A well-to-do farmer and stockman and owner of one of the most desirable country homes in Arion township is W.G. Kocher, the subject of this sketch. He is one of those thrifty and enterprising Pennsylvanians that are seldom otherwise than prosperous. He was born in Mercer county, Pennsylvania, in 1849. He is a son of George and Elizabeth (First) Kocher, both of German origin and natives of Pennsylvania. George Kocher was twice married. W.G. is the youngest son of the second marriage and one of eight children, six of whom are living. Mrs. Kile, living in Center township is a sister.
When Mr. Kocher was nine years of age his father died, and at the age of eighteen years he entered upon farm life. A few years later he secured employment on public works that were in course of erection in his county and later engaged in the lumber business with Gaston Brothers. He had accumulated a little bank account out of his earnings and in December, 1887, came to Kansas, and the following January bought his present farm of one hundred and sixty acres.
He tore down the old stone residence built by the old homesteader, Mrs. Doer, and erected a handsome residence in 1898. In 1893, he added one hundred and sixty acres, the original Eagle homestead lying one mile south, and in 1898 bought one hundred and sixty acres adjoining on the west, most of which is pasture land. Mr. Kocher is an extensive wheat grower. In 1900 he had a fifty-three acre field that yielded a total of fifteen hundred bushels. In 1898 he had a yield of thirty-eight bushels to the acre. During the corn years Mr. Kocher has fed and shipped hogs by the car load. He keeps a herd of graded Shorthorn cattle. His farm is under a fine state of improvement considerable fruit and an inexhaustible well which furnishes water as pure and cold as any in his native state.
He was married in 1871, to Katie I. Riddle, a daughter of Doctor John W. and Rachael Harriet (Close) Riddle. Doctor Riddle is a distinguished physician. He began the practice of medicine in Utica, Pennsylvania. In 1862, he entered the Sixty-first Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry as surgeon of the regiment, remaining until the close of the war. Was with the army of the Potomac. He was born in 1820 in Venango county, On a farm where he lived until twelve years of age when his father sold out and engaged in merchandising.
When seventeen years of age Doctor Riddle entered the Jefferson Medical College, of Philladelphia, where he graduated in 1844. He is retired from the practice of medicine and now lives with a son in Armstrong county, Pennsylvania, thirty miles north of Pittsburg. Doctor Riddle is a grandson of Edward Riddle who settled in West Virginia after serving in the Revolutionary war, and where Doctor Riddle's father was born and partially reared, and later moved to Pennsylvania. Doctor Riddle's maternal ancestors were of Scotch origin and early settlers in the state of Pennsylvania. The Doctor is the only surviving member of a family of four.
To Doctor and Mrs. Riddle five children were born, viz: Alexander P., ex-lieutenant governor of Kansas, and one of the best known men in the state, is a resident of Minneapolis, Kansas, and editor of the Minneapolis Messenger. Charles M., one of the police force of the city of Youngstown, Ohio. Catherine I., wife of W.G. Kocher, the subject of this sketch. George K., of Armstrong county. Pennsylvania, who is a lumberman operating a saw mill. Marguritta, wife of L.C. Hassenfritz, an engineer in the Thirty-third street steel mills, of Carnegie, Phipps & Co., Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
To Mr. and Mrs. Kocher nine children have been born, eight of whom are living, viz: Charles E., a resident of Minneapolis, Kansas, and editor of the Minneapolis Journal. He left the farm in 1896 and went to work in the Minneapolis Messenger office where he remained six years. He was married to Grace Cline in 1899. Lorena, wife of Will Y. Thornburg, a graduate of the State University of Nebraska. Claudia, wife of William Nelson, a farmer of Arion township. They are the parents of two children, Opal and Gaylord. Those unmarried and at home are, Athelstan, Hattie, Ada, Melvin and Helen.
Politically Mr. Kocher is a Populist. The Kochers are attendants of the Wesleyan Methodist church, New Hope congregation, of which Mrs. Kocher is a member.
Transcribed from E.F. Hollibaugh's Biographical history of Cloud County, Kansas biographies of representative citizens. Illustrated with portraits of prominent people, cuts of homes, stock, etc. [n.p., 1903] 919p. illus., ports. 28 cm.
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