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George Mentzer Biography

As I’m going thru source citations for Phillip A. Mentzer, I found a vague reference to a Mentzer biography buried in my files. Based on the information in the biography, it was likely written between 1895 and 1902. The author of the biography is unknown to me.

The Veteran soldier who risked his life in defense of the flag, all things else being equal, takes high rank as a citizen. This may be partly because of the quality of the patriotism of the American public, but there is another reason for the preeminence of the veteran. The man who has the form of character to win distinction as a faithful defender of his country possesses the resourceful perseverance so necessary to success in other fields, and this is abundantly verified in the life of George Mentzer, who loyally followed the starry banner during the Civil war and is now one of the enterprising and prosperous agriculturists of Woodson county, where he has made his home since 1869.

A native of Stowe, Massachusetts, he was born June 12, 1838, and is a son of Phillip A. and Orinda (Miles) Mentzer. The father, a native of Germany, died in Massachusetts in 1844, and his widow was buried by the side of her husband on the old home place in the Bay state. They had ten children, but only three are now living; Rufus, of Ft. Morgan, Colorado, Mrs. Sarah A. Green of Boston, Massachusetts and George of this review.

The last named was reared in his native village until sixteen years of age, when he emigrated to Illinois and became a farm hand, being employed in that capacity for about two years. He then went to Chicago, where he secured a situation as clerk in a grocery store, also acting as assistant in a butchering establishment. Upon leaving the city he returned to Massachusetts to visit his mother and while there he learned the trade of a comb maker, the combs being manufactured from the horns of cattle. He also improved his literary education by attending school. He was still in his native state when the Civil war broke out and there he enlisted as a member of Company C. Twenty-fourth Massachusetts infantry, which was sent to Annapolis and on to North Carolina and thence to South Carolina, being discharged in front of Petersburg, Virginia. Among the important engagements in which he participated were the battles of Roanoke Island, Newberne, White Hall Goldsboro, Kingston, Bermuda Hundred and Petersburg. He did duty in front of the Rebel fort which was blown up by a Pennsylvania regiment. In all of his three years’ service he was never wounded, but was always found at his post of duty faithfully detending the starry banner—the emblem of an undivided union.

When the war was ended Mr. Mentzer returned to Massachusetts and spent the
succeeding winter in Boston, after which he turned his attention to farming. He then again made his way to Illinois, where, prior to the war, he had aided in establishing the first hotel in Kewanee. He remained a resident of Henry county and was engaged in the butchering business until 1869, when he came to Woodson County, Kansas, settling on section six. Center township, where he has since made his home, his labors being given to the improvement of his farm. He now has a rich tract of land, the alluvial soil yielding good harvests for the work bestowed upon it.

In Henry county, Illinois, Mr. Mentzer was united in marriage to Miss Emeline Minnick, a daughter of John Minnick, a Pennsylvania German, who had a family of five daughters and one son. The wedding of Mr. and Mrs. Mentzer was celebrated on the 1st of January, 1867, and they are now the parents of eight children, as follows: Charles 0. who married Nettie Wells; John F. who married Anna Wells; Susie May; Henry A.; Phillip E. who is now a student of the State Agricultural College of Kansas; Ernest E.; Clara E. and Clarence A. Although the Mentzer family have usually been Republicans, George Mentzer cast his first presidential vote for the Democratic nominee in 1860, and is now a Prohibitionist. He believes most firmly in the abolishment of the liquor traffic through acts of legislation, and he is the type of citizens who support all measures to advance the moral welfare of the community.