FREDERICK H. KOENNECKE.
One of the most successful of the individual operators in the mineral district of Carterville, Illinois, is Frederick H. Koennecke, owner of the Donaly-Koennecke Coal Coinpany, an active enterprise some two and a half miles north of the city. He is rather a novice in the business of mining when compared with
those whose lives have been devoted to this industry, but notwithstanding his recent entry into this now hazardous field he has demonstrated his capacity for handling a considerable enterprise with favorable results to its owner, as well as to those who help to dig out the coal.
Mr. Koennecke has been a resident of Southern Illinois for a quarter of a century and of the United States since 1884. He sought the new world in order to evade the military service incumbent upon all able-bodied young men of his native land and came hither equipped with a knowledge of the trade of baking. He was born at Magdeburg, Prussia, October 26, 1863, a son of Christoph Koennecke, a farmer and one of seven children. As a good education is imperative for German children, Frederick Koennecke had the advantage of a high school training and he might have remained a subject of his Kaiser but for the burden of military service demanded of the Fatherland's young men.
He sailed from Hamburg as quietly as possible and landed at Philadelphia. As he failed to secure work at his trade, he began to look outside of it and found work on a farm in northern Illinois. In response to an advertisement telling of the demand for tradesmen in the city of New Orleans, he went there during the exposition of 1885, and upon his arrival he found to his great dismay that similar pilgrims in quest of work were being shipped away in great numbers. Hearing of the possibility of securing labor at Delta, Mississippi, he spent almost his last dollar to reach there by boat, only to find that he had followed another ignus fatuus. Without means for further transportation he set out on foot for Shreveport, Louisiana, and reached there “broke.” Luck favored him, however, and he kept busy for several months and when he had accumulated four hundred dollars, in the light of the lesson taught by former advantures, he deposited three hundred of it in a bank and with the remainder bought a trunk and some good clothes. But alas for good planning, the bank subsequently closed its doors and he was again stranded. He thereupon went to St. Louis and there secured work for a time, in the meantime keeping on the lookout for a position at his trade. Presently an inquiry came from Carbondale for a baker and he first set foot within the limits of the Southern Illinois coal field in 1886.
While in Carbondale Mr. Koennecke again had a somewhat varied financial career. He engaged in the baking business and later drifted into merchandising in connection with it. He let a small start get away from him a time or two as a result of too much confidence in ambitious Americans, but he finally got out of that city with enough to set him up in business as a baker in Carterville in 1891. His industry served him well as a merchant, for he soon made himself felt in this line, and until 1898 he did a leading business, controlled the trade of the Brush mines, favored that company materially in its contest with its employes when on a strike and was subsequently taken up by Mr. Brush, of the St. Louis Big. Muddy Coal Company, who used his store as a base of supplies when he introduced colored labor into his mines. He finally sold his store and was made manager of the mercantile business of the St. Louis Big Muddy Company and served in this capacity until 1901, when he resigned to take active charge of the office and financial affairs of the embryonic company—the first Donaly-Koennecke Coal Company, formed in 1899. The new company secured a lease near the city on the north and sold it soon after opening it up to the Chicago Coal Company. They then leased a tract of a few hundred acres at Brush Crossing on the Illinois Central Railroad and began development work there in 1902. This proposition embraces a half section of land and is equipped to operate to the capacity of a thousand tons a day.
In 1911 Mr. Donaly retired from the concern as the result of a sale of his interest to Mr. Koennecke and the latter is the head of the corporation, while his daughter, Esther E., acts as secretary and treasurer.
As a resident of Carterville Mr. Koennecke has added his capital and influence toward the material development of the city. He took stock in the Carterville State & Savings bank and is one of its directors. He responded to the demand for substantial business houses and erected a few fronting on the main streets of the place. He built residences and has a rental list which indicates a considerable financial outlay. He has built a small mining town adjacent to his place of business and operates a store in connection with the town.
Some years ago he served Carterville as an alderman and took a fervent interest in urban affairs. He was then a Democrat, but certain policies of the party have displeased him in late years and he supported President Taft for the presidency in 1908. He is a Scottish Rite Mason, a member of the Carterville Blue lodge, of the Oriental Consistory and Medinah Temple of the Mystic Shrine, at Chicago. He also belongs to the Knights of Pythias.
On March 12, 1891, Mr. Koennecke married Miss Mary Louisa Donaly, daughter of William and Mary (Ganley) Donaly, the former of Scotland and the latter from the city of Dublin, The children of the union of Mr. and Mrs. Keonnecke are as follows: Esther, who graduated from St. Theresa's Academy of St. Louis and is associated with her father in business; Dorothy, a student of St. Theresa's Academy; and Catherine L. Mr. Koennecke in 1907 took his family on a visit to his old home for the first time since he left it, and spent four months in Europe, seeing the leading cities of Germany, and traveling into Holland, France and the British Isles, the tour being for his children an unsurpassed educational opportunity.