WILLIAM M. ETLING. No one class or nationality of people showed a greater ability to adapt themselves to the region and climate and soil of Central and Western Kansas than those who came from the central European countries, most of them of German stock. One of this nativity is William M. Etling, now a farmer and stockman. Mr. Etling has been identified with Kansas for thirty-five years, and he knows by personal experience all the ups and downs of farming. He came to this country with few assets but in the course of years has made himself one of the most substantial landholders and business men of Belpre.
He was born near Kreis-Ansberg in the Province of Westphalia, Germany, August 30, 1854. His people were clear thinking and industrious mechanics but in humble circumstances. The trade of potter had been in the family for several generations. It was followed by his grandfather, William Etling, and also by his father, Frederick Etling, both of whom were natives of Hesse-Darmstadt. Frederick Etling married for his first wife Paulina Kemper. Her children were Frederick, now living at Corbet, Oregon, and William M. By his marriage to Amalia Fischer, Frederick Etling had two daughters: Minnie, widow of Carl Salzman, living at Corbet, Oregon, and Bertha, wife of Gottlieb Arnhold, of Baldwin, Kansas. Frederick Etling followed his son to the United States in 1884, joining him in Barton County, but finally removed to Oregon. He spent his last years there. His death occurred at the Village of Latourell Falls, overlooking the Columbia River. His home was on some of the foothills of Mount Hood, and he and his second wife are both buried there.
William M. Etling acquired a liberal education in Germany. He also learned the trade of potter, but had no practical experience in that line after coming to America. On December 23, 1880, at the age of twenty-six, he married Minnie Vogelsang, daughter of William and Fredericka (Haynbach) Vogelsang. The Vogelsangs and their children came to America with Mr. Etling. In 1882 the party embarked on the Dutch vessel Scholton at Amsterdam, sailing for New York. The trip was marred by nothing more severe than a storm which swept away a part of the railing of the vessel and resulted in a few days delay at sea. The party passed through Castle Garden and continued its journey to Ellinwood, Barton County, Kansas. A sister of Mrs. Etling had already located there, and they also joined some of their old neighbors and friends from Germany. The Vogelsangs bought a small farm near Ellinwood, and Mrs. Etling's parents spent the rest of their lives in that community and are buried there.
Mr. Etling's first experience in the United States was a job at hoeing potatoes. He brought practically nothing with him to Kansas, and had to depend upon his manual toil to support the home. He worked on farms at corn husking and finally secured a job on the railroad section at Ellinwood. He worked as a section hand for nine years. In the summer he was paid $1.10 a day, and his employment was fairly continuous except in the winter. He then found occasional work on farms. On leaving the section he moved to a place which he bought and on which he made a payment of $200. He also purchased a team and wagon on time. At the end of four years he was $3,600 in debt. There seemed to be no hope for the future, and he expressed a complete willingness to give up his farm and return to railroading. However, a wise old German friend said "No, you stay on the farm." The same friend offered to provide the Etling family with seed to plant and provisions for another season. Happily Mr. Etling accepted this offer, although he already owed his benefactor more than he felt he would ever be able to repay. The longest road has a turn, and that final effort proved the key which opened to Mr. Etling the way to fortune. From his fields of wheat that season he threshed 1,700 bushels. He sold it for 83 cents a bushel and turned the money into the bank to the credit of his good friend. After that better seasons succeeded and he continued on his Stafford County farm for ten years. In the meantime he had added eighty acres and finally sold the entire tract and in 1901 came to Edwards County.
Of the period of low prices Mr. Etling has had a full experience. Once after hauling corn to market eighteen miles he sold it for 13 and 14 cents a bushel, and the lowest price paid him for a bushel of wheat was 47 cents. On moving to Edwards County Mr. Etling bought three quarter sections at $15 an acre. The price was to be paid in installments, and he managed to meet his payments from the crops raised. On his farm he erected one of the best country homes of the entire county, a substantial residence of twelve rooms. There is also a barn forty-two by sixty-two feet, granaries with a capacity of 6,500 bushels and other permanent and convenient buildings. He lived there fourteen years, prospered and gained financial independence. He bought two more improved farms, one-half section each, in Edwards County and two quarter sections improved in Meade County, and in 1914 moved to Belpre, where he owns a splendid home overlooking the town. When his son entered the army in 1918 he returned to the farm.
Mr. Etling organized and is president of the Equity-Union Coal & Mercantile Company of Belpre. He also writes insurance for the Mennonite Mutual Insurance Company of Newton, Kansas, and the Farmers' Mutual Fire insurance Company of Ellinwood, having represented that company in Barton County twenty-five years ago.
Soon after reaching America Mr. Etling took out his citizenship papers and began voting. He cast a ballot for Mr. Cleveland, but soon changed parties and has since been a republican. He was a director of school district No. 23, is affiliated with the Independent Order of Odd Fellows and the Modern Woodmen of America, and the family are Methodists.
Mrs. Etling was born September 16, 1857. Her younger brothers and sisters were: Lena, who died at Ellinwood, the wife of Henry Landerman, leaving four children; Anna, wife of August Landerman, of Ellinwood; Elizabeth married John Schwerdtfeger, both dying in Oklahoma City, the parents of six children; Henry died in Barton County, leaving a daughter; Sophie married John Zigler, of Blackfoot, Idaho; and Frederica who died at the age of fourteen.
Mr. and Mrs. Etling have made abundant provisions for themselves and their large family of children. Their oldest child is William F. C., who now lives In Texas, near Guyman, Oklahoma. He married Minda Windhorst, and has a son, William. The next child, Fred, is a resident of Ford County, Kansas, and by his marriage to Ludella Stanley has two sons, Calvin and Carl. Anna is the wife of Earl Hager, and has a daughter, Laura. Lena married John Deeds, of Belpre, and has three children, Vaughn, Marvin and Warren. Ella married Preston Harvey, of Montezuma, Kansas, and has one child, Loraine. Carl is a soldier in the Quartermaster Corps, serving in France. On May 15, 1918, he married Hally Newton.
Ernest, a farmer, married Fay Busenbark, and has a son, Hoy Boyd, and a daughter, Ernestine. Christina married Fred Wilson, of Fowler, Kansas, and has a son, Wallace Edward, and a daughter Hally. John is a graduate of the Belpre High School, and is continuing his higher studies in the University of Kansas, being an unusually studious and capable youth. John also served in Co. G, Students' Army Training Camp, Lawrence, Kansas. The youngest child is Albert Otto, now a graduate from the eighth grade and starts high school at Belpre, Kansas.
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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