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John Hermann. America as a land of opportunities means much to every citizen, but the meaning in all its depth and breadth is seldom realized. Perhaps no Kansan had a truer assurance of all this than John Hermann of Lawrence. He is able to contrast the American life of the past half century with the restricted and intolerant regime of the European fatherland where he was born and bred.
He early conceived an abomination for a country which imposed compulsory military service, compulsory education, and a host of other restrictions upon the freedom and liberty of its people. It was to escape all of that tyranny that he left when a young lad and with courage and undaunted determination came across the ocean. He had those wholesome characteristics of the German nationality, methodical industry and an ability to adapt himself to varying circumstances, and this national characteristic had flourished and borne fruitage under the free skies of America, in the midst of the democratic institutions and the freedom of initiative and while Mr. Hermann had enjoyed a successful and prosperous business career he had also developed a love and loyalty for the United States such as no American born citizen could excel. It is his fondest hope and anticipation that he may live peacefully the remainder of his days in the land which he cherishes as his own.
John Hermann came to the United States fifty-two years ago. He was born in the Kingdom of Wuertemberg, Germany, November 8, 1852. As a boy he attended the compulsory public schools and for two years studied Latin and French. It was in 1865, when only thirteen years of age, that he set out with his brother, Eugene Hermann, and crossing the ocean landed in New York City. They arrived in New York City when the body of President Lincoln, shot down by a fanatical assassin, lay in state in that city. From New York City he went on west to Cincinnati, and a little later to St. Louis, Missouri. While at St. Louis, Mr. Hermann learned the trade of a horse collar maker. The life of a large city did not appeal to him even as a boy. There were too many inducements and attractions for a young man’s time so that he could not concentrate thoroughly on his business.
Therefore in 1869 he came to Lawrence, Kansas. The only shop in the entire state for the manufacture of horse collars was located at Lawrence. Its proprietor was Charles Williamson. In the Williamson shop Mr. Hermann plied his trade and was an industrious and contented workman for a number of years. About 1875 Mr. Williamson moved to St. Louis, but Mr. Hermann remained in Lawrence and opened a shop for himself. This business had been continued under his supervision ever since, and had prospered until it now gives employment to about twenty workmen. The horse collars made there are shipped all over the western states.
After attaining his majority Mr. Hermann took out his naturalization papers and became legally and in fact an American citizen as he always had been by loyalty and spirit. He loves the land of his adoption, its schools, its freedom of worship according to the dictates of conscience, and so far as his ability had justified him he had contributed liberally to the support of all laudable enterprises. He had long been recognized as one of the law abiding and most substantial men of Lawrence. In politics he is an independent democrat, but he prefers the man rather than the party and his thorough understanding and intensive study of politics and political problems have served to make his citizenship more than a routine performance.
Mr. Hermann was married in 1880 to Miss Lizzie Douglas. Their three children all died in infancy.