Transcribed from Biographical history of Barton County, Kansas. ; Illustrated. Published by Great Bend Tribune, Great Bend, KS : 1912. 318 p. : ill. ; 28 cm. Transcribed by Carolyn Ward, July 2006.

1912 Biographical History of Barton County, Kansas


well improved and is one of the historical spots of the county. Mr. Gruber has been a member of the school board and held other offices and is one of the county's oldest and most widely known citizens. It is to such men as Mr. Gruber that Barton County owes its high standing among the leading agricultural sections of the world and makes it one of the best counties in the State of Kansas.


ONE of the men who has seen this county grow from an almost barren waste is the subject of this sketch, Antone Gruber. He is a son of John Gruber who located one of the first homesteads in Buffalo township. Antone was born in Austria and came to this county with his parents in 1871 after having spent three years in the State of Michigan. When the family arrived in this country Antone was seven years of age having been born in 1864. He first worked in this county helping his father hunt buffaloes, thousands of which were roaming what is now the most highly cultivated land in the county. He now farms 80 acres of land in Buffalo township on which is located his home place. He has a good set of improvements. The residence contains five rooms in addition to the closets, pantries, etc. The barn is 32 by 20 in dimensions and is arranged for taking care of a large number of head of stock. He was married in 1892 to Miss Lena Schlim who was also born in this county in Clarence township.

Her parents were also among the first permanent settlers in the county. They are the parents of three children as follows: Mary, 17 years of age and (Marguerite who died when she was seven years of age, in 1907) and an adopted boy whose name is George and is seven years of age. Mr. Gruber is one of the men who came to this county when he was yet a child and has had a great deal to do with its development and upbuilding. He has always taken an interest in public matters and has held township and school board offices at different times. He is one of the few residents of the county who can recall the days of Old Fort Zarah and who saw the buffalo when they were almost as thick as ever they were and saw them gradually disappear and make way for plowed fields and cultivated farms. His home place is located just east of his father's home and his brother who is now dead and mentioned in another part of this history was the first white child born in Barton county.



FRANK P. SHAFFER was born in Richland county, Ohio, in 1859 and came to Rush county, Kansas, in 1890 and has lived in the State of Kansas since that time. He came to Barton county in 1901 and bought land in section 17 Great Bend township. He was married in 1880 to Miss Mary Fesser in Indiana and they are the parents of four children as follows: Cora L., 31 years of age, now Mrs. James McInnes of Cokeville, Wyoming; Franklin A., 26 years of age, living at home as is also Paul who is 16 years of age and Mary M., 27 years of age, now Mrs. Alton Dale of this county. Mr. Shaffer has a well improved home place three miles northwest of Great Bend where he owns 320 acres of land. His residence consists of eight rooms in addition to bath, closets, pantries, etc. The barn is 50 by 30 feet in dimensions, is well built and affords rcom for a large number of horses. Mr. Shaffer raises a variety of crops and is ably assisted in the operation of the farm by his son, Franklin A. The home place is located in one of the best parts of the county and the shade trees and other surroundings add in no small way to the general appearance of the place. Mr. Shaffer is one of the men who came to Kansas at a time when it needed farmers who could take the land and by well applied effort make it produce crops in a way of which it was capable but needed more modern methods in its cultivation. Mr. Shaffer farms according to methods learned by experience and taking the good years with the poor ones he has succeeded in making them average with a good production of crops.



Farm Home of Henry Schwier in 1885

HENRY SCHWIER is one of the old timers of this section of the state who is still engaged in farming. He was born in Prussia, January 19, 1843 and came to this country when he was eighteen years of age. He first located in Cincinnati where he remained for a year, after which he went to Dearborn County, Indiana, and farmed until the spring of 1878 when he came to Barton County. He had bought land the year previous and now owns 560 acres all of which is being worked by renters. He was married in September, 1866 to Miss Elmira Lempe and they are the parents of four children: Dollie, 44 years of age is now Mrs. D. C. Merhoff of this county; William, 42 years of age, is at Larned where he is interested in the Merritt-Schwier Creamery Co.; Lizzie, 40 years of age, is now Mrs. John Hiss of Great Bend and Sophia is now Mrs. Frank Trauer. Mr. Schwier and his son William, with the farmers of Buffalo township started a creamery at Heizer in the early days and later started one at Larned in 1898. It was consolidated with the one that was in operation at Great Bend, and the outcome of this was the now famous Merritt-Schwier Creamery Company which is one of the largest institutions of the kind in this part of the country. Mr. Schwier's home is well improved and he is one of the men who had so much to do with the development of that section of the county in which he lives. The residence contains seven rooms and the closets and pantries. The barn is 54 by 56 feet and the other outbuildings are well built and commodious. Mr. Schwier has always found time to take an active part in public affairs and served his district as county commissioner for two terms, an office in which he made a good record. He has also held township and school board offices and is an enterprising and progressive citizen.


EDWARD GRANT BUCKLAND, a former resident of this county is now living at Washington, D. C. At least he spends a large part of his time in the Capital city. He is vice-president of the New York, New Haven & Hartford Railroad and maintains offices at Washington, D. C, New York City, New Haven, Conn., and Providence, R. I. He was born at Buffalo, N. Y., December 31, 1866. His parents were Andrew J. Buckland and Julia Turner Buckland. The latter died in 1869. Mr. Buckland came to Barton County with his father and three sisters, May 26, 1872. He lived in Great Bend until 1887. In September 1882 he went to Topeka where he attended Washburn College. He graduated from that institution in 1887. He then went to New Haven where he entered the Yale Law School in the autumn of 1887 and graduated in 1889. He became an instructor and later assistant-professor in the law school and in Yale College, at the same time being engaged in the general practice of law with the firm of Townsend & Watrous, afterwards Watrous & Buckland. June 21, 1898, he was appointed attorney for the New York, New Haven & Hartford Railroad Company with offices at Providence, R. I. He remained there until January 1, 1904 when he


returned to New Haven as attorney for the road and located at its main office. January 1, 1906 he was appointed vice-president of the New York, New Haven & Hartford Company and again moved to Providence, R. I, where he represented that company's steam railroad, street railway and steamship interests. On March 1, 1910, he again returned to New Haven as a general executive, vice-president of the New York, New Haven & Hartford Railroad Company. He now has offices in Providence, R. I., New Haven, Conn., New York City and Washington, D. C., and represents the company's interests. He was married to Sally Tyler Clark of New Haven, Conn., June 21, 1898. They have two sons and two daughters. The family residence is at New Haven, Conn.


Farm Home of Frank Merten

FRANK MERTEN was born in Keokuk County, Iowa, February 28, 1870, and came to this county with his parents when he was six years of age. He now occupies the old home place which was located by his father Robert Merten and comprises the southwest quarter of section 11, Clarence township. Frank attended school for several years after he came to this county and began farming for himself in 1891. He owns a section of land in Pawnee county which is being worked by renters while he gives personal attention to the work of farming the home place. He was married February 13, 1895 to Miss Matilda Both, a daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Julius Both who are also old timers of this section of the state and who are mentioned in another part of this book. Mr. and Mrs. Merten are the parents of six children: Roy E., 15 years of age; Ralph A., 13 years of age; Lillie May, 11 years of age; Rosie Marie, 8 years of age; Georgia, 2 years of age and Arthur who is two and a half months old. The home place is situated in one of the most desirable parts of the township and the shade trees and other improvements make it one of the most attractive places that one could find in the county. The residence contains nine rooms in addition to the bath, closets, pantries, etc. The barns and other outbuildings are well built and commodious, the elevator having a capacity of 9,000 bushels. The Merten family is one of the best known in the county and are mentioned frequently in the pages of this book. The elder Merten retired several years ago and is now living in Great Bend where he is interested in the banking business and is one of the best known men in the county. Frank Merten has found time with all his private affairs to take an active part in the public affairs of his community and has held township and school board offices as well as taking an interest in anything that is for the benefit of the county.



ONE the young farmers who are developing the soil in Eureka township none is better known than the subject of this sketch, Bert Trester. He is a son of J. B. Trester who has been a resident of this county forty years. The elder Mr. Trester is one of the really old timers of the county having come here at a time when the county needed men with strong nerve, a knowledge of farming and faith in the future sufficient to make them stay through the hard years of the seventies and finally develop the soil to a state of productiveness. The younger Mr. Trester is now farming three quarters of land which belongs to his father. He was born in this county December 29, 1886 and is therefore a product of the county. It is due to this fact and the fact that he has always been in the farming business that he knows the way to farm to get the best results. He has learned the best methods by actual experience. He was married in 1910 to Miss Margarett Weege of Eureka township, and they are the parents of one child, Margery May who is about two months old at this writing. Mr. Trester is an enterprising and progressive farmer and well prepared to take up the development work of the land where his father left off.


ONE of the best known families in Barton County and one whose members have had a great deal to do with the development and upbuilding of the county, is that of Thornton Langford who is the father of the subject of this sketch and came here in 1877. He bought the southwest quarter of section 35 in Eureka township and up until the time of his death was actively engaged in farming. He died in 1900 and his death was keenly felt by the large circle of friends whose friendship he enjoyed. A. L. was born in Appanoose County, Iowa, October 9, 1862, and arrived in this county with his father when he was fifteen years of age. He was married in 1903 to Miss Emma Schultz whose parents are also old timers of the county, her father having been among the very first men to settle in the county. Mr. Langford farms all his own land and has a fine set of improvements. The residence contains five rooms in addition to closets, pantries, etc., and the barn is 24 by 40 feet in dimensions. The improvements are situated amid beautiful surroundings and Mr. Langford has a most attractive country home. He has always taken an active part in the affairs of his township and has held the office of constable and other township offices. It is to such families as the Schultz and Langfords that this county was developed from an almost barren waste in the seventies to its present high state of cultivation and high standing among the best counties in the State of Kansas and made of it one of the most productive agricultural sections of the country. It is such men as the subject of this sketch that the work is being continued to the end that the future that was seen by their elders will be realized and fulfilled. Mr. Langford is an enterprising and progressive citizen and enjoys a wide acquaintance in all parts of the county. His long residence in the county has made him familiar with the conditions with which the farmers have to contend and his success is in a large measure due to the knowledge he has gained by practical work.


ONE of the really old timers of Barton County still living on his old homestead is the subject of this sketch Sevier H. Hedrick. He was born in Preble County, Ohio, September 16, 1847. He came to Barton County in 1871 and took up a homestead near Heizer. It comprises the northeast quarter of section 6, Buffalo township. Mr. Hedrick has been married twice, his first wife having been Miss Lucy Parks of Illinois. To this union there was born one child, William, who is now 42 years of age and lives in Illinois. He was later married to Miss Maggie Chasteen and they are the parents of five children, as follows: Florence, 22 years of age is now Mrs. Ed. Noffsinger and resides in Brown County, Kansas; Hallie, 19 years of age; May, 18 years of age; Edith, 16 years of age; Grenna, 12 years of age, all of whom live at home. Mr. Hedrick was actively engaged in farming until about a year ago but now superintends the work of renters. He has a nice set of improvements; the residence containing seven rooms. in addition to closets, pantries, etc. The barn is 28 feet square and like the other buildings is well built and commodious. The home place is beautifully situated and is surrounded by a fine set of shade trees, a half acre of orchard altogether is one of the most attractive places in that section of the county.


Mr. Hedrick was the first trustee of Barton township and is one of those men who came here at a time when the buffalo were still roaming the prairies and it is due to such men as Mr. Hedrick that the county was developed and made one of the best in the State of Kansas and it is due to their efforts that it is one of the most important agricultural sections of the entire country. Mr. Hedrick has always taken an active part in the public affairs of his county and is an enterprising and progressive citizen.


OF the many young farmers in the county who are products of this county none better known than subjectof this sketch, William Christ Otte who is now farming 200 acres of land in Buffalo township. He has been on this land for the past seven years and as he was born and raised in this county he has learned by experience the methods that will give the best results under the conditions that are found in this section of the county. He was born January 30, 1881 and is a son of William Otte who is mentioned in another part of this book. The elder Otte is one of the old timers of this county who came here in the early days and has seen this county grow from almost a barren waste to its present high state of cultivation. The younger Otte was married to Miss Georgia Miller in 1907. She is a daughter of Henry Miller who will also be found mentioned in another part of this book. He also is one of the old timers who had so much to do with the upbuildlng of this county. Mr. and Mrs. Otte are the parents of two children as follows: Walter who is four years of age and Wilmer who is two years of age. They occupy a neat residence of four rooms. The barn is 20 by 36 and it and all the outbuildings are well built and have plenty of room. The home place is surrounded by a grove of nice shade trees that add greatly to the home-like appearance of the place and altogether Mr. Otte has one of the most ideal country homes to be found in that section of the county. It is to such families as the Ottes and Millers that this county owes its high standing among the best counties of the State of Kansas and one of the best agricultural sections of the entire country.


Farm Home of Daniel Green Bird—"Bird View Farm".

THOSE who read this volume will be struck with the nativity of the citizenship, no doubt, and note that the southern states rarely have a representative. The county's history has been forged by the sturdy German-American, and by men from the middle, northern and western sections of the United States. Of course most nations are represented, and most states; but the southern gentleman is noticeable by his absence. He is


either clannish and prefers to herd by himself, has not forgotten the border ruffian days, or has harkened to the stories about a cold and cyclonic Kansas. We are pleased, therefore, to record the success of a native Virginian. A man hitherto unused to the rough life of the frontiersman.

Daniel Greene Bird was born near Jacksonville, Floyd County, Virginia, January 19th, 1849, and at an early age removed to Raleigh County, West Virginia. Returning to the Old Dominion he settled in Wythe County, twenty miles north from Wythville. Shortly after his twenty-eighth birthday—on March 3rd, 1878—he arrived in Barton County, Kansas, determined to make a home for himself and posterity; or never to set foot on Virginia soil again. He selected a location thirteen miles west from Great Bend and there purchased his first quarter of land on payments from the Santa Fe Railway Company. Disastrous years followed and he was forced to forfeit his holdings. Buying again from the same parties in September, 1884, he contracted for three hundred and twenty acres, and paid fifteen hundred and sixty dollars, in payments as before. This time he was successful and paid out. according to agreement; and at this date his home place contains seven hundred and twenty acres. Besides this he owns in the counties of Barton,Pawnee and Rush five separate tracts of land amounting to eighteen hundred and forty acres, or a total of twenty-five hundred and sixty acres. These various tracts are all well improved and in a high state of cultivation. They are stocked with the best farm implements procurable, and the buildings are new, modern, and of a size to comfortably house his numerous tenants, store the grain grown on the various farms, and stable the live stock bred and in service. Mr. Bird is also a stockholder in the Citizens National Bank, Great Bend; Pawnee Rock Elevator Co., and the Independent Harvester Co., Plana, Illinois.

The home of Mr. Bird, thirteen miles northwest from Great Bend, is very attractive in appearance and supplies all modern comforts. It is surrounded with shade trees, grass plot and garden, and is all that a farmer's home should be. The combination dairy and pantry, through which cold sparkling water always flows, is the culmination of the dream of every housewife. Then there are barns, grain elevators, feeding lots, sheds and a garage, all of proportions sufficient to house the grain and care for the stock bred and in service on an immense farm.

Mr. Bird inherited a love for domestic animals and has bred, bought, fed and dealt in them for thirty years. At first he hoped that this branch of his business would supplement the earnings of the farm and help over some of the rough places, but latterly he has continued to handle them merely because he prefers to have them on the place so that he can admire their beauty and satisfy a fancy.

Miss Martha Ellen Lee and Daniel Greene Bird were married June 25h, 1884 in Barton County, and as a result nine children have been born. Three have passed from them by death; a son of twelve years being killed by lightning, and one of seventeen by drowning. Those living are: Anna May, Harry Clay, Elmer Joseph, Daniel Dee, Mary Frances and Ruth Allen. Mrs. Bird was born August 12th, 1859, in Knox County, Ohio, but is a member of and a close relation to the General Robert E. Lee family of Virginia, whose mother was a Custus and a near relative of Martha Washington.


"STONE BRIDGE HOMESTEAD," the home of Julius Both, fourteen miles west of Great Bend, takes its name from the first and only stone bridge built on Dry creek and was used as a lookout, or point of observation by Mr. Both at a time when he thought it was necessary to keep an eye on roving bands of Indians, and on the buffalo, antelope, deer, gray wolves and coyotes that infested the country in 1871. He came to the county in the spring of that year, and first worked for John Cook, Sr., and then engaged in hunting buffalo and other game for the first four or five years. In 1873 he entered his claim to a homestead, and that and later purchases make up the valuable farm of three hundred and twenty acres included in his home farm. He owns another half section in Pawnee county, and both places are well improved and in a high state of cultivation.

Julius Both claims to be the first white settler in Clarence township, and had as neighbors Judge Morton who doctored the community, and D. M. Woodburn, who were between him and the county seat. His first acquired property was a half starved horse located from his perch in "lookout tree," and this served to transport the game which he killed, but was not sufficient to break the soil to be cultivated, and what corn that was planted was placed in holes made in the turf with a hatchet. The garden was prepared in this way and cultivated with improvised implements made from whatever would best stir or turn the soil. There was little cultivated the first five years, and Mr. Both, John Gruber and others hunted the plains and often went as far west as Dodge City. They got their supplies and mail from Russell and Ellsworth, Kansas, and were usually absent from home, leaving

Farm Home of Julius Both in 1886

Present Farm Home of Julius Both

the care of the family and little ones to the faithful wife. Her lot was not enviable, and the pioneer mothers of Barton County deserve great praise for their fortitude and devotjcn to their husbands and families.

Julius Both was born in the village of Linde, Germany, September 28th, 1844; served an apprenticeship as a miller, and followed the trade until coming to America in 1870. He first located at Fon Du Lac, Wisconsin, and found work in a sash factory. In the spring of 1871 he came to Barton Cunty. He married Miss Anna Baruth shortly before sailing from his home in Germany, and they are the parents of four children: Mrs. Matilda Merten, Mrs. Mary Spies and Kate and Tina Both. The children all reside at home and assist their parents on the farm with the exception of Mrs. Merten, and with the grand children make up a happy and contented family.



Farm Home of William Essmiller

THIRTY-TWO years has wrought great changes in the life of William Essmiller, and it is a pleasant task to record his success as a citizen of Barton County. He was born December 9, 1849, in the Province of Hanover, Germany, on a farm, and worked for his parents until coming to the United States in 1871. He first settled in LaCrosse County, Wisconsin, and worked as a farm hand until 1879, when he came to Barton County and made his home with Fred H. Miller, (a former school mate in the Old Country,) from whom he drew pay at the rate of $15 per month. Finally he and his brother Deitrich inherited about $2,000 from an estate in Germany and they formed a partnership under the name of Essmiller Brothers and bought railroad land. Their business was farming, but they bought, improved, sold and traded in lands when they had earned a surplus invested, and until a few years ago both families occupied the home on the D. Essmiller farm. Recently they have made a division of their holdings, and Wm. Essmiller owns his home farm, four miles west of Great Bend, which covers four hundred and eighty acres; eighty acres near Heizer, four hundred and eighty in Pawnee County, and a half interest in another section in Pawnee County, north of Rozel. These several tracts are all well improved and in cultivation, and are the choice bodies in their localities. The home farm is improved with a one story six room frame dwelling; a 36x66 barn with large hay loft and stalls for twenty horses; twenty-four milk cattle, and accommodation for twenty-four loose animals. The granary is 24x40 and there is a dairy and other small outbuildings. Wheat, corn and alfalfa are the principal crops grown, but stock breeding is fast taking root on this farm, and a herd of thoroughbred Shorthorn cattle were in evidence, and numerous horses and mules of the best breeds for farm purposes. Mrs. Essmiller has her White Leghorn chickens and grows them for market, and in her model dairy makes fifty pounds of golden butter weekly to supply her city trade. She is a model housewife and has labored faithfully with her husband to achieve success.

William Essmiller and Miss Mary Nietfield, of Hanover, Germany, were married on September 12, 1882, in Barton County, Kansas, and they have one son, Robert H. Essmiller, who resides with his parents and assists in the management of the farms.



Farm Residence of Hans Jurgensen

AMONG the many German-Americans who have made a success at farming in Barton County Hans Jurgensen has won his place, and is the proud owner of four hundred of as nice acres as there is to be found, twelve miles northwest of Great Bend. He has this all in a fine state of cultivation and highly improved, there being an imposing two story white frame residence to greet you as you enter the grounds and swing up the driveway, which is through waving meadows of alfalfa exuding sweet perfume. About the house is a large grass plot, and there are plants and shrubs and lofty trees forming the usual windbreak. The location is elevated and this building and the barns, elevator, granary, windmills, and other numerous outbuildings stand out prominently and seem to tower above others of the neighborhood. Here one can imagine the animation in the barn lots at night time, "when the lowing herds come home," and the numerous work animals are being unharnessed and fed; chickens and turkeys feeding for the night and the milking under way. It is then that the whole farm seems to rejoice and return thanks for the accomplishments of the day for there is a thankfulness overshadowing man, beast and fowl, if one can interpret the sighs of the weary work horses, the lowing of the kine, the laughter of childhood and the tunes whistled and sung by the farm help as they complete the days labors.

Hans Jurgensen was born in Germany on January 23rd, 1863, and came to the United States with his parents when six years of age, who located first on a farm twenty-five miles west of Nebraska City, Nebraska. He came to Barton County on December 24th, 1874, with his father, Marquardt Jurgensen, who homesteaded an eighty in section 28 and filed on eighty acres as a timber claim. In 1892 Hans began farming his own fields having purchased a quarter section for $2,100. In 1898 he added another eighty, paying for it $1,600, and at the death of his father he inherited one hundred and sixty acres. On March 22nd, 1886, he was married to Miss Josephine Burgtorf, of Buffalo township, and six children have been born, all of whom are at home with their parents: August William Christian, 24; Edward John, 22; Fred Henry, 21; Anna Dorothy, 19; Ida Mary, 17, and William Marquardt, 15.


IT has always been a pleasure to trace the pen picture of a really successful man in any calling, and when that life has been passed close to nature the pleasure is ten fold. Trees, plants and flowers all serve a purpose and are beautiful beyond comparison, but growing crops have an added commercial attraction which have enchanted since time began. They people a land and sustain life, and the influence of the tiller is only gaged by the number of bushels produced. If that be true George A. Geil's influence is far reaching,

Farm Residence of George Adam Geil—" Dry Creek Stock Farm"

because he owns and cultivates eight hundred acres in Barton, Pawnee and Ford counties, and at harvest time his granaries are filled to overflowing. That, in substance, is the resuit of thirty-three years of continued effort farming on the plains of Kansas.

George A. Geil is a native of Iowa and came to Barton County in the spring of 1878 a poor man, and for some years rented the land he farmed. Then be bought raliroad land at a low price and on long time, but failing to make the payments it reverted to the original owners. Then the Santa Fe Railway Company added a few dollars to the price and resold him the land, and that time he made good and paid according to contract. He now owns the two hundred and forty on which he resides, fourteen miles west from Great Bend; eighty acres six miles west from Great Bend; one hundred and sixty in Pawnee County; one hundred and sixty midway between Rush Center and Rozel, and one hundred and seventy-five acres near Spearville, in Ford County. All these several tracts are in cultivation and have good improvements.

The improvements at the home farm are a very attractive eight room cottage, surrounded by a neat lawn and towering forest trees. It is painted a cast of gray and with its green surroundings looks cool and inviting on a sultry day. The barn is a large, roomy affair capable of housing much hay and grain, and the stabling capacity must be ample for the farm. This is painted the usual bright red cast and seems to light up and enliven the scene. The soil is good and the farm is in a high state of cultivation.

George A. Geil was born August 27th, 1857, near Martinsburg, Wapello County, Iowa. He was married on December 13, 1905, to Miss Minnie Schroeder, of Cedar County, Iowa. They have three bright little boys: Louis Jacob, 4 years of age; Herold Henry, 3 and Elmer Herman, 2.

The mother, Mrs. Louise Geil, wife of Jacob Giel, deceased, makes her home with her son. She was born in Germany, October 26th, 1833, and is seventy-eight years of age. She came to Kansas with her husband and eight children, George Adam, Andrew and Mrs. Katie LeRoy in 1878, Mrs. Henry Schroeder being born in Kansas and passed through all the rough periods of the formitive stage of the county. She is bright, strong and healthy and one can hardly imagine her age so advanced. Her husband, Jacob Geil, died December 11th, 1907, and lies buried in the Lutheran cemetery near the farm of his son. She was the mother of nine children in all, four boys and five girls. One boy died in infancy and a boy and three girls died from diphtheria the second year after coming to Kansas.

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