Monday, July 20, 2009

William Harkes of Harkes Coal Company

History of Grundy County, Illinois
Chicago: Munsell Publishing Co. Publishers, 1914
William Harkes, whose abilities and achievements as a mining expert have caused his services to be eagerly sought by companies all over Grundy County, is now acting in the capacity of general superintendent of the Northern Central Coal Company of Missouri, and of the Big Four Wilmington Coal Company, at Coal City, Ill., being president of both companies. He is a native of England, and was born in 1861, a son of William and Barbara (Softleigh) Harkes, the former of whom was a captain in the Indian Army and spent the latter years of his life as a farmer in England. He passed away in his native land in 1911, when eighty-three years of age, his wife having died there in 1884. They were the parents of two children: Jane, who is the wife of John Alderton, living in England; and William.

After attending the public schools of his native country, William Harkes became a student in the English School of Mining Engineers, and upon graduating from that institution served an apprenticeship of seven years in mining engineering. Thus thoroughly prepared to follow his chosen vocation, he worked for various English firms for five years, and in 1887 came to the United States, first locating in Chicago as a mining expert. He came to Coal City in 1891 as general superintendent for the Big Wilmington Coal Company and the Northern Central Coal Company, of Missouri, and was made the first president of the adjoining village of Eileen. He is also president of the Harkes Coal Company of Jerome, Iowa, and is part owner of the Wilmington Foundry & Machine Co. He has been county surveyor of Grundy County.

Aside from his offices he carries on a business as a general mining engineer. Mr. Harkes has shown an active and public-spirited interest in all that has affected his adopted community, and is known as one of the substantial, reliable men of Coal City. He is a friend of progress and development along the lines and can be depended upon to favor all movements making for the welfare of Coal City or its people. Fraternally, he is connected with the Modern Woodmen of America, in which he has numerous warm friends. He is a Republican in his political views, and in his religious faith is Anglican Episcopalian.

On July 1, 1892, Mr. Harkes was married in Chicago, to Miss Isabella Gladders, born February 23, 1867, a native of England, and they have had four children: Marie Ruth, Barbara Tesla, William, and Harry C., of whom William died in infancy.

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