CASPER FOOTWANGLER. The main elements of history of any community pertain to what the people did and thought, how they lived and what they underwent and saw. These individual experiences are the richest material from which the story of Kansas can be drawn. Thus a good statement of how the people of a western county like Pawnee have forged ahead would read like romance, but would have the advantage of being fact.
One of these personal experiences that has much interest to the present and will have increased interest for the future generations is a brief story of Casper Footwangler's career as a farmer in River Township of Pawnee County.
Mr. Footwangler has been a Kansan since 1886. He arrived in Pawnee County the last day of February in that year. His beginning was as a renter. After some experience he determined to remain, then homesteaded eighty acres in the southwest quarter of section 28, township 21, range 15. There he built his first permanent home in Kansas. It was a small box house of two rooms. He and his wife occupied it and there laid the foundations of a real Kansas experience. The old house served as a home for seven years. It then received an additional room and gradually increased comforts and facilities were acquired.
During all these years Mr. Footwangler was growing wheat and corn. The first crop of wheat he sowed never came to maturity and there was no harvest. But with that exception there has never been a total crop failure in his experience. At times his land has produced as high as 25 bushels of wheat to the average acre. The profits of wheat growing have had a tremendous range of price. He sold some wheat as low as 43 cents a bushel and besides hauled it nine miles to market. The top price he received for this cereal was $2.50 a bushel. His big wheat crop, considering the volume and aggregate, came in 1900.
Mr. Footwangler still owns his old homestead and occupies it as his home headquarters. In 1890 he bought the southwest quarter of section 27 and in 1900 acquired another quarter of section 28. From the same section he added another eighty in 1904, and this gave him a total of 480 acres, 400 acres of which have been brought under cultivation. He has also done something in the way of forestation work. A number of years ago he set out a grove of forest trees, and these have flourished and now when the foliage is on almost shut out his home from view. In 1901 he erected his present eight-room, modern house, and many years before that had built a substantial barn.
Besides his home interests Mr. Footwangler has accepted as a duty the responsibilities of community life. He was a member and treasurer of the school board for district No. 63 for twelve years, was township treasurer six years, and trustee of River Township four years. In politics he has been steadily a republican, having cast his first presidential vote in 1884 for James G. Blaine. Some years ago he frequently attended county conventions. He is affiliated with the Modern Woodmen of America and his family are members of the Methodist Church.
Mr. Footwangler was born in Adams County, Ohio, May 1, 1860. His father, Barney Footwangler, was a native of Baden, Germany, and came to the United States alone in 1847, as a young man of twenty-one. He married in Adams County and spent his remaining years there as a small farmer. He early took out citizenship papers and served for a brief time as a Union soldier in the One Hundred Twenty-Fourth Regiment, Ohio Volunteers. His church was the Presbyterian. The maiden name of his wife was Catherine Schueler, who was born in Hesse, Germany, and died in 1907. Barney Footwangler died in 1910. Their children ware: William, who died in Ohio; Casper; Henry F., of Beaver Crossing, Nebraska; Michael, who died in Ohio; and Miss Catherine, now living in New York City.
Casper Footwangler had only a few brief terms of country school advantages, and in that time managed to acquire a fair knowledge of reading, writing and ciphering. His years were spent at home until eighteen, and in that time he assisted considerably on the farm. He then started out working as a farm hand at wages of $11 to $13 a month. Hearing that farm wages were better in Illinois, he went to that state and was paid $20 a month. His location was in Coles County, where he continued working by the month for five years and then became a farm renter. He and his young wife had to begin with only a team and a few household effects, and this property had been increased only a modest degree when they came out to Kansas. To Kansas he brought a team, a cow and some hogs, these being transported in a car loaded with other stock belonging to his father-in-law. Mr. Footwangler had a very modest capital and when crop conditions were against him he worked in the harvest fields. He used his team to pull a header-box at $2.50 a day, husked corn by the bushel for his neighbors and resorted to other shifts to get along. The fuel he burned then was the ever-present chip, which could be gathered anywhere and everywhere. Besides his large interests as a farmer Mr. Footwangler is a stockholder in the farmers' elevator of Ray, Kansas, and in the Solid Rock Creamery Company of Larned.
He found his wife while he was living in Coles County, Illinois, where he was married November 10, 1882, to Miss Sarah Miller. Mrs. Footwangler was born May 5, 1859, daughter of Fred and Henrietta (Smith) Miller. Her father was a native of Pennsylvania, spent his career as a farmer, and died in Pawnee County, Kansas, in 1890, at the age of seventy-one. Her mother was born in Virginia and died in 1904. The children in the Miller family wore: Amanda, who married George Holmes and died in Coles County, Illinois; Mrs. Footwangler; and Alvin, a resident of Larned. Mr. and Mrs. Footwangler have two daughters: Nina L., the older, is the wife of Albin E. Pearson of Pawnee County, and has a son, Kenneth Albin. The younger daughter, Henrietta, is the wife of Samuel O. Avery, of this locality.
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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