John Welzel. An honored position among the officials and business men of Clayton County is held by this well known resident of Grand Meadow Township. He is one of the German-American citizens, who holding their native land in affectionate remembrance, are also most loyally devoted to the interests and institutions of our Government. While promotoing his personal welfare, he has also advanced the interests of town and county, and aids substantially all measures thending to the improvement of the community.
A native of Bavaria, Germany, the birthplace of our subject is the historic village of Weissenstadt, on the banks of the river Eger. There he was born December 10, 1834, the youngest son of Adam and Barbara Welzel. His parents attained advanced years, and possessing robust constitutions were never sick until their last illness when past eighty years of age. John has three brothers, Fred, now deceased, formerly a butcher; Thomas, a shoemaker by trade; and Lawrence, who succeeded to the butcher business long conducted by the father and is still thus engaged in his native city.
In the village of his birth our subject spent the days of youth, assisting his father in the meat market and attending school during the winter months. In the spring of 1853 he set sail for this country, and after landing, proceeded at once to Chicago, where he remained until the following December. Later he was employed upon a farm near that city. In the spring of 1854 he went to Burlington, Iowa, and from there took a trip down the Mississippi to St. Louis, New Orleans and Baton Rouge. His early experiences in America were not encouraging. He came here without friends or money. In fact, so poor was he that when he reached Buffalo enroute to Chicago, he was entirely out of money. A man whose acquaintance he had formed and who had confidence in his honesty, loaned him money enough to take him to Chicago, and as soon as possible he repaid the kind friend to who he was so greatly indebted.
Coming to Clayton County, Iowa, in October, 1855, Mr. Welzel worked in a pork-packing establishment at Clayton for a time. In the spring of 1857 he and seven others rented the two-thousand acre farm then owned by Judge Williams. Having very limited capital with which to conduct the place, it was not until several years after locating there that he was enabled to realize any profit from his labors. In 1864 he bought his present farm, situated three miles south of Postville. Embarking in general farm work, he continued thus engaged, meeting meantime with great success until 1890, when he bought a forty-acre tract near the village of Postville. Here he has since lived, his son now superintending the old home place.
January 26, 1858, Mr. Welzel married Mrs. Anna S. Thoma, a widow with one child. She was born in Weissenstadt, Bavaria, September 1, 1834, and was a distant relative of the Welzel family. The are the parents of six children. Fred H., who was born October 9, 1858, lost his right hand by a gun shot in boyhood; he is now clerk of the Commercial House at Postville. Conrad, born June 11, 1863, carries on the old home farm; Louis, born November 19, 1866, is at home with his father; Anna, born September 13, 1872, is the wife of G. Staadt, a druggist of Postville; William was born October 24, 1874, and died July 8, 1890; George was born May 14, 1878, and resides at home. By her first husband Mrs. Welzel had one son, John P., who was born April 14, 1853. He is known by the name of Welzel and lives on a farm five miles south of Postville.
The political views of Mr. Welzel coincide with the Democratic party. In religious belief he is a Lutheran. He is a leader among his fellow-men, being one of the best informed men in the county. In 1870 he was elected Town Clerk and with the exception of one year has held the position continuously since that time. He has officiated as School Treasurer since October, 1872, and mean-time has handled many thousands of dollars of public money without the loss of a cent. Since 1875 he has been a Director of the Clayton County Fire & Lightning Company, having charge of the business of the company in his part of the county. He also carries on a general fire and tornado insurance business. He is a thoroughgoing, progressive business man, one whose word may in every instance be relied upon and whose abilities have brought him well deserved prominence.