Eli was the son of Abraham Kern and Susan Wilson. Four of the Eli children, married into the family of Isaac William, Jr. Other than the marriage of Mahala Williams to Eli, Anna Kern married Pryor Williams, Abigail Kern married Richard Williams, and Lucy Kern married Garrett Williams.
Abraham brought his family to Lawrence Co on a sled in the winter of 1815-1816. His first five children were born in Kentucky, the eldest barely eight when they moved. The sixth child, Ambrose, was either born just before the move or right after they arrived in Indiana.
The Williams and Adamson families arrived in the fall of 1817 to become Elder Kern's neighbors. Four of the Kerns married Williamses, two married Adamsons.
Kern was known as the "marryin'est parson" in Indiana. For four decades his name fills the Lawrence Co marriage register. He founded a church on his own farm, giving the land for the church and cemetery. It was the Old Union Church - Dunkard at first, then New Light Baptist, finally becoming Campbellite Christian. Kern never received any payment for his forty years of active ministry.