In pioneer times Charles TRERWILER came to Putnam county, and for many years figured prominently as a leading representative of the German-American element in its citizenship. He was born in Prussia, Germany, January 27, 1824, and in 1847, when a young man of twenty-three years, came to America. He landed at Buffalo, New York, with fifteen cents as his entire cash capital and spent a brief period in that city. He had learned the blacksmith's trade in his native country and followed that pursuit in Buffalo to get enough money to take him on to St. Louis. He then boarded a boat that stopped at Hennepin, and while it was laying at anchor here Mr. TRERWILER went ashore. He was watching some men attempt to shoe a wild horse, and being a big, strong young man and liking to show what he could do, he took hold of the job and succeeded in shoeing the animal. This awakened the admiration of the bystanders, who induced him to remain and go to work. After being employed by others for a time he then bought a shop of his own and continued in the blacksmithing business and also built wagons and buggies for many years, being a skilled workman in that line. The excellence of his product secured him a constantly growing patronage and he became quite wealthy, owing to his success at his trade and his judicious investment in property. As his financial resources increased he acquired considerable real estate and might have obtained much more had he not been of such a generous disposition that he gave away much of his means. Embarking in the implement business he continued the sale of machinery for several years and never hesitated to let any one have what they needed whether they had the money to pay or not. The result was that he retired from business with a large amount of worthless notes, which, could they have been collected, would have brought him in several thousand dollars. However, many greatly benefited by his generous and benevolent disposition and in time repaid him for his kindness by meeting their financial obligations.
On the 6th of February, 1853, Mr. TRERWILER was married to Miss Susannah KNEIP, who was born in Luxemburg, Germany, March 25, 1834, a daughter of Phillip and Elizabeth (SCHAMMEL) KNEIP, who emigrated to the United States in 1847. They located at Milwaukee, Wisconsin, but not liking the forest region Mr. KNEIP, having done much chopping and clearing in his own country, they decided to locate on the prairie and took up their abode in La Salle county, Illinois, near Troy Grove, having heard that the land was very rich in that locality and that good crops were being raised. Accordingly they located there in 1847. Mrs. TRERWILER was then a maiden of fourteen years and yet remembers the wild conditions that confronted them when they came to Illinois. Mendota had not yet been heard of and the Illinois and Michigan canal was under construction. It was thought that this waterway would furnish a means of steady communication with the outside world, and in fact it was used for many years to convey the products of the country to the city markets, while deer were numerous and in fact could be seen in great herds wandering over the prairie. Rattlesnakes were also very plentiful and one could hardly step out of doors without seeing a reptile of that character. Mrs. TRERWILER has lived in the same house for over a half century except for a brief period spent in Chicago and near Henry. She lost her husband September 7, 1902, when they were at the home of their son-in-law, Adolph KLEIN, near Henry, Marshall county. Their daughter died eight years ago, leaving eleven children.
After the death of Mr. TRERWILER his widow returned to Hennepin. By her marriage she had become the mother of eleven children, of whom five died in infancy. The other six were: Elizabeth, the deceased wife of Adolph KLEIN; Margaret, at home; Louis, who died at the age of fifteen years; Anna, who was the wife of Frank REAVY, and died six years ago; Charles, who is living in Chicago; and Mary, the wife of James McCUTCHEON, of Hennepin.
Mr. TRERWILER was a devout communicant of the Catholic church, to which his family also belonged. In politics he was a democrat but without aspiration for office. He lived a life of unremitting industry and perseverance. He was a good neighbor and a faithful friend, being most kind hearted and true and ever ready to help any one in need. In fact his generosity and benevolence were among his most salient characteristics and won for him a large measure of respect and admiration.
Extracted June 2011 by Norma Hass from
Past and Present of Marshall and Putnam Counties