Born in Germany, Nolker was treasurer of the St. Louis Brewing Association. He began his business career in the hotel & restaurant business, then became a messenger for the banking house of Fallis, Young & Company. He later was the general manager of the Vulcan Manufacturing Company & then later became the head of that business. After moving to St. Louis, he began in the brewing business as a member of the firm of Brinckwirth, Griesedieck & Nolker, which was later incorporated as the Brinkwirth-Nolker Brewing Company. The firm became a part of the St. Louis Brewing Association & Nolker became the treasurer of the association. He was also the president of the Commercial Electrical Supply Company & Gilsonite Construction Company, first vice-president of the Kinoch Telephone Company & German American Bank, & the director of the Mississippi Valley Trust Company & several other corporations. He served in the Civil War as a private in the 137th Ohio Volunteers.