G. F. MEYER. The Fatherland has contributed to American society many of
the most valuable of our people. The poor boy of Germany listens at his
father's fireside to the fascinating stories of the new world in the United
States, and his young soul is fired with an uncontrollable desire to go and
see that strange land of plenty and freedom. In the silent watches of the
night, as he lies beneath the humble thatched roof of the home of his birth,
his imagination calls up all the endearment of his home, of friends and the
little green mounds that rest so peacefully upon the stilled bosoms of his
loved ancestors, running back through almost unnumbered generations. Perhaps
there comes to add to this love of home and the loved playground of infancy,
the blue-eyed flaxen haired little German girl now budding into those sweet
"teens" that send the youth's blood throbbing through his veins, and then
the golden visions of the New World are gone, only to return again with
greater force when he goes over the story of poverty, toil and hopeless
suffering that is the alloted place in life if he remains upon the sacred
spot where he was born. He re-resolves, heavy though it may make his heart,
and goes to sleep, and dreams of America, and in the morning his mind is
made up, and he resolves to come to the wild strange land, and by hard work,
economy and plodding and ceaseless energy to again lay the foundations of
his family fortune. He lands in a strange land, and hears a strange
language, and with a brave heart he commences the work of mastering a new
language, and at the same time laying the foundation for a little fortune
that will someday enable him to return to Fatherland and bring with him to
his new home that same flaxen-haired girl from whom he parted at the
ship-landing with such a sad and heavy heart. This imaginary sketch will
tell the story of many of the best citizens of our country. They came here
with a great purpose of life and win the crown of success, by energy,
integrity and perseverance.
Of the many of this valuable class of citizens, we know of none in Southern Illinois who deserves more at our hand than does Gottlieb F. Meyer, merchant and business man of Mound City, Ill. He was born in Bielefeld, Prussia, Germany, October 26, 1835, and is a son of G. F. Meyer, Sr., and Caroline (Homerson) Meyer, both of whom are dead, and who were the parents of four children. Our subject was educated in Germany, and graduated from an agricultural college at Bielefeld, at the age of eighteen years. After his father's death, he managed his estate for some two and a half years, and, in 1858, came to America. He made his way direct to Illinois, came to Mound City, where he arrived on the 16th of April, and four weeks later he, in company with A. F. Hallerberg, started a grocery store, although he could not speak a word of English. This business was continued until 1867, when Mr. Meyer bought out Hallerberg. He commenced with a capital of $300, and now carries on a mercantile business, with $40,000 in stock. This serves as an example of what persevering industry, unswerving honor and integrity, coupled with native business talent, will accomplish in this free country. His large and magnificent store building, one of the handsomest in Southern Illinois, and which costs $40,000, is divided into five different departments, viz.: First, groceries, queensware; second, hardware and stoves; third, boots, shoes, hats, caps etc.; fourth, furniture, paints and wall paper; fifth, saddlery and harness.
In addition to merchandising, Mr. Meyer carries on an extensive lumber business. In 1859, he commenced dealing in lumber and staves, and established and set to work several saw mills to supply the St. Louis and New Orleans markets, and in 1865 he shipped the first barge load of long steamboat lumber to New Orleans, at a time when the market was clean, realizing an immense profit on it. During the war, he was Goverment contractor for the Marine Corps, and to a large extent furnished the Mississippi Squadron with stores. He lost about $12,000 on the first three monitors, which were built at Cincinnati, and equipped through him. He never received a cent from the loss of the cargoes, as the Government was not responsible for that character of loss. In 1872, he made a specialty of furnishing brewers' cooper material in New York, Philadelphia, Boston and San Francisco, and in 1877 put in machinery at a cost of $10,000, and began dressing staves for brewers and coopers, taking in as a partner Mr. F. Nordman, from Indianapolis. They do a business in lumber amounting to about $150,000 annually, employing in the factory and the woods together from forty to 200 men. Most of their hauling is done in the fall, when they often employ 100 teams. They get their timber up the Ohio, Cumberland and Tennessee Rivers, and down the Mississippi as far as Memphis, and as far up as Cape Girardeau, owning large tracts of timber-land in Missouri and Arkansas, on the St. Louis & Iron Mountain Railroad, and also on the St. Louis & Cairo Narrow Gauge Railroad.
Mr. Meyer is the owner of considerable real estate in Mound City.
He was married in Bielefeld, Germany, in October, 1859, to Miss Lena Meyer, born in 1835, a native of the same place of himself, and a schoolmate. She is a daughter of Florence Meyer, and he returned to the old country, married her, and brought her to his new home. They have one child — Charles F., born December 23, 1862. Mr. and Mrs. Meyer are Lutherans, but attend the Presbyterian Church. He is a Democrat in politics, but not an office-seeker.
Extracted 02 Nov 2014 by Norma Hass from 1883 History of Alexander, Union and Pulaski Counties, Illinois, Part V - Biographical Sketches, pages 273-275.