Judge William Smieding, Jr., who for the past fifteen years has been the municipal and juvenile court judge of Racine County, is a native son of this city and his life record stands in contradistinction to the old adage that a prophet is not without honor save in his own country, for worth and ability have gained him professional recognition and he is regarded as one of the representative members of the Racine bar. He was born September 9, 1868, a son of William and Mary (Wustum) Smieding. The father’s birth occurred at Lübbecke, in western Prussia, November 11, 1831, and he was a son of August and Amelia (Mix) Smieding, who were likewise natives of that country, while his paternal grandfather was a brewer and baker of Germany, where he owned a small shop. He and his wife both died in Germany at an advanced age. Their son August followed in the footsteps of his father, acquainting himself with the trades of brewing and baking, but afterward went to Holland, where he secured a situation as clerk in a store. He was engaged in military duty under Napoleon I in the year 1815. His death occurred in 1850, when he was fifty-six years of age, while his wife passed away about six years before. Their family numbered seven children, including William Smieding, who obtained his education in the public schools near his home and at the age of fourteen was apprenticed to a general merchant for a term covering about five years. The reports which he heard concerning the opportunities of the new world led him to the determination to try his fortune on this side of the Atlantic and when he reached the age of eighteen years he left the fatherland for the new world, making his way to Cleveland, Ohio, where he resided for a year. He then came to Racine where he joined his brother, Henry E. Smieding, in the drug business, opening a store at the corner of Third and Main streets. For years theirs was one of the pioneer drug houses of the city and their business was successfully continued until about 1890, when they sold out, since which time Mr. Smieding has lived retired, now making his home on a small farm near Racine, his place comprising thirty-five acres of land situated just across the road from the factory of the Horlick Malted Milk Company.
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In September, 1864, William Smieding was united in marriage to Miss Mary Wustum, a daughter of George and Mary Wustum, and they have become the parents of six children: Henry, a Racine lawyer; William; Herman, who is a bookkeeper with the Horlick Malted Milk Company and who married Jessie Conroe; George, who is engaged in the practice of medicine at Jefferson, Wisconsin; and Frederick and Marie, residing in Racine.
Judge Smieding, the second son, began his education when a little lad of six years as a public school pupil and promotion brought him eventually to the high school from which he was graduated. His more specifically literary course was pursued in the State University of Wisconsin at Madison, where he won the Bachelor of Arts degree in 1891, after which he continued there as a student in the law department and was graduated in 1893. He had previously attended the University of Berlin, Germany, in the year 1890. On the completion of his law course he was admitted to the bar and entered upon active practice in Racine, devoting attention to the trial of cases before the state and federal courts for eight years, or until elected judge of the municipal court in 1901, since which time he has served upon the bench, giving his attention to the duties of the office. He has gained a reputation for being fair and impartial in the discharge of his judicial duties.
Judge Smieding holds to a nonpartisan course politically. He is well known in fraternal circles, belonging to the Masonic lodge, the Knights of Pythias lodge, No. 32, of which he is a past chancellor commander, and the Elks lodge, No. 252, of which he is past exalted ruler. He is also president of the Boy Scouts council of Racine. A member of the Commercial Club, he is much interested in its purposes and plans for the improvement and development of the city.