Biography of Charles Frederick Halbkat

Charles F. Halbkat, born June 20, 1870, in Fillmore County, Minnesota, is a prominent jewelry businessman in Watertown, South Dakota. He acquired the oldest jewelry business in Watertown from W.T. Keating in 1898, succeeding the establishment originally founded by pioneer W.R. Arnold. Halbkat’s store, located in the Granite block, offers a wide range of jewelry, watches, silverware, and features a well-equipped optical department. An official watch inspector for three railroads, Halbkat is esteemed in both commercial and social circles. Married to Georgia Wert in 1899, they have one son, Charles Angus.

Charles F. Halbkat is recognized as one of the representative young business men of the state, being engaged in the wholesale and retail jewelry business in the city of Watertown, the official center of Codington county. He controls a large and important business in his line and commands unqualified confidence and esteem in both commercial and social circles. The enterprise at whose head he stands is the oldest, though the most up-to-date, of the sort in this section of the state, having been established here in the early days of the town by W. R. Arnold, one of the pioneers of the place, who was succeeded by W. T. Keating, from whom the subject purchased the business in January, 1898, so that its history has been consecutive from the pioneer epoch. The finely equipped and appointed establishment is eligibly located in the Granite block, in the business center of the city, and the quarters are spacious and attractive in all particulars. Mr. Halbkat carries a large and complete stock of jewelry, watches, clocks, silverware, and other specialties in the line usually found in metropolitan establishments; the store is furnished in fine black walnut and glass, the fixtures being of modern design throughout, and both in stock and arrangement the establishment compares most favorably with the first-class houses of the sort in the larger cities. A well-equipped optical department is maintained and is one of the special features of the enterprise, the same being in charge of two graduate opticians, while particular attention is also given to high-class engraving and complicated watch repairing of all sorts, much work being done by our subject’s skilled artisans in turning out this sort of work for dealers in neighboring towns where expert workmanship is demanded. Mr. Halbkat is the official watch inspector for three railroads entering Watertown: the Chicago & Northwestern Railway, Chicago, Rock Island & Pacific Railway, and Minneapolis & St. Louis Railway, each having selected him to inspect and look after their employees’ timepieces.

Charles Frederick Halbkat is a native of the state of Minnesota, having been born on a farm near Hamilton, Fillmore county, on the 20th of June, 1870, and being a son of John C. and Helen (Tessin) Halbkat. The father was born in Buffalo, New York, to which state his parents came from Germany about the year 1849, and when he was about four years of age, his parents removed to Minnesota, becoming pioneers of Mower county, and later Fillmore county, where he was reared to manhood on the home farm, receiving a common-school education. He has been engaged in general merchandising in Spring Valley, Fillmore county, Minnesota, since 1875, and is thus one of the pioneers of the state, as is he also one of the prominent and influential citizens of his locality. In Minnesota was celebrated his marriage to Miss Helen Tessin, who was born and reared in Germany, whence she came to America when a young woman, and of their five children all are yet living.

Charles F. Halbkat secured his educational discipline in the public schools of Spring Valley, being a student in the high school until he had attained the age of sixteen years, when he took a clerical position in his father’s store, where he remained one year, after which he began his apprenticeship at the jeweler’s trade, which he completed in an establishment at Waseca, Minnesota, where he continued to be employed at his trade until 1898, when he came to Watertown, South Dakota, and effected the purchase of his present business, which was the leading one of the sort in the city, its proprietor at the time having been mayor of Watertown. He has materially increased the scope and importance of the enterprise, being a reliable and progressive young business man and one whose courteous and genial nature has gained him a host of friends in this section. He has made judicious investments in farming land in the state and is also the owner of one of the most attractive residence properties in Watertown. In politics, he is a staunch Republican and never fails to exercise his right of franchise. Fraternally, he is prominently identified with the Knights of Pythias, and while residing in Minnesota was captain in the Uniformed Rank of the same, while he is also a Knight Templar Mason and a member of the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks.

On the 7th of June, 1899, Mr. Halbkat was united in marriage to Miss Georgia Wert, of Waseca, Minnesota, in which state she was reared and educated. Mrs. Halbkat is an accomplished musician, being a skilled pianist and organist, and having at one time been organist of the Congregational church in Watertown. Both Mr. and Mrs. Halbkat are communicants of Trinity church, Protestant Episcopal, in Watertown. They have one child, Charles Angus, born December 7, 1902. They are prominent in the social life of the community and their pleasant home is a favorite rendezvous for their wide circle of friends.


Robinson, Doane, History of South Dakota: together with mention of Citizens of South Dakota, [Logansport? IN] : B. F. Bowen, 1904.

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