Hon. Paul Klein. In the record of business achievements of Allen County’s citizens, the name of Paul Klein occupies a most conspicuous place. His admirable efforts have not only contributed to the growth and development of Iola, of which city he had been a resident since 1903, but his career in regard to public service had been a decidedly creditable one and places him high in the esteem of his fellow citizens. He was a pioneer homesteader in Kansas in 1886, when he located in Ness County, and his life had ranged in its scope from residence in a sod house to a seat in the Kansas State Senate.
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Paul Klein was born at Mascoutah, St. Clair County, Illinois, September 7, 1856, and is a son of Paul and Mary (Leibrock) Klein. His father was born in 1801, in Bavaria, Germany, where he was married, and in 1852, after the birth of three children started with his little family for the United States on a sailing vessel. The journey consumed three months, and during this time a fourth child was born on the ocean to Mr. and Mrs. Klein, who finally made port at New York and went from the metropolis to Mascoutah, Illinois. In St. Clair County, Mr. Klein settled on a farm, and there continued to be engaged in agricultural pursuits during the remainder of his life, his death occurring in 1885, when he was eighty-four years of age. He was a republican in politics, and was a faithful member of the Evangelical Lutheran Church, being for many years on the board of directors thereof. Mrs. Klein, who was born in Bavaria, in 1803, died at the age of seventy-four years, on the home farm in Illinois. They were the parents of the following children: Annie, born in Bavaria, who died as the wife of the late William R. Padfield, a farmer of St. Clair County, Illinois; Catherine, born in Bavaria, who died as the wife of Fred Clement, deceased, who was a brick mason at Mascoutah; Maggie, who was born in Bavaria and whose home is now at Lebanon, Illinois; Elizabeth, born on the voyage to this country, who became the second wife of the late William R. Padfield, and now resided at Summerfield, Illinois; Lottie, who is the wife of Philip Seewald, a farmer of Ness County, Kansas; Paul, of this notice; Carrie, who died at St. Louis, Missouri, as the wife of Frank Grimm, a blacksmith of that city; Jacob, who was a traveling salesman and died at Cedar Rapids, Iowa; and William and Philip, who died in infancy.
Paul Klein attended the public school at Mascoutah, Illinois, but his early education was not an extensive one, as he gave up his studies when still a lad. However, since his boyhood, he had gained much through observation, experience and reading, and is today a well educated man. He was only twelve years of age when he began to learn the trade of wheelwright, a vocation which he followed at Mascoutah and Summerfield. After his marriage at the latter place, he embarked in farming and continued to be so engaged in Illinois until 1886 when he became a homesteader on the prairies of Kansas, at that time taking up a tract of 160 acres in Ness County. His first home was a sod house, or “soddy,” and it continued to be his dwelling place for several years, both of his children being born therein. During the years of his residence there he experienced the hardships incident to life on the frontier, for he was far removed from the comforts and conveniences of civilization and his nearest trading point was Waukena, forty miles away. However, he persisted and labored industriously and proved up on his claim, which he still owned, and which had now grown to a magnificent tract of 800 acres. Mr. Klein remained on his homestead three years and in 1889 moved to the community of Utica, then a hamlet boasting of a few houses. There he established the pioneer business house, a store in which he sold general merchandise, hardware and implements, and which, through good business management and hard work, he built up to sizable proportions. In 1897 he added a lumber yard to his holdings and continued to operate the two ventures together until 1903, in which year he sold his interests at Utica and changed his place of residence to Iola, where he had since lived. On coming to this city he bought the lumber yard of A. L. Taylor, at 201 West Madison Street, the largest enterprise of its kind in the city, of which he is still the proprietor. In addition to his 800-acre farm in Ness County, Mr. Klein owned 160 acres in Allen County and 80 acres in Labette County, as well as his own home at 315 South Cottonwood Street. Mr. Klein had various business interests and is a member of the board of directors of the Alliance Co-operative Insurance Company of Topeka.
Mr. Klein is a stalwart democrat. One year after coming to Iola his ability and worth were recognized by his election to the city council, as a member of which he served for five years, then resigning to take the office of member of the board of county commissioners, to which he had been elected and in which he served for two years. In 1912 he became the democratic nominee for state senator from his district and was duly elected for a term of four years, and was a member of that body for the full term. During that time he was chairman of the committee on good roads and bridges, and a member of the committees on banking, education, mining, oil and gas, and cities of second class, and in both sessions was elected by his colleagues as a member of the committee on the construction of the Memorial Building, at Topeka. Mr. Klein is a member of the Board of Directors of the Kansas State Historical Society, and is vice president of the Allen County Fair Association. He is a member of Iola Lodge, No. 569, Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks, and Neosho Lodge, No. 43, Knights of Pythias, of Iola, and is prominent in Masonry, being a thirty-second degree Scottish Rite Mason and holding membership in Iola Lodge, No. 38, Ancient Free & Accepted Masons; Valley Chapter, No. 8, Royal Arch Masons; Esdraelon Commandery, No. 49, Knights Templar; Fort Scott Consistory, No. 4, Scottish Rite Masons; and Mirza Temple, Ancient Arabic Order Nobles of the Mystic Shrine. He had numerous friends in fraternal circles, in business is known as a strictly reliable dealer and associate, and as a citizen bears the reputation of being a public-spirited factor in all that promises for the welfare of the community.
Mr. Klein was married in 1880, at Summerfield, Illinois, to Miss Katherine Reinhart, daughter of Michael and Dorothy Reinhart, the latter a resident of Summerfield, where the former, who was a butcher by vocation, died several years ago. Mr. and Mrs. Klein are the parents of two children: Cora B., a graduate of Fine Arts at Washburn College, Topeka, Kansas, and is the wife of Dr. C. A. Boyd, a practicing physician and surgeon at Belpre, Edwards County, Kansas, and had one son, Klein Arthur, born in 1915; and Edna H., who is a graduate of the Kansas State Agricultural College, at Manhattan, and resided with her parents. Mr. and Mrs. Klein and family are all members of the Presbyterian Church in Iola and Mr. Klein is a member of the board of trustees of the church.