The enterprise with which, the name of Mr. Welling is indissolubly connected is one in which the citizens of Germantown feel a just pride and is, in fact, one which will compare favorably with any other in Clinton County. A man of versatile ability, he has displayed not only keen judgment and energy in his business transactions, but an extraordinary amount of ingenuity in setting up his machinery and running his plant.
Both as a manufacturer of and dealer in furniture and coffins, Mr. Welling conducts an extensive business, and also carries a complete stock of hardware, paints, oils, glass, stoves, tinware, trunks and valises, belting and packing, guns, pistols, books, accordeons, clocks, jewelry and sewing machines. He also carries a full line of wall paper, shades, pumps, wheelbarrows, hay tools, picture frames, baby carriages, and nails and glass.
The store building occupied by Mr. Welling is constructed of brick and iron, and is two stories in height, with basement; it is 45x48 feet in dimensions. The factory is 45x117 feet in dimensions and the warerooms occupy 2600 square feet of floor space. In 1884 he purchased a steam engine, and in 1891 introduced a new engine, twenty-five horse power, which cost $1,000 to set up. There is also a thirty horse power steel boiler. The saw mill was bought in 1886, at a cost of $800. Twenty-five different machines may here be found for manufacturing furniture.
The proprietor of this flourishing enterprise is a native of Holland, having been born there in 1851. He is the son of John Welling, Sr., who emigrated to America in 1852 and settled at Brighton, Ill., where he followed the trade of a tailor. In 1857 he came to Clinton County, where he has since resided. The subject of this sketch remained in Germantown until fifteen years of age, when he went to Carlyle and there learned the trade of a carpenter. While in that town he assisted in building the large Catholic Church there. Later going to Breese, he assisted in building the steeple and completing the large church at that place, and later aided in the erection of the flour and saw mill at Germantown.
In St. Louis Mr. Welling learned the trade of a cabinet-maker and millwright, and after a sojourn of six years in that city returned to Germantown, reaching this place in November of 1873 with a cash capital of $400. He constructed a small building which he utilized as a factory. He then manufactured a horse power wheel sixteen feet in diameter, all of wood, and afterward made the other requisite machinery. His next step was the purchase of a blind horse for power. At the time of the opening of the factory he was $3,000 in debt, the money having been borrowed at eight per cent interest. At no time, however, did he find it necessary to give a mortgage or trust deed to secure his loan. In his business he has had no partner except his wife, who from the first has been his efficient helpmate, co-operating with him in every undertaking. She drove the horse, polished the furniture and otherwise aided him in the business. It is not strange, therefore, that his own industry, seconded by his wife's good management, should have brought him to more than ordinary success.
After having conducted the furniture business for some time, Mr. Welling bought a small stock of hardware, which was placed on a table and offered for sale. From that beginning he has worked his way upward until his stock of hardware is now the finest and most complete of any in Clinton County. About four years ago he built and fully equipped a sawmill upon his present property. The building he now occupies was erected around and over the old factory, after which the latter was removed. At present he has about $25,000 invested in the enterprise.
On the day of his marriage, September 29, 1874, Mr. Welling remarked to his young wife, "Now we begin," and from that time he has had the active assistance of this estimable lady. She bore the maiden name of Katie KEMPER and was born and reared in St. Louis. Seven children blessed their union, Mary, Mina, Henry, Clara, Theodore, Annie and Conrad. Mr. Welling and family are members of the Catholic Church and he is one of the prominent members of that religious organization. In their pleasant home he and his wife entertain their host of friends, and fortunate is the guest who receives an invitation to dinner, for Mrs. Welling is noted for the excellence of the viands with which her table is provided. In her cellar is the most complete assortment of preserves, jellies and canned fruits that the writer has ever been permitted to see. In addition to his residence and factory Mr. Welling owns thirty-five acres of timber land and also several lots and three residences in Germantown.
Source: Portrait and Biographical Record of Clinton, Washington, Marion and Jefferson Counties, Illinois, 1894, Chapman Publishing Co., Chicago, IL
Submitted by: Connie Albers
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