William H. Kozel. One of the most prominent business men of Washington County is William H. Kozel, whose interests are concerned with many of the important industries of the little town of Morrowville. Mr. Kezel is a clear-headed business man and had won his success through his own unaided efforts. He had gained a most enviable position in the business world and for a number of years had been doubtless the chief factor in the upbuilding of his particular community.
Mr. Kozel was born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, July 23, 1865, but had spent most of his life in Kansas. He is a son of Jacob and Barbara (Lackey) Kozel, both of whom were natives of Bohemia, Austria. The grandfather, John Kozel, was also born in Bohemia, was a Bohemian farmer, saw service in the regular army of his native land, and in 1855 brought his family to the United States, landing at New Orleans. He lived to advanced years and died at Lodi, Wisconsin, in 1892. The maternal grandfather Lackey immigrated with his family from Bohemia about 1840. He married both his wives in Bohemia, and his first wife was the mother of Barbara Kozel. His death occurred at Seneca, Kansas, in 1879. He followed farming in Wisconsin and Missouri and about 1867 located two miles north of Seneca. By his first wife he had two children, Barbara and C. M. Lackey. The latter served in the American Civil war as a Union soldier and died on the old homestead near Seneca, having reared a family of twelve children.
Jacob Kozel was born July 10, 1834, and had just reached his majority when he came with his family to the United States. From New Orleans he went north to Wisconsin, but married at St. Louis, Missouri. He then returned to Wisconsin, following the business of merehant tailor at Milwaukee from 1870 to 1874, then spent two years at Fairbury, Nebraska, and in 1876 came to Washington, Kansas. A year later, in 1877, he bought a homestead of 160 acres and his prosperity in this state enabled him to accumulate 720 acres. He died at Morrowville in October, 1898. He was independent in politics and was affiliated with the C. S. P. S. and the Ancient Order of United Workmen. He was also a Union soldier, having enlisted in 1862 in Company E of a Missouri Regiment, and saw much varied and active service until the close of the war. His wife, Barbara Lackey, was born in 1835 and died at Morrowville, Kansas, in 1910. She was only five years of age when she came to this country with her parents. A brief record of the five children is as follows: Slavena, the oldest, lives at Greenleaf, Kansas; George, a farmer near Morrowville; William H.; Charles, a farmer near Morrowville; and Paulina, wife of F. J. Tauber, in the furniture and undertaking business at Greenleaf.
William H. Kozel was educated in the public schools of Milwaukee, the rural schools near Fairbury, Nebraska, the city schools of Washington and again in rural schools near Morrowville. From the schools of the different communities where his parents lived during his youth he acquired the equivalent of a high school education.
Mr. Kozel spent the first thirty years of his life in his father’s home and continued actively the career of a farmer near Morrowville until 1896. Through his industry and capable judgment everything he had handled had responded with some further contribution to his financial prosperity. At the present time Mr. Kozel owned a farm of 160 acres two miles northwest of Morrowville, one of 160 acres a mile north of that town, and three tracts of land in Texas, containing respectively 710, 200 and 44 acres. Mr. Kozel and family live in one of the best homes in Morrowville, located on Main Street. He had twice remodeled this residence, the last time in the fall of 1916, and it is now thoroughly modern in all its appointments and conveniences.
In 1901 Mr. Kozel, with his brother Charles, engaged in the lumber business at Morrowville, having bought the old established yard of H. R. Maloney. In 1905 William H. Kozel bought his brother’s interest and had owned it ever since. He owned the business and the plant on Main Street and also had a coal yard and owned a quarter interest in the creamery and butter factory near the Burlington Railroad tracks. Other possessions include a dwelling house, a business building on Main Street, and the opera house on Main Street. Mr. Kozel is a director and stockholder in the Mokla Oil & Gas Company of Kansas City, Missouri.
Mr. Kozel is now (1917) installing city electric lights in Morrowville and is the promoter and owner of the plant, which had twenty-four hours’ service machinery. He is also owner of the Morrowville Opera House, which he erected in 1911, and this opera house would be a credit to a city of any size. He had the largest and best apple orchards in Washington County in which he takes great pride. It is expected to bear 3,000 bushels this year (1917).
With all these business interests Mr. Kozel is also identified with the social and civic life of his community. He is past noble grand of Morrowville Lodge No. 509, Independent Order of Odd Fellows, and is afflliated with Morrowville Camp of the Modern Woodmen of America and with Concordia. Lodge No. 586 of the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks. In matters of politics he is strictly independent.
In May, 1896, at Cuba, Kansas, Mr. Kozel married Miss Julia Prymek, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. I. Prymek. Her mother is now deceased, and her father, who lives at Cuba, is a retired farmer and is also in the furniture and undertaking business there with his son Otto as active manager. Mr. and Mrs. Kozel have one daughter, Blanche, who is a graduate of the eighth grade and is now a senior in the Morrowville High School.