Submitted by Corleen Folkers Morris, Granddaughter

Charles F. Folkers
Grace M. (Garrels) Folkers

Charles F. Folkers was born to Fred and Taalke Folkers on December 1, 1861 in Benson, Illinois. He was baptized and raised in the Lutheran faith. His parents emigrated from Germany in 1852.

Grace M. (Garrels) Folkers was born to Fred and Almina Garrels on August 21, 1866 in Remels, Germany. She was baptized and raised in the Lutheran faith. She immigrated to America with her father in 1882 settling in Benson, Illinois joining several brothers who had arrived earlier.

Charles (more commonly known as Charlie) came to Trego County, Kansas and filed a homestead claim on the NW/4 of 32-13-23 in March 1886 and built a small house on his homestead establishing residency in September 1886. He spent his first winter in a dugout. After living on this homestead for seven years and making improvements he acquired title to this land in 1893.

Charles filed a timber claim September 1886 on the SW/4 of Section 32-13-23. The summer of 1886 was spent in improving his claim. The first year he cultivated 5 acres and the second year he cultivated 6 acres. The third year he planted 5 acres of cottonwood and willow cuttings along with walnut, hickory and pecan nuts. The fourth year he planted an additional 6 acres and replanted the original 5 acres to locust, walnut, maple, box elder and catalpa trees. After 13 years of planting and cultivating trees he acquired the timber claim title in 1899.

In January 1887 Charles went back to Benson, Illinois and married Grace. They returned to Trego County and lived their entire lives on this homestead raising 9 children, 7 boys and 2 girls – Fred, Theodore (Wally), Carl (Karl), Minnie, Herman, George, Dora, Otto and Richard. Their homestead was located 9 miles south, 1 mile west and 1/2 mile south of WaKeeney. They were members of the Zion Lutheran Church at Trego Center. The children attended the Excelsior, District #28, country school.

They enlarged their original house twice to meet the needs
of their growing family.
This was their family and farm in 1896.

Times were tough in those early days and for 5 months of the 1889-1890 winter they lived and worked off their homestead to make a living.

This was the family home in 1917.

This was their family farm in the early 1920’s.

One of Charles’ barns was built from the stone out of the Smoky River bluffs about 5-7 miles south of their farm. It took all day to make one trip with a team of horses and wagon traveling to the bluffs to cut out the stones, load them in the wagon, travel home and unload them. There were many of these trips made for the building of this barn.

In the years before telephones if these early settlers needed or wanted their neighbors for something, they would run a flag up the windmill. When a neighbor saw this flag they would come and see how they could help.

To his original 320 acres embraced in the homestead and timber claims Charles added 2,400 acres of Trego County land, and title to these acres was never encumbered by a mortgage lien. His four married sons and one daughter lived on and rented many of these quarters from their dad. Charles owned the NE/4 of Section 32-13-23 and out of this quarter he gave land to the Zion Lutheran Church congregation at Trego Center for their church building on which the church still stands. He sold them the land for the cemetery and the parsonage.

Charles was a prominent businessman and farmer raising crops and cattle. He was the owner of a French Draft (Percheron) stallion – Bijou. Farmers from all over the county would bring their mares to be bred by this celebrated Bijou.

Charles and Grace were well thought of and respected in the community and took an active interest in community affairs. They had barn dances and one article in the June 1900 WaKeeney newspaper stated “The dance at Mr. Folkers last Friday night was well attended, there were about 175 present. The people came from far and near. Late in the evening a supper and ice cream, coffee and lemonade was served. Mr. and Mrs. Folkers are the best entertainers and it is concluded that it was the most pleasant entertainment given in the county for years.”

Charles and Grace celebrated their 50th Wedding Anniversary in 1937
at the ages of 75 and 70.

Charles Folkers Obit
Grace Folkers Obit

Charles died in 1946 and Grace in 1955. They are buried in the WaKeeney City Cemetery. They lived an active life albeit a struggle for many years enduring the hardships and trials of homesteaders.

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