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Biography of William Waltke

William Waltke, deceased, was the founder of the firm of William Waltke & Company, soap manufacturers and promoters of one of the extensive and important productive industries of St. Louis. He was born in Germany, November 22, 1824, and was educated in the schools of his native country. He served his time in the German army during the war of 1848. Following this, or in the year 1849, he came to the United States, attracted by the opportunities he believed he might enjoy on this side of the Atlantic. He made his way at once to St. Louis and here entered the employ of Becker & Brand, soap manufacturers, with whom he remained for five or six years. In these years a number of small renderers ran wagons throughout the city, gathering fats from the family garbage and paying for the same by exchange of soap. Mr. Waltke had learned the business of soap making and determined that his labors should more directly benefit himself. He then formed plans to gather the fat and make his own soap. It was in this modest way that he began his career as a soap manufacturer about 1860, his first “plant” being in a dwelling on Benedict avenue between De Soto and Prairie avenues. Two years later he removed to more commodious quarters at Second and Talcott streets and his business from that time rapidly developed. About 1868 or 1869 he commenced to build the extensive plant at Second and East Grand avenue, which has been the home of the factory since. About 1884 he admitted into partnership his two stepsons and...

Biography of Louis H. Waltke

Louis H. Waltke, president of the firm of William Waltke & Company, soap manufacturers, succeeded his father as the head of the business and has since given his attention to administrative direction and executive control of one of the important productive industries of St. Louis. In this city he was born June 1, 1855, a son of William and Anna (Kohring) Waltke, extended mention of whom appears elsewhere in this work. Louis H. Waltke was educated in the Lutheran parochial schools and at Walther College, from which he was graduated in 1872. Subsequently he attended the Jones Commercial College and later entered the chemical department of the St. Louis College of Pharmacy. Immediately after the completion of his education Mr. Waltke entered his father’s soap factory and made it his purpose thoroughly to learns the business in every particular. He worked his way upward through the various departments of the plant, learning the soap making industry in all of its minutest details and at the same time acquainting himself with the important principles of the business. He continued as an employe of the company up to the time of the incorporation of the business in 1900 under the name of William Waltke & Company, at which time he became a member of the firm and was made the vice president and a member of the board of directors. After the death of his father in 1916 he succeeded to the presidency of the company. In the intervening four years to the present time under his direction as chief executive the business has had a phenomenal growth, having doubled the...

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