Bio: Kountz, Richard F. (1848)

Transcriber: Janet Schwarze

Richard F. Kountz, 1848



RICHARD F. KOUNTZ, justice, present city attorney of Neillsville, is a man whose career illustrates in a marked manner the value of self-help.

Mr. Kountz was born in Pittsburgh, Pa., Oct. 23, 1848, son of Hiram and Elizabeth (Sirwell) Kountz. The father, Hiram, who was also a native of Pennsylvania, was a steamboat captain, plying on the Ohio and Mississippi rivers. He died at Louisville, Ky., in 1854. His parents were John and Anna J. Kountz, John also being a native of Pennsylvania and a riverman. The first ancestor of the family in this country was the father of John, who came to Pennsylvania from Holland.

Mrs. Elizabeth Kountz, the mother of Judge Kountz, was a native of England, coming to this country with her parents, Richard and Elizabeth Sirwell, who located in Pittsburgh, where Mr. SirWell followed the trade of watchmaker.

Mr. and Mrs. Hiram Kountz had two children: Richard F., the subject of this sketch, and W. H., who is now a resident of San Francisco. The father of Judge Kountz died when the latter was a young child, and his widow did the best she could to educate her children, but was unable to give them superior advantages. In 1858 she married a Mr. Wild, and moved onto a farm in Ohio, where the family resided until 1865. In meanwhile Mr. Wild enlisted and served in the Civil war as a member of the 31st Ohio regiment.

Their next removal was to Pittsburgh, where Richard F. found employment in a tin and hardware store and was thus occupied for about three years. In October, 1868, he left home and went to Ft. Dodge, Iowa, where he spent the following winter, in the March following removing to Black River Falls, Jackson County. There he worked in a store for awhile, and also bought wheat for firms in that line of business, and later established a little store of his own at Humbird.

In June, 1874, Mr. Kountz came to Neillsville and went into the mercantile business with his brother, W. H. Kountz. The partnership lasted only one year, however, and at the end of that time the subject of this sketch became a clerk once more and followed various occupations until 1876 or 1877, when he was elected justice of the peace, which position he held for eight or ten years. It was while holding this position that he got into close touch with law questions and was led to study the subject. In those days there were many rough characters in the county, as there are in all primitive communities, and the law was somewhat loosely administered. Brutal assaults, often caused by drunkenness, were not uncommon, and the offenders, were usually, or practically always, let off with a slight fine.

The first case Judge Kountz had to try was one of this nature. The prisoner promptly pleaded guilty, being ready to pay the usual fine, but was most disagreeably surprised when the Judge instantly sentenced him to thirty days in jail. This policy he follewed up in every case of the kind brought before him, and the well deserved severity had a good effect, as the rough characters left town and peaceable citizens were soon able to walk the streets in safety.

Though Judge Kountz never went to law school, he studied his profession faithful, providing himself with the usual text books, which he studied so thoroughly that in 1879 he was admitted to the bar, and has since practiced successfully as an attorney. He held the office of county commissioner for a number of years, was police judge, and has been city attorney. In 1885 he became connected with the electric light plant, which he operated and managed until two years ago. He was also secretary for a number of years of the Black River Railroad Company, that constructed the road from Merrillan to Neillsville. Fraternally he is identified with the lodge of Woodmen.

Judge Kountz was united in marriage, 1872, to Emma J. Bailey, a native of New Hampshire, who came with her parents, Abner and Julia Bailey, to Black River Falls, Wis., later locating at Greenwood. He and his wife have had one child, Kittie, now residing at home.



Re: Bio: Kountz, Richard F. (1848)

Transcriber: Ron Gancas

I am the great, great, great grandson of Richard and Elizabeth Sirwell of England and Pittsburgh PA.

Ron Gancas President and CEO Soldiers & Sailors Military Museum



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