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William E. Fryberger is the pioneer merchant of El Reno. He has been identified with that pioneer town since April 22, 1889, at the opening of the original Oklahoma Territory. For more than a quarter of a century his business activities have gone forward on a constantly enlarging basis, and he is now at the head of a wholesale and retail department store at El Reno and also a large establishment at Minco.
He was a young business man of about thirty-five when he came to Oklahoma, his earlier business experience having been acquired in Iowa and the State of Kansas. William E. Fryberger was born in Wabash County, Indiana, November 30, 1854, and when eight years of age removed with his parents to Fairfield, Iowa. His father, John Fryberger, a native of Pennsylvania and of German stock, married Margaret Bonewitz, who was born in Ohio in 1830. They were married in 1845 and she died at Fairfield, Iowa, in 1875. John Freyberger died in 1910 at Soldier, Kansas. There were nine children, eight sons and one daughter, as follows: John; George P.; Frank, deceased; William E.; Daniel, deceased; Adelbert; Charles, Orville; and Mary, wife of James Perry, a rancher at Fruita, Colorado.
When William E. Fryberger was eighteen years of age and having in the meantime acquired a fair education in the public schools, he entered the office of The Commonwealth at Bloomfield, Iowa, and learned and followed the printer’s trade for five years. He then gave that up, not being satisfied with its opportunities, and for the next five years was in the hardware business. In 1885 he moved out to Soldier, Kansas, and followed the livestock industry in that locality until 1889, when he participated in the first great rush of white settlers into Oklahoma Territory. Soon after coming to El Reno he opened a wholesale grocery, afterwards added a retail department store, and a natural outgrowth of the business was the establishment of another store at Minco.
The citizens of El Reno give Mr. Fryberger credit not only for his business activities but for his public spirit. He has served as a member of the city council and the school board and every important movement in El Reno during the last quarter of a century has had William E. Fryberger’s name associated with it.
February 25, 1879, he married Miss Cora Belle Fortune. Her parents were Jesse and Lucy (Martin) Fortune, who was born in Indiana and spent most of their lives in Davis County, Iowa. Mr. Fryberger and wife have one daughter, Blanche, born June 11, 1881, who is the wife of Hairy Lee Fogg, a prominent lawyer of El Reno, and they have two children, William Lee and Rupert.