Julius E. Raht, pioneer in the mining and smelting of copper in East Tennessee, was born in Dillenburg, Duchy of Nassau, Germany, on June 26, 1826. He attended Bonn University and the University of Berlin before immigrating to the United States with his brother Charles in 1850. Raht arrived in Ducktown in 1854. He made a brief return to Germany that year when he married Mathilde Dombois. Back in Ducktown by August 1854, Raht was employed as a mine captain and opened a store. By 1858 he was managing the Ocoee Turnpike and Plank Road Company. That same year, Raht became superintendent of the Union Consolidated Mines. In 1859 he was superintendent of the Polk County Copper Company and, the next year, managed the Burra Burra Copper Company. By age thirty-four Raht was managing all of the mines and smelting works at Ducktown.
During the Civil War, Raht hired a substitute to serve in his stead and moved his family to Cincinnati. Returning to Cleveland, Tennessee, he helped organize the Cleveland National Bank in 1866, becoming its first vice-president and, in 1875, president. Locally Raht became well known for his many acts of charity. He helped build and repair roads, schools, and churches and contributed generously to charitable causes.
Julius and Mathilde Raht were the parents of twelve children, with six sons and two daughters surviving to maturity. Raht died on August 15, 1879, at age fifty-three from heart failure. In his book, Ducktown Back in Raht’s Time, R. E. Barclay concluded, “No man ever worked harder to make Ducktown a district of moral and industrial strength . . . and, in turn, no man ever reaped greater rewards for his efforts than did Julius Eckhardt Raht.” (1)