Biography of Joseph F. Tobias

Joseph F. Tobias has for many years been closely identified with banking in Ellsworth County and is now cashier of the Wilson State Bank.

The Wilson State Bank was established under a state charter in 1886 by B. S. and Myron P. Westfall. Its original capital stock was $35,000 and the first officers were: E. E. Parks, president; M. P. Westfall, vice president, and B. S. Westfall, cashier. Its record of thirty years had been a splendid one, reflecting good management and prosperity to its stockholders and patrons. Today the bank had a capital of $40,000, surplus and undivided profits of $90,000, while the deposits, the best index of its popularity, aggregate about $600,000. The list of officials are: A. D. Jellison, of Junction City, Kansas, president; Charles W. Fielder, vice president and acting president; E. D. Schermerhorn, vice president; J. F. Tobias, cashier; and F. S. Percival and C. R. Jellison, assistant cashiers.

The Tobias family were early settlers in Ellsworth County, Kansas, and were established in the very pioneer times on the northwestern frontier in Minnesota. Joseph F. Tobias was born in Minnesota, at the Town of Elysian, November 18, 1878. He is of an old Bohemian family. His great-grandfather, Winslow Tobias, was born at Velin, Bohemia, in 1783. He was a shoemaker by trade. One day he came into the house after hoeing potatoes in the garden and dropped dead. His death occurred at Zerhernse, Bohemia, in 1852. His wife, Catherine, was born also in 1783, at Velin, Bohemia, and she died at Wilson, Kansas, in 1880, when ninety-seven years of age.

The only child of these parents was also named Winslow. He was born in Bohemia in 1816. In 1854 he started with his family for America, taking passage on the sailing ship Rhinehart and on account of adverse winds and other unfavorable conditions they were fifty-four days on the ocean. They landed at New York City February 12, 1855, and on the sixteenth day of May of the same year arrived in Waseca County, Minnesota. Minnesota was then a territory and there were probably more wild Indians in the country than white settlers. This section of the northwest was still isolated so far as railroad communication was concerned. The Tobias family journeyed by railroad only as far as Dubuque, Iowa, and there embarked on a prairie schooner drawn by oxen. Winslow Tobias homesteaded 160 acres of land in Waseca County, proved up this claim, and then sold and moved to Elysian, where he continued to follow his trade as a shoemaker until his death in 1880. He married Katrine Wesly, who was born in Bohemia in 1820 and died at Elysian, Minnesota, in 1878. They had two children, Joseph, now living at Omaha, Nebraska, and John.

John Tobias, who is still living at Wilson, Kansas, father of Joseph F., the banker, was born at Velin, Bohemia, in 1844, and was about ten years of age when he accompanied the family on their voyage to America and settlement on the far northwestern frontier in Minnesota. He grew up and married in Le Sueur County, Minnesota, and followed the shoemaking trade, and later had a mercantile establishment at Elysian. On December 13, 1877, he arrived at Wilson, Kansas, and was one of the early men identified with that community. His brother Joseph had preceded him a year or two to Kansas, and together they established and operated one of the pioneer stores of Wilson. John Tobias was a general merchant and implement dealer until he retired in 1905. He had been quite successful and besides his home in the south part of the town, a modern dwelling which had been extensively remodeled in recent years, he owned forty acres adjoining the townsite of Wilson. He is independent in politics and is affiliated with Wilson Lodge No. 147, Ancient Order of United Workmen. John Tobias married Rosalia Pichner. She was born in Bohemia in 1847. Their family consisted of seven children, Joseph F. being the oldest. John C. is a successful attorney at law living at Detroit, Michigan. Amelia married James Purma, a carpenter at Wilson, Kansas. Henry, a dentist by profession at Kansas City, Missouri, had recently passed the examination and had been accepted for professional service in the United States army, being now first lieutenant in the Dental Reserve Corps. Fred lives on a farm ten miles north of Bunker Hill, Kansas. Ernest is cashier of the Yuma National Bank at Yuma, Arizona. Art, the youngest child, was accidentally killed at the age of ten years, being struck by a rifle bullet which glanced from a post.

Joseph F. Tobias, who was born at Elysian, Minnesota, November 18, 1867, had been a Kansan since he was ten years of age. His early education was acquired in the schools of his native town and he finished the eighth grade at Wilson, Kansas, and in 1886 graduated from the Gem City Business College at Quincy, Illinois. After these advantages he clerked in a local store a year and a half and was then bookkeeper in the Wilson State Bank. He rapidly familiarized himself with the business of banking and in 1895 established the Bohemia State Bank at Wilson and was its cashier until he sold his interests to the Wilson State Bank in 1899. After that he was out of banking for some years and engaged in the real estate and insurance business. In 1907 he assisted in the founding of the Farmers State Bank at Wilson, occupied the position of teller for a year, and then returned to the Wilson State Bank as cashier, the position he still holds.

In 1902 Mr. Tobias built a modern home in Wilson and he also owned a postoffice building on Main Street, and spent a considerable sum in 1917 in thoroughly remodeling this structure. Mr. Tobias is vitally interested in Kansas agriculture, owning a farm of 320 acres in Trego County and another half section in Gove County.

Mr. Tobias is an independent democrat. He served as treasurer of Wilson Township, and for two terms, four years, he was mayor of Wilson. He is affiliated with Samaria Lodge No. 298, Ancient Free and Accepted Masons, at Wilson, of which he was secretary for a number of years, and belongs to Salina Consistory No. 3 of the Scottish Rite. He is past noble grand of Wilson Lodge No. 225, Independent Order of Odd Fellows, and belongs to the Knights and Ladies of Security and the Z. C. B. J. Society.

In 1900, at Bunker Hill, Kansas, Mr. Tobias married Miss Lucy E. Grill, daughter of Samuel and and Lavina Grill, both now deceased. Her father owned a large farm in Will County, Illinois. Mr. and Mrs. Tobias have three children: Leona, born August 22, 1901; Eleanora, born in 1903; and Josephine, born in 1913.



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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