Josiah W. Klingensmith


JOSIAH W. KLINGENSMITH, one of the best known citizens of Parks township, Armstrong County, was born there June 20, 1841; on the farm where he now lives.

The Klingensmith family is of German origin, and was founded in this country by Peter Klingensmith, great-grandfather of Josiah W. Klingensmith, who on coming from Germany settled in Armstrong (then Westmoreland) county, in what is now Gilpin township. He was one of the pioneers in his section.

George Klingensmith, son of Peter, was born in 1779 in Westmoreland county, and in 1830 removed to Armstrong county, being one of the pioneer settlers in what is now Parks township. He built a log house in the woods and cleared his land for agricultural purposes, continuing to follow farming until his death, which occurred in 1857. He and his wife, who was also a Klingensmith, of Westmoreland county, were members of the Forks Church, where they are buried. They had three children, two of whom died in infancy.

Adam Klingensmith, son of George, was the only one of his parents' family to reach maturity. Born in Westmoreland county, he was only eight years old when brought by his parents to Armstrong county, and was all his life engaged in farming in Parks township, where he died Sept. 8, 1874, aged sixty-one years, eight months, twenty-six days. He was an active member of the Evangelical Lutheran Church at Bethel, which he served officially as deacon. In politics he was a stanch adherent of the Democratic party. His wife, Anna M. (Kirkland), born Aug. 20, 1806, in McKeesport, Allegheny county, was a daughter of John Kirkland, a native of Scotland, who came to this country and settled in Pennsylvania, where he followed boating on the Monongahela river between McKeesport and Pittsburgh. In 1812 he fell overboard from a flatboat on which he was employed as poler and was drowned. Mr. and Mrs. Adam Klingensmith had the following children: William, Mary L., Josiah W., Nathaniel K., Eden, John and Caroline E.

Josiah W. Klingensmith grew to manhood on the farm and obtained his education in the local public schools. During the summer of 1857 he engaged in boating on the old Pennsylvania canal, continuing that work for the season. During the next five years he was employed as a farm hand, working for ten or twelve dollars a month. In 1862 he entered the Union service, becoming a private in Company C, 139th Regiment Pennsylvania Volunteers, for three years. He saw much active service, taking part in every battle in which his regiment was engaged. He helped to bury the dead who had lain for eleven days upon the battlefield of Second Bull Run. His regiment then moved on the Sharpsburg, Md., joining the 6th Corps of the main army, and marched to Antietam, where they took part in the battle. They were also at Fredericksburg (both engagements), the Wilderness and Gettysburg, in which Mr. Klingensmith took part after a force march of thirty-six hours, during which time his company was not allowed to cook any food. He was under fire and in action there for the greater part of twenty-four hours. On May 5, 1864, at one of the Wilderness fights, he was wounded in the left hand by a musket ball, and was sent to Lincoln hospital at Washington, where he remained until August. On Dec. 25, 1864, he was discharged on account of disability, and he has never fully recovered the use of his hand.

After returning from the army Mr. Klingensmith took up farming, to which he devoted all his time until 1874, when he opened a store on his farm. It soon became a prosperous business center, and he continued in the business until 1892, when he sold it to his sons. Meantime, in 1881, Dime postoffice was established at the store, and he received the appointment as postmaster. From February, 1886, until Mr. Klingensmith's reappointment in 1889, the place was filled by a Democrat. Since retiring from the mercantile business he has given all his time and attention to his farm property, which has increased to such an extent that he now owns about twelve hundred acres in Armstrong county, including a number of farms besides his home place in Parks township of fifty-six acres, another of ninety-eight acres in that township, and one of 180 acres in Kiskiminetas township. Tow hundred and seventy acres of his land is underlaid with a vein of coal 4 feet 10 inches thick. His interests are very extensive and able managed. Though he had nothing to start with except his energy and ambition, he has done unusually well, and he has, moreover, maintained high standing for honor in all his dealings with his fellow men.

Mr. Klingensmith has long been active in local politics as a member of the Republican party, for whose success he has worked efficiently. He was elected assessor of Parks township when it was formed, serving three years. In religious connection he holds membership in the Boiling Springs Evangelical Lutheran Church, and for sixteen years served as a member of the church council.

On Feb. 20, 1866, Mr. Klingensmith married Lucinda Knappenberger, daughter of John Knappenberger, and they have had eight children, viz.: Mary A., who died Oct. 21, 1911, was wife of William Ayers; John A., who resides at Mateer, Pa., conducting a store at that place, married Lavina Brown; William Francis, who now conducts his father's old store at Dime, married Vivian Elliott; Nancy I. married Charles Bortz; Susan M. married Harry Gilchrist; Josiah W., who died in November, 1910, was married to Nellie B. Riggle; Olive L. married Harry Lafferty; Sarah Myrna married Frank Riddel.

The first of the Knappenberger family in this part of the State was Conrad Knappenberger, who came hither from central Pennsylvania. Philip Knappenberger was the grandfather of Mrs. Josiah W. Klingensmith. His son John Knappenberger came to Armstrong county in 1837, and died at the age of seventy-eight years. He is buried at Spring Church in Kiskiminetas township. He was a farmer by occupation. He married Anna M. Hill, daughter of John Hill, of Westmoreland county, Pa., and they had the following children: Daniel, Jacob, Augustus, Henry C., and Lucinda (Mrs. Josiah W. Klingensmith).

Source: Page(s) PAGES 419-421,
Armstrong County, Pa., Her People, Past and Present, J.H. Beers & Co., 1914

Transcribed July 1998 by Caral Mechling Bennett for the Armstrong County Beers Project
Contributed for use by the Armstrong County Genealogy Project (

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