Transcribed from A Standard History of Kansas and Kansans, written and compiled by William E. Connelley, Secretary of the Kansas State Historical Society, Topeka. [Revised ed.] Chicago: Lewis Publishing Co., 1919, c1918. 5 v. (xlviii, 2530 p., [155] leaves of plates): ill., maps (some fold.), ports.; 27 cm.

Fred H. Mahler

FRED H. MAHLER. Nearly every one in Scott County knows the present circumstances and position of Fred H. Mahler, but those whose acquaintance dates back only ten or fifteen years have known him only as one of the most prosperous and substantial farmer ranchmen of the county. He began his career here fully thirty years ago, and there was a long period in which he lived as close to the line of poverty as most of his neighbors, and he has often wondered how he survived the period of adversity and attained the financial independence he now enjoys.

Preliminary to his experiences in Kansas something should be said of his life before he came to this state. Though he is foreign born, Mr. Mahler has spent nearly all his life in America. He was born in Hanover, Germany, December 15, 1863, a son of Henry and Louisa (Duensehn) Mahler. His parents immigrated to America in 1866, locating in Keokuk County, Iowa. The father died there in 1878 when Fred was fifteen years old. The mother died there in 1917. In that county the family lived on a farm. The children were: George, who died in Keokuk County, Iowa; Fred H.; Emma, who married William Benke, of Sigourney, Iowa; Mary, who became the wife of George Killmer, of Winona, Idaho; Sophie, who married George Meyer, of Sigourney, Iowa; and Chris, of Sigourney.

The Mahler family on coming to America had little save their native thrift and energy, and Fred H. Mahler grew up with meager advantages. He attended school in some of the country districts in Keokuk County, Iowa. He lived at home with his mother until he reached his majority, and for several years as a wage worker he turned his earnings to the support of the household. When he finally left home his property comprised only a team and a wagon.

This team and wagon he brought with him to Kansas and in addition had about sixty dollars when he arrived in Scott County. By the time he had entered his land and built his first sod house and stable practically nothing remained of his cash asset.

He arrived in Scott County in March, 1886. His present home is in the same section where he located his homestead, which was the southeast quarter of section 18, township 19, range 32. Several other settlers came with him to find homes in this part of Kansas. One of them was G. F. Starr, still a resident of Scott County. Another was Henry Saunders, with whom Mr. Mahler drove across the country from Iowa. All took claims in the same locality.

Mr. Mahler was unmarried when he came to Scott County, and for several years lived alone. His first shelter was a sod house of a single room, unplastered, and roofed over with sod. The stable was large enough for four horses. With the opening of spring weather in 1886 he began breaking the sod and his first important crop was corn. That year he got a small yield of corn, but finally became convinced that corn was not fitted to this climate and soil and it has seldom featured to any extent in his agricultural activities. Better results came from cane, kaffir and milo maise. He also experimented with a view to introducing some of the fruits which had formed a part of every farm enterprise back in Iowa. He planted apples, peaches, plums, cherries and gooseberries, but his plantings seldom realized fruitage and long before he sold the old homestead he had abandoned fruit growing.

While getting started as a farmer and stock man Mr. Mahler depended for a cash income upon such work as freighting, plowing and well digging, and he did much of that labor for several years. The income, so far as not required for actual necessities, was invested in cattle, and he gradually gathered a nucleus for stock raising as the most important feature of his business.

After a few years Mr. Mahler acquired a tree claim adjoining his homestead, and some six or seven years after coming to the county he began investing in additional lands. About 1892 he abandoned his sod house and moved into a frame house which he had moved out from Scott City. In 1908 he sold his homestead and moved to the northwest quarter of the same section. There he erected one of the best farm homes in the county at that time. This home is modern in every particular, and compares favorably in that respect with many city houses. It has running water, bath, is lighted with acetylene gas, and few things have been overlooked for comfort and convenience. At the same time he put up a splendid barn. Mr. Mahler's present land holdings include three quarters of section 18 and a half of section 13 in township 19, range 33; seven quarter sections, two of them in section 20, township 19, range 32; the north half of section 28 and the southwest quarter of section 28, township 19, range 33. Of this land 240 acres are in cultivation and the rest is for grass. All his land is fenced, but the only building improvements are those about his home.

Some years ago Mr. Mahler determined to test the possibilities of irrigation. He put down several wells in the subterranean sheet of water which underlies so much of the soil, and erected windmills for pumping. He now has ten mills in operation when the wind blows, and they are sufficient to furnish water for irrigating about twenty-five acres of alfalfa. The results from this crop have fully justified the expense. Mr. Mahler has met with success in raising the grades of Percheron horses and keeps a registered sire on his farm. His cattle are good grades of Shorthorn. Recently he began raising mules, and has found them less trouble than cattle and fully as profitable. Among other interests Mr. Mahler is a stockholder in the Citizens State Bank of Scott City and vice president of that institution.

His efforts and enterprise have also gone to the making of a better community, and he assisted in organizing School District No. 3. The first school was held on the northwest quarter of section 17, in a sod house built for the purpose by the neighbors. He served seven years as clerk of the board. In politics he is a democratic voter only, and is a member of the Lutheran Church. The family are also of the same religious faith.

In March, 1890, several years after he came to Scott County, Mr. Mahler married Miss Augusta Strickert. They began housekeeping in the frame house which he brought out to his farm from Scott City. Mrs. Mahler's father, Carl Strickert, was of German birth, on coming to America located in Canada, and in 1889 came to Scott County, Kansas, where he passed away in February, 1917. Mrs. Mahler died in September, 1897, the mother of two daughters. Louisa, who was educated in the country schools of Scott County, taught one term, and is now the wife of Owen Macy of Scott County and has a daughter, Leona May. Elsie, the younger daughter, is now a student in the Manhattan Agricultural College.