One of Richland county's most prominent and successful business men, Aden Knoph has served for thirty years as president of the First National Bank of Olney, during which time he has become widely recognized as one of the most able and successful financiers of Southern Illinois. A native of Lawrence county, Illinois, he was born at Lawrenceville December 18, 1843, of Danish ancestry.
His father, Thompson Knoph, spent his early life in Denmark, his birth having occurred at Copenhagen, September 4, 1801. Immigrating to America in 1831 he lived for a short time in Arkansas, and afterwards, in company with a Mr. Bishop, was engaged in the wholesale grocery business at Evansville, Indiana, until 1840 or 1841. Coming from there to Illinois, he embarked in the mercantile and pork packing business at Lawrenceville, for a number of years being very successful in his operations. Subsequently reverses occurred, and he lost much of his wealth on pork, having been at the time of his death, August 22, 1867, a comparatively poor man. He was a Republican in politics, and cast his vote for John C. Fremont for president. He married Lucinda Brunson, a native of Ohio. Both were held in high esteem throughout the community, and both were valued members of the Methodist Episcopal church.
Brought up in Lawrenceville, Aden Knoph there acquired a good knowledge of the three “R's,” although he never attended school after ten years of age, being forced to work for a living after his father became bankrupt. Entering his father's store, he continued with him until the breaking out of the Civil war, after which he was clerk in the store of his father at Vincennes, Indiana. Coming to Olney, Illinois, two years later, Mr. Knoph enlisted in Company G, Ninety-eighth Illinois Volunteer Infantry which became a part of the famous Wilder's Brigade. Joining the Army of the Cumberland, he fought in all the principal battles participated in by his command, serving until the close of the conflict, during the last eight months of the time serving as adjutant of his regiment. In the early spring of 1865, at the engagement in Selma, Alabama, he was severely wounded, and having been taken on an ambulance to Macon, Georgia, remained there until the war was ended.
Returning to Olney, Illinois, July 7, 1865, Mr. Knoph had a great desire to fit himself for the legal profession, but was forced to abandon the idea on account of his exceedingly limited means. He clerked, therefore, in a store for two years, when, in 1868, he was elected clerk of the circuit court, a position to which he was re-elected for the next two terms on the Republican ticket, each time carrying Richland county, notwithstanding the county had normally a Democratic majority of from two hundred to five hundred votes.
Entering the commercial field in 1880, Mr. Knoph traveled for a wholesale house of Cincinnati for two years, when, in 1882, he was elected president of the First National Bank of Olney, a position which he has since held. This bank is one of the strong financial institutions of Richiand county, having a capital of $50,000; surplus profits of $35,000; and deposits amounting to $500,000. Mr. Knoph is
one of the more wealthy men of Richland county, in addition to holding title to city property of value being the owner of a large farm and a highly productive apple orchard. He has been successful in business, meeting with far more prosperity than the average man, and is highly esteemed as a man of worth and ability. During the Spanish-American war he raised a regiment in ten days, and was elected colonel, but was never called to the front.
Politically Mr. Knoph has been chairman of the Republican central committee for a year. In 1904 he was a candidate for the office of state treasurer, but failed to secure the nomination. Since its organization, he has been secretary of Wilder's Brigade, to which he belonged when in the army. For upwards of forty years Mr. Knoph has belonged to the Ancient Free and Accepted Order of Masons, being a member of lodge, chapter, council and commandery, as a Knight Templar being past eminent commander.
Mr. Knoph married July 1, 1869, Carliette Morehouse, whose father, Othniel Morehouse, was born in that part of Lawrence county, Illinois, that is now included within the boundaries of Richland county. Mr. and Mrs. Knoph have two children living, namely: Edward, of Freeport, Illinois, a railroad conductor; and Maude, wife of E. P. Cochennour, a railway conductor, living at Pratt, Kansas. Both Mr. and Mrs. Knoph are trustworthy members of the Methodist Episcopal church.