Search billions of records on


Charles Knabb, the president of the First National Bank of Hiawatha and a prominent farmer and cattle feeder of Hiawatha township, Brown county, ranks among the most successful and prominent business men of this locality and has met with a very gratifying degree of success, owing to his well directed efforts, his energy and capable management. He was born in Berks county; Pennsylvania, near the city of Reading, August 31, 1836, and is a son of William and Margaret (Knouse) Knabb, both of whom were natives of the Keystone state. His grandfather was Paul Knabb, whose ancestors emigrated from Prussia to America and were among the pioneers of Berks county, Pennsylvania, becoming well-to-do farmers of that section. The father of our subject also devoted his energies to agricultural pursuits.

Judge Knabb, of this review, spent his boyhood days in the county of his nativity and acquired his preliminary education in the district schools, supplementing it by six months' study in an academy. He remained upon the home farm until he had attained his majority, hen he removed to Iowa, but after six months he made his way to Leavenworth, Kansas. As his capital was exhausted he began teaming and took contracts for that work. Subsequently he crossed the plains, driving ten teams through to the Colorado gold fields at a time when bands of Indians were numerous on the plains and manifested a very unfriendly feeling toward the white settlers. Mr. Knabb and his party had some thrilling experiences, but reached their destination in safety. For five years he continued freighting, mostly on his own account, and in September, 1868, he came to Brown county, Kansas, and purchased three hundred and twenty acres of land in Robinson township, on Wolf creek. This stream at that time was heavily skirted with timber, and his farm therefore afforded a most admirable location for feeding cattle and hogs, to which industry Mr. Knabb has given much attention. He is recognized as one of the most successful feeders of Hiawatha township and ships from one to five car-loads of stock annually. His home farm now comprises six hundred and eighty acres, but as the years have passed and his financial resources increased he has invested in other land until his realty possessions now aggregate two thousand acres. For a number of years Mr. Knabb was one of the leading stockholders of the First National Bank of Hiawatha and in 1894 was elected its president, which office he has since held. His sound judgment in business affairs has proved a potent element in its success and his efforts have been crowned with prosperity. Under his leadership the bank has won and maintained a high reputation, being regarded as one of the most substantial financial institutions of this section of the state.

In 1865 occurred the marriage of Mr. Knabb and Miss Sarah Gechter, of Berks county, Pennsylvania, a daughter of John and Rebecca (Schiffert) Gechter. They now have one son and one daughter: William A., who is the assistant cashier of the First National Bank, of Hiawatha, and Cora E., the wife of Dr. George C. McKnight, a practicing physician of Hiawatha. The parents are members of the First Presbyterian church of that city and Mr. Knabb has served as a member of the board of trustees for a number of years. For three years he filled the office of trustee of Hiawatha township and has also served as a county commissioner, being appointed to fill a vacancy on the resignation of N. F. Leslie. He gives his political support to the Republican party and takes a deep interest in its success and welfare. Few lives furnish so striking an example of the wise application of sound business principles and safe conservatism as does his. The story of his success is short and simple, containing no exciting chapters, but in this lies one of the most valuable secrets of the great prosperity it records, and his private and business life are pregnant with interest and incentive, no matter how lacking in dramatic action, -- the record of a noble life consistent with itself in every particular.