John Boesch, viewing the world, its opportunities and its duties, from a practical and also a humanitarian standpoint, so lived as to gain success in business and also win the regard and respect of his fellow-men. In his career, justice, kindness, and philanthropy went hand in hand with keen business discernment, indefatigable energy, and strong purpose, and his well-rounded character, showing forth all the traits of honorable manhood, constitutes an example worthy of emulation, and should serve as an incentive and inspiration to those who knew him.
John Boesch was born in West Phalen, Germany, April 4, 1839, at what was the old family homestead, his father, Louis Boesch, there following the occupation of farming until 1846, when he came to America. He came to New Orleans, and then up the Mississippi River to Burlington, and soon afterward settled in Tama township, Des Moines county, where he resumed agricultural pursuits, continuing the cultivation of his farm here until his retirement from active business life. He then made his home in Burlington until his death.
A youth of seven years when his parents came to Iowa, John Boesch acquired his education through attendance at the district schools of Des Moines county in the winter seasons, while in the summer months he worked upon his father's farm until twenty-one years of age; but not wishing to engage in agricultural pursuits as a life work he came to the city on attaining his majority and entered the employ of J. S. Schramm, with whom he learned the first principles of commercial life. He remained with that house for sixteen years, gradually working his way upward from one position to another of greater responsibility; and finding in each advance step a broader outlook over the business world, with clearer knowledge of its demands and possibilities. Leaving the employ of Mr. Schramm about 1875, he formed a partnership with his brother under the firm style of C. F. & John Boesch, dealers in dry-goods, their store being located at the corner of Fourth and Jefferson Streets. The business was conducted successfully for seven years, at the end of which time John Boesch withdrew, and the following year, 1884, he founded the business which is still conducted under the name of The John Boesch Company, at the corner of Fifth and Jefferson Streets. This location was by many considered too far from the then business center of Burlington to be an advantageous one, but the foresight of Mr. Boesch was demonstrated by this move, for from the time that he opened his store there the business center has gradually extended in that direction, until now many of the leading commercial enterprises of the city are located in the immediate neighborhood of the house of The John Boesch Company. With his new enterprise Mr. Boesch at first occupied but a single room with his stock of dry-goods, but the business maintained a steady and healthful growth, and he soon had to enlarge his stock to meet the growing demands of the trade and to increase his space in order to properly display the stock. He became the first tenant of the Masonic Temple, and the business now occupies all of the storeroom of the building and also the double storeroom in the adjoining building, giving a frontage of ninety feet. With the expansion of the business The John Boesch Company is now controlling one of the largest dry-goods and millinery houses of this part of the country. Mr. Boesch established certain commendable business principles, from which he never deviated. He conducted his store upon a strictly cash basis, and exemplified in his career the truth of the old maxim that "honesty is the best policy." His standing in business circles was unassailable, and among his associates of the commercial world he had not only an excellent financial rating but was recognized as one who never made an engagement that he did not keep nor incur an obligation that he did not fulfill.
In politics he was rather independent, and was never an aspirant for office: but matters of citizenship having for their object the welfare and substantial progress of the community received his earnest endorsement.
Mr. Boesch married Miss Anna Deichert, of Burlington, who was born in this city, her parents, Mr. and Mrs. Philip Deichert, being among the pioneer residents here. Mrs. Boesch died in November, 1872, leaving three children, while one died at the time of the mother's death, while later Frank L. passed away, being then eleven years of age. The others are George C. and Clara M., the latter the wife of P. M. Smith, of Burlington. After the death of his first wife Mr. Boesch married Miss Sarah Buhrmaster, of Burlington, who is still living. Mr. Boesch died April 15, 1901, after a residence of more than four decades in Burlington and of almost two-thirds of a century in the county. He had long been an active member of the German Methodist church, and was for many years a member of its board of stewards and a promoter of the various church activities, He was a liberal supporter of many philanthropic measures, and thus he exemplified the humanitarian spirit which formed so salient a characteristic in his life record. All men knew him to respect him, many to love him. For many years he resided with his family in a beautiful home on North Fourth Street, and it was there that the best traits of his life shone forth most clearly, indicated by an untiring devotion to his family.