Seventy-eight years ago the birth of Joseph Koch occurred in Bavaria. Germany, the date of the event being March 21, 1821. He is a son of Michael Koch, who was a native of the same kingdom, where he was occupied in agricultural pursuits until his death, in 1878, when he was about seventy-five years of age. His first wife, the mother of our subject, whose maiden name was Barbara Baumann, departed this life in 1832. The father remanded, and his second wife lived to attain three-score and ten years. In their religious belief they were all Catholics. Both of the grandfathers of our subject were fanners, and both were upward of seventy years old at the time of death.
Joseph Koch, of this sketch, is the only survivor of his father's family. He had but one brother, Andrew by name, and one sister, Mary Ann, who married Valentine Redline, of Waterloo, Iowa; and both have passed away. In his youth our subject attended the public schools of his native land and aided in the management of the parental homestead. In 1853 he came to the United States, being accompanied by his wife, Eva Baumann, who died while they were journeying across the country and was buried in Battle Creek, Michigan. Mr. Koch became a resident of Peru, which he has since looked upon as his home. At first he worked at whatever he could find to do, in order to gain an honest livelihood. Nature had endowed him with a marked talent for music, and before very long he had plenty of occupation in teaching various kinds of instrumental music. He organized the first cornet band in Peru, as well as the first orchestra, and for years was a leader in local musical circles. His genius and ability once recognized by the citizens, he had his time fully taken up in meeting the many demands upon it, his pupils being numerous and his evenings being largely occupied in furnishing music for balls, receptions and other public occasions. Though nearing four-score years, his love for music is not a whit abated, and though he does not give lessons as formerly he finds solace and happiness in evoking sweet harmonies. The life of an artist of any profession leads away from what are termed "the practical realities," yet Mr. Koch has never failed in his duty as a citizen, and has always manifested deep interest in the public welfare. He uses his right of franchise in behalf of the Republican party.
The first marriage of Mr. Koch was celebrated in Germany, half a century ago, the lady of his choice being Miss Eva Baumann. Four children were born to them, but all died at an early age. In February, 1854, Mr. Koch and Miss Mary Ann Keupp, daughter of Kilian and Margaret Keupp. were united in wedlock. Three children blessed their union, of whom Mary, the eldest, became the wife of John Fischer and had live children, - Josie, Annie, Minnie, John and Henry. After the death of Mr. Fischer his widow married George Weber, of Peru. Joseph, the only son of our subject, is a wagonmaker by trade, is unmarried, and at present is a citizen of Leonore, Illinois. Minnie, the youngest daughter, married Frank Zadow, who was killed in a railroad accident. His widow subsequently became the wife of William Fuchs. and they have a little daughter, named Annie. The devoted wife of our subject, Mrs. Mary Ann Koch, was summoned to her reward in February, 1890, when she was in her seventy-third year. This worthy couple came to Peru in its early days and witnessed its gradual growth and the corresponding development of the surrounding country. Their sterling qualities won the love and friendship of those who were associated with them in any manner, and naught but the kindest feelings have always been entertained for them.
Extracted by Norma Hass from Biographical and Genealogical Record of LaSalle County, Illinois published in 1900, volume 1, pages 206-208.