JOHN KLINE, one of the intelligent citizens of Le Roy, a self-made man in every respect the word implies, and a gentleman who has added to his fund of knowledge obtained in early years in the public schools, by continual reading, was born in Greene Village, Franklin Co., Pa., Feb. 27, 1827. His father, Nicholas Kline, was also born in that State and of German ancestry. The paternal grandfather of our subject emigrated from Lancaster County, Pa., to Franklin County, the same State, in an early day, and it was in the latter county that the father of our subject was reared to manhood. When a young man he learned the trade of a blacksmith and carried on that business at Greene Village. He owned a small tract of land adjoining the village, and during the last two years of his life did nothing except a little gardening on this place. He died there in October, 1849. The mother of our subject, Elizabeth Nafsger, was born in Lancaster County, Pa. She was of German ancestry, and departed this life at Greene Village, Franklin County, that State, in 1857. There were eight children born to the parents: Jeremiah died in Livingston County, Ill., in 1883; Rebecca married Peter Kreighbaum, and as his widow, is living at Chambersburg, Pa.; Eliza died in youth; Samuel was a pioneer, settled in Illinois, and was drowned in Spoon River about 1843; our subject was next in order of birth; Nicholas is a resident of Kansas; Catherine and Sarah were twins; the former became the wife of Norval Dixon, and they are living in Padua Township, this county, and Sarah died when quite young.
The subject of this notice was the fifth in order of birth of his parents' children. He attended the common schools during the winter season, and worked on a farm through the summer. When twelve years old he engaged in working on a farm for a neighbor at $3 per month, and was thus occupied for nine months. The two following seasons he received for his services $4.50 per month. This was only during the summer season, and in the winters he went home and attended school. In the spring of 1842 our subject commenced work in the shop with his father, and continued to work with him until he was twenty-one years old. Then, in company with another gentleman, he bought the shop and they carried on the business for two years, when Mr. Kline disposed of his interest by sale, to his partner.
In 1850 our subject made a visit to California, and set sail from New York City April 25 of that year. While on the way the vessel ran on a reef, and they were compelled to abandon it. All the passengers escaped and reached the island of Ancachs, where they hired schooners to take them to Turk's Island, and there chartered a brig to take them to the Isthmus. They reached California without any further accident, on the 13th of August, and our subject found employment in a lumber-yard at San Francisco. He was almost out of means, and worked thereat long enough to replenish his exchequer, when he went to the mines in Calaveras County, where he was engaged for nearly a year and a half. After this he engaged in the provision business, procuring his supplies from Stockton, about forty-five miles distant, and was thus occupied until 1853. He then started on his way home, via the Isthmus, and after his arrival came to this county, and purchased land in Downs Township. He only remained a short time when he went to Caseyville, St. Clair Co., Ill., and worked at blacksmithing until the following spring. Then, returning to Pennsylvania he remained there until the following fall, when he came to this county and located at Le Roy, and became an employee of Gilmer & Wright, blacksmiths. He worked for them a few months, and then bought Mr. Gilmer's interest, and a year later sold out and bought a farm adjoining the village. For two years he was engaged in agricultural pursuits, and then bought a half interest in the shop of a Mr. Wright, and they continued in the business together until the breaking out of the late Civil War. They then sold out, and our subject resumed farming, which vocation he has continued to follow until the present time. His residence and part of his farm is inside the village corporation, and he is meeting with signal success in the prosecution of his vocation.
Mr. Kline was married to Miss Ellen Buck, Jan. 15, 1856. She was born in Fayette County, Ind., Dec. 1, 1830. Mrs. Kline is the daughter of Harmon C. and Lusena (King) Buck, natives of New York. Her father was born March 1, 1795, and died in Le Roy, Ill., Feb. 8, 1858. The mother was born Jan. 1, 1810. and departed this life Nov. 17, 1841. Mr. and Mrs. Buck were the parents of eight children: Ellen, wife of our subject, is the eldest; Ann, born March 31, 1832; Benson, Oct. 12, 1833; Eliza Emily, May 10, 1835; Napoleon B., Feb. 19, 1837; Dudley, Sept. 17, 1838; Merrick York, July 12, 1840; Martha, Nov. 17, 1841. Harmon C. Buck and Lusena King were united in marriage, Jan. 21, 1830, in the city of Connersville, Fayette Co., Ind.
The union of Mr. and Mrs. Kline was blest by the birth of eight children: Lydia E. married Dr. J. A. Tuthill, and they are living at Le Roy; Leonora is the wife of George W. Simpson, also a resident of Le Roy; Clara was next in order of birth; Charles and Grace are twins, and Harry B. The latter four are living at home. Clara is a teacher in the public schools at Urbana; Charles has a ranch in Norton County, Kan., and Grace is teaching in the schools of Mansfield, Piatt Co., Ill.; Irvin, the second child born to our subject and wife, first saw light Jan. 1, 1858, and departed this life April 4, 1879; Irene, born Aug. 4, 1869, died Aug. 31, 1869; she was a twin of Harry B.
Mr. Kline cast his first presidential vote for Zachary Taylor, and on the formation of the Republican party joined it and voted for its success until 1872, since which time he has voted with the Democratic party.
Portrait and biographical album of McLean County, Ill. : containing full page portraits and biographical sketches of prominent and representative citizens of the county, together with portraits and biographies of all the governors of Illinois, and of the presidents of the United States. (Chicago: Chapman Brothers, 1887), 499. Transcribed and annotated by Judy Rosella Edwards.