Kingman County, Kansas



Jacob Achenbach, farmer, banker and executive was born at Epplesheim, Rhinehassen, Germany, March 22, 1846, son of Johannes and Philipppine Elizabeth (Steinacher) Achenbach. He came to America with his parents at the age of five. His father, who was born in Epplesheim, October 20, 1819, came to the United States in 1852, farming until his death at Taylorville, Illinois. The mother was born in Mauchenheim, Rhinepfalz, Germany, and died at Taylorville, in September 1906.

In 1881 occurred an event which was to exert a lasting influence on Mr. Achenbach's life. He took a trip that July to Kansas, and took up a homestead of 160 acres in Kingman County. He like the new country, and shortly after bought 160 acres more - the only homestead which was proved up in Chikaskia township at that time. It was located about twenty-two miles southwest of Kingman in the forks of Sand Creek and the Chikaskia river.

In the spring of 1883 he moved his family out to Kansas on his homestead, purchased 250 head of cattle and herded them during the summer. There were so many emigrants coming in to take up homesteads that he saw he would be forced to look elsewhere for range for his cattle. Therefore, in the spring of 1884 he purchased 6,300 acres of land in Barber County from Dr. Hardtner of Carrolton, Illinois, for $5.00 per acre and drove his cattle to this ranch.

On the first trip to look over his purchase he stopped at Medicine Lodge over night. The next morning he was an eye witness to the famous bank robbery in which the president and cashier of the Medicine Lodge bank were killed. The town marshal exchanged shots with the bandits, but they escaped to canyons a few miles distant, where they were surrounded and finally captured after a gun battle.

They were lodged in the town jail. That evening a mob gathered. They brushed aside the officers in charge of the jail, shooting the others. Mr. Achenbach still has a vivid memory of the stirring incident.

He was director of the first bank organized in Harper, Kansas. In 1885 he laid out the town of Hardtner, establishing a post office of which he was postmaster for thirty years.

He organized and was vice president of the First National Bank of Kiowa, and in 1908 organized the Kiowa, Hardtner, and Pacific Railraod with I. B. Blackstock of Springfield, Illinois. This road consisted of ten miles of rail from Kiowa to Hardtner. Mr. Blackstock was president of the company. In 1910 it was leased to the Missouri Pacific for a period of twenty years, and at the end of that period the lease was renewed for five years.

During the year 1910 Mr. Achenbach, organized the Farmers State Bank of Hardtner of which he became vice president. In 1915 he and Mr. Blackstock purchased the Beaver, Meade and Englewood Railroad, which at that time consisted of three miles of rail from Forgan, Oklahoma, to Beaver, Oklahoma. He became its president, with Mr. blackstock as vice president. They completed the road, making a total of seven miles and began operating it in 1916.

They continued until 1923 and as they were unable to sell the road to the Missouri Kansas Texas Railroad Company, they connected with the end of that line at Forgan in1924, and started west, building as their funds permitted. After 27 miles had been completed the people who were helping finance the operations withdrew their support and from that time on Mr. Achenbach raised the money to complete the work through his own efforts. In April 1929, the road then 65 miles long, was sold to the Chicago Rock Island and Pacific, subject to the approval of the Interstate Commerce Commission. The Missouri-Kansas and Texas claimed it was in its territory and in November, 1930, the commission disapproved the sale and gave the Missouri-Kansas-Texas permission to purchase the road.

In the meantime the road had been extended another twenty miles to Eva, Oklahoma, a new town being established with the old postoffice moved to the new town and elevators erected. In the spring of 1931, the road started what proved to be the final stretch of line, the last twenty miles from Eva to Keyes, the latter town being on the Dodge City belt line of the Santa Fe.

In July, 1931, the road had been completed to Keyes, a distance of 105 miles and at that time it was sold to the Missouri-Kansas-Texas, Mr. Achenbach then retiring from active railroad operation. However, he will go down in the history of the Oklahoma Panhandle and Kansas as among those foremost in its development.

Mr. Achenbach retained the Kiowa, Hardtner and Pacific, which he has re-leased to the Missouri Pacific. He organized the Achenbach-Baker Mortgage Company, in 1931, for the purpose of making farm loans, and at the present time is president also of the Panhandle Construction Company of Alva, Oklahoma.

On May 2, 1867, Mr. Achenbach, was married to Elizabeth Rathgeber at Taylorville, Illinois. She was born in Epplesheim, Germany, March 4, 1844 and died at Hardtner, July 19, 1929. There are two children, August E., born August 25, 1868; and F. A., in April 1876.

Mr. Archenbach is a Republican, a member of the Evangelical Church and a life member of the Kansas Crippled Children's Association. Residence: Hardtner. (Illustriana Kansas, by Sara Mullin Baldwin & Robert Morton Baldwin, 1933, page 7)


William J. Branden, of Kingman, Kan., the present popular clerk of !he district court, was born at Curwensville, Clearfield county, Pennsylvania, April 4, 1851, the eldest son of John Branden and his wife, nee: Miss Ellen Bloom. The father was a lumberman and spent the whole of his active career in Pennsylvania, where he died in 1901, survived by his wife until 1904. They were the parents of six children: William J. is the eldest; Mary is the wife of Harry Hamilton and resides in Pennsylvania; Josephine married William Kelso and resides in Pennsylvania; Ruby is Mrs. Schoff, a resident of her native State; Frank A. is a successful physician in Pennsylvania, and Russell died in infancy.

Mr. Branden received his education in a Pennsylvania log school house and began at an early age to assist his father in the lumbering business. The Branden home was in the midst of the lumber district of Pennsylvania and there the son was employed until 1882, when he removed to Kingman, Kan., which at that time had no railroad. Different pursuits claimed his attention until 1909, having in the meantime engaged as a laborer, as proprietor of a hotel, and later in conducting a grocery and plumbing business in Kingman. In 1908 he was elected clerk of the district court as the Democratic candidate and proved so popular and efficient in that service that he was reelected to the office in 1910.

Mr. Branden chose as his life companion Miss Pauline F. Conway, whom he wedded in 1889 at Kingman. She is a daughter of John Conway, also a native of Pennsylvania. To Mr. and Mrs. Branden has been born a son, Russell Lowell, born Jan. 24, 1891, and he is being afforded excellent advantages for a good literary education-an advantage denied his father-being a graduate of the Kingman County High School, class of 1910, and is now a student in the University of Kansas.

The first period after the Civil war found Kansas in a state of recovery and readjustment. The last thirty years has been the period of its phenomenal progress and development along all lines, and it is during this latter period that Mr. Branden has been a resident of Kingman county, and he has seen it pass through the same development as the State in general. His success in life has been achieved by individual effort, for he began with no capital, except a pair of industrious hands and a willing heart, and he now owns valuable property in Kingman and has acquired a competency for his later years. The year 1882 was yet a pioneer day for Kingman, and Mr. Branden has ever been a hard worker for the development of the town and for its best interests. His life has been such as to well deserve the respect and esteem of his fellow citizens. (Kansas Biography, Part 2, Vol. III, 1912, Transcribed as written by Millie Mowry)


Henry H. Isley was born in Decatur County, Indiana, November 15, 1843, son of Solomon and rosanna (Knouse) Isley. His father, a farmer, was a native of Ohio, of German parentage, born December 25, 1816. His death occurred at Newton, Illinois, in 1898. Rosanna Knouse, who was born in Germany, died at Newton, Illinois, in 1886.

Eduated in public school, Mr. Isley engaged in farming for a time, was later a trader, and from 1890 until 1897, was the owner and publisher of the Kingman Journal. From 1892 until 1893, he was president of the Kingman State Bank. He is a Democrat.

On September 26, 1867, he was married to Nancy W. Mahan at Sheridan, Iowa. Mrs. Isely, who was born in Iowa, in 1848, died in Dodge City, Kansas, in 1890. There were three children of this marriage, William C., born January 9, 1869, who died March 7, 1887; Myrtle M., born January 13, 1871, who married Edward Bay; and Lillie May, born March 22, 1873; who married Garland E. Armstrong.

Mr. Isley's second marriage was to Ida C. Williams on October 15, 1895. They have two children, Dewey L., born June 3, 1898; and Dorothy J., born April 29, 1906, who is married to Kenneth Crumley.

Mr. Isely served as a private in Company F, 18th Iowa Cavalry in the Civil War fora period of two years and seven months. He is a member of the Grand Army of the Republic, the Christian Church, the Odd Fellows, and a former member of the Masons. Residene: Kingman. (Illustriana Kansas, edited by Sara Mullin Baldwin & Robert Morton Baldwin, 1933, page 582)


Mrs. Emeline Shafer, of Lee township, was born in Kingston, Luzerne county, Pennsylvania, December 9, 1808. Her father was Peter Shafer and her mother was Elizabeth Shoals, both of Pennsylvania. Grandfather Shoals and his wife both came from Germany and both were sold for their passage, as was the custom in those days, that their time for one year should be sold to pay their passage. Being sold to the same man in Philadelphia they became acquainted, and when they left this place they were married and walked the whole distance from Philadelphia to the Wyoming valley along the banks of the Susquehanna river. Here they soon became tenant farmers, and by industry and economy they became owners of a good farm there. Mrs. Shafer had grown up in the same neighborhood with her husband, and though marriage did not change her name, she was not related to him. Of course their means were very small, but their neighbors were in the same condition. After nine years they moved to Ohio by team. This was a pleasant trip of two weeks in 1834. They lived four years in Union county, four more in Madison county, and then traded their nice farm of 100 acres with good buildings and orchard for 160 acres of timber, two miles west of Mt. Sterling village, getting $200 in cash. They again took up the line of march, bringing with them their four children. They moved into an old log stable near their land, which they made tenable for a short time. Mr. Shafer was tired of his trade when he found that much of the fine timber had been cut, and upon making inquiry he found that the man who had taken much out of this timber had used it to fence eighty acres near what is now Fargo. They settled this by trading an eighty of Mr. Shafer's for the improved eighty that had been fenced with his timber. This was the place where Mrs. Shafer now lives, on which there was a comfortable, but rough house 16 x 16, with a fireplace and stick-and-mud chimney. They have lived here ever since. Here Mr. Shafer died in 1864, aged sixty nine years.

They had buried three small children in Ohio and had eight living at his death, although all had gone from home but three. Charles Shafer and his brother Hiram D. were soldiers in the One Hundred and Seventeenth Illinois Volunteers Infantry from Brown county; Charles returned to die at his brother's at Mound Station at the age of twenty eight years. Hiram was in active service as a musician for over three years; Francis was in the ranks from February, 1864, to September of the same year. Of the eleven children born to Mrs. Shafer, seven are still living. Benjamin and Francis are at home conducting the farm for their venerable old mother. She has 170 acres in this farm. She has three motherless grandchildren with her, Maude, Cora and William. Perry Shafer, the eldest son, is a farmer in Kingman county, Kansas; Denison is a farmer in Smith county, Kansas; Wealthy Ann is the wife of Thomas Crabb, a farmer in Smith county, Kansas; Emeline, wife of Jordan Madison, a farmer in Leavenworth, Kansas; and Caroline, wife of James Wilson, a farmer in Kingman county, Kansas.

This grand old lady is now nearly eighty-four years of age and is still as vigorous as most women at fifty years. She thinks nothing of walking three or five miles and attends church regularly in the village. She has a lively recollection of much of her experience in pioneer life. She tells how they shelled the corn by driving the horses over it on the barn floor and drew it sixteen miles to the river market and then sold it for ten cents a bushel. She tells her children that a person can live entirely on corn meal, because she has tried it. All of her experiences, with many of her rough ones, are told with a zest which shows the stuff that this old heroine was made of, and it is refreshing to hear her speak of it as a rich romance in which she took part. ("Biographical Review of Cass, Schuyler and Brown Counties, Illinois 1892", by Biographical Review Publishing Company, Chicago, Illinois; pages 169-170, a reprinted by Stevens Publishing Co., Astoria, Ill., 1971, is sold by the Schuyler County Historical Society, Rushville, Illinois. Submitted by Sara Hemp)



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