It is not an easy task to describe adequately the life of a busy man of affairs, who by sheer force of character, directed and controlled by tact, judgment and forethought, has risen gradually from a modest beginning to a position of distinction in the industrial world. But biography finds its justification in the tracing of such lives and recording their salient features for the benefit of the youths of the land whose destines are yet to be achieved. It is with a full appreciation of all that is demanded and of the painstaking scrutiny that must be accorded each statement, and yet with a feeling of satisfaction, the writer essays the task of touching briefly upon the details of such a record embodied in the career of the successful business man whose name appears above.
Christian M. Kirkpatrick is a native of the Hoosier state and son of Joseph G. and Martha (Steel) Kirkpatrick, the father born in Crawford county, Ohio, and the mother in Henry county, Indiana. Joseph G. Kirkpatrick was reared in his native state and when a young man learned the wheelwright trade. He became a resident of Henry county a number of years ago and while living there worked at his trade in connection with farming. Subsequently he moved to Rush county, where he lived until 1868, when he changed his residence to Greenfield, in which city he spent the remainder of his life, dying in 1894; his widow survives and makes her home in Greenfield at the present time. Joseph and Martha Kirkpatrick had seven children as follows: David P., deceased; Amanda, wife of Joseph Hooker, of Greenfield; Anna E.., wife of George O. Knight, also a resident of Greenfield; Winfield S., of Center township; Christian M., the subject of this sketch; James, who lives at the county seat, and Alexander S., of Greenfield.
Christian M. Kirkpatrick was born in the village of Ogden, Henry county, October 25, 1858. In his youth he was denied the privilege of obtaining such an education as he desired, his time being largely taken up with the work of the farm. Though uneducated in book lore and scholastic training, he is pre-eminently a graduate of the university of common sense and throughout a long and busy life has demonstrated his ability to manage large affairs requiring sound practical knowledge such as the majority of school men do not possess. His successful career as a busy man of affairs began at the early age of fifteen, when he engaged in business for himself as a dealer in junk. Procuring a horse and wagon, he began traversing the county, gathering up junk of all kinds, and by this manner was enabled to earn sufficient money in the course of a few years to open a tinware store.
Mr. Kirkpatrick began handling tinware and stoves in Greenfield and such was his success that the expiration of two years he disposed of his stock and started a large wood and coal yard. This he conducted upon quite an extensive scale for about two years, when, in partnership with Wm. Frees, he engaged in contracting for street and road work. The firm of Frees & Kirkpatrick were awarded a number of contracts for street work in Greenfield and for a period of two years they confined their operations principally to that city. Subsequently Mr. Kirkpatrick and Mr. J. T. Bodkin effected a co-partnership in contracting and continued the work until 1891, when the subject withdrew and engaged in the business upon his own responsibility. He secured a number of large contracts in Hancock county and elsewhere and did a thriving business till 1898, at which time the Kirkpatrick Construction Company was organized. The Kirkpatrick Construction Company is composed of Mr. Kirkpatrick, who is president and treasurer, Elmer J. Binford, who is secretary and attorney, L. E. McDonald, Nathan C. Binford and Francis G. Banker, who are members of its board of directors. The company has a capital stock of sixty thousand dollars. For the construction of the interurban road from Greenfield to Indianapolis this company received four hundred and fifty thousand dollars in cash and bonds and one hundred and twenty thousand dollars in stock of the railway company. This stock, together with the stock owned by the individual members of the construction company, gave to the members of the company a controlling interest in the road. All the members of the company were directors of the railway company. Since the completion of this contract Mr. Kirkpatrick has been practically alone as a contractor. He has done an immense amount of street graveling and paving, besides grading and constructing various kinds of roads, having taken a large number or remunerative contracts in some of the larger cities and may counties of Indiana. He also does a large business in the building line and has no doubt erected more dwelling houses and other edifices in Greenfield than any other owner. He laid out Kirkpatricks addition to Greenfield, upon which he erected several residences as well as in other parts of the city.
Mr. Kirkpatrick was a leading spirit in the organization of the Greenfield Building and Loan Association and has also been interested in various other enterprises of a public and private nature, among which is the I. G. R. T. R. R. Co., of which he is a director and stockholder. He has done more towards the improvement and beautifying of Greenfield than any other man, nearly every part of the city showing evidence of his workmanship and skill. In a large sense he has been a benefactor, his labors having so added to the attractiveness of the city as to induce many people to make it their residence, or a place for the investment of their capital.
Mr. Kirkpatrick is essentially a business man and a believer in the efficacy of honest labor. He possesses exceedingly keen judgment and taste and is seldom mistaken in his estimate of men and things. He figures closely and sees the end from the beginning in all of his contracts and has made money on nearly all of his transactions. He conducts his business operations fairly and honorably, with the result that all parties interested are satisfied when the work is completed and accepted. Financially Mr. Kirkpatrick has met with success commensurate with the ability and energy displayed in his various enterprises and is now the possessor of much valuable property in Greenfield, Hancock county and elsewhere. He started in life poor in this worlds goods, but rich in a well defined purpose to make the most of his opportunities. Possessed of strong traits and admirable courage, he created opportunities when they did not exist and no obstacle was so formidable that he did not overcome it and in the end no difficulty could deter him from a purpose to which he once addressed himself. With the business men of his city and with the public generally he has always maintained feelings of friendship and so far as known no one has ever assailed his good name or called in question the rectitude of any of his intentions.
Mr. Kirkpatrick was married in 1881 to Miss Susie J. Knight, daughter of Pleasant and Jane (McCollins) Knight, a union resulting in the birth of four children, two of whom died in infancy and one, Lawrence, at the age of two years; the only survivor is a daughter by the name of Martha J.
Politically, Mr. Kirkpatrick votes with the Republican party; fraternally he belongs to the Odd Fellows lodge at Greenfield. His religious views are embodied in the Methodist Protestant church, of which both himself and wife are members. Thus briefly have been outline some of the principal facts in the life of this enterprising man and worthy citizen. He has lived to a good purpose and the work accomplished by himself will long remain a monument to his industry and thrift. In every relation of life he has discharged his duty with fidelity and promptness and in the city of his residence no one is more highly regarded.
Transcribed from Biographical Memoirs of Hancock County B. F. Bowen, Publisher, Logansport, Indiana, 1902 Pages 231-234.
Submitted by Sylvia (Rose) Duda, Laingsburg, MI May 27, 2002.
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