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Bernard Brehm was closely identified with the business interests and civic progress of the city of Burlington for a period of nearly sixty years. He was born in Baden, Germany, in 1844, the son of Frank and Agnes Brehm, also natives of Baden, and with his parents, brother and sister, came to America in 1854, reaching Burlington by ox team from Racine. The father, Frank Brehm, was a weaver and musician and engaged in various occupations until his death in 1889, having survived his wife for five years.
Bernard Brehm received but a limited education, but being possessed of a shrewd mind and a sterling integrity he early acquired a business education, in the school of experience, which enabled him to build up a prosperous business and to acquire a comfortable share of this world’s goods. In early life he learned the shoemaker’s trade, but, ill health forcing him to seek other employment, in the year 1868 he purchased a team and engaged in the draying business. From this small beginning he developed the large and successful business to which he later admitted his sons. W. F., Albert M. and Joseph B. The great secrets of his business success were “energy” and “efficiency.” No job was too small or too large for him to undertake, and the smallest order received the same prompt and careful consideration accorded to the largest. During the more than forty years he was actively engaged in the draying business many competitors entered his field, but could not win away his business, and he of them all remained permanently established. He was quick to grasp a business opportunity or to encourage a worthy home enterprise. His drayage business was from time to time enlarged to include the dealing in coal, salt, oil and other commodities, and the buying and selling of draft horses. Upon the organization of the Burlington Blanket Company in 1891 he gave his financial support to the new enterprise and remained a director and vice president of the company to the time of his death, seeing it grow to be the largest enterprise of its kind in the United States. He was also a large stockholder in the Security Lightning Rod Company and the Burlington Advancement Association.
In January, 1868, Mr. Brehm was united in marriage to Miss Margreta Griebel, who was born in Germany. Twelve children were born of this union, of whom nine survive, namely: Anna M., now Mrs. A. Zwiebel, Jr.; William F.; Albert M.; Emma M.; Joseph B.; Frank N.; Theresa, now Mrs. Edward N. Furman; Laura D., and Louis H. In his wife Mr. Brehm found a true helpmate who made his home life happy and care free, and to her he gladly attributed a large measure of his success.
After nearly sixty years of active life in the city of Burlington, Bernard Brehm passed away on the 18th of June, 1912. He will long be remembered by those who knew him, because of his reliability in business, his enterprise in citizenship and his fidelity in friendship and his impress on the business life of the community will long remain through the enterprises he developed and fostered.