Lee County Biographies



Among the early pioneers of Lee county was John Kersten, a self-made man whose gratifying prosperity had its root in frugality, industry and determination. He was numbered among the early pioneers of his section of Illinois, arriving in 1857. His birth occurred in Germany, February 15, 1831, his parents being Mr. and Mrs. Hartman Kersten, the former born in the fatherland, September 30, 1801, and the latter in 1802.

John Kersten acquired his education in schools of Germany and remained at home until twenty-five years of age, assisting his father, his thorough training giving him experience and knowledge which proved of marked value in later years.

On the 18th of June, 1856, Mr. Kersten was united in marriage to Miss Christine Hildebrandt, a native of Gelfershausen, Kreis-Rothenburg, Kerr-Hessen, Germany, and a daughter of John and Elizabeth (Speck) Hildebrandt, the former born in 1787 and the latter in 1799. The year following their marriage John Kersten and his young wife came to the new world, crossing the Atlantic in order to seek their fortune in America, having heard many favorable reports concerning the advantages and opportunities offered in this land. Mr. Kersten arrived in Lee county with but a dollar and a half in his pocket. Necessity made it imperative that he seek immediate employment. He was energetic and ambitious to earn a good living and by his frugality, unabating energy and economy he added to his savings year by year until he became the owner of a fine farm which he developed and improved. As the years rolled by he won prosperity and at the tune of his death was the owner of six hundred and forty acres of as valuable land as could be found in Lee county, and there is no richer elsewhere. His life is an example of what the sturdy German can accomplish when energy and resolute purpose point out the way. Moreover, he left to his family an inheritance which money cannot buy--that of an untarnished name.

Mr. and Mrs. Kersten became the parents of eleven children, ten of whom survive. Mr. Kersten passed away on the 10th of July 1912, and just three months later, on the 10th of October, the death of Mrs. Kersten occurred, the county thereby losing two of its valued and worthy pioneer citizens.

Transcribed by Karen Holt - 1914 History of Lee County Illinois Vol 2 by Frank E. Stevens.


Back Home