Putnam County


It is not the province of biography to give a man's modest estimate of himself, but to establish his standing by the opinion of the community in which he dwells, and in Putnam county, where he is best known, Christian George Opper is ever spoken of as "a good man, worthy of all respect." He was born in the village of Wohra, Hesse-Cassel, Germany, November 23, 1838, and is a son of George and Mary Opper, who were likewise natives of Germany. The father was a shoemaker by trade, and during the later years of his life was a government revenue inspector. He died in his native country, and the mother passed away while on the ocean on her way to America.

Christian G. Opper was a studant in the public schools of his native country until he reached the age of thirteen and a half years, and later he profited by the advantages afforded in a night school, thus acquiring a fair education. Attracted by the opportunities of the new world, of which he had heard very favorable reports, Mr. Opper, at the age of sixteen years, came to the United States, making his way at once to Granville, Illinois, where lived his aunt, Mrs. Christian Bruder. He reached his destination on the 16th of May, 1855, and was then employed upon a farm until September. He began working for his uncle, Mr. Bruder, in the fall, learning the blacksmith's trade, and when he had mastered the business he established a smithy of his own, and for over forty 7 years was thus identified with the industrial interests of Granville, carefully and successfully conducting his shop.

On the llth of July, 1858, Mr. Opper was married to Miss Anna Schneider, who was born in a neighboring village of Germany, April 8, 1833, and who came to the United States a year after the arrival of her future husband. She lived in Baltimore until coming to the west, but the greater part of her life was passed in Putnam county. For almost forty-seven years this worthy couple traveled life's journey together, and were then separated through the death of the wife on the 19th of May, 1905. They were the parents of six children, of whom five are yet living: Helen, the wife of W. A. Stansbury, who resides at Normal, Illinois; Elizabeth, who died at the age of three months; Mrs. W. E. Hawthorne, of Granville; Henry W., who is manager of the Toluca Lumber & Hardware Company of Granville ; Mary A., who is at home, and has been clerking for eight years; and Bertha, who for nine years has been postmistress of Granville.

Mr. Opper has always been a most industrious, energetic man. Without desire to be wealthy he has nevertheless acquired enough to allow him to spend his declining years without recourse to further labor, having made judicious investment in real estate, from which he derives a comfortable income. He has a nice home in the old town of Granville and yet lives in the house a part of which he built in the summer of 1858. His has been a most honorable and upright life. He was converted when eighteen years of age and joined the Evangelical church. He assisted in organizing the German church and building its house of worship five miles east of Granville and for several years was a regular attendant on its services, but with advancing years he felt the necessity of attending a church nearer his home, and withdrew from the organization which he had aided in founding and placed his membership with the Congregational church in Granville, with which he is now identified.

Mr. Opper started out in life a poor boy, and for many years he found it a difficult task to provide the necessities of life, but he never became discouraged. His nature is rather that of the optimist, and he has never permitted difficulties to deter him in his onward march. He always worked with the stimulus of the fact that a loving wife and children awaited his return home, and it was for them that he labored so industriously and energetically. His companions from his youth were always among the best, and his own genuine worth has caused his friendship to be sought by those who have true regard for the value of character. His home has ever been noted for its hospitality and good cheer, and was ever open for the entertainment of strangers before there was any hotel in Granville. All who sought it could find food and shelter with him, and these were freely offered whether the recipient had the money to pay for it or not. His influence has ever been exerted in behalf of goodness, truth and justice, and many times a word spoken in season has been of the utmost help in turning one toward the path of righteousness. By precept and example he has taught the better way of life and is honored and respected by all who know him. The world is certainly better for his having lived, and Granville has profited by his labors and his influence.

Source: Past and Present of Marshall and Putnam Counties Illinois authored by John Spencer Burt and W. E. Hawthorne in 1907, page 436.

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