John B. Pfeffer
Excerpt from: The Round Table (January 13, 1917).
John Barvel Pfeffer, who has through fity-one years of consistent service to Beloit college, made himself almost a fixture in the institution, died at his home last Thursday afternoon at five-twenty o'clock....
John B. Pfeffer was born at Frank-am-Main, November 5th, 1833*. His father was a skilled boiler-maker and served under Napoleon, being present at the burning of Moscow. He was the seventh of nine children, and owing to financial reverses of his father, was thrown entirely upon his own resources at the age of 2 years. He learned the trade of a shoemaker going to school from five in the morning until four in the afternoon and then working at his trade in the evening. At 14 years he left the school and worked at his trade until he was eighteen.
On April 28th, 1850, he left his home for America, came directly to Chicago, where he lived for eight months, and from there to Beloit, where he has made his home since 1851. His life here save for four years as a foreman of the shoe shop in the state reform school, has been passed as a shoemaker, as a farmer, as foreman of a coal and lumber yard, as a painter, and since 1866 as janitor of Beloit College. He was married in 1865, and has had five children. And now after 51 years of service as janitor of the college, during which he made himself the best friend of all who would allow him the privilege, he has died in his eighty-fourth** year, beloved and honored by all with whom he came in contact.
* The April 14, 1917, issue of The Round Table includes the article "Old Beloit Janitor Did not Know Age," which reveals that Pfeffer's actual year of birth was 1829.
**Pfeffer was actually eighty-seven upon his death.
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