Nathan Brobst, an Early Kansas Pioneer - The Brobst/Probst Family

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Nathan Brobst,
an Early Kansas Pioneer

By Bill Brobst, Curator, Brobst Family Historical Registry

From the Winter 1998 Issue, Brobst Genealogy News

Among the earliest settlers of the Kansas Territory were Nathan and Mary Ann (Yeager) Brobst. Nathan was born in 1840 on the Henry Brobst farm at Brobst Corners, at Canfield, Mahoning County, Ohio, one of ten children of Henry and Susanna (Follweiler) Brobst.(Nathan < Henry < Mathias < George Michael < Johann Michael < Christophel). (Susanna's Aunt Susanna Follweiler was the author's g'g'g'grandmother.) After raising their family in Ohio, this family (including their four children) moved to the wilderness of Topeka, Shawnee County, Kansas, in February 1876. Shawnee County was still Indian country at the time.

A year later, Nathan's older brother Henry Jesse and his wife Louisa (Erhardt) joined them in the farmlands of Shawnee County. Their experiences in Shawnee country identified them closely with many of the interesting phases of the history of the development of the Middle West. They are all still there, buried in the Mission Center Cemetery. Henry Jesse was the first interment in that cemetery, in 1881; Nathan followed in 1910. Many of their descendants were buried there even into the 1980s and 1990s.

A history of Kansas, Kansas and Kansans, Volume 3, records his role in the absorption of the Kansas prairie farms into American life:

"Nathan Brobst grew up with only such advantages as were supplied by the common subscription schools of the time, and in fact gained his best education by travel, observation and experience, and by much reading. He was a great reader, and was really a student all his years. He was not a soldier in the Civil war, but one of his cousins was killed during that struggle. Following his schooling Nathan Brobst became apprenticed to the stonemason's trade, and followed that for a number of years in connection with farming."

On February 14, 1866, he married 25-year-old Mary Ann Yeager, daughter of Daniel and Elizabeth (Carnes) Yeager. After Nathan died in 1910, she continued living on the old homestead for another twelve years until her death in 1922. Her parents were Daniel and Elisabeth (Carnes), both natives of Pennsylvania, One of her maternal ancestors came from Germany.

Nathan and Mary Ann had four children: Alice (Mrs. Edward E.) Bundy; Emery, a farmer; Irvin of Auburn, Kansas; and Celia (Mrs. William D.) Davis, who lived on the old homestead with Mary Ann.

The Brobst farm was located on 160 acres of land in the Shawnee County prairie, about ten miles southwest of Topeka which was at that time just a small, dusty prairie town. He gradually added more acreage to his estate until at one time he owned 580 acres comprising one of the best country estates in the vicinity of Topeka. Beginning from scratch (literally) in the Kansas wilderness, Nathan undertook the heavy labor of breaking up the dry hard soil into arable farmland. With his brother, Henry Jesse, the two of them, with their children, had to build houses, barns, and fences and make every other improvement necessary to convert a tract of wild land into a comfortable home. They were alone out there, with no other help and with limited resources.

Apparently they lucked out with the Indian problem. Although there were occasional attacks by the Shawnees on the settlers, there's no record of any suffering by the Brobsts from that account. Much different from the problems the Brobsts faced in Pennsylvania in the 1700s.

"He exemplified the best traits of good citizenship and of a high upright character. It was his industry and honesty that brought him prosperity without envy from his neighbors. A democrat, he aspired to no offices, was always modest and retiring, and yet his public spirit could be counted upon to assist in any community improvement. He was a member of the Grange, and belonged to the Lutheran Church, and was a conscientious Christian all his life, while Mrs. Brobst is an active member of the German Reformed Church. As a man of splendid judgment, fortified with extensive reading, the advice of Mr. Brobst was widely sought and in every sphere and relationship of a long life he lived worthily and well."

This is one more example of the pioneering spirit which led the Probsts from the travails of poverty and hunger in Switzerland and Germany to a new life in America. It has been exciting for me, as Curator, to learn so much of the many Brobst families who contributed to making our nation what it is today.

December 22, 1998

This page was last updated on Monday, 21-Feb-2011 18:18:37 MST
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