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Henry J. Brecht, Page 204
HENRY J. BRECHT, proprietor of the American House of Cedar Grove, was born in Baden, Germany, April 12, 1845, and is a son of Jacob J. and Eva B. (Walbauer) Brecht. His paternal ancestors took part in the revolution in Hungary, and for that act were expelled from the country, going to Germany. His parents were both natives of Baden, where his father pursued the potter's trade. In 1846 they sailed from Havre, France, for New York, reaching the latter port after a voyage of six weeks. By way of Buffalo they went to Sandusky, Ohio. They lived there a short time, then removed to Upper Sandusky, where the father resumed work at his trade. Having followed that calling until 1854, he began the study of theology, and two years later was licensed to preach in the German Reformed Church, in which vocation he continued until the close of his life. Mr. Brecht was born July 1, 1812, and died September 30, 1891; his wife was born in 1810, and died in 1864. Both spent their last days in Sauk City, Wis. By a former marriage Mrs. Brecht had four children, one of whom, John Laux, died in Florida during the late war, while bravely defending his country. The other three are still living. Mr. and Mrs. Brecht had a family of six children, all living, Henry J. being the eldest son and the second child in order of birth.
Mr. Brecht whose name heads this biography received his education in the common schools of Ohio and Wisconsin. having learned the potter's and carpenter's trades, he worked at them until twenty years of age. He next served a three-years apprenticeship to the trade of blacksmith. The first year he received only his board for his services, but so satisfactory was his work that his employer voluntarily raised his wages from time to time until he received $2.50 per day.
In the Cream City Mr. Brecht married, October 16, 1869, Miss Emily M., daughter of Dr. Cornelius G. and Pauline M. (Vialar) Van Altena. Dr. Van Altena was a man of superior ability and accomplishments, having been educated in the University of Utrecht. On graduating from that institution, he practiced his profession in the same city, in Brussels and in Zeeland. In 1849 he sailed from Rotterdam to New York. After spending some four weeks in that city, he located at Cleveland, Ohio, remaining there until his removal to Sheboygan County in 1852. For five years he was located at Cedar Grove, but, desiring a broader field, he went to Milwaukee, where he practiced successfully until 1875, the date of his death. His wife had preceded him by three years to the spirit world. Their family, which consisted of eight children, four sons and four daughters, still survives.
Mrs. Brecht was born in Biefleet, Zeeland, Holland, March 3, 1843. Her father was of pure Holland stock, and her mother was a French lady. When six years of age Mrs. Brecht came with her parents to the United States, and after a short residence in Cleveland, Ohio, came to the town of Holland, in 1852. Unto our subject and his wife have been born four children, who are still under the parental roof: Pauline, Ursula, Emily and Erla.
Having lived in Milwaukee until 1876, Mr. Brecht came to Cedar Grove and established a blacksmith's shop, which he carried on continuously until 1891, when he purchased the American House. This is the only hotel in the village, and is a comfortable and well-kept house. Mr. and Mrs. Brecht are socially disposed, and try to make their guests feel at home. Politically, he had affiliates with the People's party. He is a man of more then ordinary intelligence, and is well informed on the issues of the day.
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