Of the late Nicholas Sauer, who died at his home in Evansville, Illinois, on the 21st of October, 1908, it may well be said that he coveted success but scorned to gain it except through industry and honest means. He acquired wealth without fraud or recourse to equivocal agencies, and the results of his life are full of inspiration and incentive. Mr. Sauer was a native son of Southern Illinois and a scion of one of its most honored pioneer families. Here he passed his entire life and here he attained to distinctive prominence and influence as a citizen of progressive ideas and marked public spirit. He was the prime factor in the development and uphuilding of one of the most important industrial enterprises of the county; he was one of the founders and president of the Bank of Evansville; his was the positive and dynamic force which secured to Evansville its railroad facilities; it was through his untiring efforts that the river at Evansville was bridged and his life was guided and governed by those exalted principles of integrity and honor that ever beget objective confidence and esteem. He did much to foster the civic and material advancement of his home town and county, and no shadow rests on any portion of his career, now that he has been called from the scenes and labors of this mortal life. His success, and it was pronounced, was principally gained through his connection with the milling industry, and the extensive business enterprise which he thus developed is still continued by his sons. He was a man of broad mental ken, marked circumspection and mature judgment. He placed true valuations on men and affairs; and his character was the positive expression of a strong, resolute and noble nature. His death left a void in the business and civic activities of his native county and in its history his name merits a place of enduring honor. From the foregoing statements it may well be seen that there is all of consistency in according in this volume a tribute to the memory of this honored and valued citizen.
Nicholas Sauer was born on the old homestead farm of his father, near Redbud, Monroe county, Illinois, on the 21st of March, 1841, and was a son of Philip Sauer, who was born in Hesse-Cassel, Germany. Philip Sauer was reared and educated in his native land and as a young man he immigrated to America, which he looked upon as a land of better opportunities for the gaining of independence and prosperity through individual effort. He landed in the city of New Orleans and thence made the voyage up the Mississippi river to St. Louis. He finally secured a tract of land in Monroe county, Illinois, the same being located near the
present city of Redbud, and he reclaimed the same into a productive farm, to the work and management of which he continued to give his attention until after the close of the Civil war. He then joined his eldest son, Nicholas, subject of this memoir, in the purchase of the mill property in Evansville, but after a brief active association with the enterprise he retired from active business. He passed the residue of his earnest and worthy life on his farm, where he died in 1891, at the age of eighty-six years. His devoted wife was summoned to the life eternal in 1878, at the age of fifty-six years, both having been consistent members of the Evangelical church. Of their children Nicholas was the first born; William is one of the proprietors of the Evansville fiouring mills, in the operation of which he was long associated with his elder brother; Philip is a resident of Redbud, this county; Mary became the wife of John Ritter and her death occurred at Redbud; Catherine is the wife of August Stehfest, of Hecker, Monroe county; Elizabeth is the wife of George Homrighausen, and they reside in Redbud; and Sophia is the wife of Frank Homrighausen of Redbud.
Nicholas Sauer was reared to the sturdy discipline of the farm which was the place of his nativity, and after availing himself of the advantages of the common schools of the locality and period he pursued higher academic studies in a well ordered institution in the city of St. Louis. As a young man he put his scholastic attainments to practical test by teaching two terms of country school, but pedagogy made no special appeal to him and he soon found a more productive field of endeavor. He engaged in the general merchandise business at Mascoutah, St. Clair county, in 1865, but in the following year he discerned a better opportunity in connection with the milling business at Evansville. Here, prior to the Civil war, John Wehrheim had erected and placed in operation a flour mill, equipped with the old-time stone buhrs, which were still utilized at the time when Nicholas Sauer became associated with his father in the purchase of the property, in 1866. The new firm inaugurated operations under the title of N. & P. Sauer, which was retained until 1868, when William Sauer succeeded his father and the firm name of N. & W. Sauer was adopted. It was incorporated as The Sauer Milling Company in 1899, with a capital of $60,000. As has already been noted, the younger of the two brothers, William, is still interested in this old established and important industrial enterprise.
When the mill came into the possession of N. & P. Sauer its daily output did not exceed one hundred barrels, and it was conducted purely as a merchant mill. Under the new ownership the plant was forthwith enlarged and otherwise improved, and the same progressive policy has been continued during the long intervening years, with the result that the equipment and facilities of the plant have been kept up to the best standard. This was among the first mills in the state to adopt the new roller-process and to install the best modern machinery of this order. The Sauer Company was also one of the first in the state to utilize the improved Corliss engine, one of these engines having been installed within a short time after they were put on the market.
In 1904 the fine plant of the company was destroyed by fire, which started in the cooper shop and compassed the complete obliteration of the principal industrial plant of Evansville. Undaunted by this misfortune, the owners of the property promptly began the erection of the present fine plant, the building being substantially constructed of brick and being four stories in height. The most approved modern mechanical equipment was installed, with all improved accessories, including an individual electric-lighting plant and steel bins for the reception and storage of grain. These bins have a capacity of one hundred and fifty thou-
sand bushels, and the output of the mill now averages seven hundred barrels of flour a day, the superior quality of the products constituting the basis on which has been built the large and prosperous business of the concern, the high reputation of which is its best commercial asset. In connection with the various departments of the enterprise employment is given to a corps of thirty-five men.
The excellent success attending the operation of the Evansville mill inspired Nicholas Sauer and his sons to expand their sphere of operations in this line of industry. At Cherryvale, Montgomery county, Kansas, a point accessible to the hard-wheat district of that extensive wheat belt, Nicholas Sauer purchased and remodeled a milling plant, and the same has since been operated under the original title of The N. Sauer Milling Company, the while the success of the enterprise has been on a parity with that at Evansville. Nicholas Sauer continued as the executive head of the company until his death. Realizing the imperative demand for banking facilities at Evansvile, he effected, in 1894, the organization of the Bank of Evansville, and under his supervision the same was conducted along conservative lines, with the result that it soon became known as one of the substantial financial institutions of this section of the state. This bank, of which he continued president until his demise, is a private institution, with a capital of twelve thousand dollars and with individual financial reinforcement behind it to the amount of nearly four hundred thousand dollars.
Mr. Sauer was distinctively a man of initiative and constructive ability, —a man of action. What he believed should be accomplished, individually or in a generic way, he promptly began to work for. The industrial and commercial advancement of Evansville was handicaped by the lack of transportation facilities. A railroad was an imperative need and none had greater cause to realize this than Mr. Sauer. Vigorously and with marked discrimination he planned and labored to bring about the desired improvement. From the time he conceived the idea until the realization of the same was effected in a practical way there was a lapse of about fifteen years, —years marked by insistent agitation and determined promotive work on his part. He was a member of the committee representing Evansville in the raising of the necessary cash bonus and the securing of the right of way for the present Illinois Southern Railroad, and in addition to his earnest labors he contributed liberally to the fund required to gain the desired end.
All that touched the material and social welfare of his native county was a matter of definite interest to Mr. Sauer, and, in an unostentatious way, he was ever ready to lend his influence and co-operation in support of measures and enterprises projected for the general good of the community. A man of broad views and well fortified opinions, he was a staunch supporter of the cause of popular education and served for twenty-one years as a valued member of the Evansville board of education. Others fully realized his eligibility for public office, but he had naught of ambition along this course, as was shown by his positive declination to become his party's candidate for nomination as representative of his district in the state senate. He was unswerving in his allegance to the Republican party and, from personal experience, knew the value and expediency of the protective tariff policy of the party.
In the social phase of his life Mr. Sauer was an interesting man, with democratic and genial personality. His mind was matured by well directed reading and by the lessons gained in the school of experience, so that he was able to draw upon a large fund of information, the while his conversational powers were liberally developed. His interests, aside from business, centered in his home, the relations of which were of ideal
order, and to those nearest and dearest to him his passing away was the greatest possible loss and bereavement, besides which the entire community manifested the same attitude, appreciative of his sterling character and of his usefulness as a citizen. With strong religious conviction and an abiding faith, Mr. Sauer was a devout member of the German Evangelical church, as are also his wife and children, and he was liberal in the support of the various departments of church work. He was also a Mason and a firm believer in its teachings and precepts.
The fine family residence erected by Mr. Sauer is a substantial brick structure standing on an eminence above the mill, and the grounds have been beautified with shade trees, shrubbery and beautiful lawns, the entire appearance of the place signifying peace and prosperity. This home has long been known for its gracious and unostentatious hospitality and has found a most pleasing chatelaine in the person of Mrs. Sauer, a devoted wife and helpmeet.
On the 22d of July, 1866, was solemnized the marriage of Mr. Sauer to Miss Elizabeth Gerlach, who was born in Virginia and reared in Monroe county, Illinois, and whose parents, early settlers of this state, were natives of Hesse-Cassel, Germany. In conclusion of this memoir is entered record concerning the children of Mr. and Mrs. Sauer, but it should be stated prior to giving such data that the death of Mr. Sauer was the result of an accident. He fell through a trap door that had been left open at night on a porch of his home, and in falling to the cellar beneath he received internal injuries which resulted in his death three days later, on the 21st of October, 1908, as has previously been noted in this context.
John, the eldest of the children of Mr. and Mrs. Sauer, was educated in Europe as a mining engineer, and for six years after his return to America he followed the work of his profession in Colorado. He is now manager of the milling business of the N. Sauer Milling Company at Cherryvale, Kansas. He married Miss Leonora Wolff, of New Haven, Missouri. Miss Magdalena E. Sauer remains with her widowed mother in the beautiful home in Evansville. Philip E. the next in order of birth, is more definitely mentioned in the appending paragraph. Dr. William E. was graduated in the St. Louis Medical College, after which he completed post graduate courses in leading universities in Berlin and Vienna, and he is now engaged in the practice of his profession in the city of St. Louis, as a specialist in the diseases of the ear, nose and throat, besides which he is a lecturer in the medical department of Washington University, in that city. He wedded Miss Irene Borders of Sparta, Illinois, and they have one son, William Nicholas. George N., the youngest of the children, is one of the active factors in the Sauer Milling Company, and concerning him more specific mention is made in the closing paragraph of this memoir.
Philip E. Sauer was born at Evansville, on the 11th of January, 1873, and after duly availing himself of the advantages of the public schools of his native town he prosecuted higher academic studies in the Southern Illinois Normal University and in Shurtleff College. He gained his early business experience in connection with the milling business conducted by his father and uncle and has been actively identified with this enterprise during the intervening years. After the death of his father he became president of the company, which has brought to him much of the responsibility of administering the practical and executive affairs of the business. He is also vice-president of the Bank of Evansville and is a man of great public spirit and civic progressiveness. On the 18th of September, 1907, he married Miss Alice Harmon, of Chester, Illinois, and they have a winsome little daughter, Elizabeth.
George N. Sauer, who is secretary and treasurer of the Sauer Milling Company, was born in Evansville, on the 10th of February, 1879, and as a citizen and business man he is well upholding the prestige of the honored name which he bears. He completed his educational discipline in Shurtleff College and after the death of his father he was elected president of the Bank of Evansville, in which position he has since given effective administration of the business of this institution as chief executive. He is a bachelor. Both he and his brother Philip E. are unwavering in their allegiance to the cause of the Republican party and both are affiliated with Kaskaskia Lodge, No. 86, Free & Accepted Masons, the headquarters of which were changed from Ellis Grove to Evansville, At the time of its organization, as the first Masonic lodge in Illinois, this body was located at Kaskaskia, which was then the capital of the territory.