Klaus Borntraeger
Martin Borntraeger
Andrew Borntrager
Andrew Burntrager
Bontrager Gallery
John Kempf
Jacob Hochstetler
Jacob Eash


John Kempf

Immigrant of 1820 to Baltimore


Principality of Waldeck Coat of Arms

     John Kempf was born on May 6, 1790 near Waldeck, Principality of Prussia (later Province of Hesse, Germany) and was the only one of the four Immigrants tracked on these pages to land in Baltimore.  He arrived on August 15, 1820 and apparently passed thru Somerset Co, PA where he married Saloma Miller, daughter of Bishop Benedict Miller, however there are no records of him in Somerset Co.  They moved to Allegany Co (now Garrett Co), MD where they had 81 acres on a farm just east of what is now New Germany State Park.   His first seven children were born there before they sold in 1839 and moved to Fairfield Co, OH where his last six children were born.  He was my only immigrant ancestor to cross the Mississippi River. His family and that of his brother-in-law along with some others were one of the first Amish families to settle in Iowa in 1850.  His daughter became the first bride in that Amish community.


John established a homestead in Sharon Twp, Johnson Co, IA where four generations of     Kempf's lived.  He and Saloma are buried in the Peter B Miller cemetery adjacent to his farm (right rear of photo).  Peter B Miller homestead is across the street to the north.






Samuel Kempf, son of John, was born in Fairfield County, OH in 1842 and came to Iowa as a child with the family.  He was one of the first to obtain a Teaching Certificate from the Iowa Academy (now the State University of Iowa) ca 1862.  The "Great Schism" of the Amish occurred in 1865.  In 1868 he married Barbara.  This is the usual time to join the Church.  My grand-mother Maggie, daughter of Samuel, told my mother that the Amish Church would accept Barbara but not Samuel because he had attended a public school.  Barbara told the Bishops that it would be both or none.  They decided to join the East Union Church and thus became Amish-Mennonites.  Samuel died at the young age of 50 and Barbara was left with the farm and seven daughters to raise.  Samuel's interest in education has left many descendants who have pursued the learned professions in Education, Nursing, Law and Medicine.  His daughter Alice was among the first to receive formal education in nursing.  His grandson Guy Hershberger was for many years a Professor of History at Goshen College and the Editor of the Mennonite Quarterly Review from its inception.  Grandson D. Russell Bontrager earned his law degree in night school and pursued a life of politics, running for the US Senate in Indiana.




Barbara was born in 1847 at Holmes County Ohio, the daughter of John & Catherine Miller Mishler.  When her husband died she managed to keep the farm, raise her seven daughters and then see the farm transferred to one of them.  At the age of 60 she retired and moved into Kalona.  This remarkable woman was not done yet.  My grandfather, David E Bontrager, had decided that a High School education was necessary for his sons but not for his daughters and so refused transportation to Kalona where the school was located.  So Barbara boarded the four daughters, in her retirement, that made it possible for mother to gain her own Teaching Certificate.



Barbara Mishler birthplace, Holmes Co, OH

Great Aunt Alice and Gladys Bontrager visit ca 1940.

Photo by JJH.

Barbara Kempf

On her 100th birthday with her six living daughters.

Great Aunt Alice

The first RN in Johnson Co, IA. She trained in St Louis.


"From Hazelbrush to Cornfields" by Katie Yoder Lind, Mennonite Historical Society of Iowa, Kalona, IA, 1994

"Amish Immigrants of Waldeck and Hesse" by John M Byler