What Became of the Original Townsiters?



What became of the original townsiters? William G. Cutler's History of the State of Kansas, published in 1883, has long been the source for the history of Eudora's founding. Cutler wrote: "Early in the summer of 1856, an association, composed of prominent Germans, was organized at Chicago, Ill., under the name of the "Neuer Ansiedlungs Verein," with the prime object of making a settlement at some point in the great West. Organizing with fifty members, the association rapidly grew until it numbered over 600 stockholders. In March, 1857, a location committee, consisting of H. Heimann, F. Barteldes and C. Schleifer, were appointed to go West and look up a location, preparatory to the location of a town site."

Christian Schleifer (1828-1866) from Prussia, one of the scouts, later opened a Main Street grocery till he drowned in 1866 after falling off a ferry into a Kansas River whirlpool. His body was discovered days later further down the river. His Bavarian wife stayed in Eudora with three of their children, and her brother, John Richter, according to the 1880 census. Finding Lawrence more attractive, another scout, Friedrich Barteldes (1814-1886), founded a grocery and seed business with an 804 Massachusetts St. storefront and connecting stone warehouse at 805-811New Hampshire Street. He also had a seed facility in Denver to which the company later transferred all operations. No record to date has been found for H. Heimann, which may have a different spelling as many of Cutlers's names do.

Charles Durr who would live permanently in Eudora came with Louis Pfeif, a Chicago draftsman who plotted the town into individual lots, some of which he purchased. The father of four, he returned to Chicago where in 1862 he enlisted in the 3rd Illinois Infantry and soon was killed in the Battle of Shiloh. According to family histories, Pfeiff took his dog into battle who stayed with him even after death. Wrote Robert Weintraub in No Better Friend: "In April 1862, a lone female passenger detrained in the small Tennessee town of Shiloh, the last time Mrs. Louis Pfeiff had heard from her husband he had been about to march into Shiloh, where the Army of the Tennessee under Ulysses S. Grant was invading the western front of the Confederacy. In the bloodiest battle of the war to that point, the Northerners took Shiloh. But Lieutenant Pfeiff of the 3rd Illinois Infantry had disappeared. So his beloved took the train from Chicago down to Tennessee to find out for herself what had happened. She searched among the roughly twenty thousand dead and wounded men, to no avail. She was about to give up and return home when she spotted her husband's dog trotting toward her. The small pooch had been in combat with her master, and now she led Mrs. Pfeiff away from the town to a remoted field, all the way to the unmarked grave in which Louis was buried. Asking around, Mrs. Pfeiff discovered that the dog had been there when Louis was shot, stayed by his side until he died, and then faithfully kept watch at the grave site for twelve days." The dog went back to Chicago with Mrs. Pfeiff where Louis was later brought for burial in a cemetery.

William G. Cutler's History of the State of Kansas also stated: "On the return of the committee, it was decided to at once colonize the place. Sixteen members, who represented different trades and professions, were elected by the association and sent out under the leadership of P. Hartig, for that purpose. Following are the names of this hardy band of pioneers: P. Hartig, J. Fischer, J. Schiesgroohl, J. Leoterle, A. Herling, J. Schoartz, G. Buttner, A. Schirrner, M. Marthey, Fred Deirhmann, A. Veroh, C. Epple and wife, G. Kerg, C. Maxilius, Anton Goethhes, H. Baserman. The expenses of the party were paid by the association. Seven other members came out with the party, but paid their own expenses. The party left Chicago April 11, 1857, and arrived at their destination, April 18, 1857, and commenced erecting rude log buildings and making other crude improvements."

However, later news articles, obituaries, family histories, books, and other references show that Cutler's list had several misspellings, although, some of the names may have been Americanized. Using this list as a base for the original settlers and other sources, here is a look at what happened to Eudora's first settlers. A native of Heimbuchenthal or Bayern, Bavaria, Peter Hartig donated the land for Holy Family Cemetery in 1865. He was an original townsiter, and first came to New York, before moving on to Ohio, and Chicago. On the tombstone of his wife, Franzisca Streh, who died at age 75 one year before Peter, was written: "Herr gibe ihnen die ewige ruhe." They had six children: Emil, Theresa "Tessie" (Stumpf), Barbara (McDonald), John, Lother, and Frank. Peter, who was carrying a basket of eggs, was killed by the Santa Fe California Flyer, 50 feet from the rear gate of his home, when he was crossing three tracks on his way to shop. His daughter, Theresa, called to him as she heard the whistles of the train, but Hartig's hearing was impaired and he did not hear the approaching train, nor his daughter's shout. Before he could cross the track, he was struck and hurled 100 feet or more. The only witness to the accident was Charles Lothholz, who watched it from the window of his lumber yard. Hartig's obituary described him as "a most kind man, scrupulously honest, and sincere with all dealers." It also said he was "eccentric" even "stubborn" if he thought his rights or the rights of his children were being violated.

Julius Fischer, who started a saw mill in between Eudora and DeSoto, married Teckla Menger in 1865, and left in 1868 to open a retail ice business in Lawrence and built a home at 702 Rhode Island Street, according to the December 8, 1960 Journal-World and Douglas County Historic Building Survey. He also bought an interest in the Menger family shoe store established in 1865, wrote Otto Fischer, in a 1936 advertisement. John Schiesswohl enlisted in the Union Army and later lived out his days in Chicago.

J. Lederle died in the summer of 1857; his wife sent a letter to the newspaper in 1907 from her home in Traverse City, Michigan, asking about the "old-timers." He was buried near the Eudora ball park of the early 1900s.

About J. Schwartz, in 1860, a Fred Schawartz was a city official as was a C. F. Shwartz, and a F. Schwartz was a teacher; however, the name had disappeared by 1880 from census reports.

Georg Buttner died in May 28, 1858 and was the first recorded burial in the town cemetery.

Adolph Shiner (1831-1911), left his home in Schweinnitz, Prussian Silesia, with two others in 1854 for Baltimore. A printer, he went on to Cincinnati, and then to Eudora "to found a town that was his own idea of right." By 1860, Schinner was working in Lawrence and left with a group bound for the Pike's Peak gold fields. By 1862, he had opened a bakery in Denver, and, five years later, he was a member of the first territorial state legislature of Colorado and would go on to be a real estate investor owning 160 acres in east Denver.

Michael Marthey? He was in Eudora until 1859 at least, because he was on the city council at that time.

Frederick Deichmann (1831-1904) opened butcher shop and also farmed. In 1861, he married German-born widow Henrietta Kufman Harbold. They operated a butcher shop and stockyard in Eudora. However, after Quantrill's Raid, the couple closed their store and moved to devastated Lawrence to open a meat market, according to Katja Rampelmann's 1993 University of Kansas dissertation "Small Town Germans: The Germans of Lawrence, Kansas, from 1854 to 1918."

A. Veroh, known as "Napoleon," was almost instantly killed while felling a large tree between the Kansas River and Wakarusa Creek on what is known as the old Hartig farm," said Will Stadler in his 1907 account "Eudora Fifty Years Old!" The farm was north of Eudora between the Kansas River and Wakarusa River and bought by Joseph Schopper.

Christian Epple (born 1828 in Wurttemberg 1828), a cooper, died Dec. 27, 1888 when killed by a train. He is buried in the Eudora Cemetery.

Another who stayed was Joseph Herz (1829-1914), a carpenter from Bavaria, who came with wife, Katharina (Randle), born in Babenhausen, Bavaria. He was the last of the original "Sixteeners" to die.

Casper (or Kasper) Marfilius (1822-1875), who owned a lot at 711 Main Street where the I.O.O. F. building was later built and had tried to warn Lawrence of Quantrill, died at age 53 of "apoplexy" while in Lawrence and was buried in the Eudora city cemetery. A Leavenworth Weekly Times article on June 3, 1875, said he died suddenly of paralysis in the morning.

Anthony Getker (1824-1904), learned carpentry skills in Hanover, Germany, which he used after he sailed to New York on a seven-week voyage. After three weeks, he went on to Indianapolis and then to Chicago. There he bought two shares of the in the town company and came to Eudora in the latter part of 1857. A carpenter and town undertaker, he owned several buildings in Eudora in addition to the 100 acres he bought from the Shawnee in 1860. He and wife Rebecca (Baker) stayed in Eudora and were members of Holy Family church.

Henry Basemann (also found in print as "Baseman" and "Bausman") from Sendersleben, Saxony, Germany, moved to Fort Scott in 1873 or 1878 and lived there at least 50 years later, yet often visiting Eudora and keeping his club memberships. He originally went to New York City, then Quebec, Canada, around 1846, before joining the Eudora townsite company in Chicago, according to Cutler's History of the State of Kansas. The Basemanns operated a "road house" north of the on the road to Lawrence, according to John Cook, the author of The Border and the Buffalo. Basemann sold beer, pies, cakes, bologna, cheese, and other food to travelers from the front part of his house across from his living room. Surrounded by a garden, the inn was a few feet off the road.

As for the group members who came with the Sixteeners, but paid their own expenses, Anton Gufler (1832-1915) came to America from Bavaria, Germany, in 1854 and worked three years in Chicago as a boilermaker before coming to Eudora and marrying Grace Kellerman. He served in the United States commissary department throughout the whole of the Civil War then operated a saloon and grocery in Eudora for 28 years before moving to Lawrence. He is buried in Holy Family Cemetery next to his five of his children who died under the age of five.

Charles Lothholz (1835-1909) became a leading citizen in Eudora with a lumberyard, Kaw Valley State Bank, and farm as just a few of his enterprises. Fred Pilla started a general merchandise store and later partnered with his brother, Charles, before dying in 1871.

August Ziesenis (1829-1903), a native of Barregsen, a village in Hanover, Germany, said to be an original townsiter in his wife's 1918 obituary, helped build several of the town's early houses and stores, including the first log cabin. He sold his 29 acres by the Wakarusa on Tenth Street in 1887 to developers of the town's short-lived mineral springs resort. Ziesenis also owned a farm in Leavenworth County where he pioneered irrigation of water from the Kansas River to bottomland farms.

Will Stadler mentions Henry Fendt and John Brender in his listing of living townsiters in 1896. Henry Fendt (1820-1904), a shoe maker born in Osterhorn, Holstein, Germany, came to Eudora in 1857, stayed, and is buried in the Eudora Cemetery. John Brender opened a blacksmith shop in 1857 south of Eudora and continued in his trade on downtown Main Street.

Aaron Urbansky, also mentioned as a townsiter, according to The Recorder and Period (January 7, 1885) and local St. Mary's historian, Dorothy Hoobler, operated a dry goods store with Henry Cohn in St. Mary's with a branch store in Rossville (by 1882) and was active on town's city council. He also established the Mason order there, and the St. Mary town park has a road and picnic shelter named for his family. Lawrence records show his will is in the Douglas County courthouse, and advertisements for the Urbansky clothing store in Lawrence appear in the 1899 Eudora newspaper.

Stadler, also, in a February 15, 1923 obituary of Alfred Kraus, said Kraus was "a son of Daniel Kraus, one of the original 23 men that left Chicago April 11, 1857, for the purpose of colonizing the town of Eudora, arriving here on the 18th day of April 1857. . ." Daniel Kraus, born in Frankfort-on-the-Main, Germany, in 1831, came to the United States at age 18 and lived in New York City and Chicago before forming the colony that came to Eudora. He married Polly Williams in Eudora in 1859 and became a town police official and livery owner. One of his four children, John, died in an accident, and the shock of that plus his Bright's disease of the kidneys caused his death in 1903.

Another Eudora first settler who moved to Lawrence was Abraham Summerfield. Originally from Russia, he left Eudora in 1863. He died at age 59 and was buried in the "Israelitic cemetery" in Leavenworth, according to an 1880 Die Germania newspaper. Two others who came to Eudora at or soon after its founding were John Buck, who owned several properties in downtown Eudora and died in 1889 in Eudora, and Charles Achning, who lived in Eudora for many years before moving to Lawrence.

Copyright 2017. Cindy Higgins. Where the Wakarusa Meets the Kaw: A History of Eudora, Kansas. Eudora, KS: Author.