GEORGE DRAUT is one of the youngest surviving veterans of the great Civil war. Few of the men who had active service in that struggle between the states durings[sic] the '60s and still living will ever see their seventieth birthday again. Mr. Draut is just an the eve of that anniversary of his life.
For over forty years he has been a resident of Western Kansas. Enduring the struggles and privations of the pioneer, he has since lived to see his early toils bear fruitage and is now enjoying prosperity and the esteem paid to a substantial man of affairs in his home town of Larned.
Mr. Draut was born near the City of Darmstadt in Hesse, Germany, June 3, 1847. His father was Conrad Draut. The Draut family had been residents of the Province of Hesse for many generations. Conrad Draut learned the trade of locksmith. He was one of the thousands of liberty loving Germans who participated more or less actively in those revolutionary disturbances which marked the decade of the '40s in Germany. Because of his affiliations with that rebellion he, as so many thousands of his compatriots did, had to leave the country and sought a new home in America. After he had been here for a few months he sent back to Germany for his family, consisting of his wife and their only child, George Draut. Thus the latter came to America when only an infant.
Conrad Draut located at Louisville, Kentucky. There being no lock factories in that city he secured employment with Granger & Company, stationary engine manufacturers. He was with that industry for thirty-five years, practically all the rest of his life. The only important interruption to his service was the year he spent with the Home Guards during the Civil war. Conrad Draut was twice married. Of his first union the only child was Mr. George Draut. His second marriage had four children as its issue: Christina, wife of William Kessler, of Louisville; Conrad, also of Louisville; William, of Topeka, Kansas; and Rosa, who died unmarried. Conrad Draut was a German Lutheran, a republican, and died at Louisville, Kentucky, at the age of sixty-seven.
The first recollections of Mr. George Draut concern themselves with the City of Louisville. He lived in that city and attended the common schools. He was a boy at home during the greater part of the war, and his ardent patriotism finally became too strong to resist. When about eighteen years of age he ran away from home and against his father's will enlisted in Company K of the Seventeenth Kentucky Volunteer Cavalry. His captain was Washington Shannon and his colonel Samuel F. Johnson. He was mustered in March 11, 1865, and was with the regiment during its work in the southern part of Kentucky along the Louisville and Nashville Railway, guarding that great military thoroughfare. His record includes numerous skirmishes, the fights at Hopkinsville, Bunker Hill and in Lyon County, and for meritorious service he was made a corporal of his company. He was constantly with his command and performed faithful and valuable service to his country.
On September 20, 1865, he was granted an honorable discharge at Louisville. For a number of years Mr. Draut has been one of the esteemed members of B. F. Larned Post No. 18, Grand Army of the Republic. In matters of politics he is a republican and belongs to the Presbyterian Church.
His experiences as a resident of Kansas being with the year 1876, when he located a soldier's claim in Pawnee County, eleven miles southeast of Larned. After the war he had lived in Louisville and had learned and followed the trade of painter. On his homestead Mr. Draut built a sod house 14 by 20 feet. The walls of this primitive abode were three feet thick. The roof was of boards and there was also a board floor, and the interior was plastered with what was known as "homesteader's lime." He also built a sod barn, the roof being covered with hay. His farm became widely known as the "Halfway Place" and on it was the only well between the "Rattlesnake" and Larned. The first year the farm's productions were confined to a garden. It was the finest garden in the entire country. It served as an advertising medium for the many real estate men who never failed to bring home seekers that way. In later years, when so many of the settlers were suffering from dry weather and other hostile conditions, Mrs. Draut fervently wished that they had never raised such a fine garden, which no doubt tempted and persuaded many home seekers to this region. During the second year Mr. Draut raised a fine crop of millet, and his wife helped him stack it. The wheat he sowed and the corn he planted never came up. He could not make a living out of millet and it became necessary to seek work outside. He did services as a farm hand and also found jobs in shearing sheep. The government gave him permission to leave his farm for eighteen months in order to earn a living, and he found employment as a railroad section hand. For his skill as a house painter there was no demand in Western Kansas at that time, since few houses were built of frame and practically all were innocent of paint. At the expiration of his eighteen months' furlough Mr. Draut returned to the farm and erected a one-room frame house. He also put up a barn large enough to hold his team of horses and oxen and a cow. This barn proved a salvation to his stock, which otherwise would have perished in the severe blizzard of December, 1885. His accumulation of stock was paid for by a mortgage he placed on his farm, and it served as the nucleus around which he gradually built himself up to a prosperous condition. For almost ten years he struggled with debt, and even then he was $500 behind in his obligations. He finally traded his equity in the farm for city property in Larned, and since then has had his home in the county seat and has followed contracting as a painter.
In 1872 Mr. Draut married Lizzie Reichard, who was born August 2, 1852, a daughter of George and Barbara (Schrepel) Reichard. Mrs. Draut had one brother, Jacob, who died in Louisville, Kentucky. Her father was a German shoemaker at Louisville, where he died at the age of forty-nine and his wife at forty-six. Mr. and Mrs. Draut have only one child, Henry J. Draut, who was educated in Larned, learned the trade of harness maker and is now in the insurance business at Kinsley, Kansas. Henry J. Draut married for his first wife Ora Thorp. The three children of that union were Cleoma, Ellen, deceased, and Ralph. For his second wife he married Elizabeth Baldwin, and they have a son, Robert, and a daughter, Bernice.
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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