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A. J. Lesh at different stages in his career had been a successful teacher, merchant, pharmacist, physician and oil refiner. He is now head of the Lesh Oil Refining Company of Arkansas City, and through his business energy and activities had contributed one of the most important local industries to this section of Southern Kansas. Mr. Lesh had been a resident of Kansas for over thirty years.
For a man who had done so much on his own account it is natural that Mr. Lesh should take justifiable pride and interest in his line of worthy American ancestors. His lineage goes back to Germany. Either before or shortly after coming to America they identified themselves with that splendid sect of people known as Moravians or German Moravian, and subsequent generations of the family were Dunkards. Mr. Lesh is in the seventh generation of the family in America. Going back to the immigrant, we find him in Balthasar Loesch, as the name was spelled in its German form and as it was retained through several generations in this country. Balthasar Loesch and his wife, Susan R. Loesch, lived at Gensheim, Germany, near Worms. In 1710, not long after the close of the thirty years war, they were part of a German colony sent to America by Queen Ann. They settled in the Province of New York in 1713. There were two sons of record in the family of Balthasar Loesch: John Adam Loesch and John George Loesch. About 1723 these two sons moved to Tolpehocken District in Berks County, Pennsylvania.
John George Loesch, son of Balthasar, was born in Gensheim, Germany, in April, 1699. In 1721 he married Christina Walborn. He was a man of prominence in the early Moravian Church history of Pennsylvania, and he died at Nazareth, Pennsylvania, a noted center of the Moravian people, on August 15, 1790.
Boltzer Loesch, son of John George, was born in Berks County, Pennsylvania, in 1730, and died July 12, 1802. He was buried in the Lutheran cemetery at Hamlin in Berks County. He was married in 1752.
The following record is translated from the old family German Bible: “This book belongs to Jacob I. Jacob Loesch was born March 30, 1757. My father’s name is Boltzer Loesch and my mother’s name is Anna Maria, but she died when I was nine months old. I have taken as my wife Anna Moyer, the eldest daughter of John Moyer. Anna was born October 23, 1763. 1783, January 28, a boy was born to us whom we called John. 1784, September 23, a girl Anna. 1786, August 10, a boy was born to us whom we named Jacob, may God fill his heart with divine love and true knowledge. 1788, October 25, a girl was born whom we called Elisi. 1791, January 4, a son was born to us whom we called Henry. 1793, September 21, a son was born to us whom we named George. 1797, November 14, a girl was born to us whom we named Christina.”
This Jacob Loesch, great-grandfather of A. J. Lesh, was a native of Berks County, Pennsylvania, and was a soldier in the War of the Revolution from 1781 until the close. His record is found as a member of Michael Wolfe’s Company in Pennsylvania archives, Volume V, page 185, Fifth Series. This old soldier of the Revolution died in Preble County, Ohio, April 21, 1820. His wife, Anna Loesch, died February 14, 1851, in Preble County.
Jacob Lesh, Jr., grandfather of A. J. Lesh, was born in Berks County, Pennsylvania, August 10, 1786. He was a pioneer farmer in Western Ohio, and died in Preble County, August 25, 1863. He was married June 13, 1816, to Mary Lantis, who was born June 29, 1793. Jacob Lesh, Jr., is buried in the cemetery at Gratis, Preble County, Ohio. Their children were: Joel, born March 15, 1817, married Lydia Custer; John, born September 4, 1818, married Catherine Miller for his first wife and Julia Furry for his second wife; Jacob, born December 1, 1819, married January 20, 1842, Lydia Eikenberry (or as it is spelled in the family Bible, Eikenbary). Henry, born March 9, 1821, married Julia Morningstar; Mary, born February 16, 1823, married David Albaugh; Lydia, born March 7, 1825, married John Buck; Daniel, born February 23, 1826, married Charlotte Alexander; Susannah, born July 23, 1829, married Augustus Gustavus Albaugh; Aaron, born January 6, 1832, married Elizabeth Waymire.
Even from this brief record it can be understood that the Lesh family in the earlier as well as in the later generations were people of sturdy mold, of deeply religious character, and lived lives fruitful in good influence, strong effort, and in large families of children, many of whom in keeping with the Biblical instruction went forth to people and develop the earth.
Jacob L. Lesh, father of the Arkansas City business man, was born as already noted December 1, 1819, in Preble County, Ohio. During his later years he was well known in Kansas. However, he came to this state when past his prime. He grew up and married in Preble County, Ohio, was a farmer there until 1866, and then removed to the vicinity of Warrensburg, Missouri, where he continued as a farmer. In 1882 he located at Mount Ida in Anderson County, Kansas, and conducted a hardware store there for a number of years. He was one of the early merchants. He also owned a small farm. He died at Mount Ida, February 14, 1903, and was buried in the Mount Ida Graveyard. In politics he was a republican and was a very active member of the Dunkard Church, which he served as elder.
Jacob L. Lesh married Lydia Eikenberry, who was born in Preble County, Ohio, October 18, 1823, the oldest daughter of Joseph and Susanna Eikenberry. She died at Warrensburg, Missouri, January 8, 1878, and was buried in the Wampler Graveyard, about seven miles northwest of Knobnoster on or near Clear Fork Creek in Johnson County, Missouri. She was the mother of eight children: Joseph E., born April 2, 1843, volunteered as a soldier in defense of the Union, after the war became a farmer, and died at Warrensburg, Missouri, in 1909; Abel T., born January 9, 1846, is a farmer at Warrensburg, Missouri; Levi S., born September 4, 1847, is a traveling man, his home being at Vernon, Missouri; the next and fourth in age is A. J. Lesh; Peter R., born April 9, 1853, was a farmer and died at Mount Ida, Kansas, December 8, 1904; Daniel W., born July 24, 1854, is a farmer in the State of Colorado; Reuben, born June 26, 1859, died June 8, 1864; Mary, born September 26, 1861, is the wife of Thomas T. Parrott, a merchant at Mount Ida, Kansas.
Aaron Jacob Lesh was born in Preble County, Ohio, May 16, 1850, grew up in his native vicinity, attended the public schools, and was about sixteen years of age when the family moved to Johnson County, Missouri. He continued his education in the schools at Warrensburg and in 1878 graduated from the Warrensburg State Normal School. In the meantime he had grown up on his father’s farm, had acquired more than an incidental knowledge of its duties and activities, and from the age of twenty-one had regularly taught school in both Johnson County, Missouri, and Preble County, Ohio. For one year he was superintendent of schools at Centerville, Indiana. Mr. Lesh continued teaching as his main vocation until 1883.
From 1883 until 1885 he was in the grain and lumber business at Mount Ida, Kansas, from 1885 to 1891 was a druggist at Westphalia, and continued in the same line of business at El Dorado, Kansas, from 1891 to 1900.
While in the drug business Mr. Lesh read medicine books and afterwards took a course in the Gate City Medical College, graduating with the degree M. D. in 1905. In 1901 he had removed to Sapulpa, Oklahoma, and besides practicing medicine there he served as superintendent of the city schools for one year, 1903-04. He continued in practice at Sapulpa until 1906.
He gave up his profession to take an active part in the oil industry, and established the Lesh Refining Company. In 1908 he removed to Arkansas City, and had since been president of the Lesh Refining Company. This refinery is situated in the southeast part of the town, and had a capacity for handling 2,000 barrels of oil a day. The crude oil is brought from the Mid-Continent field, and the refined products are distributed over Kansas and Colorado and as far east as Chicago. Mr. Lesh is also president of the Lesh Oil Company, a distributing company.
Mr. Lesh and family reside at 225 North Third Street in Arkansas City. In politics he is a republican and is a member of Arkansas City Lodge No. 116, Knights of Pythias. He had been twice married. In 1878 in Preble County, Ohio, he married Miss Sarah E. Coppock. Mrs. Lesh died in Preble County in 1881. She was the mother of two children: Jacob Charles, an oil merchant at Guthrie, Oklahoma; and Anna Maude, who married, in 1904, A. C. Carpenter, an oil merchant at Ottawa Kansas.
In 1885, at Mount Ida, Kansas, Mr. Lesh married Miss S. Emma Wagstaff, a cousin of Thomas Wagstaff of Independence Kansas, and a daughter of Capt. William and Ruth Ann (Cook) Wagstaff. Her mother is now living at Garnett, Kansas. Her father, who died at Garnett, was a captain in the Union forces during the Civil war and afterwards for many years followed merchandising. Mr. and Mrs. Lesh are parents of four children: Grace Vera married Willis J. Brandon, and they have a son Ned, Mr. Lesh’s only grandchild. Mr. Brandon is a resident of Arkansas City and is an oil merchant associated with Mr. Lesh. William Lloyd, the second child, is secretary and treasurer of the Lesh Oil Company. Ruth Ann is a graduate of the State Normal School of Emporia, is a teacher in the public schools at Arkansas City and resided with her parents. Emma Corrinne, now a student in the University of Kansas, in the second or sophomore year.