WILLIAM BRUCE MIDDLEKAUFF, banker, farmer and stockman of Vesper, came to Kansas with his father over forty years ago, and since then the interests and activities and holdings of the Middlekauff family have grown apace until the name is now one of the most substantial and respected in Lincoln County.
The family through its varied relationship has become prominently known in Kansas, Mr. Middlekauff himself is a native of Maryland and in the vicinity of Hagerstown the family and its kin have lived for generations. Mr. Middlekauff's grandfather, Daniel Middlekauff, was also born near Hagerstown, Maryland, was a farmer and slave owner and died on his property in Maryland before William B. was born. The name suggests German origin and the ancestors came out of the Fatherland and settled in Maryland in colonial days.
J. D. Middlekauff, father of William B. and founder of the family in Kansas, was born at Hagerstown in 1842. He grew up and married there, took up farming, and in 1873 sought the larger opportunities and the more abundant resources of the West and located at Vesper, Kansas. Here he homesteaded 160 acres and he lived on that homestead farm until the time of his death in December, 1896. He developed a good home, was prospered, and left an estate of 240 acres. He was affiliated with the democratic party and was an active worker and an elder in the Presbyterian Church.
J. D. Middlekauff married Mollie Lewis, who was born near Hagerstown, Maryland, in 1846, and is now living at Codell, Kansas. Several of her brothers and sisters are well known people in this part of Kansas. Her ancestry established homes in Maryland in colonial times, coming from England. Her father, Anthony Wayne Lewis, a relative of the noted general Anthony Wayne, was born near Hagerstown in Washington County, Maryland, in 1810 and spent his life as a planter and slave owner and died in 1878. Anthony W. Lewis married a widow whose maiden name was Newcomer. A brief record of their family is as follows: George S. Lewis, who came to Lincoln County, Kansas, in pioneer times, developed a farm and died there in 1912; A. W. Lewis, who died in Lincoln County in 1909, and was also a pioneer farmer; R. B. Lewis, a farmer who died at Vesper, Kansas, at the age of thirty-five; Elizabeth, living in Washington County, Maryland, widow of Nicholas Brumbaugh, a farmer; Mollie, who married Jacob D. Middlekauff; and Sallie, wife of Samuel Byers, a retired farmer at Winchester, Virginia.
Of the children of J. D. Middlekauff and wife William B. was the oldest. His brother, Jacob D., is a stock dealer at Vesper; and their only sister, Bessie, is the wife of R. W. Gilkin, a merchant at Codell, Kansas.
William Bruce Middlekauff was born at Hagerstown, Maryland, March 31, 1868, and was five years of age when his parents came to Kansas. He grew up on his father's homestead, attended the local schools at Vesper and remained with his father until he married, when he took up farming as an independent vocation. Few men have prospered to such a degree as Mr. Middlekauff in farm enterprise, and few handle their land and other interests with more complete success. Mr. Middlekauff now owns farm lands amounting to 2,000 acres in the vicinity of Vesper and Lincoln and operates all his property on the diversified plan. One of his specialties is the raising of Percheron horses. His home is on Main Street in Vesper and he farms eight acres of land within the city limits of Lincoln and is now planning to build a modern residence there.
From farming Mr. Middlekauff has gradually extended his activities to banking, and he was the organizer and founder of the Vesper State Bank in 1905, owns a controlling interest and has been its president from the start. The other officers are James Morgenson, vice president; A. F. Morgenson, cashier; and Miss Ada Wicker, assistant cashier. It is a sound bank with excellent credit; has a capital stock of $15,000, surplus and profits of $8,500, and its deposits aggregate $100,000. The bank is situated on Main Street in a two story building fitted up for bank, offices and apartments. It is the principal building structure in Vesper and Mr. Middlekauff is one of the owners.
Mr. Middlekauff is also president of the Sylvan State Bank at Sylvan Grove, vice president of the Ashgrove State Bank, and a director in the Hunter State Bank. Mr. Middlekauff's extensive operations as a cattle and hog dealer have made him and his products well known on the livestock markets.
In politics he is identified with the democratic party. He is affiliated with Lincoln Lodge No. 154, Ancient Free and Accepted Masons, Salina Consistory No. 3 of the Scottish Rite and Isis Temple of the Mystic Shrine at Salina, with Ellsworth Chapter No. 54, Royal Arch Masons, and with Vesper Camp No. 9804, Modern Woodmen of America.
Mr. Middlekauff married at Kansas City, Missouri, in 1900 Miss Minnie E. White, daughter of Joseph E. and Marticia (Kane) White. Her mother now lives at Excelsior Springs, Missouri. Her father, deceased, had a large farm and was extensively engaged in the stock business. Mr. and Mrs. Middlekauff have two sons: Jacob Emery, born January 7, 1901, is now a sophomore in the Vesper High School; and Rolland Bruce, born May 29, 1904, and a student in the Vesper public schools.
A Standard History of Kansas and Kansans, written & compiled by William E. Connelley, 1918, transcribed by Brandon M. Fry, student from USD 508, Baxter Springs Middle School, Baxter Springs, Kansas, December 1, 1999.
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