Richland County


Mr. Kocher, of German township. Richland county, is an industrious farmer who owes his birth and kindred to the romantic county in Europe through which the river Rhine flows. He is German by birth and descent. By adoption he is an American citizen, sturdy and industrious, whose life of forty-three years in Richland county has won him the respect and friendship of his neighbors. He was born on the 17th of April, 1836, near Strasburg, Germany, and was the son of Martin and Catherine (Orrick) Kocher. Martin Kocher worked in Germany as a blacksmith and married Catherine Orrick sometime about the year 1831. They, with their family, left their native Germany on the 2d of November, 1852, and sailed for the United States, landing at New Orleans on the 3d of March, 1853, after a voyage across the ocean of seventy-five days' duration, during which they encountered all the privatins which ocean traveling at that time engendered. From New Orleans they took a steamer up the Mississippi and Ohio rivers to Cincinnati. From there they went through Akron and settled in Summit county, Ohio, where our subject's father and brothers worked in the coal mines.

On May 31, 1859, in Stark county, Ohio, Joseph Kocher married Elizabeth Weiler, the daughter of Matthew and Teresa (Getz) Weiler. Mrs. Kocher was born in the county in which she was married on the 28th of July, 1840. Her parents, natives of Germany, died when she was but fourteen years old. They were buried in Canton, Ohio. Our subject's wife lived with an elder sister until her marriage.

Joseph Kocher had bought twenty acres previous to his marriage and afterwards bought eleven acres more upon which was a log house and into which he and his wife moved and lived for six years. During this time he farmed this place in Ohio and also worked in the coal mines. In March, 1865. they moved to Illinois, coming by railroad, This was just three weeks before the fatal tragedy which ended the life of Abraham Lincoln. Our subject having sold his place in Ohio, he purchased eighty acres of timber land in German township, Richland county, and paid seventeen dollars an acre for the same. A rude, small log shanty stood upon the land which he changed without outside help into the substantial structure in which he and his wife now live. He built barns and cleared and cultivated the land. In after years he added to the property, and today he owns one hundred and twenty acres in one of the best districts of German township, all of which, with the exception of about fifteen acres, is under cultivation. Five or six years after Joseph Kocher's arrival in Illinois his father and mother also moved to Richland county, and bought ninety acres of good land in the same township, and upon which they afterwards died. His mother died in 1883, having passed her eighty-third year; his father died in May, 1892, aged eighty-two years and ten months. Both were buried in old St. Joseph's cemetery in German township, situated on Ginder farm. Our subject was the second child born to his parents, who had six children in all, one of whom died in Germany.

Joseph Kocher and his wife experienced many hardships and privations in their early days in Richland county. Game and wild animals were very much in evidence, particularly wolves and bears. In early times the prairie-grass grew to the height of ten or fifteen feet. To get started in Richland county he worked hard on the farm and at times during the first winter worked in the coal mines at Washington, Indiana. He and his wife are the parents of eleven children. One died at two years of age and two more have died. In regular order the children were named: Andy, who married Catherine Hahn, is deceased; William married Anna Rennier; Mary is the wife of Leo Hahn, and Catherine of Joseph Hahn; Simon married Helen Kramer, of Indiana, (deceased) is now married to Friedrika Shuttie. Rosa Elizabeth is single and makes her home with her parents. Martin married Mary Doll and lives in the vicinity of Vincennes; Frances is deceased; Aloyese married Anna Shuttlebauer, and Leo, who married Ida Rennier.

In politics our subject is a Democrat of the Douglas pattern. He served six years as a school director and was elected for another term, but would not serve. He has never sought office as he preferred to devote the greater part of his time to his agricultural interests. In his young days Joseph Kocher attended school in Germany until his fourteenth year and was well equipped for life's battle. Later he attended English school, but his education in the English language was mostly gained through his own efforts. He and his wife, as well as their family, are members of St. Joseph's Catholic church in German township and have always been active in church work and duties. He held one term as trustee of the church.

Joseph Kocher's land has the reputation of containing oil springs of value, and this feature is sure to greatly enhance the value of the property and bring forth great returns in the future.

Extracted 21 May 2019 by Norma Hass from 1909 Biographical and Reminiscent History of Richland, Clay and Marion Counties, Illinois, pages 413-415.

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