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John A. Schneider
McLean County, Illinois

JOHN A. SCHNEIDER. A brilliant example of a self-made American citizen and a grand exemplification of the progress that an ambitious foreigner can make in this country of unbounded opportunities, is shown in the case of Mr. Schneider, one of the leading German-American residents of Bloomington. His singular success is due to his own energy and the high ideal which his lofty and laudable ambition placed before him. Success in any walk of life is an indication of earnest endeavor and persevering effort, characteristics that our subject possesses in an eminent degree.

Mr. Schneider was born in Deidesheim, Bavaria, Germany, May 29, 1845, but the ancestral home of the family was at Rupertsberg. His grandfather, Michael Schneider, was one of the most prominent and influential citizens of that place, and at the time of his death was serving as burgomaster or mayor. Many of the cousins of our subject still hold prominent positions there. His father, Henry Schneider, owned large vineyards and was quite extensively engaged in the manufacture of wines and in distilling liquors, in which he also dealt. At the time of his removal to Deidesheim he had to pay one thousand dollars for citizenship, although that place was only a mile from his old home in Rupertsberg.

He married Katherine Baer, who belonged to an old Lutheran family, and they became the parents of seven children, all of whom are still living, namely: Henry, who served for nine years in the German army and participated in the Franco-Prussian war; John A., our subject; Bernhardt, a resident of Bloomington; Katherina; Michael; Elizabeth; and Theresa. All reside in Germany with the exception of our subject and Bernhardt. The father died in 1893, the mother in 1863.

For seven years during his boyhood John A. Schneider attended the public schools of his native place, for a time was a student in a night school, and pursued his studies under private tutors at home. He learned the cooper's trade in a shop conducted in connection with his father's business. After coming to the United States he worked at that trade as a journeyman at different places, including three years at Peoria.

In 1866, he located in Evansville, Indiana, where he learned the baker's trade and continued to work at the same there for two years. Later he went to Missouri and different parts of the west, and finally in 1874 came to Bloomington, where in Mr. Gerken's bakery he was employed as foreman until 1882, when he resigned his position and embarked in business on his own account at the corner of Grove and Center streets, doing all the work himself. His trade having steadily increased, he was obliged to seek more commodious quarters, and in 1886 he purchased a large brick block at the corner of Center and Oliver streets. He occupies the whole building, which is forty-four by ninety-nine feet, two stories in height, with a basement. This is fitted up with the latest improved machinery and ovens, making it a thoroughly modern plant.

Besides his large retail trade, he now does one of the largest wholesale baking businesses in central Illinois, shipping his goods to Indiana points, Kankakee, Danville and Pekin, Illinois. He furnishes employment to sixteen men. Coming to the new world as he did without capital, he deserves great credit for the success that he has achieved in life, it being due entirely to his own industry, enterprise, perseverance and good management.

On the 2nd of February, 1870, at St. Charles, Missouri, Mr. Schneider was united in marriage with Miss Mary G. Danzebrink, a daughter of Bernhardt and Katherina (Grove) Danzebrink, natives of Germany and now residents of St. Charles. The father came to the United States during his boyhood, in 1812, and is a pensioner of the Mexican war and was also a soldier of the Civil war. Mr. and Mrs. Schneider have two daughters: Josie K. is now the wife of Richard E. Hurst and to them has been born a daughter, Leah, while by a former marriage she has a son, John W. Penner Hurst. Lillian, the second daughter of our subject, married Henry A. Ulbrich, of Bloomington, and has one son, Harry A., a bright boy of two years.

Our subject and his wife have a pleasant home at the corner of Grove and West streets. Although of foreign birth, America has no more loyal or patriotic citizen than Mr. Schneider, who, as a Republican, is prominently identified with local political affairs, and does all in his power to advance the interests of city, state and nation.

For four years he most efficiently served as supervisor of Bloomington township, and while in that office gave his support to the measure of letting children remain in the orphans' home until eighteen, instead of turning them out at sixteen, and the bill was passed. He also moved to have convict labor in state institutions abandoned, and it was also carried before the board. At the re-organization of the city in 1897, fourteen aldermen were elected one-half for two years and one-half for one year. He was among the number and in casting lots he drew the shorter term, serving during the year of 1897-8. He was chairman of the committee on streets and alleys and most ably respected the third ward.

Socially, he is an honored member of Mozart Lodge, F. & A. M. ; Uhland Lodge, I. O. O. F.; and Shabbonay Tribe, I. O. R. M., with which he has been connected sixteen years and has served as treasurer ten years of that time. He also belongs to National Union, Pythias Lodge, No. 161, K. P., of which he is a charter member and trustee, and a member of the Uniformed Rank No. 22, K. P. He has been chieftain of the League of Red Men, Pocahontas Tribe, and a member of the Turners Society.

[The Biographical record of McLean County, Illinois - S.J. Clarke Publishing Company - (1899)]


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