Putnam County


William Hartman, who owns and operates a farm of one hundred and sixty acres on section 3, Granville township, and whose property interests comprise five hundred acres of valuable land all in this township, together with a quarter section in Iowa, has manifested in his business career those sterling traits of perseverance and industry which enable the individual to overcome difficulties and obstacles and advance far on the high road to success. Born in Nassau, Germany, on the 23d of March, 1835, he was a son of William and Mary (Haylor) Hartman, both of whom were also natives of that country. The father, who was born in 1809, passed away in 1896, while the mother, whose birth occurred in 1810, died when about sixty-two years of age. William Hartman, Sr., was a farmer by occupation and, as was the custom in those days in his native country, he lived in a village and worked land just outside the town. His family numbered eight children, four of whom came to this country, namely: Jacob, who died in Nebraska about a year ago; Mrs. John Miller, who is living in Iowa; Christian, a resident of Granville township, Putnam county; and William.

The last named in the days of his youth entered upon an apprenticeship of three and a half years to the cabinet-makers' trade and worked altogether at his trade for five years in the fatherland, when, thinking that he might have broader opportunities in the new world, he crossed the Atlantic to America in 1857, arriving in Peru, Illinois, with a cash capital of only fifteen dollars. He immediately sought employment and engaged to go to work at his trade. He spent fourteen dollars for a set of tools and after a brief period the shop in which he worked was burned and his tools were destroyed. On Sunday morning on a hot day in June, after walking thirteen miles, he might have been discovered sitting on a pile of new lumber by the roadside, out of money and without friends, in a strange country where the language and customs of the people were largely unfamiliar to him. He was not disheartened, however, for he possessed good health and strength and an abundance of ambition. These qualities in after years brought him a gratifying measure of success. About this time he managed to secure work at the carpenter's trade and for two years was thus employed in Granville. He then rented land and with one horse and a few tools began farming. In order to do his breaking he would borrow a horse and thus with his own make a team. As soon as his own crops were in and needed his attention no further he would work by the day for his neighbors, and thus he gained a little ready money. He often husked corn for seventy-five cents per day. His first purchase of land comprised twenty-four acres near the village of Granville, for which he paid two thousand dollars. In 1869 he sold that property and purchased eighty acres two miles south of Granville, on which he made a cash payment of fifty dollars. Things now began to look brighter for him, yet during the first two or three years his crops were poor. He possessed, however, a resolute, determined spirit, carefully tilled his fields and garnered his crops and raised corn where other people had met with total failure in that work. The eighty acres adjoining his place was soon put on sale and he was anxious to get it but he had no capital. His honesty and industry, however, had won him a friend in Peter Kuhne, from whom he borrowed money upon which he paid ten per cent interest. Thus he purchased the eighty acres adjoining and in so doing manifested that good judgment and foresight which have always characterized him in his business life. He has always improved every opportunity where a good bargain could be made and has ever kept his credit good, meeting his obligations promptly. Thus he made for himself an unassailable reputation for reliability and business integrity. He is now the owner of five hundred acres of very valuable land in Granville township, together with a quarter section in Iowa. The one hundred and sixty acres whereon he now resides lies one mile east of Granville and was purchased by him seven years ago for ninety-one dollars per acre. He bought one hundred and eighty acres on section 28 for twenty-seven thousand dollars.

Mr. Hartman was married in November, 1859, to Miss Katie Miller, who died in 1867. They had four children, of whom Charles died at the age of twenty-five and the others in infancy. In 1868 Mr. Hartman wedded Katie Ochse, who was born in Germany, May 9, 1843, and is still living. They have three living children: Lizzie, now the wife of William F. Henshaw; Lena, the wife of Olaf Matson, residing upon the farm with her father; and Victor C., who lives on one of his father's farms.

Mr. Hartman was reared in the Reformed Lutheran church and until a short time ago was a member of the Congregational church in Granville. He has always been a stalwart republican since casting his first vote in this country for Abraham Lincoln. With only a common-school education, but with much natural ability, he started in life in America empty handed and in the control of his business interests has manifested sound judgment and keen discrimination, carefully controlling his interests until he is now one of the prosperous farmers of the county. He has always been a broad reader, keeping well informed on all matters of current interest through the daily papers and magazines, and his life record displays traits of character that are most commendable.

Source: Past and Present of Marshall and Putnam Counties Illinois authored by John Spencer Burt and W. E. Hawthorne in 1907, page 459.

Visit Our Neighbors
Bureau LaSalle
Search the Archives