The history of any community gathers around and about a few, central figures, and the historian of this part of Cloud county will find Koster an ever recurring name in his chronological data. They were among the early settlers in the northeast part of Ottawa county, where they now own and operate several large ranches, but have been closely identified with the growth and prosperity of their adopted home - Miltonvale.
Fredrick Koster, the subject of this sketch, is entirely a self-made man. He came to Kansas at the age of eighteen years. He was born in Middlefield, Massachusetts, in 1852, and a few years later removed with his parents to Bondsville, Massachusetts, where he grew up among the paper and cotton mills of that manufacturing town. His health became impaired, and after taking a sea voyage of several months, decided to take Horace Greeley's advice to young men, and came west in 1870 with George, an older brother; the widowed mother and her family following later. Mr. Koster comes from an old German family. His grandfather, with three brothers, came to America in a very early day and settled in the city of New York, where Mr. Koster's father, William Koster, was born in 1811. He was a paper manufacturer, and drifted about considerably, owning and operating mills at various places in the states of New York, Massachusetts and Michigan. He died in 1857. Mr. Koster's mother was Elizabeth Ann (Greenleaf) Koster, whose father was an extensive land owner in Vermont, and subsequently moved to New Prospect, New Jersey, where Mrs. Koster was born in March, 1815. She was a handsome woman, remarked for her beauty. Mrs. Koster came with her family, as before stated, and took up a homestead in Ottawa county, near the town of Lamar, where she died in 1876. She was the mother of seven children five boys and two girls, all of whom but one are living.
Honorable John L. Koster, their eldest son, is a retired paper manufacturer, prominent in business and social circles at Port Leyden, New York, where he resides. John L. Koster served with distinction during the Civil war in Company H, Twenty-first Massachusetts Regiment, up to June 4, 1864, when he gave his right arm to his country's service. He had started on a promising career of newspaper work and paper manufacturing, but his father's early death changed his plans, and he enlisted in the "Fighting Regiment," as Fox calls it in his history. in the encounter at Cold Harbor, June 2, 1864, nearly seventy-five of his depleted regiment went down. Following the war, Major Koster worked seven years in the Boston postoffice. He then went to the granite hills of New Hampshire, where he accepted the superintendency of paper mills very successfully until 1875, when they were destroyed by fire. While new ones were in course of construction, Major Koster came to New York and accepted the position of superintendent of the Herkimer Paper Company pulp works, where he held forth until retired from active business life. He was presidential elector of his state (New York) in 1888, when Benjamin Harrison was elected, and has repeatedly been honored by his Grand Army associates by being sent as a delegate to national encampments. In 1896 he was elected member of the general assembly, and it was he who first introduced the bill for the removal of hats worn by ladies at the theater. William Koster, the second oldest brother, died at the age of seventeen years, in Bondsville, Massachusetts. Elizabeth A., wife of G.W. Shroyer, a ranchman and well-known citizen of Ottawa county, near Lamar. George, a mining expert, located near Kingman, Arizona. Isabella, the widow of A.L. Parker, is a resident of Minneapolis Kansas, and proprietress of the Parker House, one of the most desirable hotels in this part of the state. Too much credit cannot be given Mrs. Parker as a business woman in every way qualified for the place she occupies. Franklin Koster, the youngest son, is a successful ranchman and cattleman in the northeast corner of Ottawa county, where he owns a section of well improved land, and feeds and raises cattle extensively. He is a prosperous man and president of the Drovers Bank of Miltonvale.
The Kosters came west with neither experience nor capital, determined to make their way - to blaze the road to success, as it were. Mr. Koster relates how for a period of six years or more he struggled with destiny. As a "starter" his mother gave him four Texas steers. He did breaking and earned a horse; then traded his steers for another horse, thus giving him his first team, something to be elated over in those days. Ten years later he added a quarter section to his homestead, and five years subsequently a section, and has continued in this ratio until he now owns the princely possession of three thousand acres, located in Cloud and Ottawa counties. He also leases eight thousand acres for pasture and farming purposes. Much of his land is adapted to the stock industry, and he has at this writing about two thousand head of Texas Pan Handle, four and five year old steers. In 1891 he shipped on the Kansas City market eleven hundred four year old steers that averaged fourteen hundred pounds, and made him a net profit of fifteen thousand dollars. As rapidly as he has accumulated money over and above a safe reserve, it has been invested in land and stock raising, and its effect has done much for the upbuilding of this locality. His land is divided into three tracts, and each provided with modern buildings and improvements. Mr. Koster also has mercantile interests. He became associated with the Schuttler Mercantile Company in 1898, the firm then doing business in Miltonvale, but removed the store to Tulsa, Indian Territory, where they are making a success in merchandising.
|THE KOSTER HOME IN MILTONVALE.|
Mr. Koster's daughters are talented in music, active in church work and a valuable acquisition to Miltonvale society. While not a man to squander his money in ostentatious living, Mr. Koster gives his children every advantage that money can secure, and lives in one of the handsomest residences in the county, known as the "Banker Davis property," which he purchased in 1892, and has since made Miltonvale his home. The house is modern and contains eight rooms. This home is admired for its wide green lawn and beautiful shade trees of soft maple and box-elder. Mr. Koster is a Republican in politics; has held the office of mayor In Miltonvale and served as councilmail and on the school board. He is not only widely known as an able business man and a public-spirited citizen, but foremost in any enterprise pertaining to the best interests of his town or county. He is a man of resourceful energy and nowhere have we found a better demonstration of what a man with pluck and energy can do in Kansas. Mr. Koster is a prominent Mason and has been through all the chairs of the Ancient Order United Workmen.
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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