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Valentine Kimpel
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Birth: Aug. 24, 1853
Baden-Baden, Germany
Death: Jun. 26, 1890
Philadelphia County
Pennsylvania, USA

This is my great great grandpa, my grandpa's mother's father. My grandpa had once told me an ancestor had been named Valentine, which I'd forgotten until I found this gent. Suddenly I remembered my grandpa's grin when he said this wonderful name.

Family lore had it that Mr. Kimpel died at Roxborough's Memorial Hospital in 1890, and indeed, I was able to find a death certificate matching this, giving his name as Valentine. He was only age 36, and died of typhoid fever. He left behind a pregnant wife, Mary, and thus one small part of himself, a daughter Valentina born after his death, a brief blessing perhaps to his grieving wife.

Along the way, he also had my grandpa's mother- Rosena Katterina Kimpel.

It is possible Valentine had a first or middle name of Alphonse. In April of 2010, I found a Mormon IGI record indicating a marriage took place in Philadelphia on March 26, 1883 between a Mary Merkert and Alphonse Kempel. In 2012, this same information was confirmed by Mormon records from the "Pennsylvania, Marriages, 1709-1940," collection. Besides the fact that the town of Philadelphia is right and the names are a tight fit, the year sounds likely for two relatively young people to get hitched too -he'd have been 29, she 19 or 20 if they are my folks. Unfortunately, 1883 is two years before Philadelphia's easily obtained marriage records, so it will have to be investigated in person at some point.

One point of curiosity... when going through death certificates, I came across a Mary (nee Kimpel) Illing or Elling, married to John Henry. The certificate says her father was Valentine Kimpel so I thought she was this gent's daughter. Not so, as she was born only a few years after him. But it suggests that there was another Valentine Kimpel. Mary was born in Germany as was my Valentine... perhaps they were siblings and this is revealing my Valentine's father's name. Or not.

Clicking on his death certificate will yield more info, but he is hard to find otherwise, and I do not know who his parents were. I have searched a number of old Philadelphia city directories and found him only in 1890 Gopsill's Philadelphia Directory -

VALENTINE, LABORER, 4832 WASHINGTON, ROXB (same address as on his death certificate). In that same year, the folowing Kimpel-s appear, but I cannot link them yet to Valentine-


I eventually found info indicating he had a brother Christian Kimpel, a furniture dealer in Johnstown (across the state), who died in the 1889 Conemaugh flood, leaving an estate of about $18,000. Valentine attempted to receive his brother's estate because his brother's wife Maria Kimpel had died in the same flood and the couple had no children. Her family sought the estate as well.

The question was, of course, who died first? If the husband did, his estate would pass to his wife, and then her heirs, but if she died first, his family would have claim. Valentine's lawyer used a truly offensive argument to try to win the case. Click on the article to the right and be prepared to be irked, particularly if you're female. He can kiss my "weaker vessel".

Anyway, one must wonder if the suit ever happened since Valentine died within a year of his drowned brother. It appears not. From the History of Cambria County, Volume One, Chapter XX which covers the great flood, we read:

"Another point of law which the disaster revived was that relative to the descent of property in cases similar to that of Christian Kimpel and his wife, who were drowned without leaving issue. By his will Mr. Kimpel had given to his wife all the personal property absolutely, and the use of the real estate during her life. The value of the real and personal property was placed at $9,000 each, and to this estate the heirs of each decedent laid claim. If Mrs. Kimpel died first, her estate would have become vested in her husband, and would descend to his heirs; if Mr. Kimpel died first, the heirs of the wife would have inherited that part of the estate which by will had been given to her. However, there was no obtainable proof of the priority of death and the heirs made an amicable settlement of the estate."

If indeed the heirs settled the estate amicably, and Valentine died within a year, we may hope (and perhaps assume) that Valentine's wife got a share and may have made out all right between her husband's own estate, plus that of his brother.

"The Johnstown Flood" by David McCullough lists many of the deaths from this disaster. Among them, there are listings for -

Kimple, Christ., (age) 47, Clinton Street.
Kimpel, Mrs. Christ., (age) 43, Clinton Street

The online preview of the book gives limited access via Google books, so while his wife's info is not available, it says he was (at least initially) buried at Sandyvale Cemetery, not where he is now.

A description of the area in which they lived reads thus:

"East of the park, Jackson and Clinton streets became rivers of rubbish, churning headlong for the Stony Creek..." (page 148) and goes on to say that Hulbert House, a large 4 story hotel also on Clinton was assumed by many to be a safe place due to its height and all-brick construction, and gives an account of how one family taken there was crushed to death when it collapsed as it was hit by flood waters.

Several accounts I've read say that Christian Kimpel was in the furniture business, but he was also in the undertaking business, at least as of the gathering of info for the 1876 Johnstown directory, which lists him:

Kimpel Christian, of Kimpel & Viering, 318 Railroad.
Kimpel & Viering, furniture and undertakers, 320 and 322 Railroad.

and his partner:

Vierling Henry, of Kimpel & Vierling, 322 Railroad. [sic- the name is spelled "Viering" elsewhere, and is correct.]

Perhaps they did not stay in business together long as the 1889 directory (info gathered before flood, but published afterwards) has this:

*KIMPEL CHRISTIAN, furniture and undertaking, 139 Clinton st, o h do, 2-0


VIERING HENRY, furniture and upholstering, cor Jackson and Railroad sts, o h do, 10

In this directory, asterisk (*) means "reported drowned". The first numeral after the name of heads of families represents the number of household members (parents, kids, boarders, servants) at the time the canvass was made, while the second figure is the number reported after the flood. "o h" means "owns the house" and "do" means "ditto", the home address is the same as the business one given. These numbers may not be accurate, as we may see with Henry Viering's family.

Whatever the length of the Kimpel/Viering association, page 272 of "The Johnstown Flood" states that Mrs. Louisa Viering, 38, Lizzie Viering, 20, Henry Viering, 14, and Herman Viering, age 1 all perished. They are all listed as interred in Grand View Cemetery.

Mr. Viering survived. His terrible account of his wife's death and his memory of the flood is quoted online by the Johnstown Area Heritage Association from the book by Rev. Dr. David Beale entitled "Through the Johnstown Flood" and may be read here.

At least one of his sons also survived, and his bio is given in a collection of Cambria County, Pennsylvania biographies from 1926:

"Frank Viering, well known pharmacist and druggist of Johnstown, is a member of a substantial pioneer family of Cambria County. He was born in this city, March 4, 1881, and is the son of Henry and Louise (Wehn) Viering.

Both Henry Viering and his wife were natives of Johnstown. He was a furniture dealer and undertaker. He died in 1899 and his wife was drowned in the flood of 1889.

Frank Viering received his education in the public schools of Johnstown and for 23 years was identified with the drug business of George and Charles Young in this city. In 1922 he established his present business and conducts one of the most up-to-date drug stores of the city, at 301 Horner Street. It is known as Viering's Horner Street Pharmacy.

Politically, Mr. Viering is a Republican. He is a member of the Lutheran Church, Masonic Lodge and Knights of Pythias. He is a citizen who holds the high regard of the entire community."

Another set of local biographies tells us this about the family:

"George G. Viering, mortician, is among the prominent and highly esteemed citizens of Johnstown. He was born in this city, April 14, 1878, and is a son of Henry and Louise (Wehn) Viering.

Henry Viering, deceased, was a native of Germany and an early settler of Johnstown, where he engaged in the furniture and undertaking business. He died Sept. 21, 1899, and his wife, a native of Johnstown, died in 1889. They had four children: Elizabeth; Mary, died in 1887; Henry, Jr.; and George G., the subject of this sketch. Mrs. Viering and her two children, Elizabeth and Henry, were drowned in the Johnstown flood.

George G. Viering had the following half-brothers and sisters: Frank, a druggist, lives in Johnstown; Lena, the widow of Robert Murphy, lives in Johnstown; Margaret, married Claud Jones, lives in Los Angeles, Cal.; Minnie, married Isaac Hamm, lives in New York City; and Herman, who was drowned in the flood.

George C. Viering attended the public schools of Johnstown and when a young man became associated in business with his father. The business, established in 1875, has been conducted by Mr. Viering since 1900. This modern funeral home and chapel is located at 526 Franklin Street.

In 1904 Mr. Viering was married to Miss Anna Neff, of Cambria County, born Sept. 21, 1877, the daughter of Joseph and Susan (Marr) Neff. Mr. Neff died Aug. 8, 1908, and his wife died Dec. 25, 1924. To Mr. and Mrs. Viering have been born five children: Virginia Louise, died in infancy ; Mary Louise, a physical instructor in the schools of Johnstown, Pa.; George G., Jr., engaged in business with his father ; Josephine and Anna, both students.

Mr. Viering is a Republican, a member of the Lutheran Church and Knights of Pythias. Mr. Viering is accounted one of the reliable business men of Cambria County and has a wide acquaintance."

Yes, this is a rambling bio, to go from Valentine to brother Christian to the Vierings, but will likely be broken up and saved in time. For now, it broadens the view of this family, their associates and their shared times.

Family links: 
  Mary Elizabeth Merkert Turvey (1864 - 1933)
  John Frederick Kimpel (1884 - 1962)*
  Francis Nicholas Kimpel (1886 - 1966)*
  Rosena Katterina Kimpel Storkey (1888 - 1984)*
  Mary E Kimpel Muller (1889 - 1982)*
  Valentina Kimpel (1891 - 1891)*
*Calculated relationship
Leverington Cemetery
Philadelphia County
Pennsylvania, USA
Created by: sr/ks
Record added: Nov 30, 2008
Find A Grave Memorial# 31834550
Valentine Kimpel
Added by: Donna Elliott
Valentine Kimpel
Added by: sr/ks
Valentine Kimpel
Added by: sr/ks
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- Diane Miller
 Added: Jun. 25, 2014

- sr/ks
 Added: Apr. 15, 2014

- Diane Miller
 Added: Aug. 23, 2013
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