Biography of Richard Meyer
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Richard Meyer. When he was twenty years of age Richard Meyer came to Kansas with his parents and since then, for thirty-six years, has been a resident of Riley County. He was born at Freeport, Illinois, March 3, 1860, and was reared and received his education in that locality.
Farming, stock raising and stock feeding have given him abundance of opportunity to work out his destiny, and the work has not only been congenial but on the whole profitable. Mr. Meyer probably ranks as one of the chief stock feeders in Riley County. The spirit of progressiveness has kept him out of the ruts of agricultural industry, and while some of the experiments that he has made have not proved financially profitable, yet they have been not without benefit to himself and others. He has developed some original methods and plans of farm husbandry, and has reached a promising degree of financial success. Along with his inclination to take some of the untried and untested methods of doing business, he has shown a great deal of courage and determination and resourcefulness in the face of difficulties and misfortune. Some years ago an unsuccessful deal in cattle caused him the loss of his entire farm. That was not a permanent setback. He immediately began retrieving his lost possessions, and gradually paid off the indebtedness until he now owns the farm again and unincumbered. This place is a highly improved farm just south of the Town of Riley, comprising 440 acres.
The quality of enterprise which he has shown throughout his career was undoubtedly inherited to a large degree from his father, Richard Meyer, Sr., who also became well known in Riley County. He was born at Emden in the Kingdom of Hanover, Germany, April 28, 1827. While he was an infant his parents both died, within a month or so of each other. Though left an orphan he was taken into the home of relatives and given a careful rearing and the best advantages afforded by the schools of his native town. From 1848 to 1850 he was a soldier in the army under the king of Hanover. At the close of his service, and at the age of about twenty-four, in 1851, he emigrated to the United States. Thousands of his fellow countrymen had come to America in the preceding years, and it was in hope of enjoying the blessings and opportunities of the new world that he crossed the ocean. After landing in New York City he found employment in different lines for four years and then went out to Stephenson County, Illinois. After farming for a time he gave up that in favor of a position as clerk in a store at Freeport. His unbounded spirit of enterprise is illustrated when a little later he went into business for himself on a capital said to have been only $10. Success attended his career as a merchant, and he built up a large business at Freeport and remained in active control until 1879. In the meantime, in 1866, he and three other men had organized the German Insurance Company of Freeport, and he became its first secretary and so served for several years.
In 1880 Richard Meyer, Sr., brought his family out to Riley County, Kansas, and invested largely in lands in the vicinity of Riley. He afterwards made a number of changes of residence, several times returning to Illinois, and his death occurred in that state at an advanced age.
He was married in February, 1853, in New York City to Miss Hannahrika G. de Graf. She was born at Leer, Germany, in 1827, and she also was left an orphan. It was about two years after their marriage in 1855 that Richard Meyer, Sr., and wife came West and settled in Stephenson County. Five children were born to them: Cornelia, Alida, Richard, Henry and Ida L. The three now living are Richard and Henry, both residents and farmers of Riley County, and Ida L., wife of A. S. Houghton, of Manhattan Kansas.
Richard Meyer, Jr., has been too busy a man to concern himself greatly with politics, though he has always been an ardent democrat, and for four years filled the office of township trustee. He is a Master Mason, a member of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows and the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks, and of the Farmers Alliance.
In 1883 he married Miss Margaret Beta Raven. They were married in Washington County, Kansas. After they had journeyed life’s highway together for nearly thirty years, Mrs. Meyer died in 1910, being survived by five children: Richard, Jr., who was graduated in 1905 from the Kansas State Agricultural College and is now actively associated with his father as a farmer and stock man and in 1916 was nominated by the democratic party as candidate for county clerk; Joseph Arthur, on his father’s farm; Ella M., who graduated from the Kansas State Agricultural College in 1907, and is now postmistress at Riley; Amelia, at home; and Margaret Beta, also at home. One child, Willie, died at the age of sixteen.