The custom of many wealthy men, who accumulate property which they must leave behind them to be quarreled over by their heirs when they are gone, has not been followed by Henry L. Kuns. The 1200 acres which he still owns represent what is left after many benefactions, and after distributions to his heirs while yet alive. One of his greatest benefactions, for which he will be remembered by many orphan children, was the gift of a parcel of land at La Verne, in Los Angeles County, for an orphanage known as the David and Margaret Home for Children, named after his father and mother, to whom he was an only child. Four hundred children have been entered and cared for in. this place, and at present there are ninety in the institution. There have thus far been but two deaths at this orphanage, it having the lowest percentage of mortality of any institution in California; and it ranks among the best in the United States.


Henry L. Kuns was born in Cass County, Ind., on November 19, 1847. His father was a native of Pennsylvania and a farmer at Monticello, Ill., where he came in 1853. In 1892 he moved to Cali­fornia; and here he spent the balance of his life at La Verne, formerly Lordsburg, dying in 1905 at the age of eighty-six years. The mother was of Virginian stock and attained the age of seventy-seven years. The father and mother died just four months apart. They were the. first deaths in the family for many years. The son was closely asso­ciated with his father in the farming enterprises, although he left home in 1878 and came to Gilroy, Santa Clara County, where he farmed until 1892. Coming then to the San Joaquin Valley, he made his home in Merced County, in the Romero school district. In com­pany with his father he acquired several parcels of land. At one time they owned 5000 acres, but various parcels have been sold off and given away until there are only 1200 acres left.


Henry L. Kuns has not farmed much for fifteen years and is at present interested in drilling for oil in Merced County. Of an acquiring and inquiring mind, Mr. Kuns has for years observed and studied the geological structure of California's oil-fields. Becoming con­vinced that the structure of the foothills south and west of Los Banos indicated the presence of gas and oil, he leased up a tract of land in that vicinity. Drilling is now in progress; and if this venture proves as successful as present conditions indicate, it will give Merced County one of the most important oil-fields in California.

Mr. Kuns' first marriage took place in Scioto County, Ohio, on March 28, 1870. His wife, Mary Pearce in maidenhood, was the daughter of Joseph and Mary Pearce. They were farmers living in Ohio, where their daughter was born and reared. She died in 1914 leaving five children, namely : Arthur, at present superintendent of a mine at Angels Camp, Cal.; Margaret, Mrs. Williams, of La Verne, Cal.; Lena, Mrs. Neher, of Porterville, Cal.; David, deceased at the age of twenty; Ora, Mrs. Melvin Johnson, of Spokane, Wash. Besides the above-mentioned five children, Mr. Kuns has seventeen grandchildren, fourteen living and three deceased; and also five great-grandchildren, three living and two deceased. The son Arthur has two living children; namely, Lloyd and Norman. Mrs. Williams has three living children: Dorothy, Ronald and Robert. Mrs. Neher has five children: Elrino, Viola, Victor, Bernice and Leland Kuns. Mrs. Johnson has four children: Eoline, Miriam, Launa and Arliss. The grandson Lloyd had a pair of twins that died, and now has one living daughter. The grandson Elrino Neher has two children.


Mr. Kuns was married to his present wife, formerly Mrs. Bart­lett, of Mattoon, Ill., on March 8, 1915. She was a widow and had two children by her former marriage, Ruth and Wendell. Mr. Kuns has been a member of the Prohibition party for thirty years. He has lived to see the adoption of the Eighteenth Amendment and hopes to see its complete enforcement.


History of Merced County California With a Biographical Review OF The Leading Men and Woman of the County Who Have Been Identified with Its Growth and Development from Early Days to the Present

Author: John Outcalt (1925) 

Henry L. Kuns, page: 743


Contributed by: Carol Lackey