If we have kindly words for men, we should deem it a privilege to speak of them while they live. Those who have reached the allotted three-score and ten, and all along the way have been exemplars of those virtues which mark manliness and exalt citizenship, are deserving full need of praise, as they round out a life of integrity and beneficent usefulness. To speak of Mr. Herget as one who has lived long and lived well, is but to express the conviction of all those who have known him best.
Born .May 9, 1833, the subject of this sketch is a native of Hergeshausen, Kreis Dieburg, Hesse-Darmstadt, Germany. His father, Philip, was born in the same place in 1800, and served as an officer in the German army, after which he followed his trade of a wagonmaker, together with farming pursuits. The mother, whose maiden name was Margaret Reuling and who was born in Hergeshausen, was the daughter of George Reuling, a well-to-do farmer of Hesse-Darmstadt; she died in 1836. The father died in Pekin, in September, 1871.
The three children born to Philip and Margaret Herget are: George, of this sketch; John, who died in Pekin in September, 1899, and Mary, the wife of Nicholas Reuling, of Pekin. The father married as his second wife Miss Anna Klein, and they had five children: Margareta, who became the wife of Adam George (both being now deceased); Mary, who married John Fraeger; Philip; Catherine, wife of John Block, and Madeline, wife of George Meisinger, of Peoria, Ill. Of the four living children, all but the last named are residents of Pekin.
Mr. Herget spent his boyhood in his native land, and there learned the trade of a wagonmaker. In 1852 he took passage at Havre. France, on a sailing vessel bound for America, and after landing in New York, proceeded to Gettysburg, where he was employed at his trade until the fall of 1853. Then coming West, via the Ohio and Mississippi rivers, he settled in Pekin, where he found employment in the T. & H. Smith carriage-works. In 1858 he engaged in the retail grocery business. Two years later he was joined by his brother John, forming the partnership of J. & G. Herget. In 1870 they erected the store building at the corner of Court and North Fourth Streets where, since its completion, he has conducted an extensive business, being for some time in the wholesale grocery and liquor trade.
In 1888 Mr. Herget assisted in the organization of the Pekin Stave and Manufacturing Company, and has since been its president. In the fall of 1888, with other family interests he built the Star Distillery: in 1890, the Crescent Distillery, and, in 1892, the G1obe Distillery. This is the largest distilling house in Pekin, having a capacity of 5,000 bushels per day. The year 1900 witnessed the building and completion of the Illinois Sugar Refining Company, and Mr. Herget became largely interested in it. In addition to these enterprises, he is also interested in the Globe Cattle Company, which annually feeds from 6.000 to 7.000 head of cattle. He was honored by being elected the first President of the Pekin Park District. As will be seen, he deservedly ranks among the most prominent and successful business men in Central Illinois, and his position in the financial world has been reached only by the exercise of sound business principles and unswerving integrity. He is a safe counsellor, and has always been an advocate of the cause of justice and right, in whatever capacity he may have been called upon to act.
Mr. Herget has frequently been called to public position by his fellow-citizens, but has never been an aspirant for political office. He has served in the City Council, on the Board of Education and has represented the city in the County Board of Supervisors. In politics he has always affiliated with the Republican party.
One of the notable benefactions bestowed by Mr. Herget upon the community was the presentation to the city of the site upon which the Carnegie Library Building stands. He was one of the founders of the St. Paul’s Evangelical Church, and, ever since its organization, has been one of its most liberal contributors.
Mr. Herget was married in Pekin, in 1861, to Miss Caroline Goehner, born in that place and the daughter of George Goehner, an old settler and prominent farmer of Tazewell County. To this union four children have been born: Henry G.; Mary L., wife of George Ehrlicher: William P., and Carrie A., wife of C. A. Harnish— all residents of Pekin. The members of the family stand high in the social circles of the city, and are universally respected for worth and nobility of character.
Historical Encyclopedia of Illinois and History of Tazewell County - page 1018