Arenz, Francis A.

Born: 1800-10-31 Prussia

Died: 1856-04-02 Arenzville, Illinois

Alternate name: Arens

Arenz received a college education (likely in Europe) and moved to the United States in 1827. He had difficulty finding a profitable home and occupation - initially settling in Kentucky but moving to Galena, Illinois, in 1829, before beginning a mercantile business in Beardstown in 1831. The following year, he also purchased a grist mill in what was then Morgan County. During the Black Hawk War, Arenz sold weapons to equip units formed in Illinois and thus established his initial wealth. In 1835, he moved to a large estate outside of Beardstown, which he occupied until 1839, when he established a community in Morgan (later Cass) County that would become Arenzville, Illinois. During that time-span, he incorporated the Beardstown and Sangamon Canal Company to construct a waterway from Beardstown to Miller's Ferry, but the effort failed due to the Panic of 1837. At some point in the 1830s, he also built the first newspaper press north of Jacksonville and south of Chicago and began printing the Beardstown Chronicle. Although his paper was officially neutral, Arenz was a Whig and active in local and state politics. In 1837, he was instrumental in fostering the creation of Cass County, out of part of Morgan County, and Cass County's first expansion in 1845. He served as state representative from Morgan County in 1844, after which Cass County absorbed Arenzville and Arenz ran unsuccessfully against the Democratic candidate, Edward W. Turner. Arenz remained active in Whig politics and was appointed by Millard Fillmore to deliver dispatches to the American legations at Berlin and Vienna in 1852. In 1850 he owned $5,000 in real estate, was married to Louisa Arenz, and had seven children.

Newton Bateman and Paul Selby, eds., Historical Encyclopedia of Illinois and History of Cass County, ed. by Charles Æ. Martin (Chicago: Munsell, 1915), 2:628-29, 637, 642, 656, 702, 735, 742, 782, 800-801; U.S. Census Office, Seventh Census of the United States (1850), Cass County, IL, 64.