Martin Steinmetz

As published in
"The City of Kenosha and Kenosha County Wisconsin: A Record of Settlement, Organization, Progress and Achievement"
by Frank H. Lyman Vol. 2, The S. J. Clarke Publishing Co., Chicago, 1916.




An excellent record of public service is that of Martin Steinmetz, who for seventeen years has served continuoously as city treasurer, having first been elected to the office in 1899. He was born in Kenosha, March 16, 1863, and is a son of John and Gertrude (Wire) Steinmetz, who were natives of Germany. The paternal grandfather spent his entire life in that country but in 1845 John Steinmetz crossed the Atlantic to the new world and made his way to the interior of the country, settling in what was then the village of Southport, now the city of Kenosha. Its population was small and its outlook not particularly encouraging, yet he believed that he could earn a living here and began working at the tailor's trade, which he had previously learned in the fatherland. For some time he was employed by various people. Gertrude Wire was a daughter of Martin Wire, who brought his family to Southport in 1843 and taught the first German school of this city. Later he sold books and almanacs. In those early days he walked from Kenosha to Racine to attend church on Sundays. Both Mr. and Mrs. John Steinmetz were members of St. Mark's Catholic church, which they assisted in building and which was the first brick church edifice erected in Wisconsin. Both the parents have now passed away.

Martin Steinmetz attended St. Georgešs parochial school and afterward took up the trade of blacksmithing, which he learned in the Bain Wagon Works. He was employed there until a heavy machine weighing two tons fell upon him, breaking eleven of his ribs and almost crushing him to death. Since then he has been unable to do hard manual labor but the city has profited by this, for otherwise perhaps he would not have left his chosen trade and accepted office. In 1899 he was elected city treasurer and at each succeeding election since that time he has been chosen for the same position, continuing therein for seventeen years -- a record scarcely equaled in the history of Wisconsin for faithfulness and long continued service. He is a most careful custodian of the public funds, accounting with exactness for the expenditure of every cent received, and his ability is attested by his many reelections.

In 1897 Mr. Steinmetz was united in marriage to Miss Maggie Barry, a native of Canada but at that time a resident of Minneapolis. Following her demise he wedded Mrs. Fannie (Mellish) Dowben, of Kenosha. By his first marriage he had a son, John T., and his wife by her first marriage had a daughter, Viola. Their union has been blessed with four children: Frank, Clara and Milton, all at home; and Gertrude, who died in infancy.

Mr. Steinmetz and his wife belong to St. Georgešs Catholic church and he is identified with the Fraternal Order of Eagles. In local politics he is largely non-partisan, supporting men and measures rather than party. Mr. Steinmetz is today one of the best known residents of his native city, and his record in office is one which reflects honor and credit upon himself andhas been highly satisfactory to his constituents.

Typed by: Marilyn Allis



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