Bio: Kyes, Henry A. (Commemorative Bio - 1895)

Poster: Crystal Wendt


Henry A. Kyes

Henry A. Kyes, a worthy representative of one of the early families of northern Wisconsin, is a leader in the business and political world of Merrill, and a prominent factor in promoting those interests best calculated to benefit the city. He possesses the true Western spirit of progress and enterprise – a spirit that has placed the West on a par with the older East – and is justly recognized as one of the leading citizens of this community.

Mr. Kyes is a native of Colesville, Broome Co., N. Y., born November 10, 1836, a son of Ashley Kyes, who first saw the light in the Empire State in 1809, his parents being English, farther than which nothing is known of his ancestry. The mother of our subject in her maidenhood was Maria Shay, and her birth occurred in New York in 1814; a daughter of James Shay, who was a farmer, mill owner and blacksmith. He had a family of five children: Eli, Maria, Charlotte, Harriet and Eleanor. In 1837 Ashley Kyes removed with his family to Michigan, spending about a year in the southern part of that State. In 1839, however, he returned to New York, and when he again stated westward became a resident of Medina County, Ohio, locating upon a farm which he made his home until 1850, the year of his removal to Marquette County, Wis. In this State he settled upon the Indian Reservation, which had just been opened up for settlement, securing a tract of land which he cultivated and improved for some time. Having sold his farm, he in 1865, removed to Waseca County, Minn., where the mother died in 1883. The father then his farm, and since then has lived with his son William in Appleton, Minn. In their family were nine children: Henry A., Edgar, Lucius, James (deceased), Charles, William, Melissa, Arvilla and Sarah (deceased). Three of the sons were soldiers in the Civil War – Edgar, Lucius and James, the last named serving throughout the struggle as a member of the Tenth III. V. C. The father of this family, who was both a farmer and a carpenter, improved two good farms in this State. He was a pioneer of Minnesota, Wisconsin, Ohio, and Michigan, and wherever he has resided he has been recognized as a leading and influential citizen. His political views in early life were in support of the principles of the Whig Party, and on its dissolution be became a Republican. For many years he served as justice of the peace, and was ever a competent and faithful officer.

Henry A. Kyes, the eldest child in the family, received but limited educational privileges, for his youth was passed in frontier settlements and his services were generally needed on the home farm, where he remained until eighteen years of age, at which time he started northward. On the banks of the Eau Claire river he first secured employment in the lumber camps, working in the woods in the winter months, while in the summer he engaged in “running lumber’ form Wausau and other points to the Mississippi, thence down that stream to St. Louis and other points. He was thus engaged until 1857 when he became a resident of Jennie, Wis., as the town of Merrill was then called. Here he entered the employ of Benjamin F. Cooper, working in the woods in the winter and running on the river in summer until 1862. In company with D. A. Kline he then went to Tomahawk, Wis., where they began logging for themselves, carrying on business at that place until the spring of 1866, after which they followed that calling in different places until 1875. Their usual method of procedure was to purchase land and then cut the timber, and, generally, they cut and shipped their own lumber. The partnership was dissolved in 1875, but Mr. Kyes continued the concern along until 1880, since which time he has engaged in the real-estate business, and has platted a forty-acre addition to the city of Merrill, called the “Kyes Addition.” He is now doing a flourishing business, and derives there from a good income.

Mr. Kyes was married January 3, 1869, to Jane Augusta Hill, who was born in Cattaraugus County, N. Y., about the year 1847, and was of Irish descent. She located in Wisconsin in an early day, and by her marriage became the mother of five children, namely: Henry, Noel, William, Ashley, James W., Fred and Melissa F. Mrs. Kyes died in March, 1877, at Jennie (now Merrill), and in October, 1893, Mr. Kyes married Augusta Burgraft, who was born in Green Lake, Wis., in 1863, a daughter of William and Caroline (Sparkool) Burgraff, natives of Germany, who were married in Wisconsin. By occupation the father was a miller and cooper, and during the Civil War he served in defense of the Union. His death occurred in 1885; his widow is now living in Fond du Lac County. Their family numbered seven children: Herman, Frank, Emma, Augusta, Mary, Jane, Anna, and Edith. The parents of Mr. Kyes’ first wife, Henry and Alice Hill, where natives of New York, and came to Wisconsin in 1848. Their children were Alvina, Jane A., Helen, Henry and Alice. The mother died in Wisconsin in 1847. In the Empire State the father followed farming, but after coming to Wisconsin worked Jay in the pineries. His death here occurred in 1878.

In politics Mr. Kyes is a stanch Democrat, and has been an active worker in the party. He aided in the organization of Lincoln County, served as a member of the board of supervisors, was deputy sheriff two years, and for four years served as under sheriff. For six years he was city assessor and was elected again in 1895; he was a member of the school board five years, all of which facts indicated the confidence and trust reposed in him by his fellow townsmen, and his fidelity to duty.

---Source: Commemorative Biographical Record of the Upper Wisconsin Counties of Waupaca, Portage, Wood, Marathon, Lincoln, Oneida, Vilas, Langlade and Shawano. publ. 1895 by J. H. Beers & Co., Chicago 1110 pages, illustrated; Page 427-429


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