John was born January 10, 1870 in Anweiker, Bavaria, Germany.
Boththe 1900 and the 1920 census confirm that John was born in Germany. They state he immigrated in 1885 (when 15 years old).
"John Eckerle, was one of the swains who began coming around quite often. His fair skin was a contradiction to his dark eyes and black hair. Added to his good looks, he was kind and considerate and became devoted to Mama and she to him. He had left his mother in Germany. As soon as he felt ready to carry the responsibility of marriage, he asked for permission to court the second daughter of the household. Amanda was the only blond member of the family, a lovely girl, she liked to cook and was Mama's standby. We teasingly accused her of being Mama's favorite. It became apparent that she gladly accepted John's attentions, and soon the wedding date was set for September 25, 1895. She was born July 30, 1873. She was 22, and he 24 or 25.
Great excitement followed. Plans were made and carried out. A rainbow wedding was fashionable. With Nellie in Peoria and Emma in Indianapolis, there was much correspondence as to color and style. Finally, it was decided that Emma would wear lavender, Tillie pink, Nellie yellow, and Margaret Spaeth the blue. As maid of honor, I wore white chiffon. With all the colors of the same intensity, It was really beautiful. Emma was engaged to Gus Kevers, so he too was in the wedding party. They were married the following year, in 1896 . Anthony Metz was Mama's brother John's son and he in turn was a cousin on the maternal side to Margaret Spaeth. Robert Bauer was Mama's sister 's son. Brother George was best man, and a handsome man he was."*
"John was so exciting. He always had a scheme, a plan and everybody wanted to be included in it, and now they would be married! "We could build on the side of the hill and look down the Lick Run all the way to the city" All the carriages coming up the lick Run road could see our house" was another plan he had. "But, I would be near Mamma and the family. I could walk over to the big house every day" Amanda thought."*
As time passed Amanda realized that with John gone so much, the path to the big house was very important. That path, a cement sidewalk, is still there connecting the two houses on the hill.*
"With the children always visiting, why don't we really make this farm a park" said John at one holiday party. "Another of John's wild schemes" thought Amanda. But when Mamma suggested that she would like to learn to swim, and it would keep little Fran and Herbert from playing in the creek water where they could get typhus, a new chapter in the history of Berger Hill was born. John volunteered to pay for the pool and George would put in the tennis courts. In 1910 nobody had a pool and tennis court at their home, but John had the idea and he could sell it."*
"John was a partner with George Berger in the tobacco business. John was the seller and George was the buyer. There are stories of when John went to Europe with the Dycels and the Wemmers (from DWG cigar Company). They did the grand tour of Europe in the grandest style. Before he left he told George "I am going to go to Europe and I need $10,000.00". George replied "I am not going to Europe but I also need $10,000.00." George invested the money. In time friction mounted between George and John. John was known as a rounder and he was married to George's sister. Finally George bought out John and George became the sole owner."**
"John just was there all the time. He had come from Germany as a very young man and one day he was just part of the family on Berger Hill. He and George were the same age and they both got into the same trouble together. As they grew, John spent more time with Amanda, who was bewitched by him, until the two married with a big celebration on Berger Hill. As a wedding present for the two children of Berger Hill, 3/4 of an acre were pealed off of the homestead for a building site for the Eckerle house. The site, on a brink of a steep hill, reminded John of the hill town he knew from Germany. "Someday I'll have a stained glass window in my house of my home town in Germany" he thought. Ten years later with profits from the growing tobacco business, he and Amanda totally renovated the farm house into a grand "Castle" on the brink of Berger Hill, with Billiard room and a stained glass window of that hill town in Germany, and a stairs down to the carriage house garage to house the new Stutz. High living was something that John had learned well. After leaving the tobacco leaf business and with money in his pocket, John invested in the Can't Score Piston Co. Aluminum was becoming cheap enough to produce and aluminum didn't scratch the cylinder walls of gasolene engines. A new idea had surfaced and John was the one to sell it to the world. The timing was perfect for the second world war was beginning and the army needed airplane engines with pistons that didn't score the cylinder walls, and John had them. Aluminum Industries was born and grew during the second world war, giving employment to several members of Gail's family - a strange connection."*
Amanda died on7/10/1944, and John died 1/25/1945.
* Quotes by Teresa Berger Sheblessy
** Quote by Fred Berger
Fred Berger has written an excellent book 'Stories from The Berger History'.
For information about 'the wedding on the Hill and the Eckerle's new home' see the link to "Fred's 'Stories'p.49".
For information about 'John and George's partnership' see the link to "Fred's 'Stories'p.57".