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Biography of John Fosha

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JOHN FOSHA, of Silver Creek township, Stephenson county, is widely known as one of the most successful farmers of northern Illinois, and he has achieved his present enviable position solely through his own efforts. He has extensive real estate holdings in Kansas as well as this state, as substantial results of his wise use of brain and brawn, and can congratulate himself that while he is still erect and vigorous he has accumulated such a property and stands so well in the business world.

Frank and Anna Maria Fosha, the grandparents of the Silver Creek farmer, were born in Lippe-Detmold, Germany. He was a common laborer, and died in America in 1860, aged ninety-one years, ‘seven months and twentynine clays. Frank Fosha, the father of John, was born in the ancestral home in 1805, and died March 5, 1879. He was a linen weaver in Germany, and came to this country in 1836. He sailed from Bremen October 30th, and was seventeen weeks on the water. It was a stormy passage and terminated at Baltimore after many almost unendurable hardships. He found employment in a store at Frederick, Maryland, and was then employed in a fulling factory at Chilcott in the same state. He went to Shepherdstown, Virginia, where he made his home for a number of years, and worked in a cloth factory. In 1848 he made his appearance in this state, locating in Ogle county. He drove through with a two-horse wagon and found the way difficult. There were few bridges, and the roads were at times all but impassible. At Cincinnati he took passage on a boat, and came by water to Fulton, and from there the way was easy to Mt. Morris, at that time largely a Maryland settlement. He bought a quarter section, and at the time of his death owned a fine place of four hundred acres of land. His wife, Dora Sapigal, died in 1892 at the age of eighty-two. She was born in the same village as her husband, and was the mother of ten children, only two of whom are now living-the subject of this review and his brother Henry, whose home is on the Ogle county farm.

The paternal Fosha left Virginia with three hundred dollars, and after he had built his cabin on his arrival in Illinois, had only fifty cents left in his pocket. He had a log house, 15 x 20 feet, in which at times two families had to live. There were no chairs, but slabs with peg legs answered every purpose. He sold corn to Waterman’s mill and took wheat to Chicago, then a ten days’ trip. These were pioneer days with all the word implies. The schools were held for many years in rude log cabins, but with all their deficiencies noble men came from their rude instruction.

John Fosha attended school in Virginia a year and a half before the removal of his parents west, and worked there in a factory with his father from twelve to fourteen. In this state he helped to break the wild land, drove team to market, split rails, and did whatever the times demanded. After his marriage in 1856 he rented land in Ogle county three years. He soon began to buy land, and as it is already noted, he is now one of the most extensive landed proprietors in the west. He owns an entire section of land in Stephenson county, has forty acres of fine timber in Ogle county, and a tract of twenty-two hundred and forty acres in Riley county, Kansas. This is divided into ten farms. He has an invariable rule to sell no corn, but to feed it all to stock, and sell them whenever the market presents an encouraging appearance. He has erected every building on his Stephenson county farm, from which he sends out yearly at least one car-load of cattle and three of hogs. He has brought this home farm into a high state of fertility, and enjoys the fruit of seven large orchards. In 1899 he erected a large house and barn on a part of the farm for his son.

John Fosha and Mina Schueneman were married in Freeport February 24th, 1856, by Rev. Wilhelm Wagner. She was born in Polla, Hanover, January 1st, 1838, and is a daughter of Henry Schueneman who died in Freeport in 1879 at the age of sixty-eight. He was a butcher by trade, and emigrated to America in 1863. He sailed from Bremen, was six weeks on the water, landed in New York, came to Chicago where he spent one winter, and the following spring reached Freeport. His wife, Johanna Seifert, was a native of the village of Mueringen, Hannover, and his father, Henry Schueneman Sr., lived and died in Germany.

Mr. and Mrs. John Fosha have had twelve children. Henry died when six years old, and Eliza at seven months. Lizzie married Fred Biesemeier, a merchant at Eleroy, a sketch of whom appears elsewhere in this work; they have six children, Anna, Nettie, Emma, Eddie, Elmer and Walter. Anna, the fourth daughter, married Louis Otto, and lives near Florence; they have eight children, Nettie, William, Henry, Anna, Mina, Mary, Roy, and one not yet named. Emma, the fifth, died when three years old. Henry married Sophia Klein and lives in Riley county, Kansas, on his father’s farm; he has three children, Leo, Samuel and one not yet named. Johanna married Fred Otto and has her home in Kansas on the Riley county tract; she has two children, Dora and Edmund. Frank. Dora married John Rademacher and lives two miles from German Valley; she has three children, Harry, Roy and Elmer. John married Annie Stadie and lives on the Kansas tract; he has one son, John. Daniel and William are at home assisting their father in the care of his extensive Stephenson county farm; Daniel married Lena Rademacher.

Mr. Fosha is a democrat and has served as school director and road overseer, but, though often solicited, has never been a candidate for any other office. He is a member of the Evangelical church and is a man of high standing in the community. He has seen many and wonderful changes in northern Illinois since his advent here. Then it was largely wild land, and deer and other wild animals plentiful. He remembers fifty-six deer in one drove. There was no house in sight for seven miles and no road across the prairieh I s. He has seen farming develop from the breaking of the wild prairie to its present high state of cultivation, and like Caesar he can say, ” all of which I saw, and part of whicwas.”


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