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Biography of William F. Kleinknight

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Biography of William F. Kleinknight

Posted: 913982400000
Classification: Biography
Edited: 993171764000
From Biographical Memoirs of Wells County, Indiana 1903

William F. Kleinknight

Of German descent, William F. Kleinknight was born in Reading,
Pennsylvania, February 28, 1830, but is now one of the prominent
farmers of Jefferson township, Wells county, Indiana. His parents were
John M. and Anna (Isenhart) Kleinknight, the former of whom, a native
of Wurtemberg, Germany, was born October 24, 1794, and the latter, a
native of the same country, was born in 1788. These parents were
married in Pennsylvania and were in but indifferent circumstances as
far at the goods of this world were concerned, although there existed a
legendary rumor in an early day that one or both had been left a small
legacy. John M. Kleinknight received an excellent education in his
native land. He was reared to the blacksmithÂ’s trade, was a man of
prudence and from his savings paid his passage to the United States
about the year 1819, but on the way over, a fellow passenger, a young
lady, Miss Anna Isenhart, was taken sick, and in here fate Mr.
Kleinknight became greatly interested. His attentions to this young
lady created a warm friendship between the two which culminated in a
still warmer feeling, of the nature of which the reader will readily
surmise. On the arrival of their gallant bark at Baltimore, Maryland,
Mr. Kleinknight found employment at his trade and Miss Isenhart secured
a position as a domestic in one of the German families of the
Monumental city and for some time the young lovers became separated,
but were finally restored to each other and about 1821 were united in
marriage. For a few years the young couple continued to reside in
Baltimore and then changed from place to place until Mr. Kleinknight
purchased a small piece of land in Middletown, a hamlet lying between
Galion and Crestline, Ohio, where he built a shop and followed his
trade until 1849, in the spring of which year, in company with Michael
Kunkel, of whom further mention will be made, he came to Wells County,
Indiana, and entered a tract of land in section 31, Jefferson
township, one-half mile north of Tocsin. These gentlemen then returned
to Crawford County, Ohio, where they liquidate their debts, disposed of
their various interests and came back to the wilds of Jefferson
township, Wells County, Indiana.

On reaching Wells County, Mr. Kleinknight had a capital of about two
hundred and seventy-five dollars in cash, realized from his earnings
when he lived in Ohio, and from this amount he invested one hundred and
twenty in land in Jefferson township. In the fall of 1849 he loaded up
his household goods in two covered wagons, of which one team belonged
to himself and the other was hired. To the east of the point of
destination was a large swamp, but, nothing discouraged, the party made
a long detour to the south and in a roundabout way eventually reached
the new home. As no preparation had been made for their shelter, they
were hospitably welcomed to the neighborhood by David Myers, who opened
the door of his one-roomed cabin and entertained them until they could
prepare a patch of land on which to erect a cabin, a task that required
about two weeks time. The usual frontier experiences were gone through
and on this farm his wife died in 1859, his own death occurring at the
home of his son-in-law, Michael Kunkel, in the fall of 1867.

The family born to John M. and Anna Kleinknight comprised the following
named children: Jacob and Peter (twins), born January 20, 1822, and
both now deceased; John, born January 22, 1825, deceased; Mary A., born
December 31, 1827, was married first to Michael Kunkel and after his
death became the wife of Eph. High, of Bluffton; William F., whose name
opens this biographical record; Lydia J., born April 6, 1832, and now
the wife of Charles S. High, of Bluffton. In 1854 Mr. Kleinknight
turned over the management of his farm to his son, William F., with the
understanding that the latter was to pay fifty dollars to each of the
other heirs and retain the property. While still a resident of
Baltimore, Mr. Kleinknight had joined the United Brethren church and
soon after his arrival in Wells County, Indiana, organized Salem class,
a society which is still in existence, as the Tocsin church. Of this
class the following persons constituted the members: John M.
Kleinknight and wife, J.C. Johnson and wife, David Gilliland and wife,
Nancy Miller, Christopher Graham and wife. Mr. Kleinknight was the
first class leader and officiated in some capacity in the church until
the day of his death, revered and beloved by all.

William F. Kleinknight had assisted his father in the shop in Ohio
until nineteen years old, when the two came to Wells County, Indiana,
and here he attended school and thus acquired a fair education. On
reaching Wells County he continued to assist his father for about two
years in clearing up the farm and in cultivating it, and was then
united in marriage, at the age of twenty-two years, with Miss Nancy
Amrette Richey, who was born in Licking County, Ohio, October 25, 1833,
and in 1836 came to Wells County, Indiana, with her parents, who
settled in Lancaster township, near Murray. Here the little girl had
but few opportunities to attend school, but she was blesses with a
retentive memory, was a constant reader and became well versed in
biblical knowledge and current history. This marriage has been crowned
with children as follows: John M., who was born December 20, 1854, and
died January 1, 1875; Ivan O., born January 6, 1858, married Serena
Smith, and is one the leading farmers of Lancaster township; Albert C.,
born November 11, 1859, died June 17, 1881; Norville J. , born January
17, 1863, was educated in the district schools and in the Ossian graded
schools and at the Northern Indiana Normal School at Valparaiso, was a
teacher of high repute in Wells County for may years and is now a well-
to-do farmer in Lancaster township, and married to Sade Wasson; William
M. married Minnie Sowards and is a prosperous farmer in Jefferson
township; Lydia A., born in November, 1867, is the wife of Milton Reed,
and Anna, who was born September 14, 1873, is the wife of Henry Schoch.

W.F. Kleinknight has been a member of the Tocsin United Brethren Church
since 1870, but his wife joined as far back as 1854. Both are ardent
and untiring in church work and are well known throughout Jefferson
township for their piety and excellent personal qualities. The
Kleinknight homestead now contains sixty-seven and one-half acres, and
it is all cleared, well tilled and well improved with substantial
buildings and makes one of the desirable homes of the township. Mr.
Kleinknight is a Republican, though formerly a Democrat; however, his
great activity in political work was in earlier life.

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