Transcribed from A Standard History of Kansas and Kansans, written and compiled by William E. Connelley, Secretary of the Kansas State Historical Society, Topeka. [Revised ed.] Chicago: Lewis Publishing Co., 1919, c1918. 5 v. (xlviii, 2530 p., [155] leaves of plates): ill., maps (some fold.), ports.; 27 cm.

Waechter Brothers

WAECHTER BROTHERS. Otto and William Waechter are among the wealthy and most highly esteemed citizens of Kearny County, and belong to the pioneer element. They arrived in Kearny County more than thirty years ago, and were among the few who were able to adapt themselves to their circumstances and environment, fought a good fight in staying with the country when nearly everyone else was leaving, and their persistence has since been liberally rewarded.

The Waechter brothers are natives of Schleswig-Holstein, Germany, where Otto was born October 29, 1853, and William on October 24, 1854. Their father, Rev. August Waechter, was a native of Saxony and spent his life in the ministry of the Lutheran Church. He married Mary Witmann, and they became the parents of seven sons and five daughters. Three of the sons came to the United States, Otto, William and Martin. Martin is a Lutheran minister in Minnesota. The brothers Otto and William secured a liberal education in the old country, much of their early instruction being at the hands of their father. They learned farming and were employed on large farms in Northern Germany.

With this experience and with exceedingly limited capital they came to America and spent two years in California. While there they were employees on the Leland Stanford ranch. To men of their limited capital there were no opportunities for getting into business independently in California at that time and they accordingly sought a new field in Western Kansas. They had grown up in a dairy country and their object in coming to Kansas was to continue in that business. While at Wichita they learned of Government lands in Kearny County and in 1885, both single men at the time, arrived in this county and entered land in the south side district, south of the Arkansas River. They homesteaded in section 30, township 26, range 37, and proved up both their claims.

On one claim they built a dugout and a frame house on the other. Their equipment at the beginning was fifty head of cattle. A number of these were milch cows, and their product was turned into butter and cheese. For two years that was the chief source of their living. At that time settlers were numerous all around them, but after a year or so of partial crop failure and hard times the enthusiastic bulk of the home seekers scattered and the Waechter brothers were almost left alone. Many of the first comers to Kearny County were old soldiers, who proved up in a short time on account of their military record, but as soon as they discovered they could raise nothing from the land they pulled up stakes and left the country. About all that was left was a blanket of mortgages over nearly every quarter section and when these mortgages were closed out there was practically nothing to indicate that the country had ever been occupied. The Waechter brothers and the few other settlers who chose to remain thus had almost unlimited access to range pasture which stretched miles and miles in every direction, unimpeded by a single fence. In some way the Waechter brothers managed to stay in the country, and pinned their faith largely to cattle raising. Many years ago they began grading up their stock with Herefords, and they are still among the extensive Hereford breeders and raisers in this section.

William Waechter continued to live in his dugout about twenty years. He brought his wife to that claim, and some of his family grew up within the walls of the old house. It was succeeded by a frame house and then a still more desirable dwelling was erected. Other buildings also sprang up, cow barns, horse barns, granaries, poultry houses and sheds, until a perfect town of buildings surrounded the old home. The brothers found a splendid supply of soft water at a depth of 120 feet.

After they had been in the country about fifteen years they began buying land, paying from $1.25 to $1.50 an acre for some of it. They also bought up tax titles and their possessions have grown until they have three and a half sections in their home tract and in Grant County own seventeen quarter sections, comprising one of the large pastures of that region. Most of their cattle are marketed directly from the ranch.

William Waechter helped form school district No. 17 and for twelve years has served as a member of the board. Otto Waechter was at one time treasurer of his township and both brothers have taken part in politics as republican voters. They are Lutherans and have done much to keep up worship in that faith in the neighboring schoolhouse. They are active members of the Kearny County Fair Association.

August 1, 1886, William Waechter married Miss Frieda Schultz. She was born in Mecklenburg, Germany, a daughter of Karl Schultz. She came to America alone in 1886, and was married soon afterward. Mr. and Mrs. William Waechter have two children: Mary, a graduate of the Lakin High School and for several years a teacher in the rural districts, is now Mrs. Ed Neff; Leland, the only son, was named in honor of Senator Leland Stanford, by whom Mr. Waechter was employed while living in California and he finished his education in the Winfield College of Kansas and is now in training in Camp Funston for the World war. Otto Waechter has never married.