JOHN J. STALDER, of Meade, has been a factor in the life of Western Kansas for a long period of years, and has had many interesting occupations and experiences. For a long period he was in business as a contractor of house moving. He has moved towns bodily from place to place, and has probably shifted mare houses about over the prairie than any other individual. In later years Mr. Stalder has been a very successful farmer near Meade and much attention has been attracted to his success as an alfalfa grower.
He was born in Athens County, Ohio, September 7, 1865. The Stalder name is of German origin, but his grandfather Stalder came to this country from Sweden and he and his wife spent their last years in Athens County, Ohio. Among their children were John, Jacob E., Fred and Lydia. The daughter married Hiram Dowler.
Jacob E. Stalder, father of John J., was a native of Athens County, Ohio, and had several brothers in the Union Army. His own life was spent in farming and in logging in the woods and on the rivers of Ohio. From Ohio he moved to Macon County, Missouri, later to Audrian County in the same state, and from there to Worth County in Northwest Missouri. He finally moved out to the State of Washington and did his last work as a farmer and lumberman in Cowlitz County. Jacob E. Stabler died at Meade, Kansas, August 5, 1912, at the venerable age of eighty-three. He lived a plain, quiet and industrious life, but never accumulated much property, due to the fact that he moved about over the country a great deal. He first came to Kansas in 1878, homesteading northeast of Garden City. He was frightened away from that location by a raid of the Indians that year and made no further effort toward settlement in Kansas until his final advent to Meade County. He was a man of fair education, kept himself posted on matters and things, and was well liked as a neighbor and was an excellent farmer and stockman. He was a member of the Christian Church. He married for his first wife a Miss Hubler, and their children were: Hiram, who lives at Peach, Washington; Mrs. Emma Saul of Macon County, Missouri; Hattie B., wife of W. W. Dooley of Kansas City. Jacob E. Stabler married for his second wife Elizabeth Skiles, who died at Castle Rock in Washington. Her only child was John J. Stalder.
John J. Stabler received most of his education in Missouri and in the country schools. He was a boy when his parents went to the different counties mentioned in Missouri and was about fifteen when they located in Worth County. From that county he came to Kansas, bringing with him two teams and one wagon. He first stopped five and a half miles northwest of Meade. At that time he was unmarried and he used his wagon and teams to engage in a freighting business from Ingalls. Later he took a pre-emption. This was in Gray County, and he occupied it two years. However, his wife maintained a residence on it while he continued freighting from Ingalls to old Springfield. While engaged in this freighting business he was associated with David Stutsman in operating a feed store at Springfield. These various business interests occupied him while Mrs. Stalder did all that was required on the Gray County claim. After selling his feed store Mr. Stalder became interested in another business of the same kind at Plains, and continued freighting there until the Rook Island road was built. From Plains he moved into Meade and at that time took up his contract work as a hay maker, and also in plowing sod land and sowing the pioneer crops of alfalfa in this region. He managed a hay crew for a number of years. He began making hay for the Crooked L ranch, and continued his operations all the way to Willburn, Kansas. Haying and other forms of contract work occupied him until recent years,
His career as a house mover is significant of the changing conditions in Western Kansas. He moved houses out of Meade to claims all over the surrounding country and some of them he afterwards brought back into town and has shoved houses from one location to another many times. For about twenty years he kept up this line of work. He handled some very extensive jobs. One was the removal of the town of Englewood to its new site on the branch of the Santa Fe Railroad. Prior to this he had spent an entire year moving houses at Liberal. Among the biggest features of that contract were the Rupert Hotel and the John E. George residence. He also moved the Nichols drug store and the Methodist Church. Then after an interval of hay making he resumed the business of moving in the fall and winter and the result of that contract was the placing of the village of Plains up to the railroad tracks and starting that village on its way to prosperity.
Some years ago Mr. Stalder came to his present location on a farm near Meade. His land was little more than the bare grass, its chief improvement being a three-room house. His home is a half mile east of Meade. Here he began farming with alfalfa as his chief crop, together with small grain. He now has 180 acres in alfalfa and in 1917 for the first time cut four crops of hay, totaling a yield of three tons per acre. Some of this alfalfa he sold at Temple, Texas, at $31 a ton, the fanciest price ever paid him for hay. Mr. Stalder has not only grown and planted alfalfa for others and for himself but his experience has enabled him to perfect some methods and devices to improve alfalfa growing. He invented an alfalfa cultivator, which has pointed, yet dull narrow shoes attached to the drill hoes. With these implements he is able to scratch the alfalfa fields to a depth of three inches, loosening up the soil around the roots, pulling out the dead plants and weeds, and giving a tone to the alfalfa bed which puts it in prime condition for the entire season. His method has become very popular all over this valley, and has done much to prolong the life of alfalfa as well as increase its yield. At the same time Mr. Stalder has improved his farm, and now has a nine-room residence, ample barns, granary and sheds. He owns three quarters of section 12, township 32, range 28. He developed artesian water by going down 130 feet and the flow is of the famous pure soft water for which the Crooked Creek Valley is noted. His wells have been flowing steadily for eighteen years and have furnished abundance both for stock and domestic purposes.
Mr. Stalder began voting as a republican. His first presidential vote was cast for General Harrison in 1888. He has always remained with the party, but has never cultivated those tenders which might have put him in office.
In April, 1885, at Meade, Kansas, Mr. Stalder married Ada Davenport. Her father, John Davenport, came to Kansas from Nebraska and homesteaded in Meade County in the fall of 1884. He died near Mount Pleasant, Texas, and is buried in Atwater Cemetery. He had seven children, and those still living are: Lee; John; Mrs. Stalder; and Carrie, who is Mrs. Sims and is a resident of Kansas City.
The children of Mr. and Mrs. Stalder are: Fred, Fessler, Laura, Lula, Jennie, John R., Lee and Walker W. Fred, who lives at Meade, married Maggie McCampbell. Fessler is also a farmer in the Meade locality and married Iva Grim. Laura is the wife of N. R. Shade of Long Beach, California. The rest of the children belong in the family home.
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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