James B Kifer


JAMES B. KIFER has been engaged in business at Leechburg continuously for a period of thirty-five years, and has served twenty-seven years as a justice of the peace, "Squire" Kifer being one of the best known men in this part of Armstrong county. He was born at Leechburg, Nov. 9, 1856, son of Joseph Kifer and grandson of Michael Kifer. His great-grandfather was a resident of Westmoreland county, Pa., where he died.

Michael Kifer was a native of Westmoreland county, and lived there about two miles from Greensburg. He followed farming, and died upon his farm. It is remarkable that the nine children born to him and his wife died in the same order in which they were born.

Joseph Kifer, son of Michael, was born March 3, 1809, near Greensburg, Westmoreland Co., Pa., and when a young man learned the trade of hatter. When improved machinery began to change the work, however, he gave it up and turned his attention to gardening. In his later years he came to Leechburg, Armstrong county, where he lived in retirement until his death, which occurred Aug. 20, 1882. He was a very large and strong man. In 1837 he married Anna C. Spang, who was born June 25, 1818, daughter of Jacob Spang (born Feb. 2, 1769, and died Oct. 12, 1847). Jacob Spang was of Berks county, a member of the family whose members are heirs to the large Spang estate in Europe, which the Spangs have long endeavored to get possession of. To Mr. and Mrs. Kifer were born nine children, five of whom died in infancy, the others being: Lucinda, Rosanna, Esther and James B.

James B. Kifer received his education at Leechburg. When fourteen years old he left high school and for the next seven and a half years was in the employ of the Pennsylvania Railroad Company at Leechburg, selling tickets. On Oct. 22, 1878, he opened the stationery store which he has ever since carried on. It was the first establishment of the kind in the place and was a success from the start, as its continued existence of thirty-five years would evidence. Mr. Kifer is probably best known, however, in his capacity of justice of the peace, to which office he was first appointed, Jan. 25, 1887, by Gov. James A. Beaver, to succeed A. J. Elliott, who was then elected to represent this district in the State Legislature. He has served continuously since, by election and reelection, having been chosen by the people on five different occasions. During his long period of service many cases have come up before him for trial and he has disposed of his work in a manner highly satisfactory to all concerned. He is one of those justices who believe in amicable settlements whenever possible, and he always tries to have a case dismissed or settled out of court if his persuasion can arrange it so. In fact it is recognized that his efforts in this direction have saved many dollars to the county and to individual litigants who have followed his advice. It is worthy of note, and redounds to his credit, that in no case carried from his court to a higher one in all the years of his service has his decision been reversed. This is a record which is very creditable to both his legal and judicial ability.

Squire Kifer is well known in fraternal circles, belonging to Leechburg Lodge, No. 577, F. & A. M. (he was made a mason in 1889); to Kittanning Chapter, No. 248, R. A. M.; Tancred Commandery; Pittsburgh Consistory, and Syria Temple, A. A. O. N. M. S., of Pittsburgh. He also holds membership in the I. O. O. F. He is a member of the Lutheran Church, and for eleven years served as superintendent of the Sunday school.

On Jan 19, 1881, Mr. Kifer married Elizabeth A. Kirkpatrick, daughter of James and Sarah Kirkpatrick. They have two children, Mildred E. Bolar and Albert Eugene.

Source: Pages 801-802, Armstrong County, Pa., Her People, Past and Present, J.H. Beers & Co., 1914
Transcribed October 1998 by James R Hindman for the Armstrong County Beers Project
Contributed for use by the Armstrong County Genealogy Project (http://www.pa-roots.com/armstrong/)

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