My Genealogy Hound

Below is a family biography included in The History of Posey County, Indiana by John C. Leffel and published by Standard Publishing Company in 1913.  These biographies are valuable for genealogy research in discovering missing ancestors or filling in the details of a family tree. Family biographies often include far more information than can be found in a census record or obituary.  Details will vary with each biography but will often include the date and place of birth, parent names including mothers' maiden name, name of wife including maiden name, her parents' names, name of children (including spouses if married), former places of residence, occupation details, military service, church and social organization affiliations, and more.  There are often ancestry details included that cannot be found in any other type of genealogical record.

* * * *

John H. Moeller, mayor of the city of Mt. Vernon, successful man of affairs and popular citizen, is a native of Posey county and was born in the city of which he has served as chief executive on August 7, 1867, the son of John and Dortha (Haas) Moeller. John Moeller, the founder of the family in Indiana, was born in Altenschlirf, Hessen-Darmstadt, Germany, on December 11, 1837. He received a good education in the schools of his native town, was apprenticed to the cooper’s trade, and came to the United States in 1855, first locating in New Orleans, where he remained a short time, and then came by boat to Louisville, Ky., where he secured employment at his trade. In 1857 he became a resident of Mt. Vernon, secured employment in the cooper shop of Philip Vernon, and in 1864 succeeded to this business through purchase. From 1882 until 1893 he had as associates in business George Zeigler and William Rheinwald, but in the last named year bought them out. In 1903 he consolidated his business with that of his sons’ John H. Moeller, under the firm style of J. H. Moeller & Company, in addition to the cooperage shop they ran a saw mill and stave and heading factory. The business was operated very successfully, but in 1911 the mill burned and John Moeller retired from the firm. He at present is the owner of a cooperage plant which is reviewed at length in the chapter “Manufacturing and Commercial Enterprises.” Mr. Moeller married on May 18, 1859, Miss Dortha Haas, a daughter of Charles Haas, a pioneer resident of Mt. Vernon, who was born in Lauteraka, Beiren, Germany, and who died in Mt. Vernon in 1892. Mr. and Mrs. Moeller are the parents of the following children: Mollie L., the wife of Adam Ware, Mt. Vernon; Charles C., Mt. Vernon; John H. Moeller, the subject of this review; William, Mt. Vernon; and Nellie H., the wife of Charles Pearson, Mt. Vernon. Mr. Moeller and his wife are members of the German Methodist church. Mayor Moeller was reared in the city of Mt. Vernon, acquired his education in its public schools, and learned his father’s trade, that of cooper. He became a clerk when sixteen years of age, later learned telegraphy and was employed in Mt. Vernon by the Western Union Telegraph Company, the Evansville & Terre Haute and the Louisville & Nashville railroads, and in Texas by the Missouri Pacific railway. He returned to Mt. Vernon from Texas in 1885 and was made assistant agent of the Evansville & Terre Haute railroad, a position he filled until 1888, when he engaged in the cooperage business, having as a partner his brother, Charles. He purchased the latter’s interest in 1898, built up an exceedingly profitable enterprise and in 1903 consolidated it with that of his father, under the firm style of J. H. Moeller & Company, as previously stated. In 1911 the saw mill was destroyed by fire, and as this portion of the firm’s enterprise was uninsured, they suffered a heavy loss. Shortly after the fire the elder Moeller retired from the firm and the business was continued by our subject. During 1911 he was the chief factor in inducing the Whitmore Handle Company to locate in Mt Vernon, and as one of the inducements held out to them for locating in the city, rented his cooperage property to them at a very low rental. The value of this plant to the city of Mt. Vernon is easily estimated by perusal of the chapter on “Manufacturing and Commercial Enterprises,” which contains an article descriptive of its history. As a manufacturer of staves, heading and cooperage, Mayor Moeller attained a substantial success; he was an untiring worker, knew each and every detail of the business, from the buying of timber in the tree to the marketing of the finished product, and had the cheerful cooperation of his employees. As a citizen of Mt. Vernon he has, since attaining his majority, been actively concerned in the development and betterment of its commercial and civic affairs. He has always been a consistent advocate of the principles and policies of the Republican party and an active worker in its ranks. His first public office was an appointive one, that of city commissioner, which he entered in 1901, and served for six years. His record in the administration of the affairs of this office was such that he was honored in 1909 by his party with the nomination for the office of mayor, and he was elected by the largest majority ever given a candidate for that position. During the four years in which he has occupied the mayor’s chair he has given the city an exceedingly able and frugal administration, considering the many improvements made; while his unselfish attitude and broad-mindedness in dealing with questions and policies which had for their object the good of the city proves that he has the right conception of the duties and obligations of the office. To his progressiveness, stick-to-it-iveness in surmounting difficulties and business foresight the city is indebted for its handsome water-front park; another site having been under consideration. His logical handling of the proposition, combined with perseverance in securing the money necessary for its equipment, won for the citizens not only a place of recreation for young and old, but one that could not be surpassed for accessibility and beauty of view. He found the city with a debt of $3,000 in excess of its limit. This was changed, within two years to a surplus of $5,000. He has secured greatly improved service from the light, water and telephone companies, public drinking fountains, an overhead crossing at Mulberry street and the Louisville & Nashville railway, safety gates at other dangerous crossings have been installed, sanitation and sewerage conditions greatly improved, a street flushing machine bought, many of the unpaved streets oiled, the weeds cut and trees trimmed on the public thoroughfares, while other improvements are in prospect. During the disastrous flood of April, 1913, his executive and initiative talents were exploited at their best. With a vast section of territory adjacent to the city under water, thousands without shelter or provisions, and livestock in the greatest peril, he headed the relief movement and assumed charge of its operation. He secured, through the War Department, rations for ten thousand people for ten days, together with a distributing force under the command of Captain W. K. Naylor, and with him acted as pilot of the relief expedition. He commandeered every boat, power, skiff, and flat, on the river and these were in constant use in bringing to Mt. Vernon the people who were marooned. He obtained by telegraph from Governor Ralston an order stationing one company of militia in the city, who were to assist in rescue work, and who were under his orders. Through his efforts the Red Cross Society sent a representative, Mr. Hubbard, to the city, and through their joint efforts $20,000 was raised for the relief of those who had lost their all in the disaster. This labor entailed upon Mayor Moeller severe hardship and caused him to be absent from his business for nearly one month. During this trying period his conduct was marked by no thought of self but by a desire to do all in his power to relieve those who were in need, irrespective of condition, and to fulfill to the utmost his obligations as head of the government of Mt. Vernon, which was untouched by the waters. That his efforts have been appreciated is attested through his nomination for the office of mayor, to succeed himself, in the election of 1913; his majority in the primary having been overwhelming, and his reward by election to a second term seems certain. Mayor Moeller is affiliated with a number of secret and social organizations. He is a member of Mt. Vernon Lodge, No. 277, Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks; Posey Aerie, Fraternal Order of Eagles; Loyal Order of Moose; Knights of Pythias, Hoo Hoos, and is president of the Mt. Vernon Boosters Club. He is a member of the German Methodist church. Mr. Moeller married on August 23, 1892, Miss Anna H. Nefzger, daughter of the late Xavier Nefzger, of Mt. Vernon. They are the parents of two children: Esther C. Moeller, born October 25, 1893, who graduated from the Mt. Vernon High School in the class of 1912, and John Robert Moeller, born January 18, 1911. The family are popular in the social circles of their home city and the Moeller residence is known for its generous hospitality. Mrs. Moeller is a communicant of St. Matthew’s Catholic Church. Mayor Moeller is a fine type of the German-American citizen, is a self-made man, possesses energy, initiative, and executive ability of a high order, and is justly entitled to the popularity he has attained, both as a citizen and as an official of his home city. He has always maintained that the best citizen is the home builder, and that such are to be depended upon to devote a part of their time, intelligence and funds to secure that which is most desirable in furthering the general welfare of the community in which they reside. That he is consistent is exemplified in his record as mayor of Mt. Vernon.

* * * *

This family biography is one of 232 biographies included in The History of Posey County, Indiana by John C. Leffel and published in 1913 by Standard Publishing Company.  For the complete description, click here: Posey County, Indiana History and Genealogy

View additional Posey County, Indiana family biographies here: Posey County, Indiana Biographies

Use the links at the top right of this page to search or browse thousands of other family biographies.