FREDERICK W. HARTKE. Although he arrived in America from a foreign land with only a few dollars in his pocket, Frederick W. Hartke, of Cahokia Township, is now one of the wealthy men of Macoupin County. This great change was wrought through his faith in himself, his indomitable perseverance and an energy that has never flagged. His example has inspired many others to persevere in the face of great difficulties and his record is one to which his descendants may always point with pride. He is a native of Prussia, Germany, born April 15, 1843, a son of William and Minnie (Fronneman) Hartke, both of whom spent their entire lives in the old country. The father was a farmer and died after reaching the age of sixty years.
The son, Frederick W., was reared at home and attended the public schools in his boyhood. In the fall of 1863, being then a stalwart young man of twenty, he started for America and landed at the port of New York, traveling directly from that place to St. Louis, in the vicinity of which was living a married sister. When he arrived in the United States the great Civil War was in progress, and although one of his principal reasons for leaving Germany was to avoid military duty, he was anxious to enlist in support of his chosen country. His sister and brother-in-law, however, insisted that he should not do so and paid for a substitute to take his place in the ranks. He lived for a year at the home of his sister and during this time took advantage of the opportunity to attend night school in order to become thoroughly acquainted with the English language. Nearly all the able-bodied men of the neighborhood had gone to the front and Mr. Hartke and an old man who was obliged to stay at home did the butchering for the neighborhood. In 1864 and 1865 he drove a dray on the levee at St. Louis and saw thousands of Confederate prisoners landed from the river steamers under charge of Union soldiers. IN 1866 he came to Macoupin county to assist a brother-in-law upon a farm near Mount Olive, who had been injured in a runaway accident, and he continued with him for five years. The Wabash Railway was then being built through this part of the state and he secured employment on the construction gang. Later he engaged for a year in a mercantile establishment at Mount Olive and then returned to St. Louis and for four years was identified with the grocery business in that city. Believing that conditions were more favorable in Macoupin county, he once more took up his residence in this section and from that time his fortune was assured. He observed that the Mount Olive Coal Company was sinking a shaft and having faith in the success of the enterprise, he purchased a town lot in a cornfield and erected a building which is now occupied by the Keiser-Nemeyer Company and carried forward a mercantile business in his own name for six or eight years. In 1883, having acquired the necessary capital, he purchased the old Andy Cook farm of two hundred and ninety acres, in Cahokia township, upon which he took up his permanent residence. Subsequently he purchased more land and became the owner of more than a section in the county, but during recent years has given a portion of the land to his children, retaining three hundred and seventy-five acres for his own use. He is also an extensive land owner in the "Panhandle" of Texas.
In 1876 Mr. Hartke was married to Miss Minnie Kruse, of Mount Olive township, and they are the parents of eleven children, nine of whom survive, namely: William H., Henry J., and Louis G., all of whom are engaged in farming in Cahokia Township; and August, Charles, Sophia, Emma, Minnie and Hulda, all of whom are at home.
Politically Mr. Hartke is in thorough sympathy with the republican party and has been a prominent factor in its behalf in this county. He served for several years as a member of the central committee and also as secretary of the school board. He and his family are actively identified with the Evangelical Lutheran church to which he is a liberal contributor. Since arriving in Macoupin county he has witnessed many improvements and has performed his share in bringing about the important changes which have made this section one of the most desirable places of residence in the state. He has shown rare judgment in his affairs and by his promptness and efficiency has won the honor and esteem of all classes of people.