JACOB MANZ, one of the self-made men of Chicago, and prominent among its Swiss-American citizens, is an excellent representative of the benefits of a Republican Government. He was born October 1, 1837, in Marthalen, in the canton of Zurich, Switzerland, in which his grandparents and parents, Jacob and Elizabeth (Keller) Manz, were also born.
Jacob Manz, Sr., was a stone-cutter in early life, and became an architect and superintendent, which indicates that he made the best use of his faculties and opportunities. Having heard much of the wonderful republic beyond the seas, he came to America in 1853, to ascertain for himself if it afforded better opportunities for an ambitious man than his native land. He spent six months at Lima, Ohio, and came to Chicago in the spring of 1854. He soon decided to remain here, and wrote to his wife to dispose of their property in Switzerland and follow him, with the children. On account of the youth of some of the latter, whose studies were not yet completed, as well as the difficulty of disposing of the property to advantage, the move was postponed until death prevented the meeting again on earth of husband and wife. The latter died in 1860, at the age of fifty-eight years. Mr. Manz did some building in Chicago, but was forced in a short time to give up business by the failure of his sense of hearing. His latter years were occupied in carving marble monuments, and he died in 1886, aged eighty-four years, leaving two sons and two daughters. Marguerite, the eldest, is the wife of Ulrich Liechty, residing at Polk City, Iowa. Elizabeth, Mrs. Toggenburger, is living at Bluffton, Ohio, near which place the younger son, William, also resides.
Jacob Manz, the elder son and third mature child of his parents, grew up in his native village, attending the public schools until his thirteenth year. He was then apprenticed to a firm of wood-engravers in Schafthausen, with whom he remained until sixteen years old. Through the dissolution of partnership of his employers, he was unable to finish the prescribed term of his apprenticeship, but his natural ability and industry had already made him a skillful engraver. He immediately set out for America, crossing the ocean on a sailing-vessel, and arriving in Chicago in the middle of July, 1855. He soon found employment with S. D. Childs & Company, with whom he continued six years, and was next for five years in the employ of W. D. Baker, a well-known Chicago engraver. His long terms in these connections are sufficient indication of his faithfulness and skill. After a short period with Bond & Chandler, Mr. Manz formed a partnership with another engraver and went into business for himself, late in 1866.
The firm was known as Maas & Manz, and was first located at the corner of Clark and Washington Streets, and was two years later moved to Dearborn and Madison. While here, Mr. Manz became the sole proprietor of the business, by purchasing the interest of his partner, and was a very heavy loser in the great fire of 1871, realizing almost nothing of insurance. He had faith, however, in himself and the city, and very soon opened a shop on West Madison Street, near Union, whence he shortly removed to Clinton and Lake Streets. He subsequently occupied locations on LaSalle, Madison and Dearborn Streets, and is now established at Nos. 183 to 187 Monroe Street. The business, in the mean time, has kept pace with the growth of the city and the improvements in the art of engraving. It is now conducted by an incorporated company, known as J. Manz & Company, of which Mr. Manz is President, F. D. Montgomery Vice-President, and Alfred Bersbach Secretary and Treasurer. Every process of engraving adaptable to the printing-press is carried on, and about one hundred people are employed in the establishment.
The genial and benevolent character of Mr. Manz has naturally led to participation in the work of many social and charitable organizations. He is a member of the Sons of Hermann, Schweizer Maennerchor, Swiss Benevolent Society, Germania Lodge, Ancient Free and Accepted Masons, and Gauntlet Lodge, Knights of Pythias, also of the Royal League and National Union. In religious faith, he adheres to the Swiss Reformed Church, and has been a Democrat in political preference since 1876. His only visit to the home of his childhood was made in the summer of 1894, when he made a tour of interesting localities in Europe.
Mr. Manz has been twice married. January 6, 1859, he wedded Miss Carolina Knoepfli, who died September 7, 1866. She was a native of Ossingen, Switzerland. Two of her children are living, namely: Caroline and William Manz. November 24, 1867, Mr. Manz married Johanna Hesse, who was born in Crivitz, Mecklenburg, Germany. Her children are Ida, Paul, Adolph and Helena Manz.
Submitted by Sherri Hessick on January 12, 2002
DISCLAIMER: The submitter is not related to the subject of this biography nor is she related to anyone mentioned in the biography.