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Hon. Frederick M. Knoll


HON FREDERICK M. KNOLL, In the anxious and laborious acquisition of an honorable competence and in the seemingly uneventful career of the business or professional man there is little to attract the idle or thoughtless; but for a mind thoroughly awake to the reality and meaning of human existence there are noble lessons in the life of a man who, without other means than a clear head, a strong arm and a true heart, conquers adversity and achieves success. Such a man is the subject of this sketch, one of the eminent statesmen that Dubuque County has furnished to the state of Iowa.

The life record of one so prominent will possess unusual interest for our readers, and especially for the citizens of Peru Township, where Mr. Knoll has long made his home. He was born in Alsace-Lorraine, France, March 8, 1833, and is a son of John M., and a grandson of Frederick and Flora Knoll. The grandfather ran away from home and came to America at the time of the Revolutionary War. On returning to France he entered the service of his country as Captain in the artillery under Napoleon, and continued thus engaged until he died, at the age of about fifty-six, his death resulting from the effects
of wounds received in service. His wife survived him many years, dying when seventy-six years old.

The father of our subject was First Lieutenant in the French army, serving in the Forestry Department. Early in the spring of 1848 he took passage at Havre, and after a voyage of a month landed in New York. With his wife and three children he remained in the Empire State engaged in agricultural pursuits until 1853. IN the fall of that year he came via the lakes and river to Dubuque County and purchased a claim of about two hundred acres of wild land. Here he remained until his death, at the age of seventy-six. He was an active man in politics and a good citizen.

When thirty-two years old Mr. Knoll married Miss Catherine Durenberger, a native of Alsace-Lorraine, who died in Buffalo, N. Y., at the age of forty-three. She had three children: Frederick M., of this sketch; Mrs. Apfel, living in Los Angeles; and Louis Knoll, of Howard County, Ark. The first-named was reared on a farm and attended the schools of France prior to the age of fourteen years, when his school days ended. His entire life has been spent upon a farm except five years, when he was employed in a general store in Buffalo, N. Y.

At the age of twenty-one our subject married Miss Catherine Deckert, a native of Alsace, France, who died in Dubuque County aged forty years. The six living children born of this union resided in Colorado, and all are married with the exception of the youngest. They are, Eugenia, Josephine, Albert, Augusta, Minnie and Henry. Frederick and William are deceased. In 1874 Mr. Knoll married Miss Agnes Stader, a native of Baden, Germany, who died in Dubuque County at the age of thirty-four. Her three sons, Edward, Theodore and Oscar, remain with their father. In 1887 occurred the marriage of Mr. Knoll to Miss Olga Henisch, who was born in Berlin, Germany.

Mr. Knoll cast his first Presidential ballot for James Buchanan and has supported the Democratic principles ever since. For ten years he served as Supervisor, for sixteen years was Assessor, for thirty-three years filled the position of Justice of the Peace, and has been active in school work since 1857. In 1861 he was elected to the Lower House of the State Legislature, and so efficient was his service in that capacity that two years later he was honored with election to the State Senate. At the expiration of his first term he was chosen to serve for the ensuing four years in the same office. While there he served as a member of many important committees, and as Chairman of the Committees on Pardons and Penitentiaries. At the time of retiring from the Legislature he was the oldest member of either House. He was a member of the Committee on Ways and Means, and in fact served on several of the important committees. In 1889 he was again elected to the House, and has served for fourteen years in the Legislature, his record being that of a fair, efficient and honorable official. He is Vice-President of the organization known as the Pioneer Law Makers of Iowa, which was founded in 1886, and to which no one is eligible unless he served as a member of the Legislature twenty-five years ago.

With his wife, Mr. Knoll attends the Lutheran Church and is a liberal contributor to religious enterprises. While he owns two hundred acres of fine farming land, he has had little time to devote to its cultivation; however, he maintains a general oversight of the place. He has served as Administrator of numerous estates, and in other important positions his counsel is sought and deferred to. He has been a stockholder in two banks of Dubuque, and has other important interest in this county. His record in both branches of the Iowa Legislature is unexcelled for honor, spotless integrity and efficient service. He is a
thoughtful reader and possesses a choice and well selected private library.

Not only in his own political party, but by those of opposite belief Mr. Knoll is honored as his merit deserves, and his career is well worthy the emulation of the young. In financial affairs he is prudent and cautious, thrifty but not miserly. One of the most prominent traits of his character is industry. Combined with this are strong common sense and that kind of moral courage which people call decision of character. These traits have raised him to a position of influence and honor among his fellow-men.

~source: Portrait and Biographical Record of Dubuque, Jones and Clayton Counties, Iowa. Chicago: Chapman Publishing Co. 1894. Pages 121-122.

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