Frederick Koehn occupies a central space on the stage of business activity in Sheboygan. He is prominent as a man whose constantly expanding powers have taken him from humble surroundings to the field of large enterprises and continually broadening opportunities. In this connection he brings to bear a clear understanding that readily solves complex problems and unites into a harmonious whole seemingly diverse interests. The American Manufacturing Company of which he is now president, sends its output into various sections of the country. The plant is not only one of the most extensive in Sheboygan but would be a credit to a city of much larger size. It furnishes employment to about five hundred workmen.
Mr. Koehn was born in this city December 8, 186o, a son of Frederick and Sidonia (Seifert) Koehn. The father was born in Brandenburg, Germany, January 5, 1837, and was a son of Frederick and Anna Elizabeth (Baalke) Koehn, who were married in 1832. The former was born October 13, 18II, and his parents were Christian and Frederica (Jones) Koehn, who were also natives of the same place.
On the 9th of July, 1853, Frederick Koehn, the father, of him whose name introduces this review, arrived in Sheboygan with his father the grandfather of our subject. The grandfather began to smoke fish for the market, which was the only product of this kind ever offered for sale in this city. Until 1873 he used a sail boat from which to secure his catch, and then built a tugboat called The Hoffnung and later built a larger boat called Hotinung's Brother. Two years afterward he built the Frederick Koehn. In the meantime, on the 17th of April, 1891, he sustained a paralytic stroke after which he reorganized his business under the name of Frederick Koehn, Sr., Fish Company, of which he became the president. In that business he continued to the time of his death which occurred in 1894. His son, Frederick, the father of our subject, died October 22, 1890.
Frederick Koehn, whose name stands at the head of this review, was a pupil in the Lutheran parochial schools until he reached the age of fourteen years when he began clerking in his father's store. He was thus employed until 1880 when he entered the sales force for the Phoenix Chair Company which he represented as a traveling salesman for seven years, or until 1887. He then aided in organizing the American Manufacturing Company, of which he is now president. From 1888 until 1890 however, he was with the Sheboygan Chair Company, in the capacity of salesman. In 1892 he became one of the organizers of the Frederick Koehn, Sr., Fish Company and was chosen its vice president. His interest and activities, however, have chiefly centered upon the growing business of the American Manufacturing Company, which was incorporated on the 17th of February, 1887, with Mr. Koehn as president. They began the manufacture of toys but in later years branched out to include the manufacture of chairs and in 1890 discontinued the making of toys.
Since that time their efforts have been concentrated entirely upon chair manufacturing and the business, under the careful direction and progressive enterprising methods of Mr. Koehn, has become one of the most extensive productive industries not only of the city but of this part of the state. Mr. Koehn owned the controlling interest on the organization of the business and in later years with his brother Henry, purchased all the stock. Something of the growth of the undertaking is indicated in the fact that while forty or fifty men were originally employed more than five hundred names are now on the pay roll. This mammoth undertaking is a monument to the business ability, the constructive genius and the executive forces of Frederick Koehn.
On the 16th of May, 1888, in Sheboygan, Mr, Koehn was married to Miss Beatrice Isabel Zillier, a daughter of Carl Zillier, and they now have two children, Frederick Carl and Beatrice Zillier. Mr. Koehn holds membership in the English Lutheran church and his political faith is that of the republican party. He is largely conversant with the questions and issues of the day but does not seek nor desire office, preferring to concentrate his energies upon business affairs. This close application and unfaltering energy have brought him to a prominent position in business circles and one which commands admiration and respect because of the straightforward policy he has ever followed, his methods being such as will bear close investigation and scrutiny. The volume of business of this house makes it one of the important industrial enterprises of the city in that it furnishes employment to hundreds of workmen.
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