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.

George Frederick Spreier

GEORGE FREDERICK SPREIER represents one of the interesting early families of Pawnee County and his own career has been one of sturdy accomplishment and successful citizenship. A boy of seventeen, he arrived at Pawnee Rock with other members of the family on September 7, 1875, and had come hither direct by rail from New York City, where only a short time before he had passed through Castle Garden as an immigrant from Russia. He was born in the Province of Saratov on the Volga River in Russia June 30, 1858. His father, Jacob Spreier, was also a native of the same province, but the grandfather was born in Wuertemberg, Germany, and was one of a colony of Germans induced to settle in Russia and cultivate the farm lands. Jacob Spreier, like his Russian neighbors, was a small farmer and all of them worked the land in the relationship of tenant to the Russian government. Jacob Spreier married Anna Marie Kintsfater, who died in Russia. Their children were: Mary, wife of David Kintsfater, of Bazine, Kansas; David, who died in Pawnee County, leaving nine children; Catherine, who married Philip Bohl and died leaving three children; Adam, unmarried, and a business partner with his brother George; and George Frederick.

Jacob Spreier on leaving Europe went aboard a steamship called the North German Lloyd and one of the vessels of the North German Lloyd Line at Bremen. The only important incident of the voyage was when the ship struck a rock and sprung a leak. It was delayed about thirty-six hours while the water was being pumped out and repairs made. Otherwise the trip was uneventful and fourteen days were spent in crossing the Atlantic. The Spreier family were part of a colony of ninety-nine persons from the same Russian locality, all of them bound for new homes in the United States. In coming west from New York the colony split up at Red Oak, Iowa, and the Spreiers and two other families came on to Kansas. Their original destination had been Little Rock, Arkansas, but in New York they were advised not to go to the warm climate of that state but to keep along parallel lines of latitude into a climate more like that of Central Russia, to which they had been accustomed. Thus it was that the Spreiers came to Pawnee County.

When they reached Pawnee Rock Jacob Spreier had $58 in money. He then contracted with the Santa Fe Railway Company for eighty acres of land, having eleven years in which to pay out. Farming could not immediately supply all the wants of the family and as a means of making both ends meet two of the sons worked on the railway section and on construction work. The first home they had was a dugout of one room, 16 by 20 feet, without floor, roofed with shingles, and plastered with magnesia lime. It was a small house, but it had to accommodate eight people. It continued as the home of the Spreiers until the spring of 1881, when a small stone house 12 by 26, of two rooms, took its place. That is now used as a stable. It was a good warm house and George F. Spreier had it as his home until the spring of 1891, when he removed to his present farm. The pioneer of the family, Jacob Spreier, died in Pawnee County January 5, 1885, at the age of seventy-one.

George Frederick Spreier came to mature age with little or no education. There had been little opportunity to acquire knowledge in the old country and the pressure of economic necessity was too great to allow him to attend school in Kansas. Realizing his deficiencies he has in a large measure repaired the neglect of early years, and through the aid of his capable wife has gained an average education and has also benefited much by reading and by business dealings. Mr. Spreier now reads and writes both the English and German languages. His first experience in Kansas was as a railroad workman. This line he followed until after reachnig[sic] his majority. Two of his brothers worked under the pioneer section foreman in this country, Michael Sweeney. Mr. Spreier himself did most of his railroad work in the mountain districts of Colorado and New Mexico while the Santa Fe lines were being constructed through that rugged district. His last employment by the railroad was in New Mexico and he returned from there in the spring of 1881.

In the meantime he had acquired some landed interests in Pawnee County and after leaving the railroad he concentrated a new energy upon his work. He had already experienced the familiar crop failures and dry years, and between 1883 and 1887 he grew few crops worth mentioning. In 1887 there was a banner wheat crop and some of its proceeds he spent for the purchase of a half section, one quarter in section 9 and the other in section 16. Still later he bought a half section near Burdett. In 1891 Mr. Spreier paid $750 for an eighty-acre tract containing about $500 worth of improvements. His farms he now devotes to wheat largely, and his best yields came in 1914, when his fields of 550 acres averaged twenty-three bushels to the acre. Mr. Spreier has sold wheat in Kansas for 35 cents a bushel, and has seen inferior grades of the cereal sell at Pawnee Rock as low as 12 1/2 cents a bushel. To offset this era of high prices he sold some wheat early in 1917 at $3 a bushel, perhaps the highest figure ever paid for Kansas grown wheat.

In 1903 Mr. Spreier built his present home, a twelve-room residence, modern in every particular, furnished with heat, light and water and constituting one of the best country homes of the locality. This is only the central feature of a group of fine improvements, including a barn 30 by 44 feet, and granaries with a capacity for 6,000 bushels. Mr. Spreier's stock raising has been confined to the high grades of Shorthorn. He has occasionally bought and shipped from Pawnee Rock, and on a moderate scale has been breeding and raising mules. Among other interests he is a director in the Farmers and Merchants Bank of Pawnee Rock.

He has never been content to live in a community and not share in its public and co-operative responsibilities. For many years he has served as school treasurer, for two terms was trustee of River Township and served as treasurer of the township until he felt obliged to decline further acceptance. Having been born on foreign soil he had to acquire the rights of American citizenship, and since he received his papers he has missed voting only once. He began supporting the republican ticket and has never wavered from that first choice in national affairs, though in local matters he supports the man. He was born and reared in the faith of the Lutheran Church and is still loyal to it, and is a member of the Modern Woodmen of America.

On April 12, 1885, Mr. Spreier married Mary Beauchamp. She was born in Holt County, Missouri, January 26, 1864, and was well educated in her native state and in Kansas, and before her marriage taught near Burdett in Pawnee County. Her father, Frank Beauchamp, went from Illinois to Holt County, Missouri, and subsequently became a Kansas settler. He was a farmer by occupation and during the Civil war had served as a Home Guard in Missouri. The maiden name of his wife was Rebecca Wing, and they had two children. Mrs. Spreier's sister, Mrs. Emma McCullough, lives in the State of Washington. Mr. and Mrs. Spreier have not only furnished their children an example of thrift and industry and the environment of a good home, but have educated them liberally. The oldest is Christina, who holds the degree A. B. from the University of Kansas and, is now a teacher in the Fort Defiance Indian Schools in Arizona. Frank, the second child, also graduated from the University of Kansas, taught school in Ponca City, Oklahoma, and is now a farmer near Pawnee Rock; he married May Spice. Paul, a graduate from the common schools, is in the United States Navy as a machinists' foreman. Amy is a domestic science teacher in Wakeeney, Kansas. Anna finished high school at Pawnee Rock in 1918. The younger children, still at home and in the grade schools, are Victor, Chester, Donald and Noel.