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LOETSCHER, Christian

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LOETSCHER, Christian. (St. Antönien, Kanton Graubünden, Switzerland, Aug. 2, 1850--Dubuque, IA, May 10, 1922). Loetscher attended school until he was eighteen and then served an apprenticeship in his father's carpenter shop learning the trades of a cabinet maker and "wood turner." He decided that opportunities were better in America and came to New York in 1868 before continuing his travel to California by way of Panama. He remained there two years working at his trade in San Francisco. He then served as a foreman at a small mill in Vallejo, California. Before leaving there the management and employees presented him with a gold watch, chain and locket that remained treasured possessions the rest of his life. (1)

Settling in Dubuque in 1872, he married Miss Mary Loetscher, the daughter of Tobias Loetscher of Dubuque. They had been schoolmates in Switzerland. Christian worked for PATCH & WAITE, a sash, door, and blind manufacturing company but soon resigned to go into business for himself. In 1875 he leased a 16 x 20 foot space on the second floor of the KEY CITY PLANING COMPANY and began his own millwork company as the owner and only employee. (2) One of his first jobs was to make the turned wooden patterns for the first cast iron work designed by Andrew Young MCDONALD. (3)

In 1878 Loetscher formed a partnership with W. R. Clarke, A. B. Carlin, and J. A. Rickard and purchased the KEY CITY PLANING COMPANY. (4) Carlin and Rickard had been employees of the CARR, AUSTIN AND COMPANY doing business on lower Main Street until 1867 when the plant was destroyed by fire. They had then opened a business at Ninth and Jackson streets. The partnership was renamed Farley-Loetscher Company in 1879 when Jesse P. FARLEY invested in the business. (5) The name FARLEY AND LOETSCHER MANUFACTURING COMPANY was the name under which the company was incorporated in 1881. Stockholders included Jesse P. FARLEY, Henry L. STOUT, A. B. Carlin, Christian Loetscher, and Andrew A. LOETSCHER. J. P. Farley served as president until 1894 when he was succeeded by Christian Loetscher. (5)

The firm, which grew by 1929 to cover 21 acres, manufactured sash, doors, and blinds and became the nation's largest sash and door manufacturing company. One of Loetscher's greatest delights was constructing new buildings which he designed and supervised during construction. In 1900 Loetscher pioneered the use of west coast white pine lumber. The company expanded into markets surrounding St. Louis, Chicago, Sioux Falls, and Des Moines.

Loetscher also served as president of the Loetscher and Ryan Manufacturing Company, officer of the DUBUQUE SPECIALTY MACHINE WORKS, organizer of the DUBUQUE PRESSED BRICK COMPANY, and director of the UNIVERSITY OF DUBUQUE. (6)

Mr. and Mrs. Loetscher's children included John Andrew LOETSCHER; who began as office boy in the company and rose to secretary and treasurer and then president in 1927; Frederick W. LOETSCHER, educated in the public schools of Dubuque, Princeton University, a seminary and post-graduate course of five years, special courses of one year each at Berlin and Strasburg, professor of church history at Princeton three years, for a like length of time pastor of the Oxford Presbyterian Church at Philadelphia, and beginning in 1910 held a full professorship in Princeton Theological Seminary; Emil LOETSCHER connected with the manufacturing company, and a graduate of Cornell University, Ithaca, New York; Lydia C, wife of Professor Funk, of McAllister College, St. Paul, Minnesota ; Mary, deceased; Alma A., the wife of M. C. Bardell, a banker at Marion, South Dakota; Elizabeth M. (Mrs. Lachner), whose husband was identified with the Loetscher & Ryan Manufacturing Company; Ernst, deceased; T. B., associated with the firm of which his father was president; Arnold E., a mechanical engineer; and Florence, deceased. (7)

Gravestone in Linwood Cemetery.
The executors of the Christian Loetscher estate decided to make a gift of the estate to establish a retirement center. This was named BETHANY HOME.



Dr. Andreas Heege, Im Roetel 3, CH 6300 Zug, Switzerland. E-mail. October 9, 2013

1. "Prominent Local Resident Dies," Dubuque Telegraph-Herald, May 11, 1922, p. 9

2. "F. & L. Plans Complete Exhibit," Telegraph-Herald and Times-Journal, March 31, 1929, p. 71

3. "Prominent Local...."

4. "F. and L. Plans..."

5. "Prominent Local..."

5. Ibid.

6. Von Grueningen, John Paul. The Swiss in the United States. Clearfield: Genealogical Publishing Company, Jun 1, 2009, p. 126

7. Goodspeed, Weston Arthur, History of Dubuque County, Iowa. Chicago: Goodspeed Historical Association, 1911, p. 725