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History of Benton County, Iowa
The Lewis Publishing Company, Chicago, 1910; Luther B. Hill, Ed.

Pages 566-568

WILLIAM E. BICKEL, of the firm of Marietta & Bickel, real estate, loans and general insurance, Vinton, Iowa, is one of the prominent and highly respected young business men of the town.

He was born, in 1873, at Mechanicsville, Monroe county, Pennsylvania, near Philadelphia, of Holland-Swiss descent, and belongs to the fifth generation of Bickels in the United States. By trade, the Bickels may be called a family of millers, generation after generation having its representatives in this line of work— all useful and respected citizens. A flouring mill built by them at Germantown, Pennsylvania, was for many years operated by members of the family. John Bickel, the great-grandfather of William E., was honored by election to the office of state treasurer of Pennsylvania, about 1848 or '49, and served one term.

Mr. Bickel's father, William H. Bickel, also a resident of Vinton, Iowa, was born October 16, 1849, in Montgomery county, Pennsylvania, son of Jeremiah and Rebecca (Hevener) Bickel, natives of Montgomery county, as also was John Bickel, Jeremiah's father. William H. was reared in his native state, in Lehigh county, and may be termed a self-made man. He did not attend school a day after he was eleven years of age, and it was not until after he was eighteen! that he had an opportunity to learn to speak the English language. Like his father before him, he learned the miller's trade. He served an apprenticeship of three years, and was employed in milling while he remained in Pennsylvania and for some years after coming west. In 1878 he came to Benton county, Iowa, stopping first at Blairstown, where he spent a brief time. From that place he went to Norway, where he followed milling until 1884. That year he became interested in the grain business and associated himself with Mr. C. P. Christianson, under the firm name of W. H. Bickel & Company, which continued until 1896, when Mr. Bickel was elected auditor of Benton county. This office he filled two terms, having been re-elected in 1898. On retiring from office in 1900 he again engaged in the grain business, this time at Vinton, and in 1904 The Bickel Grain Company was incorporated by W. H. and W. E. Bickel and L. W. Latham, with an authorized capital stock of ten thousand dollars; Mr. Latham, president; M. E. Bickel, vice president, and W. E. Bickel, secretary and treasurer. This company has two grain elevators, one at LeGrand, Iowa, and one at Vinton, the latter having been built by the company. In addition to dealing in various kinds of grain The Bickel Grain Company handles fuel, coal, etc.

On June 24, 1870, in Monroe county, Pennsylvania, William H. Bickel married Miss Sarah Werkheiser, who was born in that county June 26, 1852, daughter of Adam and Mary (Arnold) Werkheiser, natives of that county and of Holland descent. Of the six children of this union four are living: Cora F., William E., George H. and Harry T. The last named is a commercial traveler, with headquarters at Cedar Rapids, Iowa, and George H. is a clerk in the post office at Vinton.

At the time the Bickel family removed to Iowa William E. was five years of age. Since then he has resided in Benton county. His education, begun in the common schools, has been continued in the practical school of business experience. For three and one-half years he was a clerk under J. G. Mallory in the office of county treasurer, and for one year he served under his father, who, as above stated, filled that office two terms. Resigning his position in the court house in 1898 young Bickel associated himself with Mr. J. E. Marietta, and has since been engaged in the real estate and insurance business. Also he is interested in other enterprises, being a director and the secretary and treasurer of The Bickel Grain Company, and secretary and director of The Vinton Savings, Loan and Building Association.

Mr. Bickel resides with his family on East Concord street. He married, in 1901, Miss Margaret E. Jervis, daughter of William Jervis, a merchant of Vinton; and to them have been born two children: Dorothy and William. J. The son died February 9, 1910.

For a number of years Mr. Bickel was a member of the National Guard, and in 1898 he enlisted in Company G, Forty-ninth (not the Fifty-third) Regiment, under Colonel William G. Dows, and was in the Cuban campaign about fourteen months. Politically he has always affiliated with the Republicans, and has been prominent and active in promoting the local interests of his party. His father was a Democrat up to 1880, when he espoused the Republican cause and has since given it his support, in both state and national issues. Both father and son are members of the Masonic Lodge of Vinton, and the son has advanced in Masonry through the degrees of the Chapter, the Commandery and the Mystic Shrine, and is also a member of the Knights of Pythias. Both, with their families, are identified with the Presbyterian church.




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