HON. JOSEPH A. KUHN. – Judge Kuhn has long filled a position of such prominence in Washington that the details of his life will be of public interest. His career illustrates once more the fact that the brawn and brain of the East needs but to touch the earth to spring up in double vigor at the West.
He is the fourth in a family of six sons, resident in Pennsylvania; and the year of his birth was 1841. His mother belonged to an old American family of large reputation; and his father enjoyed the rank of colonel, and was for two terms judge of his county. At the age of eighteen our subject left home for Calvert College, Maryland, but before finishing his course determined to begin life for himself at the West. He reached Omaha, Nebraska, in June, 1860, and accepted the arduous and adventurous business of freighting, or driving “prairie schooners” to various points in the Rocky Mountains, – Denver, Salt Lake, Bannack and Virginia City. He followed this occupation six years with the exception of a time spent in the army during the Rebellion.
He rose in his frontier avocation, becoming master of the Red Line train to Salt Lake; but, finally taking a mule-train, he came through to Stockton, California, and in the autumn of 1866 sailed up to the Sound. He stopped off at Port Townsend, Washington, where he found his brother, Doctor Louis de Barth Kuhn, formerly a well-known practitioner at Port Townsend, now of Brooklyn, New York. Here, the new resident began running a milk ranch, but, feeling himself capable of a wider and more influential field, entered the office of Judson & McFadden and studied law. He was admitted to the bar in1870, and became a member of Kuhn & Burke.
His activity and ability soon attracted attention; and it was seen that he embodied the necessary qualities for political life. In 1872 he was elected to the legislature of Washington; and his public services have since been continuous. In 1866 he became a member of the council, and in 1881 and again in 1885 was returned to the house. Three times he was chairman of the very important judiciary committee. In 1877 he was also elected probate judge of Jefferson County, and was re-elected in 1879. For four years he was commissioner of immigration.
As a Democrat he has held a high rank in his party in the capacity of a leader. He has been a member of every convention in the territory since his entrance upon public affairs, and has been honored by selection as a delegate to the Democratic national convention of 1884, and in 1888 by appointment as member of the national committee.
As a Mason Judge Kuhn has received the thirty-second degree, and in1882 was elected grand master of the lodge of Washington, and was for seven years master of Lodge No. 6 at Port Townsend.