Biographical History of Central Kansas, Vol. II, p. 1352
published by The Lewis Publishing Co, Chicago & New York, 1902
In the battle of life Levi Plank has won a commendable victory. Determination, strong purpose and diligence have been the means of enabling him to overcome the obstacles and difficulties he has met and to work his way steadily upward until he now commands an enviable position as a leading member of agricultural interests in Rice county. He was born in Wayne county, Ohio, January 20, 1844, his parents being Isaac and Lydia (Schrock) Plank, both of whom were natives of Ohio, in which state they were reared and married. The Plank family is of German lineage and was founded in America at an early day. The grandfather, Christian Plank, was born in Pennsylvania and removed to Ohio during the pioneer epoch in its history. There he entered land, improved a farm and made his home thereon until old age, when he went to Indiana, spending his remaining days with his children. Socially he and his wife were members of the Mennonite church. They became the parents of ten sons and daughters, namely: Isaac; C J; Jonathan; Mary, the wife of J Yoder; Sarah, the wife of L Hartzler; Mattie, who married Yost Schrock; Fannie, the wife of S Blough; Lizzie, who became Mrs Nofziger, and after the death of her first husband married D Blough; Nancy, the wife of J Grady; and Rebecca, who was Mrs J King and now deceased.
Isaac Plank spent his youth in Ohio and thence removed to Indiana, where he improved a farm in the midst of the heavy timber. In his frontier home he reared his family and lived the life of a quiet, industrious and energetic agriculturist. He has never aspired to public office or notoriety of any kind, but for many years has been a staunch advocate of Republican principles and was formerly as loyal to the Greenback party. He is still living in Indiana, at the very advanced age of seventy- nine years, and has been a second time married. His first wife, who bore the maiden name of Lydia Schrock, was born in Pennsylvania, of German lineage. Her father was widely known as the proprietor of a hotel for many years and spent his last days in Ohio. His children were: Lydia, who became Mrs Plank; Benjamin, a merchant; Abram, who also carries on merchandising; Mrs Susan Somers; and two who died in early life. Unto the parents of our subject were born seven children, namely: Levi; Jacob, a farmer of Rice county; Elizabeth, the wife of J Troyer, of Indiana; Christian, of Rice county; David and Ephraim, who are living in Idaho; and Isaac, who makes his home in Oklahoma. The last four children are by the second marriage of Isaac Plank, who for his second wife chose Elizabeth Nofziger.
Upon the old homestead in Ohio Levi Plank spent his childhood days and was educated in both Ohio and Indiana. He remained with his father until his marriage and then began farming upon his own account in the Hoosier state, but in 1879 he sold his property there and came to Kansas, settling in Rice county, where he purchased land and began the improvement of a farm. Agricultural pursuits were then carried on on a small scale. Lyons was a little village and the work of progress seemed scarcely begun in this portion of the state. Since his arrival he has witnessed the rapid growth of towns and villages, the introduction of all the improvements and business facilities known to the older east and in the work of improvement and development he has borne an active and beneficial part. His labors in his private business affairs have been attended with a high measure of success. He has added to his estate by purchasing other farms and now owns four improved farming properties. On the homestead he has made excellent improvements, has erected a commodious, two-story frame residence, a large barn, and substantial outbuildings. His place is divided into fields for cultivation and for pasturage, and he annually raises good crops of wheat, corn and other cereals. His place is pleasantly located three miles north of Lyons. For two years after his arrival he did his marketing in Sterling, but with the rapid growth of Kansas, markets were established much nearer his home and his close proximity to Lyons now enables him to enjoy the comforts of city life.
Mr Plank was united in marriage to Miss Emma Lehmer, a lady of intelligence, who was born in Ohio January 19, 1848, her parents being Henry D and Nancy (Neff) Lehmer, both of whom were natives of Pennsylvania. They were married in Ohio. They were of German lineage and in pioneer days removed to Ohio, where the father followed the blacksmith’s trade and subsequently engaged in farming. He voted with the Whig party and was prominent in politics and public affairs, serving for some time as justice of the peace. He died in 1856, and his wife passed away in 1875, in the faith of the Dunkard church, in which she held membership, while he was a member of the Lutheran church. They had six children: Mary, the wife of C Smeltzly; Jacob, of Michigan; Isaac, of Indiana; Emma, now Mrs Plank; Ira, of Omaha; and Levi, who is living in Wyoming. The marriage of Mr and Mrs Plank has resulted in the birth of seven children: Ira W, who is engaged in the jewelry business in Lyons; Salome, the wife of Elmer Cassingham, now deceased; Adeline, who married B W Forney; Robert, a resident farmer of Rice county; Nora, who married J Debacher, and after his death became the wife of J Blessing; Charles, an agriculturist; and Pearl, who completes the family. Mr and Mrs Plank have carefully reared their children, instilling into their minds lessons of industry and honesty, and they have become a credit to the untarnished family name. For some time Mr Plank voted the Republican ticket, but more recently has affiliated with the Reform party. He has held a number of township offices, and is now serving for the second time as justice of the peace, in which position his decisions are strictly fair and impartial, being unbiased by fear or favor. The success which has come to him in business life has been the result of his own efforts. He recognized the value of industry in the practical affairs of life and indolence has found no part in his nature. Along the line of business activity and honorable dealing he has achieved a handsome competence.