Charles A., Elizabeth, and Charles E. Kading Papers, 1893-1976


Charles A. Kading

Charles A. Kading, attorney and Congressman, was born in Lowell Township, Dodge County, in 1874, to parents who had immigrated from Germany in 1866. He was educated at the Horicon High School and attended summer school at the University of Wisconsin. In 1899, while serving as principal of the Theresa, Wisconsin school, he and his assistant, Miss Elizabeth Holste, decided to resign and enroll in the northern Indiana Law School at Valparaiso. They chose Valparaiso because it had continuous sessions throughout the year, plus Saturday classes.

In June of 1900 both Kading and Miss Holste received their law degrees. They were married that fall, and set up practice as Kading and Kading in Watertown, Wisconsin. This began a quarter century of a very successful law partnership.

Mrs. Kading, as well as her husband, became well known as a trial lawyer, but after the birth of their son, Charles Earl, in 1907, she confined her practice to office counseling and the preparation of briefs. She served for more than ten years as court commissioner of Dodge County, and in 1921 was appointed a member of the Wisconsin Civil Service Board. In 1923 she was made a member of the State Board of Control and became its president, directing the operation of the 17 institutions housing wards of the state. Badly in need of rest, in 1925 Mrs. Kading started on a vacation with her son; but in Colorado the car overturned and she was instantly killed.

Charles A. Kading early made a reputation as an earnest and capable public servant, as well as lawyer. He was Watertown's city attorney from 1905 to 1912, district attorney for Dodge County from 1906 to 1912, and mayor of Watertown between 1914 and 1916. In the latter capacity he aided the city greatly in building a $100,000 high school, securing the Fuehrman property as a public square, and expanding Riverview Park. In 1912, and again in 1914, Kading made unsuccessful bids to become the state's attorney general.

Throughout these years he was a Democrat, but at some time in the middle twenties Kading became a Republican, identifying himself with the Progressive wing of the party. As a Republican he was elected to Congress from the Second District in 1926, 1928, and 1930. In 1932, and again in 1934, he was defeated due to the reorganization of his old district and the popular swing to Democratic candidates. When Kading returned from Congress in 1933 he resumed the practice of law in Watertown, this time with his son, Charles E., as his partner.

In addition to his public offices and law practice, Kading owned at one time as many as fifteen farms (20 to 450 acres) and an apartment house in Milwaukee. He died in Watertown in June 1956.

Elizabeth H. Kading

Elizabeth Holste Kading was born in Watertown, Wisconsin, on July 17, 1877. Her parents, Mr. and Mrs. Julius Sommers, died when she was a small child, and she was adopted by Mr. and Mrs. Henry Holste, whose name she assumed. She graduated from Watertown High School and became an assistant principal of the graded schools at Theresa, Dodge County, Wisconsin, of which Charles A. Kading was principal.

Both she and Kading attended law school at Valparaiso University, Indiana, and graduated in June of 1900. They were married on November 7, 1900, and shortly afterward, opened a joint law office in Watertown, which became one of the most widely known and successful firms in the state. As an able lawyer, Mrs. Kading received acclaim equal to that of her husband.

After the birth of their son, Charles E. Kading, in 1907, Mrs. Kading devoted her time to raising the child, thus reducing her participation in the law partnership. When Charles E. entered the University of Wisconsin at Madison at the age of 15, Mrs. Kading took a suite of rooms there to be nearer to him.

In 1921, she was appointed a member of the civil service commission of Wisconsin, and served until 1923, when she was appointed a member of the state board of control. She served as president of the state board for more than a year, but was forced to resign due to ill health. After spending several months in a sanatorium in Battle Creek, Michigan, Mrs. Kading and her son took a western vacation during the summer of 1925. On July 31, the car flipped over in Colorado, and she was crushed to death; Charles suffered only minor injuries.

Charles E. Kading

Charles E. Kading was born on June 11, 1907, in Watertown, Wisconsin, the son of Charles A. and Elizabeth Holste Kading. He excelled in his studies and was known as a “child prodigy” in Watertown. At age 15 in 1922 he entered the University of Wisconsin. After his junior year at the university he accompanied his mother on a western vacation, during which she was killed in an auto accident. Kading graduated in 1926, received a law degree from the university two years later, and joined his father's law firm in 1929.

On July 12, 1930, he married Josephine Nelson; they had two children, Kathryn, born October 22, 1935, and Nelson, born February 3, 1942. In 1935, Kading ran unsuccessfully for circuit court judge.

During World War II, Kading served in the United States Naval Reserve, and was commissioned as a lieutenant after spending several years with the Naval Air Training Command in Tennessee and Florida.

In 1952, Kading was appointed acting secretary of the newly-formed Rock River Control Association, an organization whose goal was to convince Jefferson county officials to open the dam in the spring. The case was eventually won by the association.

Reentering politics in the late 1950s, he was elected to the Watertown city council. From 1956-1958, Kading served as acting manager of the council. From 1961 to 1977, Kading served as Jefferson County Judge of Branch #1, but resigned after a legal battle ensued when he refused to comply with Rule 17 of the Code of Judicial Ethics, which requires the disclosure of financial holdings. He died September 26, 1992.