Clem J. Kern, BiographyPorter County biographical sketches . . . .

Transcribed biography of Clem J. Kern

CLEM J. KERN. Probably no citizen of Porter county had a wider acquaintance and was more influential in the public life of the county than the late Clem J. Kern. His death, which occurred on December 26, 1911, removed an able, broad-minded and upright member from the community where he had for many years been known as a successful merchant, a legislator, and a loyal and devoted worker for the best things in the life of his home city and county.

Mr. Kern was born May 25, 1848, at Selins Grove, Snyder county, Pennsylvania, a son of John and Catherine (Tuttle) Kern, the father a native of Holland and the mother of Pennsylvania. John Kern was engaged in one of Pennsylvania's greatest industries, the manufacture of pig-iron, but later in life came west to take a share in the lumber industry. For some time his home was at White Pigeon, Michigan, and from there moved to Renssalaer, Indiana, where his death occurred. The widowed mother then removed with her family to Logansport. The children, who received their schooling for the most part in Pennsylvania, were William, Ammon, Adam, Stephen, Sabine, Jane, Eliza, Lillian and Clem J.

Clem J. Kern began his active career at Logansport, where he was in the mercantile business. There he met the young lady who was to become his wife while she was visiting friends in that city, and they were married at Detroit, Michigan, in 1876. Mrs. Kern before her marriage was Miss Sidney Piatt, a native of Dayton, Ohio, where she was reared and educated. Her parents were Isaac and Sarah (Smallwood) Piatt, her father being a farmer. Mrs. Kern had one sister, named Catherine.

After their marriage Mr. Kern and wife began their wedded life in Logansport, where he continued in business for a time, and then came to Valparaiso, where he established the mercantile business which he conducted with growing success for more than twenty-two years. He was a reliable business man, and as a merchant gained the influence and acquaintance which later resulted in his being chosen as the people's representative in public affairs. In politics his affiliation was with the Democratic party. His personal popularity was such that it overcame the normal Republican majority in Porter county, and he was elected and served during 1890-91 as state representative. He then refused on account of failing health to make the effort for another election, though his record entitled him to the continued support of the people. His service in the legislature was important both to the state and his county, and during his term he did excellent work in shaping the laws affecting the general welfare of the state.

Mr. Kern was a member of the Christian church of Valparaiso, while Mrs. Kern has for many years been identified with the Presbyterian church of the city. Both have always taken a public-spirited part in local affairs. Fraternally he was a member of the Knights of Pythias and the Elks, and his brothers in the Elks lodge had charge of the funeral services.

The late Mr. Kern attained to success through his own industry, the death of his father having left him dependent on his own resources when only a boy. He possessed many admirable qualities of heart and mind, and it was largely in recognition of his worthy character that his fellow citizens paid him the tributes of public honors. He was especially the friend of children, and it is said that he was known personally to most of the boys and girls of Porter county, and one of his delights was to be merrily hailed by them when he was making his frequent drives through the country. A born sportsman and one of the best marksmen in the county, he found recreation in hunting and field sports. At his home in Valparaiso are two pictures, one being an oil painting of a fine black bass, weighing seven and a half pounds, which was one of his trophies as an angler; the other represents him with gun and several large wild geese which he had shot during an early morning tramp. It was these recreations that sustained his strength in later years until the final period of ill health which resulted in his death. At their home on LaFayette street Mr. and Mrs. Kern, who had no children of their own, often offered their genial hospitality to young people, and both young and old had cause to lament the passing of a citizen whose kindly personality was so esteemed. Among the many tributes paid at the time of his death was a letter from Senator Kern speaking in highest appreciation of the work done by the former representative while in the state legislature.

Source: Lewis Publishing Company. 1912. History of Porter County, Indiana: A Narrative Account of its Historical Progress, its People and its Principal Interests. Chicago, Illinois: Lewis Publishing Company. 881 p.
Page(s) in Source: 381-382

This biography has been transcribed exactly as it was originally published in the source. Please note that we do not provide photocopies or digital scans of biographies appearing on this website.

Biography transcribed by Steven R. Shook


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