Page 759-761, transcribed by Carolyn Ward from History of Butler County, Kansas by Vol. P. Mooney. Standard Publishing Company, Lawrence, Kan.: 1916. ill.; 894 pgs.


J. K. Nellens, now deceased, was a prominent farmer and stockman of Fairmount township and the pioneer thresher of northwest Butler county. Mr. Nellens was born in Coshocton county, Ohio, February 25, 1846, and was the oldest of eleven children, born to Moses and Lucinda (Strosnider) Nellens, both natives of Ohio. Moses Nellens was a son of Patrick Nellens, a native of Ireland, and an early settler in Ohio. He came to that State when a young man, and married a Miss Tipton, a native of Pennsylvania, of German descent. Moses Nellens grew to manhood in Ohio where he was married, and in 1847, removed to Fulton county, Indiana, and he and his wife spent the remainder of their lives there.


J. K. Nellens was reared on the farm in Fulton county, Indiana, and in 1875 he was united in marriage with Miss Emeline Myers, a native of Stark county, Indiana. She is a daughter of Jacob and Temperance (Dipert) Myers, natives of Ohio. The parents were married in that State, and removed to Stark county, Indiana, where they spent their lives. In 1876, J. K. Nellens came to Butler county, Kansas, to operate a section of land which his uncle, Thomas Nellens, had purchased in 1873. He had bought the place for his children, but they were not favorably impressed with this part of the country, and refused to remain on the farm.

J. K. Nellens came here with his wife and two small children, coming by rail to Peabody. The day he reached here, was one of those windy days of the early times, and his first impression of Kansas was unfavorable. He thought wind was bad enough, but when it was mixed with sand, as it was on that day, he felt that he would never get used to it. However, he proceeded to the farm in Fairmount township and soon got busy, and forgot about the wind. The first year he raised a splendid crop, his corn making seventy-five to eighty bushels per acre, and oats made from seventy-five to 100 bushels. That fall his uncle was here when he threshed, and insisted that he could measure the oats by putting it in sacks as fast as it came from the machine, but when he started to accomplish this feat and take care of an eight inch stream of oats in the old fashioned way, he soon discovered that he was not a Kansas farmer. Indiana methods were too slow here, even in those days, and he gave up the task, and saved himself from being buried in oats.

Mr. Nellens operated this farm for two years and in 1878 bought the northwest quarter of section 3 for $5.50 per acre, going into debt for the entire purchase price. When he came to Kansas his working capital was limited to $26 in money and a span of mules. He now owns one of the best farms in Fairmount township, for which he has re-repeatedly[sic] refused $100 per acre. His place is well improved with commodious, modern residence, lighted with acetylene gas. His barns are of the most modern type, with concrete floors, and his corn crib has a capacity of 3,000 bushels.

In addition to his farming operations, one of the first enterprises in which Mr. Nellens engaged after coming to Butler county was threshing. In 1876 he bought a threshing outfit and that fall his engine exploded. He then discontinued threshing for a time, and in 1880 he bought another rig, and he and his sons have been engaged in threshing every season since that time. He owned the first threshing rig in Fairmount township, and the first wind stacker in northwest Butler county. He and his sons met with unusual success in the threshing business. They operated as many as three threshing outfits during a season, with a total value of $6,200, and for a number of years they were the only threshers in northwest Butler county.


To Mr. and Mrs. Nellens were born the following children: George M. conducts a garage at Newton, Kans., and also follows threshing; Benjamin F. lives in California; Stella M. married Charles Spangler, Walton, Kans.; Mary M., married John Cunningham and lives in Harvey county; Charles R., Potwin, Kans; James F., Butler county, Kansas; John C., Butler county, Kansas; Brodies, at home; Jacob J., farmer, Butler county; Andrew J., at home; Delta E. married Milton Kimberlin and lives in Butler county. The sons all possess a natural aptitude for mechanics and all of them are expert engineers like their father, and all are following mechanical pursuits except Benjamin F., who is a minister. The Nellens family is well known and highly respected.

On February 26, 1916, as J. K. Nellens was driving to Elbing in his automobile, he was struck by a Rock Island train. The car was completely demolished, and Mr. Nellens received injuries from which he died the following day without ever regaining consciousness. The exact details will never be known, as there was no one close enough to tell how it happened.

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