JACOB WASHINGTON KOLB has lived in Meade County perhaps as long as any of his fellow residents in that locality of Southwestern Kansas. He has witnessed the changes and fortunes of life in this section for over thirty-four years. He and his wife and children have all been actuated by thrift and enterprise, and that accounts for their substantial success. It seems that everything they have touched has responded to good management and has served to increase the family prosperity. Mr. Kolb is one of the large land owners and ranchers of Cimarron Township, where he located in April, 1885, and continuously has held his home on the claim which he entered, the northwest quarter of section 3, township 34, range 29.
Introductory to his Kansas experiences something should be said of his personal history and family record. Mr. Kolb was born at Marion, Ohio, March 25, 1859. His father, Jacob Kolb, was a native of Baden, Germany, "four hours distant from Berlin." Jacob, Sr., came to the United States when a young man with his mother. In Marion, Ohio, he followed the trade of stone mason and married there Catherine Fullmer. She was also from Baden. Her brother Louis served through the Civil war almost five years, and otherwise spent his life in Marion and Hardin counties, Ohio. Jacob Kolb, Sr., took out his papers for citizenship as soon as he came to the United States and was a loyal and earnest American. Only poor eyesight prevented his joining the Union army. He voted the democratic ticket, was a Lutheran, and he died at the age of sixty-six. His widow passed away in 1914. Their children were: Jacob W.; Susan, who married Henry Muth and lives in Mansfield, Ohio; John, of Marion County, Ohio; Charles, of Marion County; William, who was a soldier in the Spanish-American war and lives at Mansfield; Frank, of Richland County, Ohio; and Arthur, on the old home in Marion County.
Jacob Washington Kolb grew up at Marion, and learned there the trade of brick and stone mason. He also had a good education in the local schools.
On October 19, 1884, at the age of twenty-five, he married Miss Margaret Dodd. Mrs. Kolb was born in Marion County, Ohio, January 29, 1861, the same day that Kansas was admitted to the Union. Her father was John Dodd. Her mother, second wife of John Dodd, was a Virginian and had taught school before her marriage. Mrs. Kolb was educated at Larne, Ohio. and had considerable experience as a teacher in that county before her marriage. She was one of the five daughters and one son born to her father's second marriage. Mr. and Mrs. Kolb have three children: Donald Jacob, Margaret and Eunice Imogene. The son is a graduate of the common schools of Meade County and has pursued a course in the Agricultural College at Manhattan. The daughters are both students in the high school at Meade.
It was only a few months after his marriage that Mr. Kolb bought a home in Western Kansas. He first located temporarily at Wellington, Kansas, and from there shipped a carload of stuff to Western Kansas. He came with other settlers of Meade County, B. F. Stivers, J. J. Moore and T. C. Bonham. All these men contributed something to the development of the county, but of this little colony Mr. Kolb is the only one still left in Meade County.
On reaching here Mr. and Mrs. Kolb found themselves in a financial position "forty dollars worse off than nothing." While he was proving up his land and getting ready to make a living off of it he laid brick over different sections of Kansas for nearly ten years. At the same time his wife taught neighborhood schools. This ability to turn their hands to something besides merely farming and ranching is undoubtedly one important reason for their success and their getting through the hard times without being compelled to abandon their first homestead, as was true of so many other pioneers.
Mr. Kolb did most of his mason work in the winter and other odd seasons of the year. During the summer he carried on the breaking and cultivation of his claim either personally or through hired labor. He also secured as a tree claim the northeast quarter of section 11, township 34, range 29. He had been in the county ten years before he bought other lands. He took advantage of the situation to buy up some tax titles, getting the titles perfected in court or through quit claim deeds. He finally acquired and developed 880 acres, which with three quarter sections under lease constitutes his ranch.
His wages as a mason and the earnings of his wife as a teacher enabled them to acquire a few head of stock and stock farming has been the sure and steady means of their progress. For many years they made butter, and the Kolb butter commanded a higher price than usually prevailed on the market because of its quality and its origin. Mr. Kolb has always sold his stock directly from the ranch and range. He has developed a good strain of Herefords, and runs about 100 head every year. He also raises hogs, and has never bought meat. Instead he has sold large quantities every year, making up much of his pork into sausage, lard or headcheese, which finds a ready market in Meade.
The pioneer Kolb home was a sod house 14 by 26 feet, containing two rooms. Later as their means permitted they added another room. The walls were heavy, plastered with native lime, and it was floored with boards, and the partitions were lathed and plastered. Such a house is extremely warm in winter and cool in summer. The comforts of this building the Kolb family finally exchanged for a concrete house, two stories, containing ten rooms and basement. It is one of the few fine concrete homes in the county. Such lumber as was required for his pioneer house Mr. Kolb hauled from Dodge City, sixty miles away. His first barn was little more than a dugout, covered over with cane and wire binding for roof. He now has a number of sheds to house his stock, feed and implements.
Another interesting feature of his experience here has been his efforts at fruit growing. He is an eastern man and came from a fruit growing state and therefore early planted an orchard of peaches. These trees have borne lavishly at times and have given abundance of fruit for canning and preserving. Grapes have also done well on his place, and blackberries. The chief drawbacks to fruit growing in this locality are the periodical hails. Mr. and Mrs. Kolb voice an enthusiastic advocacy of the comparatively few progressive or ever bearing variety of strawberries. They have a fine bed of these plants, which bloom through the fall months profusely, ripe fruit, green fruit and blossoms being on one and the same plant at the same time. This fruit growing has been made more dependable by a little system of irrigation with water supplied from his well. Irrigation has also proved a factor in growing garden vegetables, and his vegetable garden has usually supplied a surplus for the local market.
A farm and home of which the above is only a partial picture stand as a permanent source of value and uplift to any community. Mr. Kolb and wife have also identified themselves in a public spirited way with the general welfare of the community. The Atwater School in district No. 8 was organized some time after they came to Meade County and Mr. Kolb has been a member of the board a number of different times and is one of the directors at the present time. Mrs. Kolb taught in the home district every winter for eleven years. For two years Mr. Kolb was a trustee of Cimarron Township and he declined the offer of the office of county commissioner and of deputy sheriff. In politics he is a democrat in national affairs, though he voted for Roosevelt in 1904. He stanchly supported Mr. Wilson's candidacy and policies throughout the two administrations. He has attended county conventions of his party, has served on the local election board and has several times been a member of the Federal grand jury in Wichita. In church matters Mrs. Kolb maintains the dignity and interest of the household, is an active Methodist, and the Kolb family are always factors to be depended upon for the spread of church influence.
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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