Biography of John E. Stuewe
Stuewe Family. For thirty-four years the name Stuewe had been prominently identified with the material prosperity of Wabaunsee County. Those of the name here are all descended from Helmuth Stuewe, whose grandchildren and great-grandchildren are numerously represented in the county. John E. Stuewe was the son of Helmuth. He was a native of the Duchy of Mechlenburg, Germany, and was a farmer there. He married Lisette Schroeder. All their children were born in Germany and were named in order of birth, Edward, Ferdinand, Albert, Matilda, Meta, John H. and Otto.
In order to avoid the compulsory military duty incumbent upon the young men of Germany, John E. Stuewe with his father, wife and children, immigrated to the United States in 1871. They had friends living in Mitchell County, Kansas, and hither they moved and both Helmuth and John E. Stuewe, his son, homesteaded a quarter section of raw prairie land. On the land was plenty of limestone, and from this was built their first home. The rafters were made by axe from living trees.
Owing to a lack of means they were unable to shingle the roof of this house. To provide such means and also money sufficient to buy provisions, the two oldest boys, Edward and Ferdinand, hired out as farm hands in Dickinson County. The money they earned was entrusted to the mails and was stolen. To losc such an amount now would be considered lightly by members of the Stuewc family, but it was then a calamity, leaving the family practically destitute. John E. Stuewe at this crisis dug cellars for his neighbors in order to secure the money necessary to get flour and other of the simplest provisions at the local stores. The winter following their arrival the roof of the old house consisted of long grass which grew plontifully on the bottom lands. Their own land was broken with oxen and everyone worked hard and endured privations for the common good. The early pathway of the Stuewe family in Kansas was by no means strewn with roses. For a few years they barely existed and had to suffer the afflictions of draught and the grasshopper plague. How they managed to get through and gradually prosper would furnish material for a heroic story, but here it is possible only to suggest the outlines of that struggle.
In 1883 Ferdinand and Albert moved to Wabaunsee County and embarked in the creamery business in Alma. Both were young and strong and were willing to work long hours in order to get shead. Helmuth Stuewe died in Mitchell County. In the early ’90s the rest of the family moved to Wabaunsee County and here John E. Stuewe and wife passed the remainder of their days.
In Germany the youth of the land are taught the cardinal virtues of industry and economy. This was characteristic of the Stuewes. They worked hard, saved, were honest and at all times commanded wide respect. John E. Stuewe was a man of superior education. He stood about six feet tall, weighed nearly 200 pounds, was industrious and was a credit to the land of his adoption.
Ferdinand Stuewe was born March 19, 1853, and for the most part was educated in the old country. He was about eighteen when he crossed the ocean. In youth he was apprenticed to a merchant. It is customary in Germany for boys to enter articles of apprenticeship in merchandising lines as in the trades. This experience was no doubt of immense value to Ferdinand Stuewe and gave him the habits and practices which have made him so successful in later-years. His early life on the plains of Kansas was one of ceaseless toil. He helped build the old house in Mitchell County which is still standing, and aided in breaking the virgin soil.
After coming to Alma he married in October, 1885 Amelia Pope. In 1895 he engaged in farming and the cattle business and founded the Bank of Alma, of which he had since been president. As a republican he was elected and served two terms as treasurer of Wabaunsee County. In spiritual matters Mr. Stuewe adheres to the German Evangelical faith, which was that of his forebears. Eight children have been born to his marriage: Albert, Frieda, Paul A., Victor, Elma (deceased), Julius, Alma and Esther.