The owner of the finest stock farm in Sheboygan county and the proprietor of one of the largest department stores in Plymouth is Henry J. Goelzer, one of the most estimable citizens of the county. He is also connected with several banks and manufacturing concerns and is prominent in municipal affairs. He was born April 29, 1860, in Plymouth, Wisconsin, the son of Philip Goelzer, who was born December 1, 1828, in Rhein Bayern, Germany. In 1833 he came with his parents to America, settling in New York city, where the family lived for ten years. They then removed to Germantown, Washington county, Wisconsin, where the father purchased land. Katharine (Dilling) Goelzer, the mother, was born in New Bayern, Germany. Her parents owned a farm in the Fatherland and, selling out, emigrated to America in 1846, coming directly to Germantown, Wisconsin.
In that place, on December 16, 1851, occurred the marriage of Philip Goelzer and Katharine Dilling and a year later they removed to Plymouth, Sheboygan county, where they took up government land upon which they lived until the death of the father, June 15, 1884. He had come to America with his parents when he was two years of age and as he grew to maturity he assisted in clearing the heavily timbered land which the family took up in Washington county. After his marriage he took up government land about two and one-half miles west of Plymouth. This was covered with timber and he devoted his life to clearing his farm, building improvements and bringing it under a high state of cultivation. He passed away in Plymouth, to which place he had removed a few months previous to his death.
The farm owned by the father is now in possession of Henry J. Goelzer, the subject of this review, who has increased the acreage and made of it a=model dairy farm. His barns are electric lighted, with cement floors and mangers; he maintains a first-class water system, and the farm is stocked with pure-bred Holstein-Friesian cattle.
Henry J. Goelzer was educated in the public schools of Plymouth and later attended the high school at Appleton. After laying aside his text-books he gave his attention to agricultural pursuits for three years and in 1885 embarked in the general merchandise business in Plymouth, where he has since remained. His initial mercantile transaction was to purchase the stock of goods owned by H. C. Freutel and, entering into partnership with John A. Zinkgraff, he continued the business for three years, when he purchased his partner's interest. In 1903 he incorporated under the firm name of H. J. Goelzer Company, some of the stock being given to a few of his old employes. He has been an aggressive, up-to-date, honest and industrious merchant and now has one of the largest department stores in Plymouth, carrying a very complete stock.
Besides his business and farming properties he is interested in several banks, being a director in the Exchange Bank and in the Plymouth Building Association. He is secretary and treasurer of the Plymouth Canning Company, a director in the Schwartz Manufacturing Company and also in the Plymouth Parlor and Frame Company. He is interested as well in the Plymouth Veneer Company, the Plymouth Chair Company, and is a breeder of fine live stock, as well as being an extensive agriculturist.
Mr. Goelzer was married in 1883 to Miss Annie Koch, a daughter of William and Teresa (Bohne) Koch. The father was born in Saxony, Germany, December 10, 1819. His parents died when he was a boy and in 1848 he emigrated to the new world, settling in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. The mother was born May 29, 1828, in Wolferstadt, Saxony, Germany. Her father was a shoe manufacturer and her grandfather, Herr Von Alfon, who was born of a noble family, was disinherited because he married a nurse. The wife and her parents emigrated to America in September, 1844, and came directly to Ozaukee county, Wisconsin.
The marriage was celebrated in Milwaukee in 1850, and Mr. Koch later bought government land in Mosel township, upon which they lived for a considerable period, afterward removing to Sheboygan Falls and still later to Plymouth. William Koch died December 10, 18<)6, and his wife passed away October 30, 19()8. Mr. and Mrs. Goelzer are the parents of three children, Salina, Earl and Iris, all of whom are at home. Mr. Goelzer has held important municipal offices, among which may be mentioned that of city treasurer, and he is now a member of the water and light board of the city. He and his family are members of the Congregational church and are active workers in that denomination.
Mr. Goelzer is one of the best known men in Sheboygan county. He is active and broadminded. He takes a great interest in his business and as his interests are large and varied he is kept busy looking after the details of his affairs. His stock farm, which is indeed a model one, is widely known, it being a marvel of completeness and utility. He may be pointed to as an example of our high class German-American citizen to whom this country is indebted for some of its most brilliant and able men. He is easily one of the leading citizens of his county and throughout his wide acquaintance is universally respected and greatly esteemed.
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