GEORGE DEBUS. - The twentieth day of June, 1903, witnessed the passing of George Debus, who was identified with the history of the state of Missouri for half a century or thereabouts, and although eight years have elapsed between the time of his death and the present time, yet in the hearts of his family, and in the eyes of the members of the community in which he was so prominent, he still lives in and through his children, and the influence which he left behind him. A history of this section of the country would not be complete without some mention of this able man and some slight review of his life in America.
George Debus was a native of Germany, that glorious Fatherland from which so many of our best citizens have originally haled, and he was born at Hessen, May 24, 1820. He was educated in his home town, and was there reared to manhood, where he carried on the business of farming, a calling which his father had followed before him. When he was about thirty years of age, he severed the ties which bound him to home and country, embarked in a sailing vessel and started for the new world, which was to mean so much to him. After a long, dreary voyage, in the course of which he many times wished himself back on dry land with his fellow countrymen, he arrived at Baltimore, Maryland, where all was bright and sunny, where the vivid hued flowers and the sweet voiced birds vied with each other in their efforts to welcome the stranger. With a strong feeling of hope in his bosom, George Debus took river passage and went to St. Louis. Arrived in Missouri, he had no wish to travel further, but he journeyed by coach from St. Louis to Kansas City, Missouri, then nothing but a scattered collection of houses, where the Indians came and plundered at their will. He stayed in this vicinity for about ten years, until the war between the North and the South broke out, when he offered his services in the cause of emancipation of the slaves, as slavery was a condition which was abhorrent to his nature and his training in the old country. After the war he bought a tract of land adjoining the city, twenty-nine and nine-tenths acres in extent. On this land there was an old Indian log house and in this Mr. Debus lived until he was able to put up a more convenient frame house. The house he built was small, but was so planned that additions could be made from time to time as the necessity and the opportunity arose. By degrees their little home was enlarged and beautified until it reached its present proportions and beautiful aspect. The land was covered with a luxuriant growth of timber, and Mr. Debus cleared the place himself and made the improvements which changed the homestead from a wild forest home to the cultivated farm it is today. Mr. Debus lived there until the time of his death, and he now lies in Quindaro cemetery, near the scenes of his life work.
Soon after Mr. Debus settled in Kansas City he made the acquaintance of Gertrude Rhinehart, a German maiden who came from Hessen Germany, like himself, where she was born January 27, 1839. She was the daughter of Theobald and Elizabeth (Blasch) Rhinehart and she came to America by the same slow route that Mr. Debus had taken, securing passage in an old sailing vessel bound for New Orleans. She was forty-five days on the water, during which time sea-sickness and home sickness mingled with the feelings of terror which the stormy passage inspired. The voyage seemed as if it would never end, but when she arrived in New Orleans, the same beauties of nature greeted and cheered her as had revived the drooping spirits of Mr. Debus on his arrival. She went up the river to St. Louis and thence to Kansas City by boat. Near Memphis the boat broke in two, but fortunately no one drowned, nor did they even fall in the water, which was coated with a thin layer of ice, for the season was winter, and the weather was bitterly cold. As it was she suffered enough hardships and has never forgotten the terrible experiences of that trip. She finally arrived at Kansas City, Missouri, and, the friendship between her and Mr. Debus culminated in marriage, and to the union thirteen children were born. If the couple were at all inclined to be superstitious, the number would have seemed an unlucky one, but although they have of course had their share of trouble, yet on the whole the course of Mr. and Mrs. Debus has been unattended by crosses and difficulties. The death of two of their children was deeply lamented by both parents, and Mrs. Debus has never become reconciled to the loss of her husband, but even as she mourns his loss, she is contented in the love of her children who lavish upon her such affectionate cares as she will permit. Mrs. Debus is a member of the Lutheran church, the faith in which she was trained in the old country. Some brief note of the following children of this honored couple, will be of interest to their friends. Lizzie, the first born, married Mr. Christ Scholtz and lives in Chelsea, at 1804 No. Thirty-first street; William is a farmer and lives in Quindaro township; John is the sexton at Mount Hope cemetery; Henry died in 1900, at the age of twenty-seven years; Mary married Mr. O. Drimell and died in 1901, at the age of thirty-eight years; Philip is a mail carrier and lives at the corner of Thirty-sixth street and Wood avenue; Margaret is married to Mr. M. Deckner; Wilhelmina is the wife of Tony Grindell, a mail carrier of Kansas City, Kansas; and Frank was born January 2, 1876, and was educated in the district school of his township, and has always lived at home on the old farm, which he has managed for some years. In March, 1903, he married Louise (Masengarb) Debus, the daughter of Jacob and Francisco (Robert) Masengarb, both natives of Baden, Germany, where their daughter, Louise was born May 29, 1878. She came to America when she was a lassie of seventeen, going direct to Geneseo, Illinois, from whece she came to Kansas City in 1898 and five years later married Henry Debus who died in 1900, as above stated. Three years later she married Frank Debus, and two children have been born to the union, Frank Jr., and Marie. Frank Jr., has entered the public schools and is a student in the same school that his father attended as a boy, but the teaching has undergone many changes since that time. Mr. Frank Debus does market gardening on his land, and he ships his produce to distant points. He is able to get good prices as his fruits and vegetables are of a first class order, the result of his careful attention. It is a delight to him to occupy himself with the duties on the farm, work which was so ably done by his revered father for years. He is a member of the Modern Woodmen of America, and the Red Men, standing high with his fraternal brethren in that order.
There is no man in all Wyandotte county who was more favorably known that Mr. George Debus; he was respected on account of his uprightness of character and liked because of his many lovable traits.
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