Frank Mohs Biography


This biography appears on pages 1062-1065 in "History of Dakota Territory" by George W. Kingsbury, Vol. V (1915) and was scanned, OCRed and edited by Maurice Krueger,


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A history of Webster would be incomplete were there failure to make prominent reference to Frank Mohs, now mayor of the city and also well known in connection with the furniture and undertaking business. He was born in Stearns County, Minnesota, a son of Nicholas and Rose (Kolb) Mohs. The father was born in Germany in 1842 and the mother's birth occurred in Ohio in 1844. Mr. Mohs came to the United States with his parents when ten years of age, the family home being established in Ohio. He was a son of Mathias Mohs, who in 1852 severed the ties that bound him to his native land and sought a home in the New World. For a considerable period he engaged in business in Ohio as a contractor and builder but eventually removed to Stearns County, Minnesota, where his last days were passed. The maternal grandfather of Frank Mohs was Joseph Kolb, who was born in Alsace-Lorraine and came to the United States in his boyhood. He, too, settled in Ohio, where he followed the occupation of farming, and it was in that state that Nicholas Mobs and Rose Kolb were reared. The early education of Nicholas Mohs, which was begun in Germany, was continued in the public schools of the Buckeye state. He became a well-educated man and one who exerted considerable influence in the communities in which he lived. In Cleveland, Ohio, in 1868, he wedded Rose Kolb and after his marriage removed to Stearns county, Minnesota, becoming one of the early settlers of that locality. He had learned the carpenter's trade in early life and had taken up the work of contracting, but for many years he had devoted his attention to farming, being closely associated with the agricultural interests of Stearns county, where he owned a valuable farm property. At length, however, he divided his land among his children and is now living retired in the enjoyment of a rest which he has truly earned and richly deserves. His wife died in 1911.


The family of Mr. and Mrs. Nicholas Mohs numbered eleven children, of whom nine are yet living: Frank; Valentine, a resident farmer of Stearns county, Minnesota; Mathias, who also follows farming in that county; Peter, a resident farmer of the same county; Michael, who is manager for a lumber company at Eden, South Dakota; Anna, also living in Eden: George, a farmer of Stearns county: Mary, the wife of Nick Garding, who cultivates a farm in Stearns county; and N. L., manager of a book and music store at St. Cloud, Minnesota.


Frank Mohs was educated in the public schools of his native county and in St. John's College at Collegeville, Minnesota, from which institution he was graduated, completing a commercial course in 1890. He then entered upon a business career as bookkeeper in the Bank of Melrose at Melrose, Minnesota, where he remained for three years. In 1893 he and a young companion managed to secure a capital of one hundred dollars and embarked in the drug business at Melrose but after conducting a store there for two years Mr. Mohs sold out. He then engaged in the furniture and undertaking business with H. J. Haskamp, of Melrose, with whom he was connected for five years, at the end of which time he purchased Mr. Haskamp's interest and remained alone in the business. On the 27th of July 1903, he arrived in Webster, where he purchased the furniture and undertaking establishment of Benjamin & Foster and in November of the same year he bought the store of Albert Forsen. He has since conducted the business under his own name and enjoys an extensive trade as a furniture dealer, carrying a large stock and putting forth every effort to meet the wants of his patrons. In 1896 he aided in organizing the undertakers of Minnesota, which was the first year in which undertakers were required to pass an examination, his number being 24. He believes that there should be strict requirements for those who engage in that line of business, hence his efforts in that direction.


On the 18th of September 1894, Mr. Mohs was united in marriage to Miss Mary A. Grundman, a daughter of Ernest H. Grundman, who was born in Holland about 1830 and came to the United States with his sister when eleven years of age. He was a millwright in the Washburn-Crosby mills of Minneapolis and was killed in the big mill explosion there. Mr. and Mrs. Mohs have become the parents of five children: Cecilia, who was graduated from the Webster high school on the 29th of May 1915; and Gertrude, Bernadine, Frank and Irene, all yet in school.


The families are communicants of the Catholic Church and Mr. Mohs is at the head of the Catholic Order of Foresters in South Dakota, having been elected for a second time in June, 1915. His political allegiance is given to the Democratic Party. He was an active factor in political circles in Minnesota and held all of the city offices there. In April, 1911, he was elected mayor of Webster and has twice been reelected, receiving the entire vote of the people without opposition. What higher testimony of public confidence could be given than this or what better proof that his administration has been progressive and beneficial. Mr. Mohs is truly a self-made man and deserves much credit for what he has accomplished. He has always applied himself earnestly to the conduct of his business and prosperity has attended his efforts. He now not only owns a large stock of furniture and undertakers' supplies but also owns the building in which he conducts his business and has one of the large stores of this part of the state. The same thoroughness and system, which characterize the management of his individual affairs, is manifest in his conduct of municipal interests. He avoids public extravagance and needless retrenchment and has followed the sane, even path that leads to steady progress and improvement.