FRANK WIEDLOCHER - In the practical school of experience Frank Wiedlocher learned the lessons which have made him a prosperous business man, and today as a flour and feed merchant he carries on a wholesale and retail trade in Springfield. He was born in Virden, Illinois, March 9, 1861, a son of Frank A. Wiedlocher, whose birth occurred in Neider Hauslau, Alsace, France, in 1823, and died in July, 1899. Through many generations representatives of the family had followed the miller's trade, and it was that pursuit which claimed the attention of the father of our subject. In the family were four children, but the three sisters of Frank A. Wiedlocher never came to America.
After acquiring his education in the schools of his native country Frank A. Wiedlocher sailed for the new world when a young man and never since has he returned to the place of his nativity. He made his way direct to St. Louis, Missouri, living there when it was but a small town, earning his living through work at the miller's trade, which he had learned under the direction of his father before his emigration. Subsequently coming to Springfield about 1846, or 1847, he again worked at his trade, manufacturing flour in this city. He was married in Springfield to Marguerita Keistring, who was born in Wittenberg, Germany, in 1837, and is now living on West Mason Street, in this city. From Springfield Mr. Wiedlocher removed to Virden, Illinois, where during the period of the Civil war he was engaged in the manufacture of flour for the government troops, and it was during the sojourn of the family there that Frank Wiedlocher, of this review, was born, being the second in order of birth, but the eldest son died in infancy. When the war was over the father returned to Springfield, and was employed in the line of his chosen pursuit by Mr. Hickox in the Excelsior Mills. In 1873, forming a partnership with Mr. Bower, of Lincoln, Illinois, he began business for himself four miles west of the city on Spring creek, and some years later he purchased his partner's interest, conducting the mill alone until on account of ill health he was obliged to sell out. He then established his home in Springfield, where he lived retired until his death. He was an experienced miller, practical and progressive in his work, and so expert was he that he could command the highest prices paid for such labor. He held membership in the Catholic church, and also belonged to St. Vincent German Society. After his death the widow purchased a home on Mason street, where she has since lived. Of their children, eleven in number, four have passed away, Frank and Marguerita having died in infancy, while August died in Springfield, at the age of thirty-two years, and Peter departed this life in Springfield at the age of twenty-eight years. Those still living are: Louisa, the wife of Louis Ihlenfeldt, a grocer of Springfield; Frank; Mary, the wife of August Tim, a barber of Springfield; Paulina, the wife of George Hahn, a printer of this city; Amelia, the wife of John Underfanger, who is engaged in the transfer business here; Belle, the wife of David Wirth, a florist of Springfield; and Bertha, the wife of Peter Troesh, a tailor of this city. The children were all reared in Sangamon county, attending the public and parochial schools here.
Frank Wiedlocher, whose name introduces this review, had but limited educational privileges, however, for being the eldest living son, he had to assist in the support of the family, but through close application, observation and reading, he acquired knowledge that has made him a well informed man. In his youth he learned the miller's trade, working for his father a part of the time and at home he remained until he was married, then twenty-two years of age. Prior to this time, however, he had embarked in business for himself at the old stand once occupied by his father, four miles west of the city. After a year there passed he became engaged in the milling business in Springfield with Fred Ihlenfeldt, conducting what was known as Everybody's mill for two years, when they sold out and embarked in a wholesale flour and feed business on East Washington street. Their quarters there, however, became too small, and they removed to the Evans Building on Fourth street, but when three years had passed they purchased ground and erected their present building, eighty by one hundred and fifty-seven feet, then known as Central Music Hall, but the name has been changed to Arion Hall. After the death of Mr. Ihlenfeldt our subject purchased the interest of his partner's widow, and has conducted the enterprise alone since December, 1896, having a large patronage from both the wholesale and retail trade. At one time he also managed the Music Hall, but the press of his mercantile business became too great, and he has now leased the entertaining hall to the Arion Club. In the control of his flour and feed store he finds it necessary to employ two salesmen, two bookkeepers, three warehouse men, three teamsters and one order clerk - all of which is indicative of the volume of trade which he now enjoys. His business has almost doubled itself in the past six years, and has thus had a phenomenal growth.
On the 4th of September, 1882, occurred the marriage of Mr. Wiedlocher and Miss Amelia Metzger, who was born in Baden, Germany, in 1863. They have five children: George, who is in his father's office; Marie, who is now a student in a convent; Carl, also in school; Frank and Clara, at home. All were born in Springfield. In 1890 our subject and his wife, accompanied by their first two children, made a trip to Europe, where they visited the home of his parents, and also the home of his wife's people. In 1898 he erected a modern residence at the southwest corner of Second and Carpenter streets, and in addition to this he has owned other residence property, having made considerable money by the purchase and sale of city realty. He finds one of his chief sources of recreation in hunting, and each year makes trips to localities where he can enjoy that sport. His political adherence is given to the Democracy, and he is identified with various social and fraternal organizations,
including the Merchants' Association, The Johnson Family, the Benevolent & Protective Order of Elks, the Arion Club, the Catholic Order of Foresters, St. Vincent's Society and the Western Catholic Union, of which he has served as a director. He is also a charter member of Camp No. 872, M.W.A., and of Royal Circle, No. 1, of Springfield and is a member of the Illinois Gun Club. Of St. Peter's and St. Paul's Catholic church he and his family are communicants. His success is largely attributed to the fact of his close application to the business in which as a young tradesman he embarked, and to the honorable business methods which he has ever followed. There has been nothing sensational or exciting in his career, but an unflagging perseverance has enabled him to progress on the road to prosperity. His social qualities, too, have gained him many friends, and he is an affable and genial gentleman, who is always willing to accord to any the courtesy of an interview.