JOSEPH SMELTZER, farmer, section 32, Big Prairie Township, was born July 17, 1839, in Germany. His father, Michael Smeltzer, was born in 1811, in Werlf, a town of Germany, on the River Rhine. His mother, Catherine (Palmers) Smeltzer, was born in the same place in 1818. Both parents are still living, in Milwaukee, Wis., whither they emigrated in 1846.
Mr. Smeltzer was 17 years old when his family left the "Fatherland," where he had received a good German education. On reaching the city of Milwaukee he had no difficulty in finding plenty of remunerative labor, and he engaged with the foreman of a railroad construction corps, with whom he remained seven years. When he was 24 years old he came to Newaygo County and went to work for Jerry Ryan, and was in his employment between three and four years. All the earnings of his first eight years of labor he gave to his parents, and at the age of 25 years he commenced to lay the foundation of his own career as an American citizen. In 18-- he went to Morley, Mecosta County, where he worked 14 successive winters for Nelson Higbee, as a lumberman. The alternating summers he worked at farming. He owns 135 acres of land in Big Prairie. Of this, 100 acres are well improved and cultivated, and the farm is supplied with substantial buildings.
Mr. Smeltzer was married in Grand Rapids, in 1865, to Susan McKenney. She was born March 14, 1837, in Canada East, and is a daughter of Patrick and Hannah (Flinn) McKenney, the one a native of County Tyrone, Ireland, the other born in County Cork. Peter, Charles and Mary are the three children of Mr. and Mrs. Smeltzer.