Pulaski County

Biography - Charles Wehrenberg

CHARLES WEHRENBERG. The life of Charles Wehrenberg, Sr., since he became a citizen of the United States, has been rife with activity, in both a political way and in his private citizenship. Coming to America as a young man he early fell a victim to the charm of public life, and he has been a vital force in every movement which compelled his attention from the beginning of his life as a citizen up to the present time.

Charles Wehrenberg was born in Coeslin, Pomerania, one of the small states of the German Empire, on January 31, 1848. He is the son of Frederick W. and Adelaide (Egel) Wehrenberg, and he is the sole survivor of their four children. The father, Frederick W. "Wehrenberg, came to America in 1864 and did a considerable prospecting about with a view to finding a suitable location, it being his intention to bring his family and settle in America. He became engaged in farming near Mound City, Illinois, and it was while thus occupied that his son Charles came over to pay a visit to his father and, if possible, persuade him to return to the home in the Fatherland. However, before he was able to influence the elder Wehrenberg to that end, the father fell suddenly ill and died in 1868. Charles Wehrenberg had by that time become so attached to America, recognizing in it as he did the splendid opportunities for the future that lay at every hand that he himself was unwilling to return to his home in Germany, and, instead, settled down in the home his father had prepared for them and took up the business of farming where the father had left off.

The early education of the young man had been somewhat beyond that of the average German youth, he having secured a liberal education in the Royal Prussian Gymnasium, and he was thus well fitted for the duties of public life, which attracted him from the beginning of his residence in America.

Mr. Wehrenberg lived quietly on his farm and devoted himself industriously to that pursuit, becoming widely known throughout the county as a practical and successful agriculturist, and it was not until the year 1889 that he permitted his energies in that line of endeavor to abate somewhat, at which time he was elected to the office of sheriff of Pulaski county, and he moved into Mound City to take up the duties of that office. In the year 1885 he was named for the offices of assessor and treasurer by the Democratic party, whose cause he had adopted when he became a citizen, and he was duly elected to those offices, ably and satisfactorily performing his duties while still retaining the actual management of his farm. He served one term in that capacity and another in that of sheriff of his county. While the encumbent of the latter named office his was the arduous task of maintaining order during the Switchmen's strike of 1892, and later in the Universal strike of the Illinois Central Employes of 1894. An interesting incident of the latter difficulty was the sending by the Illinois Central of a carload of Pinkerton men to be sworn in as deputies. Mr. Wehrenberg, however, in his official capacity, declined their aid, believing that he would have better results with the aid of his own constituents as deputies. Of the thirteen capital crimes committed during his tenure of office, Mr. Wehrenberg was successful in arresting and bringing to trial all of the murderers, and his entire administration was marked by the same efficient performance of every duty, however slight, that characterized his private life and made him a successful man of business.

At the expiration of his term as sheriff Mr. Wehrenberg gave over his active farming interests and engaged in the real estate business. He also acquired the insurance agency of Bradley & Roberts, and since that time he has controlled the major portion of all the underwriting business done in the county seat. He is still interested in farming, however, and is an extensive holder of farm land, regarding it as the safest form of investment for the conservative buyer, and believing it to be the property which promises the most secure support against the day of adverse circumstances which the future may unfold for even the most prosperous.

On April 16, 1873, Mr. Wehrenberg married in Pulaski county Miss Mary Curry, a daughter of James Curry and a grand-daughter of Judge J. M. Thompson, widely known throughout this country and one of its pioneers. The issue of this marriage were: Frederick, who died in early childhood; Adelaide, wife of Michael Murphy, of Mound City; Charles, Jr., who has followed in the footsteps of his father and is at present sheriff of Pulaski county; and Flora. Lola and Mollie, three fair young daughters who were called home within a brief period and whose loss the family mourns irreparably.

Mr. Wehrenberg is a Master Mason, a Knight of Pythias, and is a member of the Lutheran church.

Extracted from A History of Southern Illinois, 1912, Volume 2, page 741-743

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