Sangamon County ILGenWeb © 2000
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By Joseph Wallace, M. A.
of the Springfield Bar
The S. J. Clarke Publishing Co., Chicago, IL

JOHN W. KNEPLER - On Section 16, Island Grove Township, is located the fine farm of two hundred and forty acres that is the property of John W. Knepler, and its proximity to the town of New Berlin, which is only two miles distant, makes all the conveniences of town life easily accessible. It was in this township that Mr. Knepler was born, first opening his eyes to the light of day on the 29th of March, 1850. His father, Peter Knepler, was a native of France, born in Lorain in 1816. There he was reared to manhood upon a farm, and as a companion and helpmate for his life's journey he chose Catherine Canaple, a French lady, whose birth occurred in 1819. Soon after their marriage they sailed for the new world, crossing the Atlantic to Ne Orleans, whence they proceeded up the Mississippi and Illinois Rivers to Beardstown, coming thence by stage to Springfield. The year 1847 witnessed their arrival and for a year or two Mr. Knepler was employed in the capital city. He then removed to Island Grove township, where he began working for Captain James Brown, with whom he continued for four years. He then rented a farm, which he cultivated for three years, and with the capital that he had gained in this way he purchased his first land, comprising a tract of forty acres, on which a small log house was located. With courage and deep interest in his work, he undertook the task of improving his property, and later he purchased more land until he became the owner of about two hundred acres. This was very well improved with good buildings modern machinery, and necessary equipments for the successful conduct of the property. He spent his last years upon that farm, dying in 1887, and his wife passed away in December of the same year, so that they were not long separated in death.

John W. Knepler is the only surviving son in the family, which numbered five brothers and two sisters. The latter are Mary A. and Catherine, the former the wife of James Glenn, of Island Grove township, while the latter is the widow of Matthew Minder, of Logan county, Illinois. In the usual manner of lands of the period, J. W. Knepler spent his childhood, working in the field during the summer months, while in the winter seasons he attended the common schools. He remained with his father until he had attained man's estate, assisting him in carrying on the home farm. Wishing to establish a home of his own, he was married in Kewanee, Henry county, Illinois, on the 19th of October, 1871, to Miss Margaret Davy, a native of Ireland, who came to the new world with her parents and was reared in Henry and Sangamon counties, of this state. The young couple began their domestic life upon the farm which he now owns and which came into his possession so long ago. He added to the farm until within its borders are comprised two hundred and forty acres. He also erected a good residence and has just completed a large, new barn for the shelter of grain and stock. Many rods of tiling have been laid upon his land and he also fenced the property and divided it into fields of convenient size. Fruit and shade trees have been planted and everything is neat and thrifty in appearance. Mr. Knepler started out in life for himself a poor man, standing at the bottom of the ladder, but gradually he has climbed higher and higher until he has reached the plane of affluence.

The home of Mr. and Mrs. Knepler has been blessed with seven children: John, who is assisting his father in the operation of the home farm and is a well educated young man, was graduated in the Springfield high school and in the Springfield Business College. He has also traveled over Europe, visiting the great cities of the old world and seeing many points of modern and historic interest on the continent. Katie, the second member of the family is the wife of James B. Wright, of Franklin, Illinois, and they have one son, Geoffrey. Mary, George, William, Frances and Edward are all at home.

Proudly Mr. Knepler cast his first presidential vote, giving his support to Horace Greeley in 1872. He has since voted for each presidential nominee of the Democracy and he has kept well informed on the issues and questions of the day, thus being able to support his position by intelligent argument. He was elected and served as overseer for four years, was afterward chosen for the office of supervisor, and in that position served altogether for nine years, during which time he was a member of a number of important committees, while during the greater part of the time he was chairman of the pauper committee. Matters of public moment have been of deep interest to him and whatever has tended to benefit the community has received his hearty endorsement and support. He is especially interested in the schools and for sixteen years has served on the school board, during which time he has done effective service in promoting intellectual advancement here by the employment of good teachers. He is now serving for his third year as township trustee and he has been a delegate to numerous conventions of his party and was committeeman of his township for six years. Both he and his wife were reared in the Catholic faith and now belong to the church of that denomination in New Berlin. No other home has Mr. Knepler known that Island Grove Township, and therefore he has been a witness of much of its development, has seen the building of the railroads, the establishment of cities and the progress made by its varied business undertakings. He is a man of integrity and worth, well worthy of representation in this volume.

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