Conspicuous among the representative citizens and progressive business
men of Marion county, Illinois, is the gentleman whose name appears at the
head of this article, who has by his great industry, wise economy and sound
judgment developed a good business.
Robert Rohl was born in Marquette, Michigan, January 14, 1856, the son of Carl and Caroline (Weiland) Rohl, both natives of Germany, the father having come from Prussia and the mother from Wurtemburg. They both came to America when young and were married in Marquette, Michigan. They were the parents of nine children, of whom our subject is the oldest child of the four now living. His younger brother, August, lives in Centralia.
Robert Rohl's early life was spent in Marquette, Michigan, where he acquired his education. While yet a boy he began clerking in a hardware store, where he gave entire satisfaction to his employer for three years. He afterward worked at odd jobs, such as carrying hod, stone and brick mason work, mixed mortar and did general, all-around work on brick, stone and frame building construction. After two years of this kind of hustling he went to Minnesota, where he worked on a farm for five years in the summer and during the winter months cut cordwood and sold pumps. Then he returned to Marquette, Michigan, and went to work in the powder mills, making black powder, having worked there for one year, at the end of which time he and his younger brother, August, conducted a beer bottling plant in that city, which they successfully conducted for six months, when our subject bought August's interests in the business and continued it for four years from 1881 to 1886. While in this business he added soda water, bottling and supply trade to his already large business. He then sold his business in Marquette and came to Centralia and began in the same business, where he bought out Mr. Hayes in 1886, and has since continued with marked success, his business being located at 117 North Oak street. He paid fifteen hundred dollars for the plant and has so increased the trade and the value of the plant until it is now worth several times that amount. His goods are shipped to the whole surrounding country, throughout Southern Illinois, and new territory is constantly being added, for the superior quality of his goods is recognized by all, and new customers are constantly coming to him. Mr. Rohl now carries about thirty towns on his shipping list and does a general carbonated soda water, ginger ale and all sorts of temperance drink business, also wholesale and retail, for beers, bar supplies and soda water fountains.
Our subject was married to Anna Stabler in May, 1881, and four children have been born to this union, namely: Thersa, Anna, Caroline and Robert, Jr. Anna married George F. Hails, of Centralia, a switchman on the Illinois Central Railroad.
In politics our subject is a Republican, and religiously he was reared a Protestant. He has always taken a great interest in local political affairs and his political friends honored him by electing him Mayor of Centralia, his term extending from 1901 to 1903. He was Alderman of the Fourth Ward for two terms. During his incumbency in these positions the city was carefully looked after and many public interests promulgated, so that his record was one of which anyone might well be proud.
Mr. Rohl in his fraternal relations is a member of Helmet lodge, Knights of Pythias, also the Red Men and Pocahontas. He belongs to the Turners, also the United Commercial Travelers. He is a member of the Travelers' Protective Association, and was secretary and treasurer for four years of the United Commercial Travelers. He was chosen president of the Illinois State Bottlers' Protective Association for two years. He was a state delegate to the convention of the National Bottlers' Protective Association, held in Denver in 1907.
The subject's father is still living at Marquette, Michigan, at the age of eighty-two years. His step-mother is also living at the same age. Our subject's mother died when forty years old. Grandfather Rohl died in Germany at the advanced age of ninety-six years, and his maternal grandfather died at the age of seventy-eight years.
Extracted 27 May 2019 by Norma Hass from 1909 Biographical and Reminiscent History of Richland, Clay and Marion Counties, Illinois, pages 586-588.