CHRISTIAN H. BOEDEKER. That man whose youth was hampered by unfavorable environment and yet wins every engagement in his battle of life with the nation’s industries possesses a genius for human affairs. Nature so endowed him in compensation for his misfortunes in childhood and her guardian eye shapes his course and guards his destiny like a sentinel at his post. To be orphaned in infancy, to be separated from the maternal fireside in early youth and to cross, alone, the briny deep separating two continents and to take one’s station in the ranks of labor, amid new scenes and in a new world, requires a rare human courage, but to pass creditably through successive stages of industry, to enter commerce and win confidence and position in its domain, and to maintain a social and civil standing obscuring all his other achievements, displays talent akin to genius and cap-sheafs one’s career and gives to his life the glittering crown of public approval.
The history of the frontier settlements of the west is spiced with instances of rare human achievement worked out in the course of years by persons whose early lives were without promise and whose destiny seemed that of a humble citizen in one of life’s honored vocations. Thousands of young men have made fortunes in the west and multitudes of them have won fame and fortune in Texas, but it remains for Montague county, in the person of Christian H. Boedeker, of Bowie, to provide its posterity with a life so hampered in childhood, so circumscribed in youth, so ordinary in early manhood and so filled with material, civil and spiritual successes in middle life as to be without accurate parallel in the annals of our day.
In the Province of Westphalia, in the village of Buende, Christian H. Boedeker was born on the twenty-second of January, 1852. Fred Boedeker, a blacksmith, was his father and Julia Wellman was his mother. In 1857 the father died and the rearing of his three sons, and their proper training, fell to their mother and a stepfather. Christian H., the oldest, came to the United States in 1867 and Gustav and Fred followed later on. Gustav is a machinist residing in St. Louis and Fred owns a confectionery and cold-storage business in Dallas, Texas.
The compulsory education laws of the German Empire guarantee the education of the youth up to the age of fourteen and it was the province of Christian Boedeker to become a blacksmith’s apprentice. From his stepfather he gained that knowledge of the trade which assured his success at the forge and when he landed at Castle Garden, New York, it was in compliance with the urgent invitation of an uncle to cast his lot with Americans where the door of opportunity stood wide open to the sincere and industrious youth. His first employer was Mr. Burch, a carriage-maker in St. Louis, Missouri, in whose factory he remained four years. Two years more were passed in other factories in that city before he abandoned his trade for the alluring promises of farm life on the Texas frontier. The few hundred dollars he had amassed from his wages as a mechanic he invested in a farm ten miles west of Gainesville and entered the new and untried domain of agriculture.
As a farmer Mr. Boedeker’s maiden efforts were without encouraging results. But when he paid less attention to cotton and more to cattle the smiles of fortune came his way. Desiring a wider and freer range he brought his stock to Montague county in 1878 and purchased a tract of grass land six miles west of where Bowie was afterward founded. Salem was a postoffice and store nearest to him and for twelve years his successful identity with the stock business was a matter of common report. As he prospered he extended his landed domain, and two thousand acres of farming lands are now listed to him in Montague county. Although he has abandoned the active supervision of his agricultural interests, or that of his stock, he keeps in touch with them both and it furnishes him with a pleasant diversion from the multifarious and wearing duties claiming his attention at the bank.
With the growth of Mr. Boedeker’s grazing and agricultural interests came the positive evidences of his commercial genius. He became interested in banking and his rare grace of manner and business acumen, coupled with his equable temperament and recognized mental balance, suggested his selection for an officer of the City National Bank. He moved to Bowie in 1890 and took the place of assistant to Cashier Wade Atkins and was made cashier when Mr. Atkins was promoted. January I, 1903, the directory elected him president of the bank and for more than two years the bank’s growth and its good name have lain nearest to his heart.
While not a politician, and yet in politics, Mr. Boedeker disclaims any thought of personal advantage from the public expression of his neighbors which made him mayor of their city. He was first elected in 1901 and again in 1993 and as chief executive of Bowie his aim and desire has been to improve and strengthen its physical and financial condition. After his two terms in office the streets are in order, the water service shows vast improvement, the fire department has become efficient and city scrip has passed from a discount of seventy-five per cent to par. As an additional evidence of his sincere interest in his town he has aided in and encouraged the organization of a company to build the Oklahoma and Texas Railway, projected from Nocona to Bowie, of which company he is treasurer.
January 28, 1891, Christian H. Boedeker and Miss Kate Dietz were married in St. Louis, Missouri. Mrs. Boedeker is a daughter of George Dietz, a gentleman of German birth, and she and her husband, having no issue, are rearing and educating an adopted son, Paul Boedeker, born in 1895.
The life of our subject has been an exemplary one. His identity with moral questions is well known and his substantial contribution to all Christian endeavor is never withheld. The subscription list for the building of a public building in Bowie or out of it always finds its way, early, to his liberal hand. A religious man in thought and action himself, he leads others by his example and influence into more moral and upright lives. His name is on the rolls of the Cumberland Presbyterian church and he is honored with an eldership by his congregation.
Source: B. B. Paddock, History and Biographical Record of North and West Texas (Chicago: Lewis Publishing Co., 1906), Vol. II, pp. 89-90.