought it, and Mr. KOEHLER's wealth is thus constantly growing, his capital being much more than sufficient to supply him with the comforts and luxuries of life.
In 1853 occurred the marriage of Israel KOEHLER and Miss Augusta C. SMITH, who was born in Northampton county, Pennsylvania, a daughter of George and Sally (BECK) SMITH. Unto Mr. and Mrs. KOEHLER have been born three children, but Richard and James are both deceased. The daughter Luella married William H. STEBER, and unto them have been born three children: Latha A., Milton Pearl and Augusta S.
Mr. KOEHLER is a Lutheran in religious faith, while his wife holds membership in the Moravian church. He was formerly a republican in politics and cast a vote for John C. Fremont and for Lincoln at each election. He also voted twice for Grant, but he is now independent in politics. He has served as a member of the city council, and his aid has been a valued factor in promoting the material progress and prosperity of the city in which he makes his home. The growth of every community depends upon its commercial and industrial activity, and in this connection Mr. KOEHLER has done important service for Henry. Moreover, he deserves much credit for what he has accomplished, for his success is attributable entirely to his own labors. Without special pecuniary or family advantages or educational privileges at the outset of his career, he has steadily worked his way upward, and his diligence has constituted the key which has unlocked for him the portals of success.
Extracted July 2011 by Norma Hass from
Past and Present of Marshall and Putnam Counties