Biography - Henry Bernard

HENRY BERNHARD. At the name miller, one's mind instantly and involuntarily sees picture after picture of the changes that have been wrought in the methods of producing the farinaceous product of which the staff of life is made. One first sees two veiled women sitting on either side of stone disks and grinding the handful of corn or wheat into powder; later, it was accomplished on a larger scale, and beasts of burden turned the stones, and in the boyhood days of the early pioneers in this State, they saw quaint little mills whose wheels were turned by a thin stream of water that, east from the wheel, made merry bubbles and diamonds of light. This has all given way to the new process and nowadays when we go to mill, one sees only a bewildering maze of belts and hands and machinery that turns out the snowy white billows of flour at an amazingly rapid rate. This is known as the Roller Process of making flour and it is one of these last mentioned places of which our subject is proprietor.

Previous to coming to Strasburgh, the original of our sketch was engaged in business in Effingham County, this State, where he remained until his mill was destroyed by fire November 1, 1886. He did not, however, make the change until April, 1887, when on coming here, he erected the fine mill of which he is the sole owner and proprietor. These mills have a capacity of turning out eighty barrels of flour daily, and being so accessible to the farmers in the vicinity. Mr. Bernhard does a large and thriving business. Our subject has a charming residence in Strasburg located on the principal residence street. It is gracefully presided over by his wife, who is a cultivated and talented woman, she was previous to marriage with him of whom we write Mrs. Louisa Erd, nee Hartman. She is a native of Pennsylvania. Our subject had previously been married, his first wife having died in Shumway. this State, July 2, 1883.

Henry Bernhard was born in Ittlingen, Baden, Germany, April 9, 1835, and is a son of Henry and Margaret (Ziegler) Bernhard, both natives of Baden, Germany, the former having been there born September 4, 1802. The mother passed away in her native country in 1837. Some years after our subject came to America his father also emigrated to this country in 1879, and thereafter made his home with his son until his death which took place in Shumway, this State, January 3, 1889. He of whom we write received his early education in the schools of his native village and early received training of a practical nature, which is indispensable to German teaching. He early learned the trade of milling, in his native home.

In 1853, when there was such an exodus from the European countries to the United States, our subject came hither with the intention of making his fortune, confident that so strong a pair of hands, guided by so willing and intelligent an understanding, would not be out of place in this great land where there are so many opportunities for one who is quick and intelligent. For nine months after first coming to this country he was engaged in milling in New Jersey. At the expiration of that time, he came to St. Clair County, Ill., where he remained until 1864, when he removed to Banner Township, Effingham County.

On settling in St. Clair County our subject felt the need of a home and companion, and solicited the hand of Catherine Sinn in marriage. His suit was successful and their nuptials were celebrated October 27, 1858. The lady was born in Germany at her husband's birthplace, her natal day being December 2, 1838. She was the daughter of Michael and Rosetta Sinn. Four children were the result of that union. Two of these, Lizzie and Louisa are still living. As before stated his wife died in 1883, and after the many years that they had lived together, life seemed to him for awhile intolerably desolate.

Always a public-spirited man, Mr. Bernhard has ever been quick to see advantages that would redound to the benefit of the public, and to exert himself in making these realities. In 1872 he took an active part in securing the establishment of a post-office. The station was then called Tolerance, and our subject was appointed Postmaster in which capacity he served until 1879, when the name was changed to Shumway. In 1878 he erected the Tolerance Flouring Mills in the town of Shumway, Effingham County, at a cost of $11,000.

Prior to entering the milling business he of whom we write was engaged in merchandise for a period of eight years in which business he was very successful. The fact that he is truly the architect of his own fortunes must be very encouraging to many young men who, like himself, have but small capital with which to operate, and whose wits and ability are their best stock in trade. Mr. Bernhard has become a wealthy and influential man and this he has accomplished by his own unaided efforts. He has held a number of local offices in his township, having been Supervisor, Clerk and School Director. Politically, he is a Democrat. Religiously, he is a Freethinker.

Extracted 10 Apr 2018 by Norma Hass from 1891 Portrait and Biographical Record of Shelby and Moultrie Counties Illinois, pages 507-511.

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