FERDINAND WILLIAM FICK. Practically every family that has lived in the Meade community of Western Kansas in the last thirty years has had more or less extended business relations with the Meade merchant, Ferdinand W. Fick. Mr. Fick located there in 1888, and while there were merchants before him he is in point of continuous service now the oldest of them all, and his business ability and judgment carried him through the straight and narrow as well as prosperous times. Few merchants anywhere in Kansas have afforded a better and longer service for business than Mr. Fick.
On selecting this location on the frontier he established a clothing and furnishing goods store. He had a good stock for the time, and his store was located under what was then the city hall in the center of the block he now occupies. Later a fire destroyed the building and he then bought his present site, erecting his present building, and has been on the same corner since that date. The history of his business shows the first years to have been prosperous ones, but with the moving away of so many homesteaders trade naturally fell off. Many of his competitors either closed out or fell out of the ranks. To do business at all it was necessary to extend liberal credit and rely on the prospects for a crop for ultimate compensation. Disappointments came to all and the merchants and moneyed men of the town suffered as well as the farmer who lost his crops. Every now and then it would happen that a merchant could stand the strain no longer and would close out his business and charge up his accounts to profit and loss, and in a number of instances business men actually became bankrupt and were closed out by legal procedure.
During the early years Mr. Fick was in business under the name F. W. Fick. In 1903 he became associated with J. R. Roberts, one of the early grocers of Meade, and for four years people traded with the firm of Fick & Roberts. After the dissolution of the partnership Mr. Fick resumed business under his own name.
Mr. Fick was a man of rather wide and cosmopolitan business experience when he came into Kansas, and the modest amount of capital with which he was fortified plus his experience was undoubtedly the chief ground for his success. Mr. Fick was born at Hansfelde, Prussia, March 7, 1856, and was brought to America when eight years of age. His parents were Christian F. and Louise (Krueger) Fick, both natives of Hansfelde. The family moved from that point to Stargett and from there immigrated to the United States in 1864. They sailed from Bremen on an old fashioned sailing vessel, which was six weeks on the water. As the result of encountering heavy storms the main mast went overboard, and without assistance the vessel would have foundered and been lost. Passing through Castle Garden the Ficks went direct to St. Joseph, Missouri, where Christian Fick resumed his trade as wagon and carriage maker. He lived a long and useful life, was an ardent Christian and active both in church and Y. M. C. A. He died at St. Joseph in September, 1904, at the age of seventy-nine, while his wife passed away in March, 1890, at the age of sixty-four. Their children were: William, who was a mechanic and died at Black Hawk, Colorado, leaving a family; Mina, who died at St. Joseph, wife of George Bowman; Tina, who died at St. Joseph, the wife of Louis Ochse; Ferdinand W.; Augusta, who married Adolph Mueller and died in St. Joseph; Mrs. Amelia Jefferson, of Denver, Colorado; Julius P., of Winfield, Louisiana; and John B., of St. Joseph.
In St. Joseph, Missouri, Ferdinand W. Fick finished his education in the public schools. His business career began with the noted wholesale clothing house of Schuster, Tootle & Company, and he practically grew up with that firm during his fourteen years service. When he left them he had the responsibilities of managing the first floor in the clothing department. He left the wholesale house to go on the road as commercial traveler for I. Weil & Company of St. Joseph. For four years he covered a territory in Southern Dakota and Western Iowa. it was after this experience as a traveling man that Mr. Fick came to Kansas, bringing with him the capital he had accumulated in the meantime. He arrived at Meade on the first train that came into the town.
At that time Meade was an incorporated village of about 800. Though busy as a merchant he from the first took an active part in public affairs. He served as mayor during 1889 and 1890, a period of particular distress and depression in this region, when little or nothing could be done in the way of constructive improvement. It was a matter of satisfaction, however, that public obligations were met during his term, and for that reason it was regarded as a successful administration. The following four years, which was also a period of hard times, Mr. Fick served on the city council. For several terms he was a member of the local school board, until he finally resigned that office and for four years he was clerk of the district court, under Judge Price. Mr. Fick has always given his support to the republican party. For six years he was chairman of the county central committee, and has been in several state conventions. He assisted in nominating Governors Humphrey, Morrill and Stanley, in congressional conventions gave his support to such men as James Hallowell and Chester F. Long for Congress, and was a supporter of Judges Madison and Price for the district bench.
For thirty years the Methodist Episcopal Church of Meade has counted Mr. Fick as one of its most regular members and active supporters. He has served on the various church boards either as steward or trustee ever since he came here with the exception of one term, and he is now a steward in the church and for several years was superintendent of the Sunday school and is still teaching a Sunday school class. As a layman he has attended almost every conference of the church, and was in the General Assembly in California when Bishop Mason was chosen for the African station. Fraternally Mr. Fick has been a Mason since 1902, having taken his first degrees in Meade Lodge, and is also a Royal Arch Mason. Mr. Fick and family have one of the good homes of Meade.
He married at St. Joseph, Missouri, in 1878, Louise Miller. Mrs. Fick was born in Canton Schaffhausen, Switzerland, and came to the United States with her parents when fourteen years of age. Her people settled near St. Joseph, Missouri, where her father died soon afterward. Mrs. Fick was one of six daughters. Four of them remained in Switzerland and those coming to the United States were herself and Mrs. Sophie Phefferle, of Marysville, Kansas. Mr. and Mrs. Fick have five children: Lula, wife of Clark Leach, of Santiago, California; Ola, who married E. G. Cooper, of Sofia, New Mexico; and has a son, Renaldo Cooper; Ada, who is in her father's store; Fred C., who acquired business experience with the successor of the old firm which his father served for so many years, the Tootle-Campbell Dry Goods Company of St. Joseph and is now in the United States navy; and Clara, wife of Glen O. Perkins, who is principal of schools at Neodesha, 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.
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