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., [155] leaves of plates): ill., maps (some fold.), ports.; 27 cm.


John Klein

JOHN KLEIN. In September of 1886 there arrived in Pawnee County at Burdett a young man determined to solve the problem of existence in Western Kansas, and the story of his experiences and achievements since then has an interest for others apart from himself and his children, who have grown up in this state.

At the time of his coming to Kansas John Klein was married and had three children. He was born in Jasper County, Iowa, February 7, 1858, a son of John and Nellie (Van Mavern) Klein, both of whom were natives of Holland, where they were married. After their marriage they came to this country. Many portions of the State of Iowa were then opened to settlement, and John Klein, Sr., paid $1.50 an acre for land and secured the deed and title at once. In Iowa he lived out the remainder of his useful and energetic years, and in time had got together several sections of land. He was an extensive cattle and horse man. The period of the Civil war and the consequent high prices made him comparatively wealthy. He voted the republican ticket, but was never in public office, and was a member of the Methodist Church. His death occurred in 1897, at the age of seventy-six. His wife passed away in 1885, when about sixty-two years of age. Their children were: Peter, of Buffalo County, Nebraska; Nellie, wife of George Dove, of Missouri; John; Garrett, of Buffalo County, Nebraska; Etta, wife of Jasper Arbogast, living near Woodward, Oklahoma; Abe, of Jasper County, Iowa; and Jacob, also of Jasper County.

Mr. John Klein grew up in Jasper County, living on a farm, and obtaining his education from the country schools. When he was eighteen and the bride sixteen Miss Nettie Van Ness became his wife. They were married in Jasper County September 1, 1876. Mr. and Mrs. Klein ten years later came to Kansas, and together they lived happily and enjoyed increasing fruits of prosperity here for thirty years, until she was taken away by death on October 7, 1916. Mrs. Klein was a daughter of George Van Ness, also of Irish ancestry and an Iowa farmer, Mrs. Klein was born in Iowa July 19, 1860, and the other children of her parents were: Dan, who served as a Union soldier in the Civil war and still lives in Iowa; John; Rebecca, wife of Mr. Blazer; Della, who married Andrew Blazer and lives in Nebraska; and Newton, of Morehead, Iowa.

As already mentioned, Mr. and Mrs. Klein brought with them three children to Kansas. Five more were born in Pawnee County. A brief record of these children is as follows: William, a farmer near Burdett; Harry, of Burdett, who married Gertie Kilmore, their children being Floyd, Roy, Marvin, Irvin; Clarence, a farmer in the home community, who married Georgie Fisher and has a daughter, Ruth; Edward, a farmer, who married Lena Waters; Bert, on the home ranch, married Rosa Stratch and has children named Elma, Lawrence and Herbert; Mabel, wife of John Bauer, of Burdett; Myrtle, wife of Frank Danfort, of Pawnee County and the mother of Blanche and John Lincoln; and Pearl, the youngest, who is at the Great Lakes Training Station of the Navy preparing for service in the World War.

From Iowa Mr. Klein came by railroad to Western Kansas and chartered a car to bring his household goods, six cows, four horses and some implements. This car was unloaded at Burdett, and he then took possession of the quarter section he had already bought. A previous settler on the quarter had been a man named Bradberry, who had constructed a stone house, into which the Klein family moved, and also a small stable. Sixty acres of the land had been broken out by the plow. Mr. Klein started farming, and for several years succeeded in growing feed enough for his stock. The low price of cattle from 1890 to 1892 (a cent a pound) left the cow man with little margin when he sold his stock. Mr. Klein harvested his first wheat crop in 1892. In the meantime he had mortgaged his first quarter section in order to buy cattle and horses, and he emphasized the stock industry, especially during the early years. Hardly a season failed to produce enough feed and grass for livestock, though the grain proposition was exceedingly uncertain. Another source of revenue that enabled him to support his family and remain when many others had to leave the country was more or less regular employment on the R. E. Edwards ranch. At one time, when the financial outlook was especially dark, Mr. Klein went into Republic County to dig potatoes, getting for his labor half of what he dug. He hauled a wagon load of the tubers home and had enough for the following winter. In the same fall he returned to Republic County and husked corn. He had been advised to take his hogs along and fatten them during the husking season. He did this, and he butchered his swine and carried the meat home in the wagon. He also brought home a load of corn meal, and thus his household was amply provisioned.

With a portion of the money which he had raised by mortgaging his first farm he bought a half section, the north half of section 33, township 22, range 20, paying $150 for the relinquishment. He proved up this tract, and there built a sod house. It was a sod house or nothing with him in those days. After proving up his land he lived on the Edwards ranch for five years and shared in its stock industry. His stock shelter on the half section he owned was dug in a bank and was covered over and provided very comfortable quarters for his animals. Before he left the Edwards ranch he owned a half interest in the livestock. He had paid $10 a head for the cattle and $12.50 apiece for a half interest in the horses. Some of the horses three years later he sold for $200 a head. The cattle also enjoyed an upward trend of prices, and these adventures and profits put him on the high road to financial prosperity.

After making his success with the wheat crop in 1892 Mr. Klein sold other crops regularly. He had one of the largest aggregate harvests in 1914 in his section of the country, though that year was remarkable for its big crops. His fields gave him 50,000 bushels of wheat, and it was the largest single run made by the threshing outfit which did his work. He has had several other very large and splendid crops, though there have been occasional failures. The year 1913 produced about as complete failure as he has suffered in twenty years. Mr. Klein still owns his old homestead and timber claim, but has added to his holdings six quarter sections besides. In January, 1915, he left his farm and moved into Burdett. He is a stockholder in the Rural Telephone Company and the Farmers Elevator there.

With all the hard work and many duties of private business to claim his attention Mr. Klein has not neglected his participation in local affairs. He was a member of the school board of district No. 64 almost from the time he moved into the community. He helped build the first schoolhouse. For four terms he was trustee of Keysville Township and for four years township treasurer. The family entered into the spirit of church work with the Southern Methodists and were active with them for years. When the Kleins first came to Keysville Township the entire country was well settled, there being a family on every quarter section. But many of them did not choose to make this a permanent home. In fact, as it seems to Mr. Klein, many had come merely to prove up a claim and then mortgage it and get out of the country. Mr. Klein was for a number of years a central committeeman of the republican party and frequently attended county conventions as a delegate.

Mr. Klein was happily married to Mrs. Pauline Brown February 26, 1918, of Marion, Indiana. Mrs. Klein has one son, James Sloan, who joined the colors and is serving his country upon the battlefield in France, a member of Company I, Three Hundred and Fifty-Third Infantry.


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., [155] leaves of plates): ill., maps (some fold.), ports.; 27 cm.

Volume 4 - Table of Contents

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