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Watchful of every opportunity pointing to success, wide-awake and alert, Henry August Hilker has so directed his efforts that success in substantial measure is now within his grasp and his business activities furthermore are of a character that contributes to public prosperity as well as to the advancement of personal interests. He is today manager of the Red Seal Oil Company and for a long period has been connected with the manufacture and sale of brick in Racine. At the present time he is platting and developing a fine summer resort.
Racine claims Mr. Hilker as a native son; he was born August 18, 1869, in this city, his parents being Adolph Frederick and Caroline (Broeker) Hilker, both of whom are natives of Germany. The former was a son of Frederick Hilker, who died in Germany when in middle age. His wife, Mrs. Henriette Hilker, lived to the advanced age of eighty-one years and passed away in Racine, October 27, 1889. Their son Adolph F. Hilker, who was one of the family of four sons, early learned the business of manufacturing brick and followed that pursuit in Germany until after his marriage. In September, 1867, he came to the new world settling in Racine and here again he was employed at brick making until he was able to engage in business on his own account. In 1872 he formed a partnership with his brother William Hilker, Fred Haumerseri, Christie Minzer and Mr. Meidinger and established a brickyard at Cedar Point. The enterprise prospered from the beginning and about 1885 they bought out the Morris Brothers brickyard at Wind Point, later selling two acres of their land to the government as a site for a lighthouse. At a later date they were joined by J. F. Wadewitz and in 1893 the business was incorporated under the name of the Hilker Brothers Brick Manufacturing Company, the two brothers having purchased the interest of their former partners in the undertaking. Another yard known as the Lake Shore yard had been established two years before and they thus became proprietors of three different yards, making their output very extensive. Adolph F. Hilker continued in the business up to the time of his death which occurred May 22, 1899.
His wife was a daughter of Frederick and Minnie (Brand) Broeker, the former of whom died in Germany when over fifty years of age, their family numbering two daughters and a son. Mr. and Mrs. Hilker became the parents of eight children: Adolph W., Henry August, Henry, Pauline, Gustav, Emma, Edward and John T. The daughter, Emma, is now the wife of Dr. P. Brown. The parents were members of the Evangelical Association and were devout Christian people, Mr. Hilker serving in various offices of the church.
Henry August Hilker was reared under the parental roof, obtained his education in the public schools and after putting aside his textbooks became associated with his father in the business of brick manufacturing. He also had business college training after he made his entrance into industrial life. He continued with his father until he reached the age of twenty years and then went to Chicago where he was bookkeeper for the Garden City Wire & Spring Company serving in that capacity for four years. He then returned to Racine and took charge of the North Point brickyard of which he was manager for a number of years. Upon the death of his father in 1899 all the business was taken over by the sons with the following officers: William Hilker, president; H. A. Hilker, vice president: and A. W. Hilker, secretary and treasurer. In 1914 the company discontinued the manufacture of brick although they still engage in its sale. About this time the two brothers, H. A. and A. W. Hilker, formed a partnership under the style of the Hilker Brick Company and in this connection they handle a full line of brick, buying Chicago high grade facing brick which they retail upon the market. In 1915 they became agents for the Red Seal Oil Company and A. W. Hilker now controls the brick business of the firm while H. A. Hilker handles the oil business. Their North Point yard is now being converted into a summer resort. The tract comprises about eighty acres of land with a half mile of beach and they have about fifty-seven acres for sale. This is being platted into lots of one hundred feet frontage facing the road and the lake. The entire tract has rock bottom so that it cannot wash away and there is an excellent beach. It is thus being developed into a very attractive resort and is proving an important branch of their business.
Henry A. Hilker was united in marriage to Miss Elizabeth Sheriff, of Racine, a daughter of Edward and Elizabeth (Thompson) Sheriff, who removed to Racine in 1855. Her father came from England and her mother from Iowa, in which state they were married. He engaged in farming in Racine County but both he and his wife have passed away. Mr. and Mrs. Hilker have born two children: Pearl Helen and Margaret Elizabeth. Mr. Hilker is now active as administrator of the Sheriff estate. In politics he is a stanch republican and his religious faith is evidenced in his membership in the German Evangelical church on Park Avenue. Its teachings guide him in all his relations and his fellow townsmen bear testimony to the fact that he is a most upright and honorable gentleman as well as a progressive man, having in all his business pursuits followed constructive methods, his success never being won at the price of another’s failure.