Henry W. Klemp

HENRY W. KLEMP. When, in the spring of 1863, Henry W. Klemp arrived in the United States, he was a poor German youth, without knowledge of the manners, customs of language of the people among whom he had decided to make his home. Notwithstanding his limited resources, however, he had a large fund of practical common sense, an overflowing store of ambition and energy, and a determination to make the most of his opportunities in whatever field he found himself. Today he is one of the successful business men of Leavenworth, the directing head of an enterprise the product of which is known throughout the West, and a citizen who takes a prominent part in civic affairs of importance.

Mr. Klemp is a native of the Kingdom of Prussia, born May 15, 1844, was reared in his native land and educated in the public schools. With his parents, Henry H. and Elizabeth (Hagenkoetter) Klemp, he came to America in 1862, landing in Quebec, Canada. In the spring of 1863 the family moved to Chicago, but in the same year came to Kansas, the parents passing the remainder of their lives at Lawrence. Mr. Klemp, as before noted, could not speak or understand a word of English upon his arrival in this country. He first arrived in Leavenworth in 1863, but at that time was here but a few hours, being in charge of a gang of men employed in the construction of the old Kansas and Pacific (now Union Pacific) Railroad, which he assisted to build to Lawrence. By trade a wood-working machinist, in the winter of 1863 he began working at that vocation at Lawrence, and thus continued until 1872. Thereafter he was located at Ottawa and Topeka until 1875, when he returned to Leavenworth, this city having been his home ever since. While not one of the oldest settlers of Kansas, Mr. Klemp has lived here for more than half a century. During the Civil war he served in the Kansas Militia under Colonel Williamson, as a member of Company B, Third Regiment, and participated in the battle of the Blue when General Price invaded Kansas, and stood guard behind the breastworks at Lawrence on the ground now occupied by the state university, in 1864. Mr. Klemp witnessed the scourge of grasshoppers in the fall of 1874 and in the spring of 1875, and he has also watched great tracts of prairie, untouched by the hand of man, converted into homes and cities.

On his return to Leavenworth, in 1875, Mr. Klemp worked for several years for Colonel Abernathy, but in 1884 became a proprietor himself when he started in a small way to manufacture furniture. He worked hard and had many discouragements to overcome, having his plant almost destroyed by floods; but gradually grew and prospered and today his plant occupies nearly two blocks and gives employment to eighty-five hands. His four sons, Henry F., Otto A., Fritz V. and August V. and M. L. Fraiser, his son-in-law, are now associated in the business with him. This business makes a specialty of kitchen cabinets and dining room tables and the product meets with a ready demand throughout the West.

Mr. Klemp became a naturalized citizen in 1864, but even if he had not this adoption from the Government his services during the Civil war, when he proved his devotion to the land of his adoption, would entitle him to this honor. While foreign born he is in every other sense an American citizen, loyal to its laws, a firm believer in its institutions, a liberal contributor to its movements for the betterment of conditions, and a credit to his city, state and nation. In religion he favors the Lutheran Church, which was the faith of his parents. In politics he is a republican.

Mr. Klemp was married in 1876 and became the father of eight children: Henry F., Wilhelmina (deceased), Anna, Otto A., Bertha (deceased), Fritz, August V. and Albert, the last-named at present a student in the engineering department of the Kansas University, at Lawrence, a place where his grandparents died and where his father fought for the preservation of the Union.


A Standard History of Kansas and Kansans, written & compiled by William E. Connelley, Secretary of the Kansas State Historical A Standard History of Kansas and Kansans, written & compiled by William E. Connelley, Secretary of the Kansas State Historical Society, Topeka. Chicago: Lewis Publishing Company, copyright 1918; transcribed February 3, 1999.

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