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History of the Mohawk Valley: Gateway to the West 1614-1925
Philip George Klem

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[This information is from Vol. III, pp. 280-281 of History of the Mohawk Valley: Gateway to the West 1614-1925, edited by Nelson Greene (Chicago: The S. J. Clarke Publishing Company, 1925). It is in the Reference collection of the Schenectady County Public Library at R 974.7 G81h. This online edition includes lists of portraits, maps and illustrations. As noted by Paul Keesler in his article, "The Much Maligned Mr. Greene," some information in this book has been superseded by later research or was provided incorrectly by local sources.]

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Philip George Klem, police justice of Herkimer, New York, was born in Newark, New Jersey, on April 25, 1864, his parents being Balthazer and Mary (Cook) Klem. Balthazer Klem was born in Germany in 1836 and died in Newark, where he was a retail grocer, in June, 1916. He was a member of Company B, Second New Jersey Volunteers, and enlisted in 1861 for ninety days on the first call and later re-enlisted for three years. He was wounded in the battle of the Wilderness and was later honorably discharged on account of disability. He afterward became a member of Aaron Helmer Post, G. A. R. His wife was also born in Germany and died in Newark.

Philip George Klem was educated in the public schools of Newark, New Jersey, and at the age of thirteen, after the death of his mother, peddled newspapers and blackened shoes in Newark for two years. He then traveled about and worked at odd jobs until he reached Nashville, Tennessee, where he secured work with the National Trunk Corporation, and remained for about eighteen months, when his employers dissolved partnership. He then went to St. Louis, Chicago, Canada, and to Albany, from which latter place he worked on the Erie Canal back to Herkimer, New York. At the time he was eighteen years of age he secured employment with Deimal & Snell, lumber and trunk manufacturers, at seventy-five cents per day, and remained for two years, when the factory burned down. He then peddled merchandise with a basket, later securing a horse and wagon, and was in this line of work for three years, after which he formed a partnership with Harry L. Cramer in publishing the Herkimer County Free Press. After six months Mr. Cramer retired and at the end of the year he was burned out. He then secured work with the Bedell Company, furniture manufacturers, and was there two years, when the firm went into bankruptcy. In 1898 Mr. Klem opened a meat and grocery business on Lake street, Herkimer, which he conducted for twenty-two years. At the time of the Spanish-American war he enlisted in Company M, New York Militia, but was placed on the reserve list on account of his small children. In 1910 he began building small houses and repairing others, in all about one hundred and fifty, which he sold on easy monthly payments to people of limited means.

On November 18, 1885, at Herkimer, New York, Mr. Klem was married to Miss Alice M. Baum, who was born on June 13, 1865, her parents being Chauncy and Matilda Baum, both of whom were born in Herkimer and died there. Chauncy Baum was a farmer. Mrs. Klem is a member of the Episcopal church of Herkimer and also a member of the Spanish War Auxiliary. Three children were born to Mr. and Mrs. Klem: Mary E. was born in 1886 and died in 1888; Charles T. was born on June 2, 1891, and died on April 27, 1917. He was employed on the Herkimer Citizen for ten years; Frank B. Klem was born on June 2, 1897, and enlisted on May 5, 1917, in Company M, First New York Volunteers. He trained at Spartanburg, South Carolina, where he was injured and was discharged for disability in March, 1918. In June, 1918, he re-enlisted and was sent to the Pacific Coast Air Signal Service, and received his discharge in February, 1919. He is the only soldier from Herkimer county to hold the record of twice enlisting. He married Miss Beatrice Hoover and is now engaged in the roofing business in Herkimer.

Mr. Klem was a former member of the police force of Herkimer, constable, deputy sheriff, health and alms board, also justice of the peace, and is now serving in the latter capacity. He is a member of the American Mechanics of Herkimer and one of the ten charter members of the Down and Out Club. He is also a member of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows, the Spanish War Veterans, the Sons of Veterans, an honorary member of the Grand Army, and president of Dads' Auxiliary of the American Legion, and first started this organization in the United States. In politics he is a republican, and he enjoys cards as a diversion.

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