Frederick William Matthiessen

Frederick William Matthiessen
Born (1835-03-05)March 5, 1835
Altona, Hamburg
Died February 11, 1918(1918-02-11) (aged 82)
LaSalle, Illinois
Resting place Oakwood Cemetery, LaSalle, Illinois
Alma mater Freiberg University of Mining and Technology[1]
Spouse(s) Fannie Clara Möeller Matthiessen
Children 5[1]

Frederick William Matthiessen (March 5, 1835 February 11, 1918) was a philanthropist, industrialist, and former mayor of LaSalle, IL.[2] He was instrumental in the creation of Matthiessen State Park. Matthiessen was the paternal grandfather of scholar and Harvard professor F.O. Matthiessen.

Early life and education

Born March 5, 1835 in Altona, Hamburg, Matthiessen went on to attend university at the Freiberg University of Mining and Technology. It was here that he met Edward C. Hegeler, a fellow engineering student studying mining. They immigrated together to the United States of America in 1856.[3] After investigating several sites in the Northeast and Midwest of the country, they decided to set up their smelter on the banks of the Little Vermilion River, in LaSalle, IL. Matthiessen and Hegeler Zinc Works broke ground on Christmas Eve of 1858.[1]

Business success

The early years of Matthiessen and Hegeler Zinc Works were difficult, with the Civil War breaking out 2 years after the company's inception. A lack of demand for zinc very nearly ended the company, but troubles proved to be short lived. By 1862, a burgeoning arms industry injected much-needed business, greatly driving up demand for zinc products. Matthiessen would later add rolling mills, coal mines, machine shops, and the forerunner of Westclox to his diverse portfolio.[2][4] Matthiessen served as the Mayor of LaSalle, IL between 1887-1897, elected to five consecutive terms.[4]


Matthiessen donated approximately $500,000 to various causes, such as LaSalle-Peru High School[5] and Illinois Valley Community Hospital.[6] Perhaps his best known donation is his former estate and private park known as "Deer Park". It is today known as Matthiessen State Park.[7]


  1. 1 2 3 "Frederick William Matthiessen (1835 - 1918) - Find A Grave Memorial". Retrieved 2015-10-04.
  2. 1 2 Bill Stoddard (2013-12-29). "People Associated with Westclox". Retrieved 2015-10-04.
  3. Raymond Lohne. "Mary Hegeler Carus". Immigrant Entrepreneurship. Retrieved 2015-10-04.
  4. 1 2 "Frederick William Matthiessen (1835 - 1918) - Find A Grave Photos". 2010-10-22. Retrieved 2015-10-04.
  5. "Transactions". p. 719. Retrieved 2015-10-04.
  6. "Who cleaned up this town? The Hygienic Institute 100 years ago - LaSalle News Tribune - LaSalle, IL". 2014-04-23. Retrieved 2015-10-04.
  7. "DNR". Retrieved 2015-10-04.
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