Biographical History of Central Kansas, Vol. II, p. 879
published by The Lewis Publishing Co, Chicago & New York, 1902
A fact of which due recognition is not universally accorded in connection with the history of the west is that to no foreign element is its presence due in so large a measure as to those who have had their nativity in or trace their lineage to the great empire of Germany. Among those who left the fatherland to identify themselves with American life and institutions, who have pushed their way to the front and who are a credit alike to the land of their birth and that of their adoption, is Henry Roelfs.
He was born in the province of Hanover, Germany, on the 10th of December, 1848. His father, Ralph Roelfs, was there reared and educated, and after arriving at years of maturity he was there married to Henrietta Sleep, also a native of the province of Hanover. They were prominent people there. In 1868 the family bade adieu to the home and friends of their native land and sailed for the new world, locating in Madison county, Illinois, where they remained until 1871. In that year they took up their abode in Topeka, Kansas, where they made their home for three years and then, in 1874, came to Rice county. The father located on the land on which John Roelfs now resides, and there made his home until his death, which occurred at the age of sixty-eight years. The mother also passed away on attaining that age, and both attended the Methodist Episcopal church. The father followed farming as a life occupation, and his efforts in that line were attended with a high and well merited degree of success. They were the parents of seven children, namely: Henry; Rudolph; Frank; Mrs Lena Dell, of Bushton, Kansas; John; Henrietta, now Mrs Diske, of Lyons, Kansas; and Grace, the widow of Walter Clair, and a resident of Farmer township, Rice county.
Henry Roelfs, whose name introduces this review, was reared in his native land, and there received a good education in the German language. At the age of nineteen years he accompanied his parents on their removal to the new world, and after arriving in the United States he went with them on their various journeys, finally locating in Kansas. In 1872 he went to Texas, where he was engaged in railroad work for one year and then returned to Topeka. In 1874 he secured a homestead claim in Rice county, on which was a sod house fourteen by sixteen feet, but as the years have passed he has prospered in his undertakings and he now owns a large and beautiful residence, which was erected at a cost of twelve hundred dollars. From time to time he has added to his original purchase of one hundred and sixty acres and his landed possessions now aggregate eight hundred acres, all under a high state of cultivation. One of the attractive features of the place is a beautiful grove of two or three acres, and he also has a fine large barn and all necessary outbuildings. His is one of the model farms of the locality, and the richly cultivated fields annually yield to the owner a handsome financial return.
In Topeka, Kansas, in 1876, occurred the marriage of Mr Roelfs and Miss Louisa Henrietta Boldt, who was born in Prussia, Germany, in 1849, a daughter of Wilhelm and Charlotta (Joll) Boldt. In 1879 the family emigrated to the United States, and the father died at the home of his daughter, Mrs Roelfs, having reached the Psalmist’s span of three score years and ten. Mrs Boldt still resides with her daughter, and is now eighty-two years of age. This worthy couple were the parents of seven children, - Ernest, Mrs Roelfs, Fred, Frederika, Johanna, Amelia and William. The union of our subject and wife has been blessed with five children, - George, Fred, Henrietta, Louisa and Herman. For many years Mr Roelfs was a supporter of Republican principles, having voted for Garfield in 1880, but he is now a strong Prohibitionist, believing firmly in the principles set forth by that party, and is a strong worker in the ranks. He has many times served as a delegate to county and congressional conventions and has served as a member of the school board. He is a local minister in the German Methodist Episcopal church, being a zealous worker in the cause of the Master.