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John Augustus Karl, So. Thomaston & Rockland, Maine

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John Augustus Karl, So. Thomaston & Rockland, Maine

Posted: 19 Nov 2010 8:20PM GMT
Classification: Obituary
Surnames: Karl, Ham, Paine, Burpee, Hahn, Clifton, Jones, Bird, Richardson, Carter
I have no connection to this family but found this in the Oct. 28, 1924 issue of the Rockland (Maine) Courier-Gazette:

"JOHN A. KARL - Sudden Death of a Well Known Business Man, Former Chief Engineer. Rockland citizens were greatly shocked Sunday night upon learning of the sudden death of John A. Karl, veteran painting contractor, and former chief of the Fire Department. Mr. Karl was at his place of business Friday but on Saturday morning suffered an ill turn at his home on Granite street from which he rallied but briefly. Death was due to Bright's disease culminating in congestion of the heart.

John Augustus Karl was born in South Thomaston, Jan. 18, 1852, the son of John and Lucy (Ham) Karl. His father was a painter by trade but for many years had followed the sea. His mother was a daughter of John and Mary Ham of Thomaston and his grandfather, on his mother's side, was a soldier of the War of 1812 and carried to the grave the bullet with which he had been wounded in the memorable battle of Lundy's Lane.

John lived in South Thomaston until he was 15 and with the assistance of his brothers tilled a farm of 50 acres while the paternal Karl followed his trade of painter.

The country school education which he was meanwhile receiving was supplemented when the family moved to this city in the winter of 1865, by a course in the grammar school on Grace street, taught by Miss Belle Paine, daughter of that well known pedagogue of Rockland's early days - Henry Paine.

He worked for his father at painting until he was 22 years old, their shop being located near the foot of Pleasant street on the site of the present Case block. In that building John and his brother Joseph H. Karl, carried on the painting business for a year, at the end of which time John entered the employ of N.A. & S.H. Burpee and continued with them as long as the firm conducted a paint shop. He was then employed for two years by Vose & Burpee. Horton Burpee, Joseph Karl and John Karl were then in partnership for two years and subsequently, for four years. John was employed by Charles E. Burpee and O.E. Hahn.

In September, 1881, Mr. Karl formed a partnership with the late E.J. Clifton, who had learned the trade from Mr. Karl's father.

Mr. Karl's active connection with the fire department began in 1870, the year that the Point kiln sheds were all burned. In 1872 the city bought two hand engines, one for the N.A. Burpee company. The name of the organization was changed to Gen. Berry Engine Co. and with it Mr. Karl continued to run on the hose for eight or nine years.

Mr. Karl joined the steamer company of which H.C. Chapman was foreman. Steamer City of Rockland, No. 1, was brought here in 1866 and the steamer James F. Sears, No. 2, followed her 12 years later, the steamer company running both. Mr. Karl ran as pipeman on the Sears for two years and was steward of the company the year that Tillson Light Infantry ran the steamers, with Capt. R. Henry Burnham as foreman. Then followed a brief period that Mr. Karl was identified with none of the companies. During this period occurred the destructive fire in the Wilson-White block. Mr. Karl offered his services in the emergency and the next year was appointed first assistant under Chief Engineer A.H. Jones. He remained under Chief Jones for four years in this capacity and the value of his services was promptly recognized by Chief Engineer H.G. Bird under whom he served as assistant for five years. Then followed his election as chief engineer. His rise from a humble position in the ranks had been gradual and as the occupant of the highest position in the fire department it may well be said that he won his way.

Among the notable fires in which he had participated as a conflagration at the State Prison, while he was a member of the Berrys. He always referred to it as his hardest fire. At the time of the big Camden fire he was assistant engineer under Chief Jones. He was a strong advocate of a chemical engine long before Rockland obtained its present apparatus.

Mr. Karl was one of the organizers of the old Singhi Band in 1875, and had played in several other local bands. He had taken part in amateur theatricals, and possessed an unusual dramatic talent, which found expression in his work as a ritualist in the numerous fraternal organizations to which he belonged.

Mr. Karl was a past noble grand of Knox Lodge, I.O.O.F. and at the time of his death was a trustee of the lodge and deputy grand master for this district. He was a past chief patriarch of Rockland Encampment, and served on the committee which built the present Odd Fellows’ hall on School street. He was a past master of Rockland Lodge, F. & A.M.; a member of King Solomon Temple Chapter and the Scottish Rite bodies; a past chancellor commander of Gen. Berry Lodge, K. of P., past exalted ruler of Rockland Lodge B.P.O.E., past dictator of Lincoln Lodge;, Knights of Honor, and an active member of other organizations.

There is no better tribute to his career than the spontaneous manifestation of sorrow which followed the announcement of his death. His life was one of unceasing industry and thrift, and it found him always in the foremost ranks when there was any undertaking of a public nature, whether civic. His 72 years on earth left a strong impreos (sic).

Mr. Karl’s late wife was Emma J. Richardson. Four children were born to them – three of them are now living – Harold L. and Donald L. Karl and Mrs. Fred A. Carter. Aimee L. Karl died some years ago.”

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