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Below is a family biography included in the Biographical Annals of Cumberland County, Pennsylvania published in 1905 by The Genealogical Publishing Company.  These biographies are valuable for genealogy research in discovering missing ancestors or filling in the details of a family tree. Family biographies often include far more information than can be found in a census record or obituary.  Details will vary with each biography but will often include the date and place of birth, parent names including mothers' maiden name, name of wife including maiden name, her parents' names, name of children (including spouses if married), former places of residence, occupation details, military service, church and social organization affiliations, and more.  There are often ancestry details included that cannot be found in any other type of genealogical record.

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JACOB KOST. Among the early settlers of what is now North Middleton township, Cumberland county, was a George Kost. In 1764 he was taxed in Middleton, which then included North Middleton, with a warrant calling for 200 acres of land, and from that date to 1793 his name appears on the record of every assessment. From 1766 to 1793 he is taxed with both land and personal property, showing that he was a resident as well as a land holder. The exact locality of his home was in the vicinity of Grissinger’s, in the northwest part of North Middleton. There were other Kosts in Cumberland county very early, and their number and the different forms of spelling the name are confusing to the genealogist. The history of the George Kost who settled “six miles west of Carlisle,” however, is pretty definitely settled. He was born in Saxony and came to America in the ship “Edinburgh,” James Russell, master, landing at Philadelphia Sept. 16, 1751. On the ship’s list he stands recorded as “Hans Georg Kast.” There is nothing to show where he was between the date of his landing in the country and the date of his first appearance upon the records of Middleton township, but it is probable that he spent some time in the eastern counties of the Province, as did many of the early settlers of Cumberland county. It is said that he was employed as a messenger between Conrad Weisher the famous Indian interpreter, and Gov. Hamilton, Also that he served as a quartermaster in the Colonial army. This George Kost died in 1798, leaving a will in which his name is written “Cosht,” and from which it appears that his wife’s name was Mary Ann, and that he had four sons: Jacob, Philip, Michael and Leonard. The son Michael died in May, 1804, leaving among other children a son named George, as well as John, Mary and Elizabeth.

George Kost was born in Middleton township, and learned the tanning trade with Leonard Minnich, in Frankford township. When he reached man’s estate he settled upon a property in Frankford township which formerly belonged to his father. Here he farmed and also worked at tanning for Leonard Minnich, the man with whom he learned his trade. In 1828 he built a tannery upon his own property, and founded a tanning business which is yet in existence and which has been in the Kost name continuously ever since.

George Kost was married first to Elizabeth Snyder, by whom he had the following children: Michael (deceased), John, Solomon, William (deceased), Samuel (deceased), George (deceased), Mary, and Margaret. His first wife dying, he married (second) Mary Nickey, a daughter of David and Anna (Wax) Nickey, of Frankford township. David Nickey was born near Womelsdorf, Berks county, and his wife, Anna Wax, was born in Perry county. George and Mary (Nickey) Kost had the following children: Jacob, mentioned below; Elizabeth, living in North Middleton township; Sarah Ann, who died in 1850; David and James, in Illinois; Elias, in Kansas; Simon, in Oklahoma; Alfred, in York county, Pa.; Amanda, in Perry county, Pa.; and Charles who died at the age of five. George Kost died in 1889 on the old homestead, and his wife died there Nov. 12, 1900.

Jacob Kost, the subject of this sketch, was the eldest child of George and Mary (Nickey) Kost. He was born Dec. 21, 1838, in Frankford township, Cumberland county, in the home in which he has always lived. In his boyhood he attended the country district school, and being apt and studious readily acquired sufficient education to obtain a certificate certifying that he was qualified to teach in the public schools. He first taught the Stone Church school in Frankford township, and after teaching several terms in Frankford and in the adjoining township of North Middleton he spent two terms at the Newville Normal School, in which he was under the instruction of such able teachers as George Swartz, D. E. Kast, S. B. Heiges and William R. Linn. Subsequently, he taught the Mt. Zion school in Frankford township for five successive terms, and then relinquished teaching and turned his attention to the tanning business, which he had learned under his father. About the year 1860 he purchased the tannery his father built in 1828, went into business on his own account and has continued at it steadfastly ever since, a period of over forty years. The old Kost tannery he has enlarged to four times its original capacity, introduced new machinery and new processes as rapidly as their usefulness became known, and, by keeping in touch with the spirit of progress and giving to his business all his time and attention, has succeeded in spite of the trusts and combinations that have so unmercifully been crushing out the individual enterprises of the country. He is a farmer as well as a tanner and gives to his farming interests the same intelligent care and direction that he does to his leather manufacturing. He has erected new buildings, improved his old ones, and drained and fertilized his lands, making two blades of grass grow where one grew before. Nor has he been the exclusive beneficiary of his enterprise. It affords employment to many persons around him and he finds special pleasure in long retaining in his service faithful employes. One man who at this writing is one of his trusted employes has been continuously in his service for twenty-eight years, another for twenty-four years, and another for eighteen years.

Mr. Kost is a Democrat in politics, but liberal in his views and independent in his actions, and when his party makes bad nominations considers it a duty as well as a privilege to withhold his vote or vote against them if there be better ones to vote for. He takes a live interest in the affairs of his district, has several times served as school director and often been urged to be a candidate for other offices but positively declined. He has never married, but is domestic in his habits, and even without a wife his home is a place of such solid comfort, pleasure and contentment, that he never finds it necessary to go to the sea shore.

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This family biography is one of numerous biographies included in the Biographical Annals of Cumberland County, Pennsylvania published in 1905 by The Genealogical Publishing Company. 

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