Biography of Joseph C. Kempf
Oneida County, NY Biographies





Joseph Clinton Kempf, for thirty years past in the music business at Utica and head of the Kempf Brothers' Music House, is a native of Newport, Herkimer county, New York He was born October 28, 1851, a son of Peter and Margaret Kempf, both of whom were born near Berlin, Germany. They came to America in 1838 and settled at Utica in 1845. They continued in this city during the remainder of their lives with the exception of about a year which they spent at Newport.

Joseph Clinton Kempf was educated in the public schools and at Assumption Academy. He gave his attention to fanning for several years after reaching maturity and in 1878 associated with his two brothers, Frederick Martin and Charles C. Kempf, in the sewing machine business at Utica. The business prospered and in 1880 the firm also undertook the sale of pianos and other musical instruments. In 1890 Frederick Martin Kempf died and the business was continued by the two remaining brothers and grew so rapidly that it was necessary to move several times in order to secure larger accommodations. In 1908 the firm purchased the location it now occupies at No. 86 Genesee street, where is to be seen one of the most complete musical stores in the state of New York. The building consists of four stories, the first floor being used for general display purposes. The second and third floors are divided into parlors in which are to be seen one hundred and fifty upright pianos, one room being set apart on the third floor for sewing machines. On the first floor are parlors for the exclusive use of talking machines. The display throughout the building is highly attractive and indicates rare taste and remarkable judgment. The business has now grown to such dimensions that the sales of pianos have reached as many as four hundred and fifty in a year. In 1904 the firm established a branch house at Little Falls and Herkimer and recently Charles Stewart Kempf took these stores as his share of the property. Mr. Kempf of this review is now associated with two of his sons at Utica and the reputation of the house is such that its patronage is larger than ever before. Kempf Brothers' Music House is one of the principal show places of the city and visitors from all parts of the state are surprised at the remarkable display of musical instruments which is scarcely equalled elsewhere in the entire country.

On the 28th of November, 1872. Mr. Kempf was married to Miss Rosanna Caraher, of Clinton, Oneida county, New York, a daughter of James T. and Mary (McGuire) Caraher. Six children came to brighten their home: Charles Stewart and William Joseph, both of whom are associated with their father in business; Frederick Martin, now a practicing physician of Utica; Raymond A., who is also a physician and is engaged in practice at Bellevue Hospital, New York city; Mabel F.; and Emily T., who is the wife of J. Philip Hannigan of Utica. Mr. Kempf takes just pride in the business with which he has been connected since its inception, the house over which he presides being an ornament to the city. It has been the ambition of his life to build up the business to its present high standard and in the accomplishment of this worthy object he has been ably assisted by his associates. The establishment has evidently met a real want in central New York and its remarkable success may be regarded as the measure of its deserts.

From:
History of Oneida County, New York
From 1700 to the present time
of some of its prominent men and pioneers.
By: Henry J. Cookinham
The S. J. Clarke Publishing Company
Chicago 1912


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