VIRGIL OLIVER HERMAN. An interesting man, of high-power efficiency, Virgil Oliver Herman is occupying an interesting position and doing a most valuable work as manager of the X-I ranch, one of the largest and one of the oldest cattle ranches of Southwest Kansas. It is one of the very largest of the undivided portions of the former public domain which is still devoted exclusively to the production of beef, and it has done much to contribute to the figures of Kansas beef production. The ranch comprises 47,000 acres of land, situated in three counties and in two states. The main water course through the ranch for twenty miles is the Cimarron River. The X-I ranch is famous for its pure-blooded white face Herefords, 5,000 of which noble stock graze over the hills and valleys of the ranch. This herd has been developed from some of the finest Hereford bulls in America and the offsprings of these males have done much to improve the range stock of a large part of the southwestern country.
Mr. Herman became active director of the X-I ranch in December, 1916. Besides his duty as manager of the herds, he has also supervised the management and development of a water or irrigation system on the Cimarron River. This system was inaugurated early in 1917, and comprises the irrigation of 5,000 acres of valley land along the river belonging to this extensive ranch. The ditch was completed in 1917 and the piling and concrete dam across the river was finished in the early months of 1918. The flow of water brings a large body of land into cultivation for alfalfa, and also for the growing of various other feeds, such as kaffir and maize, as winter forage for stock. About $50,000 was required to construct the dam and the other items of the irrigation system and prepare the land for the crops. Before investing this large amount in permanent construction the company had demonstrated the practicability of the plan by a temporary "sand dam," and the supply of water is such as to insure a crop every year. The river at this point is fed largely by local springs, affording a continuous flow of water the year around, ample both for stock purposes and for irrigation, so that it was not necessary in the construction to provide for extensive impounding of waters to insure against prolonged drouth.
Mr. Herman is a native Kansan, born in Lincoln County December 20, 1876. His grandfather, Henry Herman, a native of Germany, was a silversmith by trade, and spent his last years in Kansas, at Burlingame. He married Amelia Borgstetter, and they were the parents of eight sons and four daughters. Among the sons were Henry, who was killed while a Union soldier; William, John, Robert and Fred, all of whom lived in Kansas, and Charles and Thomas, who lived in California.
Frederick William Herman, father of Virgil O., was born at Bainbridge, Ohio, in 1849, and when a young man left that state and moved out to Taylor County, Iowa. He has always been a farmer and stock man. He was one of the settlers of Lincoln County, Kansas, in the early '70s proved up a claim there, and for many years used his lands for the production of stock and grain. He finally sold his farm and entered the grain and telephone business at Lincoln, where he owned an elevator and was interested in several other plants along the Union Pacific Railway. He also took up the development of telephone systems, was owner of the Lincoln Exchange and of a number of toll lines over that region. In Taylor County, Iowa, he married Susan Pace, a native of that county and daughter of Richard Foster Pace. Their children are: Rilla Estella, wife of George W. Yenser, of Denver, Colorado; Virgil O.; Richard Foster, in the telephone business at Abilene, Kansas; Frederick William, Jr., of Denver; D. Blaine, of Lincoln, Kansas; Cecil, wife of Jacob Scharer, of Junction City, Kansas; Hazel, who married Charles Avery, Mr. Avery having been one of the American soldiers on board the torpedoed transport Tuscania, but reached his destination in safety.
Virgil O. Herman was educated in the public schools of Lincoln County. As a boy he showed a decided inclination for scientific and technical pursuits. While he never went to a school of technology, he has developed by the hard usage of experience a skill in technical lines which many a college graduate might envy. He is today and always has been a student of scientific works, both in general engineering and in agriculture. After leaving home he entered the service of the F. H. Peavy Grain Company of Minneapolis, constructing a line of elevators on the Union Pacific Railway in Kansas, and a system of elevators on the Canadian Northern Railway in Canada. He was one of the supervisors in charge of that work and spent four years with the company.
Subsequently he joined his father in Lincoln County in the grain and telephone business and assisted the older Mr. Herman in promoting a number of telephone organizations. While in telephone work his engineering knowledge became thoroughly practical and was an additional qualification for the duties and responsibilities which awaited him in his next employment.
In 1906 Mr. Herman joined the Garden City Sugar and Land Company of Garden City, Kansas, as assistant consulting agriculturist under Doctor Townsend. He subsequently was made assistant manager of the land department under Joseph Nolan, and in January, 1914, was appointed head of that department, a position from which he resigned in 1916 to accept his present work. While with the Garden City Company he helped develop its extensive system of irrigation farming, and while he was with the company about 30,000 acres were brought under a productive state of cultivation. How thoroughly his services were appreciated by that well known Kansas corporation is happily testified to by a letter written November 30, 1916, and signed by the Garden City Sugar and Land Company, J. P. Nolan, manager, and F. A. Gillespie, treasurer. The body of this letter reads as follows:
"In view of the fact that you are leaving our employment today, after having been associated with us for the past ten years, we desire to express our appreciation of your service for the faithful work you have done for our company during this period in a little more substantial manner than mere words.
"Your fellow associates have joined us in presenting to you, which we do herewith, a watch for your own personal use and we have taken the liberty of engraving on the front of the inside case of this watch the following: 'Presented to V. O. Herman by the G. C. Sugar and Land Company and his fellow associates, after ten years of faithful service. Garden City, Kansas, November 30, 1916.' We also take pleasure in presenting to your good wife and helpmeet a cut glass water set and punch bowl and trust that in the use of these you will think of us as your friends."
Mr. Herman married in Lincoln County, Kansas, November 19, 1902, Miss Jennie V. Frye. She was born in Lincoln County November 29, 1879, daughter of Norman and Mary Frye. Her father was born at Peoria, Illinois, came from that state to Kansas, was a farmer and cattle man of Lincoln County and later in the grain and coal business at Lincoln. Mrs. Herman has the following brothers and sisters: Pearl, wife of A. W. Warner, of Manzanola, Colorado; May, of Lincoln, Kansas; Ora; Bert, of Caney, Kansas; and Norman, Jr., of Sedan, Kansas. Mr. and Mrs. Herman have three daughters, Genevieve, Winifred and Pearl. In matters of religion the Herman family have been Methodists for several generations at least, while the Fryes are Presbyterians.
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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