Frederick Kern, BiographyPorter County biographical sketches . . . .

Transcribed biography of Frederick Kern

FREDERICK KERN. One of the most vital and valued elements in the composite social fabric of our American republic has been that given by the German empire, and from this source our nation has had much to gain and nothing to lose. He whose name introduces this review came from Germany to America when a youth, and here he has not only exemplified the best of the traditions and customs of his Fatherland but has also entered fully into the spirit of the land of his adoption. His loyalty was shown in a significant way by his service as one of the valiant soldiers of the Union in the Civil war, and in the "piping times of peace" his achievement has been not less worthy. Now living retired in the village of Hebron, he was formerly one of the representative farmers and stock-growers of Porter county, and he won for himself definite prosperity and independence through well directed industry, the while he has so ordered his course as to retain the inviolable confidence and esteem of those with whom he has come in contact in the various relations of life. His status in the community is such as to entitle him to special recognition in this history of the county which has long been the stage of his activities and in which he is now enjoying the gracious rewards of former years of toil and endeavor.

Mr. Kern finds satisfaction in reverting to the Palatinate or Bavarian Rhine province of Germany as the place of his nativity, and in that beautiful section of the empire the family name has been one of prominence for many generations. There he was born on the 11th of March, 1836, and he was the second in order of birth of the four sons and two daughters born to Philip J. and Catherine (Moock) Kern, who immigrated to America in 1856 and who passed the closing years of their lives in Boone township, Porter county, the vocation of the father having been that of farming. The other children were named as follows: Philip, John, Margaret, Michael and Magdalena. Of the number two sons and one daughter are still living.

Frederick Kern is indebted to the excellent schools of his native land for his rudimentary education and as a lad of fifteen he came with his brother Philip and a paternal uncle to America. They landed in New York City and thence the two boys made their way to Stark county, Ohio, where Philip entered upon an apprenticeship to the trade of cabinetmaker and where Frederick learned the shoemaker's trade to which he there devoted his attention for a period of about three years. He then went to the city of Cincinnati, where he followed the work of his trade about six months, his recompense during his apprenticeship having been but fifty dollars a year. At the expiration of the period noted he was joined by his honored parents and the other children of the family, and the entire family soon afterward established a home in Porter county, Indiana, the parents and children having made the voyage to America on a sailing vessel which was on the ocean for forty-two days before reaching its destination. In Porter county the father rented a farm and the children were afforded the advantages of the district schools, the while Frederick continued to devote a considerable part of his time to the work of his trade, in order to assist in the support of the other members of the family. The devoted parents, who were strangers in a strange land and unable to speak a word of English, were soon called upon to meet a sore bereavement, in that their little son, Michael, and a boy companion were drowned while bathing in a neighboring stream, Michael having been at the time but thirteen years of age. Under these depressing circumstances the parents yearned for their native land and only lack of sufficient funds prevented their return to Germany. Gradually they learned the English language and gained the staunch friendship of those about them, so that they became fully reconciled to their lot, besides which they found in the land of their adoption the means for gaining distinct prosperity through thrift and industry.

Frederick Kern continued to follow his trade and to be identified with farm work until he had attained to the age of twenty-five years, when he subordinated all other considerations to tender his aid in defense of the Union, the integrity of which was jeopardized by armed rebellion. At LaPorte he was mustered in as a private in Company B, One Hundred and Fifty-first Indiana Volunteer Infantry, with which he proceeded to the front and with which he continued in active service until the expiration of his nine months' term of enlistment, when he received his honorable discharge. He then returned to his home in Porter county and resumed his activities as a civilian. He was associated with the work and management of the home farm in Boone township until the death of his honored father, who was summoned to eternal rest in January, 1885, the loved and devoted mother having passed away in May, 1880. The parents were held in high esteem in the community and the old homestead was one in which kindly and unostentatious hospitality was ever in evidence. The parents were devout members of the German Evangelical church and their lives were lived in harmony with the faith which they professed. Philip Kern, the eldest of the sons, is now deceased. He married Wilhelmina Sont and is survived by two sons, -- Charles Edward and Frederick William. John Kern, the second son, who is a prosperous farmer of Porter county, married Caroline Siegel, and they have three children, -- Catherine, George and Mina. Margaret Kern died in Chicago, at the age of twenty-six years, and her remains there rest in beautiful Graceland cemetery. Magdalena Kern married Amos E. Mahany, and they reside in Porter county. They have two daughters, Margaret and Alice.

After the death of his father Frederick Kern, who has never married, removed from the farm to the village of Hebron, where he has since lived retired, and his sister Magdalena presides over the domestic affairs of their pleasant home. Mr. Kern has won independence and distinct prosperity through his well directed endeavors and has well exemplified the thrift and enterprise of the sterling race of which he is a representative. He is loyal and public-spirited as a citizen, is well informed on the questions and issues of the day and in a generic sense gives his support to the principles and policies for which the Democratic party stands sponsor and he is affiliated with the Grand Army of the Republic, in which he has the high regard of his old comrades of the Civil war. His sister holds membership in the United Presbyterian church.

When Mr. Kern returned from his service as a Union soldier he purchased forty acres of land in Boone township, and within three years he had made good the indebtedness he thus assumed. He then purchased an additional thirty acres and still later he bought one hundred and sixty acres in Porter township. He still owns the greater part of this property, which is now well improved, and he has also erected his attractive residence in Hebron, besides which he is owner of a fine residence property in the city of Topeka, Kansas, -- all this standing in evidence of his industry and his judicious management of his financial affairs. He is a man of genial and kindly nature and his popularity is attested by the unqualified confidence and esteem accorded him in the county that has been his home from the days of his youth. His sister Magdalena presides most graciously over their home and they delight in extending its hospitality to their wide circle of friends.

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: 684-686

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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