Lee County Biography

Jacob Wertman
Nachusa Township




In the twilight of an honored life this venerable resident of Nachusa Twp., whose pleasant home was situated on section 4, closed his eyes upon the scenes of earthly toil and usefulness and passed to the great beyond, January 23, 1892. Esteemed in life, in death he was sincerely mourned and among hism any acquaintances there was not one who did not realize that in the death of this citizen the township had lost one of its most active residents, and his family and friends one who was ever devoted to their happiness.

The Wertman family is of German origin and was established in this country by the grandfather of our subject, Michael Wertman, who when a young man emigrated from the Fatherland and settled in Bucks County, PA. Afterward he remvoed to Columbia County, where he secured a large tract of land and improved a fine farm, upon which he spent his last days, his death, however, occurring at the home of his son Daniel. His widow survived him some years and passed away in Columbia County. They were faithful members of the Lutheran Church and highly esteemed for their splendid endowments of heart and mind.

The second child in the family was Henry, father of our subject, who was born in Columbia County and passed his childhood there and in Bucks County. In Bucks County he was married to Miss Anna M. Krymmin, a native of Bucks County, who belonged to an old Pennsylvania-Dutch family, Presbyterians in their religious belief and farmers by occupation. After residing for a number of years in Bucks County, Henry Wertman and his wife removed to Columbia County where they secured a farm and resided for many years. Their lasat days were spent with their son, Henry, Jr., the father dying Sept. 6, 1867, at the age of 84 years and the mother departing this life Nov. 16, 1859 aged 74 years. He was a member of the Lutheran Church and she held membership with the Presbyterian Church. This worthy couple had a family of five sons and five daughters, all of whom were married and had families of their own. Of the number three sons and three daughters are yet living.

Our subject is the second in order of birth and was born in Hemlock Twp. Columbia Co. PA on his father's farm, Nov. 11, 1811. His boyhood was passed in the usual routine of farm labor, but desiring to pursue some other avocation, he learned the trade of a carpenter in his youth. Hoping to better his financial condition by a removal to the new and rapidly growing West, he came to Lee County in 1838 and in Dixon followed his trade for some years, or until his marriage which was celebrated in Dixon Twp.

The lady of his choice was Miss Mary E. Shellhammer, a native of Columbia County PA born August 15, 1830. Her parents, Solomon and Jane (Buckaloo) Shellhammer, were also natives of the same county. The paternal ancestors came from Prussia, Germany, and settled int hat community in an early day. There the grandfather of Mrs. Wertman lived and died, his life occupation being that of farming. Six children were born unto Solomon Shellhammer in Columbia Co. PA, after which, in the spring of 1837, they emigrated Westward with teams and covered wagons to Dixon IL. At night they camped along the wayside, and after traveling for 8 weeks arrived on the 21st of June.

The father had followed wagon-making in the East, but after locating in Lee Co. secured land from the Government near White Rock, in Dixon Twp., where he developed a farm. Some years later he purchased land in Nachusa Twp., where he lived one year. He then made his home with our subject until his death April 28, 1879, at the age of 82. His wife had passed away November 21, 1854, when 50 years of age. They were members of the Methodist Church, and throughout the community were held in the highest regard. Mr. Shellhammer made the first plow in Lee County, the implement having a wooden mold-board, steel shear and iron land-slide. WIth the early history of the community he had been prominently identified, and lived to see the many changes which transformed the county from a barren wilderness to one of the best counties in the State. In the Shellhammer family were eight children, seven yet living. ALl are residents of the West, are married and have families and two now reside in Lee County. John T. and C.K. are mechanics; Jesse B is living in Clayton Co Iowa. He and his brother Joseph, of Dixon were soldiers in the late war, during which the latter was wounded and taken prisoner. He now received a pension in recognition of his service.

Mrs. Wertman is the fourth in order of birth. She was carefully reared and has been a true and loving wife and mother. The Werman household numbers four children - Charles H. wedded Sarah Courtwright, and is now engaged in farming near Milford, Seward County Neb; Thomas J. married Lucetta Hausen and is farming in Villisca Iowa; Alice M. is the wife of Warren P. Dysart, a resident farmer of China Twp.; and Will L. married Kate Smith of Keedysville, Washington County MD and operates the homestead farm. The Wertman family is one widely and favorably knon throughout this community and the various members are held in the highest regard by many friends. Their lives have been well and worthily spent and naught can be said against them.

1892 Portrait and Biographical Record Lee Co Pg 629

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