Biography of Peter Fries
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Man whose personality was strongly A impressed on Rock Island County, was Peter Fries, distiller, banker, and man of affairs. Mr. Fries was born May 4, 1822, on the family estate known as “Guss-Hof,” situated on the River Main, in Bavaria, Germany. He died July 20, 1902, in Rock Island, Illinois. His father’s name was Johann, his mother’s, Gertrude (nee Brand), of Reistenhausen.
Johann Fries was the owner of the Guss-Hof, the estate which had descended from father to son for many generations, and was situated near Stadt Prozelten.
Peter Fries, the subject of this sketch, was the youngest of eight children. After receiving his education, he assisted his father in the affairs of the estate, until he reached the age of manhood, when he sold his inheritance to his oldest sister.
The burden had been heavy, and being informed of the rare opportunities for thrift and energy in America, he came in the year 1849 to the United States, and located in Altoona, Pennsylvania. Here he engaged in the tannery business, but his investment proved unfortunate, and he continued but for one year, when he removed to Henry, Illinois, where he once more embarked in the leather business. After two years spent in Henry, he sold his establishment and re-moved to Davenport, Iowa, where he engaged in the manufacture of vinegar, which he continued until the year 1854. At this time he came to Rock Island and entered upon the business of distilling and rectifying liquors, and continued therein until the end of his life.
Now fortune smiled on Mr. Fries, and as he prospered he became widely interested in real estate. He was a charter member of the Rock Island National Bank, and of the People’s National Bank. He was a director in both banks, and was vice-president of the latter up to the time of his death.
In politics Mr. Fries was a Democrat, always reserving the right to vote for men or measures according to the dictates of his own judgment.
In religion Mr. Fries was a Catholic. Mr. Fries married Theresa Dauber August 5, 1852, in the City of Henry, Illinois. Of this union, two children were born: Anna, who married the late Mr. Henry Schmidt, of St. Louis, and is now Mrs. James Connor, of Rock Island, Illinois. The other child, a son, died in infancy.
Mr. Fries died a successful man, the result of great energy, thrift and business ability. He was a man of great force of character, and in disposition modest and unassuming. His large and varied business connections made him an important factor of the business life of the city, to which his death was a great loss.