Biography of William Kernan

While many brave men and noble women form the ranks of the worthy pioneers who fitted this country for the settlement of their fellows and have made the county of Wallowa what it is today, there is none that surpasses the venerable and upright gentleman and loyal and patriotic citizen whose name initiates this paragraph and who has wrought with intelligence and enterprise in this county for many years, and who was one of the valorous army of brave and devoted men that left home and loved ones to press on to the front and take up the weapons of war when the flag and all of our beloved institutions were menaced with insult and overthrow. And in this awful conflict of the Civil War, William Kernan did the part of a devoted son of freedom, a noble and patriotic citizen, a faithful and intrepid soldier, and a true, brave man. To such be the honor so just due them, and it is with pleasure that we are enabled to give to them, small though it be, our tribute of commendation.

William Kernan was born in 1829 in the state of Maryland, being the son of John and Mary Kernan, natives respectively of Pennsylvania and Virginia. In 1842 they removed to Pennsylvania, where our subject grew to manhood, and we next see him at the front enrolling his name on the enlisting roster of the One Hundred and Thirty-sixth Pennsylvania Infantry, Company K. Eleven months he did service in this relation, then his time being expired, re-enlisted in Company G, One Hundred and Ninety-second Pennsylvania Infantry. Here he served until the last shot of treason had been fired, and the last foe had dropped the arms of attack. Suffering, marching, fighting, watching, doing all that the faithful soldier could do, he passed through it all, and when the end came he laid down his paraphernalia of conflict and took up once more the labors of the civilian. It was 1877 that he turned toward the west, and his first settlement was in Kansas, where he farmed until 1881, Russell County being the place of his abode. Then he sold his interests there and came to the state of Oregon. Wallowa county’s fertile region had been described to him and hither he came and, being satisfied with resources of the country, he at once took a pre-emption claim, one and one-half miles northeast from Joseph, and altogether, he has twelve hundred acres of land. At first Mr. Kernan gave his energies to farming, but seeing the advantages offered by this country for raising sheep he embarked in that industry and he is now one of the prominent stockmen of the county.

Mr. Kernan was married to Miss Rachel Hockly in 1851, and they became the parents of one child living, Mary. Mrs. Kernan passed away in 1856, her remains resting at Churchtown, Pennsylvania.

In 1860 Mr. Kernan again sought a helpmate and was married to Miss Elizabeth Sipe, a native of Pennsylvania, and daughter of Joseph and Mary Sipe, also natives of Pennsylvania. To this happy union there have been born eight children, as follows: William, an infant, deceased: George, John, Minnie, Frank, Hayes, and Thomas. Fraternally Mr. Kernan is a member of the I.O.O.F., of Joseph, having joined the Orphans Home Lodge, of Williamsburg, Pennsylvania, in 1854. Mr.Kernan is well esteemed by all, has maintained an unsullied reputation throughout his long and eventful career and now in the golden years of his life he is quietly residing in Joseph, overseeing his interests in various parts of the county, and is a valuable and respected member of society, beloved and admired by all.



An Illustrated history of Union and Wallowa Counties: with a brief outline of the early history of the state of Oregon. Western Historical Pub. Co., 1902.

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