Joseph and Lena Kuhn
Joseph Kuhn (1837-1915) was born in Germany and came to the United States at the age of 19. After living near his sister in Mississippi, he moved to Champaign in 1865 and established his store, The Emporium, located at 33 Main Street. This store would eventually become Jos. Kuhn & Co., a business still present in downtown Champaign (2019). The store was one of the largest in Champaign’s business district and occupied the first floor of the building. Kuhn and his wife, Lena Loeb Kuhn (1843-1906), lived on the second floor in 1866 when Isaac (1866-1956) was born. The Kuhn’s had seven children.
Joseph Kuhn, being one of the early settlers, along with Morris Lowenstern led the prayers during the earliest recorded Jewish service in Champaign-Urbana, Yom Kippur, September 28, 1895. Isaac, his eldest child and business partner, was also active in the Jewish community becoming Sinai Temple’s principle financier and advocate for a holistic Jewish community in Champaign-Urbana serving not just the majority Reform population but the university students, faculty, Conservative, and Orthodox Jews, as well.