Portrait and Biographical Album
Transcribed by Danni Hopkins!
Michael E. Erler. Among those who early came to this section of the
country may be mentioned the subject of this biographical notice,
who is the oldest living watchmaker in Peoria. He has accumulated
wealth, is one of the substantial men of the city, and has here a
fine residence on Erler Street and other valuable property.
The parents of our subject were Michael and Christina (Fischer) Erler, natives of Altenburg, Germany. The father was born in 1805 and died in the Fatherland in 1844, ere yet he had attained the meridian of life, he being but thirty-nine years old at the time of his demise. The mother was born in 1799, came to this county in 1853, and died in Newburg, Washington County, Wis., in 1883, at the venerable age of eighty-four years.
Three children were born to Michael and Christina Erler, of whom our subject and his brother August are the only ones now living. August lives in Newburg, Wis. Michael, of whom we write, was born in the city of Reichstadt, Germany, June 23, 1829, and until he was fourteen years old he attended school in his native town, obtaining a substantial education. At that age he was apprenticed to learn the trade of a watchmaker with Richard Wagner, of Ronneburg, with whom he remained four years acquiring in the meantime a thorough mastery of the intricacies of his chosen vocation. In his nineteenth year, after spending a year in Zeitz on the completion of his trade,he set sail for America, taking passage at Bremerhaven on the ship “Williams.” After a voyage of forty days he landed safely at New York, where he remained but a short time. He then made his way to Peoria, and on the 1st of August, 1848, arrived in this city. He soon found employment at his trade, he being an expert, very skillful with his tools, and during the ensuing two years was in the employ of Fred Menkens.
At the expiration of that time Mr. Erler started in business for himself, on Water Street. He was very much prospered, as he applied himself closely to the management of his affairs, and in 1870 had accumulated a sufficient competency to retire, and did so, disposing of his business to John C. Woelfe. An idle life did not satisfy our subject, however, and he subsequently entered Mr. Woelfe’s employ as watchmaker, that gentleman being glad to avail himself of his services. As before mentioned, he has gathered together a handsome property. He has a commodious residence, with eleven acres of valuable land, besides several tenement houses and many vacant lots. He is a man of earnest, strong character and intelligent mind, and his honesty and unswerving integrity in all the transactions of life have gained him a high place in the regard of all who know or associate with him. Of a truly religious nature, he is a firm Swedenborgian in his views of the right conduct of life and of the hereafter. He contributes liberally to the church, and to all things tending to advance the welfare of the community. In politics, he is with the Republicans.
Mr. Erler was married in June, 1850, to Miss Laura Lehne, whose parents were early pioneers here, and were also natives of Germany, as was Mrs. Erler. The following five of the seven children born to Mr. and Mrs. Erler are living: Frank, a goldsmith, who is married and resides in Peoria; Max, a wealthy photographer of Peoria, is also married; William, foreman of the Damas Keening works at the watch factory in Peoria; Minnie, at home with her parents; and Edward, who is ingaged with his brother Max in the photograph business. Malvine died in infancy. Bertha married Philip A. Hensler, and died leaving a son, Max, who is tenderly cared for by Mr. and Mrs. Erler.
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