Louis Palenske, the cashier of the Commercial National Bank of Alma, Kan., is also one of the leading millers of the city, and has the honor of being a native of the Sunflower State, although descended from German ancestry. He was born in Wabaunsee county, Jan. 3, 1858, being the third son of Frederick and Caroline (Gongol) Palenske. His father was born in the province of Prussia, Germany, in 1822. He was reared in his native province, attended school there and then became a sailor as do many men reared near the sea. Mr. Palenske shipped on a merchant vessel; sailed all around the world, visiting many foreign ports in the Orient and South American countries, and was in the United States many times before he emigrated from the Fatherland, after having spent seventeen years upon the ocean. He had heard of the many openings and advantages offered a man with little capital in the New World, and in 1854, accompanied by his family, he set sail for New Orleans. They came by water as far as Kansas City and then by ox team overland to Wabaunsee county, being among the first white settlers in the locality. Mr. Palenske selected 360 acres of land near the Indian reservation, and their copper-colored neighbors were no infrequent visitors during the pioneer days. Later the town of Alma was laid out close to the farm, which made it more valuable. Although he had been a sailor for so many years, Mr. Palenske had inherited the sturdy traits of his German ancestors, and practical mining came to him naturally. He built fences, a comfortable home, cleared the land and left it in a high state of cultivation at his death on March 22, 1877. A family of eight children was reared to maturity upon the Kansas farmfive boys and three girlswho all grew up sturdy, healthy and self-reliant men and women. One son is a dentist and two are farmers in Wabaunsee county. Louis Palenske was reared in the country, attended school in the winter and worked on his father's farm in the summer. He completed his schooling in Alma. He became interested in photography when a boy, and after mastering the art by working in the best galleries in Topeka and Wamego, he spent two years in taking views in the Rocky Mountains for the Frank Leslie publications. Later he established a gallery in Alma, added magazines to his stock, carried the daily papers and in time bought a stock of books. This business continued until 1906, when he sold out, as his growing interests took all his time. Mr. Palenske made a great success of photography. He traveled over a considerable part of Colorado, taking views for Frank Leslie's Weekly. He is a natural business man. Having made a success of his first ventures, it was natural that he wished to broaden his field of activities and he started an exchange stand in the rear of his book store. The business increased to such an extent that he proposed to some of his friends that they establish a bank. This was done and resulted in the Alma State Bank, of which Mr. Palenske became the first cashier. In 1898 the bank was reorganized as the Alma National Bank, and Mr. Palenske retained the same position with the new concern until 1905, when he resigned to organize and become cashier of the Commercial National Bank, which position he still holds. When he tendered his resignation, the board of directors of the old bank adopted resolutions expressing their approval of his able management of their bank; stated that they believed him to have been the chief instrument in building it up to its present high standing, and with deep regret accepted his resignation. Since Sept. 10, 1906, he has been the efficient cashier of the Commercial National Bank and has taken an active part in shaping its policy. J. N. Dolley is president, and the institution is capitalized at $50,000. In 1884 Mr. Palenske married Emma, daughter of Joseph Thoes, one of the earliest settlers in Wabaunsee county, as he located there in 1854. Seven children have come to brighten the Palenske home: Max, engaged in banking in Chicago; Minnie, at home; Fred, a national bank examiner in Chicago; Arnold, also in the banking business in Chicago; Laura, Victor, and Florence at home. All the family are being reared in the faith of the Lutheran church. Mr. Palenske is a member of the Democratic party and was elected to the state legislature in 1897, but he says his business interests take too much of his attention to devote much time to politics. He has served as township treasurer and township trustee and creditably filled both offices. Fraternally, he is a member of the Modern Woodmen of America and the Ancient Order of United Workmen.Pages 134-136 from volume III, part 1 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 December 2002 by Carolyn Ward. This volume is identified at the Kansas State Historical Society as microfilm LM195. It is a two-part volume 3.
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