Henry William Wulfekuhler

HENRY WILLIAM WULFEKUHLER. The late Henry William Wulfekuhler, who helped to build the City of Leavenworth and for nearly a half century was identified with its commercial and financial history, was of German nativity, his birth having occurred at Osnabruck, in the Province of Hanover, August 9, 1834. His father and grandfather before him, both named Christopher, together with their immediate ancestors, lived and died there at the old place which gave them birth. The mother of Henry W. Wulfekuhler was Charlotta, daughter of William Wissman, and was from Versmold, Prussia.

The early years of Henry W. Wulfekuhler were passed in his native country, which also provided him with the rudiments of an education. In the year 1854 he came to America, crossing the ocean in the sailing vessel Herman, and after a voyage of forty-two days landed at New Orleans. He was the first of his family to come to the United States. From New Orleans he traveled up the Mississippi River to St. Louis and there found employment as a clerk until 1858. Having heard glowing reports of Leavenworth, then on the frontier and a great distributing point for the territory farther west, he came by boat to this settlement. At that time Leavenworth was a comparatively small place, but pulsing with life and vitality. He was struck with the bustle and vigor of the little city and concluded that this should be his future home. With Mr. Rohlfing, he embarked in business on Cherokee Street, and in 1860, by purchase, became the sole owner of the business and engaged in the wholesale and retail grocery trade.

Mr. Wulfekuhler inherited from his German forebears the patience, perseverance, industry and honesty characteristic of those of that nationality. His was not a swift rise to prosperity, but rather a steady upward climb, all the more creditable and valued because of the care necessary for the attainment of success. While down in his heart there was a deep and abiding reverence for the Fatherland, his love for land of his adoption was greater, and from the time that he took out his first naturalization papers, he became to all intents and purposes a loyal, law-abiding citizen of the Republic. He took a deep interest in the prosperity of Leavenworth and became identified with a number of its notable institutions. In religion he was a Lutheran. Prior to the Civil war it was necessary for a man living in Kansas Territory to make a choice of either the Free Soil or Pro-Slavery factions. Mr. Wulfekuhler became a republican and a stanch supporter of the Union, and served as a member of the Home Guards.

It was at Leavenworth that Mr. Wulfekuhler was married to Miss Louisa Rohlfing, a native of Prussia and a sister of his former partner. To this union were born four sons: Otto; Albert; Eugene, who died in 1897, at the age of twenty-seven years; and Louis H.

In 1901 Mr. Wulfekuhler founded the Wulfekuhler State Bank, retired from mercantile pursuits, and thereafter devoted his attention to banking. He made the capital $50,000, but with the passing of time the deposits aggregated over $1,000,000, and the state authorities required that the capital stock be increased. This was to $150,000, in 1909. Mr. Wulfekuhler remained at the head of this institution until his death, which occurred August 30, 1909. At the present his sons conduct the bank, the second largest in Leavenworth, and they have now $1,300,000 on deposit.


A Standard History of Kansas and Kansans, written & compiled by William E. Connelley, Secretary of the Kansas State Historical Society, Topeka. Chicago: Lewis Publishing Company, copyright 1918; transcribed by students from USD 508, Baxter Springs Middle School, Baxter Springs, Kansas, 2-11-99.

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