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Biography of John F. Wadewitz

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Broad and varied have been the experiences which have come to John F. Wadewitz because of his extensive travels. A native of Germany, he spent some time in Australia, while in the year 1850 he first arrived in Racine. Here he has made his home almost continuously since, although absent for brief intervals at different periods. In 1886 he established a trunk manufacturing business, which in 1889 was incorporated as the Racine Trunk Company, and in this enterprise he has since been financially interested, although not active in the management, for he is now enjoying a well earned rest, having passed the eighty-fifth milestone on life’s journey. He was born in Saxony, Germany, December 30, 1830. a son of Johan Gottlob and Victoria (Schulz) Wadewitz. The father, who devoted his life to the business of mason contracting, died in Germany.

John F. Wadewitz spent the first twenty years of his life in that country and then, in 1850, sailed for the new world, hoping to find better business opportunities and conditions than he believed existed in the fatherland. He spent a brief time in Port -Washington. Wisconsin, and in April, 1850, came to Racine. He did his first work here in a brick yard. He had but eleven dollars remaining when he reached Wisconsin and his financial condition rendered it imperative that he secure immediate employment. For a time he worked at chopping timber in the north and he was employed in various ways, scorning no occupation that would yield him an honest living. He had been a resident of Wisconsin for only about two years when, in 1852, he left the United States and went to Australia, where he spent one year in mining gold. On his return trip he walked across the Isthmus of Panama. The outward voyage had been made on a sailing vessel which was four months in reaching the Australian port. After spending a year in that country, however, Mr. Wadewitz returned and has since made his home in Wisconsin, utilizing every opportunity to gain a start in business and working his way upward. He settled in Fredonia Township, where he lived for eighteen years, during which period he engaged in farming and at the same time was a partner in the Hilker Brothers Brick Company. While there residing he also held the office of justice of the peace. In 1879 he established a brick yard and the business grew along substantial lines until he became the owner of three brick yards, having one at Cedar Bend, at Lake Shore and at North Point. He continued in the manufacture of brick until 1888, when he sold out. In 1886 he had established a trunk manufacturing business, and in 1889 this was incorporated as the Racine Trunk Company, with Mr. Wadewitz as president, while two sons and a daughter hold the other offices and stock.

Mr. Wadewitz was married in 1855 to Miss Charlotte Schliche, who was born in Germany and in 1848 came to Racine with her parents. She died in the year 1873 and Mr. Wadewitz afterward wedded Mrs. Katherin Kissinger, who died in 1888. In the same year Mr. Wadewitz returned to Germany on a visit and in 1904 made another trip to his native land. Of his five children, all born of the first marriage, two died in infancy, the other being: Theodore C., now a resident of Los Angeles, California; H. O., who is manager of the Racine Trunk Company, and Minnie A., at home.

The family is members of the Evangelical church and in politics Mr. Wadewitz is a republican, having given his support to the party since becoming a naturalized American citizen. For ten years he filled the office of supervisor of the third ward and made a most creditable record by the prompt and faithful manner in which he discharged his duties, but he has never been a politician in the sense of office seeking. His life has been one characterized by diligence, determination and industry. He has never had occasion to regret his determination to come to the new world, for in the utilization of the opportunities which came to him he has steadily worked his way upward and won success.

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