Immigrant #8 ~ Carl Johann Eckebrecht, Grocery Company Owner, Saddle-Maker, Carpenter, and Foreman

Immigrant Carl Johann Eckebrecht was the oldest sibling of my great great grandfather Fritz Eckebrecht.  He was born in 1844 in Schwarzburg, Germany.  Uncle John was not certain when he came to America, but with research, it has been narrowed down to about 1863.  He appears to be the first Eckebrecht in Illinois, having stated he was living in the County of Cook and State of Illinois for 29 years on his 1892 Chicago Voter Registration Record.  Therefore, Carl got here before his brother Fritz and the rest of his clan did in 1866 on the ship the Jenny.  He would have been around 19 when he arrived in America and it would have been smack dab in the middle of the Civil War.

The earliest actual record I could find of Carl or Charles was in 1867, where he is listed in the Chicago City directory as Charles and he works at Eckebrecht & Company as a grocer.  This appears to be his own grocery company.  Next, from what was also noted on the Chicago Voter Registration listing of 1892, Charles stated he was naturalized in the Circuit Court of Cook County on September 7, 1868.

In the 1870 Federal Census he was living with his parents Quirinus and Louise and three of his younger siblings and was working as a carpenter. Around this time, Fritz was migrated through the Post-War south picking crops, and making his way to Texas, where he ended up being taken to live with Comanches.

Charles is either in the back center or the man on the far right

In the 1874 and 1875 Chicago City Directories, Charles is listed under the Heading for Harness and Saddle Makers.  He was married by this point to another German immigrant Bertha Rohrbach.  Their first child Minnie, or likely, Wilhelmina, was born.  By 1882, according to the City Directory, he is back to being a carpenter.

Charles may be the man in the back with the mustache.  Can anyone verify or refute this?

In 1896 and in 1897, a few years before he died in 1900, his occupation was listed as Foreman in the City Directory.   He died in 1900 and is buried in Rose Hill Cemetery.

Charles had four children with Bertha: Minnie, Henry Charles, Anna, and Oscar Christian.

As you can see, Charles Eckebrecht’s Record of Administration references his wife, son Henry, and brother-in-law Charles Wolter (Augusta Eckebrecht’s husband).

Cook County Probate Records on

Charles Eckebrecht’s Children (Fritz’s Nieces and Nephews) and Their Descendants

Minnie Eckebrecht died in 1902.  Charles’ youngest son Oscar never married and worked at the Post Office as a clerk.  Daughter Anna married an English immigrant from London – Walter Smith.  It appears he entered America through Canada making the ethnicity of Anna’s child Harold Albert a Canadian in the Cook County Birth Index.  I question that reference on Ancestry though.  Walter was a type setting salesman according to the Federal Censuses.  Their son Harold Albert married Vera Lindsay and they had 3 children.  Harold was a copywriter at a publishing company.

This leaves us with the other son of Charles and Bertha – Henry Charles Eckebrecht, one of the most colorful descendants of any immigrant in the Eckebrecht line.  Henry Charles married another native of Chicago and German-American Mamie Schmidt.  She too was the daughter of German immigrants.  They had two children: Henry Charles Jr., who was struck and killed by an automobile driven by Ernest Keg at the age of 5, and Wilbur Mont Eckebrecht.  Pay attention to Wilbur’s middle name because it comes up later.

Wilbur Mont Eckebrecht married Gladys Florence Schweitzer.  They had a son that may still be alive so I will refrain from naming him.  He was elected President of the Illinois State Florist’s Assocation in 1969.  I have several photos of him from  Please email me if you would like to see them.

More on Henry Charles Eckebrecht (Fritz’s Nephew)

Henry Eckebrecht was in a kind of real estate business.  I did find newspaper references to real estate transfers.  One of the transfers was made in 1914 to Peter Tennes, the son of Jacob Mont Tennes, or just Mont Tennes.  That was not the only reference to Henry’s name to Mont Tennes in the Chicago newspapers.  Have you heard of Mont Tennes, Chicago King of Gamblers?  No?  Well then please google him or check out this well-referenced story by another blogger: Jacob Mont Tennes.  Mont Tennes ran a news bureau and a country-wide gambling circuit prior to the takeover of the Chicago underworld by Capone’s gang.  One of Mont’s associates was Big Jim O’Leary, grandson of the Mrs. O’Leary, of the Mrs. O’Leary’s Cow fame.  Mont Tennes was the son of German immigrants like Henry.

Henry was a bookkeeper of sorts for Mont Tennes and clients would visit Henry at their real estate office where money was taken.  Let me point out that Henry, nor Mont were ever convicted of any crime.  Don’t be surprised about this gambling business either because I found many references to Fritz’s brothers and nephews in the paper advertising bettings on sporting events, namely basesball, or winning at gambling on baseball in the Chicago newspapers.  Gambling wasn’t a crime.  Mont was important enough to this family of Eckebrechts for Henry to give the middle name to his son. 

Now in 1916, the future baseball Commissioner Landis was the Federal Judge that was called to oversee the Federal Grand Jury empaneled to investigate Mont’s news bureau. Rolling eyes. Henry testified and a portion of his testimony was in the October 3, 1916 Chicago Tribune below.  The first three clippings are taken exactly as they were printed in the paper but had to be clipped that way for easier reading.


Did you see who Mont’s lawyer was?  Clarence Darrow!


This last section was at the end of the article for that day:


Henry was in several other articles regarding the testimony.  Yes, that is THE Clarence Darrow.  Nothing came of the grand jury investigation.  In the 1920 Census, Henry is still listed as working as a bookkeeper at a real estate company.  By 1940 he was running his own business selling seeds and bulbs.  Perhaps his florist grandon was a part of the business…

Final thoughts:

What did Charles do for the first 4 years in America before I found him in the City Directory with his own business named after him?  No, I didn’t find him on any Civil War draft records, unless they spelled his last name wrong.  Coming here at 18 or 19 without the rest of his family had to have been courageous.  I imagine he wrote home to his family in Germany to tell them about Chicago.  If he hadn’t come first, maybe the rest of his family, and his brother Fritz would not have come here at all. 


Federal Censuses

Chicago City Directories

Chicago Voter Registration

Chicago Birth, Marriage, and Death Indexes

Cook County Probate Records

Social Security Death Index


Frank Eckebrecht’s Research

Uncle John’s Research

Numerous Online Articles regarding Mont Tennes

Next immigrants: Two completely different great grandfathers