Lee County Biography

George Erbes
Willow Creek Twp.


George Erbes is deserving of great credit for what he has accomplished since he came to Lee County, many years ago, and his career as a farmer illustrates what a man may do who works steadily and with a set purpose, as he has thereby placed himself among the solid, well-to-do men of his calling, who are carrying on the agricultural affairs of Willow creek Twp., where he has a farm that ranks with the best in its vicinity.

The village of Apenheim, Hesse-Darnstadt, Germany, is the native place of our subject, and there he first opened his eyes to the light, June 24, 1824. His father, who bore the same name as himself, was born in the same village, as was his father before him, who was a farmer and life-long resident of the place. George Erbes, Sr. learned the trade of a carpenter, but did not work at it long, giving his attention, instead to various other kinds of employment. He came to America in 1855, and the short space of life that remained to him was passed in the home of his son, our subject, his death occurring in May, 1856. The maiden name of his wife was Philipene Schwabenland, and she was also a native of that far-away German village, which was the birthplace of her husband and children. She too, spent the latter part of her life in this country, dying in 1859, in the home of her daughter in Bureau County. Of her nine children, these four grew to maturity; George, Charlotte, Frederick and Catherine.

In the excellent school of his native land, our subject obtained a good practical education, attending school steadily ntil he wsa fourteen, in accordance with the law of his country. After leaving school he worked out by the year, receiving $28 and his board in repayment for his service for that length of time. Ambitious to do more for himself than was possible in the Fatherland, he resolved upon emigration to the US in 1853. Accordingly, he set sail from Havre in April, in the ship "Helvetia" and landed in NY thirty-one days later. He came directly to IL and took up his abode in Bureau County. When he began liffe there, he was in debt for a sum of money that he had borrowed to pay his fare from NY, and his first work was to earn money to discharge that debt. He engaged in farming by the year at $110 for a year's work. He was afterward employed by the month for three years, and carefully savd his earnings, at the end of that time he applied them to renting land in Bureau County until 1858. In that he came to Lee County and the two subsequent years rented land in Sublette Twp. In 1860 he came to Willow Creek Twp. and the ensuing three years farmed here as a renter. He then bought 80 acres of land, comprising a tract of prairie, located on the west third of the northeast quarter of section 11, the price being $10 an acre, with ten years time to pay for it, at ten per cent interest. This proved to be a fine invesment, and its possession has made him independent. He has greatly increased its value by the substantial improvements that he has been constantly making, including the erection of a fine set of well ordered buildings and the planting of the fruit and shade trees that so profusely adorn the place. Our subject has added more land to this original purchase, and now has 240 acresof highly improved land.

Mr. Erbes was married in 1854 to Elizabeth Grossrardt, who was born in the same village as her husband, Dec. 27, 1826. Her father was Wilhelm Grossrardt and he too was a native of Apenheim, as was his father, William Grossrardt, who carried on farming until his death. Wilhelm Grossrardt was bred to the life of a farmer on his father's farm. He came to America in 1853, with his wife and twelve children, sailing from Havre, April 5 in the ship "Germania" and landing at NY 34 days later. He and his family came to IL and after a short stay in Bureau County he bought a farm in LaSalle County and he and his good wife spent their remaining days on that. The maiden name of his was was Katherine Schwadenlant, and she was a native of Hesse Darmstadt likewise.

Mr. and Mrs. Erbes have four children - George L., Frederick W, William D and Katherine E. he family are all members of the Lutheran Church and stand high in the community as people of intelligence and sterling worth. Mr. Erbes, as will be seen by a perusal of this sketch is a genuine self made man who has mad eth most of his opportunities and all who know him are heartily glad to see him prosper as he deserves.

Portraits & Biograhpical 1892 Lee County

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