A little bit of history…

The year was 1861 when Abraham L. Knoetz saw the way the wind was blowing in the Ununited States. His lucrative plantations had secured for he and his family all the comforts they could desire, but the Abolitionist movement of the north was building steam. While some in the south were preparing to fight to preserve a way of life which all priviliged persons of right skin and upbringing had grown most accustomed to, he understood that those times were coming to an end. Ultimately, he saw only one way to beat them – join them.

Abraham L. Knoetz, accompanied by wife, son and daughters, circa 1880 (Image courtesy of the F. Cliff Knoetz Photographic Foundation, on loan to Wisconsin Historical Images, aparently)

A founder member of the Ablutionist Movement, Abraham Knoetz turned his back on his neighbours and washed his hands of the south, welcoming the north with open arms. He generously freed his entire workforce, hiring them back at very reasonable rates and providing accomodation in the former slave cabins at equally reasonable rents. Few people then – as now – could hope to find a job for life, but Abraham was always ahead of his time. Unfortunately for the Knoetz family, though, times in the future would not always be so good.

Abraham’s son, Jonathan L. S. Knoetz, took over the running of the plabusinessntation on his father’s retirement in 1894 and went on to establish Knoetz Tobacco & Cotton Inc. five years later. By 1912 shares were trading at a very respectable level on the New York Curb Market and, should the Wall Street Crash of 1929 not brought about a rather radical downturn, the Knoetzs may have never looked back, and all might have proved very different for the state of the world’s spiritual health today.

Jonathan L. S. Knoetz, Abraham’s son, with “companions”, circa 1900 (Image courtesy of the F. Cliff Knoetz Photographic Foundation)

With KT&C Inc. devestated and Jonathan driven to a relatively early grave, it fell upon the shoulders of Jonathan’s son, Robinson C. Knoetz, to revive the family’s fortunes. Easier said than done, however. Struggling through the Depression and able to pay their staff only in cigarettes, clothes and bedding, Robinson fell into a depression of his own, one which lingered long after that depression, the Depression, which caused his own. Not even the birth of his only son, F. Clifford Knoetz, could bring any joy to his existance. Following Robinson’s untimely and largely uninvestigated passing, and that of his primary wife, responsibility for the family business inevitably passed on as well…

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