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McLean County, Illinois
History and Genealogy



CHARLES H. GMEHLIN, dealer in and manufacturer of guns, rifles, pistols, and carrying on general repairing in this line, is thus worthily adding his mite to the industrial interests of Bloomington, where he is held in high esteem as an honest man and a good citizen. Mr. G. is a skilled mechanic and possesses a thorough acquaintance with his business, having had many years' experience, and can turn out in a creditable manner almost anything in the line of fire-arms.

Mr. Gmehlin was born in Stuttgart, Wurtemberg, [ed., Baden-Württemberg] Germany, Feb. 22, 1834, and in accordance with the laws and customs of his native country entered school when six years of age, where he remained until fourteen [ed., see Encyclopedia of 1848 Revolutions]. He then went to learn the trade of a gunsmith to the King of Wurtemberg, [ed., Baden-Württemberg], and after serving an apprenticeship of three years packed his "kit" and removed into Switzerland, where he pursued his trade one year, and thence to Paris, France, and five months later to London, England. In the latter city he spent two years, during which time he acquired an intimate knowledge of fire-arms and became an expert in their use and manufacture.

The subject of this sketch set sail for America in the spring of 1854, first landing in New York City. He proceeded soon afterward to Hartford, Conn., where he secured a job in the shops of Samuel Colt, manufacturer of the celebrated Colt's revolver. After one year spent there he came West to Milwaukee, Wis., where he spent twelve months. Thence he went to Chicago, Ill., where he formed a partnership with George Brown, and they for a short time engaged in the manufacture of guns. The firm was soon dissolved, and Mr. Gmehlin soon afterward fame to Bloomington, in 1857. He engaged with the firm of Howlett & Clary, hardware merchants, as clerk and repairer, and continued with them until they sold out their business. He then commenced business on his own account, and has been deservedly prosperous. Besides the manufacture of guns and pistols he makes a specialty of repairing these and locks of all kinds. He carries a full stock of the best American and English manufactures in his line, as well as knives, ammunition, etc. He owns his business house and adjoining lot. The house is two stories in height and 25x50 feet in area. He also has a good residence on the corner of Madison and Market streets.

The marriage of Charles H. Gmehlin and Miss Henrietta Schlegel, of Bloomington, was celebrated in 1859. Mrs. G. is also a native of Wurtemberg, [ed., Baden-Württemberg]Germany, and by her union with our subject became the mother of four children, one now deceased. Those living are three daughters: Ida is a teacher in the High School of Bloomington; Mary and Amelia are at home. Mr. Gmehlin is a representative citizen and has taken an intelligent interest in the growth and prosperity of his adopted city. He is a member of the Council, having represented the Second Ward for the past two years. He belongs to the Turner Society, and in all respects is fulfilling his obligations as a useful member of the community.

Portrait and biographical album of McLean County, Ill. : containing full page portraits and biographical sketches of prominent and representative citizens of the county, together with portraits and biographies of all the governors of Illinois, and of the presidents of the United States. (Chicago: Chapman Brothers, 1887), 270. Transcribed by Judy Rosella Edwards.


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