Jacob W. Buhrer JACOB W. BUHRER. In the experiences of this pioneer in Pawnee County there are found some unusual features. His career here during the past forty years is in fact a brief chapter that will enable the people of subsequent generations to understand just how the old timers established civilization on the frontier and developed the resources from which all subsequent generations will derive the profit.
Mr. Buhrer during the critical times of Western Kansas had the courage and tenacity which are characteristic of his native stock. He was born in the Canton of Schaffhausen, Switzerland, March 16, 1849, and grew up there, was educated in the Swiss schools, and for a few weeks during the Franco-Prussian war of 1870-1 was on duty as a Swiss soldier along the border. He is one of the four sons of John and Elizabeth (Ehrendt) Buhrer, and is the only one of the family who came to America.
Jacob W. Buhrer left Switzerland in 1871, when he was twenty-two years of age. He had learned the trade of plasterer and stone mason, and he started for America with just enough money to take him across the ocean and to the State of Ohio. He spent about five years in Fulton County, Ohio, working as a plasterer and stone mason at Archibald.
Then, in the year of 1876, he arrived on the frontier of Western Kansas in Pawnee County. He brought with him practically no money and no capital except his proficiency at his trade. He was still unmarried. He took up as a homestead the farm on which he still lives in Larned Township. This claim is the south half of the northwest quarter of section 22, township 22, range 17. While proving up his land he was able to buy provisions by occasional jobs as a stone mason or plasterer. He did all the work on the first home on his claim. It was a sod shanty of one room, with a shingle roof, had a floor, something that many of the early homes did not have, and he had carefully plastered the walls. This was the habitation which served him as a refuge and shelter during the period of his bachelorhood and while famine frequently threatened him and other early settlers here.
He was bold enough to plow and plant and attempt to farm, made his land produce a crop occasionally, and by very careful management and thrift usually made a living. The only time he went out of the county to find work was in 1881-82. He was then absent about six months in New Mexico, working on a railroad grade for the Santa Fe. On returning home from New Mexico Mr. Buhrer bought a team and then formally gave up his trade as a means of earning a living and devoted his entire time and attention to the farm. He early became a grain raiser, and at the same time secured the nucleus of a herd of cattle. He has also raised a number of horses on his farm. The best and most profitable wheat crop he ever had was in the year 1916, when he and his son threshed over 8,000 bushels from 400 acres of land. The high price of wheat in that year is too well known to mention as a means of measuring the profits of this crop. The largest yield per acre he has ever had was thirty-six bushels.
Mr. Buhrer had lived in Pawnee County many years before he was able to increase his eighty acre homestead. From the profits of his grain and stock raising he finally bought ninety-four acres, and in 1910 he erected one of the finest barns in his community, forty by sixty feet, with room in the mow for 100 tons of hay. His other improvements are modest but substantial, and they include a grove of trees which were planted by his own hands in 1885. These trees have since developed into a small forest and they are one of the conspicuous landmarks along the old Santa Fe trail.
On May 24, 1885, Mr. Buhrer married Mrs. Mary Thompson, a daughter of Gottlieb Richards, who was of Switzerland birth. Mrs. Buhrer died August 20, 1893. She was the mother of four children: Lizzie, who married Charles Baldwin, of Larned, and has five children, Orville, Frances, Juanita, Louisa and Kenneth. The sons are John, Jacob K. and Arthur. John occupies the parental home, and married Lula Stacer from Pleasant Hill, Missouri. Jacob K. and Arthur are farmers in Pawnee and Hodgeman counties, respectively, and the latter married Eva Burns and has a son.
Mr. Buhrer states that the years 1893-94-95 were the hardest of his experience in Pawnee County. More than once the tears would come to his eyes as he studied the problem of how to get something to eat for his children. His wife had passed away only a short time before, and besides the management of the farm he had the responsibility of the children. In that critical time he mortgaged his land, and by much pinching and saving was able to secure food until the next crop was harvested, though several years passed before he could really be sure that the light was breaking. While he was thus suffering the agony of the pioneer, all the settlers who could get out of the country did so, but those who could not get away are the ones who have since reaped the harvest of Western Kansas prosperity.
The final home of Mr. Buhrer is one of the beautiful little bungalows of Pawnee County's rural communities, a one-story with two porches, with massive brick half columns. All is hidden from the Santa Fe Trail by the triangular grove of his own planting and whose shady bower lends attractiveness to the surroundings.
After coming to Larned Mr. Buhrer took out citizenship papers and he cast his first presidential vote for Samuel J. Tilden in 1876. In politics he has inclined to the support of the man and the principle rather than the party, and has not always voted either a straight ticket or according to his original choice of party. He favored President Wilson both in 1912 and 1916.
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.
Tom & Carolyn Ward
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