Biography of Hon. Matthias Kenaga

HON. MATTHIAS KENAGA. The occupations to which Mr. Kenaga is devoting his attention are of the utmost importance to any community, and this is especially so in regard to the lumber business, which he is very extensively and successfully carrying on. He was born in Tuscarawas County, Ohio, in 1842, but his parents, Abraham and Christina (Sese) Kenaga, were Pennsylvanians, and were taken to Ohio by their parents when young. The mother of the subject of this sketch died when he was an infant, and his father after-ward married Esther Kore, and in 1850 removed to Whitley County, Indiana, where he was engaged in carpentering until his death, which occurred in 1861. He was for many years a member of the A. F. & A. M., and as a public-spirited citizen was an active worker for the Democrat party. His father, Christopher Kenaga, was a Pennsylvanian by birth, and was one of the first settlers ot Tuscarawas County, Ohio, where he died before the subject of this sketch was born, a member of the German Reformed Lutheran Church, and a minister of considerable renown. He was a soldier in the War of 1812, and lost a leg in the service. His wife, Catherine Harbarh, died in Ohio also, after having borne him nine children: John, Michael, Christopher, Jacob, Abraham, Cath-erine, Lydia, Martha and Esther. The great-grandfather, Christopher Kenaga, was also born in Pennsylvania, and there his entire life was spent in following the carpenter’s trade. He was all through the Revolutionary War and on many a bloody battlefield fought for American independence. His people were early German settlers of this country.

The maternal grandfather, Christopher Lese, was also born in Pennsylvania, but was a very early settler of Tuscarawas County, where he died a well-to-do farmer. He and his wife, who also died in that State, were worthy members of the United Brethren Church, and reared to maturity two sons and three daughters. The immediate subject of this sketch is the youngest of ten children: Margaret, wife of David Eberly, of Whitley County, Indiana; George, of Tuscarawas County, Ohio; Elizabeth, widow of John Mace, of Ohio; John, of Washington County, Kan.; Christina, who died in Ohio, the wife of Joseph Hartline; Moses, who died in Whitley County, Indiana; Isaac, who died in Williams County, Ohio; Mary, wife of John Garber, of De Kalb County, Indiana; Jeremiah, who died in La Grange County, Indiana, in 1893, and Matthias. There is also a half brother, Benjamin F., who lives at Grand Rapids, Mich.

In the State of his birth the subject of this sketch received a common-school education. In Indiana, and while growing up he learned the carpenter’s trade, which he followed for many years. In October, 1861, he joined Company E, Forty-seventh Indiana Volunteer Infantry, and after taking part in the engagements at New Madrid and Island No. 10, he was discharged for disability in the spring of 1862. However, in August, 1862, he joined Company F, One Hundredth Indiana Infantry, was in the siege of Vicksburg, Chattanooga, Knoxville, and was all through the Georgia campaign with Sherman, and fought at Macon and Bentonville, and was finally at the Grand Review in Washington, D. C. He was slightly wounded in the engagement at Mission Ridge, December 25, 1863.

January 20, 1866, he was married in Whitley County, Indiana, to Miss Malindah, daughter of Jeremiah and Susan Crider, who removed from Pennsylvania to Ohio, thence to Whitley County, Indiana, where Mrs. Crider died and where Mr. Crider still lives engaged in farming: Mrs. Kenaga was born in that county, and her union with Mr. Kenaga has resulted in the birth of five children: Rhoda Alice, wife of William Thornton; Willard Stanley, John M., Maud E. and Peter Paul.

In 1870 Mr. Kenaga came to West Plains, where he followed carpentering until 1875, since which time he has been engaged in the lumber business principally, and is doing a thriving business. He is extensively engaged in manufacturing dressed and rough lumber and shingles, in fact deals in all kinds of building lumber. He is one of the pioneer lumber men of the county, and as Mountain View is a railroad point he has prospered and owns 1,840 acres of land and a pretty and comfortable home. That he is a self-made man cannot be denied, for he started in life for himself with no means, and the property of which he has become possessed has been acquired through his own efforts. While in Whitley County, Indiana, he held the office of township assessor, and in 1886 was elected associate judge of the Howell County Court from the North District, in which capacity he served two years, and is now a justice of the peace. He is a member of Stonewall Lodge of the I. O. O. F. of West Plains, and belongs to James A. Dallas Post No. 383 of the G. A. R. at Mt. View, of which he was commander two terms. He is now quartermaster. He has always been a Republican politically, and his first presidential vote was cast for Lincoln in 1864. He and his wife have long been members of the Methodist Church, and in the section in which they reside are very highly regarded by its citizens. Mr. Kenaga is a successful and far-seeing man of business, and in the accumulation of worldly goods has been successful.



A Reminiscent History of the Ozark Region: comprising a condensed general history, a brief descriptive history of each county, and numerous biographical sketches of prominent citizens of such counties. Chicago: Goodspeed Brothers Publishers. 1894.

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