Wenger Bros., general merchants.
The most enterprising firm of young men in the village of Wayland are the brothers, Joseph and Christian C. Wenger, both born in Washington County, Iowa, and are the two eldest sons of Christian and Elizabeth (Goldsmith) Wenger. Christian was born in Switzerland and is a son of Christian and Mary (Roth) Wenger, who emigrated from Germany to Hamburg, Canada, and thence to Washington County, Iowa, making the journey with a team passing through Chicago when that now great city was a village but a trifle larger than Wayland. Settling in 1832, in Marion Township, Washington Co., Iowa, the grandsire of our subject purchased a claim, upon which stood a small cabin and later entered the lands. This family were among the first settlers in that county, and both lived and died upon the farm which they had put in fine cultivation. His wife reached sixty, and Christian Wenger, Sr., the ripe age of eighty-three years. All their children but the three eldest were born in Canada, and came with them to Iowa, and perhaps no better family has ever settled in her boundary. We are pleased to make separate mention of each: John married Mary Ernst; Christian, father of our subject, wedded Elizabeth Goldsmith; Nicholas died unmarried; Joseph married Elizabeth Roth; Benjamin became the husband of Lena Gengerich; Annie married Christian Eicher; Mary wedded Joseph Rich; Lena wedded Christian Ernst, a brother of John’s wife; Katie became the wife of John Miller, of Davis County; and Barbara became the wife of Christian Schlatter, the proprietor of the Wayland sawmills. Under the name of Christian Wenger the further history of the family is given. His five eldest children were born in Washington County and are: Joseph, Christian, Samuel, Jacob and Lizzie, the latter the wife of Jacob Kabel. On the farm in Henry County, John, Daniel, Henry, Ella and Levi, were born. Samuel was educated at Howe’s Academy, and has taught in the public schools of this county. The two eldest sons were educated in the schools of the township, but are brilliant business men, and their retail trade is successfully managed.
In 1881 Christian C. left the farm and in 1882, in company with Benjamin Gardiner, engaged in the mercantile trade. Their new store building was erected in 1883, but prior to its completion Joseph purchased the interest of Mr. Gardiner, and the firm was changed to Wenger Bros. The firm carry a full line of general merchandise and the largest stock in the northern part of the county, their stock invoicing over $6,000. Everything is of the best, and selling goods at the lowest living profit has given these young men a trade of over $10,000 per annum, and located as they are in the midst of an excellent agricultural region, their trade is constantly increasing. They are an honor to their parents, their village and their country, and to men of such business enterprise the growth and prosperity of Henry County is due.
The wedding of Joseph, the elder member of this firm, was a brilliant affair, and was celebrated on Thursday, Oct. 27, 1887, the bride being Miss Katie, the handsome daughter of Mr. and Mrs. William Henss, the veteran wagon-maker, and one of the wealthy men of Wayland. The young couple took a pleasant bridal tour, and are now cosily settled in Wayland, the birthplace of the bride, who has one of the best of husbands and a man in whom the public repose confidence.
Christian C., the younger member of the firm, but the original partner of Mr. Gardiner, is also happily married, having, on Dec. 8, 1887, been united to Miss Ella, daughter of Isaac and Keziah Allen, of Wayland, of which place she is a native. She was educated in the schools of the village, and has always been regarded as one of the brightest and best of its daughters, as her husband is known as one of its most honorable and enterprising merchants.
The Rev. Johann (John) Eicher II, husband of Margaretta (Margaret) Conrod, was a native of Pulversheim in the Alsace and Margaret was born in Switzerland. John had charge of a Mennonite congregation in the Alsace and for many years was engaged not only in the ministry, but in farming. Not all of their children came to America; and of those who did, they came singly. First came Jacob, then John Jr., Christian, Daniel, and then Martin Benjamin. The boys were followed by a sister Annie and her husband, John W. Wittmer; Annie and John had married in Alsace before settling in Wayne County, Ohio. Jacob returned from the United States to the Alsace to marry Mary Summer, a “childhood friend”; he brought her back with him to America.
Three of the boys, after trying life first in Ohio, concluded it would be better to make their life in Canada; John, Daniel and Christian relocated to Waterloo County, Ontario. John and Christian remained in Canada for three years. Daniel Eicher stayed on for six years, and finally following his brothers to Iowa. Three of the Eicher brothers: Christian, Martin Benjamin, and Jacob located in Washington County, Iowa; and John and Daniel located in Henry County, Iowa. Martin was the only one who invested in land, doing so in 1850.
After coming to Iowa, all the sons married:
- Martin wedded Barbara Roth;
- Christian married Annie Wenger;
- Jacob became the husband of Catherine Rich; and
- Rev. Benjamin Eicher married Lydia Summers.
Johann and Margaretta remained in the Alsace (today France) with their remaining children:
- Joseph, who married Elizabeth Kropf;
- Fannie, wife of Jacob Summer; and
- Peter, husband of Catherine Summer.
Johann Eicher II and Margaretta Conrod lived to a ripe old age, and were buried in the country that gave them birth.
edited by Mark Rabideau from the original:
Portrait and Biographical Album of Henry County, Iowa.Chicago: Acme Publishing Company, 1888. Evansville: Unigraphic, 1976 pp 392
Additional information obtained from: Gingerich, Melvin. “Eicher (Eichert, Eichler, Eycher) family .” Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. 1956. Web. 13 July 2010. http://www.gameo.org/encyclopedia/contents/E470ME.html.;
MENNONINTE HISTORY OF HENRY COUNTY AREA
by Melvin Gingerich
This is a series of articles written by Melvin Gingerich, a well know Mennonite minister, and, I believe Bishop. The series was published on a weekly basis in The Wayland News until its conclusion. — Ann Miller White. - 1/9/1931 – Wayland News