One of the prominent early settlers and representative farmers in Nemaha county, living on section 31, Berwick township, is Jacob Meisner, who was born in the province of Hesse-Darmstadt, Germany, on the 24th of August, 1831. He remained in the fatherland until twenty years of age, his boyhood days being spent on a farm. In the common schools he acquired his education and a short time prior to attaining his majority he left his native land for the new world, hoping to benefit his financial condition in the land of the free. From New York city he made his way to Buffalo, and in that city and in Lancaster learned the blacksmith's trade, serving a two-years apprenticeship. In Genesee county, New York, he also worked at the trade for a year and in July, 1855, he came west, establishing a home in Kane county, Illinois, where he followed blacksmithing, working by the day for some time.
Mr. Meisner was married there, on the 4th of July, 1858, to Barbara Bachman, a native of Germany. They began their domestic life in Kane county, and Mr. Meisner provided for their maintenance by following his chosen vocation until August, 1861, when, prompted by a spirit of patriotism, he responded to his country's call for troops, enlisting as a private in the Fifty-second Illinois Infantry. He served until wounded at the battle of Shiloh, when he was sent to the hospital, where he remained for one hundred and fifty-four days. He was struck by a rebel bullet on April 6, 1862, and it was almost six months later when he received an honorable discharge, being no longer able for field service. He then returned to his home and family in Illinois where he continued until September, 1865, when he started for Kansas, his destination being Nemaha county. Mr. Meisner had visited this locality in 1859 and had made a claim, securing from the government the land upon which he now resides, obtaining the same through a land warrant. In 1865 he made a permanent location, being one of the first to establish a home in the county. Building a smithy in Seneca he carried on the blacksmith's trade there until 1872, when he located on his farm, which up to that time was a tract of unimproved prairie. He built a little log cabin, 14X12 feet, about the time he became the owner of the farm, and in 1872 he erected a stone residence, two stories in height. On May 17, 1896. the house and all the buildings upon the farm were destroyed in a cyclone, and sixteen head of cattle, fifty-seven head of hogs, five cows and five calves, together with other stock, were killed. Three lives were lost -- Mr. Meisner's wife, the hired girl, Hattie Baehni, and a neighbor, Mr. W. C. Machamer, who was visiting. The loss of property amounted to over seven thousand dollars, which included twelve hundred bushels of wheat and four thousand bushels of corn and oats. Such a loss would have completely discouraged many a man of less resolute spirit and determination, but with renewed energy Mr. Meisner began the work of replacing his lost possessions. All that he had were the clothes that he wore. In time, however, he commanded a small capital and this he invested in improvements, erecting good buildings and fences and all the accessories and conveniences of a model farm. At one time he was the owner of twelve hundred acres of land, but sold about one hundred and sixty acres of this to his son. His untiring perseverance and capable management, combined with splendid business and executive ability, have been the factors in his success, which is indeed creditable and gratifying.
By his marriage to Miss Barbara Bachman Mr. Meisner had a family of three sons, -- C. J., who now resides in Nemaha county; John, who is living in Washington township, Nemaha county; and Thomas Jefferson, who is living on the homestead farm. The last named wedded Minnie Baehni, and they now have three children, Anna, Glen and Andrew Jackson. The eldest son married Rosa Minger, and they have a family of eight sons and two daughter. John, the second son, wedded Ida Baehni, and their children are Estella, Clara and Hiram. For his second wife Mr. Meisner, of this review, chose Miss Susan Blaner, a native of Switzerland, and they have six children: George W., who married Mattie Frye; Herman; Jacob, his twin brother, who wedded Margaret Werren; Minnie, who is at home; and Margaret and Charles, who also are twins.
Mr. Meisner had about five hundred dollars when he landed in Buffalo, New York, and what he has acquired is the result of his own efforts. He worked for six years at thirty-six dollars per year, and at the end of the second year he had a capital of seventeen dollars and a half. Next year he made ten dollars per month. Out of that amount he saved enough to take him to Illinois, and when he arrived in Kane county he was the possessor of a capital of twenty dollars. Since coming to Kansas he has met obstacles and difficulties, but he has steadily advanced on the road to prosperity, and is now one of the most extensive landowners and prosperous farmers in Nemaha county. In 1858 he gave his political support to Abraham Lincoln, who was then a candidate for the United States Senate against Douglas. In 1860 he voted for Lincoln for president and continued to support the Republican candidates until after the election of Garfield, in 1880. Since that time he has usually voted the Democratic ticket, but at local elections he supports the men whom he regards as best qualified for office, regardless of party affiliations. He and his three sons by his first marriage are Masons. He belongs to Sabetha Lodge, No. 162, F. & A. M., and is highly esteemed by his brethren of the fraternity. In his life he exemplifies the beneficent principles of the order. He certainly deserves great credit for the success he has achieved, and his life il1ustrates the possibilities that lie before young men of ambition, resolution, and unfailing energy.