William F. Bethke, one of the capable business men of Sheboygan, is meeting with great success as a salesman and by his musical talent has contributed very materially to musical circles of Wisconsin, being well known and very popular in his home city. He was born at Lake Mills, Wisconsin, December 2, 1876, and is a son of Carl and Augusta (Kuether) Bethke, the former of whom was a native of Blomberg, Germany.
During his early married life the father, noting the advantages offered by the new world, left the fatherland and came to America, settling at Lake Mills, Wisconsin, in 1871. In the fatherland he had been a telegraph operator but on coming to the United States he took up the vocation of farming and followed that during his life. In his family were five children, of whom the subject of this review is the youngest, the others being: August; Charles; Herman; and Ida, the wife of J. Manning.
William F. Bethke was given a good common-school education and after laying aside his text-books began working in a factory so continuing for two years. He was then employed by H. H. Miller as a salesman of tinner's hardware, with whom he remained for eight years. After severing that connection he was for seven years with the Trilling Hardware Company, after which he engaged in business for himself in which he remained for a time. Later he sold his business and removed to Minnesota, where he was engaged as a clerk for two years in a hardware store. He then came to Lake Mills, Wisconsin, and for four years was employed by the Lake Mills Hardware Company and is now a salesman for the Cleveland Oil Company, of Cleveland, Ohio.
Mr. Bethke inherited a very decided musical talent which he cultivated in his younger days, and was for many years director of the Second Regiment band of Lake Mills, and also of Sheboygan. His musical talent was not allowed to lie dormant while living in Minnesota, for during that time he was the director of the Staples Cornet band. He has also served as chorister and is a member of the Local Musical Union. Mr. Bethke chose as his life companion and helpmate Miss Emma Lienau, a daughter of August Lienau, who resides at 919 Indiana avenue, Sheboygan, and is a tailor by trade. Unto Mr. and Mrs. Bethke have been born six children, namely: Leonora, aged fourteen years; Esther, twelve years; Ella, ten years; William F., eight years; Estella, five years; and Grace who was born on the 13th of April, 1911.
In his fraternal relations Mr. Bethke is a charter member of the Tinners American Union and one of the early members of the Eagles Aerie of Sheboygan. In his religious affiliation and faith he is a Lutheran, in which belief he was reared. He is yet a comparatively young man although he has lived an active and useful life, being by nature well adapted to the position of salesman, being genial in his disposition, optimistic and companionable. He always gives the strictest attention to business matters, keeping uppermost in mind the selling of goods to customers, a business at which he is very proficient. Having been born and reared in Wisconsin, where he has traveled extensively, and particularly on account of his musical connections as well as his long period of service as a salesman, he has formed an unusually large number of friends and acquaintances, being widely known both for his musical and business skill. Sheboygan is indeed fortunate in having among her many estimable citizens a young man of such sterling worth and high character as the subject of this review.
Information gathered and adapted from History of Sheboygan County, Wisconsin, Past and Present
Carl Zillier, Editor
Pubished by The S.J. Clarke Publishing Company, 1912, Chicago, IL