FRANK J. BOLLINGER, whose home and ranch interests are at Tribune, in Greeley County, has had a very noteworthy experience as a Western Kansas settler. He has known Greeley County as a place of residence only for fourteen or fifteen years, but in that time has served as sheriff. He was fairly prosperous when he came to Greeley County, but when he began pioneering in Gove County over thirty years ago he had in addition to youth and energy perhaps not any more capital than most of the early settlers of that day.
Mr. Bollinger was born in Clinton, Iowa, March 9, 1861, spent part of his youth there, also lived in Whiteside County, Illinois, and came to Kansas from Grundy County, Iowa. The public schools gave him his educational advantages, and while in Iowa he had a practical experience which may be called an apprenticeship at the carpenter's trade.
When he was twenty years of age he came to Kansas in 1881 and spent four years in Dickinson County. During that time he worked as a carpenter at Hope and in the vicinity, and helped put up some of the first permanent improvements in that section of the state.
From Dickinson County Mr. Bollinger pioneered into Gove County. He had his home near Utica, and he homesteaded, proving up the southwest quarter of section 2, and also the northeast quarter of the same section in township 15, range 26. He brought with him to Gove County a team of horses, a wagon and seventeen dollars in cash. He was at that time an unmarried man and was accompanied by his brothers, David and Alexander, and also by George Arnold. On his claim he built a soddy, consisting of a half dugout of two rooms. While proving up he kept bachelor's hall. The three brothers each had a homestead in the same locality, and two of them worked at the carpenter trade while the other remained on the claims and looked after such improvements as were required. Mr. Frank Bollinger for several years worked as a carpenter in Denver, spent one year in bridge work at Leadville, and for portions of the first four years during which he was proving up his claim he was working at his trade more or less. The brothers in the meantime engaged in the stock business, and stock raising proved the one reliable source of profit for this locality. They had also experimented with wheat, but had more failures to their credit than successes. These brothers were in a position to profit by the general exodus of settlers during the late eighties. Hundreds of claims were given up, the sod houses went to ruin, and the country reverted to the original condition as a rich pasturage for the stock men. The Bollinger brothers took advantage of the restoration of the range and extended their stock enterprise. Mr. Bollinger from the first believed that money was to be made in cattle, and in order to secure cash for the purchase of other stock he mortgaged his homestead. The calves he bought with the money proved a good investment. In order to get rid of the mortgage he deeded the holder all the land, and felt that he was making a good trade.
After proving up his claim and spending several years in Gove County Mr. Bollinger took his family to Arkansas for a visit, and on coming back to Kansas stopped at Galena, where he worked at his trade and also did some prospecting for zinc ore. From there he returned to Western Kansas, worked on the ranch on Smoky River, and lived in that section and also the southwest corner of Trego County. In the latter county he bought lands adjacent to his wife's claim. These lands he sold for five hundred dollars for each of three quarter sections.
On coming to Greeley County in the spring of 1902 Mr. Bollinger invested his capital in section 16, township 18, range 40. This section of land lies a half mile north of Tribune. He paid a dollar an acre for this section. The land has been improved and well stocked with cattle. Mr. Bollinger is meeting with success by raising cattle and forage; he deals in calves on a considerable scale, but sells all his stock on his own ranch. In 1915 he raised his banner Kansas crop of corn and forage, having thousands of bushels of corn and hundreds of tons of feed.
As one of the popular citizens of the county, Mr. Bollinger was elected sheriff in 1910, serving four years. His predecessor in office was Elmer Riley. The principal official business he had to perform was serving the papers and carrying out a court order in foreclosure cases. There was little crime in the county beyond a little bootlegging in the labor centers, now and then a cattle theft or the stealing of a horse. Mr. Bollinger was elected on the republican ticket, and that party represents his politics. At the close of his four-year term he was entirely satisfied to give up the office and return to his farm. Mr. Bollinger is a past noble grand of Horace Lodge of Odd Fellows, and has sat as a member of the Grand Lodge. His family are Presbyterians and he is one of the trustees of the church at Tribune.
Mr. Bollinger is of Swiss ancestry. His father, Melchior Bollinger, was born near Zurich, Switzerland, about 1826. He came to America when a child with his father, Alexander Bollinger, who died in Clinton County, Iowa, at the age of eighty-eight. Grandfather Alexander left children named: Jacob; Melchior; Barbara, who married Ben Ogden; and Katie, who married David Roost. Melchior Bollinger lived in Iowa, Illinois and other sections of the Middle West, but died in Dickinson County, Kansas, in 1878. He married Mary Gish. She died in Whiteside County, Illinois, at the age of forty-nine. Her father, David Gish, was a farmer and moved to Jackson County, Iowa, from Ohio. Mr. and Mrs. Melchior Bollinger had the following children: Emanuel, who died in childhood; Frank J.; David and Alexander, both living in Gave County, Kansas; Rosa, wife of Fred Bolz, of Dundee, Illinois; John, who died in Dickinson County, leaving two children; Emma, wife of Ed Boyd of Trego County, Kansas; Melchior, of Utica, Kansas; Simon, who lives in Nebraska; Walter, a farmer in San Angelo, Texas, and George, of Utica, Kansas.
Mr. Frank J. Bollinger lived on the frontier in Gave County four or five years before he married and established a home. He was married in that county October 24, 1889, to Miss Martha E. Robinson. Her parents were Vachel and Eleanor (Densmore) Robinson. Her father came to Kansas from Ohio and he and several members of the family took up government land in Gave County. Mr. and Mrs. Robinson are both buried there. Their children were: Densmore; Moffett; Mary, wife of James Drummond, of Trego County; William; Samuel, and Mrs. Bollinger, who was born May 14, 1860.
Four children have blessed the union of Mr. and Mrs. Bollinger: Viola is the wife of Eugene Hall, of Tribune, Kansas, and they have two children, Laura and Elvin. Bertha married Harley Burch, and both are chiropractors and practice at Tarkio, Missouri; Roy lives at Ness City, Kansas, and Mary, the youngest, is at home.
Transcribed from A Standard History of Kansas and Kansans, written and compiled by William E. Connelley, Secretary of the Kansas State Historical Society, Topeka. [Revised ed.] Chicago: Lewis Publishing Co., 1919, c1918. 5 v. (xlviii, 2530 p.,  leaves of plates): ill., maps (some fold.), ports.; 27 cm.
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