From A Biographical History of Central
Kansas, Vol. II, p. 1152
published by The Lewis Publishing Co, Chicago & New York, 1902
The student of history cannot carry his investigations far into the annals of central Kansas before he learns how important a part has been played in public affairs by the Guldner family as represented by John Guldner and his six sons, who are prominent farmers and business men of this portion of the state. The name is a synonym for honorable dealing, for unflagging energy and for resultant business activity, and no compendium of this character would be complete without extended mention of the family.
John Guldner, the father was born in Bavaria, at Moorlantem, on the river Rhine, and represents a good German family noted for industry, honesty, good business ability, faithfulness and patriotism. His father held a desirable position as weighmaster for a large coal company at Pultz and was honored and respected in the town where he was reared and passed his entire life. He married Susan Baker, also a native of the same village, in which they reared their family and spent their days until called to the home beyond. Their many excellent qualities of heart and mind drew to them the regard of their fellow citizens and made them valued representatives of the community.
The birth of John Guldner occurred in 1825, and in his native village he spent the days of his boyhood and youth, acquiring a good education in his native tongue. He was taught the value of industry and integrity as a basis for future success and the lesson thus learned in youth has been carefully followed through all the years of his manhood. When a young man he entered the Bavarian army and gallantly served for five years during the exciting times when the spirit of rebellion was rife in that part of Europe. General Seigel and General Carl Schurz were also in the army in which Mr. Guldner served as a private. He participated in many engagements, but the troops with which he was associated were finally defeated and he had to flee from the country under penalty of being severely punished for treason. He succeeded in making his escape to Switzerland, thence to France and at Havre, in 1849, he boarded a westward bound sailing vessel, which thirty-five days later dropped anchor in the harbor of New York. Making his way to Erie, Pennsylvania, he there obtained work as a weaver, remaining in that place for eight years.
Mr. Guldner was united in marriage to Elizabeth Frey, who proved to him a faithful companion and helpmate on the journey of life until called to her final rest. She, too, was born, reared and educated in Hesse-Darmstadt, and in 1840 came to the United States, locating in Erie, Pennsylvania, where she was married. In 1857, accompanied by his family, John Guldner removed to the Mississippi valley and for a number of years thereafter resided in Davenport, Iowa, where he obtained a good position with a prominent lumberman, John L Davis. His employer soon recognized his capability and appointed him foreman, a position which he held for more than twenty years. Being faithful to every trust and duty, he was given a large salary and was thus enabled to provide comfortably for his family and also to assist his sons in getting a start in the business world by securing them positions in the sawmill. Industrious and economical he saved all of his salary that he could, made good investments and when in 1879 he came to central Kansas he had a number of thousand dollars to enable him to make an excellent start in his new home.
Wishing to provide better opportunities for his sons, where competition was not so great and where business advantages were still unclaimed he came with his wife and six sons to the Sunflower state and has since been prominently identified with its interests. His children, most of whom were now well grown and had received good educational privileges in the schools of Davenport, aided him in all his undertakings. He brought with him twenty thousand dollars, and having faith in central Kansas and its promising future – a faith which has been justified as the years have gone by – he invested his money here, erecting, in 1880, one of the first grist mills of this part of the state, at a cost of fifteen thousand dollars. He also purchased large tracts of raw land, on which not a furrow had been turned or an improvement made, but with the aid of his boys he began the development of farms, and soon placed the wild tract under a high state of cultivation, the well tilled fields returning golden harvests for the care and labor bestowed upon them. The father and sons are today among the largest tax payers in central Kansas, for their property has risen in value by reason of the improvements they have made thereon, as well as owing to the increasing population, which always advanced realty prices. Substantial residences, large barns and outbuildings, groves and orchards and all modern accessories have been added to their farms, and thus they have contributed to the universal progress and upbuilding.
In 1892 John Guldner was called to mourn the loss of a devoted wife, his sons a faithful mother, for the death of Mrs. Guldner occurred when she was sixty-three years of age. In the family were eight sons, seven of whom reached years of maturity, namely: George, Nicholas, Philip, Ben, William, Gustave and Edward. All are living in the vicinity of the father with the exception of Philip, now a well-to-do and prominent lumberman of Davenport, Iowa. John Guldner makes his home in Eureka township, Rice County, where he is now living at the age of seventy-six years – hale and hearty. He is a man of large stature, six feet in height and weighing over two hundred pounds. He is a man of soldierly bearing and fine appearance – and his physical gifts are an index to the sturdy, upright character of the man. Earnest labor and honorable purpose, these have been the salient features of his life, and while bringing to him splendid financial success his business interests have also been of value to the community, contributing to the upbuilding and commercial prosperity of this part of the state. He has co-operated in many measures for the general good and is a citizen of worth, known and honored in the community in which he has made his home for more than twenty-two years.