Early and Recent History and Genealogical Records
of Many of the Representative Citizens
JOHN SJOBERG. Wherever one is located or whatever his circumstances may be, there is almost always some way out of difficulties, some way to rise above untoward circumstances and environment if sufficient thought is given. Many people complain that they cannot find a position suitable for their qualifications; it is a good rule to do what you find at hand to do and do it well; by and by something better is very likely to present itself; do this also well, and eventually still better things will be offered until one's ambition is better satisfied. John Sjoberg, proprietor of the Central Shoe & Leather Company, of Springfield is one of our best examples of a successful self-made man, who, by honest, earnest effort, has advanced from a modest beginning through his individual efforts to a position of importance and influence in the industrial circles of Greene county. He believed from the start that the goal of his aims would be reached in due course of time if he made the most of his immediate opportunities and planned wisely for the future. His example might well be emulated by other young foreign-born citizens who come to this country and to whom the outlook at the start is discouraging.
Mr. Sjoberg was born in Sweden, November 22, 1866. He is a representative of an industrious old Swedish family, his father having devoted his active life to farming. He is one of a family of five children, two of whom are now deceased.
Mr. Sjoberg was left an orphan in early life, his father dying when he was nine years old and his mother passed away when he was twelve years of age. His early education, obtained in the common schools of his native land, was limited, but this lack has been made up in later life by contact with the world and by persistent home reading along general lines, until he is today a well-informed man and an intelligent conversationalist. He remained with his family while learning the trade of shoemaker, for which instruction he paid fifty crowns a year for two years. He applied himself diligently and became an expert. He worked as a journeyman until he was twenty years of age, then served his required time in the Swedish army, after which he started a shoe shop of his own. The future of such a business at that time and in that place did not present a very rosy aspect to him, so, obtaining permission from the government to leave his native land, he set sail for the United States, and located in Springfield, Missouri, in 1888, where he has since resided. He not only had to start life here without capital, but was in debt for about half of his fare from the old country. But nothing daunted he set to work with energy and ambition, soon adjusted himself to new conditions, manners and language and for a year and a half worked for wages in a local shop at his trade, then bought a small shop of his own, having the meanwhile saved his earnings and also paid his living expenses and his debts. He did general repairing for four years in his own shop, then began to branch out into a larger business by carrying in stock a few half-soles and other minor materials in his line, increasing the same as his meager capital permitted. His little shop was only nine by fifteen feet. After five years his business had increased to such an extent that he was obliged to seek larger quarters, in which he spent five years also; this was on Boonville street, near the Central hotel, and while there he added a considerable stock of leather goods and shoes, his business rapidly increasing and he employed a number of assistants. In 1910 he moved into the retail district and has since occupied commodious quarters at 325-327 East Walnut street, where he maintains an attractive, well-arranged, convenient and well-stocked store and manufacturing plant known as the Central Shoe and Leather Company. He does an extensive wholesale leather and shoe findings business, keeping a capable salesman on the road continuously. Aside from his wholesale department he operates a large retail shoe store and shoe shop, employing a number of experienced assistants and he does a large business in all departments. Four men are kept at work in his shop in which modern machinery of all kinds has been installed, and high-grade work is promptly done. He is at this writing making plans to increase his wholesale department, the business of which already extends over a wide territory in the Southwest. He has been very successful in a business way during his career in Springfield of over a quarter of a century, and he is owner of a good Greene county farm and a fine home which he built in 1909.
Mr. Sjoberg was married in 1892 to Hulda Ohrn, a native of Sweden, in which country their romance began when young, and after prosperity attended his efforts in the new world he induced her to come here and they were joined for life's serious journey. Their union has been blessed by the birth of three children, namely: Florence is a graduate of the Springfield high school; Arthur will graduate from high school with the class of 1916, and Dorothy, who is attending ward school.
Politically Mr. Sjoberg is a Republican. Fraternally he belongs to the Independent Order of Odd Fellows, of which he is past grand; he also holds membership in the Modern Woodmen of America. Personally he is a sociable, companionable and obliging gentleman, whose word is regarded as good as the bond of most men by those with whom he transacts business and his personal habits have ever been above criticism.
Springfield-Greene County Library