Biography of Louis Denhart

Louis Denhart. If true success consists in a steady betterment of one’s material circumstances, a growing enlargement of views and increasing influence as a member of the community, the life of Louis Denhart has been exceptionally successful by all the standards that might be applied to it.

Mr. Denhart, who though looking after the cultivation of a large amount of farming land, resides in the town of St. Joseph, was born in Harrison County, Indiana. His parents were John and Elizabeth Zimmerman Denhart, both natives of Germany. They came to America when still single, and were married in this country and located on a farm in Indiana. They had eleven children, Louis being the sixth. All these children grew up and received their education in district schools of Indiana.

Louis Denhart came when a youth to visit his brother George in Champaign County, and after being here four years was so favorably impressed with the country that he determined to make it his own home. The part of Indiana where he grew up was a rough and rocky region and he liked the contrast afforded by the fertile and level lands of old Champaign. Mr. Denhart has been a resident of Champaign County since 1884.

In 1888 he married Miss Sophia Keehn. She is also a native of Indiana, a daughter of Henry and Emma Keehn, and she grew up there and received her education in the public schools. After their marriage Mr. and Mrs. Denhart located on a forty-acre tract of land southeast of Mayview in St. Joseph Township. From the thrifty saving and accumulation of his work as a wage earner he bought this land on time, at a contract price of $40 an acre. Forty acres was hardly enough for his individual enterprise as a farmer and he rented the adjoining sixty acres, and with his team began the task of acquiring a substantial position in the community. There were trials and vicissitudes, setbacks as well as advances, and some years there was a partial crop failure, then again the market for grain went down to the bottom, and countless other discouragements had to be met. But he and his wife possessed courage and energy, and were willing to toil early and late in order to get the objects upon which their ambition centered. During the working season Mr. Denhart would spend practically the entire day, from sun up to sun down, away from home,, while his young wife remained diligently at work in the home. They possessed few of the facilities for enjoying life. There were few buggies, and the old wagon answered the purposes of a Ford car in those strenuous times. But the sequel of this period of hard work is a pleasing story. In course of time Mr. and Mrs. Denhart had accumulated an estate of 620 acres and in many ways improved and beautified their farm. They set up a modern residence, planted fruit and shade trees, and all of it now stands as a monument to their persevering toil. Mr. Denhart has done a great deal in the line of fruit growing, and long ago made it a, rule to set out each year some fruit trees either as an extension to his orchard or to fill in vacancies.

Louis and Sophia Denhart
Louis and Sophia Denhart

Into their home were born successively eight children: Clarence, Cora, Prank, Ollie, Floyd, Lawrence, Howard and Wilma. These children attended the high school at St. Joseph, and Clarence and Prank attended Brown’s Business College at Champaign and also specialized in the study of agriculture. While four of the children still remain at home, the others have married and are successful people of the younger generation.

Clarence, who lives on one of his father’s farms, married Luella Bridgewater and has two children, Beryl and Dorothy. The daughter Cora married Walter Manges and they live on her father’s farm west of St. Joseph. Their three children are Louis, Preda and Robert. Prank Denhart, a successful farmer in St. Joseph Township, cultivating some of his father’s broad acres, married Grace Stiner of Mayview. Ollie Denhart is the wife of William Hartman, and they have one small daughter, Helen Verdena.

Mr. Denhart through many years has been an extensive stock and grain raiser and has sold an immense volume of agricultural produce to the local traders and shippers. He is one of the most progressive farmers of the county. His business judgment has brought him to the attention of his fellow citizens, who have entrusted him with public responsibilities. Por twelve years he has served as a member of the town council at St. Joseph. He and. his wife are active members of the Methodist Episcopal Church in that village, and their children attend Sunday school. Fraternally Mr. Denhart is affiliated with the Modern Woodmen of America and in politics he is a Democrat.

For the past eighteen years his home has been in St. Joseph and during. that time he has actively supervised the cultivation of a fine tract of 330 acres of farm land adjoining the town. His home at the end of Sherman Street is an attractive one. The grounds are amply shaded, and the home has a restful and comfortable atmosphere that is of itself a token of the substantial character of its occupants.



Stewart, J. R. A Standard History of Champaign County Illinois. The Lewis Publishing Company, Chicago and New York. 1918.

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