p. 1362

Far and wide throughout our vast national domain are found palpable evidences that no foreign land has contributed to our complex American social fabric a more valuable element than has the great empire of Germany. The German citizen in our republic has as simulated thoroughly the essence of our laws and institutions and, while P. 1363 cherishing the best heritages of his fatherland, has brought to bear insistent and well directed energy, maturity of judgment and marked business perspicacity. The value of all this may well be appreciated, and that community is fortunate which has had German citizens to foster its development and progress. In the city of East St. Louis one of the most honored and influential citizens of German birth is he whose name initiates this paragraph. He has won through his own ability and efforts a large success in connection with the legitimate activities of business and has proved himself liberal and loyal in all that signifies model citizenship. He is at the present time treasurer of St. Clair county and vice-president and cashier of the Illinois State Trust Company, one of the most solid and important financial institutions of this favored section of the state. He has been for many years a prominent factor in the financial and business activities of his home city, has done much to further its material and civic advancement and holds impregnable vantage ground in popular confidence and esteem, so that he is eminently entitled to recognition in this history of Southern Illinois.

Paul William Abt was born in the town of Esslingen, kingdom of Wurtemberg, Germany, on the 25th of April, 1845, and is a son of William and Caroline (Class) Abt, who passed their entire lives in that section of the empire, the father having been a prosperous merchant in the ancient walled town or city of Esslingen, and having been honored for his sterling character. Both he and his wife were earnest members of the German Evangelical Association. The excellent schools of his native city afforded Paul W. Abt his early educational advantages, which included the curriculum of the gymnasium or high school. In 1864, at the age of nineteen years, he set forth to seek his fortunes in the United States, as he was confident that this country afforded better advantages for the gaining of independence and prosperity through individual effort. He had received excellent training in his father's mercantile establishment and for a number of years after coming to America he gave his attention to clerical work, in connection with which he was employed in stores in Cincinnati, Chicago, Omaha and St. Louis. It will thus be seen that he traveled in various parts of the country, but he was at all times alert to avail himself of the opportunities presented and in his nature was naught of predilection for idleness.

In 1873 Mr. Abt identified himself with the wholesale liquor business in East St. Louis, Illinois, where he has maintained his home during the long intervening years and where he has risen to secure place as one of the representative citizens of this thriving community. He continued in the business mentioned for fourteen years, with ever increasing success, and then withdrew from the same to assume, in 1887, the position of cashier in the East St. Louis Bank, in which he became a stockholder. In 1890 he effected the organization of the First National Bank of East St. Louis, of which he became the first president. Under his careful and conservative administration as chief executive this institution forged rapidly to the front and became one of the solid and representative banking houses of this part of the state.

In 1902 Mr. Abt became one of the organizers of the Illinois State Trust Company, and in January, 1907, was effected the consolidation of the same with the First National Bank, under the original title of the former, the City National Bank having been merged with the other two in the same year. Mr. Abt thus continued president of the First National Bank for fourteen consecutive years, at the expiration of which he assumed his present dual office of vice-president and cashier of the Illinois State Trust Company, which has profited largely through his able services as an executive. He was also one of the organizers of the Provident Association, of which he served as president for six years.

As a progressive and public-spirited citizen Mr. Abt has shown a vital interest in local affairs and has given his support to those measures and enterprises which have fostered the general good of the community. He served ten years as a valued member of the board of education, in which he was chairman of the finance committee, and in 1910 there was given emphatic evidence of his strong hold upon the confidence and esteem of the people of the county in his election to the office of county treasurer, for a term of four years. It is unnecessary to state that in the supervision of the fiscal affairs of the county he is showing the same careful and honorable methods that have conserved his personal success in business.

In politics he accords a staunch allegiance to the Republican party and is well fortified in his opinions. Both he and his wife are zealous members of the German Evangelical Association, to the support of which religious denomination they contribute With consistent liberality. Mr. Abt is a popular factor in the business and social activities of his home city, where he is affiliated with the Masonic fraternity, the Knights of Pythias, the Independent Order of Odd Fellows and the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks.

On the 3d of December, 1874, was solemnized the marriage of Mr. Abt to Miss Ottilie Ida Buettner, of East St. Louis, and they have four children,—Ernest, Martha, Paul and Ferdinand.

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