Fritz Leonhardt is an honored veteran of the Civil war, enlisting when in his teens for active service at the front. Faithfulness and capability have always been manifest in his business connections throughout life, owing to which fact he is today one of the oldest employees of the Northwestern Railway Company, serving in the capacity of engineer. Like the great majority of Sheboygan's substantial citizens, Mr. Leonhardt comes of German ancestry and is himself a native of Germany, his birth having occurred in Waldschleben, Saxony, on the 15th of November, 1845. His father, Heinrich Leonhardt, came to America with the family in 1852. He did not tarry on the Atlantic coast but made his way at once to the Mississippi valley, settling in Sheboygan. In his native land he had followed farming but in this country he secured a position in a brewery and later was engaged in the brewery business with August Bintz. He married Frederika Braun, who belonged to an old German family. She died at the age of fifty-eight years while Mr. Leonhardt passed away in 1910 at the advanced age of eighty-seven. They were the parents of nine children, of whom the following yet survive: Paulina, the wife of J. Schroeder; August, who is engaged in the saloon business in Sheboygan; Louis, also of this city; Herman, living in Colby, Wisconsin; Charles and Otto, of Sheboygan; and Fritz, who is the eldest.
When he left the schoolroom, having acquainted himself with the common branches of learning, Fritz Leonhardt became a stationary engineer. He was only in his seventh year when brought by his parents to the new world and after leaving school he was employed at stationary engineering until he reached the age of seventeen when the attempt of the south to overthrow the north aroused his patriotic spirit and he offered his services to the government, enlisting as a member of Company E, Twenty-seventh Regiment of Wisconsin Volunteer Infantry, for two years service, under command of Colonel Groetz. The regiment was attached to the Thirteenth Army Corps under General Steele, and Mr. Leonhardt served in all the engagements with that corps, including a number of hotly contested battles. He was mustered out at Brownsville, Texas, August 29, 1865, after twenty-two months' service.
When the country no longer needed his aid Mr. Leonhardt returned to Sheboygan and secured the position of locomotive engineer on the old Lake Shore Railroad, now a part of the Northwestern Railway system. He has since continued with this line and is one of the oldest employees of the company, his service covering forty-four years. His course has never brought down upon him any complaint from the railway officials. He has ever been most careful and faithful, realizing fully the responsibilities that devolved upon him in protecting the lives and property under his charge. In his capacity as stationary engineer he blew the first whistle of a manufacturing plant in Sheboygan.
In 1866 Mr. Leonhardt was married to Miss Theresa Mutzbauer, who was born in Sheboygan and is a daughter of Wolfgang Mutzbauer, a farmer. Mr. and Mrs. Leonhardt had nine children, four of whom are still living, three sons and a daughter: August, located in Chicago, who is married and has one child; John, at home; Joseph, of Milwaukee, who is married and has one child; and Emma, who is the wife of Fred Heinz, of Milwaukee. The mother died on August 6, 1883, and in 1885 Mr. Leonhardt married Ida Stahl, a daughter of William Stahl, a native of Germany, who came to America about 1880. To this second union were born three children, of whom one is living, Olga, at home. The parents are members of the Lutheran church and are loyal to its teachings. Mr. Leonhardt has led a busy and useful life. There have been few idle hours in his career, and his faithfulness to duty has commended him to the confidence and high regard of those whom he serves as well as of the general public.
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