Aden Knoph, the well known president of the First National Bank, of
Olney, Illinois, was born in Lawrenceville, this state, December 18, 1843,
tne son of Thompson and Lucinda (Brunson) Knoph, a former resident of
Copenhagen, Denmark, where he was born. The latter was a native of Ohio.
The subject's father came to America in 1830 and engaged in the mercantile business in Evansville, Indiana, operating a wholesale grocery in 1835, which was a large undertaking in those early days. In 1839 he located at Lawrenceville, Illinois, and continued in the merchandise business. He was one of the original pork packers of that place, having built up an extensive business for that time, giving a market for most of the hogs raised in Southern Illinois. He retired from the packing business in 1855. In 1859 he located in Vincennes, Indiana, and engaged in the mercantile business and in 1861 he came to Olney, Illinois, where he was engaged in business until 1865 when he retired. He was successful in whatever he undertook and was a man of many sterling traits of character that made him influential wherever he went. He was called from his earthly labors in 1867, at the age of sixty-seven years. His first wife died many years previous and he re-married the sister of his first life companion, who passed away in Washington before it was a state.
The subject's paternal grandfather was bom on the day that Commodore Nelson bombarded the city of Copenhagen, Denmark. When he was twelve years old he went to sea as cabin boy and as he grew to manhood he worked his way up until he became master of the ship and he made many long voyages to foreign lands and was several times around the globe.
Aden Knoph, our subject, was reared in Lawrenceville, Illinois. His educational advantages were limited owing to the reverses of his father and the death of his mother shortly after his birth. When nine years old he entered the store of his father to help with the work and he stood on a box behind the counter when he measured goods. Yielding to his patriotic spirit when the war between the states began, he tried to enlist, but was rejected when he sought to become a private in the Eighth Regiment, Illinois Volunteers. He was later rejected by the Fourteenth and Twenty-fourth Indiana regiments. Still persistent lie finally enlisted in the Ninety-eighth Illinois Volunteer Infantry in January, 1864. This regiment was first assigned to the Army of the Cumberland, later to the Wilder Brigade. He served in a most gallant manner until the close of the war, taking part in many closely contested engagements. In September, 1864, Mr. Knoph was promoted to sergeant and on December 5, 1864 he was promoted to adjutant of the regiment. He participated in all the battles in which this regiment was engaged. He was wounded at Selma, Alabama, being shot twice through the left leg; one of the bullets he carries today. He was mustered out at the close of the war. July 7, 1865, at Nashville, Tennessee.
After the war our subject returned to Olney and entered the store of his father, where he remained for about a year, when the business was closed out on account of the failing health of the subject's father. Mr. Knoph then turned his attention to the study of law, entering the law office of Hayward & Kitchell, where he remained for one year, making rapid progress. Mr. Kitchell was later colonel of the subject's old regiment. The father's health now gave way and he met with financial reverses, so our subject began clerking in the store to assist in supporting the large family, during the year 1867-68. During the latter year he was elected Clerk of the Circuit Court, and was twice re-elected, but he resigned at the close of the third term, each term being of four years, after having given his constituents entire satisfaction in the faithful discharge of his duties. He was a Republican in a strong Democratic county, but his popularity was such with all parties that he was chosen without serious opposition for this office.
Mr. Knoph assisted in the organization of the Olney Electric Light Company, in 1887, and was its secretary and treasurer. He organized the Olney Elevator Company and one of the largest and most complete elevators in the southern part of the state was built, having a capacity of sixty thousand bushels. Mr. Knoph afterwards became its sole owner.
Mr. Knoph became traveling salesman in 1880, for the Cincinnati Wholesale Dry Goods Company, giving his employers entire satisfaction and showing that he had much native ability in this line of work.
In 1882 our subject was elected president of the First National Bank, of Olney. The honor came unsolicited and as a surprise. He quit the road and entered the bank and has continued as its president ever since, with a most excellent record, having built up the institution until it is regarded as one of the soundest institutions in the southern part of the state. It was organized December 6, 1865, with a capital stock of one hundred thousand dollars, and its first officers were: Henry Spring, president; Andrew Darling, cashier: the first board of directors was William Newell, M. O. Kean, H. Hayward, J. H. Parker, Jacob Kramer and Robert Byers. In 1877 on account of excessive taxation the capital stock was reduced to fifty thousand dollars, at which it has since stood. In December, 1885, the charter expired and was renewed. The bank first occupied a small frame building in the east part of town, but it prospered and went gradually forward and in a very few years became one of the solid institutions of the state, being so recognized generally. It was moved to its present splendid location several years ago and a modern block was purchased in which to house it properly. It has the latest designs in safety deposit boxes and all other necessary equipment. The deposits in 1908 are four hundred thousand dollars, loans and discounts two hundred and sixty thousand dollars. The present officers are Aden Knoph, president; Deuel Gould, vice president; John T. Ratcliff, cashier; Nellie Levering, assistant cashier.
In 1878 our subject was a candidate for Supreme Clerk of the Southern District of Illinois, embracing thirty-six counties, all Democratic, but he was defeated. In 1894 Mr. Knoph made a tour through Illinois with Major McKinley, being an original McKinley man. At the request of Mr. McKinley our subject became the candidate for delegate to the national convention from this district. After the election he received a letter from President McKinley, asking him to call at the White House when convenient, for he desired to thank Mr. Knoph for his interest in the election. This he did later, and lunched with the President. He prizes McKinley's letter very highly. In 1898 Governor Tanner, who was in the subject's old regiment and a personal friend, sent a message to the subject asking him to organize a regiment for the Spanish-American war, which resulted in his organizing the Nineteenth District Volunteer Infantry, and Mr. Knoph was elected colonel of the same, but it was not called on to go to the front, although it became well drilled and everything was in readiness due to the subject's untiring interest in the same.
Mr. Knoph's domestic life began July 1, 1869, when he was united in marriage with Carliette Morehouse, a native of Richland county, the daughter of O. B. and Mary (Elliott) Morehouse, natives of Connecticut. The Morehouse family was among the first settlers in Richland county, which then included a large territory. The father of Mrs. Knoph was the first white child born in the county. He was a farmer and later a merchant of Olney. He and his wife are now living retired.
The home of Mr. and Mrs. Knoph has been blessed with the birth of three children, namely: Ada died at the age of twenty-two years; Edward, who married Mary Clutter, resides in Freeport, Illinois, being conductor on the Illinois Central Railway, and Maud married Edgar P. Cochennour, and they reside in Pratt, Kansas. Her husband is a conductor on the Rock Island Railway.
In his fraternal relations our subject is a member of the Masonic Order, being past eminent commander of the Templars. He is also a member of the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks, and belongs to several fraternal insurance societies. He is a member of the Methodist Episcopal church, while his wife beongs to the Episcopalian church.
Mr. Knoph has always been in the public eye and his friends have often sought him for various public offices. At their solicitation he was a candidate for nomination for State Treasurer in 1904, and although he received a large vote in the convention, he failed.
The home of Mr. Knoph is a modern and imposing one. His private library is next to the largest in Olney, consisting of many choice and carefully selected volumes. Because of his genuine worth, his past record of usefulness and honor, his honesty of purpose and his friendly disposition, Mr. Knoph is held in high esteem by all who know him, and is regarded as one of the foremost citizens of the county.
Extracted 21 May 2019 by Norma Hass from 1909 Biographical and Reminiscent History of Richland, Clay and Marion Counties, Illinois, pages 494-497.