One of Rock Island’s best known and most busily employed building contractors is Nicholai Juhl, the subject of this sketch. In the large and continuous building growth which Rock Island has undergone during the past few years, he has taken a conspicuous part, some of the largest and handsomest edifices that have been erected being his creation.
He was born March 3, 1853, in the province of Schleswig-Holstein, Germany, his parents being Peter and Martha (Peterson) Juhl. Neither of Mr. Juhl’s parents ever came to the United States, and both are now deceased.
Mr. Juhl’s early education was obtained in the common schools of his native land, and later in evening schools in this country, to which he emigrated in 1873, being then twenty years of age. Upon landing in New York he looked about for an opportunity to establish himself in some useful employment, but soon came to the conclusion that a young man’s chances were much better further west, and consequently he came to Rock Island, which city has since been his home.
Here he learned the carpentering and brick laying trades, and found plenty of employment, especially in the former trade. For sixteen years after coming to Rock Island he worked for one man, believing in and acting upon the old proverb that a rolling stone gathers no moss.
In 1890 Mr. Juhl began business on his own account as a contractor and builder, since which time he has made a specialty of building churches, of which he has erected about forty in different parts of the country.
On January 14, 1877, Mr. Juhl was joined in marriage to Miss Christina Lalfs, a young lady who was a native of the same town as Mr. Juhl, and who came to this country in 1875. To them five children have been born, they being Mary C., wife of Philip Scherer, of Rock Island; Herman C., now foreman in his father’s establishment; Amelia C. C., wife of John Cleman, of Rock Island; Nicholai M., employed by his father, and Otto, who is now attending the Rock Island High School.
In religious faith Mr. Juhl is a Lutheran, and for thirteen years he has been a trustee of the German Emanuel Lutheran Church of Rock Island. In politics he has always been a Republican, but while a strong adherent to his party he has always striven to vote for the man he considered best qualified to fill the office and to serve the people. He has never sought party office for himself, being too actively engaged in business pursuits to accept party favors.
Mr. Juhl is in every respect a self-made man. Coming to this country without money, he has, by frugality and industry, accumulated a modest fortune. He is a man of boundless energy and business foresight. The high grade and quality of his work is a monument to his skill and integrity as a contractor. He is one of Rock Island’s best citizens, one of the stable, prosperous men that go to compose a stable and prosperous city.