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Biography of George J. Pfister
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George J. Pfister. The tireless business activities of some men constitute a greater service to a community than a long service in public office, and that is true of George J. Pfister of Coffeyville, one of the old time citizens of Montgomery County, formerly prominent as a cattleman and rancher, and one of the largest property owners in and around Coffeyville. In building up his prosperity it is a well known fact that Mr. Pfister had been guided by a constant desire to benefit the public as well as himself, and at every point his public spirit and devotion to the welfare of his community have equalled his material success.
A resident of Kansas since he was a child, George J. Pfister was born near New Harmony in the southwest corner of Indiana, May 17, 1866. His father was Frank L. Pfister, who was born in Luxembourg, Germany, in 1842. When fifteen years of age in 1857 he came to the United States with his parents, who settled near New Harmony, Indiana, on a farm. Frank was the oldest of eight children, the others being: Alees, who is a retired farmer living in Southwest Indiana and served as a soldier in the Civil war with the Union army; Michael, who is still living a retired farmer in Southwest Indiana, was also a soldier of the Civil war; Captain Martin served with the rank of captain of a company in the Union army, later became a farmer in Southwestern Indiana, and his death occurred as a result of an injury when he fell from a tree; John is a retired farmer at Carmi, Illinois; Joseph lives on his farm in Southwestern Indiana; Mary lives at Mount Vernon, Indiana, widow of John Coon, a farmer, deceased; Lizzie lives in Indiana and is a widow.
While Frank L. Pfister was coming across the ocean in 1857 he became acquainted with Miss Kate Woolhater, who with her parents was a passenger on the same vessel. She was born near Luxembourg, Germany, in 1844. The Woolhater family also settled near New Harmony, Indiana, and Frank L. and Kate were married there. From Indiana they moved to Iowa, and in the fall of 1869 arrived in Kansas, settling as pioneers in Labette County eight miles east of the present site of Coffeyville. This part of Kansas was then out on the frontier, and was still in a sense Indian land. Frank L. Pfister took up farming and stock raising, and became very prominent in the livestock industry, especially as a raiser of cattle and hogs. He retired to Coffeyville in 1885, and died there in 1906. He was a democrat, but never aspired to hold any political office, and was a member of the Catholic Church. His wife died on the old farm in Labette County in 1882. Their children were: Louis, a retired farmer at Mount Vernon, Indiana; Joseph, who was a farmer and died near Mount Vernon in 1880; George J.; Henry, who graduated in dentistry from a college in Kansas City, practiced for a time with Dr. Wassam in Topeka, and then for the sake of his health went to the Island of Cuba, where he died in 1892; Lizzie died in Coffeyville at the age of twenty-five, having graduated from St. Mary’s Seminary at Leavenworth, Kansas; Frank had nearly completed his studies at St. Mary’s Kansas, when he died at the age of twenty-two, and John, who died in in-infancy.
George J. Pfister began his education in the country schools of Labette County, Kansas. He was reared on his father’s farm until eighteen, and then spent two years in the Osage Mission School at what is now St. Paul, Kansas. On leaving school he entered the cattle business in Indian Territory, in the old Cherokee Nation. He was extensively identified with ranching and stock raising in what is now Oklahoma for ten years. Since 1896 Mr. Pfister’s home had been in Coffeyville. From this city as a center his operations have been widely extended both as a practical farmer and in the handling and management of large real estate interests. He had acquired over 1,200 acres of land in the vicinity of Coffeyville, and now owned 800 acres a mile and a half north of the city on Verdigris River; his residence is at 1002 Spruce Street in Coffeyville, his home being a fine eleven-room dwelling built in 1905; he owned six business brick buildings along Eighth Street in the business district; a 30-foot frontage on Eighth Street; a 100-foot frontage on the corner of Ninth and Maple streets; a fifty-foot front in Block 49 on Ninth Street; a seventy-five-foot front on Eighth Street in Block 49; a lot 50×110 feet in Block 53 on East Eighth Street, and a number of other scattering properties. The tax valuation placed on his properties is over $80,000. Mr. Pfister had been an active operator in the real estate field since 1896. He formerly owned the Coffeyville paint and wall paper store on Eighth Street, but that is now owned by his son, Stafford.
At different times a number of local enterprises have benefited from Mr. Pfister’s assistance and support. Anything that will improve and make a better town had his hearty cooperation. He is president of the Montgomery County Fair Association. Politically he is independent, and had been content to serve the public by his private activities and not through an office. For the good of his home city he once consented to serve as a member of the city council. He is a member of the Catholic Church and belongs to the Fourth Degree of the Knights of Columbus, Council No. 991 at Coffeyville. He is also a member of Coffeyville Lodge No. 775 Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks.
In 1888 at Emporia, Kansas, Mr. Pfister married Miss Rhoda E. Jones, daughter of Edward and Bridget Jones, both now deceased. Her father was a farmer. Mr. and Mrs. Pfister have four children, Hazel, Stella, Stafford and Raymond. Hazel, who is still at home with her parents, is a graduate of the Coffeyville High School; Stella graduated from the high school and from Loretto Acadsmy of Kansas City, and is now living at Ponsa City, Oklahoma, wife of James Ryan, who is in the oil refinery there with his father; Mr. and Mrs. Ryan have one child, James, born in 1914. Stafford attended the high school, St. Mary’s College at St. Mary’s, Kansas, and is now proprietor of the Coffeyville paint and wall paper store. Raymond after leaving high school entered St. Benedict’s College at Atchison, Kansas, and is now operating one of his father’s farms. He married Velma Furnish.
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