HENRY WILDGEN. The importance of the Wildgen name in the Hoisington locality of Barton County is derived from the many years of the active connections of the late Henry Wildgen and his son, Henry C. Wildgen, with grain and milling interests, lumber yards, banking and other leading business concerns of this locality. The late Henry Wildgen was a pioneer of Barton County, locating in that region over forty years ago.
He was born at Buffalo, New York, in April, 1849. His father, also named Henry Wildgen, was a native of Luxemburg and coming to the United States in early years located at Buffalo. He was a cobbler and farmer and finally removed to Chatham, Ontario, where both he and his wife died. Their children were: Theodore, of Pontiac, Michigan; Mrs. John LaFrances, of Chatham, Ontario; Henry, and John, of Chatham.
The late Henry Wildgen when a boy moved with his parents to Chatham, Ontario, and married there Catherine O'Shea. She was born at Chatham of Irish parentage and died at Hoisington in 1913, at the age of sixty-two.
Henry Wildgen came to Central Kansas in 1878, selecting a location, and the following year established himself in the county permanently with his family. For ten years he became widely acquainted over Barton County as wheat buyer for the Walnut Creek Milling Company. On resigning that connection he located at Hoisington and engaged in buying grain and afterwards entered the lumber business. Those were his two chief lines of enterprise, and he handled an immense volume of the grain raised and marketed from that point. He and A. S. Cooke established a lumber yard under the name Cooke & Wildgen. Later this was merged with the Hoisington Lumber Company and finally after his death, his children formed a corporation and to honor his name and service changed it to the Wildgen Lumber Company.
While his time was pretty well taken up by business he manifested a warm interest in matters of local improvement and betterment. He served on the council at Hoisington, and was one of the leading factors in the Catholic Church there. Again and again in days when adversity beset the early settlers he extended aid and encouragement and came to he regarded as a cornerstone of the community life, he was a democrat, and during one of the Cleveland administrations served as postmaster of Hoisington. He had a fluent command of both the German and English languages, and that was a great asset to his business career, though his education was more practical than otherwise. He was well read on current events and popular subjects, and his judgment was reliable and his conduct always most upright.
A brief record of his children is as follows: Agnes, wife of John M. Lewis, of Hoisington; Elizabeth, who died unmarried in 1911; Ellen, wife of Thomas F. Churchill, of Hoisington; Blanche, wife of William H. Hochstatter, of Hoisington; Henry C.; Florence, wife of Thomas E. Murphy, of Hoisington; and Jerome C., who is a sergeant in base hospital No. 28 in France and is employed in electrical work.
Henry C. Wildgen, now one of the active young business men of Hoisington and manager of the Wildgen interests there, was born at Great Bend September 4, 1885, and has lived in Hoisington since he reached school age. He attended the public schools and he and his sister were two of the three members of the first class to finish the High School at Hoisington, then under the direction of Prof. J. J. Caldwell. After school days he took the management of the branch lumber yard of his father at Olmitz, where he remained two years. Returning to Hoisington, he soon became manager of the Hoisington yard, to which be has since given his chief attention and time. The firm is interested in both the lumber and hardware business at Olmitz and recently established a lumber yard at Galacia. The company also has timber lands in Louisiana, where much of the lumber sold at Hoisington is manufactured. Henry C. Wildgen is secretary of the mill plant in Louisiana, known as the Roberts Lumber and Grain Company. The late Henry Wildgen was one of the organizers of the People's State Bank at Hoisington and was its vice president for a number of years, and this position is now held by his son Henry C.
Henry C. Wildgen possesses musical talent and has been a factor in the musical activities of his locality, being a trombone player in the Hoisington Band. He served as one of the "four minute speakers" in his community in behalf of the various war work campaigns. He and his family are identified with the Catholic Church.
In Barton County in July, 1910, Mr. Wildgen married Miss Susie W. Hain, daughter of Henry and Walberga (Kreisel) Hain. Her father, who came from Lebanon, Pennsylvania, was the pioneer station agent at Olmitz. Mrs. Wildgen has a brother, Joseph L. Hain, of Hoisington. Mr. and Mrs. Wildgen are the parents of four children, Maurice, Joseph, Henry and Bernard.
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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