Biography of Jacob Wiss

A biography of Jacob Wiss is on Pages 581-583 of the Biographical and Genealogical History of the City Newark and Essex County, N.J., by Frederick W Ricord, Sophia B Ricord. Published by Lewis Publishing Co, New York, 1898.

See full book at The book is listed in WorldCat and a reprint at Amazon. Also these pages in my PDF

JACOB WISS, deceased, was for many years an honored resident of Newark, New Jersey, and prominently connected with the industrial interests of the city, and the record of his life is justly given a place in the history of Essex county. The study of biography yields to no other in point of interest and profit. It tells of the success and defeat of men, the difficulties they have met and overcome, and gives us an insight into the methods and plans which they have followed. The obvious lessons therein taught would prove of great benefit if carried into practice, and the example of the self-made man should certainly encourage others to press forward.

Mr. Wiss, who attained a gratifying and honorable success as the result of his well directed efforts in the affairs of business life, was a native of Switzerland, born in the town and canton of Soleure, on the 1st of December, 1817. His parents. Christian and Catharine (Zeltner) Wiss, were also natives of that town, and the father devoted his energies to the useful vocation of farming. Both he and his wife were consistent members of the Roman Catholic church and lived to an advanced age. They reared seven children, of whom Jacob was the only one that sought a home on this side of the Atlantic.

In the public schools of his native town, Jacob Wiss acquired his early education, and at the age of fourteen entered a school of technics in one of the cities of Switzerland, where he completed a course of study. He then learned the trade of surgical-instrument maker in the town of Soleure, and after the completion of his apprenticeship worked as a journeyman in the principal towns of France, Denmark, Belgium and Germany, his broad and varied experience making him well qualified for his profession, in which he soon became thoroughly skilled and proficient.

Hoping that the New World would furnish a broader field and better opportunities for advancement, he determined to seek a home in America, and in August, 1847, he sailed for New York. Soon after landing in the eastern metropolis, he came to Newark, where he secured work at his trade. It was not long, however, before he began business on his own account, opening a factory in Bank street, near Broad street, on a part of the ground now occupied by the Prudential Insurance building. There he engaged in the manufacture of shears and cutlery. In the operation of his lathes and other machinery for his motive power, Mr. Wiss used a treadmill propelled by a large St. Bernard dog. From the beginning his business steadily increased, and in 1853 he was forced to seek more commodious quarters which he found at No. 26 Bank street, at the corner of Library court. Here steam power was put in use for the operation of the machinery, and again the business grew in volume and importance until in 1869 Mr. Wiss was again forced to enlarge his accommodations. This once more occurred in 1872, owing to a steadily increasing patronage, which resulted from his industry, honorable business methods and the skill with which he performed his work. He kept fully abreast with all the improvements of the times and the quality of his products soon won for the establishment a reputation which it has never forfeited.

In 1849, in Newark, Mr. Wiss married Miss Marie Kaiser, a daughter of Jacob and Marie (Wartly) Kaiser. They became the parents of six children, of whom Jacob and Ferdinand died in early life, the others being: Mary D., who became the wife of Martin Ungrich, of New York city and has five children, Martin J., Mary Louise, Lulu, Walter and Edward; Frederick C. J.; Louis T.; and Augusta A. S., wife of Robert B. Sinclair, of Clinton, Iowa.

For almost a third of a century the father of this family was connected with the industrial interests of Newark. He occupied a prominent position in business circles by reason of the importance of the industry which he managed and by his trustworthiness in all transactions. Success crowned his well directed efforts and his upright life brought to him a large circle of friends who esteemed him highly for his sterling worth. He passed away June 25, 1880, and the community thereby lost one of its substantial and valued citizens.

Frederick C. J. Wiss, the fourth member of the family of Jacob Wiss, was born January 23, 1858, and in his youth attended the public schools and was instructed by a private tutor. Later he pursued a two years course of study in the high school of Newark, after which he entered his father's manufactory. Having mastered the business in every detail he was admitted to a share in the management in 1875, and in connection with his brother Louis T. he succeeded to the ownership) of the concern upon his father's death. Louis T. Wiss was born November 6, 1860, in Newark, where he acquired his education, being graduated at the high school with the class of 1877. He then entered his father's manufacturing establishment, where he soon became a valuable assistant, since which time he has been prominently connected with the enterprise. The brothers were well fitted to take up the work where the father laid it down, and like him they are men of excellent business ability and executive capacity, who are known for their prudent management, superior workmanship and strict integrity. Their patronage has constantly increased, and in 1887 they erected the large and thoroughly equipped buildings on Littleton avenue, where they have extensive and complete facilities for the manufacture of all kinds of cutlery. Their establishment is the largest of the kind in the country, and the products thereof are noted for their superiority throughout the entire American continent.

Both F. C. J. and L. T. Wiss are supporters of the Republican party. The former was married in 1886 to Miss Charlotte S. Lange, a daughter of John and Catharine (Bierwirth) Lange, by whom lie has had four children: Frederick W., who died in early life; Florence S.; J. Robert, and Norman F. Mr. Wiss and his family are adherents of the Presbyterian church. The younger brother, Louis T. Wiss. was married in Newark, March 14, 1892, to Miss Fanny E. Baker, and they have two children, Margarethe and Jerome. He is a member of the First Reformed church and his wife belongs to the South Park Presbyterian church. The families occupy enviable positions in social circles and enjoy the hospitality of many of Newark's best homes.

Click on small image for full-size. (And click a second time for some browsers.)