Jacob Diehl is the president of the Diehl Novelty Company, with offices at No. 909 Michigan avenue in Sheboygan, where the business has been successfully conducted since 1905. He was born at Glenbeulah, Wisconsin, March 1, 1860, a son of Casper and Alzina (O'Dell) Diehl. His father was a native of Hessen-Darmstadt, Germany, and emigrated to America in 1848, settling first at Muskegon, Michigan, where he was engaged in rafting on the river. He removed to Sheboygan in 1850 and here established himself in the draying business. Eventually he removed to a farm three miles north of the village of Glenbeulah, his place being a tract of wild land, which he and his sons converted into a productive farm. This required much arduous labor, for it was necessary to clear away the heavy timber and dense undergrowth of brush and bramble before the fields could be plowed and planted. The work was vigorously prosecuted, however, year by year and the farm was brought to a high state of cultivation. Mr. Diehl afterward sold out at a good profit and removed to Glenbeulah, where his death occurred March 27, 1897, when he had reached the age of seventy-seven years, six months and fifteen days. His wife passed away May 8, 1873, and both were laid to rest in the Glenbeulah cemetery.
Jacob Diehl was reared on his father's farm and acquired his education in the little country school house near Elkhart Lake. His advantages, however, were limited, for the necessity of aiding in the work of the home farm compelled him to put aside his text-books and take up the work of the fields. However, he devoted each spare moment to private study and has thus continually broadened his knowledge and promoted his usefulness. At sixteen years of age he began working as a farm hand for others and afterward was a rag peddler until twenty-five years of age. He next obtained a position as a common laborer in one of the chair factories in Sheboygan, remaining there for two years at a wage of a dollar and a quarter per day. When thirty years of age he obtained a position on the police force of the city and was identified with that department of municipal service for fifteen years.
Nature, however, endowed Mr. Diehl with considerable inventive ingenuity and while serving on the police force he brought to perfection his first invention, upon which he secured a government patent. This device proved of commercial value and he associated three other men with him in its manufacture and sale. From that small beginning he has gone steadily forward as inventor and manufacturer, placing upon the market various new and useful articles, while his business ability and enterprise have brought him to the front as a manufacturer of patented specialties. The business is conducted under the name of the Diehl Novelty Company, with offices at No. 909 Michigan avenue, but at the present time the company is putting up a large modern factory building at Glenbeulah, to which point the business will be removed.
Mr. Diehl was united in marriage, at Elkhorn, Wisconsin, September 21, 1880, to Miss Mary L. Sexton, a daughter of Mr. and Mrs. John L. Sexton. Her father, who was born March 20, 1824, was one of the pioneers of Sheboygan county and was the first teacher of the first public school in the township of Russell. He held various local offices there, including that of postmaster. He was a well educated man, whose life was one of usefulness. He died June 28, 19n, at the age of eighty-seven years, and was laid to rest in the Glenbeulah cemetery. His wife died in February, 1900, aged eighty-four years, in Wolsey, South Dakota, where she was buried. Mr. and Mrs. Diehl have become the parents of three children: Stillman, who is associated with his father in the Diehl Novelty Company; Manne, a graduate of the Sheboygan high school; and Ivan, a junior in the high school. The family reside in their comfortable home at No. 1816 North Fifth street.
Jacob Diehl is regarded as one of the useful men of the community in which he lives. In early life he met many hardships and his early manhood was a period of earnest and unremitting toil, but he was ambitious, determined and energetic and has steadily worked his way upward. He is one of a family of five sons, three of whom are successful inventors. Each was compelled to travel the path of hardship and adversity, leading, however, at length to honorable advancement and capacity and upon those qualities he has built his success. He has keen appreciation for true friendship and recognizes and meets the obligations of citizenship and at all times extends his influence on the side of progress and improvement.
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