Biography - William Kortkamp

WILLIAM KORTKAMP, the efficient manager of the Hillsboro Coal Company, spent almost his entire life among the coal fields of Illinois. Born in Madison County, July 25, 1847, he was but eleven years old when he began work in the coal mines near Alton. Natural ability and experience united have admirably fitted him for his present responsible position in one of the leading industries of Montgomery County. Although he became a bread-winner when a mere child, he lost no opportunity to gain the education he coveted, and regularly attended the night school. Working in the mines by day, studying and reciting in the evening, he passed ten years of his life, receiving upon the twenty-first anniversary of his birth his well-merited promotion to mine “boss," a position he continued to hold for years.
In 1870, our subject, together with his brothers, Carl and Louis, opened a coal mine near Alton. They labored diligently in this enterprise about three years, when they sold out to their grandfather, upon whose land the mine was located. D. Noonan, of North Alton, desiring the services of an expert miner, engaged Mr. Kortkamp, who sank four shafts and ably managed the new mines for about five years. At the expiration of this time he went to Nilwood and there became the partner of Mr. Noonan in a general store, which they ran profitably for four years. An excellent opportunity then offering itself for our subject to return to his favorite business, mining, he sold out to Mr. Noonan, although he afterward, for a time, carried on the business for his late partner. In February, 1888, he accepted the charge of the Hillsboro Coal Company. Two years later he leased the productive mines, but in a few months disposed of his lease to the present proprietors. These gentlemen, recognizing Mr. Kortkamp's excellent business qualifications, tendered him the position of manager of the mines, which have an output of two hundred and fifty tons per day, and furnish steady employment to ninety men.
In 1870, our subject married a St. Louis lady, Miss Henrietta Ritter, and five children have brought sunshine into their home. Death has claimed one, the survivors being Hattie, Lulu, William and Lorena. They are bright young people, and favorites with all who know them.
William Kortkamp came of good sturdy stock. His ancestors had won their way by patient industry. His father, Frederick Kortkamp, a native of Prussia, emigrated to this country when a young man. Drifting to Baltimore, he was given work by James Buchanan, who employed him as "boss" of teams on the turnpike road and canal. A longing to build up his fortunes more rapidly induced the ambitious emigrant to move farther West. His next residence and first real home in this country was in Southern Illinois, about two miles from Alton, in which city he married and settled on a farm he had purchased of Senator De Wolfe, a celebrated lawyer in that section of the country.
Frederick Kortkamp evidently preferred other work to agricultural pursuits, as he left the farm and removed to St. Louis, where he engaged in the wood and coal business. While yet in the prime of manhood, and but fifty years of age, he died. The mother of our subject bore the maiden name of Mary Galues. She was born in Baden, Prussia, and being left an orphan at an early age, had no ties to bind her to the Fatherland, so crossed the ocean to try her fortunes in the New World. She was living at Senator DeWolfe's when she made the acquaintance of Mr. Kortkamp. She became the mother of six children, two of whom died in early childhood, and four are now living, all residents of Hillsboro.
Our subject is the eldest of the brothers, William, Carl, Louis and Frederick Kortkamp, who are widely known and highly respected throughout the county. Adolph Kortkamp, the paternal grandfather, was a hardy, vigorous man, and could, at ninety years of age, saddle a horse as quickly as a young man. He was a Prussian and served as bugler in the army of that country.

Extracted 10 Jan 2017 by Norma Hass from 1892 Portrait and Biographical Record of Montgomery and Bond Counties, Illinois, pages 378-379.

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