Jacob Blocher, a Kansas pioneer, who has seen the State transformed from the unbroken plains of the buffalo and Indian to the "Garden Spot of the Gods," is a native of Maryland, born September 22, 1832, on the old General Braddock farm in that State. His parents were John and Nancy Blocher, both of German descent. Mr. Blocher spent his boyhood days in his native State and when about twenty-three years of age, in 1855, he and a brother started west with Iowa as their destination, but when they reached Richiand county, Ohio, the brother turned back, and Jacob remained there about two years, and in 1857, in company with another brother, Daniel, started west again, but with no particular point in view this timehe was just going west. When they reached St. Joseph, Mo., they sold their teams with which they had driven from Ohio and after remaining there a short time went to Elwood, Doniphan county, Kansas. After remaining here about a year they went west some more and on July 4, 1858, landed in Washington county, having driven an ox team the entire distance from Elwood. They took a claim on section 20 in Mill Creek township, the exact location of which was technically unknown at that time, but the survey at the organization of the county and township located his farm at the above described place. Here he built a log cabin 12 x 14 feet, and he has some of the logs that were used in this structure, which he cherishes as a relic of bygone days.
Mr. Blocher came to Kansas early enough to experience all the vicissitudes of pioneer life in that State. He was there with the drouths, grasshoppers, Indians and everything with which the early days in Kansas were afflicted. When he first came to Washington county the Otoe Indians were located just north of Marysville, and they camped in front of his cabin door many times. On one occasion, about 1864, the Cheyennes, Arapahoes and Sioux Indians, consisting of about 500 warriors, were on the war path and camped on his place over night. They were in war with the Otoe Indians at that time and discovering some Otoe Indian arrows hanging on the wall of his cabin took them along with them. There were several Indian scares in that vicinity, but they never did Mr. Blocher any particular harm. However, during his first ten or twelve years in Kansas there were a great many Indian depredations committed in Republican county, just west of Washington. He often saw great herds of buffaloes, which were plentiful along the Republican river, while there were some along the Little Blue river, but the main herds were still farther west. In 1859 the first election ever held in the county took place and his cabin was used as one of the voting places. This section is now known as Blocher settlement. He was one of the judges of this election and was also one of the first county commissioners of Washington county. At the time he settled in this county there were no railroads west of the Atchison and St. Joseph and the settlers had to drive to these places for provisions. Their nearest mill was fifty miles away, and that was merely a "corn cracker." The nearest postoffice was Marysville, a distance of about thirty miles. At that time there was no county seat in Washington county, the county being in the same judicial district as Marshall county, and court was held in the latter. During the year of 1860, on account of the grasshopper plague and the dry weather the settlers were nearly starved out of the country. At that time they received outside aid and Mr. Blocher received a contribution which consisted of cracked wheat and corn. He actually ground his own corn by grating it over a piece of tin punched full of holes. Notwithstanding all these hardships he had faith in Kansas, and lived to see his confidence justified. When he first came to Washington county he knew only two other men who were permanent settlers in the county at that time, so he and the other two are the only settlers that were in the county, so far as he knows. After he had established his homestead he engaged in farming and stock raising and at an early date set out a great many fruit trees, and thereby won the reputation of being one of the early fruit growers of northern Kansas. He has raised thousands of bushels of fruit. In the spring of 1860 Mr. Blocher and John McNulty marketed the first load of corn that was ever sold from Washington county. They hauled it to Big Sandy, a stage station on the Mormon road, twenty-six miles north of his farm. In crossing the river with their corn the current was so swift that they were nearly drowned. Upon arriving at Big Sandy station he asked Mrs. Merle, who was then running the stage line, what corn was worth and she said "$2.50 a bushel." "Well," Mr. Blocher said, "we have two loads to sell." "Oh," says Mrs. Merle, "2.50 is my selling price. I pay 37 1/2 cents a bushel." That was the best he could do and he took it. This was before the days of the combination of big interests to control prices, but the stage woman of the plains was something of a "middleman" herself. Mr. Blocher recollects many amusing incidents of the early days, and he relates on the occasion of one of the frequent Indian scares in that country when the settlers all fled from the Indians that were not, to the little town of Washington and when the soldiers came from Seneca to protect the settlers they stole everything they could get their hands on and a minister who came with them stole a set of harness from an old settler, but Mr. Blocher does not say of what denomination the minister was, so no one can take offense. Mr. Blocher followed farming and stock raising about thirty-five years, during which time he accumulated a comfortable fortune, but through helping others he has lost a great deal. About seventeen or eighteen years ago he left the old farm, which he still owns, and for eight years conducted a hotel in Morrowville and is now living retired. He was married, August 4, 1856, by a Reverend Scumbold, in Marshall county, Kansas, to Miss Emeline, a daughter of David and Elizabeth Edwards, the former a native of Virginia and the latter of North Carolina. Mrs. Blocher was born in Missouri but reared and educated in Iowa. The Edwards family are also pioneers of Kansas, coming to this State in 1858.
To Mr. and Mrs. Blocher have been born twelve children: Nancy Louisa married J. Jones and resides in Oklahoma; Jacob A. (deceased); Mary Melissa married Doran W. Richardson and resides in Oklahoma; David (deceased); Effie married John Cummings and lives in Marshall county, Kansas; Fannie Belle married John Bezona and resides in Asherville, Kan.; Emma married C. D. Watson, Morrowville, Kan.; Richard, of Billings, Mont.; George F., of Case county, Nebraska; John Harland (deceased); and Laura May (deceased); Laura married Bert Kelley, Salt Lake City, Utah. Mr. Blocher has served for fifteen years as a member of the school board and he and his wife are members of the Christian church.Pages 446-448 from a supplemental volume of Kansas: a cyclopedia of state history, embracing events, institutions, industries, counties, cities, towns, prominent persons, etc. ... / with a supplementary volume devoted to selected personal history and reminiscence. Standard Pub. Co. Chicago : 1912. 3 v. in 4. : front., ill., ports.; 28 cm. Vols. I-II edited by Frank W. Blackmar. Transcribed October 2002 by Carolyn Ward. This volume is identified at the Kansas State Historical Society as microfilm LM196. It is a single volume 3.
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