William Wedekamper, one of Clinton County's progressive German residents, and the owner of a farm situated on section 5, Meridian Township, was born in Hanover, Germany, in March, 1841. He was the second in order of birth of three children comprising the family of Peter WEDEKAMPER, a native of the same place as that in which the eyes of our subject first opened to the light. The father was a man of small means and for some years carried on farming operations as a renter. His married life was of short duration, his wife dying when our subject was only four years old. She left beside her husband their three little children, Henry, William and Frank. After her decease the family was broken up and never again reunited. Frank, the youngest son, still resides in the Old Country, while Henry crossed the Atlantic many years ago, and locating in St. Louis, was engaged in the lumber business in that city until his demise, about 1891.
After the death of his mother, William Wedekamper was taken into the home of strangers and was reared to manhood upon a farm. He was given excellent educational advantages, gaining in the schoolroom the practical knowledge which was of assistance to him in starting out for himself. At the age of fourteen his school days ended, but for two years afterward he continued to make his home with the people who had befriended him in his childhood. At the age of sixteen he hired out to work for farmers, receiving in return for his labor, his board, laundry and $25 per year. With this condition of things, however, he was not satisfied, and hearing of the excellent opportunities offered by the New World to the poor but energetic and persevering settlers, he determined to come hither.
Accordingly in 1864 Mr. Wedekamper took passage upon a vessel bound for the United States and after an uneventful voyage landed upon American soil. In June of that year, he reached St. Louis with $9, which was his entire capital. At once he sought for and secured a position, and for some time worked at any occupation that offered him an honest living. Seventeen years ago, in 1877, he came to Clinton County and bought one hundred and sixty acres where he now lives on section 5, Meridian Township. To this he has since added an eighty-acre tract, and has placed the property in a high state of cultivation, erecting a substantial set of buildings and increasing the fertility of the soil by proper methods of fertilization and rotation of crops.
One year after coming to America, in 1865, in the city of St. Louis, Mr. Wedekamper was united in marriage with Miss Wilhelmine, daughter of Katie (ROCKLAGE) FLOTTMANN. Mrs. Wedekamper, who was born in Germany, was orphaned by her father's death when a child, and emigrated to the United States in 1864. She has had eleven children, two of whom died in childhood. The others are as follows: Fred, who married Wena COOK; Louise the wife of Clemenz HEINZMANN; Carrie, who married Frank STEIN; William, who chose as his wife Miss Clara KRONE; Anna, Kate, Henry, Bernhard and Wena. In religious connections Mr. and Mrs. Wedekamper are identified with the Lutheran Church, the faith of their forefathers for many generations. In political affiliations he is a Democrat and gives that party his loyal support. Formerly he was a Republican, but changed his views when Cleveland was first elected. While not solicitous for office he has been chosen to fill a number of important local positions, and is now serving as Road Commissioner and School Director.
Per Frankie Heinzmann, the surname should be spelled WEDEKEMPER.
Source: Portrait and Biographical Record of Clinton, Washington, Marion and Jefferson Counties, Illinois, 1894, Chapman Publishing Co., Chicago, IL
Submitted by: Connie Albers
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