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.


In the prosperous and enterprising city of Burlington there are many inhabitants of foreign birth, members of families who, attracted by more progressive institutions, broader educational facilities, and the superior advantages for making a living, have come here with their talents and means intending to found homes in the new country. These valuable additions to the native population have by their industry, economy, and honorable methods become essential factors in the growth of the city. A representative of such a class is Adam Moehn, and the success which he has achieved here is the legitimate result of a long career of worthy and unflagging effort.

Mr. Moehn was born in Stambach, in the Kingdom of Rhenish Bavaria, Jan. 29, 1842, the son of Adam and Barbara (Fenrich) Moehn, also natives of Germany, and there he received his early education in the common schools. When he was twelve years of age his father, by trade a cooper, decided to immigrate with the family to America, and they embarked at Havre de Grace, France, in the sailship Sarah Hide, bound for New York. On Easter Sunday they encountered a terrific storm, the gale attaining such violence that the masts of the ship were blown down, thus greatly delaying the voyage, so that it was not until thirty-six days after setting sail that they arrived at New York. There they remained for six months, the father being employed at his trade, and in November, 1854, they started westward, traveling to Chicago by boat and by rail, thence to Rock Island by rail, and after waiting at the latter place six days, secured boat passage down the river to Burlington. After proceeding as far as Muscatine, however, the boat was forced to tie up on account of the ice in the river, and although the family had paid its passage and was badly in need of money, reimbursement was refused by the boat's clerk. Caught in this predicament, father and son, after writing to a brother of the elder Moehn, who resided in Burlington, set out for their destination on foot, and thus, braving the rigors of winter, strangers in a strange land and unable to speak or understand the language of the country through which they passed, they arrived after two days at the scene of their future home, where they found that their relative had received the letter written from Muscatine and had gone to that place to bring the family to Burlington in a hack, there being then no connection by rail.

After locating in Burlington, the father of Mr. Moehn was for some time employed in the cooper shop owned by William Moehn, but in 1860 opened a cooperage business for himself in Arch Street, near High Street, where he continued to pursue his useful activities until the time of his death, January, 1869. Mr. Moehn remained with his father, learning his trade, until about the year 1865, when he felt a great desire to acquire a broader knowledge of the land in which his fortunes had been cast, and decided to investigate the modes of life and work of other cities.

He first went to Milwaukee, working for a time in a cooperage shop and attending for a period of eighteen months a Catholic academy, in which he pursued especially the study of the English language. He next proceeded to New Boston, Ill., still working at his trade, and in 1871, while at Monmouth, Ill., he married Sarah McQuaid, a native of Pennsylvania, she having been born at Franklin in that State in 1852. They came at once to Burlington, and here for the first three years Mr. Moehn was employed in the cooperage establishment of Mr. Boquet, and later for a time in that of his brother Henry, who, on their father's death, had taken charge of his business. There he continued until 1880, at which time he started in business for himself in a small way on Spring Street, pursuing the work of his trade there with considerable success for ten years, at the end of which period he tore down the old shop and built a larger and more modern plant at the corner of Range and Gnahn Streets.

His present plant and entire equipment represent an investment of approximately ten thousand dollars, and the output consists exclusively of pickle cooperage, the factory being devoted to the making of barrels, kegs, and casks for the use in pickle factories for packing purposes. The annual output is fifty thousand tight barrels, of which large shipments are made especially to New York, Chicago, St. Paul, and Minneapolis, although the product of Mr. Moehn's factory is known and sold all over the United States. An average of twenty-five men is employed throughout the year, the business thus constituting one of the important enterprises of the city and adding sensibly to its material prosperity. Most of the stock used is white oak, shipped from southern forests, but in the early days of the industry the father of our subject secured his raw material from the immediate vicinity of Burlington, the finished cask representing only his own labor and that of his workmen, from the cutting down of the tree in the neighboring woods.

Mr. Moehn has one brother, Henry Moehn, residing in Burlington, and a sister, Mrs. Zachmyer, at Pleasant and Central Avenues. In 1873 he built a home at 1119 Spring Street, where he still resides, and there have been born to him and Mrs. Moehn five children, as follows: Edward, a graduate of the Academy of Our Lady of Lourdes and of Elliott's Business College, who is a stenographer and typewriter in the morel packing house at Ottumwa; Nellie, residing in the old family home in Arch Street, who is the wife of Gephart Moehn, employed in Mr. Moehn's cooperage works; Anna, who died at the age of nineteen years; Frank, a graduate of the Academy of Our Lady and of Elliott's Business College, who is a stenographer and typewriter in the offices of the Rock Island Railway at Burlington; and Mamie, who is a member of the parental household. All the children have received excellent educational advantages in the Catholic parochial schools.

Although Mr. Moehn's father was a Republican and cast his first ballot for Abraham Lincoln in 1860, he is himself a member of the Democratic party, in the soundness of whose tenets he is a thoroughgoing believer, and for whose success at the polls he has always been a zealous and constant worker; and in recognition of his valuable services he has been the recipient of many honors at the hands of his party and fellow-citizens. As chairman of primaries and member of the county central committee and the city Democratic committee, he has marked influence in politics, while for five years he was alderman from the second ward of the city of Burlington, during which time he consistently discharged the duties of his office with credit to himself and to the entire satisfaction of his constituents, who repeatedly expressed at the polls their confidence in his ability and integrity. As a member of the council he held the important positions of chairman of the general improvement committee, the sewer committee, the railroad committee, and the building committee, in all of which his influence and advice were of conspicuous benefit to the municipal government and assisted materially in the solution of many vexing problems of administration. He was also member of the fire, police, and other committees, and in politics, and feels a great interest in all public affairs.

Mr. Moehn is a man of plain and simple tastes hard-working and devoted to the direction of his affairs; but at the same time his sound business judgment and shrewd appreciation of opportunity have made him highly successful in a pecuniary way, a worthy representative of the business interests of Burlington, and his honesty and uprightness have won him the respect of all who know him and made him many friends.

Copyright ©  IAGenWeb Project