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William A. Simpliner (1844-1918)
Peddler around the country before settling in Bay City, MI.

Added Feb., 2015.

Bay City Times - February 4, 1935.

William A. Sempliner Came
to U.S. As Immigrant

From an itinerant immigrant peddler om the days of Civil War economic stress to a settled Bay City merchant is the span of experienced boasted by 93-year-old William A. Sempliner, 1361 Fourth avenue. The present day depression is simply a molehill compared to the mountaneous one that accompanied and followed the Civil War, say Mr. Sempliner. Cotton -- that sells now for five cents a yard -- in those days brought 80 cents, he relates. Thread was a cent a yard -- wrapped on a stick -- and a box of matches 10 cents, with the result that the smoking males used an Indian arrow head and a jack knife to light their pipes.

Mr. Sempliner came to the United States in 1864 as a youth of 24. He took up his residence in Cleveland, O., among relatives. Still unable to speak the English languate, he was sent out on the road to peddle with a written sales talk to enable him to part with his goods. Many are the amusing tales he tells of the imposition pranksters played upon him in his ignorance of the English tongue.

Voted for Lincoln.

As a bewildered immigrant in Cleveland he received his first impression of American politics when he was loaded into a truck and taken with other equally bewilderd "citizens" to cast illegal ballots for Abraham Lincoln. Those were the days when a powerful Lincoln machine was stopping at nothing to reelect the great war-time president, he says. To him, Lincoln is America's greatest president. "If Abraham Lincoln were alive today we would not be in this depression" he believes.

But illegal voting or not, Mr. Sempliner is a truly patriotic American. He left his birthplace in Austria-Hungery because the semi-slavery of the populace appalled him. A visit to his home in 1873 -- a sharp contrast with what he had become accustomed to in this country -- settled permaneently the belief that America was his "home" in the future.

See Only Bright Side.

"Americans who visit Europe and marvel at the culture see only the bright side of life there," he said. "Outside the great cities the poverty and oppression that characterizes everyday existance makes one realize that America has more culture than has Europe."

After a period spent in a hoop-skirt factory in Lafayette, Ind. - which failed with fickleness of women's styles -- and a three-year stay on a near-by farm, Mr. Sempliner came to Bay City -- then merely a "jumping off" place in the Michigan wilderness -- known as Wenona.

He went on the "road" again -- this time with a team of horses -- and plied his peddlers trade up and down the east coast of the lower peninsula. Later he went into business for himself in East Tawas in a store 8 by 10 feet. After 42 years there he returned to Bay City to go into business here.

Ninety-three years oldd, still alert and in his store every day of the year, still able to speak the German, English, Hungarian and Slav that he learned in his boy-hood home where his father was a crown judge. Mr. Simpliner is of the breed that pioneered in the American "back" country; one of seeking freedom from the political oppression of the "old country" and remaining to become intensely loyal sons of their new-found home.

Additional Notes:

    William Sempliner was president of the Hebrew Society.

    1880 - Census: Bay City, Bay, Mich.
    Sempliner, William - age 36, b. Hungary.
    Arstenia, wife - age 29, b. Germany
    Fannie, daughter - age 11, Indiana (ie. Florence, died 1974)
    Jennie, daughter - age 9, Indiana
    Anna, daughter - age 8, Indiana
    Joseph, son - age 1, Mich.

    1889 - Michigan Marriages: Bay City, Iosco, Mich.
    Groom: Joseph Sempliner, age 32, son of Wm. Sempliner and Esther Bru.
    Bride: Florence Kramer, age 25, daugher of Jos. Kramar and Sarah Beckman.

    1898 - Michigan Marriages: East Tawas, Mich.
    Date of marriage 18 Oct. 1898, East Tawas.
    Groom: Sam Mars, age 26, b. Germany, son of Almon Mars and Toba Soka.
    Bride: Jennie Sempliner, age 24, daughter of Wm. and Esther Sempliner.

    1910 - Census: Bay City, Bay, Mich.

    1930 - Census: Bay City, Mich.
    Sempliner, Joseph - age 50, b. Mich.
    Florence, wife - age 39, b. Russia
    Esther, daughter - age 14, Mich.
    Caroline, daughter - age 9, Mich.
    William, father - age 89, Hungary

    1940 - Census: Bay City, Bay, Mich.
    Sempliner, Joseph - age 62, b. Mich.
    Florence, wife - age 55, b. Russia
    Esther, daughter - age 24, Mich.
    Caroline, daughter - age 20, Mich.
    William, father - age 100, Austria-Hungary

    1918 - Deather - Find A Grave.
    William A. Sempliner died Dec. 9, 1918, burial at Bay City Community Jewish Cemetery.

Related Pages/Notes

Related Pages:
None at this time.
People Referenced

Bru, Esther "Arstenia" (wife)
Kramer, Florence (d-inlaw)
Mars, Almon
Mars, Same (s-inlaw)
Sempliner, Anna (dau)
Sempliner, Caroline (g-dau)
Sempliner, Esther (g-dau)
Sempliner, Florence (dau)
Sempliner, Jennie (dau)
Sempliner, Joseph (son)
Sempliner, Wm. A. (subject)
Soka, Toba
Subjects Referenced
Bay City, MI
Cleveland, OH
East Tawas, MI
Laffayette, IN
WRITINGS: History As It Was Written Then.