Biographies from Historical and Biographical Annals by Morton Montgomery


p. 1631


George S. Kercher (deceased) was proprietor of a bakery establishment in Reading, at No. 930 Douglass street. His start in life was made without means and the success he attained was due wholly to his own energy. He was born July 4, 1870, in Huntingdon county, Pa., son of Charles H. and Amanda (Sterner) Kercher.

Benjamin Kercher, his grandfather, was a respected citizen and lifelong agriculturist of Longswamp township, Berks county, where he owned a valuable farm. He was married to Hettie Fisher, and they had two children: Charles H. and Mary, the latter of whom died at the age of two years. He died in 1872, and his wife in 1846.

Charles H. Kercher was born in Longswamp township in 1840, and was educated in the schools of that locality, and then learned the carpenter's trade. In 1879 he removed to Reading, and was engaged at carpenter work until 1903, when he retired, assisting his son at times in the bakery. He was married in 1865 to Amanda Sterner, daughter of David and Angelina (Leiby) Sterner, and they had nine children, five of whom survive: Albert (who married Emma Reeser), Horatio (who married Kate Mayberry), Naomi (who married Alvin Weand), Sallie (who married Frank Stout), and Milton S. In religious belief the family is connected with the Lutheran Church. Mr. Kercher was a soldier in the Civil war, being a member of Company K, 151st Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry, commanded by Captain James W. Weida. He received his honorable discharge July 30, 1863, at Harrisburg, Pa. He is a member of G. A. R. Post No. 16, Reading.

George S. Kercher was three years of age when his parents removed to Reading, and here he received his education in the common schools. Until seventeen years of age, he worked at farm labor, and then he was apprenticed to the baker's trade, serving a term of four years. Later he went west, where he remained until 1891; then returned to accept a position with a Mrs. Fox, who conducted a bakery on Buttonwood street. After working six years for her, he embarked in business for himself at No. 1026 Oley street, and later removed to Green street. In 1906 he erected a modern baking establishment, and employed twenty-three people (eleven of whom were bakers), his business requiring nine delivery wagons. He made a specialty of catering at weddings, banquets, etc.

Mr. Kercher was married to Lilah Carl, and to them was born a daughter, named Edna. they attended the Lutheran Church. Fraternally he was connected with Camp No. 552, P. O. S. of A.; Camp No. 17, Patriotic Order of Americans; German American Association; Northeastern Republican League; and the Royal Arcanum. In politics he was a Republican. He died July 19, 1908.


p. 578


Franklin Boone Kern, one of the foremost citizens of Birdsboro, Berks Co., Pa., where he had been engaged in the general merchandise business for many years, as well as taking an active interest in public affairs, died July 15, 1903. He came of good pioneer stock, and the characteristic traits of the sturdy independent spirits of his ancestors made him one of those substantial citizens union whom people instinctively rely in time of need, and he was never found wanting. Mr. Kern was born in Exeter township, Berks county, March 24, 1832. son of Samuel and Elizabeth (Boone) Kern, his mother a descendant of the .race that gave the immortal Daniel Boone to the civilization "across the mountains."

Michael Kern, grandfather of Franklin Boone, was of German blood, and settled in Exeter township, Berks county, at an early day. His life was devoted to farming. He married Mary Boone, daughter of Isaac Boone, who was a cousin of Daniel Boone, and they had a large family, which they reared in the faith of the Lutheran church.

Samuel Kern, son of Michael. was born and reared in Exeter township, and his first training was along the line of farm work. He then learned the tailor's trade and followed it for many years. He died in 1872, aged seventy-five. His wife, Elizabeth (Boone) Kern. died in 1868, aged seventy-six years. They had two sons. William (m. Hannah Haws. and had five children) and Franklin Boone. Samuel Kern was a Republican. but had never cared for politics. In his religious faith he was a Lutheran.

Franklin Boone Kern was educated in the schools of his native township, and at the age of fourteen he began to learn the cooper's trade. Later with his father he worked at the tailor's trade, but neither proved congenial to his tastes. and he turned his attention to commercial pursuits. entering as a clerk the general merchandise store of Brooke & Evans, at Birdsboro. This he continued until after the outbreak. of the Civil war. On Aug. 10, 1862. he enlisted in Company A. 128th Pa. V. L, under Col. Samuel Croasdale, and was mustered in as third sergeant under Copt. L. H. Smith, and. with his regiment moved on to Washington, D. C., thence to Fairfax Station, and to Frederick. Md., and South Mountain. They participated in the battle of Antietam in September, 1862, and in the pursuit of Stuart's Cavalry. They went into winter quarters the latter part of January, 1863. but on the opening of the spring campaign under Hooker, they set forth, and took part in the battle of Chancellorsville May 1-4, 1863. Mr. Kern was captured by the enemy, but escaped. He had- been promoted to first sergeant Feb. 1. 1863- On May 12th the regiment proceeded to Harrisburg. and there was mustered out of service May 19, 1863, on account of the expiration of the term of enlistment. Mr. Kern re-enlisted July 6, 1863, as captain in Company I, 42d Pennsylvania. Militia. and served during the emergency, being mustered out Aug. 12. 1863.

After his return from the war, Mr. Kern went to Schuylkill county. Pa.. and at New Philadelphia clerked in a general store until 1866, when he engaged in business for himself, continuing for ten years. Coming to Birdsboro he established a general mercantile business on 1611 street, near First, and here he soon acquired a good trade. People came to know and to respect the enterprising merchant, and to realize that he was not only always accommodating and courteous, but he was absolutely honest and fair in all his dealings. His patronage increased with the years, and he gained a comfortable fortune for himself. He continued in business until 1898, when he sold out and retired.

Mr. Kern was one of Birdsboro's best known citizens, and in all public affairs he took an active and intelligent part. He was a staunch Lutheran, and was a member of the building committee in 1877 when the. present edifice of St. Mark's Evangelical Lutheran Church was erected. In politics he was a Republican, and he served some time in the council at Birdsboro. His fraternal connections were with Neversink Lodge, I. O. O. F., of which he was a charter member; Reading Lodge, No. 62, F. & A. M. (which lodge had charge of his funeral services); the Knights of Pythias; and was at one time a member of the G. A. R.

On Sept. 24. 1861. Mr. Kern was married to Elizabeth Hahn, born in Robeson township, daughter of Jacob and Mary Ann (Ehrgood) Hahn. Three children were born of this union: Mary Elizabeth m. the Rev. James Bowman May, an Episcopal minister: Samuel Jacob died aged two years; and Sallie Hahn married Charles Marquette Steinrock. of Staten Island, and has one child, Franklin Kern.


p. 1158


Harrison T. Kern, proprietor of the restaurant at the Philadelphia & Reading Railroad outer station, Reading, Pa., was born at Tamaqua, Schuylkill Co., Pa., son of Charles S. and Elizabeth (Lenhart) Kern.

Charles S. Kern in early life was a bookkeeper in Reading, but later removed to Tamaqua, where for fourteen years he was engaged in a successful mercantile business. This he sold out and returned to Reading, where he followed bookkeeping until his death in 1903, at the age of sixty-six years. He married Elizabeth Lenhart, who died in 1882, when forty-two years old. Of their children three are now living: Edwin C., a clerk in his brother's employ; Miss Catherine, who resides in Reading; and Harrison T. Charles S. Kern m. (second) Mrs. James Kern, his brother's widow, and there were two children born to this union: Anna Bell and Helen, of Reading. Mr. Kern was a soldier during the Civil war, being in the three months service. In religious belief he was Methodist.

Harrison T. Kern was educated in the schools of Tamaqua, after leaving which he became a clerk in a hardware store, where he continued eight years. On June 15, 1891, he came to Reading, where he was employed by his brother, J. J. Kern, until the latter's death, three years later, when he assumed charge of the Philadelphia & Reading dining room. Under his able management this restaurant has become one of the leading dining rooms along the Philadelphia & Reading system, and here are employed fourteen people. The service is excellent and prices moderate, and everything possible is done to make patrons comfortable.

Mr. Kern married Anna M. Alt, born in Berks county, daughter of John M. and Lena (Schrifle) Alt, and to them there have been born two children, Catherine E. and a son deceased. Mr. Kern is a member of Reading Lodge No. 549, F. & A. M., Reading Chapter, De Molay Commandery, Reading Lodge of Perfection, Philadelphia Consistory (thirty-second degree), and Rajah Temple, A. A. O. N. M. S.; and of the Temple Club. Politically he is independent, while he and his wife are members of the Lutheran Church.


p. 1164


John J. Kern was born in Reading in 1874, son of Francis and Catherine (Wagner) Kern, and his life has been identified with the city of his nativity, where he is now well established in the undertaking business.

The Kern family is of German stock, and Jacob Kern, grandfather of John J., never left his native country, but spent his life there as a farmer, and died there just three days after his eightieth birthday. His children were: Joseph, Magdalena, Mary, John, Annie, Catherine, Francis, Francisco and Francis (2).

Francis Kern was born in Germany Oct. 3, 1850. He learned the milling trade in his native land, and then when twenty years of age he came to America. Landing at New York City, he came direct to Reading and first secured work at the furnaces of Mr. Eckert. He never resumed work at his original trade, but later went into the Philadelphia & Reading shops, where he has been engaged for the past thirty years in the blacksmith department. making springs. His wife, Catherine. was born in Hesse Darmstadt, Germany. She came to America in 1870, and was married to Mr. Kern Sept. 15, 1873. Their family was a large one, but most of them are now deceased. John J. is the oldest. The others were: Francis W. and Catherine M., both deceased; Joseph J., a civil engineer; Henry J., Frank George, Annie M. and Edward F., all deceased; W. F., a bookkeeper; and Eva F., deceased.

John J. Kern was sent both to the public and parochial schools of Reading, but began working while still young. His first position was as a cash boy, in the department store of Dives, Pomeroy & Stewart, but instead of working up in that line he went to the printing establishment of B. F. Owens & Co., where he learned that trade and followed it for a few years. Still feeling that he had not yet found the right field for himself he next went into the Philadelphia & Reading shops and learned to work as a blacksmith. This trade also he pursued for a time, and then entered upon the business in which he is now engaged, that of undertaking and embalming. He went into the establishment of George H. Felix, and during the seven years he remained with him he became thoroughly master of the business. On July 20, 1903, he opened an office for himself at No. 107 North Ninth street, but the following April he removed to his present location, No. 117, on the same street, where he enjoys a good patronage and one which is constantly increasing. He is also president of the Harrison Mutual Burial Association, which he himself organized for the object of providing for the payment of the funeral expenses of the members thereof, the only association of its kind in existence, and having a membership, at the present time, of nearly two million.

Mr. Kern married Emma A. Tischmacher, daughter of Conrad Tischmacher, a well known barber of Reading. They have two daughters, B. Frances and Gertrude H. They are members of St. Paul's Catholic Church. Mr. Kern is connected with several social organizations, being a member of the Eagles; the M. W. A.; the Knights of St. John, No. 271; the Knights of Columbus, No. 793; Bonifacius Beneficial Brotherhood; Beneficial Brotherhoods of The Holy Cross; Twentieth Century Quakers No. 2; American Order of Owls, No. 116; Harmonie Maennerchor; Bavarians; and Liederkranz.


p. 1248


Milton Kern, one of Berks county's enterprising agriculturists who is conducting a truck farm in Brecknock township, was born Nov. 18, 1856, in Brecknock township, Lancaster county, son of Isaac and Elizabeth (Musser) Kern.

Isaac Kern was a lifelong farmer in Brecknock township, Lancaster county, where he became highly esteemed and fairly prosperous. He married Elizabeth Musser, daughter of John Musser of Berks county, and to this union there were born the following children: Caroline m. Jacob Keefer; Barbara, deceased, m. Isaac Shupp; Elizabeth m. William Hoffman; Mary A. m. Theodore Musselman; Susan m. Jefferson Ludwig; Hettie E. m. Martin Weber, residing in Reading; Milton; Adam m. Albina Rathman; and John m. Dora Ludwig.

Milton Kern attended the schools of Lancaster county until the age of fifteen years, and then worked with his father until 1880, when he engaged in farming on his own account on the old homestead in Brecknock township. He then removed to the farm of Frederick R. Bubtel, in Cumru township, where he remained for two years. Mr. Kern then spent one year on William Gring's farm, a like period on Isaac Kramer's property, and in 1888 bought the old Henry Ziemer farm of sixty-three acres, which he has conducted to the present time. He has erected handsome and substantial buildings, and his farm is one of the best in the township. Mr. Kern is enterprising and a good business man, and attends the Kissinger market in Reading, having his stand at Nos. 24 and 25. In politics he is a Democrat, and in 1898 and again in 1907 was elected for a three year term as school director, a position he fills very efficiently. He and Mrs. Kern attend the Lutheran Church of Allegheny, where he has served as deacon.

In May, 1879, Mr. Kern was married to Mary Kramer, daughter of Isaac and Elizabeth (Hoschour) Kramer, and to this union there have been born: William, who was a school teacher and is now living at home; Rev. Howard, who attended the Keystone State Normal school for three terms, and graduated with the class of 1908 from Mt. Airy Theological Seminary, Philadelphia; Charles, who married Maude Newman and resides in Reading; Morris E., who is at home assisting his father; and Wayne, at school. 65-767 Kerper, William F.


p. 767


William F. Kerper, a lifelong resident of Reading, now living retired, was born in that city May 24, 1842, son of Abraham and Elizabeth (Boyer) Kerper. He is a member of the fifth generation of his family in this country, and of the fourth generation settled in Berks county.

Abraham Kerper, the great-great-grandfather of William F. Kerper, came from Germany to America in 1735, locating in Germantown, Pa., where he spent the balance of his life. His son, Valentine Kerper, removed from Germantown to Reading in 1750, while yet a young man, being one of the earliest settlers of the city, and at the time of his death was a large property holder there. He was an active member of the Reformed Church. Daniel Kerper, his son, and grandfather of William F., was one of the early hotel-keepers of Berks county, conducting a hostelry nearly all of his life. During his younger days he took an active part in politics, and served as sheriff of the county for two terms. He was united in marriage with Rosina Stultz, whose father conducted a blacksmith shop at Eighth and Chestnut streets, Philadelphia, during the Revolutionary war, and to them were born the following children: Abraham, father of William F.; Margaret, m. to William Silvis; Catherine, m. to Joshua Keeley; Charles; Daniel; John; William, and Caroline.

Abraham Kerper was born in the borough of Reading Aug. 12, 1796, at the old Kerper homestead at the corner of 5th and Walnut streets, and at an early age became an apprentice to the tanner's trade, which he followed successfully the remainder of his life, becoming very prosperous. He was considered wealthy at the time of his death, in 1872. In political matters he was a Democrat, and he served two terms as director of the poor. He was an adherent of the principles of the German Reformed Church. Abraham Kerper married Elizabeth Boyer, who was born in 1804 and died in 1879, and twelve children were born to this union: Rosa, who died in infancy; Daniel, deceased; Mary, m. to James H. Parker, now deceased; Henry, a retired tanner of Reading; Rosanna, who died in infancy; Elizabeth, who died in early childhood; Ellen B., m. to Sadosa S. Stevens, deceased, of Reading, and mother of William Kerper Stevens, a prominent attorney-at-law of Reading; James R.; George B., of Cincinnati, Ohio; William F.; Kate, m. Charles Ringle, both being deceased; and Abraham Charles, who died at the age of twenty-one years.

William F. Kerper was educated in the common schools of Reading, and when but a boy entered the employ of his father to learn the tanner's trade, which he followed for the long period of forty-five years. In 1899 he was appointed police sergeant under Mayor Leader's administration, and he subsequently accepted a position at the Reading Pipe Mill, where he continued until 1904, in which year he was appointed to the position of janitor at the county court house, his term expiring in 1906. Mr. Kerper is now living retired, his home being at No. 409 South Fourth street.

In 1880 Mr. Kerper married Jeanetta Foreman, daughter of John Foreman, of Sinking Spring, and four children were born to this union: Charles R., who is a hatter; John, deceased; Carrie M., and Walter W. Mr. Kerper is a staunch Republican. Both he and his wife attend the Reformed Church. For a period of forty-five years Mr. Kerper was a member of the Junior Fire Company, and he is now identified with the Reading Veteran Fire Association.

Last Modified Thursday, 16-Oct-2008 20:54:51 EDT

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