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Great Bend Mills
Residence of Louis and Kate Frey
SEPTEMBER 23 will always be celebrated in some manner by the descendants of Louis P. and Kate A. Frey, because it was on September 23, 1871, that they arrived on the townsite of Great Bend, and were the first party of emigrants to join those who had located the town. Starting at Liberty, Adams County, Illinois, on August 26, 1871, and accompanied by Mr. and Mrs. Paul F. Schneck and three children, and Thompson Frey, the party had covered the distance in three wagons drawn by mules. They, of coourse, had been preceded by the members of the townsite company who had surveyed and plotted the site, and who had been notified of their coming; otherwise this little band would have driven past the ground laid out had it not been that Wm. H. Odell discovered the passing wagons and followed them a distance on horseback and directed their return. The mules driven were the first animals of their kind to join the colony, and Mrs. Frey was the first white woman to set foot within the confines of what is now the corporate limits of a great metropolis. She, of course, was soon joined by Mrs. Schneck, who arrived in the second wagon of the same party; and following was Thompson Frey, driving the rear team. What they found was a waste plain with stakes driven in a portion of it marking the outlines of lots and streets, and two six foot pieces of a scantling that remained after making these pegs. There were no houses or tents to house them, and the nearest lumber, provisions, or postoffice was in either Ellsworth or Russell, a distance of forty or fifty miles. Texas cattle, wild buffalo, and other wild animals had possession of the field, and a few days after their arrival the party were regaled by cowboys who had roped some buffalo and tried to stampede these newcomers by a rush through the townslte. In time such happenings as this, the pilfering of friendly Indians, and the reports of massacres in other parts of the state became common and the women folk less afraid and they screwed up their courage and determined to conquer.
A little home was first built on the townsite, and then Mr. Frey entered a homestead of eighty acres, where the widow now resides with her only son, Adam G. Frey and wife. They call the place "Freyhurst," and it is three miles northwest of the court house at Great Bend; has a comfortable residence, barn and other buildings, and the soil is very fertile and grows corn, wheat, and four or five cuttings of alfalfa yearly.
Louis P. Frey was born in 1845 in Illinois and died March 7, 1903, and rests in the Great Bend cemetery, sadly missed by all his associates who helped to tame this then "farthest west" and make it inhabitable for the present generation.
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ONE of the industrial enterprises of which the people of Great Bend and this part of the state are justly proud is the new, modern plant of the Great Bend Ice, Fuel and Storage Co., located near the Missouri Pacific depot in Great Bend. It is safe to say that but few people of this section realize the magnitude of this establishment or have an understanding as to the amount of money it required, to say nothing of the work and faith in the future of the city that was manifested by the promoters of the enterprise when they resolved to establish in Great Bend an ice cream and ice factory along the lines of the most modern plants in the world. The plant is housed in a thoroughly modern building of sufficient size to allow plenty of room for all the different departments. The plant is owned by home people and is under the management of George L. Seeley, a gentleman who has had years of experience in the manufacture of ice and ice cream and knows the business in all its details.
The plant has been producing a high grade of ice for the past year and at times the demand for the product has been so great that it was necessary to run the plant to capacity which was twenty-five tons per day. Ordinarily the plant produced between twenty and twenty-five tons per day. The plant is equipped with two 100 H. P. high pressure boillers, two 50 H. P. Murray-Corliss engines and two powerful ammonia compressers.
To this equipment there was recently added another big engine which brings the capacity of the plant up to thirty tons of ice per day.
The steam after passing through the engines and compressers is conveyed to the rear of the building in pipes where it is condensed and piped to the filters where it passes through two charcoal filled tanks in the shape of distilled water. From there it passes through another tank filled with fine grain sponges and finally it is filtered through a series of closely woven cloths before it reaches the tanks where it is frozen and come forth a cake of absolutely pure ice. There are three hundred and twenty-five of these tanks and after the water contained therein is frozen the result is cakes of ice weighing three hundred pounds each. The water is frozen by ammonia evaporation system. The ammonia is compressed until it has a pressure in the pipes of 150 pounds to the square inch and in this form it is conducted to the brine tanks where it escapes as a gas at a pressure of 15 pounds to the square inch, and by the evaporation thus caused the heat is taken from the tanks to such an extent that the temperature is reduced sufficiently to cause the water to freeze. It is possible to produce ice at a much smaller expense but it is the determination of this company to spare neither work nor expense in producing the best that can be obtained and it can readily be seen after reading the foregoing that some of the features of this plant's product is that it is absolutely pure.
The ice cream department is in charge of Mrs. George L. Seeley who has had years of experience in the manufacture of ice cream and from the time the cream is delivered at the factory until it comes from the freezer it is under her careful supervision. First the cream must be of the very best grade before it can be used at this establishment. Its purity and quality being determined by treating it in a modern tester which shows its purity and worth in butter fat. After having passed the test successfully the milk and cream is placed in a big tank from which it is piped into the pasteurizing machine where it is heated to a temperature of 160 degrees. It is then reduced to a temperature of 40 degrees while passing over a series of coils containing brine which cools the pipes to any point desired. From there it is run back into the cans and is ready for the agitator where the other ingredients and the milk and cream are mixed and allowed to ripen. After the mixtures have been in the agitator a sufficient length of time it is then ready for the freezer from which it comes out the finished product that is known wherever ice cream is eaten in this section of the state as the acme of ice cream perfection. The room in which the ice cream is made is a model of neatness and is thoroughly sanitary in every way and the different pieces of machinery are so arranged that a minimum of work is required in handling the materials and the finished products. The plant has been running over a year now. The machinery that is used in this department is the very latest to be had and the pasteurizing apparatus while not absolutely necessary is another evidence of this company's policy to produce nothing that is not absolutely pure in every way.
This company handles all grades of coal and have bin room for a large quantity which is obtained from the best Colorado mines. The company will buy in large quantities, nothing but the very best, and is equipped for delivery in any size lots to all parts of the city on the shortest possible notice.
George L. Seeley, the manager and a majority stock holder of this company, was born in Scranton, Pa., in 1874. He was married in Topeka, Kansas, in 1902, to Miss Susan A. Deyo and they are the parents of three children: George Lee, Fay Guernsey and Helen Elizabeth, all of whom are living at home. Under Mr. Seeley's management the business of this company has been extended until its products are now shipped to all points within a radius of 100 miles of Great Bend, besides having a large patronage at home. This is due to the fact that this company's out put is composed of the very best of material, mixed and made ready for use by the latest improved methods.
Residence of Marion F. Sowards
MARION F. SOWARDS of "Santa Fe Trail Farm," three and one-half miles southwest of Great Bend, was born June 20, 1847, on a farm in Columbia County, Wisconsin. He assisted his father and attended the public schools until September, 1863, and then enlisted as a private in the 4th Wisconsin Light Horse Battery and served in the Army of the Potomac until July, 1865. He was in the battles of the Wilderness; fought in front of Petersburg and on James River, and was in a continuous fight every day for six months. In 1864, at a skirmish at Signal Hill, eight or ten miles out of Richmond, he was wounded in the calf of his leg and taken prisoner and the confederate surgeons wanted to amputate the limb, but at his earnest entreaty he was spared this indignity and recovered. As a prisoner he was taken to Richmond and confined for three or four weeks in Libby and Castle Thunder, and then exchanged. Later he returned to his command and was mustercd out at the conclusion of hostilities. He then returned to the farm and remained until October 8, 1869, and was married to Miss Mary Elizabeth Rowell, of Columbia County, Wisconsin, a near relatives of Geo. P. Rowell, the head of the Geo. P. Rowell Advertising Agency of Chicago and New York. They have one child: Mrs. Violet Louise Holmes, of Barton County.
Marion F. Sowards and family first came to Barton County in October, 1873, making the journey in a wagon and was six weeks on the road. He remained for a short period, and going farther west into Edwards county, entered a homestead of one hundred and sixty acres five miles southwest of Kinsley. He sold out in 1881 and returned to his old home in Wisconsin by wagon, where he remained one year, and in the fall of 1882 returned to Barton County to remain permanently. His home farm covers three hundred and twenty acres; he owns three small parcels amounting to one hundred and twenty-six acres in the neighborhood; a half section near Dundee, and a quarter section in Buffalo townshipmaking nlne hundred and twenty-six acres in all. This is all well improved and under cultivation, and is set in wheat, corn and alfalfa. Stock breeding is a prominent feature of this farm, and there is a herd of eighteen or twenty registered Shorthorns, and some of the better classes of draft horses, mules and hogs. The residence is a two-story white frame, setting well back from the highway, surrounded by forest trees, plants and flowers, and is approached by a driveway through meadows of alfalfa. It is modernly furnished and has acetylene lights, bath and water connections. The barn is 36x48, and there are sheds, granaries, garage and other outbuildings, besides some tenant cottages on the estate.
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FOR a number of years during the early nineties, Central Kansas was visited by drouth, and the farmers began to despair and gave their thought and attention to the question of irrigation. Here in Barton County, and especially at Great Bend a number of large land owners counciled with Mr. P. B. Koen, who had made a success in the construction of irrigation canals in Colorado and Western Kansas, and was a practical irrigation canal builder. It is probable that at first, at least so far as the Barton County men were concerned, they did not have in mind the construction of a great lake, but as the plan developed this became an essential part of the scheme.
Seven miles north of Great Bend lay the Cheyenne Bottoms, an immense area of land which doubtless once formed the bed of a great lake. For its entire length, some twelve or fourteen miles, and varying in width from two and a half to five miles, surrounded on three sides by bluffs of about one hundred feet in heighth, nature seemed to have provided a reservoir such as was needed at that time to supply water to the drouth stricken region in Barton County. Among the local people who were much interested in this plan were J. V. Brinkman, G. N. Moses and others and a company was formed known as the Grand Lake Reservoir Company. This company proceeded to construct an irrigation canal from a point on the Arkansas river as far west as Dundee to the Cheyenne Bottoms. It was the idea of the projectors that the lands in the Bottoms could be secured at a price not to exceed a dollar per acre, taken as a whole, but when the owners realized the immensity of the project values suddenly increased, and thousands of acres that had been always considered worthless were valued at a high figure. Of course trouble had been expected along the line of the canal but this was easily disposed of and was only a small affair compared with the other difficulties which now met the company. To add to this Mr. Koen, with a knowledge of what the success of the enterprise really meant to this county had considerable personal trouble with the owners of tracts of land and this tended to abstract the success of the operations. It became necessary to have some special legislation, granting the right of condemnation for the reservoir, and this being procured the company proceeded to condemn land and deposited with the county treasurer the amounts allowed by the condemnation commissioners. Meanwhile work had proceeded upon the canal, and at the next flood tide of the Arkansas river a volume of water fifty feet in width, was carried into the reservoir for some three or four days.
To the casual observer it had the appearance, for a portion of the distance of running uphill, but there had been a first class engineer over the line and his skill had solved the problem successfully, it was indeed a great sight, and many of the people interested concluded that a way had now been found for providing moisture during the drouth periods. In the meantime a number of Kansas City parties had been interested in the proposition and Mr. W. J. Hallack who had been active in enterprises at Detroit, Michigan, and had lately moved to Kansas City, undertook to engineer the financial part of the plan. The company was reorganized under the name of the Lake Koen Navigation, Reservoir and irrigation Co., and there was added to the irrigation purposes the idea of having the lake of sufficient size to accommodate boats of a considerable size. A further condemnation was made along the line of the canal so that the canal might be widened to one hundred feet. Most of the owners of land in the Bottoms appealed from the award of the commissioners and a flood of litigation as well as water met the projectors of the enterprise. About this time A. E. Stillwell of Kansas City, builder of the Kansas Southern and Orient Railroads became interested and through his efforts the project seemed destined to be entirely successful, but the further use of the canal was delayed, pending the settlement of the litigation. There is no doubt however that the plan was feasible and that an immense lake could have again been made where nature had once provided one. The scheme however proved a failure and the main reason for the failure was one which never entered the minds of its projectors. A change came over the natural conditions and bountiful rains supplied the moisture needed for the crops in the Arkansas Valley, and even those interested in the project awoke to the fact that irrigation was no longer needed. Today the holders of the same lands which were to be covered by the waters of the great lake are interested in the formation of a company to drain a large part of the land which was to have been covered by the waters of this lake. Subsequent events have also shown that the plan would have failed for the reason that the rapid growth of the irrigation systems in eastern Colorado and western Kansas have eliminated from the central portion of Kansas practically all of the flood waters of the Arkansas river.
Those who were closest in touch with this plan from its inception and who still live in Barton County realize that aside from any value for irrigation purposes the construction of this lake would have brought immense benefits to the whole of the surrounding country. At least for the present the lands in the old lake bed still remain uncovered, yet the time may come when this plan so far as the construction of the lake is concerned will reach a successful realization.
WILLIAM R. BUNTUNG, or Bill, as he was better known, had been a prominent figure in the life and history of Barton County since he arrived here in the seventies, until the time of his death. At different times he was engaged in business and in the public life of the county he took a prominent part. It was but a few days before he died that he brought his photograph for a cut to the office of the Tribune, where he was a trusted and faithful employee, and it did not seem possible that we would have to write his obituary for his volume. However this proved to be true and in losing "Bill" all the members of the Tribune force from the proprietors to the carrier boys lost a faithful friend and the community a loyal citizen.
W. R. Bunting was born March 14, 1858, in Uniontown, Pennsylvania. At an early day the family moved to Missouri locating in Sedalia and after the death of his father, the mother and children came to Kansas overland in 1876, when the subject of this sketch was 18 years of age. They located on a claim in Stafford county and later Will took a claim himself. On July 4, 1876, he was united in marriage to Miss Retta Kinney, who survives him, and of the union six children. Mrs. Ray Brown of this city, Mrs. Lome Sherwood of Linton, Ind., Mrs. Edith Johnson, of Indianapolis, and Tom, Blaine and Vivian of this city survive.
The following was written for the Tribune by Elrick C. Cole and it pays Mr. Bunting a deserving Tribute, for his public service to the people of Barton County:
"My first intimate acquaintance with Will Bunting was formed in 1888 when he was elected clerk of the court. Prior to that time he had been active in the political affairs of the western part of the county and had proven
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himself a tireless worker. After his election, our offices adjoined and the duties of our respective positions brought us into close contact.
"No more active, painstaking official has ever served this county and his popularity at the close of his first term, caused not only his re-nomination, but also his endorsement by the Democratic party. in after years, he served this city, both as councilman and member of the board of education and he also served a short term as sheriff. In every posltin of public trust he exhibited splendid executive ability and a constant effort to faithfully serve the people who had chosen him.
"Honesty and strict integrity marked his every official act. His public service was splendid but he was never able to serve himself. A man of great heart and great capabilities, he lacked a balance wheel. In his going from us as well as in his life, with us, I am glad to remember him as my friend."
WHILE the editors of this volume were getting together the material for its pages, we had occasion to write to Geo. W. Crane & Co., publishers, of Topeka, Kansas, to get permission to run the story at "Old Jim Gibson." We received the following letter from Mr. Crane in regard to the story and he adds a very interesting story of days before Barton County had begun to be settled. The story of Jim Gibson will be found on page 151.
Topeka, Kans., June 24, 1912.
Tribune Publishing Co, Great Bend, Kansas. Dear Mr. Townsley: Responding to yours of the 21st, we say, yes. Use the story of Old Jim Gibson. It would be proper to add "From the Tales of the Trail by permission of Crane & Co."
An incident occurred while I was at Fort Larned in 1865, which always comes to me as illustrating the trait cf the Anglo-Saxon to be cool and collected in times of great danger.
Dr. McNeal, the post surgeon at Fort Larned was, with a dozen soldiers, escorting a train from Fort Zarah. About at the west line of Barton County they were attacked by a band of Indians. The train was corralled and it was agreed that whoever saw an opening should make the race through the Indian lines. The doctor was well mounted; he saw an opening and made the race.
Bullets and arrows blew thick around him but he got through safely. He reached the trail by a circuitous route and immediately saw two couriers who had been killed, stripped and scalped. He hurried on to the Post, and returned with a company of cavalry. No more Indians were seen. They picked up the dead couriers and conveyed them to Fort Larned in an ambulance. The doctor dressed them for burial and after all was attended to came to the Suttler's store and asked me for a glass of whisky. I handed him a bottle and large goblet. He was trembling and very pale. He took care of two gobletsful quickly. I asked what was the matter and if he was seriously hurt. "No, George. I am simply scared to death." He soon recovered composure but retained the opinion that he was scared to death.
"And so it is, at times of extreme danger and when action is necessary, we are cool and nerved to perform the duty. When the trouble is all over and the nerves subside, we are liable to go to pieces.
"This story I am writing, Townsley, is partly to illustrate a trait of character but principally as a reminiscense of the Old Trail in 1865.
"Very truly yours,
GEO. W. CRANE."
PLEASANTDALE or Schoenthal, as it is called in German, was the name of a village established by the colony of German emigrants who arrived in Barton County in the 70's and located on the Smoky river in Rush County and near what is now the town of Olmitz in Barton County. The following story of the settlement is given as told by Peter Brack, one of the members of the colony and now a prosperous merchant of Barton County.
About 186 years ago by the provisions of an edict issued by the Czarwitch Katherine of Russia, thousands of Germas moved from their native land into the domain of the Czarwitch. They were induced to make the change on account of the fact that Katherine had promised them exemption from military duty, gave them tools with which to till the land and by other provisions made what seemed at that time an excellent opportunity. However, Alexander, the third ruler of Russia after Katherine took away these privileges, destroying the royal edict and the luckless Germans
were compelled to serve in the army and other privileges were taken away. By this acticn on the part of Alexander, the liberty loving people who were affected by the new order of things, at once rebelled and decided that they would again seek freedom and opportunity in another land. Accordingly they emigrated to the United States. A colony was made up in the village of Popotchnaja which included a large number of the members of the Brack familynow well known in this countyand forty-seven other families, making in all a total of 527 people. These hard working, persecuted people left their adopted land September 8, 1876. They were compelled to pay $100 each for passports, when the price should have been not more than $10. They went first to Bremen, the trip requiring two weeks time and there waited for the boats that were to bring them to the new country. The leaders of the party, after a great deal of effort succeeded in getting the steamship companies interested to the extent that many of them wanted the business and therefore the emigrants were enabled to get a rate of (32 rubles) about $16.00 each for passage, but what the company lost in making this comparatively low rate they made up by charging big prices for everything on the trip over. The emigrants sailed on the ship "Salle" and arrived in New York October 21, 1876. They spent but one day in the big American city changing their Russian money for American bills and coin, and then started for Kansas City.
Long before the emmigrants arrived in this country they had made up their minds to locate near Great Bend, Kansas, having heard good news from friends who were already located. The fare from New York to Kansas City was sixteen dollars. Upon their arrival they were besieged by agents of the Union Pacific and Santa Fe railroads. These agents were both German, one by the name of Smith, representing the U. P. and the other being a Mr. Reigleheimer. Each wanted the big party of emigrants on the line of their respective roads. Finally an offer of the Santa Fe of free transportation to Lawrence, Kansas, was accepted. After their arrival there they occupied an old factory building, sleeping on the ground and cooking food as best they could. At Lawrence a meeting was held which resulted in the selection of eight men, known for their ability in judging soil, to go to points on the U. P. and select a location. This party was taken all over Missouri, Nebraska and Kansas, as far west as the Colorado line. The U. P. company paid all the expenses of this trip which required about ten days time after which the party returned to Lawrence. Then the Santa Fe company took the same representatives out on the same kind of a trip. The eight men on their return reported that the best soil they could find adapted to wheat raising was between Russell, in Russell county, and Pawnee Rock, in Barton County. As all the members of the party wanted to be on a river the colony was divided, half going to Russell on the Smoky river and the other half to Pawnee Rock on the Arkansas river. By the time they had all secured homesteads between these two points they were practically in one community. The members of the colony who arrived at Pawnee Rock lived in a big emigrant house, formerly used as a saw mill were making trips to Larned and Hays City where they had business at the land offices. After about three weeks most of the colonists had obtained land, Mrs. Brack, Peter Brack's mother, having bought seven quarters for $7000. At this time Charles Lindas was running a big store at Pawnee Rock and he got most of the trade from the colony. Many of the emigrants paid the railroad company $5.00 per acre for land which it was afterwards learned could have been purchased for $2.50 direct from the company, the increase in tht price being the profit of the agents. During the first winter after their arrival the members of the colony held a meeting to decide on building together in a village, as was the custom in the old country.
It was the intention to have a set of officers, schools, etc., as near like the custom in the old country as possible. Therefore a site was selected on section 11-17-16, just across the line in Rush county. It was given the name of Schoenthal, which in English means Pleasantdale, and for a year and a half the little village prospered, but the residents finally learned that to prove up on a homestead it was necessary that the homesteader live on his own quarter, therefore Pleasantdale was abondoned and the settlers took up their residence on their own land. After about four years, the colony by hauling rock to Otis were enabled to build a church, and even after the town of Pleasantdale was abandoned the church was and still is maintained. During the first few years of work done by the colony the returns were poor, crops did not grow as well as could be expected and it was only those who were possessed of oxen who could accomplish much in the way of development work. Those who owned beasts of burden helped their neighbors. The Brack family in the years 1877-78 got fairly good returns, raising about forty bushels of wheat to an acre, for which they received $1.15 per bushel.
During the first ten yeears many of the men members of the colony went away and worked on the railroad grades and in that way kept their families alive. In this way they struggled along until some of them were enabled to prove up on their land, and they then began to barrow money and buy horses and other animals so that they could farm with better results. Many of the settlers thought they had accomplished a great deal when after proving up on their land they were enabled to borrow $800; some of them taking the mortgage money and left thinking they had done well. However, most of them stayed, and a majority of those
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who went away came back broke and began all over again. There were incidents of people trading their homestead for a cheap shotgun or some such article of about the same value. There was one man who traded his quarter for an $8 watch and said it didn't cost him much as it only cost him four dollars at that, meaning that he had paid that much to prove up after five years on the land. It was the custom of these people for the bride's parents to take a newly married couple into the groom's home, and as a result of this the Brack brothers' mother had thirty-six in her family at one time. The oldest of the Brack boys was a leader in the ccmmunlty, and after about ten years residence in this country he had saved a little money sufficient to buy some quarters adjoining his land near Olmitz. Then Mr. Brack began to send back to the old country for friends and relatives and when they arrived here they would be given land with a chance to pay for it on easy terms and since that time the community around Olmitz, Albert and in that part of Barton County has grown and prospered but the little village of Pleasantdale has passed away and remains only as a memory with those who made the trip on the Salle in 1875.
The following were the members of the colony from Russia that founded the village of Schoenthal near Olmitz:
Elizabeth Brack and three married sons.
Henry W. Brack and wife, Marilies and four children.
George Brack and wife, Marick and one child.
Peter Brack and wife, Sophia.
Philip Brack, single.
Johannas Brack and wife, Justine and two married sons.
Phillip Brack and wife, Christine and two children.
J. H. Brack and wife, Krethe.
J. C. Brack, single.
Peter J. Brack, single.
John Brack, single.
Kate Brack, single.
Philip Hergert, wife and son-in-law.
Hy Schenerman, wife and several children.
Adam Hergert, wife and several children.
Philopp Peter Kieweno, wife and son.
Henry Kleweno, wife and son-in-law.
Henry Rapp, wife and several children.
Christian Kleweno, wife and children.
Johannes Schenerman, wife and children.
George Schenerman, wife and children.
Heinrich Schenerman, wife and one child.
Conrad Schenerman, wife and children.
Adam Schenerman, wife and two children.
Karl Goetz and wife.
John Weigant, wife and two children.
Philip Hardman, wife and children.
Andrew Lesser, wife and children.
David Lesser and wife.
Adam Ruhl, wife and one child.
Johannes Kieweno, wife and two children.
Johannes Stang, wife and one child.
Johannes Miller and wife.
Conrad Schenerman, wife and one child.
Heinrich Schenerman, wife and four children.
Conrad Schenerman and wife.
Conrad Wilhelm, single.
Domminick Burghart, wife and two children.
Of the names mentioned in the above list many have left this part of the country and gone to other points. The last mentioned, Domminick Burghart, was the village blacksmith and tinner in Schoenthal for several years. Later he and his wife went back to Austria but the children, Frank and Rachel are bothel married and living in this state. Many of the Schenermans, Klewenos and Millers, Ochs and Schiegels have gone to the western part of the country.
Those who have remained in Barton County are still living are as a rule well fixed and contented. Of course many of them have died during the years since Schoenthal was established, but their children are still here to go on with the work of building a home under more desirable conditions than those which caused them to leave their fatherland for the new world.
Among the old tmers of Barton County who took an active part in the political and general history of the county was C. F. Diffenbacher. He was born April 5, 1835, in Pennsylvania and came west in 1856. He settled in Illinois and for several years taught school in that state. When the civil war began Mr. Diffenbacher enlisted and was discharged at the end of the war as First Lieutenant Company G. 18th Regiment, Illinois Volunteer Infantry. During his residence in Illinois he held several positions of trust among them being assistant revenue assessor for the 9th Congressional District of the state, having received this appointment from President Andrew Johnston. He resigned this office in September, 1868 to run for the office of clerk of the circuit court and ex-officio recorder of Case County. He was elected and served several years. Mr. Diffenbacher came to Great Bend in 1873, his family following in 1874. Before coming to Kansas he studied law in the office of Pollard & Phillips of Beardstown, Illinois and was admitted to the bar after coming to Kansas. For a number of years he practiced in the state and federal courts of the state and for some time was associated with G. W. Nimocks in the law business. In 1884 he formed a partnership with D. A. Banta which continued until the campaign of 1896.
Mr. Diffenbacher was elected mayor of Great Bend in 1876. (His administration is mentioned more fully in the article in this book under the head of Political History of Great Bend.) In 1889 he was elected a member of the board of education and served two terms. At different times he held the offices of county attorney, 1882-84; was chosen delegate from the 7th congressional district of Kansas to the national Democratic convention at Chicago and helped to nominate Grover Cleveland for the presidency; he was the nominee of the Democratic party for attorney general in 1886; a candidate for county attorney in 1890; was a delegate to the convention that nominated Wm. Jennings Bryan the first time for the presidency. He was married to Harriet Smith of Princeton, Illinois. September 1, 1859, and they were the parents of seven children: Mrs. E. C. Kent, of Clinton, Mo., Mrs. J. S. Ewalt of Springdale, Arkansas; Howard Diffenbacher of Slater, Mo., and Harry Diffenbacher of Barton County, survived their father while those who went before him were Mrs. Lucy Brands, Dora and Frederick. Mr. Diffenbacher was a man who made a great many friends and his death which occurred in March, 1907, was the cause of a great deal of sorrow in the community.
GEORGE W. NIMOCKS was born in Jefferson County, Iowa, May 31, 1844. He received his early education and grew to manhood in his native state. He came to Kansas in 1872 and immediately located at Great Bend where he was known and respected as a good citizen, an able lawyer and a mose estimable neighbor. He was appointed county attorney of Barton County after its organization in 1872 and always thereafter took a great interest in the politics and general life of the county. He was married in 1872 to Miss Elvira Newell of Ottumwa, Iowa and to this union there were born five children: Blanche, Gertrude, Retta, George W. Jr., and Dale. Blanche is now the wife of Dr. B. A. Gardner of Great Bend, Gertrude is now Mrs. Charles Walker, living in California; Retta is now Mrs. Lynn Dana of Warren, O.; George, Jr., is a banker living in Scandia, Kansas, and Dale is the wife of J. H. Hartman of Hoisington. Mr. Nimocks' early life was spent on a farm where he attended the district school and before he had attained his majority he joined the union army and served faithfully until the close of the war. After he had returned home from his military service he attended the Iowa State University in which institution he received the degree of Bachelor of Law, June 28, 1871. In July 1872, he, with a team and wagon, a few law books and some personal effects, landed in Great Bend. The county had just been organized and soon after his arrival he was appointed to the office of county attorney, which position he filled with fidelity and credit. He also filled the same office by election a number of terms before his death. He was the first judge of this judicial district. He filled many other positions of trust with great credit to himself and his friends. Great Bend was his home from the time of his arrival in the county. until his death which occurred in February, 1905. He practiced his profession all of the time in Great Bend. He was present and participated in every term of court until his death. The following is quoted from one of the newspapers published in Great Bend at the time of his death:
"In the death of Judge Nimocks this community and state lost a worthy citizen. His neighhors and friends a truly good friend, the bar an able, upright and worthy member and his clients an attorney and friend who never forgot their interests or the duty he owed them. He among his associates and friends was open and frank and was loyally loved by them, and his enemies respected him for his true and noble qualities. His honor was never questioned and his loyalty to his friends never doubted."
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Transcribed from Biographical history of Barton County, Kansas. ; Illustrated. Published by Great Bend Tribune, Great Bend, KS : 1912. 318 p. : ill. ; 28 cm. Transcribed by Carolyn Ward, July 2006.
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