Transcribed by Pamela Wagler from: Biographical Review of Des Moines County, Iowa: Containing Biographical and Genealogical Sketches of Many of the Prominent Citizens of To-day and Also of the Past, Hobart Publishing Company, Chicago, 1905.


John Hafner, of Burlington president of the Keehn-Hafner Manufacturing Company, and known throughout the business circles of the city as an exponent of modern and progressive ideas, was born Nov. 7, 1866 in South Germany, the son of George and Johanna (Schmidt) Hafner. The earlier members of the family were farmers, and served as soldiers in the numerous wars of the country; but the grandfather of our subject was a merchant, while the father was a soldier, and immediately after completing his military service, emigrated to American, going first to Ohio, in 1867. Thence he came West and located at Burlington, where for several years he was assistant city engineer. His death occurred approximately twenty years ago, but the wife and mother is still living.

Mr. Hafner received his education in St. John’s parochial school, and while attending this institution he spent the hours not devoted to study in learning the binder’s trade. Later he went to Chicago for the same purpose, continuing there for two years as a workman in a high-class bindery. He then returned to Burlington, and established a confectionery business on South Hill, which he conducted with very gratifying success for five years. With the capital thus secured he organized the Keehn-Hafner Manufacturing Company, printers, binders, blank-book makers, and manufacturing stationers, this being in 1897, since which time Mr. Hafner has devoted his time and effort exclusively to the work of the company.

On April 27, 1898, Mr. Hafner was united in marriage to Miss Anna Kuepper, daughter of Frank Kuepper, an early settler of Des Moines county, and to them have been born two children, Frances and Carl. The family are all members of St. John’s Catholic church. Mr. Hafner has never borne an active part in affairs of practical politics, but gives his support consistently to the Democratic party, in whose principles and mission he holds a profound faith. Fraternally, he has membership connections with the Ancient Order of United Workmen and the Knights of Columbus. As one who has formed his own fortune without outside aid and exclusively by his personal efforts, he is entitled to high commendation, for he has achieved a very generous measure of success, and is rapidly bringing the business under his charge to a leading position in this portion of Iowa. Fairness, promptness, and courtesy are the watchwords of his business system, and the practical virtues which these represent are given vital force by the energy, determination, and aggressiveness of his character, combined with his sane and sound judgment and appreciation of business opportunity. He has many friends, and enjoys the esteem and universal regard of all who know him.

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