In the field of political life and commercial activity Herman G. Marquardt has won distinction, and today is numbered among the leading influential and honored citizens of Burlington. In his business career his efforts have been so discerningly directed along well-defined lines of labor that he seems to have realized at any one point of progress the full measure of his possibilities for accomplishment at that point, and the line of achievement with him has ever been the path of honor. He is, however, a director of public thought and opinion in political circles, and one who has wielded a wide influence. The consensus of public opinion and the evidence of history shows that there has been no more efficient mayor of Burlington than Herman G. Marquardt.
He was born in the province of Posen, Prussia, Germany, April 20, 1853. His father, John G. Marquardt, born in the kingdom of Prussia, afterward established his home in that part known as the province of Posen. During the greater part of his life he was a shepherd. He served in the Prussian army in the revolution of 1848, and in his later years he was again a shepherd. In 1864 he came to America, leaving Germany on account of the antipathy that existed in that country for his religious views. He was a Baptist, and determined to make his home in America, where one has freedom to worship God according to the dictates of his conscience. He located first in Goshen, Ind., living there for a few months during the time of the Lincoln and the McClellan campaign. He afterward went to Bloomington, Ill., and worked for the Chicago & Alton Railroad, his death occurring in that city in 1875. His wife, who in her maidenhood was Johanna Dorothy Bloch, died in 1872. They had but two children who reached mature years: Herman G. and Carl Louis, the latter now pastor of the Baptist church at St. Joseph, Mich.
Herman G. Marquardt was a youth of eleven years when he came with his parents to the New World. He pursued his education in the common schools of Germany and of this country and also in a business college at Bloomington, Ill. Subsequently he worked in the shops of the Chicago & Alton Railroad Company at that place as an employee in the coach department. Previously he engaged in clerking. He was with the railroad company for about four years, when he removed to Burlington on account of his health. He was with the Orchard City Wagon Company for a short time, then embarked in the grocery business at the corner of Osborn Street and Agency Avenue, where for three years he was connected with Chris Jordon. He has continuously engaged in the grocery trade for a quarter of a century, and, with the exception of three years, has been alone in business. For about eighteen years he has been located at No. 1500 Osborn Street. He has practically built his home and store on this corner. He keeps enlarging the place in order to accommodate his growing business, his investment in buildings alone amounting to about fifteen thousand dollars. He is now proprietor of one of the largest grocery houses of the city, and his patronage is steadily increasing, for he enjoys an unassailable reputation for reliability, as well as for the excellent grade of goods which he carries.
On New Year's eve, Dec. 31, 1874, at Bloomington, Ill. Mr. Marquardt was married to Miss Hedwig Kietzmann, a native of Germany. There are six children living: Herman: Charles W., who married Nettie Lohmann, and has a daughter, Dorothy; John Henry, who is a graduate of the high school: Clara: Lydia, who was educated in the high school and a business college of Burlington; and Herbert, who is attending grammar school. Herman, Charles, and John are assisting their father in the grocery business.
The parents are members of the Baptist church, active and influential in its work, and for nineteen years Mr. Marquardt was superintendent of the Sunday school. He has served on the school board of Burlington for six years, was its president for one term, has been chairman of the teachers’ committee, and also served on the high school committee, and it was during his incumbency that the west high school was built.
He was elected councilman at large for two years on the Democratic ticket, and while serving as a member of the board of aldermen was chairman of the claims and other committees, including the police committee and the judiciary committee. He served from 1898 until 1900, and in the latter year was elected mayor, being reelected in 1902, both times as a candidate of the Democracy. He has frequently attended the State conventions of his party as a delegate, and his opinion and counsel are highly valued by his political colleagues, both in State and county.
His administration of municipal affairs was most beneficial to Burlington; in fact, his incumbency covered one of the most progressive periods in the city's history, largely owing to his practical efforts in its behalf. Franchises were granted to the People's Gas Light & Electric Company, street railway, also to the Citizens' Water Company to operate the water plant, but the term of the lighting contract having expired, a new lighting contract was made. Many public improvements and reforms were instituted and carried forward to successful completion. Mr. Marquardt was particularly careful concerning the expenditures of public moneys. He advised public conferences before measures were finally adopted, and during the term of four years the bonded debt was reduced one hundred thousand dollars, this representing the largest reduction ever made in the same period in the city's history. He kept himself well informed concerning the financial condition of the city, and insisted upon the expenditures being kept within the revenues, promptly vetoing any measure that would exceed the tax levy or appropriation. He was a strong advocate of permanent improvement, the effect of which would be lasting.
Mr. Marquardt is a conservative man, and yet never hesitates to uphold progressive measures when his sound judgment sanctions. He is extremely practical, as shown in his business, political, and social life, and there is no man in Burlington who commands more uniform confidence and respect than does Herman G. Marquardt.