Mr. and Mrs. Kimberly
J.A. Kimberly was one of four founding members of the Kimberly-Clark Paper Company. What began with a $30,000 investment and a converted flourmill has become an international corporation with assets totaling over 5 1/2 billion dollars with recognizable products such as Kleenex and Huggies.
He was born on July 18, 1838 in Troy, New York and had three sisters. In 1846 his family moved to rural Neenah, Wisconsin on the the western shore of Lake Winnebago and the Fox River. Young John Alfred Kimberly was generally known as Alfred, or “Alf”. As a young adult he returned to New York to study medicine, but became homesick and returned to Neenah. It was at this time that his father gave both J.A. Kimberly and his friend Havilah Babcock each $2,500 to begin their own store. The firm of Kimberly and Babcock was successful and by the late 1870’s the first was valued at $100,000.
At 27 J.A. Kimberly married Helen Cheney of Logansport, Indiana on November 1, 1865. They couple built a home in 1874. On March 26, 1872 Mr. Kimberly joined up with another young businessman and the original firm of Kimberly Clark and Company was formed. What followed is one of the greatest successes in American industry and business. In 1905 Mr. &. Mrs. Kimberly purchased Mrs. Hill’s home and moved from Neenah, WI to Redlands, CA for their retirement. Mr. Kimberly continued as President of Kimberly Clark and Company until his death at Kimberly Crest on January 21, 1928.
Helen Cheney Kimberly was born on May 19, 1843 in Defiance, Ohio and was educated in Toledo. Their family relocated to Logansport, Indiana where her father opened a bank. On November 1, 1865 she was married to John Alfred Kimberly and moved to Neenah, Wisconsin. Together they had seven children. While in Wisconsin her special cause was the teaching of domestic science in schools. She believed that young women should be educated for their future roles of wives and mothers. She found her ally in the Wisconsin Federation of Women’s Clubs.
Seeking refuge from harsh winters, the Kimberly’s began wintering in Redlands in 1899. By 1905 they had found Redlands agreeable and purchased Kimberly Crest from Mrs. Cornelia Hill. They had given their Neenah home to one of their sons along with its furnishings. Mrs. Kimberly began redecorating Kimberly Crest and the landscaping of the gardens. She flung herself into the work and affairs of the Redlands Contemporary Club. Mrs. Kimberly was considered one of the “patron saints” of Redlands as a founding member of the Club of Contemporary Women. She also founded a group for young ladies called the ‘Kimberly Juniors’. Helen Cheney Kimberly died in Redlands of February 24, 1931.