Garmer Kleen
Woodford County, Illinois
submitted by Amy Robbins-Tjaden

Source: The Biographical Record of Livingston and Woodford Counties, Illinois  (1900)

Garmer Kleen, now living retired from the arduous labors to which he has been accustomed throughout his life, is a worthy example of the patriotic German-American citizen. His career in this country, where he arrived a poor youth, unfriended and with little means, a stranger to the language and customs of our people, possesses much of interest
and inspiration to the younger generations.

The birth of Garmer Kleen, one of the prominent farmers of Woodford county, occurred in Germany, December 3, 1838. His father, H. Kleen, born in 1789, departed this life in 1852, and the mother, whose maiden name was Jane Struck, died in Germany when in her seventy-third year, in 1872. They reared seven children, and of these our subject alone left the Fatherland. Henry died, unmarried, when about forty years old; Luban died at the age of sixty and left a wife and one child; Elliott departed this life when in his thirty-ninth year, and Ihulj, who died at sixty-three, left a family to mourn his loss; Rinste is the wife of George Uphoff, a German farmer, and Etie, wife of Henry Schultz, also resides in Germany.

From his boyhood, Garmer Kleen has been devoted to agricultural pursuits. In 1856 he embarked on a sailing vessel bound for the United States, and at the end of a four weeks voyage arrived in New York city. Thence he proceeded to Peoria, and later went to Pekin, where he found employment in a brickyard. At the end of a year or more he
rented some land and industriously set about its cultivation. When he had made a good beginning, he bought eighty acres of land in Woodford county, and from time to time, as his means permitted, made additional investments in farmlands. Now, in his declining years, he owns upwards of thirteen hundred acres of well improved property, about seven hundred acres being located in Clay county and the remainder in Woodford and Henry counties. "Diligence in business" has been the prime factor in his unusual success, and his industry has been no more marked than his integrity and sterling justice. Thus those who are life-long acquaintances of his rejoice in the prosperity which crowned
his toil, and no one envies his good fortune.

In 1868 Mr Kleen married Dora Kalkwarf, who died within two years, as also did their little one. In 1872 our subject chose Trinche Johnson, a native of Germany, for a wife, and after twelve years of happy wedded life she was summoned to the home beyond. She was about forty years of age, and for a long time had been a faithful member of the
Lutheran church. Harmon, their eldest child, is unmarried, and is a farmer of Henry county, Illinois, and Jane keeps house for him. Reka, who became the wife of Harmon Kelm, has two sons, Otto and Garmer. The younger children are Gretje, Henry, Dorothea and Jettie. In 1885, Mr Kleen married Teelka, daughter of Klaas Frederichs, and three children bless this union, namely: Klaas, Garmer and Freadrig.

In his home Mr Kleen is kind and affectionate, and it is a great pleasure to him to provide his dear ones with all the essentials to their comfort and happiness. With his wife he is identified with the Lutheran church, and contributes liberally to religious work. Quietly he has pursued the pathway of right, as far as he knew it, and undoubtedly his influence has ever been salutary and wholesome in his community.


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