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

Transcribed by Mary Ann Kaylor

Page 511

Henry Klein, now deceased, was employed in the car shops of the Wabash Railroad Company in Springfield for thirty-five years. He was one of the earliest settlers here, establishing his home in the city in 1845. Therefore, he was a witness of the growth and development of Springfield, and he ever took a deep interest in what was accomplished along lines of improvement.

His birth occurred near Bremen, Germany, on the 10th of July, 1827. His father, Alfred Klein, spent his entire life in Germany, as did the mother. Our subject received but limited educational privileges in his native country, his youth being largely a period of toil. In 1845, when but eighteen years of age, he resolved to seek a home in America, believing that he might have better business opportunities in the new world. Accordingly he crossed the Atlantic to the United States on a sailing vessel and made his way to St. Louis, Missouri, where he remained for a short time. He then came to Springfield and worked in a hemp factory west of town for one year. He was afterward variously employed until after the outbreak of the Mexican war, when he enlisted in 1847 in defense of his adopted country and was a member of the army until hostilities ceased in 1848, when he was honorably discharge. He was never injured in anyway and when his military service was ended he returned to Springfield where he purchased some land, upon it erected the house which is still occupied by his widow. There he carried on gardening for about a year, at the end of which time he entered the employ of the Wabash Railway Company as car repairer in the car shops in Springfield. For thirty-five years he held that position, a fact which indicates that he enjoyed the unqualified confidence and approval of those he served. He was ever faithful to his duty and his excellent workmanship was approved by all who knew aught of his labors. At length, however, he retired from his position in the car shops, and after that engaged to a limited extent in gardening for a few years. He was, however, living practically retired, but indolence and idleness were utterly foreign to his nature and he could not entirely put aside all business cares.

Mr. Klein was married September 9, 1851, to Miss Margaret Yeager, a native of Germany, born January 18, 1830, her parents being John and Elizabeth (Nagel) Yeager. The mother died in Germany and the father afterward came to this country, making his home with his daughter, Mrs. Klein, in Springfield, during the last seven years of his life. He passed away in this city at the advanced age of eighty-three years. Unto Mr. and Mrs. Klein were born eight children, six of whom are now living: Sophia, the wife of A. Stillman, of Springfield; Carolina, who was a teacher in the Lincoln school here for nine years and is now the wife of Richard Goucher, a resident of Kansas; Fannie, the wife of Ernest Rettberg, who is living in Divernon, Illinois; Elizabeth, the wife of Charles Grismer, of Brooklyn, New York; Charles A., a boiler maker, residing in Cudahy, Wisconsin, and Harry, who is employed by the Springfield Watch Company of this city. One of the sons, Henry, died at the age of one year and four months, and another died in infancy unnamed.

Mr. Klein passed away April 29, 1897. He was a most earnest Democrat in his political affiliations, and both he and his wife were members of the English Lutheran church. He was very well known to all the early settlers of Springfield and had many friends in this city. His life was characterized by untiring industry and perseverance and his economy and capable management enabled him to leave his widow in very comfortably circumstances. She is also granted a pension in recognition of his services in the Mexican war. She now occupies a pleasant home at No. 1404 East Edward street, which property she owns.

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