E W Charles Kaempen

File contributed by:
Barbara Freeman October 1999

"Quincy and Adams County History and Representative Men" Volume II, c. 1919
Pages 746-747

E. W. CHARLES KAEMPEN is president of the Buerkin & Kaempen firm, planing
mills, lumber dealers and general contractors, a business that grew from
individual services as carpenters forty years or more ago until now it
constitutes an immense and well appointed plant and with facilities
unexcelled by any similar business in Western Illinois.

The present business is the outgrowth of several partnerships between
carpenters and contractors of an earlier time. In 1879 Joseph Buerkin and
James Shanahan joined their respective abilities as good carpenters to
establish on a small scale a lumber yard and do general contracting work.
Mr. Buerkin for a number of years had been a Quincy carpenter, and was a
highly expert, and technical man in all branches of the business. The firm
had its first location in a small alley shop back of the Tenk hardware store
on Maine Street, between Fifth and Sixth streets.

From this partnership Mr. Buerkin withdrew in 1881 and formed a new
arrangement with Mr. Gottlieb Burge, a prominent contractor and builder of
that day, then already established on Vermont Street, and continued to
prosper until 1888. It was in the latter that E. W. Charles Kaempen, who for
fifteen or twenty years had been a carpenter in Quincy, bought the interests
of Mr. Burge, and thus established the alliance between the Buerkins and
Kaempens which has continued uninterruptedly and with increasing prosperity
and growth to the present time. Both men were thorough and practical
mechanics and builders, and in a short time they introduced milling
machinery, establishing a planing mill and offering their services as

In 1891 they bought a quarter block at the corner of State and Sixth streets.
It was very low and practically waste ground and after filling up a big
hollow they erected a mill the same year. In 1894 the mill was enlarged more
than double its size. During the past twenty years the plant has been
remodeled and increased several times, and they now own and occupy a whole
half block. The firm now has a big planning mill, other facilities for
manufacture of lumber products, a large yard for lumber storage, and
unexcelled facilities for contracting in all classes of buildings from
private homes to the largest public structures. In 1909 the business was
incorporated, with Mr. Buerkin its first president and Mr. Kaempen secretary
and treasurer. Two of Mr. Kaempen's sons, Emil and Arthur L., and Mrs.
Buerkin's son, Edwin C., were admitted to the business as directors in the
company. In October, 1909, Mr. Joseph Buerkin died, after having been active
in business affairs at Quincy for over forty years. He was born at Baden,
Germany, in 1848.

Germany was also the birthplace of Mr. Kaempen, who was born April 12, 1850.
Both of these men came to the United States when quite young. Mr. Kaempen
came to Quincy in the spring of 1868. He is a born mechanic, his father and
grandfather on both sides having been carpenters and mechanics in the old
country. The first associations between Mr. Buerkin and Mr. Kaempen came as
fellow employees with Mr. Lockworthy and Burge at Quincy. Mr. Kaempen was in
Mr. Lockworthy's employ for about twenty years. In 1876 he was shop foreman
when that contractor put up the Adams County courthouse.

The firm and corporation of Buerkin & Kaempen has been employed in the
construction of some of the most noteworthy buildings, private homes,
business houses and public structures in and around Quincy. Among others
they erected the Masonic Temple, the Armory, the Young Men's Christian
Association building, the Chamber of Commerce building, the New Gardner
Governor building and others. The company has about 250 men at times on the
pay roll, and many of their employees have been with them for a long period
of years.

Mr. Kaempen married Miss Louisa Buxman, a native of Quincy and of German
parentage. They have eight children, four sons and four daughters. Besides
the two sons named above as members of the company there are Charles and
Evert, both students in the Quincy High School. These four sons are all
single men. The daughter Hermina is the wife of Fred Fredericks, now living
in California, and they have a son and three daughters. Laura was educated
in the high school and the University of Illinois, and is now a teacher in
the Madison School at Quincy. The daughter Flora married Dr. Herman Wendorf,
and they have a son, Herman, Jr. Emma Kaempen was also a successful teacher
and her death recalls a well known tragedy. As a teacher in one of the
country districts she was boarding with a family who fell victims to the mad
vengeance of an alleged kinsman and Miss Kaempen lost her life with the rest.

Mr. Kaempen and family are members of the Evangelical Church and formerly
for thirty years was identified with the Independent Order of Odd Fellows.

Adams County Records!

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