Three local families were honored this month for having farmed in the county for more than 100 years.
The Geary County Farm Bureau, along with Kansas Farm Bureau President Richard Felts, on Oct. 11 presented the Sesquicentennial Farm award to Kramer Brothers Farms and Century Farm awards to Skiddy Creek Farms and Kramer Brothers Farms.
John and Larry Kramer, owners of Kramer Brothers Farms, and their families, and Bob and Terri Wahle and Susan and Mike Bartosch, owners of Skiddy Creek Farms, and their families stepped into the ring at the JC Livestock Sales sale barn, and Felts presented the special certificates. Rod Wahle was unable to attend.
The land that is now Skiddy Creek Farms was originally purchased by Charles Wahle, who came to Geary County, Kansas, from Pennsylvania. He bought 1,400 acres of land near present day Britt Road in March of 1906. Upon his death in November 1919, his oldest son, 19-year-old Russell Wahle, and his younger brother John farmed the land together for some time afterward. The farm was originally worked with horses, but because the railroad was built through the land, the family had a little grain elevator that was used to load railcars.
Russell later bought another farm in eastern Geary County and moved his family to that farm-site, while John and his sons continued farming the homeplace. However, the original farm was still owned undivided by Russell, John and their siblings. Over the years, the heirs have sold their shares to various family members and neighbors.
Skiddy Creek Farms LLC has retained 265 acres of the original 1,400 that was purchased by their great-grandfather, Charles Wahle. The farm is sharecropped and grows mainly corn and soybeans.
The Kramer Brothers Farms story is bifold.
According to family records, John Fox immigrated from Prussia in 1854. By 1858, Fox had established residence in Davis (Geary) County in the Kansas Territory. He purchased a land warrant from a female member of the Seneca Tribe whose husband had received the warrant for his service in the War of 1812. He went with his witness to the Ogden, Kansas Territory Land Office on Aug. 9, 1859.
His witness made a statement regarding Fox: “He is single, over 21 years of age, and has filed his declaration to become a citizen of the United States. He made settlement on said land on 21 February, 1859 by laying the foundation for a dwelling. It is built of logs and is 12 feet by 14 feet, one story high, has a board roof, one door, and one window and a stove. The applicant moved his bed, bedding, furniture, stove and cooking utensils on about 1 July, 1859.”
Five years later, Fox married Julia Umscheid, who had immigrated with her father and siblings from Germany. They lived in the log cabin until John Fox built a stone house. John moved away from the area in 1893 after separating from Julia Fox, and Julia and her youngest, Augusta, moved to Junction City.
The farm was rented by William Kramer, and following the marriage of he and Augusta on Feb. 24, 1903, at St. Xavier’s Church in Junction City, they made the farm their home and purchased it from Julia Fox. The couple had five children: Clarence, George, Edith, Willard and Lawrence, all born in the stone house built by their grandfather.
Prior to a flood in 1951, William and Augusta moved to a house on Walnut Street in Junction City. The flood took out the main bridge to Ogden, but the farm home and buildings survived. The land remained in family hands, owned jointly by their children. As family members died, surviving siblings purchased the deceased share in the land. Through these purchases, the land eventually came to be fully owned by John and Larry Kramer.
Concerning their other farm’s history, Andrew Kauer, at 30 years old, arrived in Baltimore on Aug. 18, 1891, from Germany. Kauer made his way to Ogden, Kansas, and married Johanna Ehm in 1892. They had one son, Andrew D. (Tom) Kauer. The family farmed in the Ogden community.
Andrew (Tom) Kauer married Clara Zoeller in 1911. They purchased additional farmland in 1921. The couple had two children, Albert and Helen.
Helen Kauer married Lawrence Kramer in 1949, and Lawrence began farming her land. John and Larry Kramer, sons of Helen and Lawrence, took over operation of the property upon Lawrence’s retirement in the late 1970s. Ownership of the land passed to John and Larry upon the death of their mother in 2001.