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Robert H. Hotchkiss, Page 301
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ROBERT H. HOTCHKISS. Many of the earlier citizens of Sheboygan County, who by reason of their ability, enterprise and public spirit become prominently identified with its early development, and who contributed an honorable part in upbuilding its various interests, have now passed from the state of action. Prominent among that class of citizens was Robert H. Hotchkiss.
Mr. Hotchkiss was a native of the Empire State, and was born in the town of Smithfield, Madison County, December 24, 1818. His parents were Amzi and Aruby (Henry) Hotchkiss. They removed to the city of Utica, N. Y., when he was a child, and there he lived until nearly reaching man's estate, receiving in that city good school advantages. When eighteen years of age the family removed to Wisconsin and located at Green Bay, but afterward went to East Troy, Walworth County, where they settled on a farm.
The subject of this sketch learned the trade of a printer in Madison, and for a time alternated work at his trade and at the homestead. While still a young man, he lost his father, and, being an only son, the care of the family devolved upon him. Later the family removed to Milwaukee, where his mother and only sister died. In Milwaukee, Mr. Hotchkiss engaged for a time in the business of tanning, and later became interested in a milling enterprise. In 1849 he went to Plymouth, taking with him milling machinery, which was placed in the mill building then about completed, and which became widely known as the Quit-Qui-Oc Mill, and in which he subsequently put a complete roller process. With this enterprise, which became a very important one, Mr. Hotchkiss remained connected until his death, which occurred September 29, 1878.
On July 3, 1851, Mr. Hotchkiss was married to Miss Jenette Bartholf, a daughter of James and Diadama (Thompson) Bartholf. The former was a native of Orange County, N. Y., and the latter of the State of Vermont, but they both removed to western New York with their respective families previous to their marriage. Mrs. Hotchkiss was born at Batavia, Genesee County, N. Y., October 17, 1826. In 1842 the family removed to Wisconsin and settled in the town of East Troy, Walworth County. In 1857 the parents of Mrs. Hotchkiss removed to Sheboygan County and settled on a farm in the town of Greenbush. The death of the father occurred December 11, 1874, and that of the mother January 2, 1875. They were the parents of four daughters and a son. The latter-named, Norman, died in East Troy, at the age of twenty-three years. Mrs. Adelia Knowles, a sister of Mrs. Hotchkiss, lives on the old homestead in the town of Greenbush. Her sister Loretta resides in Ohio; the third sister was Mariette. Mrs. Hotchkiss has two daughters: Mrs. Alice I. Huson and Mrs. Ida Dow, both of Plymouth.
Mr. Hotchkiss was a successful business man, a man of strong convictions and of unquestioned integrity. He was prominently connected with the Independent Order of Odd Fellows, and strongly attached to the principles of that fraternity. He became a member of Excelsior Lodge No. 20 in Milwaukee, in 1852, and a member of Fidelity Lodge No. 34, of Sheboygan, in July, 1854. He was an active and faithful worker of the Grand Lodge of the State at its annual sessions, and was Past Grand at the time of his death. At the thirty-first annual session of the Grand Encampment, held at Eau Claire in December, 1878, soon after his decease, a review of the life and character of Mr. Hotchkiss was one of the important duties performed by that body. One speaker said of him on that occasion: "He was an earnest man. He carried the earnestness of his character to the consideration of all matters committed to his charge, and endeavored to impress those convictions on others, but without annoyance of manner, for he was ever ready to accord to others that perfect toleration he asked for himself. He was a consistent Odd Fellow, and carried the principles of the order into his general life. Teaching its precepts, he sought to practice them himself." At the Grand Lodge, R. W., held at the same place at about the same time, many marks of respect were paid to his memory. Among other things it was there said of him: "He was one of the noble company of Past Grands that represented the State of Wisconsin in that grandest display of Odd Fellowship the world ever saw, at the Centennial in Philadelphia, and from that time I date the breaking up of his health that led to his death."
In civil life, Mr. Hotchkiss held positions of honor and trust. He was chosen to represent his fellow-citizens both in the Assembly in 1857, and in the State Senate in 1859-1860 and 1868. He also held numerous official positions both in county and town, and was an active man in building up the interests of the county. In politics, he was a stanch Democrat. His wife, who still survives, is a member of the Episcopal Church as are their children.
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