Richland County

Biography - JOHN C. BROCKMAN

It requires considerable personal courage and strong resolution to sever the ties which bind one to home, friends, kindred and native land and seek a home in a foreign country, where the language is unknown, where manners and customs are strange and where the future is uncertain, but John C. Brockman took the risk incident to such a course, nor has he been disappointed in the hope which led him to 'eave Germany and come to the United States, a young man of eighteen years at the time of his arrival, possessing no capital save a willingness to work and a strong determination to succeed, which he has admirably done, as we shall see by the study of the following paragraphs, which will show the ease with which thrifty Germans come to this country, achieving such financial success that it is astonishing to most Americans. It need not, however, be wondered at. The German is more industrious and less extravagant than the average American, for he realizes the value of money and hoards his earnings. He knows its power and ability to earn other money for him in the way of interest. The average American is much more a success at spending money than he is at getting or saving it. The record of Mr. Brockman is not only one of industry but also of honor.

John C. Brockman, now living in retirement at Olney, Richland county, Illinois, was born in Hanover, Germany, January 31, 1830, the son of Peter and Anna (Gieschen) Brockman, also natives of Germany, where they died; the former was a carpenter and farmer. Our subject remained in his native country until he reached maturity and received a common school education. He came to the United States in 1848, believing that better opportunities existed here than in the Fatherland for a man of his ambition. He first located in St. Louis, Missouri, where he secured work in a drug store, remaining in the same for a few years and giving his employer entire satisfaction. He was without money when he landed there, but soon got a start through his industry and economy. Later he managed a confectionery store for a time. In January, 1857, he located in Newton. Jasper county. Illinois, and in 1861, in company with Walter Patrick, raised a company for the Union army, our subject being loyal to the stars and stripes and espousing the national cause, giving vent to his patriotism in a most laudable manner. This company became Company K, of the Fifty-fourth Illinois Volunteer Infantry, and he and Patrick became partners as sutlers of the regiment. Later the subject sold his interest and returned home. Then he joined David Scott in the sutler business of two companies in the Hitchcock Battery, also at a later date had the sutlership of the Eighth Kansas Regiment in which he continued until the close of the war. In the meantime a friend of John C. Brockman had taken charge of the treasurer's office and was later elected to succeed him. The friend made a settlement at the expiration of the term of the subject while he was in the army and everything proved satisfactory.

After the war Mr. Brockman and his partner came to Olney in 1866, where the firm name of D. Scott & Company, jobbers and retail grocers, produce, etc., was formed. They also established a small stock of dry goods. They had a large business in a short time which extended to remote parts of this locality. They shipped the first carload of dressed poultry from Olney or Southern Illinois. Just after the war was a time of high prices, and while they did a big business for a few years it was usually on a falling market and not always successful, but it brought much trade to Olney and helped immeasurably to build up the town. The partnership of this firm was dissolved in 1887, and the business closed out. The subject then operated a cafe and eating house which he successfully conducted for a number of years. His restaurant was popular and he fed large numbers continuously.

Mr. Brockman owns a fine business property on Main street and also a beautiful residence property, having retired from active business a few years ago, being one of the oldest business men in town.

Our subject's domestic life began in 1854, when he was united in matrimony with Mrs. Johanna Greninger, widow of John Greninger, and who had two children, Mary and William. She is a native of Switzerland, who came to the United States with her parents in 1845, locating in St. Louis, Missouri. Mrs. Brockman has been a faithful helpmeet. Five children have blessed their home, namely: Anna, Caroline, Louisa, Agnes, John F. They have received educations and all give promise of happy futures.

Mr. and Mrs. Brockman and their children are adherents to the Catholic faith, and faithful attendants of this church.

Mr. Brockman very ably and creditably served as County Supervisor for one term, during the time when the county was sued for two hundred thousand dollars in railroad bonds.

The splendid success our subject has won in life is due entirely to his own efforts. There are few men who begun in a humble way as he did when coming to this country, who can show as much for their time and talents as he can. It is all attributable to the splendid qualities of head and heart of which he is the possessor and which he has so judiciously exercised.

Extracted 21 May 2019 by Norma Hass from 1909 Biographical and Reminiscent History of Richland, Clay and Marion Counties, Illinois, pages 498-500.

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