JOHN F. GAUWEILER, retired farmer, assistant at Croton village, was born Dec. 2, 1824, in Bavaria, Germany, of which province his parents were both natives. His father, George Gauweiler, was a farmer, and was born in 1799, died in Croton in 1850. His mother, Catheine (Bopp) Gauweiler, was born in 1798 and is living in Ohio. In 1842 the family came to the United States, and the son remained under the control of his father until the end of the period prescribed by law.
Mr. Gauweiler received a good education under the judicious school system of his native country, which compels the attendance of children at school until they are 14 years old. He worked in a brick yard summers after he reached the age of eleven years, and fulfilled the time required by law at school in winter. At 15 he was apprenticed to learn the business of cabinet-making, at which he worked until 18 years old. On coming to America his parents located in Warren Co., Ohio, and, on the arrival of the period of his legal freedom, he went to New Orleans and there found employ at his trade six months. He came to Chicago, spent a month there, and, June 24, 1846, came to Croton, where he engaged as a mill-hand with George W. Walton, making lath. An associate, Christopher Kaufman, and himself labored one year and received $20 each, as remuneration. At the end of that time they both took the mill for payment. An individual of unsavory memory, named Daniel Hammond, arranged to purchase the half interest of Kaufman, representing he had money in Chicago, whither he proposed going to procure both that and needed provisions. The honest Geman acceded to the proposition, and, moreover, confided to him their aggregated $40, to make some purchases of clothing for them. This probably proved a fortunate investment, for he was never heard of; and it is hoped, if this record ever comes to his knowledge, that he will extract the proper degree of comfort from this permanent recognition of his merits. The young men thus defrauded of their hard-earned savings found a friend in John F. Stearns and managed to pass the winter in comfort.
Mr. Gauweiler has operated extensively as a lumberman and farmer. when he first came to Newaygo County it was in the most primitive state of nature. The roads were all Indian trails, provisions were brought from Muskegon on the backs of men or in canoes or flat-boats, of which latter there were two on the Muskegon River. Mr. Gauweiler frequently performed this service, which required three days for a trip. The landing point was Indian Village, and transportation thence to Croton was made by ox teams. His mail was directed to Chicago, and was brought thence by the captains of sail-boats in the lake service to Muskegon and from there by raftmen.
An incident related by Mr. Gauweiler is interesting as a reminiscence of the early date of his settlement in Croton Township. In 1847 the supply of provisions was so low that they found themselves a day late in their calculations, and to relieve the presure of hunger, collected the abraded meal that scattered from their "corn-cracker" and transformed it into cakes; but ir proved worthless from the mixture of sand and dirt. A council decided on the organization of an expedition in search of game, and six of the party set out to hunt and fish. The first spoils were two pigeons, which were left in Mr. Gauweiler's charge, and he built a fire and cooked the birs in accordance with his instructions. On reflection, he decided that the requirements of his comrades had fallen below the exigencies of the case, and when the culinary process was completed he perfected the whole arrangement by eating the pigeons, and complacently awiting the return of the expedition. His companions appeared empty handed and announced that the party would dine off the pigeons. Mr. Gauweiler stated the facts on the case with Teutonic politeness and consideration, but the depraved natures of the others failed to appreciate his forbearance, and they proceeded to inform him without ceremony that he was the kind of Dutchman described by a dash and two d's, and deserved shooting. The fact that he was sustained by the pigeons enabled him to refrain from malice, and he silently accorded to them his full and free pardon for their lack of sympathy. They went supperless to bed, and the following day the opportune arrival of two barrels of flour put an end to the famine.
Mr. Gauweiler owns 480 acres of land and his dwelling at Croton, besides another building in that village, occupied as a store and hotel. Among his other business enterprises was the building of the Washington House. He was a Democrat previous to the organization of the National party, since which time he has affiliated with the Greenback element. ZHe is prominent in the Order of Masonry, and has opfficiated as Master of the Lodge at Croton. He is now a member of Newaygo Lodge, No. 131, of the Newaygo Royal Arch Chapter, No. 35, of Big Rapids Council, and DeMolay Commandery, No. 5, at Grand Rapids.
Mr. Gauweiler was first married in 1849, in Ohio to Mary Ann Miller. She was born in Ohio in 1830, and was a daughter of Andrew and Julia (Sauers) Miller, natives of Pennsylvania, of Geman extraction. Margaret, John F. and Mary, three children, constituted the issue of this marriage. The eldest daughter survives, and is the wife of John W. Carskadon, of Muskegon. The wife and mother died in 1857.
Minerva (Bennett) Gauweiler, the present wife of Mr. Gauweiler, was born Jan. 12, 1836. She is a daughter of Isaac H. and Sally (Cassidy) Bennett, the former born in the State of New Jersey, April 23, 1800, and still alive. He is a descendant of ancestors born in Holland. The mother was of Scotch-zIrish extraction, born in New York in 1802, and died in 1877. The daughter's marriage to J.F. Gauweiler occurred Jan. 21, 1858, in Croton. Their six children all survive. They are Mary C., George F., Martin VanBuren, Alfred R., Seymour B. and Rosantha.