Biography of Jacob Hepperlin

Jacob Hepperlin, a German immigrant born in 1827, ventured to America in 1854, seeking opportunities. Overcoming initial hardships, Jacob’s resilience led him to success in farming and business. Settling in Paw Paw, Illinois, he now enjoys retirement, supported by significant investments in real estate and a productive farm. Married thrice, Jacob’s life is a testament to perseverance and adaptability. With his third wife, Cynthia, they are active in the Methodist Episcopal Church, embodying the spirit of community and faith. Jacob’s journey from a newcomer to a respected community member highlights his enduring legacy of hard work and determination.

Jacob Hepperlin left his native Germany in the prime of early manhood to seek a new home in America. After journeying thousands of miles over sea and land, he found himself in the heart of a strange country, among unknown people, with little to call his own. However, he possessed the determination to overcome all difficulties in his path, as evidenced by his subsequent career. Today, he lives retired from farming or other active business in his comfortable home in Paw Paw.

Mr. Hepperlin was born in the village of Neidlingen, near Wurtemberg, Germany, on July 26, 1827. His father, John Hepperlin, was also born there and was the son of another John Hepperlin, who was a lifelong resident and farmer in that locality. Jacob’s father was bred to farming and always followed that occupation, except for the time he served in the German army, accompanying Napoleon in the campaign against Moscow. He died in 1856 in Germany, leaving behind seven children, only two of whom, his daughter Katherhie Gseller and Jacob, came to America, along with three grandsons and two granddaughters.

Jacob spent his early life in Germany and received a good education in its schools. He decided to emigrate to America in pursuit of opportunities denied to him at home. In May 1854, he set sail from Havre and arrived in New York City thirty-seven days later. He then came directly to Illinois, finding work on a farm in Princeton, where he was employed by the month. Despite having little spare cash, he worked hard and eventually saved enough money to buy a farm seven miles northwest of Princeton. In 1874, he sold that property and moved to Paw Paw, where he invested in village property and established a furniture business. After a few years, he returned to farming until his retirement six years later. He now enjoys a comfortable income, owning a double brick block in Paw Paw acquired in 1882 through a land exchange in Iowa, as well as a well-improved 234-acre farm in Willow Creek Township.

Jacob was married three times. His first wife, Rebecca Duestin, passed away in 1865, leaving behind three children. His second marriage, in 1867, was to Maggie Mercer, who died in 1868. In 1869, he married Cynthia (Mercer) Baker, widow of Rev. D.S. Baker, with whom he had one son, Jesse Ellis. Cynthia had a daughter, Leonora, from her previous marriage, who married J.A. McCulloch. Jacob and Cynthia are esteemed members of the Methodist Episcopal Church.

Cynthia Hepperlin comes from pioneer stock in Illinois. She was born in Belmont County, Ohio, the daughter of Ellis Mercer, who migrated to Illinois in 1836 with his family, traveling via the Ohio, Mississippi, and Illinois Rivers. They settled in Bureau County, then sparsely settled and mostly government-owned land. Ellis Mercer bought land and became a respected member of the community until his passing. Cynthia married Jacob Hepperlin after her first husband, Rev. Dennis Stephen Baker, a native of New York, died in 1865.


Biographical Publishing Company, Portrait and biographical record of Lee County, Illinois, containing biographical sketches of prominent and representative citizens, together with biographies of all the governors of the state, and of the presidents of the United States, Chicago: Biographical Publishing Co., 1892.

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