Biography of Hon. Charles L. Kurtz
Franklin County, Ohio Biographies





Hon. Charles L. Kurtz. - Honored, respected and esteemed in Columbus was Hon. Charles L. Kurtz, who was numbered among the most influential figures of his time in Franklin County. He died in Columbus, February 26, 1929.

Charles L. Kurtz was of German extraction, members of the Kurtz family having emigrated to the United States in about 1630. He was born at Albany, Ohio, May 4, 1854, the son of W. W. and Isabella (McElroy) Kurtz. W. W. Kurtz, born in Pennsylvania, was an early settler of Ohio. He was a cabinet maker by trade, spent some time at Albany, Ohio, and later removed to Athens, where he served as postmaster for many years. Both he and his wife are buried at Athens.

Charles L. Kurtz was educated in the public schools but did not acquire a high school education. His early ability to grapple with problems of life as they confronted him is illustrated by the fact that when only thirteen years of age he was able to secure a loan of $5500.00 without collateral security. Mr. Kurtz's first public service was as a representative from Athens County in the Ohio General Assembly in 1880, and he was returned for a second term. He was a Republican and played a leading role in the legislation, and particularly in the political maneuvers of his time; for his genius for political leadership and the unselfish participation in practical lines and politics which inspires some men, but very few, to devote themselves to the fortunes of others rather than their own, was thus early manifested and continued his most conspicious trait of character throughout his long and useful life.

Mr. Kurtz was the first, the most consistent and ablest lieutenant of the late Joseph B. Foraker, who appeared on the horizon of state politics for the first time as the Republican candidate for governor during the second legislative term of his young friend from Athens. For more than twenty years ensuing this fellowship between Governor Foraker and his devoted adviser continued. Mr. Kurtz became secretary to the new governor on his induction into office and retained that post until 1890, during which period he became the arbitrator of Republican state executive committees, exercising an iron rule, although seemingly ever with an air of diffidence and self effacement over the interests of the Republican organization. In 1895 and 1896 he resumed the chairmanship when Judge Foraker went to the Senate and Asa S. Bushnell became governor. It was in the cards at that time that Mr. Kurtz should be appointed senator to fill an unexpired term created by a vacancy, but the well deserved honor never came to him for the reason that his appointment at that particular period, such was the political ranker of the times, would have set the state and the nation by the ears. Mr. Kurtz was the Navarre of the anti-Hanna insurrection in Ohio. It was his shrewd management that assembled a legislature hostile by a small majority on the Republican side to the election of Hanna as senator; but he was not able to hold his lines against the inroads of the national administration under President McKinley and Mr. Hanna was elected by the hair raising margin of one vote.

With the withdrawal of Senator Foraker from public life Mr. Kurtz plunged zealously into business, displaying to the surprise of many of his friends a genius for large enterprises of that sort which to the minds of his devoted followers appeared as a new revelation of his character. He was successful to the extent that in his death the Capital City deplored the passing of one of its foremost business men.

Mr. Kurtz was the most powerful politician in Ohio at a time when the state was a hot bed of the most stirring political events in the nation, yet he never held an office above secretary to the governor, state oil inspector, and representative. His career remains a monument to the greatest political glory of America, a spotlight of American statesmanship, and a memorial to personal worth. The biography of Mr. Kurtz may be found in "Who's Who" in America, edition of 1928. Mr. Kurtz was president of the Columbus Railway, Power & Light Company from January, 1919, until 1925, and during that time the company's stock increased in value from $8 to $115 per share. In 1903 he assisted in the organization of the Scioto Stone Company, Keever Starch Company, and Guanajuoto Reduction and Mining Company, and served as president of these companies from their inception until his death in 1929.

On September 11, 1878, Mr. Kurtz was united in marriage with Miss Anna Jewett, the daughter of Edgar and Nancy Jane (Kessinger) Jewett, natives of Athens, Ohio, both now deceased. Mrs. Kurtz died October 8, 1911, and is buried at Athens. To this union the following children were born: Ione, lives in Columbus; Eleanor, married Ralph H. Beaton, lives at Bexley, Ohio; Florence, deceased; and Charles J., who is vice president of the Keever Starch Company, Columbus. He married Miss Maybelle Bradley, and they have three children: Charles, James, and Mary Virginia.

Charles L. Kurtz was married the second time to Miss Vivian Ebersole, who died in 1923. She is buried in Columbus.

Mr. Kurtz was a member of the Columbus Country Club, the Athletic Club of Columbus, Lotus Club of New York, Ohio Society of New York and the Blaine Club of Cincinnati.

From:
History of Franklin County, Ohio
By:Opha Moore
Historical Publishing Company
Topeka - Indianapolis 1930


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