Charles Kember, of Serena township, LaSalle county, Illinois, is a son of
the late William Kember, who was born in Kent county, England, at
Chelseafield, in the year 1813. The latter came to the United States in 1840
with his wife, nee Sarah Castle, and settled in LaSalle county, Illinois.
They were in poor circumstances but were by nature endowed with an
industrious disposition and were impelled by a strong desire to acquire a
home in this Mecca of the poor, and were rewarded for their labors with more
than mere existence. Mr. Kember had no advantages for obtaining an education
in his youth and it was not until after his marriage that he learned to read
and cipher. In his later life, however, he gained a fair knowledge of books
and papers, and he was a useful and trustworthy citizen. On his arrival in
Illinois he bought a tract of cheap land, which "Uncle Sam" was then selling
to home-seekers, and through frugal and industrious management paid for it,
improved it, and subsequently added to its area, and at the time of his
death he was the owner of a farm of two hundred and forty acres. When it is
remembered that he was "freighted" into this county with an ox team, with
only ten dollars in his pocket to stand between his family and actual
destitution, his accumulations do not seem small. He soon became interested
in the politics of his adopted country, and espoused the cause of the
Republican party upon its organization, and while he was always interested
in public affairs he never sought nor accepted office other than that of
membership on the school board of his district. His first wife died in 1861
and some time afterward he married Rachel Brewer, who died in 1885. The
children by his first marriage were William, who married Kate Reed, was four
years in the federal army during the civil war, and died in 1889; Alfred,
who married Miss C. Middleton, died in 1874; Charles, who is the subject
proper of this sketch; and Albert J., who married Mary McAtee and now
resides in Oklahoma. The children of the second marriage are Ralph E.; Ella,
wife of Wilson W. Hupp; Mary, wife of Lincoln Knight, of Adams township; and
Arthur T., of Serena township, who married Nellie Harthan. The father died
in April, 1882. He had lived an honorable, upright and useful life and
passed to the world beyond believing that "He who doeth all things well"
would give him the reward that is promised the God-fearing man here below.
Charles Kember was ushered into life in Serena township on the 22d of August, 1846. He passed his youth, as was the custom of the farm boys of his time, going to school in winter and following the plow in summer. He remained at his parental home till past twenty-two years of age, when he was attracted to the west by the reports of the large and quick profits to be made in the stock business on the frontier. He located at Burlingame, Kansas, engaged in the cattle business, and for four years reaped a reasonable harvest from his ventures. At the end of that time he closed out his business and returned to the state of his birth to be near his father and to try his fortune with the money-makers of LaSalle county. He turned his attention to farming and soon began acquiring real estate. His has not been the fate of "the rolling stone" but rather of the rolling snowball. He now owns no less than six hundred acres in Serena township, and his home place is one of the finest in LaSalle county. Also he has a large creamery in Serena township, which he is successfully operating.
Mr. Kember was married in 1876 to a young lady whom he met while in business in Kansas — Miss Winnie Granteer, a daughter of the late William Granteer. Her mother is now the wife of W. P. Warren, of Serena, Illinois. Mr. and Mrs. Kember have three children, — Orville H., Jesse E. and Elsie.
Mr. Kember votes with the Republican party, has filled the office of township assessor and is at present the commissioner of highways and postmaster of Serena. It is due to him that Serena township has more than fifty miles of gravel road, and it is also largely due to his efforts that the Republican organization in Serena has been so well preserved, for he has been a member of its advisory committee for fifteen years.
Extracted 19 Dec 2018 by Norma Hass from Biographical and Genealogical Record of LaSalle County, Illinois, published in 1900, volume 2, pages 583-584.