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Sheboygan County, Wisconsin Genealogy & History

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Ernest Kalmerton

Source: "Portrait and Biographical Record - Published 1894 by Excelsior Publishing Co., Chicago" Pages 326 - 327

Ernest Kalmerton is one of the earliest settlers of Sheboygan County, and is now living in Section 27, Sheboygan Falls Township. The early travelers through the county well remember his log house on the clearing, which was made by the work of his own hands, and he and his wife have long been numbered among the pioneers of Wisconsin.

The birth of our subject occurred in Westphalia, Prussia, January 5, 1817. In a family of seven children, only two of whom are now living, he is the fourth. His brother Rudolph is a farmer of Spink County, S. Dak. His father, Peter W. Hilgemon, and also his mother whose maiden name was Mary Kalmerton, were both natives of Prussia. On their marriage, as the mother was a land-owner, according to the law of the country the husband was obliged to take her name. For many years the father had been a carpenter and joiner, but after his marriage continued farming until his death, which occurred about 1847.

In 1839, Ernest Kalmerton was bereft of his loving mother, and he decided to begin life in the New World. Accordingly, he started alone for America, with enough money to pay his passage, and with a small surplus. This he placed in a pocket-book, in a pair of trousers, which were accidentally thrown overboard in the excitement of landing in New York, and as a consequence he began life in America empty handed. But the fates had decreed that he should not long remain so. During the first few months he was employed in a factory, manufacturing wicker covers for bottles. The next year he set out for Pennsylvania, and obtained employment with a card? Company. For the two following years he worked for a farmer, and then rented the farm of his employer for his brother William who had decided to come to America. When he arrived, however, he made new plans, and therefore our subject himself took and carried on the farm.

In 1843 occurred the marriage of Mr. Kalmerton and Miss Sophia Leig, who was also a native of Westphalia, and was one of the six children born to Harmon and Catherine Leig. Our subject and his wife had attended school together when they were children in the Fatherland. The young couple went bravely to work to share and overcome the obstacles and hardships in their pathway. Of their eight children, six are now living. Charles D. and Henry E. are the two elder. Mary is the wife of J. M. Eckels, who was formerly a merchant of Port Washington, and in later life owned and operated the pioneer cheese factories of Ozaukee County, where he had a flourishing trade. Edward is a physician and surgeon of Milwaukee, his office being at No. 311 Reed Street. He has been very successful and has worked a fine practice. Rogena is engaged in dressmaking in Milwaukee. George is the youngest of the family.

After Mr. Kalmerton's three years lease of the Pennsylvania farm had expired, it was found that they had saved enough money to pay their passage to Wisconsin, and they accordingly set out in a little sailing-vessel, which was tossed to and fro on the water in a terrifying manner. When they arrived in Milwaukee, they left the vessel and embarked on a propeller bound for Sheboygan. Their goods and household effects arrived a week later, and the young couple proceeded to Sheboygan Falls, which was then a village, perhaps of eleven habitations, and Sheboygan had scarcely more then twenty-five houses. Mr. Kalmerton first became the owner of land when he purchased eighty acres of unimproved Property to which he still resides. He built a small shanty to serve until he could cut logs and erect a substantial cabin. As soon as possible he began to clear his land raise crops, and soon was rewarded with abundant harvests. Bands of wandering Indians often passed the humble home, deer often browsed not far from the cabin, and the howl of wolves was heard during the long winter evenings. The homestead is two miles west of Sheboygan Falls and seven miles from Plymouth.

Until with the last few years, Mr. Kalmerton has been a republican and cast his first vote for Gen Taylor. Of late he has adhered to the Prohibition party. He is strictly temperate and has reared his children in the same principles. He has never desired or held office. For over forty years he and his wife have been devoted members of the German Methodist Church of Sheboygan and are revered and honored by all who have the pleasure of their acquaintance.

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