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IN the land of the Czars the political activity of the first immigrants who came to Ellis County was a very limited one. Their right of suffrage was limited to a vote at the "Gerneinde Versammlung" (meeting of the heads of families of the town). Political issues of state and national scope never came before them for solution at the ballot box as they do in their new home. It was therefore undoubtedly with a sense of bewilderment that they faced the proposition of deciding momentous questions by means of the ballot, to which they were entitled after making their declaration of intention to become citizens of the United States. Under the circumstances they did the natural thing; they consulted those who spoke their tongue and who were familiar with the condition, political questions and parties in the country. Such men there were and they acquired great political influence and control among the settlers.
The two parties between which the new settler had to choose were, as today, the Republican and Democratic. With but few exceptions the immigrants joined the ranks of the Democratic party.
The explanation for this is to be found in the following facts: The men who spoke the German language and were in this country at the time of the arrival of the settlers were Democrats; the German Catholic newspapers, which were the only ones the settlers read, were Democratic in their politics; and the word Democrat had an especial appeal to a people who had but recently left the realm of the most autocratic government in the world.
It is not unnatural that in the early years they depended a great deal on the leadership above referred to. This leadership, while at times used for the political preferment of the individual, was on the whole wise. As time went on and the settlers became better acquainted with various political issues, and as the younger generation grew up, this leadership waned and disappeared.
In the first few years of their sojourn in the United States the political aspirations of the new citizens did not go beyond the township officers. The next step was more ambitious and involved the office of County Commissioner from the Third District, the district inhabited by the settlers. Jacob Karlin was the, first one of their number elected to this office. He was succeeded by B. Brungardt, and to this day this office seldom if ever has passed from their hands.
Their attempt to elect one of their number to a county office met with failure for many years. It was not till the year 1890 that Philip Jacobs was elected clerk of the District Court in a three-cornered contest. Since that time the various county offices have been held and are today held by their descendants. While the vast majority of the German-Russians of today are still Democrats, a tendency to break away from the party has shown itself in recent years. This is especially strong among the younger element.
On another page of this volume are the pictures of some of the men of the German stock who held office in Ellis County in the past fifty years.
1. Alex Weitz, Sheriff 1917-21, 1925-27
2. Jacob Biasing, County Clerk 1894-97, Probate Judge 1911-15
3. John B. Gross, Probate Judge 1907-11, 1921-26
4. Alex Schueler, Register of Deeds 1909-13
5. Frank B. Miller, Clerk District Court, 1915-19
6. John J. Dreiling, Clerk District court 1911-15
7. Jacob C. Kippes, Register of Deeds 1913-17
8. Jacob M. Wiesner, County Attorney 1919-23, 1925-27
9. P. P. Smith, Clerk District Court 1904-07
10. B. M. Dreiling. Clerk District Court 1897-99, County Treasurer 1907-11
11. John Schlyer. Shefiff[sic] 1880-83, County Treasurer 1883-87, Representative 1894-96, 1899-1902.
12. B. Bruseardt, County Commissioner, 1889-95
13. Joseph Jacobs, County Surveyor, 1909-11
14. Jacob Karlin, County Commissioner the first immigrant to hold a county office
15. Jos. Hermann, County Commissioner, Rush County. Kansas
16. M. P. Dinges, County Clerk 1903-07
17. Jos. Grieso, County Commissioner 1895-96, 1899-01, 1905-08
1. P. J. Roth. Register of Deeds 1 905-1909
2. Jacob Karlin, County Commissioner
3. M. H. Mulroy, County Atty. 1894, Representative 1910-1912
4. Carl Engel, County Treasurer 1923-1927
5. Philip Jacobs, Clerk of District Court 1891-1897, County Treasurer 1898-02, County Treasurer 1911-15
6. F. B. Brungardt, County Assessor 1912
7. J. M. Schaefer, County Treasurer 1903-07, County Assessor 1908-12
8. John Jacobs, County Commissioner 1917 to date
9. Henry P. Leiker. Register of Deeds 1924 to date
10. Jos. J. Stroemel, Clerk of District Court 1923-1927
11. Boniface Weber, Representative 1924 to date
12. Romuald Leiker, Clerk of District Court 1919-23
13. Peter J. Rome, Register of Deeds 1920-24
14. P. V. Gottschalk, County Clerk 1911-15
15. A. P. Brungardt, Register of Deeds 1898-1903
16. M. A. Basgall, Supt. Pub. Inst. 1912-1914, County Clerk 1919-1923
17. Edward Polifka, County Surveyor 1891-93
18. Alex Meier, Supt. Pub. Inst. 1899-1905
19. Frank S. Wasinger, Register of Deeds 1917-21
20. William Grabbe, County Clerk 1891-94, Supt. Pub. Inst. 1905-09, Representative 1909-11, County Commissioner 1912-15
Transcribed from The Golden Jubilee of German-Russian Settlements of Ellis and Rush Counties, Kansas, August 31, September 1 and 2, 1926