Gotthart Schippel

GOTTHART SCHIPPEL spent nearly fifty years of life in Kansas. He was one of the real pioneers. His active lifetime was one of hard work; and in the early days he encountered constant hardships and overcame difficulties that would have daunted any man less sturdy and courageous. He helped to build the solid foundation on which the prosperity of the great state now rests.

Kansas was still the disputed territory of the wild Indians and the wild animals, and vast stretches of prairie grass occupied only by the countless herds of buffalo and the tepees of the red men surrounded the sites of what are now populous cities when Gotthart Schippel came to Kansas in the spring of 1857. He and his brother were the first permanent white settlers on the Saline River. A home for his occupancy was already at hand. The government engineers who had just completed a rough bridge across the Saline River had left a cabin, which Gotthart Schippel appropriated and made into a habitation fit for his needs until he could provide a better.

From that humble beginning, a pioneer in a strange land, Mr. Schippel rose to a position of influence in the now prosperous County of Saline. He was born in Saxe Weimar, Germany, May 15, 1835. In his native country he attended the schools and served an apprenticeship at the carpenter's trade. Fully a master of that industry, he set out in 1852 for the United States. Landing at Montreal, he soon went to New York, and for two years was employed in a stone quary. In 1855 he went to Blue Island, Illinois, remaining there a year. He then bought some land in Iowa County, Iowa, but in 1857 started with a brother John for Kansas, which was still a territory and the scene of the civil warfare between the antagonists and protagonists of slavery. The brothers made the journey with an ox team and wagon.

Gotthart Schippel went far beyond the boundaries of civilization at that time, left the distinctions and angry warfare of white men behind him, and invaded a territory which up to that time had been in the undisputed possession of the Indians and the buffaloes. He procured government land in Cambria Township of Saline County. He proved up the claim, and that land is still in the possession of his heirs. It was nearly twenty years before the buffalo herds were finally driven forever from the rich prairie grasses of Saline County. The buffalo was a great resource to Gotthart Schippel and other early settlers, since they supplied meat for the table and the robes made from their hides were used in many forms to contribute to the comfort of a pioneer household. Again and again excitement and alarm were spread through the settlements by the report of incursions from hostile Indians. In the fall of 1857 the Cheyenne Indians waged war on the Pottawottamie at the forks of the Mulberry and Spring creeks. Some lives were lost and for a time the greatest excitement prevailed. Years of good crops were succeeded by years of drought and failure. When there was abundance there was little market and judged from modern standards the lot of the early settler was by no means one of unmixed happiness. Gotthart Schippel had the qualities of the true pioneer. He was steadfast in face of discouragements, looked ahead to better times instead of bemoaning the condition of the present, and he remained through all adversities and consequently prospered. Hard work gave him success, and when he died, March 7, 1906, he was one of the largest landholders in that section of the state, having about six thousand acres of improved land and much Salina city property besides. The accumulation of material wealth was not an end in itself to this pioneer. He was a generous contributor to church and public enterprises and consequently left a name which should be honored by his descendants and by all Kansans of the present generation.

In 1871 Gotthart Schippel married Miss Clara Wary, who was born in France. To their union nine children were born, seven still living: Gotthart, John, Clara, Lea, Henry, Edward and Genevie. The other two died in infancy. The daughter Clara was married in 1906 to John White and their three children are Joseph Henry, Mary, and John Gotthart. Genevie was married in 1915 to D. A. Nelson, and they have two children, Clarabelle, born March 7, 1916, and an infant, born May 25, 1917.


A Standard History of Kansas and Kansans, written & compiled by William E. Connelley, 1918, transcribed by students from USD 508, Baxter Springs Middle School, Baxter Springs, Kansas, March 28, 2000.

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