Calumet County, Wisconsin Genealogy & History

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Ferdinand Horn
"History of Manitowoc County Wisconsin"
by Dr. L. Falge, 1911-1912, v.2, p.38-39

Probably there is no better example to be found of what perseverance, hard work and enterprise will do for a man than is offered by the career of Ferdinand Horn, a successful agriculturist of the town of Rapids. Mr. Horn was born in Saxony, Germany, in 1833, and at the age of fifteen years came to the United States, where his parents, Godfried and Caroline Horn, followed him in 1854. On landing in New York, Mr. Horn had not a cent of money, but made his way to Philadelphia, where he had a stepsister, and remained at her home for three weeks. He then secured employment in New Jersey, where he remained for a month before starting for the west, with eight dollars, intending to go to the home of his brother Frederick, who had come here during the previous year, settling in Washington county, Wisconsin. When he reached Detroit he again found himself penniless, and for a few weeks worked in that city, finally managing to reach his brother's house. For several years he worked with his brother, most of his time being spent in making shingles. When he had saved two hundred and fifty dollars he purchased a tract of forty acres of timberland, which he began to clear, although he was not much more than seventeen years of age.

This tract, located in Washington county, he managed to put in fairly good shape, working out among the farmers who could afford to pay for hired help in order to get his provisions, meanwhile living in a little log house of his own construction. In two or three years he sold his land for six hundred and twenty-five dollars and went to Calumet county, where he purchased a farm of ninety-five acres, with no improvements. After living there a few days he realized that there were not farms near enough to his for him to be able to secure provisions without much trouble, so he returned to Washington county and for some time rented a farm. As soon as he could he disposed of his Calumet county farm and bought another in Washington county, erecting a log cabin and clearing about one-half of the land. Upon this property he resided for six or seven years. In 1863 he moved to Manitowoc county, and went into partnership with his brother William, in Manitowoc, where they conducted a general store for two years, at the end of which time Ferdinand Horn embarked in the horse business, going to Indiana and Ohio and returning to Manitowoc county with horses, and in this way built up the largest trade of its kind in the county. After continuing in that business for five years he went to Door county, where he was compelled to take cord wood in exchange for his animals, the farmers not being able to pay him money, and in order to ship his wood to Chicago he had to build his own pier, as the owners of the only pier at that place charged him enormously for its use. He also built a store building and became very successful, but the great fire of 1871 destroyed his property completely, the loss being about $25,000, half of which fell to his brother, he being a partner. Starting again, Mr. Horn found that his timber was damaged by fire to such an extent as to make it unsaleable, and he gave up his business and returned to the city of Manitowoc. For a short time he was engaged in trading and speculating, and in 1874 he became the owner of his present farm, which at that time was in very poor shape. Working hard and faithfully, he made numerous improvements on the place, and it is now one of the best properties in the town of Rapids. Mr. Horn has been a successful farmer, and his prosperity has been attained solely through his own efforts. He makes his operations pay, and is engaged in farming along scientific lines.

In 1858, while living on his Washington county farm, Mr. Horn was married to Mary Fulwiler, who was born in Ohio, whence her parents had come as emigrants from Holland. Five children have been born to this union: Albert, Mrs. Julia Seistedt, Mrs. Elizabeth Erickson, Alice and Walter. Both Mr. Horn and his wife are faithful members of the Lutheran church.

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