No history of Burlington would be complete or satisfactory were there failure to make prominent reference to Antony Meinhardt, who was long a leading and valued citizen and the founder and promoter of the Meinhardt bank, which for a quarter of a century has been one of the strong financial forces of this part of the state. In this locality the name of Meinhardt is synonymous with enterprise, progress and business stability.
Antony Meinhardt was born in Cattaraugus, New York, on the 17th. of October, 1830, and his life record covered the intervening years to the 27th of August, 1891, when he passed away in Burlington. He was a son of Francis Meinhardt, who was born at Hillgersdorf, Germany, June 19, 1801. Francis Meinhardt was a scientist and a man of deep learning and broad culture, and devoted much time to making valuable collections of various kinds of specimens. He married Maria White, a woman of education and refinement, and in 1838 they became residents of Burlington. From that time to the present the Meinhardts have been prominently associated with the business development and growth of this city.
Antony Meinhardt, when a young man of nineteen years, went to California in 1849, crossing the continent in a light wagon. He was accompanied by several young men, including Samuel Toombs and Samuel Cooper, and they made a particularly fast trip. Mr. Meinhardt spent six years upon the Pacific coast, meeting with a moderate measure of success, and then, retracing his steps, again took up his abode in Burlington, where he purchased the store which his father had previously conducted and. which was located an the present site of the Bank of Burlington. Later he removed his business to the opposite corner, where the store of J. Wein is now found, and there he continued in active business for a number of years, winning a substantial measure of success. At length he retired from active merchandising and confined his attention to investments. In January, 1891, he established a private bank with which he was connected until his death, which occurred August 27, 1891. At the time of his demise the business was taken up by Edward Brook and Eda Meinhardt, who continued it as a partnership until 1897, when it was organized as a state bank and since that time all of the stock has been owned by the Meinhardt family, in possession of people residing under the same roof. Mrs. Elisa Meinhardt was chosen president and held the office until succeeded by Albert Meinhardt in 1908, at that time becoming vice president.
Mr. Meinhardt was united in marriage in 1858 to Miss Elisa Riel, a native of Prussia, and to them were born nine children. Of this family Dr. Francis W. Meinhardt was long a distinguished and honored resident of Burlington, where he had practiced dentistry for many years, continuing active in that field up to the time of his death, which occurred December 20, 1912. He was a very public-spirited man and took an active interest in everything pertaining to the work of beautifying this city by planting trees on the boulevards and otherwise enhancing its adornment. He it was who planned to erect the Lincoln monument at the Lincoln school, a bronze figure of heroic size, after the original design of George E. Ganiere, the famous sculptor. Death prevented him from carrying out his plans, which, however, were taken up by the Meinhardt family, and the Lincoln monument is today one of the objects of civic pride in Burlington.
Active in the management of the Meinhardt bank is Albert Meinhardt, who was born in Burlington, August 28, 1869. He was graduated from the high school of the city and from Beloit College with the class of 1891. He then entered his father’s bank and therein received his preliminary training along that line. In 1894 he opened the Bank of Antioch, which he conducted until 1897, when he returned to Burlington and is now president of the Meinhardt bank, which is one of the strong and successful financial institutions of this part of the state.
The cashier of the Meinhardt bank is Miss Eda Meinhardt, who has occupied that position from the establishment of the bank to the present. A native of Burlington, she pursued her elementary education in the schools of this city and after completing the high school course attended the University of Wisconsin at Madison. Later she went to Nebraska and then entered the private banking establishment of Renard & Wells, with whom she continued until 1891, there receiving her initial training in the business to which she has devoted her life. Returning to her native city in 1891, the year in which the Meinhardt bank was established, she became her father’s associate in the business, assuming the position of cashier, and the success of the institution is attributable in large measure to her ability, enterprise and careful management. Something of the growth of the business is indicated in the fact that in 1891 the deposits amounted to only thirty-five thousand dollars, while in 1916 they are eight hundred and twenty-nine thousand dollars. Perhaps no other woman in the world has a record of twenty-five years’ service as bank cashier. and her position in banking circles is an enviable one. The bank occupies a building at the corner of Chestnut and Pine streets, which was erected for banking purposes by C. P. Barnes in 1847, and it is today the oldest building in the state built for a bank and still used for that purpose. The growth of the bank has been of a most substantial character and its record has been one of steady progress. Miss Eda Meinhardt, remaining as cashier from the beginning and thoroughly familiar with every branch of the banking business, has done much to promote the prosperity of the institution.