John J. Kuhn and Christina
Louisa Hempftling Kuhn
John J. Kuhn.; was born
November 1, 1829 in Haeslach Oberant Tubingen, Wurttemberg,
Germany. I have been unable to find a record of his parents. John
Kuhn immigrated to America arriving in New York City in 1852. It is
likely he departed from the port of Hamburg, Germany.
Christina Hempftling was born August 12, 1832 in Lobenstein,
Saxony, Germany. Her parents were Frederick and Kristina Hempftling
both born in Lobenstein, Germany. Christina and her sister, Lina,
immigrated to America, arriving in New York City in 1850. They
joined their parents, brothers and sisters who had immigrated the
John Kuhn and Christina Hempftling were married in New York City
on May 8, 1853. Two years later, they moved to Galena, Illinois. A
son, William, was born there on April 26, 1856. That summer, John,
Christina, and son William, moved to the Minnesota Territory,
arriving in Red Wing July 4, 1856. They traveled by steamboat on
the Mississippi River from Galena to Red Wing. Red Wing was a small
Indian village with only about twenty houses. They rented a barn in
the village, which John remodeled into a house for them to live in.
The rent was $16 a month.
John went to work in a planing mill for Blakely and Cogel. Later
the same year, he opened a small bakery on West Main Street. Early
in 1857, he moved the bakery to Plum Street. That same year, he
took a claim in Hay Creek and moved his family there. John remained
in Red Wing most of the time to work in his bakery. He became a
member of the bucket fire brigade in Red Wing. This was the
beginning of his career as a fireman, to which he was always much
He went out to his claim in Hay Creek in 1858 to join his
family. They lived there five years, enduring all of the hardships
of pioneer life. During that time, they had two more children. A
second son, Ferdinand, was born October 30, 1858 and a daughter,
Lucy, was born July 5, 1861 (died 1865).
In 1863, John moved his family back to Red Wing. He purchased a
home and started a bakery and cracker factory. His brother,
Michael, joined him in the business. The Federal Industrial census
of 1870 lists John Kuhn as a baker with an investment of $2000. He
had a hand powered cracker machine.
The 1870 census also shows Michael
Kuhn, brother of John, as being employed in the bakery.
The census listed the materials and costs for the bakery in
addition to production and value as follows:
|130 bbls flour
||39,375 loaves bread
||13 bbls crackers
|lard and butter
||52 doz pies
|100 dozen eggs
The eggs cost 15 cents per dozen and flour five dollars a
barrel. Bread sold for four cents a loaf and pies sold for 20 cents
When John.; returned to Red
Wing with his family in 1863, he became more active in the Fire
Department. He was founder of German Hose Company No. 3. He
remained a member of the Fire Department until 1887. during that
period he held various positions including that of Captain and Fire
click fire department photo to enlarge
Four daughters were born to John and Christina while in Red
Wing. They were Christine, born June 24, 1864, Amalie, born January
2, 1867 (died in 1869), Rose, born on June 15, 1869, and Lena, born
The following men introduced gymnasium work in Minnesota: John
Kuhn of Red Wing; Herman Zirkler, Frank Werner and Reinhold Stiefel,
all of St. Paul; Mayer, Blecken, Siebert, Foll and John Nothammer
all of Minneapolis and Greiner of Owatonna.
The theater section of the Turner Society announced on February
11, 1880 that John Kuhn would be in the title role of “Rip Van
Winkle” to be presented in German. The Red Wing Advance Newspaper
reported on June 8, 1880 that John Kuhn was opening the Opera House
Restaurant on the following evening. There would be a social dance
in the Opera House with tickets for the dance, including supper,
priced at one dollar. The Red Wing Advance Newspaper report also
said “Mr. Kuhn is one of the respectable majority of saloon keepers
who proposes to keep the laws of the City in which he lives.”
click first picture photo to enlarge
The Red Wing Advance Newspaper had a news story of a devastating
rainstorm on June 10, 1880 that flooded streets with several feet of
water. The floodwaters also washed away outhouses, sheds, barns and
other buildings. Many livestock were drowned. Stone walls were
broken up and tossed about like driftwood.
click flooded main street photo to enlarge
Two sons were married about this time. Ferdinand married
Victoria Tolve, Victoria;
November 15, 1881 and William married Katherine Delafield January 7,
John was founder of a theatrical group called the Turner
Society. He was on the building committee for the Turner’s Opera
House. John was manager of the Opera House until it was destroyed
by fire in 1882. The first curtain ever made in Red Wing for
theatrical purposes was painted by Herman Hempftling, brother of
Christina Kuhn. Herman painted the curtain in the home of John and
click opryhouse photo to enlarge
While at Stillwater, daughter Rose, married Seth Ambrose Jacquith
on July 18, 1896. In 1900, John Kuhn moved his family back to Red
Wing to their old home.
In March 1887, John, Christina and their three daughters,
accompanied by Christina’s father, Frederick Hempftling, moved to
Stillwater to enter the hotel business. Frederick Hempftling died
three months later.
John and Christina Kuhn celebrated their golden wedding
anniversary on May 8, 1903 in Red Wing. Nearly 500 guests attended
the celebration held in the Gladstone Hall. An elaborate supper was
served in the dining room of the Odd Fellows Hall, which adjoins the
Gladstone. The program that followed was opened with an operetta
entitled “Sangoogelschen” (Singing Bird). There were also vocal and
piano selections and several numbers by Rehder’s orchestra. After
the program, there was card playing and a general social time. Mr.
and Mrs. Kuhn were recipients of many and valuable gifts. One of
the special events of the evening was when John Kuhn.;
passed on the gold headed cane to his son, Ferdinand (Fred) Kuhn.
Christina’s parents, Frederick and Kristina Hempftling,
celebrated their golden wedding anniversary January 11, 1877. It
was the first golden wedding anniversary in Red Wing. At that time,
Frederick Hempftling passed on the gold-headed cane to John J. Kuhn.;
, husband of his daughter, Christina.
Since that time, in 1903, Ferdinand and Victoria Kuhn celebrated
their golden wedding anniversary November 15, 1931. Ferdinand
passed on the gold-headed cane to his son, Arthur M. Kuhn.
Arthur and Aurora Kuhn celebrated their golden wedding
anniversary April 22, 1963 in Red Wing. Arthur passed on the gold
headed cane to his son Robert.
Robert and Audrey Kuhn celebrated their golden wedding
anniversary April 30, 1991 in Sun City Arizona. Robert passed on
the gold-headed cane to his son, Robert Lawrence.
Sources for information include the following:
- My mother’s scrapbook
- The Red Wing Advance Newspaper
- The Red Wing Daily Republican Newspaper
- Clerk of Court in Red Wing
- St. John’s Cemetery west of Red Wing
- Federal Census of 1870, 1880 and 1900
Industry Census of 1870