One of the leading carpenters, contractors and builders of Peru, LaSalle
county, is Fred A. Koehler, a native of this place, his birth having
occurred March 8, 1862. For nearly half a century his family has been
identified with Peru and its business interests, aiding in local enterprises
and materially contributing to its growth and improvement.
The parents of our subject were Albright and Elizabeth S. (Burkhart) Koehler, both of whom were born in Germany, the former in Michelstadt, Hessen, and the latter in Opergimper, Baden. Their marriage was celebrated in Peru, in 1858. The former came to the United States in 1852, and within a year or two was followed by his parents. His father, George Koehler, was a physician, and for many years was successfully engaged in practice in Peru, Henry and Chicago, Illinois. About 1854 Albright Koehler came to Peru, where for several years, or until the civil war, he was a druggist, and on November 14, 1861, he enlisted as a private in the Union army, belonging to Company A, Fifty-third Regiment of Illinois Volunteer Infantry. He was soon promoted from the ranks, on account of his knowledge of drugs and medicine, to the more responsible post of assistant surgeon. In the fall of 1862 he was discharged from the army because of ill health. When he returned to Peru he turned his attention again to the drug business, spending periods of time at Mendota, Peoria, Henry and Wenona, Illinois, and then again returned to Peru and took up the painter's trade, and for a number of years was employed in that line. For a long period he served as a justice of the peace, making a creditable record. A member of the Masonic fraternity and the Grand Army of the Republic, he stood high in the estimation of his comrades. He died December 1, 1891, aged fifty-three years, eight months and fifteen days. His widow, who was born August 8, 1838, and is still living, in Peru, came to this place in 1851, with her parents, John and Mary Ann (Ehrlacher) Burkhart. Her father was a mechanic, and died in Peru in 1857; and her mother lived many years thereafter, dying in 1881. Six children, of whom two are deceased, were born to Albright Koehler and wife, namely: Louisa W., Fred A., George C. (deceased), Emma M. H. (deceased), Leopold W. and Minnie J.
Our subject was reared in Peru and received a practical education in the public schools. When fourteen years of age he commenced serving an apprenticeship to the carpenter's trade, and spent three years in this manner. In 1885 he branched out in business on his own account, becoming a member of the firm of Utz, Sperber & Koehler. After continuing with his partners for some six or seven years he withdrew and since that time has conducted business alone. He has met with deserved success, and among the numerous buildings which stand as monuments of his skill here are the Masonic Temple, Turner Hall, the residences of C. Brunner, C. Nadler, and many other public and private structures which might be mentioned. Faithful, reliable and prompt in the execution of his contracts, he has won the high regard of his patrons and the good will of the citizens generally.
Following his father's example, Mr. Koehler is affiliated with the Democratic party, being quite independent in local politics, however. He is an honorary member of the Peru fire department and belongs to the Peru Rod & Gun Club, the society of the Turn Verein, and the Knights of Pythias. In 1882 he married Miss Elizabeth Wickert, of Peru, and of the five children who blessed their union two have been summoned to the silent land. The children's names are Elma, deceased; Fred W.; Edith, deceased; Walter and Irene. Mrs. Koehler's parents are August and Lena (Erb) Wickert, natives of Germany.
Extracted 17 Jul 2017 by Norma Hass from Biographical and Genealogical Record of LaSalle County, Illinois, published in 1900, volume 2, pages 469-470.