From the collections at the Leavenworth County Historical Society and Museum. Reprinted with permission from The Leavenworth County Historical Society and Museum and the Leavenworth Times. Donated by Debra Graden.
In my "March Events of Local History", in the Times of Sunday, March 19, I inadvertently made the following statement:
"M. E. Franke, pioneer Leavenworth grocer, was born March 17, 1837, in Germany."
Now comes Mr. Ed. J. Butt, of Leavenworth, who has "Called" me on the above statement, in a letter date March 27, 1950, in which he says, in part:
"Dear Mr. Remsburg:
"I trust you will pardon a perfect stranger for taking the liberty of writing to you. As a native born Leavenworthian, nearing my 82nd birthday, I read with pleasure and interest your letters in The Times, which are always so accurate in every detail."
However, you did "slip-up" in a recent article regarding "Mr." M. E. Franke. Henry and Charles Franke, brothers, conducted for many years a retail grocery at 5th & Choctaw, under the firm name of Franke Brothers. Every body called Charles by the familiar name of "Charley" and he was so known to hundreds of friends.
Some time later "Charley" Franke resumed business under the name of M. E. Franke, the 'M.E.' being the initials of his wife, Martha Elizabeth. She was the daughter of Wm. Tanner, who owned and operated quite an extensive apple orchard adjoining the S.W. corner of Leavenworth, now a part of the city, having been platted as Tanner's Addition and now one of the choice residential districts.
My mother and Martha Franke nee Tanner, were very intimate friends.
A daughter of Charles and Martha E. Franke, Mrs. Flora Kieth, still resides here, a member of the Wm. Small Memorial Home for elderly ladies.
She and I were school mates, and I was well acquainted with the Tanner and Franke families.
Possibly you may have known my father, John Butt, who operated the O.K. Bakery on 5th St., one-half block south of 3-mile creek. This location was also just south of the M. E. Franke store."
I am glad that Mr. Butt has "set me straight" in this discrepancy, for I have always been a stickler for accuracy in historical recording, whenever and wherever the true data is available, at the same time admitting that there is no chronicler of history who is infallible at all times. In fact there never lived that human who did not make mistakes.
In this particular instance it simply was a confusion of names, in other words, and oversight, on my part. My authority was Andreas' "History of Kansas," printed 67 years ago, an almost worn-out, dilapidated copy of which I have had in my possession for something like a half a century.
In the Leavenworth section of this large volume appears a biographical notice headed, "M. E. Franke" In hastily reading the sketch, as I did, one can easily see how I could have made the error by confusing names, not yet having received Mr. Butt's enlightening letter. The Andreas sketch, verbatim, is as follows:
"M. E. FRANKE, dealer in groceries and provisions; business established in 1857, by Brunard & Franke.
The present firm, M. E. Franke, succeeded in 1875. He carries a stock of about $5,000, and does a yearly business of $40,000.
Charles Franke was born in Buckebury, Schoumburg, Lippe, Germany, March 17, 1837. He was educated in Germany and served his time in the grocery business.
In 1855 he emigrated to the United States and settled in Indianapolis, Ind., where he engaged in clerking. In 1864 he went in partnership with his brother in the grocery business.
In 1862 his brother and himself raised the first company of volunteers. They were mustered in as Company I. 1st Regiment Kansas Volunteer Infantry, and served until mustered out at Fort Leavenworth in 1864.
He..favorably.. distinguished himself at the battle of Wilson's Creek, Mo., Tuscumbia, Ala., Talahatchie, Miss., Bayou Macon and Lake Providence, La.
He returned to Leavenworth and again engaged in the grocery business.
Mr. C. Franke was married in Leavenworth, March 23, 1865, to Miss Martha Tanner. They have four children--Ida, Flora, Mary and Charles. Mr. Franke is a Member of Metropolitan Lodge, No. 27, and Far West encampment No. 1 IOOF., also of Custer Post No. 6, GAR.
He has been a member of the City Council three terms."
Andreas has a brief sketch of Mr. Butt's father, John Butt, which is so badly mutilated that I can't make anything out of it. It contains no sketch of Henry Franke. I remember Charles Franke and John Butt quite well.
The Times, in its "40 year ago" items, recently printed the following:
"Charles Franke, a well known grocer and pioneer citizen of Leavenworth, who with Henry Hiller of Atchison, is one of the few survivors of the battle of Wilson's Creek, in this section, is very ill."
When I was engaged in newspaper work in Atchison, back in the"gay '90s," I knew Henry Hiller intimately. He was a police officer in Atchison then. He told me much about the battle of Wilson's Creek, and I recall how he and his old comrade, Charley Franke, used to get together and fight that famous battle all over again. It seemed to be their favorite hobby.