Biography of Henry A. Henke
Cuyahoga County, OH Biographies

HENRY AUGUST HENKE. One of the prominent business men of the West Side of the city was the late Henry A. Henke, president of the Henke Furniture Company, on Lorain Avenue, who was born on a farm in Dover Township, this county, on February 1, 1861, the son of Franz Henry and Catherine Mary (Lindemeyer) Henke, natives of Hanover, Germany. The parents came to the United States on the same sailing vessel in 1844, and were married in Cleveland four years later.

On arriving in this city Franz H. Henke found employment as a laborer in the country, later worked a farm in Euclid Township, and still later one in Dover Township. Returning to the city, he found employment in the shipyards. Finally, by the closest of economy, he accumulated sufficient money to buy a span of horses, and engaged in teaming. Later on he became a contracting teamster for the old oil firm of Riley & Robinson, which firm subsequently became known as the Rockefeller & Andrews Oil Company, and was really the beginning of the Standard Oil Corporation of today. In 1871 Mr. Henke disposed of his teaming business and, forming a partnership with his brother-in-law, John F. Puls, under the firm name of Puls & Henke, engaged in the furniture business, opening a store on what in those days was known as Detroit Street Hill, where is now located the high level bridge over the Cuvahoga River. Four years later they removed to a store at the corner of Lorain and Penn streets, now Lorain and West Thirty second Street, a block west of the present store. In 1875 Mr. Puls withdrew from the partnership, and Mr. Henke formed the firm of Koch & Henke. In 1881 he purchased the concern's present site at 3001-321 Lorain Avenue, and at once began the erection of a three story brick block, where he continued in active business until he retired and turned the business over to the management of his son, Henry A., in 1888. After a long and honorable career both as a business man and citizen, Mr. Henke, Sr., died in 1906, at the age of eighty two years, enjoying the esteem of all those who had had business relations with him, and the warm friendship of his intimates. His wife preceded him to the grave, she dying in 1901, aged seventy five years.

Henry A. Henke was a boy of two years when he came with his parents from Dover Township to Cleveland. He attended the Lutheran parochial schools and took the courses at the old Forest City Business College. In early youth he assisted his father in the store, taking over the management and relieving his father more and more with each succeeding year, so that by the time his father was ready to relinquish the business entirely Henry A. was ready and competent to assume the full responsibility. In 1910 the business was incorporated as the Henke Furniture Company, the stock being held by the Henke family, and Henry A. was elected president and so continued until his death, on August 5, 1924. Under his management the business grew from year to year in volume of trade and popularity, the Henke Furniture Company becoming one of the recognized commercial institutions of the city, enjoying a patronage from all parts of the community.

On May 12, 1910, the first brick store was destroyed by fire, including the stock, and almost immediately was begun the erection of a concrete store on the same site of four stories in height; but, when nearing completion, the building collapsed, resulting in its total loss, and the loss of several lives. However, another and larger store was soon under construction, with a frontage of 100 feet and a depth of 140 feet, which is today one of the handsome business blocks of the city of today.

Aside from his furniture business Mr. Henke had other important interests. He was a member of the West Side Advisory Board of the Cleveland Trust Company, a member of the advisory board of the United Banking & Savings Company, and a stockholder in the Lorain Street Savings & Trust Company; he was secretary of the Lutheran Cemetery Association; for sixty years he was a member of Trinity Lutheran Church, of which he was a member of the board of trustees for twelve or more years, following which' he became chairman of that church. He was a member of the first board of trustees of Lutheran Hospital, and in later years gave liberally to that institution. He was a member of the Cleveland Chamber of Industry, and was interested in and a supporter of all civic movements whose object was the promotion of the welfare of the community. Especially was he interested in his church affairs contributing freely to all of its work, including Synodical Conference work, Synodical colleges, and to all Lutheran institutions. But all of his benevolent and philanthropic work was done in a quiet and unostentatious manner, for he was of a quite, almost modest, nature and preferred to do his part without boast. Mr. Henke was popular among his friends and business associates, all of whom esteemed him for his many sterling traits of character.

Mr. Henke was united in marriage with Marie Louise George, the daughter of Christian Adam and Caroline (Meyer) George of Cleveland, and to them have been born the following children: George F., who is associated with the Henke Furniture Company; Louise, who married Harry Dankorth, of Cleveland; Helen, who married Clarence Hansen, of Cleveland, and they have a son, James Edward; Henry August, Jr., married Harriet Hinchliffe, and they have a daughter, Emaline Louise; Emily L.; Edwin August, married Marion McArdle.

Henry A. Henke died at his handsome Lake Avenue residence on August 5, 1924.

A History of Cuyahoga County
and the City of Cleveland
By: William R. Coates
The American Historical Society
Chicago and New York, 1924

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