William Friedrichs is a son of one of the pioneer families of Sheboygan, his father having settled here in the (18) '50s. He was born October 15, 1859, the son of Henry J. Friedrichs, whose birth occurred in Rhine, Prussia, in 1819. The father emigrated to the United States in 1850 on the ship Hurlbert, which carried six hundred passengers and consumed eighty-five days in making the voyage, many storms being encountered. A curious circumstance attended the trip, seventeen deaths and eighteen births occurring while the vessel was en route.
On landing in New York the father came directly to Sheboygan, then went to Milwaukee and returned to Sheboygan about 1855. In December of that year he opened a blacksmith shop on what is now known as Indiana avenue. The building was very unpretentious and did not cost to exceed twenty-five dollars and yet it served as a shop and a home, the living rooms being separated from the shop by a plank partition.
Sheboygan was at that time a town of three thousand inhabitants, made up principally of Winnebago, Chippewa and Duck Creek Indians who often came begging at the door. The father prospered in business and gradually began to improve his surroundings and became able to give his family many of the luxuries of life with which they had previously been unfamiliar. In 1869 he erected a fine building and embarked in the mercantile, grain and feed business, in which he was very successful, being thus engaged until within a few years of his death, which occurred in 1894. He was twice married, his first union being with Miss Barbara Rittman, whom he wedded several years before leaving Germany. She died in 1852, leaving a son, and in 1853 Henry J. Friedrichs was united in marriage to Miss Catharine Meyer, and unto them were born nine children, seven of whom are still living and are all the owners of valuable property, the subject of this review being fourth in order of birth.
William Friedrichs was educated in the schools of Sheboygan and at the age of fourteen went to work in a blacksmith shop, where he remained for two and one-half years. He then went to the Pinery, where he worked as an axman and sawyer for several years. Returning to Sheboygan, he was for a time engaged in cheese-making, subsequently going to the lumber country but after remaining there for a short time he returned to Sheboygan county and began fanning. He is an expert at fishing and hunting and devotes considerable time to these pursuits.
On March 27, 1890, Mr. Friedrichs was united in marriage to Miss Sarah Stuart, a daughter of Mr. and Mrs. John Stuart, both natives of Canada. Her birth occurred in Peshtigo, Wisconsin, October 8, 1871, and as an infant she passed through the terrifying experience of the great fire in which six hundred persons lost their lives. Her life was saved by her being kept in the river during a whole night, but her grandmother did not survive the ordeal.
To Mr. and Mrs. Friedrichs were born six children, three of whom survive: Marjorie, who is a high-school graduate of the class of 1912 and is continuing her studies in Milwaukee; Stuart, who is a high school student; and Sidonia.
In his political affiliation Mr. Friedrichs is a republican. Being an active and popular man and possessing a good business education, he has been chosen for several positions of honor and trust by his party and neighbors. He was for eight years justice of peace, served as a member of the school board for nine years and was assessor of Sheboygan township for two years. He is in every way a representative of the better class of citizenship of Sheboygan county, where he is extensively and favorably known. He possesses a genial, optimistic temperament and while giving the strictest attention to his business and discharging all public obligations with fidelity and promptness, he still finds time to cultivate the social side of life to a reasonable degree and is popular in business, political and social circles in the county where he was born and reared. He has rendered much valuable service to his community, always taking an active part in those matters which affect the public welfare and civic good.
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