Biography of William Frederick Rapp

William Frederick Rapp, who came to Harvey County nearly forty years ago, had been a pioneer in many things, was one of the first merchants at Hesston, and had been identified with the growth and development of that town from the time it started. Among other interests Mr. Rapp is now president of the Hesston State Bank.

Mr. Rapp was a practical farmer when he came to Kansas, and had acquired his early experience in one of the richest and most fertile farming sections of Illinois. He was born in Lee County, Illinois, May 17, 1852. His grandfather, Frederick William Rapp, was a sturdy German who went to Northern Illinois in pioneer times, and he had a tract of land well cleared and in cultivation when he was accidentally killed by a falling tree. His death occurred when his son John Rapp, father of William F., was a young man.

John Rapp was born in Germany in 1827, and came as a child to the United States with his parents, spending his active career as a farmer in Lee County, Illinois, close to the line of Bureau County. He died on his farm there in 1861. In politics he was a republican, and a member of the Evangelical Church. John Rapp married Barbara Fauble, who was born in Germany in 1829 and died in Lee County, Illinois, in 1883. William F. Rapp was the oldest of their children, and was only nine years of age when his father died. The second child, Caroline, married Edward Guither, a farmer in Bureau County, Illinois. Mary, the third child, is the wife of George Feik, a retired farmer and now a coal merchant at Mendota, LaSalle County, Illinois. George, the fourth child, died when one year old. Susan is the wife of Henry Gower, a retired farmer of Mendota, Illinois. John, the youngest child, still lives on the old homestead in Lee County.

William Frederick Rapp was reared on his father’s farm and remained there until he was twenty-six years of age. He attended the rural schools of Bureau County. In the winter of 1878 he arrived in Harvey County, Kansas, and bought 160 acres between Newton and Hesston. He developed that quarter section during the six years he spent on it and then at the establishment of the Town of Hesston he moved to the village and was the first grain merchant there. Later he expanded his enterprise by acquiring a lumber yard and hardware store, and continued active as a merchant until 1906.

The Hesston State Bank was established in 1907 with Mr. Rapp as its first president. Owing to the resignation of the cashier, he filled that office for several years, and then resumed his position as president. The officers of the bank are: William F. Rapp, president; H. Schilling, vice president; and R. C. Stone, cashier, with May Rapp as assistant cashier. The bank is a solid institution, with capital of $10,000, surplus and profits of $13,000, and deposits of $90,000. The bank owned its own home, a modern brick structure on Main Street.

Mr. Rapp also had an eighty acre farm in Harvey County and in Decatur County of this state owned eleven hundred twenty acres. His home on Main Street in Hesston is one of the larger residences of the town, and he also owned a store building on Main Street.

Mr. Rapp is a republican voter and a member of the Evangelical Church. In 1893, at Newton, Kansas, he married Miss Laura May Dawson. Her mother is now deceased, and her father, David Dawson, is a farmer in Decatur County. Mr. and Mrs. Rapp have three children: May, a graduate of the Hesston High School and now employed in her father’s bank; Daisy, also a graduate of high school and now pursuing studies in the Newton Business College; and William, who died at the age of four years and six months.



Connelley, William E. A Standard History of Kansas and Kansans. Chicago : Lewis, 1918. 5v. Biographies can be accessed from this page: Kansas and Kansans Biographies.

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