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By Joseph Wallace, M. A.
of the Springfield Bar
The S. J. Clarke Publishing Co., Chicago, IL

Page 309

HENRY NELCH - was born near Beardstown, Cass county, Illinois, July 6, 1852, a son of John and Helena (Rick) Nelch, both of whom were natives of Germany. In an early day the father came to America, and making his way to the Mississippi valley, settled in Cass county. He was married in Beardstown, and unto him and his wife were born seven children, of whom one son and one daughter have passed away, the sister having been burned to death when stalks were being burned upon the farm. Two brothers and one sister of our subject are living in Springfield. The eldest, Katherine, is the wife of George Hahn, of East Carpenter street, and they had four sons and two daughters, three of whom are living, one being married and living in Chicago. Adam, who is a bricklayer and contractor, married Ann Tipton, and they have four daughters and three sons living and two deceased. Philip, who is a carpenter and contractor, was twice elected to the office of supervisor over the poor, and married Miss Mary Huber.

In 1864 the parents removed to Springfield with their family, and here spent their remaining days, the father becoming quite prominent in public and municipal affairs. He was elected to the office of street supervisor and served for about six or seven years. He also served as collector, discharging his duties with promptness and fidelity. He always voted with the Republican party, of which he was a stanch advocate. Both he and his wife were lifelong members of the German Methodist church. The father died in April, 1897, at the age of seventy-six years, and the mother's death occurred in July, 1898, at the age of eighty-three years.

In the public schools Henry Nelch pursued his early education, which was supplemented by study in a commercial college. Coming to Springfield he began clerking in a grocery and furniture store, and when about twenty-one years of age, he learned the bricklayer's trade, which he followed for about ten years in the employ of others. Before the expiration of this period, however, he began taking contracts for paving and the laying of sewers, becoming a member of the firm of Nelch, Patterson & Striffler. Mr. Striffler has since withdrawn from the firm. This is one of the leading firms of the city in this line, and many contracts have been executed by them. In the summer of 1902, the firm laid two or three sewers in Springfield, paved South Grand avenue and also did an extensive business outside of the city, both in this and other states. The awarding of a contract to Nelch & Patterson is a guarantee of excellent work, for the firm is thoroughly reliable, and has a practical knowledge of the labor required in the execution of the contracts. They employ capable workmen and they well merit the patronage which is accorded them.

In November, 1874, Mr. Nelch was united in marriage to Miss Elizabeth Grant, a daughter of George and Sophie (Knoxon) Grant, and of Scotch and Canadian ancestry. Her birthplace was Waukegan, Illinois, her natal year 1851. By her marriage she has become the mother of six children: B. F., who was graduated with honors from the high school of Springfield, Illinois, married Miss Josie Pickle, and they have two children, Franklin Clarke, who is three years of age and Joseph Henry Earl, the baby; Harry Grant Nelch, the second son, is a graduate of the Commercial College of Springfield, and now a student in the Chicago Dental College; Fred G. is upon the stock farm with his eldest brother at Wagner, Illinois; George G. is completing the eighth grade work in the public schools of Springfield, and is thirteen years of age; Evelyn May, aged seven, is also in school. They also lost a daughter, Lilly Pearl, who died in July, 1889, at the age of two years and eight months.

Mr. Nelch has been a resident of Springfield since 1864, and has taken a deep interest in the progress which has been made here. He was one of the first letter carriers of the city, being thus employed in 1874, when there were only four carriers. His business career has been a successful one, and though he started out without capital, he has today valuable business and property interests, including a fine farm of three hundred and twenty acres of land in Montgomery county, Illinois, now operated by his sons, who are extensively engaged in raising stock. He also owns a splendid modern home at No. 1007 East Monroe street. He and his wife are active members of the Second Methodist church, which their children also attend, and Mr. Nelch is connected with the Knights of the Macabees and the Modern Woodmen Camp, both of Springfield. In politics he is a Republican, but votes rather for the principle than party. In all life's relations he is true to his honest convictions, and he never wavers in his allegiance to what he believes to be right. There are as dominant traits in his character unfaltering energy, probity and strong purpose and these have won for him creditable business standing and financial success

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