A Twentieth century history and biographical record of Crawford County, Kansas, by Home Authors; Illustrated. Published by Lewis Publishing Company, Chicago, IL : 1905. 656 p. ill. Transcribed by staff and students at Baxter Springs Middle School, Baxter Springs, Kansas.

1905 History of Crawford County Kansas


John Thonhoff, a retired farmer residing in Hepler, has had a long and useful career of threescore and ten years, and nearly forty of them have been spent in Crawford county, so that he ranks among the pioneer settlers, and in fact came here before the county assumed its present political boundaries. Farming has been the occupation to which he has devoted his main energies, and his success has placed him along the men of mark of the county, and he has always enjoyed the unequivocal esteem of his fellow citizens.

Mr. Thonhoff was born in Germany, January 8, 1834, being a son of Henry and Katie Thonhoff, the former of whom died at the advanced age of eighty-one years, and the latter when her son John was a baby.

Mr. Thonhoff attended school in Germany, and, being reared to farm life, took to that occupation and followed it successfully in his native land until 1858. On December 10th of that year he came to the United States and located in southwestern Missouri, where he continued his farming operations steadily until the Civil war times. In the spring of 1862 he showed his sterling patriotism and his devotion to American principles by enlisting in Company K, Eighth Missouri Cavalry, and did army service until his discharge in the last year of the war. He was in the battle of Pea Ridge and other engagements. After his muster out at St. Louis he returned to his Missouri farm, but in the fall of 1866 moved over into Crawford county, Kansas, or rather to the Neutral Lands which now compose this county. This was one of the earliest years of the county's history, so that he has been identified with this region almost as long as any other living resident. He took a claim of one hundred and sixty acres, and after improving it in good shape bought eighty acres more. He sold this place in 1890, and then moved into Hepler, where for two years he was in the furniture and undertaking business, but since then has lived retired in his own home in Hepler, and contents himself with what he has effected by his efforts in the past.

Mr. Thonhoff married, December 10, 1863, Miss Mary Viets, a daughter of Henry and Maggie Viets, natives of Germany, but both now deceased. Mr. and Mrs. Thonhoff have the following children: Maggie, the wife of Chris Seller, a farmer near Helper; Henry, also living in this township; Mary, the wife of Nick Waggoner, of Missouri; Millie, the wife of John Curry, of LaHarpe, Kansas; Bertha, the wife of Clarence Curry, of Hepler; and Frederick, a merchant of Hepler. Mr. and Mrs. Thonhoff are members of the Lutheran church, and he adheres to Republican principles and has fraternal affiliations with the Ancient Order of United Workmen in Hepler.

Fred, the youngest child, was born in Walnut township, Crawford county, September 25, 1878, and was educated in the common schools and the high school at Hepler. He spent the first years of his life on his father's farm. He is a young man who has taken a place among the people of his vicinity as a leader. In his political sentiments he is a Republican and cast his first presidential vote for McKinley. He was elected city clerk in 1900 and re-elected to the same office again in 1901. He was elected mayor of his town in 1902, when at the age of twenty-four, which is a very rare honor. He received his appointment as postmaster at Hepler after the election of 1904. Fraternally he is a member of the A. O. U. W., No. 115, at Hepler. He wedded Miss Mont Johnson, June 28, 1899. Mrs. Thonhoff was a native of Crawford county and a daughter of David and Minerva Johnson. She was educated in the common schools and has received musical instruction also. Mr. Thonhoff began in the mercantile business January 9, 1901, and he carries a full stock of staple goods, which any first-class store carries in country towns. His annual sales amount to $17,000. He is one of the stable young men of the county of Crawford.