KERNS, WILLIAM H., stationary engineer, Harrisburg Electric Light Company, was born at Fayetteville, Franklin county, Pa., November 3, 1854. He is a son of John and Elizabeth (Reed) Kerns, the former a native of Westmoreland county, Pa., the latter of Franklin county, Pa. His father was engaged in farming near Fayetteville for many years and later worked in ore mines. He enlisted in 1861 in the heavy artillery and was killed at the battle of Chickamauga September 19, 1863. His wife died in 1887. They had four children, namely: Thomas, engaged in the lumber business in West Virginia; Mary Jane, wife of Charles E. Swisher, residing at St. Thomas, Franklin county, Pa.; William H., the subject of this sketch, and Charles A., who died in 1886.
William H. Kerns was reared to manhood in his native county, but having been left an orphan early in life, his education was limited, his success in life being due to his own energy and ambition. When ten years of age he went to work in the Caledonia ore mines, where he continued until 1869. He then removed to Mt. Pleasant, now called Richmond Furnace, and worked in the ore mines there until 1872. For four years from that date he worked on the Chesapeake and Ohio canal. From 1876 to 1878 he was employed as mill hand in a portable saw mill in Little Cove, Franklin county, and for three succeeding years as engineer. From 1881 to 1884 he was engineer in the ore mines at Cleversburg, and from 1884 to 1887 in a saw mill at Chambersburg. From 1887 to 1889 he was engineer in the Dauphin car shops. He then removed to Harrisburg and was engaged with the electrical company one year. In 1890 he went to Martinsburg, W. Va., where he was in charge of an electric plant for over three years. He returned to Harrisburg in 1893 and has since that date been in his present position.
William H. Kerns was married at Mercersburg, Pa., February 13, 1876, to Martha J., daughter of James Spidle. They have no children of their own, but have adopted the two children of a deceased brother. Charles A., who are named James A. and Elizabeth. Mr. Kerns is amember of Herculean Lodge, No. 480, K. of G.E.; of Cincinnatus Commandery, No. 96, K. of M., and of the Electrical Workers’ Association. In political views he is liberal. He attends the Evangelical church.