Emma Elizabeth Calderhead Foster.

History of Marshall County, Kansas : its people, industries, and institutions online

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identified with the Republican party and has always taken a keen interest in
the affairs of the community. His worth was recognized in 191 5, when he
was elected as mayor of the home town. During his administration, he has
given the people of Oketo excellent government and many reforms and much
progress have been made. Today, Oketo with its enforcement of law and
order, excellent streets and splendid walks and its own electric light plant,


is one o\ the nKuk-l and pro.^ressixe tdwns of the eonnty. To Doctor \Vood
is due nuich of the crecht for tlie new hfe that has been inangnrated in the
little citv.


Fred H. Pralle, one of the prominent and successful business men of
Bremen, Marshall county, was born in Germany on November 22, 1864,
the son of Jordan and Minnie (Rahlfs) Pralle, both of whom were natives
of the fatherland.

Jordan Pralle was born in 1837 and received his education in the schools
of his native land and as a voung man learned the butcher trade, which he
followed until his death in 1879. He and his wife, who died in 1875, were
active members of the German Lutheran church and were prominent in the
social and religious life of the district in which they lived. They were the
parents of four children, Fred H., Louisa, Justina and Henry. Louisa Hor-
man is the wife of a well-known farmer and stockman of Herkimer town-
ship; Justina Timme resides in Idaho, where her husband is engaged in farm-
ing and Henry is farming in Oklahoma.

Fred H. Pralle received his education in the public schools of Germany,
where he lived until he was seventeen years of age, when in 1881 he came to
the Laiited States. On his arrival in this country he at once came to Kansas
and located in Marshall county, where he worked on a farm for nine years
in Logan township. He then rented one hundred and sixty acres of land
in Washington county. He devoted his time for the next two years to
butchering, after which he rented one hundred and twenty acres of land of
Mrs. Caroline Geishler for one year, at wliich time they were united in
marriage. They continued to live 011 the farm until September, 1910, but
during the last three years the farm was managed by his son. while Mr.
Pralle continued his business in Bremen as cashier of the Bremen State
Bank. He then built his beautiful modern brick house, which is one of the
finest in Bremen.

Mr. Pralle was first married in 1892 to Caroline Geishler, a widow and
the daughter of Fred and Mary ( Breneka) Germer. To this union three
children were born, Minnie Lemke, who lives at Carleton, Nebraska, where
Mr. Lemke is engaged in teaching; Ralph, who is a student in the Theolog-
ical Seminary at St. Louis, and ^\'alter E., assistant cashier of the Bremen
State Bank and is living at home. Caroline Pralle died on September 24,


T908, and on September 9. 1910, Air. Pralle was united in marriage to
Louisa Friedrichs, the daughter of Fred and Catherine (Raemer) Fried-
richs, who were natives of Germany. Mrs. Louisa Pralle was born in
Marshall count\' on June 4. 1865, and was reared on the home farm and
received her education in the local schools. She and Mr. Pralle are promi-
nent m'embers of the German Lutheran church. They are the parents of
one child, Fridel, who was born on January 29, 191 3.

Fred H. Pralle has always taken a keen interest in local affairs and is
recognized as one of the progressive and successful citizens of the county.
In addition to his interests in the bank, he owns a splendid farm of one
hundred and seventy-five acres in Herkimer township, which is under high
cultivation and well improved. His ability as a business man was noted
when he assisted, on August 7, 1907. in the organization of the Bremen
State Bank, by the following named representative people of the county :
Charles F. Pusch, P. E. Laughlan, \\\ H. Smith, Frank Yaussi, William
Rabe, F. W. Stohs, Ernest Koeneke. On the completion of the organiza-
tion the following officers were elected : President, William Rabe ; vice-
president, F. W. Stohs, and cashier, Fred H. Pralle. The bank was opened
for business on September 14, 1907, and conducted successfully during the
trying times of 1908. The first location of the bank was in a one-story
frame building, where they continued until the disastrous fire of March 17,
1908, when not only the bank, but the entire business district of the town
was burned. The Ijank at that time had no vault, but had a burglar-proof
iron safe, in which was some five thousand dollars in currency the most of
which was mutilated by the heat. On advice from the department from
^^'ashing•ton, W. H. Smith, one of the directors of the bank took the cur-
rency to Washington, after the safe had cooled. After a thorough exam-
ination the money was all restored, with the exception of a five-dollar bill
that could not be identified. The bank was at once reopened after the fire
and for some time they operated in a box-car on the Rock Island railroad,
which was the only available location. At the time the bank established the
business in the box-car. they had deposits of thirty-nine thousand nine
hundred se^•enty-five dollars and thirty-five cents and when they removed
to their new building they had a deposit of seventy-two thousand three
hundred thirty-eiglit dollars and thirty-nine cents. During the time they
were doing business in the temporary quarters they built tlieir present sub-
stantial brick building into which they moved on September 10, 1908. The}-
now- have a surplus of five thousand dollars and a deposit of one hundred


and thirtv-five thousand two Inindred and ninety dollars and sixty-seven
cents, and the hank is recognized as one of the strongest in tliis part of
Kansas. Througli the efforts of Air. Pralle, who lias heen the cashier since
the organization, much credit is due for tlic high standard to which the
hank has risen. He has given his unliring efforts to the work, and by his
business-like methods and courteous treatment of the public, he has the
confidence and tlie respect of all. His constant aim is to serve the patrons
of the hank in the best manner possible, consistent with good banking, and
the success of the institution demonstrates his abilitv in this line.


Among the prominent citizens of Logan township, Marshall county,
who have won success and recognition in the county is John Pecenka, who
was born in Bohemia on April 21, 1847, the son of John and Kate (Casper)
Pecenka, both of whom were born in that country.

John Pecenka, the father of the subject of this sketch, was born in
1825 and received his education in the schools of Bohemia and there grew
to manhood. When a young man he engaged in the grist-milling business,
at which he worked until 1861, when he decided to come to America. On
his arrival in this country he located in Iowa, where he rented a farm and
engaged in general farming and stock raising for eight years. He then
came to Kansas and homesteaded one hundred and sixty acres of land, and
at the same time pre-empted one hundred and sixty acres in Marshall
county. This he developed and improved and here he did general farming
and stock raising until his death in 1902.

The elder John Pecenka was first married to Kate Casper, who died
at the birth of a daughter and when John, the subject of this sketch, was
two years of age. He later married Anna Fleder, who was also born in
Bohemia, her birth having occurred in 1830. Mr. and Mrs. Pecenka were
members of the Catholic church and were prominent in the social life of
the district in which they lived and where they were held in the highest
regard by all who knew them. By his first wife Mr. Pecenka was the
father of two children, one who died at birth and John. By his second mar-
riage eight children were born as follow : Joseph, a well-known farmer of
Iowa; Frank, who resides in Minnesota and is a railroad engineer; Anna,
the wife of Joseph A. Sedlacek, a prominent merchant of Bremen, Kansas;









Wesley, a musician of Seattle, Washington; Anthona C, a successful farmer
of Logan township; Mary Pejsa, who lives at Hanover, Kansas, where her
husband is a prominent dry-goods merchant: Milton is a well-known farmer
of Logan township; Millie Sedlacek is a resident of Logan township, where
her husband is engaged in farming and stock raising.

John Pecenka, the subject of this sketch, received his education in the
schools of his native country, where he lived until he was thirteen years
of age, when he came to the United States. His mother having died when
he was but a small child, he on coming to this country made his home with
an uncle until he was eighteen years of age. He then sought work in the
woods of Minnesota and later assisted in rafting logs down Black river
and Mississippi river. With much difficulty the logs were at last floated to
Rock Island. The raft broke at Rapid City, Illinois, where there a_re great
rapids in the river, and Mr. Pecenka came near losing his life. He then
gave up the work and was engaged in the harvest field in Iowa, where he
remained during the season. He then spent a month visiting his father at
Cedar Rapids, Iowa, when he returned to the farm of his uncle, where he
engaged in clearing land and cutting wood until 1869, when he came with
his father from Cedar Rapids, with an ox team to Marshall county. Here
he and his father each homesteaded one hundred and sixty acres of land in
section 30, Logan towaiship. \lr. Pecenka improved and developed his
tract and has since made this his home, where he is successfully engaged in
general farming and stock raising. He generally keeps about fifty head of
high-grade Shorthorn cattle and as many Poland China hogs, and is today
recognized as one of the substantial men of the township and county. It
has only been by hard work and close application to business that he has
succeeded in his work. As a child and young man he experienced many of
the sterner realities of life, and after reaching manhood he was compelled
to depend upon himself. Settling in the county when it was new and unde-
veloped, he had to battle with many of the hardships and privations common
to the early settler. He has always been progressive and to him is due
much of the prosperity of this section of the district.

In 1874 John Pecenka was united in marriage to Mary Alexa, the
daughter of John and Kate Alexa, who are among the prominent residents
of Washington county, Kansas, where they are the owners of some of the
best land, all of which is under high cultivation and well improved. Mr.
Alexa was eighty-nine years old when he died on Christmas Day, 19 16, and
his widow is eighty-two. They were long knowai among the substantial


people of the county and held in the highest regard. They were the parents
of seven children, only two of whom are now living.

Mary (Alexa) Pecenka was born in Bohemia in 1857 '^^^^ '"-^ the age
of four years came to the United States with her parents and for twelve
years lived in Michigan, coming to Kansas in 1873, where she continued to
live until the time of her death in 1882. She and Mr. Pecenka were the
parents of four children as follow : Melia Manard, whose husband is a
farmer in Oklahoma ; Louisa Bower, who lives in Kansas, where Mr. Bower
is engaged in farming ; Mary Crevelinger, who resides in Hanover, where
Mr. Crevelinger is engaged in the barber business, and Anna, who makes
her home with her grandparents. In 1883, after the death of his wife, Mr.
Pecenka married Kate Alexa, the sister of his hrst wife, and to this union
have been born the following children : John, in Colorado ; Helen and
Wesley, deceased, and Kate and Sophia, at home. Mrs. Pecenka was born
in Bohemia in 1859 and came to the United States. Mr. and Mrs. Pecenka
are members of the Catholic church and have reared their children in that
faith. Mr. Pecenka is a man of broad views and excellent judgment and
has seen much of the world. In 1907 he visited Europe and spent five
months in tra^•el and sight-seeing. ?.lr. Pecenka has a well-built, modern
brick house, containing eight large, airy rooms, and is equipped with every
convenience for domestic comfort.


Harr}' Bommer, the owner of two Imndred and forty acres of splemlid
land in section 26. Oketo township, Alarshall county, and one of the success-
ful general farmers and stockmen of the township, was born in Benton county,
Iowa, on September 24, 1864, the son of Henry and Christina Bommer, who
were l:r)rn in Germany, the former in 1823 and died in Ee1)ruary, 1889, and
the latter bom in 1828 and died in August, 1914.

Henrv and CIn-istina Bommer received their education in the schools
of their native land, and there lhey grew up and were married. After their
marriage thev established their home in their native land. They later decided
to come to America, where they might have a better opportunity of obtain-
ing a home for themselves and those dependent upon them. On their arrival
in the United States, they located in the state of Illinois in the earlv fifties.
They continued to reside in that state for some years and then located in


Iowa, where they remained until 1879, when they came to Kansas. They
first located four miles nortli of Marysville, after which they moved to Oketo
township, where they purchased the farm now owned hy J. \\'. Gibson.
Here Mr. Bommer engaged in general farming and stock raising with suc-
cess, for many years. He and his wife were among the highly esteemed
people of the township and were held in high regard by all who knew them.
They were the parents of nine children, six having died in infancy. Frank
died in October, 1905, and \\^illiam and Harry are residents of Oketo town-

Harry Bommer received his education in the common schools of Iowa
and Kansas and grew to manhood on the home farm, where he remained
with his father until he rented his present farm, wdiich he later purchased in
1905, and has lived on the place since May, 1887. He has placed all the
present substantial improvements and his house is one of the good farm
residences of the county, and his barn, granary, corn cribs and hog houses are
substantial structures. He takes the greatest interest in the upkeep of his
farm, which is one of the liest in the countv. He believes in the highest
standard of modern farming and the keeping of good stock.

Harrv Bommer was united in marriage in May, 1887, to Nolia Helms,
who was born in the county in March, 1868. She is the daughter of William
and Nancy Helms, natives of Pennsylvania. The parents received their
primary education in the schools of their native state and later located in
the state of Nebraska, where they were married. Shortly after their mar-
riage they came to Oketo township, Marshall county, where they homesteaded
their home farm in 1868. Thev established their home in a log cabin that
they erected, and in which Mrs. Bommer was born. They were true pioneers
and had much to do with the grow^th and the development of the district
Mr. and Mrs. Helms were born in 1834 and 1841, respectively, and the
former died in 1905 and the latter in 1895. They were the parents of four
children as follow : Mary, Sophronia, Nolia and William. Sophronia Bom-
mer is a resident of Oketo township : Mary is now deceased and William is
a resident of Norton county, Kansas. Mr. Helms was a stanch Democrat
and took the greatest interest in the civic life of his home township. Fra-
ternally, he was a member of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows at

Mr. and ]\Irs. Bommer are the parents of four children as follow :
Henry, who was born on October 13, 1888; Myrtle, now the wife of Mr.
Howes, a successful young farmer, residing west of Marietta, and Ernest


and Mthel at home. Mr. and Mrs. Bomnicr arc anions; the prominent people
of Marsliall county, and have lono- been prominent in the social life of their
commnnitv, where they are lield in the highest re,q-ard and esteem by all who
know ihem. Their h\es have been active ones and tliey have accomplished
much that is worthy the highest commendation, ddiey ha\e always taken
much interest in the physical, the moral and the educational development of
the township.


William J. Helvering. an honored veteran of the Civil War, former
mayor of Beattie and the present assistant postmaster of that city, father
of the Hon. Guy T. Helvering, congressman from this district, and of
Alma 'Si. Helvering, postmaster of Beattie, and for years one of the best-
known citizens of Alarshall county, is a native of the state of Ohio, but has
been a resident of Kansas since the year 1887. He was born in Pickaway
county, Ohio, June 8, 1846, a son of Daniel and Susanna (Leonard) Hel-
vering, both natives of Maryland, born near Hagerstown, the former of
whom was born in 18 12 and the latter in 18 19. Daniel Helvering was a
shoemaker and farmer, and his father, wdio was a native of Pennsylvania,
was a hotel-keeper. Susanna Hehering was a daughter of John Leonard
and wife, the former a native of Pennsylvania and the latter of Germany,
she having come to this country with her parents when she was six years
of age. Daniel Helvering early established his home in Pickaw^ay county,
Ohio, and there he spent the rest of his life. His wife died in 1866 and
he survived iier until 1882. They were the parents of thirteen children, of
wdiom the subject of this sketch was tlie seventh in order of birth.

Reared on the home farm in Pickaway county, Ohio, William J. Hel-
\ering received his early schooling in the district school in that neighbor-
hood and supplemented the same by a course in the high school at Circle-
ville, Ohio. During the Civil War he enlisted as a member of Company C,
One Hundred and Fifty-fifth Regiment, Ohio Volunteer Infantry, known
as the Home Guards, and served on garrison duty for four months in the
vear 1865. At the conclusion of his military service he entered the South-
western Normal School at Lebanon, Ohio, and in 1867 began teaching
school in Pickaway county. The next year he went to Clermont county, in
that same state, and was there engaged in teaching for twelve years. In
1879 he engaged in farming and tobacco raising there and later went to the


nearby citv of Cincinnati, where for a year he was engaged in the employ
of the Street Railway Company. That was in the days of the cable system
of the operation of street cars in that city.

In the meantime one of Mr. Helvering's brothers. Louis E. Helvering,
had come to this state and had engaged in the mercantile business at Beattie.
Thither William J. Helvering came in the year 1887 and for a year there-
after was engaged with his brother in the latter's hardware store. He
then, in 1888, was engaged in the sale of fruit trees throughout this part
of the state, and the next year turned his attention to truck farming at
Beattie, where lie owns a snug bit of property. From the very beginning
of his residence at Beattie, William J. Helvering has given his thoughtful
attention to local political affairs and has for years been recognized as one
of the leaders in the Democratic party in that part of the county. He has
held numerous public offices, including that of township clerk, city council-
man, marshal of Beattie, police judge and mayor of the city. It w^as during
his incumbency as mayor of Beattie that the city built the opera house block
and city hall. Mr. Helvering is now servin.g as assistant postmaster of
Beattie, under appointment of his daughter, Alma M. Helvering, who was
commissioned postmaster by President Wilson in 191 5. Mr. Helvering is
a pensioner on account of his services in behalf of the Union during the
Ci\il War and receives eighteen dollars a month from the government.

In 1870, at Felicity, in Clermont county, Ohio, William J. Helvering
was united in marriage to Samantha Jane Jones, who was born in that
county on April 4, 1850, elder of the two daughters born to W'illiam and
Mary (Hicks) Jones, natives of Ohio, and to this union five children have
been born, Edward G., Lillie. Guy T., Robert L. and Alma M., all of whom
are living save Lillie, born on September 3, 1873, who died in 1878.

Edward G. Helvering was born on June 24, 1871, and was educated
in the Cincinnati common schools and in the high school at Beattie. He is
an expert mechanic and steam engineer and has traveled over the greater
part of the globe, the most of the time in government employ, having served
for some time as inspector of the material that entered into the construction
of battleships. For the past eight years Edward G. Helvering has been in
the government employ in the Philippine Islands, as a steam engineer, and
is now in charge of a force of seven hundred men. He married Mrs. Ida
(Williams) McGregor.

The Hon. Guy T. Heh'ering, present member of Congress from this
district, was born at Felicity, Ohio, Januar\- 10, 1878, and received his ele-
mentary schooling in the schools at Cincinnati and at Beattie, this county.


Ill ig03 he entered the L'ni\ersity of Kansas at T.awrence, with the expecta-
tion of completing th.e i)harniacy course tlicre. but in that same year changed
his course of study and entered the law de])artnK'nt of tlie University of
Michigan at Ann Arbisr, from which lie was grachiated in 1906. During
his senior year at the unixersity he was i)resident of his class. Upon com-
pleting his law studies Guy T. Helvering opened an office for the practice
of his profession at Marysville. this county, and was presently elected county
attorney, a position he occu])ied for two terms. He then was elected con-
gressman from tliis di>trict and is now serving in that capacity. On March
t6, 1910, Guy T. Helvering was united in marriage to Tena L. Koester.

Robert L. Helvering, who also was educated to the law, was born on
Janunr}- 27. 1883. and is now engaged in the practice of his profession at
.Mar^s^■ille, one of the best-known young lawyers in this part oi the state.

Alma M. Helvering was born on November 19, 1888, at Beattie, and
was graduated from the high school in that citv. She then took a course in
the fine arts and music at the State University at Lawrence and on January
3, 191 5. was appointed postmaster at Beattie, which position she now occu-
pies. Aliss Helvering continues to make her home with her parents at
Beattie and her father is serving as assistant postmaster. The Helverings
lia\e a \erv pleasant home at Beattie and have for years been among the lead-
ers in all good works in that community.


Among those earnest pioneers of ^Marshall county who wrought well
during the days of their residence in pioneer times in this county, there is
none entitled to more grateful rememl^rance on the part of the present genera-
tion than the late Dr. Julius Johnson Sheldon, one of the first settlers of
Guittard township, who was known as "the father of Beattie," and who died
at his home in that village on ^larch 14, 1884.

Doctor Sheldon was a native of the Southland, born in December, 1830,
but was reared in Ohio, to which state his parents moved when he was a
boy. Early evincing a taste for the medical profession he directed his studies
to that end and in due time was graduated froni the medical college at Cleve-
land, Ohio. In 1854 he married and he and his wife presently moved from
Ohio to Missouri, later, in i860, coming to Kansas and locating at Centralia,
where they w^re living when the Civil War broke out. Doctor Sheldon


straip-htwav returned to Ohio and at Columbus enlisted for service in the
Union arm\-, being accepted as a surgeon, and went to the front. At Loudoun,
Tennessee, he was captured by the rebels and was taken to Dalton. Georgia,
where for some time he ministered to wounded Confederate soldiers. He
then was taken to Liblw prison at Richmond, Virginia, and after six weeks
of confinement there was exchanged. The Doctor then returned home on a
furlough, but presently rejoined his regiment and continued in the service
until discharged. But later he enlisted in the First Veteran Volunteers
Reeiment and he was retained about a vear and was located at Baltimore.
He then was appointed surgeon in charge of the disabled soldiers in the
hospital at Baltimore and continued serving in that capacity for another

Online LibraryEmma Elizabeth Calderhead FosterHistory of Marshall County, Kansas : its people, industries, and institutions → online text (page 54 of 104)