John F. Kirkhoff, one of the prominent and successful farmers of Hancock county, was born in New Palestine on March 29, 1854, and was the son of Anthony and Annie M. (Fink) Kirkhoff, the former of whom was a native of Germany, where he was born in 1812 and died in New Palestine in 1882. Anthony Kirkhoff came to America at the age of twenty-one and for a time worked at railroad construction between Baltimore and Washington. Here he earned enough money to bring him on further west. In 1833 he came to Vincennes, where he worked at his trade as a tailor for a year, after which he came to New Palestine, where he established a tailoring business, in which he continued the greater part of his life. His savings in the business was invested in land and he bought and sold many tracts, owning at the time of his death one hundred and sixty acres on which the south part of New Palestine is now situated. He also owned eighty acres one mile east of the town and eighty acres located in Sugar Creek and Brandywine townships.
In 1840 Anthony Kirkhoff was married to Annie Fink, who was born in Germany on November 11, 1824, and died at New Palestine on September 4, 1892. She was the daughter of Henry Fink and wife, both of whom were natives of Germany. They came to America in 1834 on a sailing vessel and after landing at Baltimore they came to Hancock county in a one-horse wagon. They first located one mile east of New Palestine, where they converted a log stable into a house, where they resided for some time. Mr. Fink later entered one hundred and sixty acres of land three miles west of New Palestine, where he erected a one-room log cabin and a stable. Here the family experienced all the hardships of pioneer life. Their nearest market was seven miles away, where they walked and traded butter and eggs for groceries and other household necessities. Indianapolis was then a struggling town of three or four thousand. At the age of fourteen, Anna Fink went to work in Indianapolis, having walked the entire distance of thirteen miles through the dense woods. She was one of five children, all of whom were required to assist in the support of the family. At the age of sixteen she was married to Anthony Kirkhoff, after which they began housekeeping in New Palestine, where they resided the remainder of their lives. To this union were born the following children: Mary, Henry, Charles, Christian, Anna, deceased; John F., Matilda and three who died in infancy. All are now deceased except John F. The mother, Annie Kirkhoff, died on September 4, 1892. Anthony Kirkhoff and wife were active members of the German Methodist church, Mr. Kirkhoff acting for many years as one of the trustees of the society.
John F. Kirkhoff was born in the house just two doors east of where he now resides. His present residence was built by his father and has the distinction of being on his farm and yet in the center of the town. Here he owns one hundred acres of land, but for the past ten years has been living a retired life.
At the age of twenty-one years, John F. Kirkhoff was united in marriage on November 18, 1875, to Jane F. Van Sickle, a native of Marion county, having been born in 1855 and was the daughter of John C. and Caroline Van Sickle, both of whom were natives of Marion county. After his marriage, Mr. Kirkhoff and wife took up their residence one mile east of New Palestine, on eighty acres of his father's farm. Here they lived until the death of Mrs. Kirkhoff on May 16, 1881. To Mr. and Mrs. Kirkhoff were born one child, Nellie G., who died after her marriage to George Ruschaupt, of Shelby county. Mr. Kirkhoff, after the death of his wife, returned to the old homestead of his parents, where he has since lived. For four years he clerked in the store of Van Sickle & Nichols and then for four years he was manager of a creamery, after which he was in charge of his mother's farm. On November 24, 1892, Mr. Kirkhoff was married to Malinda A. Wessling, who was born in Marion county on September 15, 1866, being the daughter of Henry and Catherine (Meier) Wessling, the former of whom was a native of Germany and the latter of German descent . Mr. and Mrs. Wessling were the parents of the following children: Malinda, Louis, deceased; Mary, Katie, deceased, and Albert.
John R. and Malinda A. Kirkhoff were the parents of two children: Ruth and Henry, both of whom are at home. Mrs. Kirkhoff died on November 3, 1908. Mr. Kirkhoff and his wife were active members of the Evangelical church, of the Synod of North America. Mr. Kirkhoff was for a number of years the secretary of the board of trustees of the society.
Politically, Mr. Kirkhoff is a Republican, and has served as township assessor for five years; trustee of New Palestine for nine years and clerk of the town for four years, all of which positions he filled with honor to himself and the community.
Transcribed from History of Hancock County, Indiana, Its People, Industries and Institutions by George J. Richman, B. L., Federal Publishing Co., Indianapolis, Indiana, 1916. Page 1036-1038.
Submitted by Sylvia (Rose) Duda, Laingsburg, MI October 31, 2001.
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