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Below is a family biography included in The History of Sebastian County, Arkansas published by Goodspeed Publishing Company in 1889.  These biographies are valuable for genealogy research in discovering missing ancestors or filling in the details of a family tree. Family biographies often include far more information than can be found in a census record or obituary.  Details will vary with each biography but will often include the date and place of birth, parent names including mothers' maiden name, name of wife including maiden name, her parents' names, name of children (including spouses if married), former places of residence, occupation details, military service, church and social organization affiliations, and more.  There are often ancestry details included that cannot be found in any other type of genealogical record.

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John Degen, butcher and fine stock raiser, of Huntington, is one of the first settlers of that place, having purchased the first corner lot. He was born in the Rhine, Germany, in 1838, and is a son of Hermann and Barbara (Eichorn) Degen, who coming to the United States in 1848, spent one year in New York City, and then lived until 1860 in Schenectady. They then immigrated to Fort Smith, near which place the mother is now living, and where the father died in 1869. He was a civil engineer, and followed that vocation while in New York. In his native land he was a prominent politician, having been a member of Parliament many years, and, being on the unpopular side during the European trouble of 1848, he deemed it prudent to emigrate. John Degen, the subject of this sketch, was the seventh child in a family of five sons and five daughters, and received his English and German education in New York City, where he also learned the butcher’s trade. After working in Schenectady, Syracuse, Utica, Detroit and Chicago he traveled farther west in 1854. He served throughout the Kansas War, and enlisted in the Government employ in May, 1854. He served five years in Company B, First United States Cavalry, as sergeant, and fought the Indians in Colorado, Montana and the Rocky Mountain district. He first visited Fort Smith in 1854, and taking up his residence at that place in 1860 he made it his home until coming to Huntington in 1887. Upon the outbreak of the Civil War he commanded a company under Gen. Pike, with whom he traveled through the Indian Territory, making treaties for the Confederate army with the Indians. He remained in service as military instructor for the trans-Mississippi Department until captured in Sebastian County in 1863. He was held a prisoner six weeks at Fort Smith, and was not exchanged. November 4, 1864, he married Bertha, a daughter of Andrew Euper, who came from Germany when a child with her parents. This marriage has resulted in five children, four of whom are living. After the war until 1869 Mr. Degen traded in cattle, but since 1871 has been engaged in butchering and contracting with the railway. He assisted largely in the building of the “Frisco,” Missouri, Kansas & Texas, and other lines in the Southwest. Since 1877 Mr. Degen has devoted a great share of his attention to the breeding of Poland China and Berkshire hogs and short-horn cattle. He has some fine herds, and has taken several premiums at different fairs, including the fairs of Fort Smith and St. Louis. He is well informed upon the subject of cattle raising and breeding, and has done a great deal toward the improvement of stock in the country. He is a large dealer, exporting cattle to Texas, Missouri, Indian Territory and other States.

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This family biography is one of 217 biographies included in The History of Sebastian County, Arkansas published in 1889.  For the complete description, click here: Sebastian County, Arkansas History, Genealogy, and Maps

View additional Sebastian County, Arkansas family biographies here: Sebastian County, Arkansas

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