JOHN RAMSER. Representing the pioneer element of the year 1887 in Ness County, John Ramser, of the Utica community, has experienced in his career the vicissitudes that have formed a part of the life of all the early settlers of this region. Unlike a great many of the first residents, Mr. Ramser did not come directly from a comfortable home in the East, and was therefore somewhat better prepared for the rigors of the climate and the hardships of the frontier than were some of his neighbors, but his early struggles were numerous and his success was won only through the hardest and most persistent, kind of work. That he is one of the substantial farmers and stock growers of his region today speaks well for his perseverance and his ability to make his talents conform to his surroundings and his opportunities to measure up to his deeds.
John Ramser was born in the Canton of Berne, Switzerland, February 20, 1849, being a son of John and Elizabeth (Ritz) Ramser. The father came to the United States in 1856, but it was not until three years later that he was able to send for the family, and when they arrived in America all settled on a farm in Fountain County, Indiana. There the father passed away in April, 1895, at the age of seventy-two years, the mother having died in 1883, when fifty-six years old. Their children were as follows: Lizzie, who is the wife of J. A. Shaw, of Fountain County, Indiana; John, of this notice; Fred, a resident of Washington County, Nebraska; Emma, who is the wife of Thomas Tiley, of Bellingham, Washington; Henry, who resides on the home farm in Indiana; and Charles, also a resident and a farmer on the old homestead.
John Ramser received a public school education in Fountain County, Indiana, where he grew to manhood on his father's farm. About the year 1876 he left the parental roof, intent upon seeking his fortune in the West, of which he had heard such glowing reports, and stopped first at Atchison County, Kansas, in which locality he met his wife. After his marriage he removed to Washington County, Nebraska, and there resided for seven years, being principally engaged as a renter, as he had taken with him only $50 to that state, although before his return to Kansas he had become a small landowner. When he left Nebraska, Mr. Ramser settled in the frontier country in which he now lives, his first homestead being situated near Utica, the northwest quarter of section 30, township 16, range 25. There he built a sod house for his family, the prevailing homes of the locality, as well as most of the schoolhouses, being made of this material. Mr. Ramser had as good a home as most of his neighbors, his "soddy" being 14 by 26 feet on the inside, consisting of three rooms, which were plastered with native lime, the whole structure being "shingled" with sod. This formed the family residence for seven years, or while they were proving up, and when it was abandoned Mr. Ramser purchased his present farm, the northwest quarter of section 25, township 16, range 26. This place was partially improved, having been originally entered by Daniel Sherry, who had lost it through mortgage.
To commence his career in Kansas Mr. Ramser brought a car-load of stuff from Nebraska, included in which were three mares, a colt and three cows. The first few years here the family was able to raise but little, and the Nebraska farm which had been left behind came in very handy to tide them over. Their experiences include some of the things the early settlers had to do while waiting for the Kansas climate to civilize and for Kansas crops to lend a sustaining hand. In 1892 Mr. Ramser's first real crop was gathered, and he gradually drifted into the wheat business, the main crop for money. As far as Mr. Ramser's experience with this grain has gone it has been the most reliable of any of his experiments. He has sown wheat every year since locating in Kansas, but in 1893, 1911 and 1913 failed to get crops, not even feeling it worth while to put his harvesting machines into the fields. In 1903 his best yield of wheat was harvested, averaging thirty bushels per acre. The years 1914, 1915 and 1916 averaged some eighteen bushels per acre, and the prices for these years made for the farmers the best wheat era of all the history of this section. More barns and good homes were erected in this period and more automobiles purchased than during all the other years combined.
As a stockman Mr. Ramser has handled graded stock, and his limited pasturage has kept his product down in this line to rather small figures. Recently the farm has undertaken the raising and breeding of Percheron horses under the direction of Mr. Ramser's son Harry, and the latter is also meeting with some success in the breeding of hogs of the registered Poland-China variety. The Ramser farm comprises four quarter sections of land and all but 200 acres are now under cultivation. Mr. Ramser's effort at the establishment of an orchard proved unsatisfactory, as the wind and drouth injured the trees to an extent to make them practically worthless, save the plum trees, which are hardy enough to withstand the winds.
When Mr. Ramser first came to this locality the educational facilities of the district were confined to a short period in a sod schoolhouse, which was the home of Dan Sherry, one room of this being used for school purposes for several years. The teacher was Mr. Sherry, the owner of the farm, who finally returned to his Indiana home. Mr. Ramser was one of the school board of the district of his home school, known as the Excelsior. Also he was for two terms township clerk of Ohio Township, but his interest in politics has been generally confined to that taken by a good citizen. He took out his final citizenship papers at Wakeeney, Kansas, and began voting as a democrat, and has supported that party ever since. The family united with the Methodist Episcopal Church, and Mr. Ramser has served as trustee of the Utica Church, toward the building of which he donated the first $50.
Mr. Ramser was married in Atchison County, Kansas, October 31, 1880, to Miss Amanda Alexander, a daughter of Norman Alexander, who came out of the Carolinas to Missouri and married Nancy Rogers and then moved on to Kansas. He passed away in 1872, while Mrs. Alexander survived him four years. They were the parents of the following children: Maleta, who married Campbell Buster and died at Troy, Kansas; Martha, who married Peter J. Willis and died at Rocky Ford, Colorado; Minerva, who became Mrs. George Dalby and died in Cowley County, Kansas; Mrs. Ramser, who was born February 18, 1856; John, who died in Cowley County, Kansas; Laura, who is the widow of Sylvester Brown, of Portland, Oregon; Perry, of Cherokee, Oklahoma; Lewis, who died in Ness County, Kansas; and Sadie, who died as Mrs. Sherrod Tucker, at Cedar Vale, Kansas.
Mr. and Mrs. Ramser are the parents of the following children: Harry J., born January 5, 1882, was educated in Ness County, attending his first terms in a "soddy" and finishing his education in the Kansas Wesleyan Business College at Salina. He has been identified with the parental home all his life, is a farmer, a breeder of Percheron horses and Poland-China hogs, and a stockholder in the Arnold State Bank. He has served as township clerk of Ohio Township. Emma, born July 31, 1884, is the wife of H. J. Clevenger, agent of the Union Pacific Railway at Clay Center, Kansas, and has two children, John and Howard. Mattie, born October 16, 1885, is the wife of S. E. King, a farmer of Abilene, Kansas, and has one daughter, Mildred. Hugh Thomas, born August 25, 1891, died November 27 of that year and is interred at Prairie Chapel.
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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