NELSON RICKERT has been owner and editor of the Waterloo Times for a number of years, and he has ably demonstrated by his accomplishments in that time his peculiar fitness for a newspaper career. A graduate of several colleges and universities, and especially prepared for a career in the legal profession, he has given his attention to the publishing and management of a newspaper. His efforts have been attended by a degree of success which indicates in part his especial ability in that line.
Born on July 10, 1879, at Waterloo, Nelson Rickert is the son of Joseph W. Rickert, long an honored citizen of Waterloo, prominent in the legal profession and conspicuously identified with the onward and
upward movements of the community of which he was a part. Of his life and work, Palmer's Bench and Bar of Illinois has to say:
Joseph William Rickert, whose life record is one of distinctive honor, was born in Vicksburg, Mississippi, on the 9th of July, 1840. His parents were Andrew and Margaret (Slund) Rickert, the former a native of Alsace, France, born November 8, 1808, and the latter born in Bavaria, Germany, in the same year. The father was a carpenter by trade. Immigrating to America, he took up his residence in New Orleans, Louisiana, and in 1832 cast his first presidential vote for Andrew Jackson. While the family resided at Vicksburg, Joseph W. Rickert, then but three years of age, was playing upon one of the hills of that city, when he slipped and fell, breaking his arm. An unskilled surgeon, who did not properly attend to the fracture, rendered him a cripple for life, but though this and other disadvantages were before him he has achieved a splendid success in his profession, and stands today as the peer of any member of the Waterloo bar. In 1845 he accompanied his parents upon their removal to Monroe county, Illinois, the family locating on a farm eight miles south of Waterloo. His preliminary education acquired in the common schools was supplemented by a thorough and comprehensive course in the St. Louis University, at St. Louis, Missouri, which he entered in 1857. He spent seven years in that institution, completing the classical course, which embraced both literary and scientific study. He also studied the French, German and Spanish languages and was graduated in 1864, with the degree of Bachelor of Arts. Four years later his alma mater conferred upon him the degree of Master of Arts, and he is now a member of the alumni association of the university. From boyhood he cherished the desire to enter the legal profession, but the limited financial resources of his family necessitated his entering upon some work that would yield a moneyed return, and after his graduation he began teaching school, devoting five years of his life to that profession, in Monroe and Marion counties, Illinois. While engaged in teaching in Central City he also pursued the study of law under the supervision of the late H. K. S. O'Melveny, who was then a resident of that place, and who recently died in Los Angeles, California. In 1868 he permanently left the schoolroom in order to devote his entire time to his law studies, which he continued in the office of Johnson & Hartzell, at Chester, Illinois.
"Upon examination by the late Judge Bryan he was found qualified for the bar, and accordingly was licensed to practice in the courts of Illinois. Locating in Waterloo, he has since been engaged in practice at that place, and by reason of his superior ability and his judicious investments in various enterprises he has won a handsome fortune, and is now one of the wealthy men of his county. He is certainly deserving of great credit for his success. He started out in life in very limited circumstances and he has depended entirely upon his own efforts. Energy, enterprise and sound judgment have contributed to his prosperity and year by year he has added to his income until he has now a handsome competence, that will abundantly meet all his wishes through the last years of his life. His professional career has been successful and brilliant and he is now one of Monroe county's most eminent attorneys. His legal attainments are of high order and insure his success and he has secured a clientele which has connected him with the most important litigation in his section of the state. In addition to his law practice he is recognized as one of the leading business men of Waterloo. He is one of the original partners in the private bank which was organized in 1882 and which is still in existence under the name of the Commercial Bank. He is one of the principal stockholders and a charter
member of the Waterloo Milling Company, which was organized in 1887 and he owns a large amount of the stock of the Harrisonville Telephone Company, together with large tracts of land in Monroe county.
"Through twenty-five years Mr. Rickert has been prominently identified with every progressive or public-spirited movement of the city or county, and has been an active factor in advancing the educational, material, social and moral welfare of Waterloo. It was largely through his efforts that the city waterworks, now in successful operation, were established, and he was mainly instrumental in securing the trolley line to Waterloo. In 1869 he was elected county superintendent of schools, which office he held until 1873, and during that period he succeeded in raising the educational standard to a high degree. In 1874 he was elected a member of the twenty-ninth general assembly of Illinois, from the district comprising Monroe, Perry and Randolph counties, and accordingly was a member of the last legislature to convene in the old capitol at Springfield. In 1876 he was elected state's attorney for Monroe county and re-elected in 1880, acceptably serving in that capacity for eight consecutive years. In 1888 he was elected state senator for the forty-eighth senatorial district, and as a member of the upper house gave support to every measure which he believed would prove of general benefit to the commonwealth, and also voted with the famous "one hundred and one who elected General Palmer to the United States senate. He has also served as a member of the school board of Waterloo for ten years and as a member of the city council for six years, and is alike faithful in local and state offices, his labors being for the general good. In politics he has always been a Democrat, and he is firm in his belief in the principles of the party.
"Mr. Rickert was married in St. Louis, Missouri, May 22, 1873, to Miss Minnie Ziebold, a daughter of G. Ziebold, a prominent miller of Southern Illinois, now residing at Red Bud. To Mr. and Mrs. Rickert were born the following named children: Josephine L.; Minnie E.; Nelson A.; George F., who died December 4, 1880, at the age of eight months and eighteen days; Luella C.; Charles J., who died November 5, 1897, at the age of ten years and twenty-four days; Isabel M., who died April 28, 1892, at the age of three months; Marie M. and Marguerite L. Rickert, of whom five daughters and one son still live. The dearest place on earth to Mr. Rickert is his home, and his greatest delight is in ministering to the welfare and happiness of his family. He takes great pleasure in the education of his children and in providing them training in all the higher branches of study and artistic accomplishments. He is a man of very scholarly tastes and strong intellectual endowment, and his extensive and well read library indicates his familiarity with the best productions in literature. He is connected with no social organization except the Waterloo Literary Society, which was incorporated in 1876, and of which he is a charter member. In religious faith he is a Catholic, but he is liberal in his views and tolerant of the beliefs of others. He is a man of kindly and sympathetic nature, true to his own honest convictions and fearless in their expression, but freely accords to others the right of opinion. Of undoubted integrity, untiring industry, fine intellect and superior professional and business ability, he is known and recognized as one of the leading men of the state."
Nelson Rickert passed the early years of his life in attendance at the public schools of Waterloo. Upon his graduation from the high school he entered Christian Brothers College and remained in that institution for two years, following which he spent a year in the University of Michigan. He then entered the law department of Washington
University, graduating from the university in 1902. He was admitted to the bar in that same year, and he holds Missouri, Illinois and Federal Court licenses, although he has never practiced. In October of the year of his graduation he went on an extended tour of Europe, and he traveled for several months, finally locating at Geneva, Switzerland, where he applied himself closely to study for some time. Following his return home, he went to New York city, where he remained for a year. His family, were anxious to have him at home, and with that end in view he purchased the plant of the Waterloo Times, and since that time he has conducted the paper as owner, editor and manager.
Mr. Rickert is popular both in a business and social way. He is affiliated with every society of note in Waterlbo of a social nature, among them being the Masonic lodge, the Elks, and the Odd Fellows. He is also a member of the Missouri Athletic Club of St. Louis, in which he is active and enthusiastic. He is secretary of the Waterloo Commercial Club, and has done good work for that body since his connection with it. He is also a member of the Evangelical church. Politically Mr. Rickert is Democratic in his views, and The Times, which has the largest circulation of any newspaper in the county, is the exponent of the Democratic party in Waterloo.