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  • Writer's pictureLawrence Lore

German Pioneer Settler

Peter Scherer Sr, a pioneer settler of southern Lawrence County, Illinois was a native of Germany, being born in Rein-Byron about 1809. His father served in the Prussian army from July 17, 1827, to July 17, 1833. He was a blacksmith by trade.  Peter came to America soon after his discharge and located in Cincinnati, later coming to Wabash County.

About 1840 Peter married Catherine Fischer, a native of Germany born 1811 in Wurms, Hesse Darmstadt. She came to America with her parents in 1838. Their neighbors the Seilers, Schrodts and Steins having preceded them and settled in Wabash County, the Fischers also came to Wabash.

A few years after Peter and Catherine’s marriage they purchased land just across the county line in Lawrence country. There they established a pioneer home, where in 1847 the father died leaving the mother with four children, the youngest daughter, Priscilla Bertie, being born a short time after his death. Peter Sr was buried at Moffett Cemetery.

After the death of the father, the mother and children spent five or six years in Wilkinson Mississippi where the mother again married on June 18, 1850, to Jacob Stephens. He had also been born in Germany.  They then moved back to Lukin Township, Lawrence County Illinois by 1860.

During the Civil War it was a family arrangement that Peter, Jr should remain at home and care for the mother and sisters while the stepfather and brother should enter the service. In July 1864, Peter Jr became an apprentice for a harness shop in Fort Branch Indiana and began learning his trade.  In 1866 he bought a harness shop in Lancaster, Illinois and conducted the harness business at that place until 1890.  He also served two terms as postmaster, one under President Grant and the other under President Cleveland. He  moved to Mt Carmel in 1891 where he successfully conducted his business.

John was a Civil war soldier with Co G 48 Ill Inf and was killed in action at Fort McAllister near Savannah Georgia in December 1864. On April 10, 1884, Catherine applied and received his civil war pension.

By the 1870 census Catherine was 58, either widowed (or divorced), and living with her son Peter and her daughter Bertie in Round Prairie Wabash County Illinois.  By the 1880 census she had moved in with her other daughter, Elizabeth Fornhoff in Lukin and lived there until 1901 when they both moved back to Mount Carmel after a lapse of 48 years.

In June of 1901 the Mount Carmel newspaper reported that Catherine had celebrated her 90th birthday.  Despite being somewhat feeble she was enjoying good health.  She could hear well, talked with interest on current events and occasionally read the paper without glasses.

Catherine Fischer Scherer Stephens died 6 months later, aged 90, on December 1, 1901, in Mount Carmel, Wabash County Illinois.  Her grave has not been located.  

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