John C. Kruse is one of Champaign’s oldest business men in point of continuous service, having lived in that city for almost half a century. He has been an independent merchant for over forty-five years, and he has wisely looked after and directed the business training of his sons and assisted each one to get established in business.
Mr. Kruse is a native of Germany, where he was born July 23, 1840, son of John O. and Minnie (Martens) Kruse. His parents spent all their lives in Germany. John C. Kruse had that substantial training afforded by the public school system of Germany. His father intended that he should go to a seminary and qualify for the profession of teacher. His father was a cabinetmaker, and before the plan had been carried out with respect to the son’s education he became so deaf that his son had to leave school and take charge of the business.
Thus when Mr. Kruse came to the United States in 1867 he had mastered a trade and had considerable business experience. He first located in Cleveland, Ohio, but after a year there moved to Champaign, Illinois. Being an expert workman, he found employment in the furniture factory of Walker Brothers, with whom he remained four years. Out of his modest savings he then engaged in a business for himself and has been one of the leading furniture dealers and undertakers in Champaign for so many years that few residents of the city can recollect when the name of John C. Kruse was not in the business directory. In politics Mr. Kruse has maintained an independent attitude for a number of years. Fraternally he is affiliated with the Independent Order of Odd Fellows and the Modern Woodmen of America.
On December 6, 1869, he married Miss Doris Busch. Nine children have been born to their union: Minnie and Otto, both deceased; Valdemar, in the furniture business at Champaign; Emil, deceased; Paul, in the electrical business at Champaign; Edgar, in the automobile business there; Carl, an electrician; Robert, deceased; and Albert, associated with his father in the furniture business. Each of these sons remained with their father until twenty-one years of age, receiving no pay except board and keep. On reaching manhood the father started each one in a separate business for himself, though retaining some financial interest in the venture. It was a splendid way to do and the results have well justified the plan.