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History of the Mohawk Valley: Gateway to the West 1614-1925
Jacob Karlen

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[This information is from Vol. III, p. 329 of History of the Mohawk Valley: Gateway to the West 1614-1925, edited by Nelson Greene (Chicago: The S. J. Clarke Publishing Company, 1925). It is in the Reference collection of the Schenectady County Public Library at R 974.7 G81h. This online edition includes lists of portraits, maps and illustrations. As noted by Paul Keesler in his article, "The Much Maligned Mr. Greene," some information in this book has been superseded by later research or was provided incorrectly by local sources.]

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Cheese making is one of the large and notable industries of the Mohawk valley section of New York, and the captain of the cheese industry is Jacob Karlen of Rome, Oneida county, New York, who from a small beginning now owns large cheese factories in a half dozen or more towns, and ships his products to all parts of the United States. He was born in the Canton of Berne, Switzerland, on January 6, 1856, the son of Jacob and Katharine (ImOberstey) Karlen, both natives of Switzerland, and he came to the United States in 1879. His father, accompanied by his two other sons and one daughter, came to this country in 1888 and went west to Wisconsin later locating in Minnesota, where the father died in 1905. He was engaged in the manufacture of cheese in Wisconsin, but retired from active business when he moved to Minnesota.

Jacob Karlen was the eldest of his father's nine children. He obtained his education in Switzerland and after its completion traveled through Germany, Russia and other European countries before he came to the United States in 1879 and settled in Oneida county, New York. He engaged in various occupations until 1880, when he established a cheese factory in the town of Lee, Oneida county, and managed this successfully until 1894, when he moved to Rome and established the cheese business as J. Karlen, conducting the business under that name until 1912, when he admitted his son to partnership and the firm name was changed to J. Karlen & Son. In 1919 the business was incorporated as the J. Karlen Cheese Company, Incorporated, with Jacob Karlen as president of the company. The company has cheese factories at Lee, Verona, Rome, Annsville, Western and Floyd, all in the Mohawk valley, and operates a large warehouse and cold storage plant at No. 513 W. Court street, Rome. The company makes American, Swiss, Meunster, Brick and a specialty in Limburger cheese, and its product is sold and shipped all over the United States.

On May 1, 1884, at Lee, Mr. Karlen was married to Miss Amelia Aken, and their son, E. J. Karlen, is associated with his father as secretary and treasurer of the J. Karlen Cheese Company. Mr. Karlen is a director of the Rome Trust Company, a member of the Rome Chamber of Commerce and the Teugega Country Club, and fraternally is affiliated with the Masonic order, being a member of Baron Steuben Lodge, No. 264, A. F. & A. M., of Lee Center, Oneida county. In politics Mr. Karlen is an independent republican.

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