John Sobieski photo

John Sobieski

The name of the subject of this sketch, like that of his kingly name-sake, is closely interwoven with the history of Poland. Col. John Sobieski was born in Poland, Sept. 10, 1812. His father, General Sobieski, was commander-in-chief of the Polish patriot army in the revolution of 1846. After the war, General Sobieski, by order of the Czar of Russia, was imprisoned for over a year and then executed, together with several of his relatives.  
    The general's wife and her little son, the John Sobieski of this sketch, were banished from Russia. They stopped in Prussian Poland, but were banished almost immediately from there.  
     They determined to go westward. At Brussels, in Belgium, they found a home for a while. Thence they went to Switzerland, and from there to Genoa, Italy, the mother supporting herself and child by teaching music and painting.  
     From Genoa, mother and son went to England, where the mother died of a broken heart. 
      In 1856, John, then a boy of thirteen years of age, stowed himself away on the American man-of-war Constellation, and came to this country. He entered the regular army as a bugler and served in that capacity for ten years. He was with the Army of the Potomac in all its· battles during the civil war. 
       In 1865 he went to Mexico and enlisted in the Mexican army, acting as Gen. Escopodo's chief-of-staff.  
     He served there until after the overthrow of Maximilian and then returned to the United States, settling in Minnesota. In 1867 he was elected to the State legislature and is the author of bills to abolish capital punishment, to enfranchise women, and to prohibit the liquor traffic. 
      Later on he moved to Neosho, Mo., where he now resides. He married Miss L. Gertrude Lemen, at Salem, Ill., in June, 1879, and has two children. a son and a daughter.  
     For the past twenty years he has occupied the lecture platform, speaking on literary, temperance, and Prohibition subjects. He has always been actively identified with the Prohibition Party and has been one of its most powerful and tireless champions on the platform and through the press. 

-- An Album of Representative Prohibitionists (1895)

John Sobieski (September 10, 1842 – November 12, 1927) was a Polish-born American soldier, attorney, and politician in the Prohibition movement. He also was said to be a collateral descendant of King John III Sobieski of Poland.

He was sent in exile to the United States after his father was executed by Russians in 1846 for revolutionary activity in Poland. He enlisted in the U.S. Army in 1855 and joined the Army of the Potomac during the Civil War. Following the War, he joined Mexican revolutionaries against Emperor Maximilian and witnessed the Emperor's execution in 1867.

In the United States, he settled in Minnesota and was elected to the Minnesota House of Representatives, as a Republican, in 1868, from Hennepin County, Minnesota, and introduced a bill for women's suffrage. In 1879, he married a prominent abolitionist and prohibitionist Lydia Gertrude Lemen, an American from Salem, Illinois. Through his wife's affiliation, he became a leading member of the Polish branch of the Women's Christian Temperance Union, and preached against alcohol in Ohio, Wisconsin, and Illinois to prohibition-camps. He was active as a sought-after public speaker from the 1880s until his death.  Sobieski was also a leader in the organization of the International Organization of Good Templars, and near the end of his life, claimed to have "organized two thousand and eighty-six lodges of Good Templars, and taken into the order ninety thousand members" Sobieski and the predominantly Protestant Christian Temperance groups never made great in-roads into the Polish community.

He was a founder of the Minnesota Prohibition Party and campaigned for governor of Minnesota unsuccessfully. His memoirs are entitled The Life Story and personal reminiscences of Col. John Sobieski, printed in 1900. He also wrote two books about his ancestor, the Life of King John Sobieski and John the Third of Poland in 1915.

From Wikipedia, located by Adam Seaman

Additional references:
Article about him
Wikipedia Entry
Sobieski Battles a Group of Bandits!
The life-story and personal reminiscences of Col. John Sobieski (a lineal descendant of King John III, of Poland)

Editor’s note:  Winger’s data places Sobieski in Missouri and does not list him anywhere in Minnesota.  This conflict needs to be reconciled….