He was a quiet, unassuming and a not all that pretentious sort of person. But in his time and in his own way Frederick Fieser was one of the most influential men in his adopted city of Columbus, Ohio.

He was a quiet, unassuming and a not all that pretentious sort of person. But in his time and in his own way Frederick Fieser was one of the most influential men in his adopted city of Columbus, Ohio.

In a town where German immigrants formed a significant part of the population, a person who spoke for them and to them was a person of importance.

Frederick Fieser was that person.

Like many German immigrants to the capital city, he did intend initially to come to Columbus. He was born in a place called Wolfenbuttel in the Duchy of Braunschweig on Oct. 14, 1814. Educated in local schools, he grew up in a Europe recovering from the Napoleonic Wars. Beginning in the 1830s a restless generation of young Germans began to migrate to America to seek their fortunes in the new nation.

Fieser came to America in 1836 and later wrote of his early experiences.

"It may be said that my connection to the German press is due to an accident. While on my way to Lancaster in the autumn of 1841, I casually met Mr. v. Kastner, then publisher of the Lancaster Volksfreund ["The People's Friend"]. I had previously known neither him nor his paper, but in the course of our conversation, he told me, among other things, that he had the contract for printing the message of Governor Shannon and he needed a translator for the same. I consented to do the work, and was soon at my task. Everything ran smoothly, and at the conclusion of my work I became the editor of his paper while he travelled about the country peddling cheap literature. I believe he made more money in that way than he did with his paper and that without this resort his paper could not have existed."

"In 1841, the publisher of the Volksfreund removed his paper to Columbus and published it here under the name of the Ohio Adler ["the Ohio Eagle"]. It was printed on better type than before, was rather handsome in appearance and made a good impression on the people. I continued as the editor and worked hard as such. I even wrote a piece of poetry for the first number, in which the eagle was pictured as rising to higher regions. Columbus was at that time a very small town: the pigs ran at large on the improved streets, and were considered better than the street commissioners. The new statehouse was not built at that time and the old one would not now serve even the smallest county as a courthouse. But Columbus was the capital and the Adler would have been successful had its proprietor rightly understood the problem. I became dissatisfied at last and resolved to go to Missouri, where at that time much of the German immigration was going. I resolved to leave German journalism forever; but a man cannot escape from his fate."

Instead of Missouri, Frederick Fieser was persuaded to come to Louisville to work on yet another German paper. That paper moved to Cincinnati the following year. Fieser followed it but became increasingly dissatisfied with its owner. Leaving that paper, he became the editor of another German paper in Cincinnati.

"I would probably have remained for years had not a new opportunity suddenly presented itself."

That opportunity was in the form of a man named Jacob Reinhard. Reinhard was born in Germany in 1815 and came to America with his family in 1833. After working for a time on his father's farm, he began to take contracts to provide crushed stone for the macadamization of the National Road as it was constructed through Ohio. By 1843 he had earned enough money to invest in a venture very appealing to him. He wanted to create a successful German newspaper in Columbus and he wanted the editor of the most successful German paper in the state to help him.

He wanted Frederick Fieser and by the force of persuasion and personality he got him.

The two men were quite compatible one with the other and together they founded the Westbote ["Western Messenger"] in 1843. The Westbote was a "German Democratic" weekly newspaper and soon emerged as the voice of the German community of Columbus. Reinhard would become a member of Columbus City Council and Fieser served for many years on the Board of Education. Both men became quite influential in the Democratic Party in Ohio.

By 1868, the two men had become so successful that they were able to open a bank. After 1868, Jacob Reinhard spent much of his time at the banking house of Reinhard & Co. while Fieser supervised the Westbote.

Frederick Fieser had married Louisa Schede in 1845 and the couple had two children. By 1845, it was clear to Frederick Fieser that he had found in Columbus the place he wanted to be. He stayed in the capital city for the rest of his life and died here in 1891. He is buried in Green Lawn Cemetery.

Local historian and author Ed Lentz writes the As it were column for ThisWeek News.