WERNER, JOSEPH, dealer in dry goods and groceries, is a man whose determination to succeed has made him victor, and whose reputation for honorable dealing is based upon his habit of paying his debts collectable in spirit as well as reality. His career as a merchant is one that demonstrates that a man can attain material success without violating his conscience, and he is known as one who gives his strength, his knowledge and his money to the support of all measures tending towards the advancement of the city. Mr. Werner was born in Zempelburg, Germany, June 26, 1863, a son of Jacob and Glaser (Buena) Werner. The father was born in the same place as his son and was educated there. He served his three years in the army, being engaged in the Franco-Prussian War, in which he received a medal for bravery. His life work was making stained glass under contract. His death occurred at his home in Germany in 1906, when he was either seventy-nine or eighty years of age. He was twice married, his first wife being mother of Joseph Werner, and she bore him two other children: Samuel, of Chicago, and Mrs. Johanna Alexander, of Germany. The second wife was Flora Beyach, and she had one son, Siegbert, a resident of Chicago.
Joseph Werner attended school in Germany and his record in college was so high that he had the privilege of serving in the army one year at reduced expenses. In April, 1861, he came to the United States, landing in New York City. From there he came direct to St. Louis, where he joined his brother and went to work as a salesman in a dry goods store, being soon promoted to position of shipping clerk. Within a few years he was able to purchase a cigar store and then began manufacturing fine cigars, being for twelve years thus engaged. His next business venture was operating a hotel, but fourteen months later, in 1892, he resumed clerking and kept books at Kenneth, Mo. In 1896 he came to Springfield and for a time sold cigars until he saved a sufficient amount to start a small grocery store on Eleventh and Madison Street. After four years in this location his business increased to such an extent that he felt justified in buying the property at No. 1131 East Madison Street, where he opened a store, conducting it as a first class grocery. Within four years more he built his present residence and added dry goods to his stock. He now carries a full line of dry goods, shoes, smoked meats and groceries, and controls an immense trade. He has bought several other houses and lots and is now a heavy property owner. His residence at No. 301 North Fourteenth Street is a new one, the former one, at No. 1131 Madison Street, having been destroyed during the riot in August, 1908. During that troublous period a lynching occurred in front of his building.
Mr. Werner was married in St. Louis to Miss Freda Benjamin, who died in that city. He was married in Springfield in 1902, to Anna Hornstein, a native of Roumania. They have three children, Simeon, Buena and Jerome, and an adopted daughter, Esther. Mr. Werner is a member of the Jewish Church and is one of its consistent supporters. He is a liberal Republican. Fraternally he belongs to the Knights of Pythias, of which he has served as Past Chancellor, and was Representative to the Grand Lodge about twenty-three years ago. In 1903 Mr. Werner visited Europe and traveled through the principal cities and countries. His father, who was then seventy-seven years of age, and whom he had not seen for twenty-five years, met him at the steamboat landing.