No history of Sheboygan would be complete without extended mention of Jacob Kempf, who is the oldest among the active merchants of this city. He has now passed the eighty-second milestone on life's journey and yet is giving personal supervision to his mercantile interests as a shoe dealer. He was born May 12, 1830, in Lich by Giessen, Germany, and his parents, John and Anna (Rauh) Kempf, were also natives of that part of the fatherland. John Kempf followed shoemaking as foreman of shoe factories throughout his entire life. He died in 1898 when well advanced in years and his wife reached the age of ninety.
Jacob Kempf is the only survivor of the family of four children. When his school days were over he learned shoemaking and on the 4th of July, 1849, he arrived in America, making his way to Buffalo, where he remained for one year. Sheboygan became his next place of residence and he is today one of its oldest settlers. The city was then a hamlet and the entire county was but sparsely settled. He took up shoemaking and afterward established a shoe business, handling goods made by leading manufacturers of the country. In this business he continues to the present time, owning a large and well appointed store and giving excellent service to his patrons in the conduct of his business. His methods have ever been founded upon strict probity and he has ever recognized the fact that satisfied customers are the best advertisement.
Mr. Kempf was married in Sheboygan to Miss Bertha Knaus, who was born in Saxony, and on coming to the United States in 1850 settled first in Toledo, Ohio, whence she came to Sheboygan. Unto Mr. and Mrs. Kempf were born eleven children and the record is somewhat remarkable in that not a death has occurred among the number. In order of birth they are as follows: Charles, who married Meta Aldrich, by whom he has two children, their home being in Emily City, Michigan; John, also of Michigan, who married Lucy Aldrich and has four children; George, who married and lives in Chicago; Lena, who is the wife of B. Aldrich, of Michigan, and has five children; Edward, of Sheboygan, who married Ann Reuschneider and has two children; William, a resident of Sheboygan; Emma, the wife of W. Kropf, of Chicago; Mrs. Ollie Landweher, of Sheboygan, who has three children; Frank, who has three children and lives in this city; Julia, the wife of J. Williams, of New York; and Clara, of Boston. Mr.Kempf also has one great-grandchild. He has every reason to be proud of his family for his children have made creditable records. His has been an honorable and upright life in consistent harmony with his professions as a member of the Methodist church. He has never faltered in his allegiance to a course which he believes to be right nor failed to advocate a cause which he believes to be for the best interests of the community at large.
Few men of his years remain active in business, but old age need not necessarily suggest idleness nor want of occupation. There is an old age which grows stronger and better mentally and spiritually as the years pass by and gives out of its rich stores of wisdom and experience for the benefit of others. Such is the record of Mr. Kempf, and although he has now passed the eighty-second milestone on life's journey, in spirit and in interests he seems yet in his prime.
Information gathered and adapted from History of Sheboygan County, Wisconsin, Past and Present
Carl Zillier, Editor
Pubished by The S.J. Clarke Publishing Company, 1912, Chicago, IL