Biography of Adam Kahl

The late Adam Kahl will be gratefully remembered by posterity as one of the foremost men of his day in Merced County, where he located in 1860 and established what has come to be known as the Kahl Ranch, near Plainsburg, along Mariposa Creek. From the time of his settling here he was active in every organization and movement that would be of benefit to the ranchers and help towards bettering the condition of the people of the county and State. He owned a ranch of 2000 acres and this he had improved with a splendid set of farm buildings and a substantial and commodious brick house. His ranch was stocked with the best breeds of live stock and he did much to raise the standard of live stock in the county. Such was his success that his accomplishments were the means of many others settling here and trying to follow his example. He was always ready and willing to advise others as to best methods to pursue to attain their own success.

He was born in Franklin County, Pa., September 6, 1825, a son of Jacob and Catherine Kahl, farmers in their day and place. He grew to manhood on the farm, attending the common schools and in time migrated to Richland County, Ohio,’ and later to Carroll County, Ind. It was while he was living in Indiana that he decided to come to California, for the discovery of gold had been heralded throughout the nation and he was among the first of his section to leave for New Orleans. He embarked on a sailing vessel, landing at Chagres, and crossing the Isthmus he secured passage on the barque Alyoma for San Francisco, arriving on June 20, 1850.

Upon his arrival he was engaged in mining in Butte Flat, Jackson and Mokelumne Hill and river districts for four years. He returned home for a visit in 1855, subsequently went to Iowa, thence to Pettis County, Mo. There, on July 4, 1858, he married Lydia A. Spangenberg, a native of Pennsylvania. Immediately after their marriage they set out for California. This time the trip was made across the plains behind ox-teams and via Salt Lake and the Carson Canyon route. They arrived at Snelling, Merced County, in October, 1859, but soon went to the Pajaro Valley, Monterey County, where he lived until 1860, when he bought a ranch near Plainsburg, now owned by the family. He paid from $1.25 to $35 per acre for his land. At the time of his death, January 11, 1889, Merced County lost one of her most progressive citizens. His estate was divided between his widow and children, each child receiving 320 acres. There were five children: Ernest D. ; Alice M., who married John Dickinson; George A.; Charles W., who is a successful physician in Merced; and Arthur S., of Merced County. To such men as Adam Kahl the county of Merced and the State of California owe much of their prosperity. Mrs. Kahl, lovingly called “Grandma Kahl” lived to be eighty-five years old, dying on September 23, 1924, at her home at Le Grand. Several years prior to her death Mrs. Kahl took an airplane trip from Merced to San Francisco with Emmett Tanner, at that time she was the oldest woman to take such a flight in the history of aviation and her journey was widely reported.

Source: Outcalt, John. A history of Merced County, California : with a biographical review of the leading men and women of the county who have been identified with its growth and development from the early days to the present; Los Angeles, Calif. : Historic Record Company, 1925.

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