HENRY O. GRAFKE, engaged in agricultural and stock raising enterprises in Quindaro township, Wyandotte county, Kansas, is one of the most energetic, enterprising and successful business men of this section of the state. He has been identified with the great land and farming interests of Kansas since early manhood and it seems that he has always possessed an open sesame to unlock the doors of success in the various enterprises in which he has been involved. He is now the owner of some two hundred and fifty-seven acres of the finest land in the county and his elegant buildings in the midst of well cultivated fields are ample indication of the practical ability of the owner. Diligent in business affairs, Mr. Grafke has carved out a fine success for himself, and in public life he has ever manifested a deep and sincere interest in all matters affecting the general welfare.
The father of the subject of this review is Henry J. Grafke, whose birth occurred near Hamburg, Germany, on the 10th of October, 1827, and who is now living in retirement in Germany. He came to the United States on the old steam ship Columbia about the year 1867 and after his arrival in this country he first went to Wisconsin, residing at Madison for a number of years. In 1870 he came to Kansas, where he worked on a steam boat for a time, After sending for his family, in the fall of that year, he purchased a farm three miles west of Wyandotte, the same being a piece of unimproved, wild land, on which he erected a little brick house from brick of his own manufacture. Here his wife, whose maiden name was Marie Drube, died in 1872, at the age of fifty-three years, she being buried in the old Indian cemetery. Mr. and Mrs. Grafke became the parents of five children, whose names are here entered in respective order of birth: Elizabeth, August, Henry O., Dora and Bertha, all of whom are living, in 1911. In 1882 the father returned to Germany, where he is passing the evening of his life in full enjoyment of the fruits of former years of earnest toil and endeavor. Elizabeth Grafke married Fred Fanteck, Dora became the wife of Henry Wehmeyer; and Bertha wedded William Raymond, all of them being residents of Kansas City, Kansas.
Henry O. Grafke, whose name forms the captain for this review, was born in Germany, on the 21st of February, 1855, and he was a child of twelve years of age at the time of his parents' removal to the United States. His preliminary educational training was obtained in the district schools of Wisconsin and Wyandotte county, Kansas, and he early became associated with his father in the work and management of the homestead farm. In 1882 he purchased a tract of sixty acres of land in Quindaro township and later he added to the original tract some thirty-five acres. Prior to his father's return to the old Fatherland, he deeded the son a tract of eighty acres on the river bottoms, and to this estate Mr. Grafke has since added sixty acres by purchase and twenty-two acres which his wife inherited. He has introduced all kinds of modern improvements on his farm and has raised his land to a high state of cultivation. In 1882 he erected an attractive and spacious farm house which was later torn down in order to give place to the magnificent country home erected in 1898. This residence is one of the most beautiful in the entire countryside and it has been the scene of many attractive social activities. In addition to general farming, Mr. Grafke devotes considerable attention to the raising of high grade stock and in all his ventures he has met with marked success.
In the year 1882 was solemnized the marriage of Mr. Grafke to Miss Christina Helen Sherman, a daughter of Morris and Christina (Forbes) Sherman. She was born in Quindaro township, Wyandotte county, on the 18th of February, 1858, and died July 14, 1911. Two sons and two daughters survive, Ernest, Harry, Christine, Marie. Ernest Grafke married Eva Sortor and they are the parents of three children: Marian, Edgar and Roger. Marie is now Mrs. Charles M. Burton and she resides in Kansas City; Harry is a veterinary surgeon in government service at Big Springs, Texas; and Christine is the only daughter at home at Grafke Heights, residing with her father. Morris Sherman was born in the state of Maine and his wife was a native of Scotland. After their marriage they lived for a time in New York, whence they removed to Wyandotte county, Kansas, about the year 1858. At that time they purchased a tract of one hundred and forty acres of land from the Indians, part bottoms and part on the bluffs. He built a log house, in which the family lived for a time and in addition to the work of clearing he got out hundreds of ties for the Chicago and Great Western Railroad then in progress of construction in this part of the country. During the period of the Civil war he was in the undertaking business in Kansas City and made and sold large numbers of caskets for the soldiers. Mr. Sherman was summoned to the life eternal in the year 1881, at the age of fifty-six years; and his cherished and devoted wife passed away in 1894, at the age of sixty-four years. They are both buried in Quindaro cemetery. Mr. and Mrs. Sherman were the fond parents of four children: Charles, Roger, Helen and Susan, the first three of whom are deceased. Susan is the wife of Charles Geib, of Springfield, Nebraska.
In his political convictions Mr. Grafke is aligned as a stalwart supporter of the principles and policies propounded by the Democratic party and while he has never been incumbent of any political office, strictly speaking, he is ever on the alert and enthusiastically in sympathy with all measures and enterprises advanced for the good of the general welfare. He is affiliated with a number of fraternal and social organizations of representative character and in their religious faith the Grafke family are consistent members of the Baptist church, to whose charities and benevolences they are liberal contributors. Mr. Grafke is a man of splendid executive ability and tremenduous vitality and the fine success he has achieved is the more gratifying to contemplate inasmuch as it is entirely the outcome of his own well directed endeavors. By reason of his exemplary life and fair and honorable methods in all business dealings he commands the unqualified confidence and esteem of his fellow men and it has been said concerning him that the circle of his friends is coincident with that of his acquaintances.
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