WILLIAM ZOELLNER. - William Zoellner, whose business career was one of unremitting activity and unflagging enterprise, is now living a retired life in Springfield, where he has made his home for thirty consecutive years. He stands today as a high type of our German-American citizenship and one whose life history proves the value of strong character, honorable purpose and laudable ambition in the field of business. He arrived in the United States with but thirty-five cents in his pocket and he has achieved, as the years have come and gone, a success which places him among the substantial residents of his adopted city, and now enables him to live a retired life.
Mr. Zoellner was born in Saxony, Germany, July 6, 1844, and is a son of Gotthauf and Christiana (Ichler) Zoellner, both of whom ere natives of that country, where they sent their entire lives. William Zoellner acquired his education in the schools of the fatherland, and in 1869 came to America. The previous year his brother, August, who now resides in Oregon, where he is engaged in farming and stock-raising, had crossed the Atlantic to the new world. Influenced by the favorable opinion concerning America received from his brother, William Zoellner resolved to try his fortune in the United States and landed in New York city, whence he went to Schuylkill county, Pennsylvania. He was then employed by a railroad company for a short time, after which he went to southwestern Missouri, where he was engaged in construction work in the building of the Frisco railroad. He next made his way to New Orleans and thence to Mississippi, being connected with railroad work in the south for a short time, after which he spent a brief period in St. Louis, Missouri. He next located at Iron Mountain, in that state, where he was employed in the iron works for nearly three years. In 1874 he arrived in Springfield and secured the position of foreman in the well-known wholesale business house of J. W. Bunn & Company. He acted in that capacity for twenty-three years, during which time he gained an intimate, practical and comprehensive knowledge of the trade to build his own success, when on January 3, 1898, he began business for himself. He opened a grocery store at the corner of College street and Grand avenue, remaining at that location for more than five years. He then built a large brock store at the corner of Pasfield street and Grand avenue, where he conducted a retail grocery house until the 5th of August, 1903, when he sold his stock to his son-in-law and is now living retired. He owns the store building, also the property at 838 South Second street, building lots in various portions of the city and a nice residence at No. 315 West South Grand avenue. His realty possessions are the visible evidence of a life of thrift and enterprise, and he certainly merits the success which has come to him, for upon his own exertions he has long been dependent, and his perseverance and untiring labor have been the salient elements in his prosperous career.
On the 24th of February, 1876, Mr. Zoellner was united in marriage to Miss Mary Schenk,, who was born in Germany, July 27, 1850, and is a daughter of William Schenk, who spent his entire life in that country, where he was engaged in the manufacture of fine decorated china. He prospered in his business undertakings and died there in 1868. His widow afterward came to America and made her home with Mr. and Mrs. Zoellner in Springfield for twenty-three years, or until her death in 1897. Unto Mr. and Mrs. Zoellner have been born three children: Wilhelmina, who was born January 16, 1877, is the wife of J. C. Steinhans, who is engaged in the grocery business as the successor of Mr. Zoellner; Deckler, who was born February 6, 1883, and died March 15, 1891; and Mary, whose birth occurred May 21, 1892. The parents hold membership in the German Lutheran church of Springfield and are interested in its work, contributing generously to its support. Mr. Zoellner has long been an advocate of Republican principles, and is deeply interested in the welfare and progress of his adopted city and country. He has a deep attachment for this land and has been the advocate of all movements that uphold the social, material, political and moral status of Springfield. During the thirty years of his residence here he has become well known in business circles and has made for himself an enviable reputation by reason of his honorable methods, his fairness and his enterprise.