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Alban Kent, Page 673
ALBAN KENT, the second oldest living pioneer of Sheboygan County, and the oldest of his nationality (the German), was born in Baden, Germany, September 1, 1808, and is a son of Franz and Catherine (Bilmon) Kent. He was reared in his native country, where he learned the trade of a tailor. In 1833 he emigrated to the United States, and settled in Erie, Pa., where he opened a shop and worked at his trade. He was married in that city, January 31, 1837, to Miss Walburga, a daughter of Michael and Eva Mocht. Mrs. Kent was born in Baden, Germany.
In 1844 Mr. Kent emigrated from Erie to Sheboygan, Wis., reaching this point in September of that year. Sheboygan was then but a hamlet in the midst of a wilderness. Mr. Kent erected a house, in which he lived and carried on tailoring. That house is a part of his present home, and he is the oldest in his line of business in the city. Soon after coming to Sheboygan, Mr. Kent opened a bakery and grocery on the shore end of the old North Pier, where he carried on quite a business for four years, when his place was wrecked by the waves during a very severe storm, and his stock and household goods were lost. He then returned to his first home, on Jefferson Avenue, near Seventh, where he stills resides, and there resumed work at his trade. He continued engaged in tailoring until 1889, when he retired from active work, at the age of eighty-one years.
Mr. and Mrs. Kent have been blessed with a large family, seven sons and four daughters. Six of the eleven are now living. Herman, the eldest, died at the age of twenty-seven years. Mary is at home. Joseph F. and William were twins; Joseph, who was a merchant of Sheboygan, married Amelia Zerler, and died September 18, 1884, at the age of forty-three; and William married Florence Cooper, and lives in Beloit, Wis. Edward married Mattie Clark, and lives at Fond du Lac. Josephine became the wife of Joseph G. End, a prominent merchant of Sheboygan. Louise is the wife of Gerhard Otten, of Sheboygan. Henry is single. Clara is the wife of Thomas Winship, a commercial traveler. Two died in infancy.
The first winter of Mr. Kent's residence in Sheboygan is memorable to him on account of an adventure that befell him while hunting. He had left home one winter's day soon after dinner, with his shot-gun, for a hunt. The ground was covered with snow and the sky was overcast. Toward evening, when he wished to return home, he discovered that he had lost his way and was in danger of having to spend the night in the woods, without shelter, food or fire. he wandered along until dark without finding a familiar landmark, when he determined to try and get a fire by the use of his gun. After shooting off the charge in one barrel, he prepared a charge for the purpose, and having selected some "punk," or dry rotted wood, he fired the gun so that the burning wadding lighted the heap. This result was accomplished only after great care and exertion. Having made a good fire, he passed the night without danger of freezing, but with great discomfort. The howling of a hungry timber wolf occasionally reminded him that he was in the vicinity of unpleasant neighbors. The next morning he set out to find his way home. All day he plodded through the snow, hungry and tired, until toward evening he came to the cabin and clearing of a pioneer, Mr. Wilson, in what is now known as the town of Wilson, where he met with a hospitable welcome and was given a good supper, after which he easily found his way home. From that time, hunting ceased to be a popular pastime with him. His camping-place was ascertained to be about twelve miles to the southwest of Sheboygan.
Mr. and Mrs. Kent are consistent members of the Catholic Church, and theirs was one of the first families of that denomination to make a permanent settlement at Sheboygan. It was a their house that the first mass was celebrated, August 25, 1845, the officiating clergyman being the Rev. Father Rerl. The table that was used on the occasion is still in their possession, and is highly cherished as a relic. It has been photographed for use in the history of the Church of the Holy name of Jesus, on the North Side, to which they belong.
In politics, Mr. Kent is a Democrat, and served as Assessor, in early days, for the town of Sheboygan. He is acknowledged to be the second oldest of the surviving old settlers of Sheboygan, and has a silver medal awarded him by the Old Settlers' Association for that reason.
Mr. and Mrs. Kent have been married fifty-six years. On the 31st of January, 1887, they celebrated their golden wedding with their children, grandchildren and near friends.
(Since the above article was prepared, Mr. Kent has been called upon to mourn the death of his faithful wife, who passed away September 3, 1893, leaving a large circle of friends and acquaintances.)
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