JOHN O. WILKEN, ATLANTIC.
When any form of monumental, ornamental or useful stone, granite or marble work is to be produced for use in or around Atlantic, whether it be urn or bust, shaft or pyramid, mausoleum or simple tablet, erected in memory of the dead, or graceful frieze or panel work for interior decoration, or solid curbing or other structure for outdoor use, John O. Wilken, the only marble dealer at the county seat, can furnish it as readily, as reasonably and as beautifully made as anybody in the business in this part of the State. While not strictly bred to the craft, Mr. Wilken's fine artistic taste and mechanical skill supply all the deficiencies of early training, and his good business capacity enables him to make his estimates with the utmost care and accuracy, while his conscientious devotion to his work secures the best results in material and workmanship, and his agreeable social qualities make dealing with him pleasant.
John O. Wilken is a native of Germany, born in Hanover on October 1, 1860. His parents, John O. and Altje (Loop) Wilken also were Germans by nativity. The father was a miller, and after following his trade for many years in his native land, died there. The mother then emigrated to the United States and is now living in Iowa. Their offspring numbered seven, of whom three sons and one daughter are living, the sons all being residents of Atlantic. The son, John O., was twelve years old when he came to this country with a sister, and with her he first located at Sparta, Ohio, where he remained seven years. In 1879 he came to Atlantic and during the next ten years was engaged in the fire insurance business. At the end of that period he turned his attention to his present line of occupation, and in 1904 bought the yard and outfit which S. E. Grant had owned and operated for a number of years. The business has grown to large proportions in his hands, and now covers an extensive trade throughout this county and in many adjoining sections. His establishment has a wide reputation for artistic designs, fine material, superior workmanship and prompt attention to orders. Nearly every cemetery within a radius of many miles proclaims in mute but impressive language the high quality of his creations, and in many public buildings and outside work, of great variety of design and usefulness, his mastery of his craft is shown.
John O. Wilken was married, in 1882, to Margaret Martin, like himself a native of Germany. Six children have blessed their union, Ben, Lena, Gertie, Herman, Alt and Jesse, all of whom are living. Mr. Wilken is an enthusiastic factor in the fraternal life of the community, being an active Knight of Pythias and a Modern Woodman of the World. He is also one of the energetic and helpful promoters of the general weal of the city and county, taking a zealous and serviceable part in all good works which tend to their improvement, or the comfort and convenience of their people. As a business man and a citizen he is highly esteemed, and in all parts of the county he is well and favorably known. He is, moreover, in love with his work, and finds in it scope for the expression of his artistic temperament, a means of giving pleasure to others and adornment to the community, and while catering to it, an excellent opportunity to elevate the taste of the people around him.
From "Compendium and History of Cass County, Iowa." Chicago: Henry and Taylor & Co., 1906, pg. 552-553.