NICHOLAS MARION HERBIG. Hamilton County was organized January 29, 1886. In, the spring of the same year, in the month of May, there arrived in the new county Nicholas Marion Herbig, who went out into Bear Creek Township when the entire country was practically as nature had left it and possessed himself of the preliminary rights to two pieces of the public domain, a homestead and a timber claim. He proved up on both, and in that locality his principal and progressive years have been lived ever since. For his first residence he built on his homestead a frame shack 10 by 12 feet. Adjoining it was a half dugout, constructed the same fall and covered over with brush and dirt. These rude structures served him as a home for two years and were succeeded by a half dugout, with walls of stone and a roof of shingles. Gradually, as he could afford them, a group of frame buildings arose in that locality and now the traveler approaches the Herbig place and noting the numerous roofs is reminded of a little village.
Mr. Herbig made the best of these early conditions and did so the more easily because he was young and unmarried and had only his own wants to provide for. He was born in Schuyler County, Illinois, July 10, 1862. His father, Isaac Herbig, was a native of Hesse, Germany, and was brought to the United States in infancy. While crossing the ocean he became ill and in the close quarters of the ship steerage was given up for dead. His body was strapped to a board preparatory to burying him at sea, but the fresh air of the upper deck revived him and he lived many useful years before death actually took him away. When the family reached New York the oldest son became separated from the rest and was never heard of again. His name was John Herbig, and he was perhaps seventeen years of age when brought to America. The Herbig family first settled in Jasper County, Indiana, where the grandparents died. Besides John their children were Nicholas, Henry, Thomas, Isaac and Josephine.
Isaac Herbig married Mary J. Edmonston. Her father, Basil B. Edmonston, started to California from Illinois in 1849 and was lost en route. He left a widow and eight daughters, Mrs. Isaac Herbig being the oldest.
Nicholas M. Herbig grew up in his native county and in Adams County, Illinois, until 1879, when he came with his parents to Kansas. They settled in Sumner County, first at South Haven and later at Oxford, and in those localities Mr. Herbig finished his education in the country schools and came to manhood. His father, Isaac Herbig, also proved up a claim in Hamilton County, but finally sold out and moved to Kildare, Oklahoma, where both he and his wife died, he in 1908, at the age of sixty-five and the mother in 1912. Their children were: Basil Brook, of Oxford, Kansas; John H., also of Oxford; Nicholas M.; James, of Newkirk, Oklahoma; Thomas, a railroad man living in Oregon; G. Warren, of Tonkawa, Oklahoma; Sarah C., wife of Thomas Copeland, of Oxford, Kansas; Edwin A., of Kildare, Oklahoma; Luther, also of Kildare.
Nicholas M. Herbig left Oxford, Kansas, in 1885 and prepared for settlement in Hamilton County by entering his homestead and tree claims. Here he tried farming, planting wheat and corn, but his efforts in that direction were a practical failure. In this critical situation he turned to cattle raising, and a number of years ago shifted to horse raising, which is now his principal industry. He handles grade Percherons, and finds a ready market for his stock on his home ranch. He gives particular attention to handling mares. With modern conditions of labor scarcity and high price of feed Mr. Herbig has found it more profitable to handle horses than cattle. Horses eat less than cattle, and are better foragers, being able to get out and secure feed in all sorts of winter weather while cattle require more or less constant attention and a supply of feed in the rough weather.
Though his enterprise continued over a long period of years Mr. Herbig has accumulated ten quarter sections in his home locality and has other lands elsewhere devoted to farming and stock. At different times he has handled hogs on a practical scale, but without grain or alfalfa they cannot be depended upon as a regular revenue producer. In the strict lines of farming Mr. Herbig devotes his land chiefly to raising stock feed and also broom corn. His best yield of broom corn in an exceptional year has been a ton for three acres. Some of his crops of milo maize would thresh out forty-five bushels to the acre.
The postoffice of Irene is now established at the Herbig home, and he has been postmaster since July, 1909. Prior to that date the office was a mile east, and was first established in 1887, five miles southwest of the Herbig home with Milt Jones as the first postmaster. On securing the postoffice Mr. Herbig also opened a store, and thus his farm is the nucleus of a considerable trade and community activity. In a public way he has served as school director and township clerk, and votes usually a straight democratic ticket.
Two years after coming to Hamilton County, on April 8, 1888, Mr. Herbig married Mrs. Margaret M. (Dodson) Woody. Mrs. Herbig was born in Tennessee. By her first marriage she has two surviving children: Henry Orvy Woody, of Hamilton County, and Mrs. Nettie M. Overton, of Eureka, Nevada. Mr. and Mrs. Herbig are the parents of nine children: Mrs. Alice B. Kratz; S. Agnes, who married Grover M. McClain, of Tracy, Minnesota; Mrs. Fay Wilt, of Kansas City, Missouri; Floyd D., living on his father's ranch; Willie H., wife of Albert L. Martin, of Syracuse, Kansas; M. Adda, Luther B., Florence and Maggie.
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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