Elmer, Missouri - Early History
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William E. Hertzler
William was born on November 11, 1876 in Macon County, Elmer, Missouri, son of Samuel Loos Hertzler and Icephene Alderman (born on July 21, 1853, died April 16, 1928). Both parents are buried at Steele Cemetery. He was the third of four sons: James Levi, Samuel Albert, Charles Herbert and William. His earlier education was at Murry Rural School. He later attended the Kirksville Normal School where he studied to be a veterinarian. He had to quit school to care for his invalid Grandmother Hertzler. Will was a carpenter, farmer, and a breeder of purebred Shorthorn cattle as his father had been and as his son Lawrence would continue. The Hertzler Brothers marketed their livestock by driving them some four miles to La Crosse (Cardy) where they were shipped by Santa Fe Railroad to Chicago. A sale bill dated January 6, 1897, lists 37 steers weighing 54,680 pounds were sold to Swift and Company for $4.85 per hundred. “Miss Mertie” was one of the prized possessions of that time.
On December 29, 1903, William married Amma Zelma Carpenter (born on February 21, 1884 and died June 7, 1964), daughter of John C. and Joella (Graves) Carpenter, LaPlata, Missouri. Will’s father, S. L. was active in local and county governments for many years after moving to Elmer. He was mayor in 1910. He was also a checker player, waiting around town until someone came along to play with him. Will was more business; he worked hard and would rather be busy. He was well liked by his neighbors. As a longtime friend said, “I never know of anyone he had any trouble with.” Will was one of the first to own a Model T, which he purchased in 1917. His wife Amma learned to drive, one of the two women in town who did.
William was a direct descendant of Jacob Hertzler who came to America from Switzerland in 1749, settling in Berks County, Pennsylvania. He was the first Amish-Mennonite Bishop Minister in the United States.
William and Amma had two children: John Lawrence (born in 1905, died in 1974), and Ester Willetta (born in 1908). Ester was married to James E. Rowan in 1940. They had no children. Lawrence married Marybelle Spencer in 1931. Their children were Esthabelle, Larabel Ann and Carolyn Beth.
Will had a good veterinary business and would go anywhere anytime, day or night. He could be in the field plowing when someone needed his help, and he would tie his team to a fence. They might stand all day until he returned. Probably only about one-fourth ever paid him for his services. He traveled as far as Gifford to treat livestock. On one occasion, some men from that town asked him to castrate six colts. He said he did not want to travel that far for so few. He left home on horseback before daylight the next day for Gifford; he castrated 110 colts and received ten cents per head for his work. It was said of him, “He always had a smile when he spoke to you.” He was a quiet man and kept his business to himself.
William and Lawrence managed the Hertzler Jack Farm for many years, raising prize-winning Jacks and Jennets and taking first prize at the Missouri and Illinois State Fairs. One Jannet was twice Grand Champion of the Illinois State Fair in 1939 and 1940.
Will was the owner of the Hertzler Filling Station which he build at the east end of Main Street in Elmer and operated it from 1929 to 1940. He grew tired of living in town, so he bought a log cabin on the ridge road east of Elmer where he raised a few sheep in his later years. He died in 1949 of Parkinson’s disease and is buried in the LaPlata Cemetery.