CHARLES HENROTIN

Source: Album of Genealogy and Biography, Cook County, Illinois with Portraits 3rd ed. revised and extended (Chicago: Calumet Book & Engraving Co., 1895), pp. 33-34

CHARLES HENROTIN, one of the ablest financiers of the pre-eminent, commercial city of Chicago, that municipality the undertakings and successful achievements of whose citizens astound the conservatives of the East and the Old World, is a worthy son of a noble father.  He is the eldest of the surviving children of Dr. Joseph F. Henrotin (see biography in this volume), and was born in Brussels, Belgium, April 15, 1843.  He was in his sixth year when the family arrived in Chicago, and his first attempt at learning was made in the public schools of the city.  He subsequently attended other schools and the University of Notre Dame, Chicago.  He went abroad with his parents in 1856, and entered the Athenĉum of Tournai, Belgium, from which he was graduated in 1860.

In the spring of 1861 he became a permanent resident of Chicago, and shortly after took employment as clerk in the Merchants’ Loan and Trust Company Bank. It was his intention to enter the Union army as soon as he was of age, but after the death of his elder brother he was persuaded by his parents to remain at home. He applied himself to business with such diligence and ability that he was elected Cashier of the bank in 1867, to succeed Lyman J. Gage, who then went to the First National.  Mr. Henrotin continued to fill this position to the satisfaction of his employers and the public, enjoying the confidence and friendship of all with whom he had business or social relations, until he decided to engage in business on his own account, in 1877.

He then opened a private bank, dealing extensively in stocks and bonds. Many enterprises of very large local importance owe much of their success to his judicious management and assistance. He has ever shown himself a public-spirited and generous citizen, and has borne an active part in many undertakings of great moment. He was one of the workers, and gave financial assistance, in locating the World's Columbian Exposition at Chicago, and served as a Director of the corporation which carried through that hitherto unprecedented enterprise.  Many large syndicate operations of recent years have been negotiated by Mr. Henrotin, among which may be mentioned the purchase of the Union Stock Yards and several Chicago breweries by English capital.

The action of Mr. Henrotin in the financial crisis of the city in 1877-78 entitles him to the grateful remembrance of all good citizens. When a large amount of city scrip had been declared illegal, and the credit of the municipality was in grave danger, he wrote a letter to Comptroller Farwell, offering to take all the scrip, regardless of kind or amount, at 92, upon which its market value immediately jumped from 85 to 93. Mr. Henrotin made good his offer, and carried also the defaulted coupons of the city bonds for a year, until arrangements could be made to redeem them.

In 1876 he was appointed Belgian Consul, to succeed his father, who had held that position nineteen years, and is still fulfilling the duties of that office. During the same year he was appointed Turkish Consul, to succeed William E. Doggett. In 1888 he was knighted by the Belgian King for valuable services rendered his Government, and served as Honorary Commissioner, representing that Government at the World’s Fair.  In 1892 he was promoted by Turkey to be Consul-General to the Northwest, and received the decoration of Commander for services rendered to that country and its citizens.

Mr. Henrotin is a member of the Chicago and New York Stock Exchanges and of the Chicago Board of Trade. He also holds membership in social, literary and other clubs, among the most prominent of which are the Union, Bankers’, Germania and Contributors’. He enjoys the companionship and co-operation of a noble and intelligent wife, who holds prominent positions in many social and woman’s clubs. She was Vice-President and Acting President of the World’s Congress Auxiliaries, of which C. C. Bonney was President. She received many compliments of high order for her services in that connection, being especially mentioned and decorated by the Turkish Government, and received an autograph portrait, engraved for the occasion, from the Queen of Belgium. She is now President of the Federated Women’s Clubs of the United States, having a membership numbering sixty-five thousand. The wedding of this couple occurred September 2, 1869, the bride being Miss Helen M. Martin, a native of Portland, Maine, daughter of Edward Byam and Sarah E. (Norris) Martin, of Portland, of English descent. They are related to Sir Edward Byam, of England, and to the Choate and Norris families, noted in two hemispheres for intelligence and refinement. Three sons complete the family of Mr. Henrotin, namely: Edward Clement, Charles Martin and Norris Bates.

                                -- Submitted by Sherri Hessick   (slhessick@crosswinds.net)