HON. JACOB BERNER.
If one could turn back time's hourglass until the last third of a century would be blotted out, he would find Hon. Jacob Berner, now a prominent lumber dealer of Laramie and a member of the state legislature, a pony express rider for the United States government or a cowboy on a Wyoming ranch. Such has been the distance which he has traveled in his business and political career, bringing him to a point of leadership in commercial and political circles.
He was born in Wurtemberg, Germany, October 23, 1865, a son of Conrad and Mary (Hahn) Berner, who were also born in Wurtemberg, whence they came to the new world in 1880, making their way across the country until they took up their abode in Laramie, Wyoming, where the father lived retired. While a resident of his native land he was prominently known as a railroad contractor for the German government. He died in Laramie in 1892, at the age of seventy-six years, and his wife passed away in the same year, when sixty-eight years of age. They were the parents of six children, two of whom have departed this life, while those still living are: Conrad, who now makes his home in Portland, Oregon; Mrs. Margaret Koch, of Laramie; Mrs. Fredericka Gerber. living in Bellingham, Washington; and Jacob.
The last named was the youngest of the family. In early life he attended school in Germany, but when a youth of fifteen years accompanied his parents on their emigration to the new world. Later he was a student in a business college in Denver, Colorado, from 1889 until 1890, but prior to this time he was employed in 1884 by Major Frank Wolcot, a well known cattle raiser living on Deer creek, Wyoming. He worked as a cowboy and later carried the mail for the United States government as a rider of the pony express. In early manhood he learned the carpenter's trade, which he followed in Laramie until 1902, when he embarked in the lumber business in partnership with Clark Pelton under the firm style of Pelton & Berner. After two years he purchased his partner's interest in the business and has since conducted his interests independently, the name of Jacob Berner being today prominently associated with the lumber trade in Laramie, where he has built up a business of large and gratifying proportions.
On the 28th of March, 1893, Mr. Berner was united in marriage to Miss Martha Nagel, of Denver, Colorado, a daughter of Peter and Minnie Nagel, who became pioneer residents of Laramie. To Mr. and Mrs. Berner have been born eight children, but only two of the number are living: Ethel, who was born in Laramie in 1897 and is now a student in the high school; and Frederick, who was born in March, 1907.
In politics Mr. Berner is a democrat and has been called upon to fill various political positions of honor and trust. He has served as deputy sheriff of Albany county, being called to that position in 1897. He filled the office for two years. He was appointed county commissioner in 1899 for a two years' term and in 1910 was elected to the state senate and again in 1914, serving for two terms of four years each. He thus became actively identified with the work of framing the laws of the state and left his impress indelibly upon the records of the general assembly during that period of eight years. He is prominent in fraternal circles, being a past grand master of Wyoming and also past grand patriarch of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows. In 1904 he represented the Wyoming Grand Lodge, I. O. O. F., at the Sovereign Grand Lodge in Philadelphia, and in 1905 he acted in a similar capacity at Toronto, Canada. He is also a Master Mason and has belonged to the Laramie Maennerchor*, a singing organization, for a number of years, or from its formation, being now the only living original member. He belongs to the German Evangelical church, in which he has been presiding deacon for eight years. He is interested in all those things which have to do with the welfare and progress of his adopted state. His ability is pronounced and the recognition of his power has brought him to a position of political and commercial leadership. Those who know him, and he has a very wide acquaintance, speak of him in terms of high regard and Laramie honors him as one of its representative citizens.