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Charles T. Roenitz, Page 534
CHARLES T. ROENITZ was one of the worthy German pioneers who came to this country poor in everything save industry and perseverance, and by his own efforts accumulated a fortune. He was born in Saxony, Germany, May 12, 1823. Having received a good common-school education in the schools of his native land, he commenced to learn the tanner's trade at the age of eighteen, serving five years as an apprentice. After completing his trade, he traveled and worked thereat for some four years. The year 1850 witnessed his emigration to America. Landing at New York City, he at once went to Milwaukee, Wis., where he worked about six months, and then worked some eighteen months in Racine. In the former city he was married, July 6, 1852, to Miss Lena Maas, a native of Holstein, Germany, who came alone to the United States in 1851, stopping in Milwaukee.
Soon after his marriage, in 1853, Mr. Roenitz moved to Sheboygan, which has been the home of the family since. It was then a small village and gave little promise of becoming the second manufacturing city in the State. The same year of his arrival, he, in connection with his brother William, established the Roenitz Tannery. Their capital consisted of the few hundred dollars saved from their hard earnings after coming to this country. The building in which the business was started was in keeping with their capital, being a two-story frame, 25 x 40 feet. Besides themselves they employed only one man. Their trade increased rapidly, which necessitated a corresponding increase in the capacity of the plant. Upon the death of his brother in 1873, Mr. Roenitz of this sketch became sole proprietor. The output of the tannery for the following year was seventy-seven hundred sides of leather. In 1880 Mr. Roenitz associated with him his sons, Frank L. and Charles H., and eight years later the C. T. Roenitz Leather Company was incorporated, with a capital stock of $100,000, which has since been increased to $200,000. The first officers were C. T. Roenitz, President; Frank L. Roenitz, Vice-President; and Charles H. Roenitz, Secretary. The only official change was made at the death of the father in 1892, when Frank L. became President.
The Roenitz Leather Company is recognized as one of the substantial and important industries in Sheboygan. The grounds comprise a whole block, and the main building is 100 x 471 feet, with an addition 77 x 126 feet, all four stories in height. Besides, they have a pump-room, boiler-room and engine-room. Some idea of the business done may be gained from the statement that about three hundred hands are employed, turning out a finished product of three hundred and fifty thousand sides of leather for 1893. From a very small beginning, this vast enterprise has been built up by the Roenitz family, father and sons.
Mr. Roenitz was an indefatigable worker, as honest as he was industrious, and as enterprising as honorable. Politically, he was a stanch Republican, though he never cared for official distinction. On the 10th of February, 1892, he was called to his final rest, and on the 17th of July following his estimable wife joined him in the spirit world. Of their eight children, five are living, as follows: Frank L.; Charles H.; Emma, who is the widow of C. H. Steiglitz, and lives in Sheboygan; Ida, the wife of George Oberreich, of La Grange, Ill.; and Louis T., who resides in Chicago.
Of those who have built up the manufacturing interests of Sheboygan, none is more worthy of mention than C. T. Roenitz. For nearly forty years he labored perseveringly to build up his business, and the result is one of the most extensive industries of the kind in the State.
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