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Herman Bartels, the pioneer lumber merchant and president of the Bank of Inman, had been identified with McPherson County for over forty years. He is a veteran German soldier and fought with the armies of the empire in the Franco-Prussian war. He had a thorough technical and professional training in German schools, and was educated as an architect, but after coming to Kansas he applied his energies first to farming and later to constructive business affairs in Inman, and had been the chief business man of that town for many years.
Mr. Bartels was born October 24, 1846, in the Kingdom of Hanover, Germany, a son of Ferdinand and Caroline (Sandvoff) Bartels, also natives of Germany. Mr. Bartels finished the regular common-school course in Germany, and at the age of eighteen completed a course at architecture at a Polytechnical College. His trade or profession he subsequently followed through journeyman’s experience in Germany, Switzerland and France until 1867.
He was enrolled as a private in the Prussian army and gave three years of service. He was assigned to duty as a member of the Pioneer Corps, and his active military experience came during the Franco-Prussian war of 1870-71, in which he was a petty officer. He was present during the sieges of Metz and Paris, and though all that experience as a soldier came more than forty-five years ago Mr. Bartels retains a very interesting and accurate knowledge of places and conditions in Germany and France, where the great war of the present is being waged. Throughout his experience as a soldier he was never sick or wounded.
At the close of the war he worked as a carpenter in the City of Hamburg. In December, 1871, he immigrated to America, and his first location was in Chicago, which only a few months before had been devastated by the great fire. There was much demand for carpenters and builders, and he set up in business as a carpenter and contractor.
In 1874 Mr. Bartels sought the free and open prairies of Kansas and located on a tract of government land in McPherson County. He followed farming with vigor and success until 1887, when he moved to the new town of Inman and established the first lumber yard. He had been continuously in the lumber business at that point for thirty years. In 1905 he became president of the Bank of Inman, also the first banking house of the town. This bank is a strong and substantial institution, had capital and surplus of $23,000 and average deposits of $200,000.
Mr. Bartels after becoming an American citizen affiliated with the democratic party, but had never sought any public position. For eighteen years he had been a member of the local school board and had done much to build up and improve the schools. For twelve years he served as mayor of Inman. He is affiliated with the Masonic order, the Independent Order of Odd Fellows and the Ancient Order of United Workmen, and is a member of the German Evangelical Church.
Mr. Bartels had been twice married. He and his first wife grew up as children together in Germany. She was Miss Dora Wedt, who was born in Germany, January 23, 1850. They were married January 23, 1873, and Mrs. Bartels died on the farm in McPherson County April 28, 1878, a little more than five years later. She was the mother of three children, one son and two daughters. Bertha, the oldest, is now the wife of J. V. Harms, a merchant at Hillsboro, Kansas, and they have seven children, five sons and two daughters. Augusta, the second child, was married in 1892 to E. H. Achilles, who is a practical farmer and occupies Mr. Bartels’ original homestead in McPherson County. Mr. and Mrs. Achilles have four children, one son and three daughters. William, the youngest child of this marriage, was born October 30, 1876, and died May 12, 1893.
On October 12, 1879, Mr. Bartels married Miss Catherine Vogt. She was born June 14, 1849, in Russia, but of German parents, who came to America in 1877 and located on a Kansas farm in McPherson County. Mr. and Mrs. Bartels are the parents of five children, four daughters and one son. Ida, the oldest, was born May 22, 1881. Anna was born May 22, 1883, and is a talented music teacher. Minna was born February 27, 1885, is a graduate of the University of Kansas, and is a teacher. Martha, born September 22, 1887, a graduate of the University of Kansas, was married May 22, 1917, to Nicholas F. Enns. Mr. Enns is a son of the late Cornelius Enns, and is a graduate civil engineer from the State Agricultural College at Manhattan. Adolph A., the youngest of Mr. Bartels’ children, was born December 25, 1892, was educated in Fairmont College at Wichita and is now assistant cashier in the Bank of Inman.