“Who was John W. Eckhart, Senior?” by S.M. O’Connor

Born in West Bend, Wisconsin on November 20, 1855, John William Eckhart, Senior (1855-1920) was a Chicago-based miller and flour merchant who served as President of the Board of Directors of the Chicago Public Library.[1]  In 1873, he entered the flour milling business. [2]  Around 1876, he acquired the firm Platt, Thorn, and Manard, which was quartered on Market Street. [3]   He changed the name to John W. Eckhart & Company and served as president. [4]    In 1896, the company had grown to the point he had to move it to a new facility on Carpenter Street.[5]  His business address was at 311 North Carpenter Street in Chicago. [6]

He sat on the Board of Directors of the Chicago Public Library during the Edwardian era and served as President from July 23, 1903 to July 24, 1905.[7]    At the opening ceremony of the Timothy B. Blackstone Memorial Branch Library on January 8, 1904, Isabella Blackstone handed Eckhart the deed and keys to the new building, which was the Chicago Public Library’s first purpose-built branch library building.[8]

On August 12, 1884, he wed Mary J. Buchanan, a Chicago resident. [9]    Together, they had five children: Eunice Eckhart (Mrs. O.T. Tuchbreiter); Paul Eckhart; John William Eckhart, Junior; James Eckhart; and Mary Eckhart. [10]

A Democrat, he was a member of the Illinois Club, the Iroquois Club, the Chicago Athletic Club, and the Lake Beulah Club.[11]  He served as President of the Iroquois Club.[12]    Founded in July of 1880 as the Chicago Democratic Party and incorporated on October 19, 1881, the organization changed its name to the Iroquois Club on October 4, 1891.[13] It was also known as the Iroquois Club of Chicago.  The Iroquois Club was known as an organization of “silk-stocking Democrats” and kingmakers within the party.[14]  Meetings were held in the Columbia Theatre Building at 110 Monroe Street and at the Brunswick Hotel at the intersection of Michigan Avenue and Adams Street.[15]

Eckhart’s hobbies included golfing and fishing.[16]   His primary residence was at 1903 West Monroe Street in Chicago and he also had a vacation home in Beulah, Wisconsin. [17]   John William Eckhart, Sr. died on August 15, 1920.[18]

ENDNOTES

[1] The Book of Chicagoans: A Biographical Dictionary of Leading Living Men of the City of Chicago, Volume 2. Albert Nelson Marquis, editor.  Chicago: A.N. Marquis & Company (1911), p. 207

[2] Ibid

[3] “New Plant of Eckhart & Company,” The Northwestern Miller, 23 March, 1921, p. 1352

[4] “New Plant of Eckhart & Company,” The Northwestern Miller, 23 March, 1921, p. 1352

See also The Book of Chicagoans: A Biographical Dictionary of Leading Living Men of the City of Chicago, Volume 2. Albert Nelson Marquis, editor.  Chicago: A.N. Marquis & Company (1911), p. 207

[5] “New Plant of Eckhart & Company,” The Northwestern Miller, 23 March, 1921, p. 1352

[6] The Book of Chicagoans: A Biographical Dictionary of Leading Living Men of the City of Chicago, Volume 2. Albert Nelson Marquis, editor.  Chicago: A.N. Marquis & Company (1911), p. 207

[7] Chicago Public Library, Chicago Public Library Records: Early CPL Series,” (https://www.chipublib.org/fa-chicago-public-library-records-early-cpl-series/) Accessed 08/21/18

See also The Book of Chicagoans: A Biographical Dictionary of Leading Living Men of the City of Chicago, Volume 2. Albert Nelson Marquis, editor.  Chicago: A.N. Marquis & Company (1911), p. 207

[8] Ida Hinman, Biography Of Timothy B. Blackstone. New York, Cincinnati, and Chicago: Methodist Book Concern Press (1917), p. 39

[9] The Book of Chicagoans: A Biographical Dictionary of Leading Living Men of the City of Chicago, Volume 2. Albert Nelson Marquis, editor.  Chicago: A.N. Marquis & Company (1911), p. 207

[10] Ibid

[11] Ibid

[12] Ibid

[13] The Iroquois Club of Chicago. Chicago: J.F. Leaming & Company (1893), pages 3-7

See also Alfred Theodore Andreas, History of Chicago From the Earliest Period to the Present Time in Three Volumes, Volume 3: From the Fire of 1871 Until 1885. Chicago: The A.T. Andreas Company (1886), p. 401

[14] Lisa Holton, For Members Only: A History and Guide to Chicago’s Oldest Private Clubs. Chicago: Lake Claremont Press (2008), p. 57

[15] The Iroquois Club of Chicago. Chicago: J.F. Leaming & Company (1893), p. 6

See also Holton, p. 57

[16] The Book of Chicagoans: A Biographical Dictionary of Leading Living Men of the City of Chicago, Volume 2. Albert Nelson Marquis, editor.  Chicago: A.N. Marquis & Company (1911), p. 207

[17] Ibid

[18] “Deaths of the Year,” The Northwestern Miller, 5 January, 1921, p. 58

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