Transcribed by Pamela Wagler from: Biographical Review of Des Moines County, Iowa: Containing Biographical and Genealogical Sketches of Many of the Prominent Citizens of To-day and Also of the Past, Hobart Publishing Company, Chicago, 1905.


Leander J. Mesmer, of Burlington, was born in the grand duchy of Baden, Germany, and in 1856 was brought to America by his mother. His parents were Michael and Anna (Wurtenburger) Mesmer, also natives of Baden, in which country they were reared and married. They became the parents of thirteen children, but only two reached mature years, namely: Leander J. and Sophia, the latter the widow of George Herman, formerly a prominent butcher of Burlington, in which city he died, while Mrs. Herman now lives in Chicago. Michael Mesmer came to America in 1855, and the following year the mother came, bringing with her her son Leander. They made the voyage in a sailing vessel, reaching New Orleans sixty days after leaving the European port, and then came up the river to Burlington. The father was a shoemaker, and followed that trade until a few years prior to his death, when he opened a boarding-house; but he did not find that profitable, and returned to his trade again. He died at the age of sixty-five years, and was buried in the German Catholic cemetery on North Hill, having survived his wife for some time.

Leander J. Mesmer was but six years of age when brought by his mother to the United States, and in Burlington was reared and educated, attending the German Evangelical school and also the public and parochial schools. When about twelve years of age he began working in the German Tribune office and learned the printer's trade, spending five years there. Later he worked in Davenport, Iowa, and learned both the German and English cases. He followed the printing trade for about thirty-five years on the Burlington Gazette, twenty-five years being spent in the mechanical department. For one year, in 1870-71, he conducted a boarding-house on Jefferson Street. In 1898 he was appointed police clerk by Judge Gillespie, and served for six years, his term of office expiring in April, 1904. He afterward opened a cigar and news-stand on Jefferson Street, in the spring of 1904, but after four months sold out.

In August, 1869, Mr. Mesmer was united in marriage to Miss Barbara Heck, in Anson, Wis., while he was working in a general store and mill for Gilbert Brothers & Company, later the Gilbert-Hedge Lumber Company, of Burlington. Eight children were born unto them, but one son, William R., who was a printer connected with the Hawk-Eye, died July 2, 1904: Emma, who is engaged in dressmaking in Denver, Colo.; Anna, wife of E. A. Vogelgesang, a musician connected with Fischer's Orchestra, of Burlington; Lydia, wife of Will K. Toup, foreman for the Burlington Buggy Company, of this city; Julia, who follows dressmaking in Denver, Colo.; Edwin L., a carriage trimmer, employed in this city; Ada, a seamstress of Burlington; and Leander F. The family home is at 534 Moore Street. In February, 1885, Mr. Mesmer became a member of Typographical Union, No. 75, joining it upon its organization. He also belongs to the Modern Brotherhood of America and to St. Patrick's Catholic church, and in his political affiliation is a Democrat.

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