When Conrad C. Ziegler died on December 18, 1863 at age 48 he was already becoming a fading public figure. For the last five years of his life he had been an invalid, suffering a series of operations that kept him at home, away from the public forum where he had performed so brilliantly for nearly twenty-five years. Also, his death occurred in the midst of the Civil War which focused public attention on battle fronts far away from Ste. Genevieve, Missouri.
To recover some of the details of Ziegler's life, I have undertaken his biographical sketch. It accompanies some very important legal and corporate documents from Ziegler's law and commercial activities given to the Missouri Historical Society in 2006.
Conrad C. Ziegler about 1854
The Zieglers are German in origin. There is a very interesting parchment at the Missouri Historical Society bearing a coat of arms and an elaborate seal testifying to the status of a certain Johaan Gerog Ziegler as a knight (arms-bearing citizen) of Baurhausen, dated 1713. Baurhausen sits on the German-Austrian border, west of Munich and is the site of one of the more spectacular medieval castles on German soil. When the later generation of Zieglers decided to immigrate to the United States in the early nineteenth century, they brought this piece of family heritage along. Three brothers, Matthew, Sebastian and Francis, appear in the records of Ste. Genevieve, Missouri, starting in the mid 1820s and building in volume of entries over the succeeding years even until today where Zieglers are still to be found (2006). As yet, I have not determined exactly when and where they came onto American soil, but there seems to be a tax record for Matthew and Barbara Ziegler in St. Louis in 1818-19. In any event, they all show up in Ste. Genevieve beginning in the 1820s.
Conrad C. Ziegler appears to be the only child of Sebastian (1789-1861) and Lucy Schegel (1792-1851), at least from my search of the records. His birth was in Germany about 1815 and he later appears to have been well educated. If the Zieglers immigrated to the U.S. in the late 1810s, then most of his education was American. It is clear that he spoke German and French, beside his adopted English, which he seems to have mastered well from reading his later legal and business documents. His legal training came at the hands of his later partner, John C. Scott of Ste. Genevieve, a well known and politically connected attorney who served in the crucial negotiation of Missouri's entry as a state into the Union in 1819-21.
The first evidence of Sebastian and Lucy's presence in Ste. Genevieve is a deed given to them from Felix St.Vrain and his wife dated November 26, 1831. Conrad would have been about sixteen at the time and probably still in school. His law training lasted about two-three years and he was admitted to practice on September 27, 1837 at about age 22. Sebastian ran a billiards parlor in the late 1830s, which, on examination, turned out to be much more of a general store. But clearly there was merchandizing blood in the family. Conrad's Uncle, Matthew, bought the Green Tree Tavern, a prominent building in town, in the early 1830s and turned it into a tobacco wholesaler shop. Sebastian later turned his hand to a shipping and forwarding commissions business utilizing his steamboat landing north of town. Clearly, the Zieglers were the new merchant princes in Ste. Genevieve.
In the late 1850s, Sebastian and son Conrad, established the maybe first subdivision in Ste. Genevieve history, "Zeigler Additions," just north of town, close to the steamboat landing area. Conrad moved to a location there about that time. There are many real estate transactions conducted in the names of Sebastian and Conrad in and near Ste. Genevieve, showing a strong business acumen.
Conrad's mother died in 1851at age about 59. She is the first of the family buried in plots in the center of the Memorial Cemetery belonging to their family. Sebastian remarried four years later to the twice widowed Marie Gregoire St. Vrain Hoffman (was it the same St. Vrain family who sold him his first property in 1831? The first names are both Marie or Mary). Sebastian died in 1861, but he is not the second relative to be buried in adjoining plots. Conrad's mother-in-law, Martha Moreau Bossier, is buried there the year before, in 1860.
When George Thompkins and John C. Edwards signed off on Conrad Ziegler's admission to practice law in Missouri in September 1837, he was no doubt well known to John C. Scott, since it was in Scott's office where Conrad apprenticed. Scott had already been in practice in Ste. Genevieve for over 34 years and was recognized as a prominent attorney with many commercial and political connections. Scott was not about to take in just any young lawyer to work with him—and Conrad C. Ziegler was not just any young attorney, if later years were already showing in his work. While obituaries are not the most trustworthy sources, still they don't go out of their way to lie. So when Conrad's obituary in December 1863 said he was a brilliant professional in law and business, it probably stated a recognized public fact. In any event, Ziegler gained a prominent platform in the Scott partnership for wealth and influence.
I am judging Ziegler's legal career from a collection of papers which are now archived at the Missouri Historical Society. While they may not be representative of the range of his work, they do offer some impressions. First of all, they reflect the active litigation that both Scott and Ziegler engaged in. While not unusual for that time and place, it indicates the type of clients who engaged their service. The names are prominent in the business community of both Ste. Genevieve and Fredericktown. While recovery on debt is present, real estate connected with mining interests is more prominent. Indeed, the migration of Ziegler's practice from lawyering to corporate and commercial activities can be traced through his career. Both Ziegler and Scott become investors in several mining companies which Ziegler helps incorporate and Ziegler then moves off into management of these mining ventures in the 1840s and 50s.
Why the Scott-Ziegler law partnership broke up when it did about 1852, I am not certain. Two things are occurring that would call for an end to their collaboration. First, Ziegler becomes more tightly connected with the developing mining activities centered in Fredericktown and the western counties where lead and iron mining are at a peak. Secondly, Scott goes on the bench sometime in the 1850s which would preclude him from active legal practice.
Conrad C. Ziegler had no doubt met Elvina Bossier (1824-1873) while she was living in Ste. Genevieve. The Bossiers were well known in town since their own marriage in 1808—indeed, Martha Moreau Bossier had deep roots in Ste. Genevieve and Kaskaskia going back to the eighteenth century. Her family was wealthy and her father, Francis Moreau, was supposed to have run a school in Ste. Genevieve prior to his death in 1802. Her brother-in-law was Jean Baptiste Valle, yet another elite connection in commerce and politics.
Elvina's father, General Jean Baptiste Bossier, was related to the St. Gemme Beauvis on his mother's side, and from a founding family in Louisiana on his father's. General Bossier ran a trading and merchandise store at Second and Merchant streets since his marriage in 1808. The Bossiers had moved to Fredericktown in 1833 after the marriage of their other living daughter, Carmelite, to Simon A. Guignon in 1832 in that town. Guignon and Bossier were then, or shortly, engaged in a lead factoring business situated in the Fredericktown area. The Joseph Pratte family had long been engaged in the lead mining business in Fredericktown and two sons had married Guignon women. This offers some insight into how and why Ziegler moved his interests from strict legal practice into commercial mining activities.
The Ziegler-Bossier wedding took place in Fredericktown on October 29, 1840 at St. Michael's Catholic Church there, witnessed by Fr. Francis Cellini, C.M. who had served as pastor since the early years of the century when the parish was founded. The Zieglers made their home back in Ste. Genevieve, though there were many reasons to travel the twenty eight miles back and forth. Over the years there were no children born to Conrad and Elvina, but there were many Guignon nieces and nephews growing up in Fredericktown, not to mention Ziegler cousins in Ste. Genevieve.
General Bossier ran a store in Fredericktown for the next ten years, as well as developed his interests in mining. His death in 1842 at age fifty-nine may have been unexpected as he left no will. Simon Guignon served with Martha Bossier as administrator. No doubt Conrad assisted in related legal matters. The relationship between Conrad Ziegler and his mother-in-law was strengthened when she moved in with him and his wife sometime in the late 1850s. She was buried in the Ziegler plot in Memorial Cemetery in 1860.
Starting early in his legal career, Ziegler was dealing with major mineral interests, especially in transactions for acquiring land. This moves on to direct participation in organizing these mineral rights in corporate form. There are a series of titles covering various of these interests, including the following with dates: Missouri Iron Company (1842); Madison Iron Mining Company (1852); Johnson Mines (1850); Swallow Mines (1857); American Iron Mountain Company (1857); Iron Mountain Mining Company (1859). These represent documents from the Ziegler-Guignon Papers at the MHS, so they may not represent dates when the corporations were initially created, but they reflect a range of companies all concentrated in mining. It is not clear what relation Ziegler had to each of these companies; for some at least he served in a financial and management capacity. He certainly was an investor in many. Incorporation in Missouri of the day required legislative action, thus placing Ziegler in a political context as well.
The other aspect of his career clearly related to the mining business was his acquisition of real estate, both for himself and in the name of others. Many thousands of acres passed through his legal office in the form of deeds, indentures, shares and other expressions of ownership. Some of these were related to his and his father, Sebastian, buying up land in and near Ste. Genevieve. These transactions were for development itself and unrelated, as far as I can tell, to mineral acquisition. But the larger ones, and those in Madison, Jefferson, Washington and other counties, seem clearly driven by their potential as mineral rights.
Money and politics seem natural allies anywhere and maybe particularly in a area where development is the main work of the community. As Ste. Genevieve moved from a basic agricultural community to one dominated by lead, iron and other minerals, the law oversaw the transition in the use of land. But politics was clearly involved as shown by the Federal Land Commission which ruled on titles granted under the Spanish rule before 1803. There were many deals in which thousand of acres were given to persons deemed worthy for "services rendered" to the colonial Spanish government in the very last days of the regime. Legal problems stemming from these caused, for instance, problems for the Prattes at Mine Le Mot in the 1840s. But the more familiar political issues of government subsidy and support for such things as canals and railroads came to the fore. The issue of legislative incorporation was central to all of this.
Conrad Ziegler was no doubt always interested in and tied up with politics because of his profession as lawyer and mine company participant. But it was not until the 1850s that he was elected to office. From 1854-1858 he served as Democratic senator from the 15th District (Ste. Genevieve) in Jefferson City. These were fraught years for politicians because the times forced one to take sides in the great national debate on slavery, no more so than in Missouri. Recalling the history of the Civil War, one realizes that Missouri stayed in the Union, but just barely. The sides were evenly divided between slave and free and Ziegler was on the side of slavery, not because he earned his living from slaves, nor because he represented people whose basic living depended on slave labor, but because Missourians had traditionally owned some slaves and saw nothing exceptional in the fact. Of course the Civil War was to prove the exception wrong.
I still do not have a clear perception of Ziegler's tenure in the Missouri Assembly for this period. But from what I have read he represented, beside the pro-slavery interests, business interest, especially as related to mining. Indeed, the major achievement of his senatorial term is gaining funding from the State for the St. Louis and Iron Mountain Rail Road. This created a major breakthrough for the many mining interests spread in an arc across Madison, Washington and other counties and St. Louis which was becoming a hub for national railroads. He served on the Banking and Corporation Committee which also promoted a "soft money" policy favorable to commercial interests against the rural "hard money" men such as Thomas Hart Benton.
The outcome of the 1850s for the dominant Democrats, of which Ziegler was one, was a fateful division between those aligning with the rabid South led by Calhoun, and the moderate north lead by Benton and Douglas. One of the issues that Ziegler faced was voting for or against a redistricting of the state in 1858. Ziegler voted against it because, I presume, it would give St. Louis unionists more representatives. Was this a concern related to the slavery issues, or was it because Ste. Genevieve County would lose representation in the Assembly? I cannot say, but Ziegler was on the losing side.
Perhaps as a footnote to the dissolution of Democratic party power was the election of 1862--after the War had started. In a U.S. House election, John W. Noell, an incumbent Democrat defeated John G. Scott (not related to his old law partner). Noell died in office and a special election for his vacant seat was called for August 1863. Scott jumped back into the race but indicated that he could not campaign but only run on his record. Ziegler declared himself a candidate in that race. The outcome was that Scott succeeded where he had lost before and the 1863 election was Ziegler's final political act. What makes this contest so curious was the fact that Ziegler was very much ran from his deathbed. But more of this later.
Conrad Ziegler was portrayed as a man of great athletic abilities. What the forum for this athleticism was we are not informed. But from this heightened physical condition he sank into a debility for the last fives years of his life. What the nature of this illness was is not clear, but his obituary indicated that he had undergone a series of operations. In his estate papers there is a medical bill for all of 1863 from Doctor Hertich showing many house visits, as well as medications. One of these prescribed laudanum and paregoric, indicating periods of pain, no doubt. Was his illness the reason he did not run again for his senate seat? At this point we don't know. But it certainly gave a graceful exit from that tangled political situation in Jefferson City.
By 1863, Conrad and Elvina were living is a house in the Ziegler Additions north of town. Martha Bossier, now a widow, moved in with them in the late 1850s from her home in Fredericktown. Madame Bossier died in 1860 and was buried next to Conrad's mother, Lucy, in Memorial Cemetery, instead of at St. Michael's in Fredericktown where General Bossier is said to be buried. This may have been a preference of Martha Bossier who was born and raised in Ste. Genevieve and spent most of her life there. Many of her children were also buried in Memorial Cemetery. Conrad's father, Sebastian, was buried there a year later in 1861. Another old-timer close to Ziegler, John C. Scott, died in 1861 and finds his place of rest in Memorial Cemetery.
Not only was Conrad Ziegler suffering from a loss of health—and political clout—but his fortune was draining away. He appears to withdraw from lawyering by the mid 1850s. By the time he leaves the Senate in 1858, the mining business appears in decline. But health may have made this irrelevant if he was confined to his home. In 1862 Conrad and Elvina pool their resources by selling land totaling 5,203 acres for $16,500. This represents the nest egg on which they can depend.
Now we can return to the strange election of August 1863. Ziegler appears out of touch with much of his familiar world. Whether and how he remains connected with his Democratic Party is not yet clear. It is two and a half years into the Civil War and the Emancipation Proclamation has cast the die on slavery. What did John G. Scott represent that Ziegler would declare against him, knowing he would lose, or at least knowing that he might not even serve out the few months left in Noell's term? The Democratic Party was by this time badly fractured between the unconditional unionist and the gradualists. Perhaps Scott represented a new Democrat, more rabid than the insurgent Republicans. At this point, we simply don't know. But Ziegler felt strongly enough to make at least a statement in running for the U.S. House as he lay dying.
The aftermath of Ziegler's death on December 18, 1863 was a sorry mess, if one reads the estate papers carefully. Elvina is the administratrix, not unusual since Ziegler had no one else to leave his assets to but his wife. But the thirty-seven or so claimants against the estate indicate that Ziegler was borrowing money or postponing paying bills until the last moment. At the end in 1867, Elvina is left with $129, the house, some real estate and some mining shares which might not pay much if anything. She was not exactly poor, but it was clearly a reduction in style of living which she had enjoyed much of her life. During the decade of her widowhood, Elvina appears to fashion of a strongly Catholic life, devoted to her church and to her friends and family. At Elvina Ziegler's death in 1873, the estate is evaluated at about $14,000, most of which is distributed to her sister Carmelite Bossier Guignon and the six Guignon children.
Last updated August 2008
A. The Ziegler-Guignon papers donated to the Missouri Historical Society in 2006 by the author contain about 164 items, 53 of which come from the legal papers of Ziegler's practice with John Scott and 32 relate to mineral and real estate. The portrait implicit in these documents is that of a highly skilled attorney dealing with litigation and contractual matters for a wide spectrum of clients, both local and regional. The real estate and mineral documents comment of Ziegler's increasing involvement in the creation of corporations to exploit the mineral resources of southeast Missouri. He moves into a management position in several mining ventures, as well as investing in them.
B. The Mathias Ziegler Archive, Missouri Historical Society. These documents pertain to Conrad's Uncle and descendants, but contains references to both Sebastian and Conrad.
C. Ziegler Scrapbook. This document was created probably by Barbara Ziegler after 1874 and contains poems from newspapers and magazines, as well as news stories and obituaries of Zieglers, both before and after 1874. I consulted this book in 1983 which was lent to me and returned to Harriet Conlon of St. Louis. It now appears to be lost.
D. Ste. Genevieve Library has files with reference to many Ziegler persons and events. I found 18 references to Conrad Ziegler there.
E. Probate Records at Ste. Genevieve Court House.
F. Portrait is from a broach owned by a Conlon family member in St. Louis. A daguerreotype of about the same period is is owned by the Missouri Historical Society.
Conrad Ziegler Family
There is no mention anywhere of any siblings of Conrad. I was unable to find the probate records for either Lucy (d. 1851) or Sebastian (d. 1861) which might have revealed something different, but I doubt it.
The real estate transactions are found in the Ste. Genevieve court records, starting with the deed from the St. Vrains to Sebastian in 1831 and running through 1846. There were no doubt other transactions which my research missed. Most of these pertain to Sebastian Ziegler, but the first of several in Conrad's name appears on December 7, 1839.
Conrad's law examiners were George Thompkins and John C. Edwards. Mathew Ziegler file in Missouri Historical Society (MHS hereafter).
A "billiards account" book kept by Sebastian is found in the Ziegler file, MHS. The story of Matthew buying the Green tree Tavern and using it for wholesale tobacco shop is also recounted in the Ziegler file, MHS.
Sebastian is listed renting the steamboat landing in December 1, 1842 for ten years. Ste. Genevieve Library files.
The Ziegler Additions are described in Lucille Basler, The District of Ste. Genevieve 1725-1980 Published privately 1980.
Conrad Ziegler, Esquire
John C. Scott does not have, to my knowledge, a proper biography. He is mentioned frequently in descriptions of the admission of Missouri as a state under the common title of the "Missouri Compromise." Details of his background in brief are found in the Biographical Dictionary of the United States Congress, Bicentennial Edition. Basler offers a vivid picture of a very eccentric Scott in her book, borrowed from a contemporary account, p. 245: oversize pantaloons with a pistol or knife in his belt and swearing profusely. This seems contrary to both the documents found in the MHS collection and his performance in Washington as the delegate for Missouri.
Ziegler-Guignon Papers, MHS indicates that Ziegler and Scott broke up their partnership in 1852 with a draft of the division of assets and liabilities.
Married Man, Corporate Executive and Financier
For more on Bossier, see my website: home.comcast.net/~pmcanany. Elvina had Simon Guignon as a godparent in 1824; Simon later married her older sister, Carmelite in 1832. Ziegler became his brother-in-law when he married Elvina in 1840. See more on Simon Guignon and family on my website (above). For details on church related events, see the Mathew Ziegler file in MHS.
For the burials in Ste. Genevieve Memorial Cemetery, I have used a map created by Lucille Basler in the early 1980s.
For details on the real estate and mining transactions, see the Ziegler-Guignon papers on file at MHS.
For a detailed study of the transition, see Walter A. Schroeder, Opening the Ozarks: A Historical Geography of Missouri's Ste. Genevieve District 1760-1830. Columbia, Missouri: University of Missouri Press, 2002.
For details of Ziegler's tenure in the Missouri Senate, see Acts of the Missouri General Assembly, 1854-58. The Senate passed the Act that created state support for the St. Louis and Iron Mountain Railroad on November 11, 1857. The Railroad was 87 miles long between St. Louis and Pilot Knob in Iron County and was subsidized by Missouri by $ 4,356,800 over the next ten years before bankruptcy forced the State to take control. Missouri sold it for $900,000. Sylvester Waterhouse, The Resources of Missouri. St. Louis, 1867.
For background on the political situation, I used vol. II of Percy McCandless, History of Missouri 1820-1860. Colombia, MO: University of Missouri Press, 1972. For more details, see also: Samuel B. Harding. "Missouri Party Struggles in the Civil War Period," American Historical Association (1900) v.1, 85-103.
His obituary is found in Missouri Republican, December __, 1863.
Conrad Ziegler's estate was probated on December __, 1863. Elvina Ziegler is the administrator. There is a complete medical account for Dr. C.S. Hertich's of Ziegler treatment for 1863, but no clear indication of the nature of his illness.
The 1862 sale is found in the Ziegler-Guignon papers at MHS.
The item in the Missouri Republican advertising Ziegler's entrance into the special election for the Noell seat stated the he " is a Democrat, holding to the views and principles of Horatio Seymour of New York." This refers to the current Democratic New York Governor who took a position of support for the Union in the war, but affirming the need to reach a reconciliation with the South. Lincoln worked hard to keep New York firmly in the Union camp. See the Lincoln Institute's "Mr. Lincoln and New York" on the web.
A diary of sorts was kept by Elvina over the years after Conrad's death which contained prayers, drawings and family items from Ste. Genevieve. This was in the possession of Harriet Conlon of St. Louis and viewed b me in the 1980s. It now appears lost after Harriet's death in 2007.
Elvina Ziegler's estate is opened on _____, 1873. It basically directs all of her estate to the
Guignons, first to her sister, Carmelite Bossier Guignon, and through her to her five nephews and one niece. The final estate is valued at approximately $13,000 after expenses.