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Feigenspan, William
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Feigenspan, William
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William Feigenspan, born at the beginning of the nineteenth century in Muehlhausen, Thuringia, married Rebecca Roebling of the same town. The family emigrated in 1846, with Quincy as their objective point. While on the boat nearing this city, William Feigenspan died, his remains were brought to Quincy, and buried here. Mrs. Feigenspan, nee Roebling, was a sister of John Augustus Roebling, the great civil engineer, a graduate of the Royal Polytechnical School, Berlin, who located in Pennsylvania in the '30s of last century, where he engaged in farming, but soon became interested in inland navigation through canals, and afterward in building of railroads and bridges. He surveyed the line of the Pennsylvania Railroad over the Allegheny Mountains, constructed an aqueduct across the Allegheny River at Pittsburgh, supporting the structure by wire cables, built the suspension bridge at the same city over the Monongahela River in 1846, and two years later built several suspension aqueducts for the Delaware and Hudson Canal. He was the first man to manufacture wire and wire cables in America. Later he removed to Trenton, New Jersey, and in 1851 began the famous suspension bridge over the Niagara River, with a span of 825 feet, supported by four cables, each ten inches in diameter, which was completed in four years, was the first railroad suspension bridge built, and a marvel of engineering skill. Afterward he built a fine bridge over the Allegheny River at Pittsburgh, and one over the Ohio River to connect Cincinnati and Covington. In 1868 he was selected as chief engineer of the great East River Bridge connecting New York to Brooklyn. While superintending the initial operations of its construction he received an injury, which necessitated the amputation of one of his feet, after which lockjaw set in and caused his death in 1869. The noble structure is his monument-designed by him, though its practical achievement is due to his son, Washington Augustus Roebling, who completed the work in 1883. Rebecca (Roebling) Feigenspan, the widow of William Feigenspan, in 1849 became the wife of the widower Andrew S. Becker in Quincy. Gustave G. Feigenspan, her son, born January 5, 1837, in Muehlhausen, was a painter, and followed his occupation for may years; he did the interior painting of the mansion erected by Governor Wood in this city. In 1861 he married Christine Perz, daughter of the pioneer, John Michael Perz, a German school teacher in the early days of Quincy. Gustave G. Feigenspan died in 1868, his wife departed this life May 5, 1916. William G. Feigenspan, son of Gustave G. and Christine (Perz) Feigenspan, was born in Quincy, February 28, 1863. His father having died early he, as soon as able, sought to aid his mother in supporting the family. While attending school he worked as sand cutter in a stove foundry during his spare time, later worked as clerk in a store, attended Gem City Business College, and studied law in the office of Sibley, Carter & Govert. He served as assistant to George Brophy, circuit clerk, prepared himself for the legal profession, passed an examination before the Supreme Court of Illinois, and was admitted to the bar. In 1889 and 1890 he was elected as city attorney, serving two terms in that office, and has practiced law for many years.

QUINCY AND ADAMS COUNTY HISTORY AND REPRESENTATIVE MEN by David F. Wilcox. Chicago: Lewis Publishing, 1919. p. 377-378.

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Submitted: 05/26/10

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