Henry G. Herget
Henry G. Herget Dies After Lingering Illness; Was Builder Of His City
Henry George Herget, benefactor of his city, died late yesterday. Half reclining on a hospital cot, in his beloved Park Avenue home, he died just as a golden winter sun sank in the year that would have been his golden wedding year. He had wed 50 years ago this coming autumn. His wife tho herself confined to a wheel chair for eight years, had overseen his care during the three and half years since he was stricken with paralysis.
The end had been imminent since the turn of the new year. In fact, several times it had seemed certain that he would not live out the passing hour; but in his 81st year, Mr. Herget’s sturdy heart stretched the final hour into days. He had been without food or water this year, and exhaustion finally took its toll.
Henry G. Herget was the builder of modern industrial Pekin. Many believe that if he had not lived, Pekin would be a town of less than 10,000 today, instead of a thriving, industrial city of 20,000. From the days of his 20’s, when he helped organize and became vice-president of the Citizen’s Improvement association, until his 81st year he was elected vice-president of the newly formed Herget company, he was active in Pekin’s industrial life.
Came The Yeast Plant
In his early days, his father, George Herget, and his uncle John Herget, were active with him in industrial enterprises. As a youth he worked for J. and G. Herget, wholesaler grocers, located where the Herget bank now stands. He, with the elder Hergets, was actively interested successively in the Star, the Crescent and the Globe distilleries. The last one, the Globe, was sold to become the Liberty Yeast company. They engaged also in making vinegar, having as many as 1000 vats. Liberty later became Fleishmann Yeast, now a branch of Standards Brands, and giving employment to some 250 to 300 people.
Started “Sugar House”
In 1898 Mr. Herget engaged with others in the building of the Illinois Sugar Refining company, which operated as a beet sugar factory. Old timers remember the Russians who were imported as beet growers. P.G. Holden, later of national corn fame in Iowa, was brought in to take charge of beet culture. After two years the factory was changed from a beet processor to a glucose factory. It became the present Corn Products refining company. In 1902 this company was merged with several like plants. The Pekin plant now employs than 1000 people.
Then The Cooperage
In that same year of 1902, Mr. Herget became interested in the management of the Pekin Cooperage company and shortly thereafter was in control of its operations. The business, under his management, became much enlarged and eventually in 1915 the corporation became the largest of its kind in this country. It was decided in 1920 that it would be advisable to have a New York office, and as Mr. Herget was largely interested in the wholesale drug firm of C.S. Littell and company, he spent most of his time during the decade of the 20’s looking after the interests of the cooperage company and the wholesale drug firm in New York.
Quaker Oats – Cooperage
Along the way Mr. Herget started the strawboard plant, which later became Quaker Oats paper mill, a steady industry employing around 100 people. Also he took over the Smith Wagon company, which he resumed under the name of Pekin Wagon. Later he bought the Bain Wagon of Kenoshia Wis. As the need for wagons lessened, he converted the plant into the cooperage company, which was originally at 1101 Margaret. He move it down to the Pekin Wagon location, now the Chickasaw Wood Products company. At the old location (1101 Margaret) Pekin got the Hummer Saddlery company, later the Pekin Leather Products company. Mr. Herget owned large timber interests and operated a stave factory at Paragould, Ark. The company’s products were shipped widely in this country and to foreign countries.
Banking and Grain Buying
Mr. Herget’s interests even extended to part ownership of a mile race track on East Broadway, to which some of the finest race horses of the country were lured; and among the incidentals that he found at least part way in his pocket
at one time was a sheet known as the Pekin Daily times. Important in his business enterprises were the Herget National bank, of which he was co-creator and vice-president. This company had many elevators up and down the river, and performed an important service for the farmers of central Illinois.
Installed City Steam Heat
Probably the biggest disturbance that he and his associates ever raised in Pekin was when a company formed by Mr. Herget and a Mr. McCoy of Lincoln bought the local light company. They hired Tom Cooper to manage it and told him to modernize the plant. This Mr. Cooper did by installing meters, and people who had been letting all their lights burn in all their rooms all the time marched in high dudgeon to berate Mr. Cooper when they got their next light bills. It was during that era that logs laid end to end with pipes thru their gores were installed in the midtown section of Pekin to carry city steam - a service which was maintained until 1936.
Born on N. Fifth
Everybody regretted that Mr. Herget had to be bedfast the last years of his life. He suffered a stroke in 1939 and had been unable to carry on a conversation successfully since. But in the 77 active years of his life, he blessed Pekin beyond measure. Those four score years reach back to the winter day of Jan 28, 1862, when he was born at 303 N. Fifth street, oldest child of George and Caroline Gainer Herget. When he was a small boy, the family moved to 629 Washington street. It was there that the father died Mar 11, 1914. The mother, who was born in Pekin in 1840, died in this family home on Aug 6, 1925.
Father Was Immigrant
The father had been born in 1833 in Hergerhausen, near Darmstadt, in Hesse, Germany. George’s brother was three years older. They were the sons of Phillip and Margaret Reuling Herget. John, when 19, migrated to America. Three years later, in 1852, when George became 19, he left the little German village and embarked at Harve, France, for the new world. Both John and George had learned from their father the trade of wagon makers, and after reaching America they first found work in Gettysburg, Pa., but they tarried briefly there, and in 1853 they took boat down the Ohio river and came back up the Mississippi and Illinois rivers to Pekin.
In Business With Father
Here they got jobs in the old T. and H. Smith carriage works, operated by Teis and Henry Smith, who employed many young Germans coming from the old country to escape murderous wars that have plagued that country to this day.
Only five years after coming to Pekin. George Herget started in retail grocery business. Two years later he was joined by his brother John, forming the partnership of J. and G. Herget. In 1870 they erected the store building at the corner of
Court and N. Fourth street, and shortly afterward George’s eldest son, Henry, became active in the business.
As a child Henry Herget attended the parochial school of St. Paul’s Evangelical church, and at 14 years of age he was confirmed by Rev. Kampmeier. He attended the Pekin Public schools and after that took a short course at the seminary at Elmhurst, Ill.
Wed Miss Aydelott
Oct 5, 1893, Mr. Herget married Helen A. Aydelott of 339 Buena Vista avenue and two years later they moved to their present home at 615 park Avenue. Sentiment for family tradition was strong in Mr. Herget and he made three trips to Europe. The first one was in 1895, the second in 1902, and the third in 1910. The old home of his father still stands in the well kept little German village, which is named after the family, and there are any of the older people of the village who remembered Henry Herget and will learn with regret of his passing.
Started Round World
The middle trip abroad was to have been a trip around the world. In that year Mrmrs Herget, accompanied by Mrmrs J. Harold Ross, Peoria, started east on a globe circling tour. Mr. Herget became ill at Franzens Bad in Bohemia. After improving somewhat, he and Mrs. Herget went to Copenhagen, Denmark, for a trip to the North Cape. While in Copenhagen, he had a relapse and was ill there for about seven weeks. After he recovered, they still planned to continue the trip, but after reaching Vienna, plans were changed and he and Mrs. Herget returned to Pekin.
A Friendship Of The Mission
Chief charity interest of Mr. Herget’s life, although he had many, was the Union Mission, to which he donated heavily and of which he was president. He has been instrumental in the improvement and upbuilding of this fine Mission, which has done a splendid work in Pekin for many decades. Great, indeed, is the Mission’s loss in Mr. Herget’s passing.
Mr. Herget was a member of the Tazewell club, Pekin Country club and the Union League club of Chicago. At one time he was a charter member of the National Foreign Trade council and the India House of New York. In 1914 he was honored by being elected president of the Illinois manufacturers association. A severe blow to Mr. Herget was the death of his younger brother, William P. Herget, who died July 22, 1941, some two years after Henry Herget suffered his stroke. The younger brother was president of the Herget bank and in the years 1920 to 1929, when Henry Herget lived in New York, William Herget became used to taking care of many of his older brother’s interests. A sister, Mrs. Adolph (Carrie) Harnish, died 30 odd years ago. Mr. Herget is survived by his widow, and a sister, Mrs. George Ehrlicher Sr.
Mr. Herget’s death removes a link with Pekin’s past. Also it removes from Pekin the man who did so much to make his city prosper that in 1940 the Pekin Association of Commerce presented to him a certificate of civic recognition.
Funeral services will be held Thursday morning at 11 o’clock at the Congregational church of which Mr. Herget was a member. The body will lie in state at the church from 10 until 11 o’clock.