Early and Recent History and Genealogical Records
of Many of the Representative Citizens
EDWARD F. KOHLER. To the manin the habit of superficial thinking it would seem that the place of one's birth could not matter very much; that it could have no special bearing in shaping his earthly career, but proof to the contrary is overwhelming. The principal reason for the difference in degree of industry, intelligence and standards of civilization in the various nations of the world is due very largely to latitude and topography. For an example it is not hard to "figure out" why the people of Belgium are progressive, energetic; courageous and in the main, intelligent, and why the inhabitants of the islands of the South Seas are languid, lazy, ignorant and primitive in their modes of living. The former have to hustle for a livelihood on account of a somewhat resisting nature, while those of the latter live off of nature's bounty without exerting themselves winter or summer. People, like the Swiss, who live in a temperate, mountainous, inland country are hardy, independent, liberty loving and seekers after knowledge, consequently they make good citizens and are welcomed in all countries to which they may immigrate. Among those who have cast their lot with the residents of Greene county is Edward F. Kohler, a merchant of Springfield.
Mr. Kohler was born in Switzerland, January 16, 1866. He is a son of Edward and Margaret (Funk) Kohler, both natives of Switzerland, the father born in 1835 and the mother in 1836. There they grew to maturity, were educated, married and spent their lives, the father dying in 1882 and the mother passing away in 1886. The elder Kohler was a banker, in business in the city of Nidaw and was a successful and prominent man there during the latter years of his life. His family consisted of eight children, five of whom are living, namely: Arthur lives in Springfield, Missouri; Carl lives in Argentine Republic, South America, where he is engaged in contracting; Edward F. of this sketch; Marie lives in Arbon, Switzerland; Rosa also lives there.
Edward F. Kohler grew to manhood in Switzerland and after passing through the public schools spent three years in college. After serving an apprenticeship in the mercantile business he immigrated to the United States in 1884, locating first in Monticello, Iowa, and worked on a farm near that town, until he could master the English language, which he studied during spare time. Later he secured employment in a store where he remained until 1891, during which time he not only became proficient in our language but learned our methods of commercial life. He then came to Springfield, Missouri, and secured a position as mechanic in the north side Frisco shops. His natural ability in this direction and his faithfulness and energy won him promotion and he became foreman, being in charge of a department in these shops for several years, giving eminent satisfaction. In 1904 he began the mercantile business for himself on a small scale, renting a little frame building at 1954 Springfield avenue, and there he carried a line of general merchandise, later purchasing a fifty-foot front frame building. His business steadily increased and in time he was able to erect a handsome two-story brick building on his fifty-foot lot. In 1914 he built to his store another brick building with a fifty-foot front, making now a substantial block with a one hundred foot frontage, in which he maintains a modern, well-stocked and neat department store, of four departments; groceries, hardware, shoes and clothing and has a large force of clerks and assistants. He has built up a large and lucrative business by his energy, honesty and courteous dealings. He may well be referred to as one of the leading business men of the north side. He has done much for this section of the city, and was instrumental in securing the first paved streets in his locality as well as electric lights and gas, and he is now advocating the necessity of a better sewage system here. He is a man of excellent judgment and foresight, has his store under a superb system and is by nature the possessor of rare executive ability.
Mr. Kohler was married in 1887 in Monticello, Iowa, to Rosa Messerli, who was born in Switzerland. She is a daughter of Joseph and Margaret (Glauser) Messerli. When a child her parents, brought her to the United States and located in Iowa where the father died some time ago and where the mother still resides. Mrs. Kohler grew to womanhood in that state and was educated in the common schools.
To our subject and wife one child has been born, Freda Kohler, whose birth occurred on September 1,1888. She received a good high school education in Springfield, and married Clem P. Horat, an enterprising young man who is engaged in business with Mr. Kohler.
Politically, Mr. Kohler is an independent voter. He belongs to the Modern Woodmen and the Improved Order of Red Men, and religiously he is a member of the German Congregational church. He is a pleasant man to meet, impressing the stranger at once with his sincerity and genuine worth.
Springfield-Greene County Library