Biography of William Schwartz

William Schwartz was one of the pioneers of Eastern Kansas. Many of his activities identified him with Miami County and the City of Paola, though in later years his interests were widely extended.

Throughout his career the traits of industry and enterprise are strongly pronounced. He was born in Nassau, Germany, May 4, 1838, and there obtained his early education. He was one of a family of seven children, two sons and five daughters. When he was eighteen years of age, in 1856, William Schwartz set out for the land of promise, crossed the ocean and landed in Philadelphia. He was the first of his brothers and sisters to come to America, and it was through his individual influence that others of the family came to this country. He went back to Germany several times, and not only induced members of his own family to come to this country but many others. He knew and understood conditions in the Middle West, and could talk convincingly of the wonderful prosperity that awaited the typical thrifty German settler in the New World. It is said that fifty families came to Kansas through his influence. Of his brothers and sisters only two are living, Mrs. Catherine Stahl and Mrs. Helena Seck, both of Bucyrus, Kansas. His sister Elizabeth married Jacob Seck, a farmer of Miami County, while Dora became the wife of B. Hirt and Mary the wife of William Papst.

When William Schwartz arrived in this country he was unable to speak a word of English and he did not have a friend on this side of the water. In Philadelphia he made the acquaintance of people who knew of his family in Germany and through them he secured employment on a railway. At the same time he diligently took up the study and practice of the English language. He possessed an all around ability as a scholar, excelled in mathematics, and it was only a short time before he had mustered the language and had adapted himself to American life and customs.

After a brief residence in the East he came West by railroad to St. Louis and thence by boat to Westport Landing or what is now Kansas City, Missouri. Here he found employment in a sawmill on the “East Bottoms,” the lumber being used in the construction of the early houses of Kansas City. The proprietor of the mill was unable to pay young Schwartz his full salary, and owning some land in Miami County, Kansas, he offered the workman eighty acres in part payment of the debt. This land was then worth about $3 an acre. The debt was considerably less than the total value and Mr. Schwartz after accepting the offer worked out the balance of the value of the farm at the mill.

It was in the spring of 1858 that he arrived in Miami County to take possession of the land which he had thus secured as his first stake in Kansas. He came in driving a yoke of oxen hitched to a log wagon, making slow but steady progress over the prairies. There were no roads in this section of Kansas at the time. What is now Miami County was then called Lykens County. Mr. Schwartz used his oxen to break up a portion of the prairie and for his shelter erected a one-room log cabin. In a few years there were many evidences of his improving labors and he gradually accumulated property and cattle and was in a fair way to prosperity. It should be noted that he was here when the vexed Kansas problem was most acute and the border warfare was at its fiercest. One night a party of bushwhackers called at his humble home, got him out of bed, put him astride a mule and led him across the line into Missouri with the avowed purpose of hanging him as an abolitionist and Union man. Through some providential means he made his escape and returned. After the outbreak of the war he joined the Kansas Guards but was never called into active service.

By the magic which industry exercises, the original tract of eighty acres grew under his management until he possessed several good farms in Miami County. Much of this land was used for grazing his cattle, and for years he was looked upon as an authority in the cattle business.

He remained on his farm until 1891, in which year he removed to Paola and for two years managed actively the Paola Brick and Tile Company. Mr. Schwartz then retired from active affairs and spent his remaining years looking after his interests in banks and farms. For about twenty-five years he was president of the Bank of Louisburg, Kansas, and in that bank and at that time Mr. P. W. Goebel, now president of the American Bankers Association, received his first experience in the banking business. Mr. Schwartz was also one of the organizers of the Citizens State Bank of Paola in 1903, served as its vice president for one year, then succeeded to the chair of president, left vacant by the death of Thomas H. Kingsley. Mr. Schwartz was president of the Citizens State Bank until his death, which occurred March 14, 1914.

It would be impossible to note all the varied activities and influences which emanated from this sturdy Kansas pioneer. He was president of the Interstate Mercantile Company of Louisburg, and president of the Miami County Mercantile Company of Paola. He erected the buildings used by both of these store companies. He served as first president and organizer of each company and in many ways he directed his capital to the ends that a community might prosper and benefit. He erected a number of apartment houses and factory buildings in Kansas City, Missouri, and also improved several farms in Miami and Coffee counties.

Mention had already been made of his ability in mathematics. This was later developed along architectural lines and had he chosen that as a profession he would no doubt have gained eminence. As it was, it furnished a great diversion and he would sit for hours planning improvements upon his property. William Schwartz was a man of high ideals. He went into enterprises not solely for commercial profit, but as a means of service commensurate with his own particular talents and abilities. He would work for schools, good roads, and again and again he gave a helping hand to worthy young people who were struggling along the same paths over which he himself had toiled as a young man. A loyal democrat, he was a voter merely and never aspired to office. He and his family were reared and were always faithful to the Catholic Church, and he gave liberally to other denominations as well.

In 1862 William Schwartz married Anna Doherty, who was born in County Roscommon, Ireland, and had come to this country with her five brothers, Martin, Edward, Thomas, Michael and John Doherty, all of whom located in Johnson County, near Aubrey, now Stillwell. Her brothers were pioneer farmers in that section and when the bushwhackers raided Kansas they hid themselves in the cornfields to save their lives. Mrs. Schwartz passed away August 4, 1895. She was the mother of four children: Jacob A., Dora M., William A. and Thomas E. In January, 1897, Mrs. Josephine Good became Mr. Schwartz’s second wife. She died in March, 1913. She was the widow of Charles Good, of Russell County, Kansas, and by her first marriage had one child, Agnes, now Mrs. Adam Pabst.

Jacob A. Schwartz, oldest child of the late William Schwartz, was never married and died in Pomona, California.

Dora M., the daughter, is the wife of Michael A. Kelly, and they live on the original farm where her father first settled in pioneer times. Michael A. Kelly was born in Kansas City, Missouri, where his mother at one time operated an eating house on the levee before the present City of Kansas City, Missouri, was in existence. They later moved to Johnson County, about 1867, and Michael A. Kelly attended the common schools at Aubrey, subsequently, from 1878 to 1883, St. Benedict’s College at Atchison and St. Mary’s College. After leaving school he took up farming in Johnson County. In 1892 married Miss Dora Schwartz. Ten children have been born to their union: Philip W., Annie, Margaret, Thomas, Johanna, Mary F., Dorothy, Agnes, William, Cecilia. All these are still at home except Thomas, now attending St. Mary’s College. Mr. Kelly is president of the Stilwell State Bank and a director of the Bank of Louisburg. He is one of the leading cattle men of Eastern Kansas and had made a reputation as a breeder of registered Hereford cattle and Percheron horses. He is the owner of several well improved farms in Miami and Johnson counties. He and his family are active members of the Catholic Church.

William A. Schwartz for the past thirty years had been manager of the Interstate Mercantile Company of Louisburg. He is also a director of the Bank of Louisburg and the Citizens State Bank of Paola, Kansas. In 1894 he married Clara Strausbaugh, a native of Miami County and a daughter of Anthony S. and Elizabeth Strausbaugh, who were pioneers in Miami County. They celebrated their golden wedding anniversary three years ago, and still live on the old homestead south of Paola. Mr. and Mrs. William A. Schwartz have an adopted daughter, Agnes.

Thomas E. Schwartz, who is now cashier of the Citizens Bank of Paola, of which his father was for so many years president, was born on the old homestead May 27, 1871. His early education came from the district schools and later he attended St. Mary’s College for three years. He graduated in the commercial course in 1893 and in the following year began farming in Miami County. As a farmer he handled both pedigreed and graded stock and built up a successful enterprise on his place of 300 acres. Thomas E. Schwartz married Margaret M. Vohs, a native of Miami County and a daughter of Eugene and Margaret Vohs. Her mother is a sister of the Kansas City banker, P. W. Goebel. Both her parents were born in Germany and for many years were farmers and merchants of Wea, Kansas. Mr. and Mrs. Thomas Schwartz were married September 1, 1906. Eight children were born to their marriage: Margaret Ann, who died at the age of five years; William E., a student in St. Benedict’s College at Atchison; Leo, attending the home high school; and Edward F., Eugene J., Lawrence F., Thomas A. and Marie, all younger members of the home circle.

In 1904 Thomas E. Schwartz left the farm and for one year was a merchant at Cleveland, Missouri. Selling the store there he became assistant manager with his brother of the Interstate Mercantile Company of Louisburg. In 1910 he entered the Citizens State Bank of Paola as cashier, and had since held that post in addition to the office of director. He had been a stockholder in the bank since it was organized. Mr. Schwartz is also a stockholder in the Interstate Mercantile Company of Louisburg, and some years ago he and his brother bought the Paola Brick and Tile Company, the only plant of its kind in the county. Mr. Schwartz is now general manager of the business.

Politically he is a democrat without aspirations for office. He is a Catholic, and had proved liberal in his benefactions to churches, schools and every good thing in the community.



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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