DAVID KLlNGER. While the experiences of the men who made and developed Western Kansas have a great deal in common, nearly every individual chapter tells something that adds to the knowledge of how the people lived, how they made a living, how they bore the stress of drouth and crop failures, and how they made themselves and the country eventually prosperous. A number of interesting variations to the familiar story are furnished by the career of David Klinger of Ashland, who is now living retired in that city, but for many years was in the heat and toil of life as a farmer and ranchman.
Mr. Klinger is an Ohio man by birth, born in Hocking County March 21, 1846. He grew up in country surroundings, obtained his education in country schools, and the old temple of learning which he attended is described as a "log house with one end all fire place." The staple branches of instruction were reading, writing, spelling and arithmetic.
After reaching manhood he married in Fairfield County, Ohio, November 19, 1873, Miss Catherine Hartman. From Ohio they moved toward the West and lived for some years in Western Missouri before they identified themselves with the plains of Western Kansas. From Missouri Mr. Klinger shipped a car load of stock and other goods to Dodge City. As signs and insignia of his calling as a farmer he had among other thing's a plow and a harrow. From Dodge City he drove overland into Clark County and arrived here March 18, 1887. He bought a tract of land seven miles southwest of Ashland. This was a quarter section almost as nature had made it. His first work was to break sod, and plant a crop, but that crop was almost a total failure. The year 1887 was probably one of the driest ever experienced in this part of Kansas. This year put him almost on the rocks of bankruptcy, and he had to resort to some other occupation to make a living. In the fall of 1887 he began buying up poultry, butter and eggs and hauling to market at Camp Supply, where he sold his goods to the soldiers of the post. At that time settlers in great numbers were leaving Western Kansas daily because prospects were so alarming, and they were willing to practically sacrifice their poultry, butter and eggs. Mr. Klinger found this marketing at the army camp a profitable business during the winter. In the following spring he and his sons started a "day herd," looking after the stock of some of his neighbors. He and his wife also began making and selling butter. It was the daily custom of Mrs. Klinger to herd the cattle through the day while her sons were in school. For her lunch and drink she carried a watermelon with her. This feature of plains life they continued for several years, and it brought a living to the family and filled the vacuum which frequently occurred by the loss of crops. In the meantime Mr. Klinger had gradually accumulated some cattle of his own and finally he and some of his neighbors fenced off an area of the public demain as pasture. The sons thereafter "rode the fences" and kept them in repair.
Along about this time Mr. Klinger began experimenting with wheat. He sowed that cereal several seasons and brought two good crops to the harvesting point, when they were almost totally destroyed by hail. Finally he lost the seed he had planted and that discouraged him from wheat growing for a dozen years or more. After that he concentrated his attention more than ever upon cattle, and this, all things considered, was his profitable business as long as he remained on the farm.
Mr. Klinger's first home was a little house built of sod and was practically the only improvement on the farm when he bought it. He lived there for a few months, having part of his household goods stacked outside for lack of room inside. The next home of the Klingers was a basement with frame house above, constituting three rooms in all. The lumber for this was hauled from Dodge City. His first stock shelter was also built of sod and of temporary character. Eventually his prosperity enabled him to replace all these buildings with a large and complete frame barn and with a frame house of nine rooms. After the hard times had passed he also began increasing his land area, and bought until he had acquired 1,800 acres. Several divisions and separations of the land have occurred in order to give his children farms, and he now owns 800 acres. Three sets of farm improvements have been added to that locality by the Klinger family.
The early school facilities of the community were just across from his own farm, the Junction Valley School. Mr. Klinger served on its board for more than fifteen years. In his home township of Edwards he served as trustee and treasurer for many years and was always an active participant in local politics. Politically his early creed was republican. He cast his first presidential ballot for General Grant in 1868, and was in the ranks of that organization until after the Farmers Alliance movement, when he joined the people's party and since then for twenty years or more has been a democrat.
In April, 1912, Mr. and Mrs. Klinger retired from their farm and have since enjoyed the comforts of a good town home at Ashland. He and his wife are Methodists but no other society affiliation has claimed his membership in Kansas.
Mrs. Klinger was born in Fairfield County, Ohio, February 25, 1850, and is a farmer's daughter, her parents being George and Barbara (Fellers) Hartman. Her father was a native of Pennsylvania and her mother of Fairfield County, Ohio. The Hartman children were: Susanna, deceased, who married Samuel Runkle; Valentine, who died in Ohio; Eliza, who married Manassa Glick and died in Ohio; William, who spent his life in Ohio; Mary, who married Samuel Runkle, her sister's husband, and is now living in Fairfield County, Ohio; Mrs. Klinger; Israel, of Fairfield County; and Monroe, of Douglas, Kansas.
The children of Mr. and Mrs. Klinger are named Blanche, Israel Jenison, John and Orella. Blanche is now the wife of Thomas Gardiner, of Jackson County, Kansas. The son Jenison is a rancher in Clark County, and by his marriage to Hazel Broadie has three children, Byron, Dwight and Dorothea. John is also a practical farmer in Clark County, and married Alta Wilder and has two children, Lyle Russell and Melba. The youngest of the family, Orella, is the wife of Alvin Mull, of Clark County.
Mr. Klinger's grandfather was a Pennsylvanian of German stock and founded the family in Hocking County, Ohio, where he died. Among his children were Joseph, Daniel, Henry, David and Mrs. Cook. David Klinger, father of the Ashland resident, was born in Hocking County and spent his life there as a modest farmer. He grew up in surroundings which did not permit a liberal education. He was a member of the United Brethren Church. His death occurred when about sixty-five years old. The maiden name of his wife was Mary Prough, a native of Hocking County, who died in Wellington, Kansas, when past eighty-seven years of age. Three of their sons were soldiers in the Union army. Their children taken in order of birth were: Sarah, who married John Weaver and lives in Mercer County, Ohio; George, who was one of the soldier sons in the war and spent his subsequent life as a farmer in Mercer County; Samuel, who died while in the army; Benjamin, who was the third of the family to give his service to the cause of the Union and who was killed by lightning in Mercer County; David, of this review; Mary, widow of Buckingham Dolson, of Wellington, Kansas; Delilah; who married Aaron Beery and died in Nebraska; Doctor John, who was last heard from in Florida; and Lucinda, who married John Nihiser, of Hocking County, Ohio.
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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