John A Klingensmith


JOHN A. KLINGENSMITH, of Mateer, Armstrong County, general merchant, belongs to a family of successful business men who have made the name well and favorably known throughout this section. He was born Nov. 22, 1868, in Parks township, this county, son of Josiah W. Klingensmith, grandson of Adam Klingensmith and great-grandson of George Klingensmith.

The Klingensmiths are of German descent. George Klingensmith was born in 1779 in Westmoreland county, Pa., and in 1820 removed to what is now Parks township. He lived there until his death, in the year 1857.

Adam Klingensmith, only child of George Klingensmith, above, was born in 1812 in Westmoreland county, and came with his parents to Armstrong county. He also followed farming in Parks township, on the place where his father settled, and died there in 1874, in his sixty-third year. He was an active member of the Evangelical Lutheran Church, serving as deacon of the congregation at Bethel. In politics he was a stanch Democrat. He married Anna M. Kirkland, a native of McKeesport, Allegheny county, who died in 1881, in her seventy-sixth year; she was a member of the Lutheran Church. Her father, John Kirkland, was born in Scotland, and came to Pennsylvania in an early day. He followed boating on the Monongahela river between McKeesport and Pittsburgh, and his death, which occurred in 1812, was caused by drowning when he fell overboard from a flatboat on which he was employed as a poleman. Besides Josiah W., mentioned below, Adam Klingensmith and his wife had children as follows: William married Belle Kirtendol and moved to Kansas, where he was an extensive farmer (he is now deceased); Lucetta married John Grantz (who is now deceased) of near Kelly Station, this county; Nathaniel, who married Elizabeth Baker, owns half of the original homestead; Eden, who married Caroline Baker, was killed in a sawmill about 1900; Caroline married Andrew Lambing, and died about 1880.

Josiah W. Klingensmith was born June 20, 1841, on the farm in Parks township, where he remained until his death, in October, 1912, being a member of the third generation of that family to occupy that place. He was reared on this farm, and obtained his education in the common schools of the home township. During the summer of 1857 he engaged in boating on the Pennsylvania canal, following that work for a few years. Then for five years he was engaged as a farm hand. In 1862 he enlisted, becoming a member of Company C, 139th Regiment, Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry (Colonel Parr), for three years. He helped to bury the dead who had lain for eleven days on the battlefield of Second Bull Run. After that his regiment moved on to Sharpsburg, Md., joining the 6th Corps of the main army, and marched to Antietam. Mr. Klingensmith was in all the engagements in which his regiment took part, seeing active service in field at Antietam, Fredericksburg (both battles), Chancellorsville, the Wilderness and Gettysburg -- in fact all the principal actions of the Army of the Potomac. He participated in the battle of Gettysburg after a forced march of thirty-six hours, during which time his company had not been allowed to cook any food, and was under fire and in active service during the greater part of twenty-four hours. On May 5, 1864, he was wounded in the left hand by a musket ball, at one of the wilderness fights, and was sent to Lincoln hospital, at Washington, where he remained until August. On Dec. 24, 1864, he was discharged on account of disability, and he has never fully recovered the use of his hand. He was in the hospital at the time of Lee's surrender.

After his return home from the army Mr. Klingensmith engaged in farming, which he followed until 1874. At that time he opened a store on his farm, and when the post office of Dime was established, in 1881, he was appointed postmaster and had the office in his store. He served in that position until February, 1886, when a Democrat was appointed, but in 1889 he again succeeded to the place and continued to serve until 1893, when Cleveland again became president. When Mr. Klingensmith commenced business in 1874 he had $240 in money, fifty-eight acres of land and a pair of horses. With that limited capital he extended his interests until he became one of the most prominent business men in his section, owning various farms besides his home place of over fifty acres--1,300 acres in all, including the homesteads of his father and of his wife's family. Some of his holdings were in Parks township, some in Kiskiminetas township, and part of the land is underlaid with valuable coal deposits.

Mr. Klingensmith was from early manhood an active member of the Republican party, and became one of its leaders in Parks township. When that township was formed he was elected assessor. He was a member of the Boiling Springs Evangelical Lutheran Church, and for sixteen years served as a member of the church council.

In 1866 Mr. Klingensmith married Lucinda Knappenberger, daughter of John Knappenberger. She is now (1912) seventy years old. Eight children were born to this union: (1) Mary A., deceased, was the wife of William Ayres, a farmer of Canada, and had two children; her son is deceased, and her daughter lives with an aunt in California. (2) John A. is mentioned below. (3) Francis William, a prosperous merchant at Dime, Armstrong county,, is married and has two children, Paul and Marion. (4) Nannie B. married C. F. Bartz, a ranchman, of Imperial county, Cal. They have no children. (5) Susan M. married H. E. Gilchrist, a farmer and teacher, of Burrell (now Bethel) township, Armstrong county, and has five daughters. (6) Olive L. (Ollie) married Harry Lafferty, a farmer, of Kiskiminetas township, and has three children, two sons and one daughter. (7) Josiah Wylie was killed by a boiler explosion Nov. 22, 1910. He married Nellie Riggle and they had one child, a daughter. (8) S. Myrna married Frank Riddle, formerly a mill man at Leechburg, now a farmer of Parks township.

The Knappenberger family, to which Mrs. Klingensmith belongs, is of German origin. The first of the family to come to America arrived here in 1748, in the ship "Christmena," landing at Philadelphia. The family gradually centered in Westmoreland county, Pa., at Manordale. Mrs. Klingensmith had four brothers, Daniel, Jacob, Augustus and Henry, all still living except Daniel.

John A. Klingensmith, eldest son of Josiah W. Klingensmith, was reared on the farm in Parks township which has long been in the family. For fourteen years, from 1885 to 1899, he ran a peddler's wagon, which he found very profitable. From 1899 to 1902 he followed teaming in the gas fields, from 1902 to 1904 had a general store at Dime, Pa., and from 1904 to 1910 worked at the carpenter's trade. For the last four years, since 1910, he has had a general mercantile establishment and acted as postmaster at Mateer, where he has built up a thriving trade. Mr. Klingensmith has been quite active in local public affairs, and has served his township officially as tax collector, supervisor and assessor. He was tax collector for six years, and made the remarkable record of never carrying over one cent of tax from one year to the next. Like his father he is an uncompromising Republican. He is now the owner of the old Knappenberger homestead, as well as other lands.

On Oct. 16, 1890, Mr. Klingensmith was married to Levina Brown, of Parks township, daughter of Samuel Brown a farmer. Seven children have been born to this union, three dying in infancy. The survivors are: Grace, born Oct. 26, 1891, married to H. S. Smeltzer; Ruth, born April 30, 1894; Rosena, April 3, 1896; and Cevilla, March 14, 1898. The family attend the Lutheran Church. Mr. Klingensmith is a member of the I. O. O. F. and W. O. W.

Source: Pages 790-791, 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 (

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