Transcribed by Mary Ann Kaylor
Theodore J. Bergschneider is now living a retired life in New Berlin, but for a period of more than a third of a century was one of the active, enterprising farmers of Sangamon county, owning and cultivating a tract of land near the town in which he now resides. He came to Sangamon county more than a half century ago. He is a native of Prussia, his birth having there occurred on the 14th of October, 1829. His boyhood days were passed in his native land and he obtained a good common-school education in the German language, but is self-educated in English, having acquired his knowledge of this tongue since coming to the new world. It was in 1851 that he sailed for America in company with a younger brother, taking passage on a ship at Bremer Haven. It was a sailing vessel and seven weeks and two days passed ere anchor was dropped in the harbor of New Orleans on a December day in 1851. He thence proceeded up the Mississippi river to St. Louis and up the Illinois river for some distance, and thence to Sangamon county. He worked at farm labor for three years, after which he went to Fort Madison, Iowa, assisting to move a family to Boone county, that state. In Fort Madison he engaged in teaming, which he followed for several years, but in 1857 returned to Illinois and began working for a farmer near Jacksonville. He scored no honest employment that would yield him an honest living, and his industry and enterprise proved an excellent foundation upon which to rear the superstructure of success.
Mr. Bergschneider was married in Jacksonville, Illinois, in January, 1858, to Miss Gertrude Nelle, a native of Germany, who in her early girlhood days became a resident of Fort Madison, Iowa, where she was reared. After his marriage, Mr. Bergschneider rented a farm, which he cultivated for a number of years, and then, when his earnest labor had brought to him sufficient capital, he purchased a farm in 1871, becoming the owner of a tract of land of one hundred and sixty acres in New Berlin township. This, in fact, was two farms and had upon it two sets of buildings. He at once began the task of further developing and improving this place, and afterward purchased more land. His labors were attended with success, for he did not fear hard work and his persistency of purpose was supplemented by sound business judgment. As the years passed by he added more and more largely to his financial possessions, and in the year 1892 he came to New Berlin to live a retired life, having acquired a competence sufficient to meet all his needs in later years. He purchased a residence which he has remodeled and improved and now has a pleasant home in New Berlin.
Unto Mr. and Mrs. Bergschneider have been born fourteen children, nine sons and five daughters: Joseph L., who is a stock dealer of New Berlin and is married and resides here; John J., who is married and is also a stock dealer and shipper of New Berlin; Theodore H., who is married and is farming on the old home place; Henry J., of New Berlin; Anton E., who was a barber by trade and died in 1901, at the age of twenty[six years; Godfrey M., who is operating one of his father's farms; William H., a stock dealer; George H. and Francis A., both at home; Lizzie, who became the wife of Godfrey Frank and died in 1892 at the age of forty two years; Mary G., the wife of Henry Meyer, a resident farmer of New Berlin township; Maggie A., who is acting as housekeeper for her brother William; Gertrude T., at home; and Mena G., who acting as housekeeper for her brother Godfrey.
Politically Mr. Bergschneider is a stanch Democrat, giving an unfaltering support to the principles of the party. He was elected and served for four years as township trustee, for six years as school trustee, and for two years as supervisor, and while a member of the board he served on a number of important committees. He has also been street commissioner, and has been a delegate to numerous conventions of his party. He has ever been a faithful officer in the various positions he has filled and naught can be said against his official or his business career. He and his wife were reared in the faith of the Catholic church and are members of the Catholic church at New Berlin. He came to this country a poor man, having no means but possessed of strong determination and enterprise, and, while he was then at the bottom of the ladder, he has steadily climbed upward and today is known as one of the successful residents of the county. It is fitting that he should enjoy a period of rest after his many years of
arduous and earnest labor. He is well known in Springfield and throughout Sangamon county as a man of tried integrity and worth and one of the leading representative of the German-American element of our citizenship.