Jacob A. Kiester was born in Mount Pleasant in south western Pennsylvania on April 29, 1832. Having prepared for college in the local common schools and at the nearby Mount Pleasant Academy, he entered Dickinson College with the class of 1857 in 1854. Kiester left the college after just a year, although he did have time for election to the Belles Lettres Society. Soon after, he moved west and was admitted to the bar in Indiana in 1855. Kiester moved on to Wisconsin for some months and then settled in April 1857 in Blue Earth City, Minnesota, the county seat of the newly organized Faribault County.
Soon after arriving in Blue Earth City, Kiester was elected as county surveyor of Faribault County in October 1857. The following year he was chosen as county registrar of deeds. Kiester seemingly made a very early impact on the county since, as soon as January 1859, the county supervisors named a small township in the eastern part of Faribault after him. He later served as a Republican representative to the state legislature in 1865, county attorney for 1866-67, and as United States internal revenue assessor in 1868. Kiester was named as a probate judge in 1869 and served in that post for more than twenty years before he was elected as a state senator in 1891, serving there as a Republican until 1895.
In December 1859, Kiester married Caroline Billings of Blue Earth City, and the couple had six children, five of whom survived infancy. With his massive local administrative experience, he settled in retirement to write and publish, beginning in 1896, a two volume history of his county. He was a member of the Blue Earth Protestant Episcopal Church and a Mason who served twice as Grand Master of Masons for Minnesota. Jacob A. Kiester died on December 13, 1859 in Blue Earth. He was seventy-two years old.