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Below is a family biography included in The History of Franklin County, Missouri published by Goodspeed Publishing Company in 1888.  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 M. Degen, member of the firm of Degen, Breckenkamp & Co., Washington, planing and flour-mills, lumber yard and building and contracting, is a native of New Orleans, La., born in 1841, the son of Christian H. and Anna M. (Fipp) Degen. The father was born in Hanover, Germany, in 1806, and was a farmer by occupation. He left his native country in 1837, and on New Year’s Day of 1838 landed at New Orleans, where he resided until the fall of 1841, when he came to Washington, Mo., and settled on St. John’s Creek, eight miles south west of Washington. Here he owned 160 acres of land, and passed the remainder of his days, dying in 1872. His wife was born in Hanover, Germany, in 1811, and is now living with her daughter, Mrs. Katie Droege. Of the seven children born to them John M. was the second. He was but six months old when his parents moved to Franklin County, and was reared and grew to man hood on his father’s farm. At the age of sixteen he came to Washington and began working as an apprentice, learning the carpenter’s trade, at which he continued for three years. He also worked five years as a journeyman. In September, 1864, Mr. Degen married Miss Susannah Mense, who was born in Cincinnati, Ohio in 1845, and who is the second daughter of Henry M. Mense. The same year of his marriage our subject and H. H. Beinke formed a partnership, and began contracting and building. The firm lasted nearly two years, when it was dissolved, and Mr. Degen established a general store and sold goods one year. This not being to his liking, he sold out and in 1869 returned to his former business, that of contracting, and he also established a lumber yard, his brother, Henry, being a partner. The firm of Degen & Bro. lasted until 1877, when Henry died and John M. continued the business on his own responsibility until 1881, when he became a member of the present firm, in which business he has since continued. Mr. Degen has been constantly in business in Washington since he was a youth of sixteen. He has erected over 131 buildings now standing in Washington and the vicinity, at a cost of $268,000, doing nearly as much work of the kind as any other man who has ever lived in Washington. He has been a life-long Democrat in politics, and cast his first vote for Gen. G. B. McClellan, in 1864. He was a member of the town council eight years, and he and wife are members of the Catholic Church.

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This family biography is one of 305 biographies included in The History of Franklin County, Missouri published in 1888.  For the complete description, click here: Franklin County, Missouri History, Genealogy, and Maps

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