John SCHUSTER, one of the well-known citizens of Clinton county, is a native of Germany, and was born at Ottersheim near the city of Landau in Rhein-Pfalz, on the second of September, 1842. His father was Jacob SCHUSTER, and his mother, Anna Maria Barbara WEISS, died when the subject of this sketch was five years of age. He attended school in his native town from the time he was six till he was thirteen years old, and at fourteen began learning the trade of a wood and ivory turner at Bellheim. He has only served six months of his apprenticeship when the family came to America.
Sailing from Havre, France, on Good Friday of 1857, after a voyage of fifty-two days, they landed at New Orleans, and from that city came at once to St. Louis. There Mr. SCHUSTER learned the barber's trade at which he afterward worked as a journeyman.
He was married in St. Louis in Janurary, 1860, to Elizabeth DICK, who was born at Bedesbach in Rhein-Pfalz, and came to America with her father, Philip DICK, in 1855.
In looking around for a place in which to establish himself in business on his own account, Mr. SCHUSTER came to Trenton in August, 1860. His capital at that time was limited. A five-dollar bill was all that he had with which to purchase and outfit and open a shop. He has since been a permanent resident of Trenton. In 1862 he opened a billiard saloon in connection with his barbering establishment. On first coming to the county he took an active interest in politics, his sympathies then being in favor of the republican party. He afterwards became a democrat. His sociability made him popular throughout the county, and in 1869 he was made the democratic nominee for the office of county treasurer and assessor. He received a strong republican support in the western part of the county, especially in Trenton precinct, his home, and was elected, through his opponent, Fred. LIPPS, of Breese, was a man of wide popularity.
In 1871 the republicans, being well satisfied with his management of the office, made no nomination against him, and he was re-elected by a large majority over L. G. MEYER, an independent candidate.
After the expiration of his term as county treasurer, he formed a partnership with Messrs. Doying & Case, publishers of the Constitution and Union, and in March, 1874, the firm issued the first number of the Clinton county Pioneer, the first German paper ever published in Clinton county. In September, 1877, he sold his interest in the newspaper business, and returned to his old business at Trenton.
He has had ten children: Lena, who died at the age of a year and a-half; John J.; Matilda E.; Philip Richard, who died when eighteen months old; Caroline E.; Philip Clinton; George Washington, who died at the age of eight months; Charles; Richard Henry Lee; and Josephine E.
Mr. SCHUSTER has served eight years as member of the Board of Trustees of the town of Trenton, and in 1880 was president of the board. He was clerk of the school board from 1872 to 1875, during which period the board was brought out of debt for the first time in fifteen years.
He is an active member of the Masonic Order, and of the Good Fellows, Odd Fellows, Knights of Honor, and the Ancient Order of United Workmen. Of the lodges at Trenton, he was a charter member of the last three of these Orders. He is also actively connected with the society of Turners. He served in 1873 as Grand Master of the State of the Order of Good Fellows, and is now the Deputy National Grand Master. He has represented the Odd Fellows' Lodge at Trenton in the Grand Lodge of the State ever since the institution of the lodge, and is the present representative in the Grand Lodge of the State of the Knights of Honor.
In 1871, Mr. SCHUSTER took the agency for the American Central Insurance Company of St. Louis, and in 1875 he went in partnership with John H. ADAMS, in the insurance business, under the firm of SHUSTER & ADAMS. They are the only insurance agents in the place. They represent the Etna, Hartford, Continental, Underwriters, Phoenix, and the American Central Insurance companies.
Source: History of Marion and Clinton Counties, Illinois, 1881, Brink, McDonough & Co., Philadelphia
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