MARTIN MUSIL. Barton County had been organized two years and Great Bend and Ellinwood were incipient villages on the plains when Martin Musil allied himself with the community in August, 1874. Many of the families he came to know as neighbors and fellow sharers of the work of the wilderness have long since departed, and Mr. Musil's mind and memory constitute a storehouse for practically every important and significant event in the history of the county and particularly of the Ellinwood community for forty-five years.
In that time his work as a farmer and his judgment as a business man have brought him ample competency, but at the age of seventy-six he is still alert and quick to enlist his support and sympathy in any movement affecting the welfare of his locality. Mr. Musil is one of the pre-eminent advocates of first class highways, and many times has taken the lead in that matter of local and state improvements.
Martin Musil was born at Frauenberg, Bohemia, November 28, 1842. He received his early education in his native land. In 1854, when he was twelve years old, he came to the United States with his parents, Albert and Catherine Musil. They sailed from Bremen and were on the sailing vessel eight weeks and three days before landing at Baltimore. His father took his family to a farm near Milwaukee, and spent the rest of his life there. Of four children Martin is the only survivor. His brother, W. S. V. Musil, was also for many years a resident of Barton County.
Martin Musil acquired his knowledge of English and of American methods by practical experience. For several years he helped his father run the farm in Wisconsin, and when not busy in the fields he frequently went steamboating on the Great Lakes. He came to Kansas from Ozaukee County, Wisconsin, where he married Magdalena Barth. She was a native of Germany and was brought to the United States an infant about 1849.
Mr. Musil brought his young wife out to Kansas by railroad and had sufficient means to tide him over the prospective periods of adversity while getting a hold in the new country. He paid $300 for a relinquishment in section 24, township 19, range 12. His energy and persistence were the chief factors in enabling him to rise to prosperity from a beginning "at the grass roots" as it were. His first home was a shanty 14 by 24 feet, and he and his wife lived in that way for many years. Toil and exposure finally brought on a severe attack of rheumatism, and he sought New Mexico for treatment. As that was the first vacation he had had in a number of years he continued his travels on to California, and was away from Kansas about nine months, but returned completely cured. In the meantime he had acquired a patent to his pre-emption, and he then resumed his place as a mixed farmer. Wheat and livestock were the chief sources of his farming prosperity. Out of the land and its products he made the money which enabled him to acquire other land, three eighties nearby and another farm of 525 acres. He has contributed three sets of improvement to the county, and several families now live as tenants on his farms. Few men had better success in handling livestock. He fed and shipped his own cattle, and for many years has specialized in the Aberdeen Angus blood. His ranch is known as the "Aberdeen Ranch," and for years has been the home of some of the best stock of this strain.
Mr. Musil lost his first wife and the companion of his many years in Kansas on April 9, 1915. In 1916 he married Miss Mabel Bruer, who was born in Ellsworth County, Kansas, a daughter of William M. and Amanda (Heist) Bruer, hotel proprietors at Ellinwood. Her father came to Kansas from Pennsylvania and was the son of a Frenchman.
Upon leaving the farm and moving to Ellinwood Mr. Musil erected a modern home, and he owns much other improved property in the town. For fifteen years he was president of the Ellinwood Grain & Supply Company, is one of the directors of the Citizens State Bank, and was one of the earliest stockholders of and is still financially interested in the Lyons Salt Works.
Reference was made above to Mr. Musil's long continued interest in good roads. He became interested in that subject soon after locating in Kansas. He and his farm help filled up buffalo wallows, did grading and early laid the foundation for a highway system which has come to be widely known for its efficiency. He was in advance of his time in advocating hard surface roads as something vastly superior and more economical in the long run than dirt roads, however well cared for. Some years ago he paid $190 for a car of oil and donated it to Ellinwood for use as an experiment in oiling its streets. Although the application of the oil was not made in a thoroughly scientific manner, yet the results more than justified the expense and labor involved, and proved that streets thus treated wear for years and are smooth and dustless. The recent proposal to pave a highway across Barton County at a cost of more than $50,000 a mile met with Mr. Musil's instant favor, as would any other sincere effort at hard-surface road building. This is only one of many evidences of his public spirit which accounts for the high regard in which he is held as a citizen of his community.
His earnestness and his well known integrity prompted his friends and neighbors to propose Martin Musil's name as representative to the Legislature, but this is one direction in which his willingness to serve the public welfare balks. He was also earnestly suggested as the proper man for the office of treasurer, but neither would he hear to this. He prefers that service which is rendered by the private in the ranks rather than by the officer. While he has had no children of his own he has always been interested in advantages and facilities that would furnish a liberal education for the young.
In politics Mr. Musil has been a republican in national affairs ever since casting his first ballot for Mr. Lincoln in 1864. His father had supported Lincoln for president in 1860. In local and county affairs Mr. Musil votes for the man and the policy rather than the party. He became a Mason at Cedarburg, Wisconsin, is a past high priest of Mount Nebo Chapter No. 36 at Great Bend, is a member of St. Omar Commandery No. 14, Knights Templars, at Great Bend, Zabut Council No. 4, Royal and Select Masters, at Topeka, and the Midian Temple of the Mystic Shrine at Wichita.
Since retiring from the active management of his farm Mr. Musil has traveled widely, and has visited many of the rich agricultural districts of the United States, though none of them appealed to him as a place in which to live and to farm so strongly as Barton County, Kansas. As a man of resources and of public spirit he contributed liberally to the support of war activities, both as a buyer of bonds and donations to war relief measures. His wife is a member of the auxiliary war bodies and gave of her time and labor to their advancement.
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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