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William Koch

WILLIAM KOCH, one of the leading business men of Fort Recovery, Mercer county, Ohio, and who has for many years been engaged in the tannery business in that place, was born January 31, 1834, in the kingdom of Prussia, and is a son of Frederick and Charlotte (Koch) Koch. While the mother was of the same name, she was not related by consanguinity to her husband. Frederick Koch was of the family of Rünke, but the custom of the country at that time was for the husband to take for his name the name of the wife's farm, when married, and as his wife, Charlotte, owned a farm, which had been in the family for generations, Frederick Rünke became Frederick Koch, and at the same time a farmer. To him and his wife there were born seven children, as follows: Wilhelmina, Henry, William, Charlotte, Henrietta, Louisa and Anna. All of these children were born in Prussia. Frederick Koch and his family came to the United States in 1845, sailing from Bremen in the ship Canton, a sailing vessel, the voyage across the sea occupying thirteen weeks, whereas now the same passage in one of the “ocean greyhounds" would be made in half as However, the ship Canton was delayed by head winds and severe storms. Mr. Koch and his family landed in Baltimore in the latter part of November, 1845, and finally settled near New Bremen, in the edge of Shelby county, where he bought fifty acres of land, which he partially cleared. However, he did not live long after reaching this country, dying in October, 1856. Mr. Koch was a hard-working, industrious man, was a member of the Lutheran church, as was also his wife, and he was one of the most highly respected men in his community.

William Koch, son of Frederick, was educated in Germany, and when brought to the United States, in 1845, was but twelve years of age. He well remembers the voyage across the stormy Atlantic. After reaching Ohio he attended the common school in New Bremen, and in 1849 began to learn the trade of tanner, at New Bremen, of Harmon Wellman. Working as a journeyman at New Bremen and Saint Mary's until 1864, he then removed to Fort Recovery, and in March of that year bought the tannery of Isaac Lotz, then a very small concern. This property he gradually improved and kept on improving until at the present time he owns one of the most complete tanneries anywhere to be found. It is well equipped for the business and turns out all kinds of leather, such as kip, upper, and harness leather. In 1866 he erected his present commodious and handsome residence, and by industry and economy has become a well-to-do citizen, in dependent and honored by all who know him. In addition to the property above mentioned he owns twenty acres of land outside, and two acres inside, the corporate limits of Fort Recovery.

Mr. Koch married October 8, 1857, at New Bremen, Ohio, Dorothea Backhouse, who was born in Germany, in the kingdom of Hanover, July 30, 1831,and a daughter of Henry and Margaret Backhouse. Her father came to the United States in 1846, settling in New Bremen, being a brick-maker by trade and withal a much respected citizen. He and his wife were the parents of the following children: Henry, Frederick, William, Dorothea, Sophia and Detrick. The father of these children died at the age of seventy years, an industrious and highly esteemed citizen. To the marriage of Mr. and Mrs. William Koch there have been born the following children: Lucella, Frank, Minnie, Flora, Edmund and Carrie, who are now living; Alvina, William, Julia and Henrietta, all deceased. Politically Mr. Koch is a republican, and both he and his wife are members of the Lutheran church. His fellow-citizens have honored him by election to the town council, and also to the school board of his township. He has always been an industrious and hard-working man, economical and careful in his investments, and straight forward and honest in all business transactions. He is still tanning hides in the good, old fashioned way, nine months being required to tan a hide, and he produces a high grade, excellent leather. By careful and conscientious processes he has established a reputation which extends far and wide, and which is worth much money to him every year, as he is always able to dispose of the products of his vats. He is noted everywhere for high character and conscientious dealings with his fellow-men, and as a consequence enjoys the confidence of the public to an unlimited degree.

Pages 386-387

Source: A Portrait and Biographical Record of Mercer and Van Wert Counties Ohio, Chicago, A. W. Bowen & Company, 1896

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