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Also See Daughters' Family Pages:

The Mable Kurz Parker and Beeley Families

The Rosa Marie Kurz Oller Family

The Ethel May Kurz Swaim Family

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Researched and contributed by Ron Kurz


Jacob Kurz photograph taken in 1884 on a trip to visit family in Wisconsin just prior to leaving for "out west"
Henry Kurz Collection
Parents of  Jacob Kurz:

Peter Joseph Kurz
Born: November 2, 1820 in Schauren, Kr. Kastellaun, Rheinland
Married: January 27, 1856 in Green Bay, Brown County, Wisconsin
Died: October 1, 1898 in Town of How, Oconto County, Wisconsin

Katherine Bibelhausen - wife
Born: November 25, 1835 in Valwig, Rheinland
Died: June 22, 1915 in Ladysmith, Rusk County, Wisconsin

Jacob  Kurz - son
Born: 02 Nov 1862 in New Denmark, Brown County, Wisconsin
Married: 02 Nov 1892 Comanche County, Kansas, to Rosa Deubler
Died: 14 May 1951 in Coldwater, Kansas

Crown Hill Cemetery
Comanche County
Kansas, USA

The following family history was written by Jacob Kurz direct descendant Linda Crowe in 1980
and is posted in the original form with her permission (July 18, 2005).
It was first published by the
Comanche County Historical Society
410 South Baltimore, Box 177
Coldwater 67029

Jake Kurz with other family members

Rita Neustifter Collection,

This picture was taken near Warren, Minnesota about 1882/83.
Jake Kurz (left) with his brother John, wife Anna Peterson and step daughters Enga & Kaja

After leaving his family farm in Shawano County, Wisconsin, 19 year old Jake Kurz first homesteaded with his brother John, taking oldest brother Philipp Joseph's (Joe) place on the new homestead in Minnesota. Joe had left for the mines in Wyoming. Jake and John were living alone and needed a housekeeper who was familiar with gardening and preparing food for winter storage as well as cleaning and meal preparation. They advertised the position and Anna Peterson responded. She was a married mother of two young daughters. The three had been abandoned by Anna's husband and she was working as a housekeeper in Wisconsin. Anna was hired and brought her two daughters to live on the Minnesota frontier homestead. Jake moved on to the frontier of Kansas and Oklahoma in 1885 after visiting brother Joe at his newly claimed homestead land. Not long afterward, Joe became gravely ill and was diagnosed with Spinal Tuberculosis. He eventually sold his homestead and moved north to Oregon to live with sister Katherine and her family. Anna Peterson had divorced and accepted John Kurz' proposal of marriage at the Minnesota homestead. Anna's two daughters were being raised by John kurz as his own and were soon joined by triplet brothers. Jake maintained close contact with all his brothers and sisters then and throughout their lives.

Jacob & Rosa Kurz

Jacob Kurz and Rosa Deubler
 were married November 2, 1892, 
by Shelby P. Duncan,
Probate judge of Comanche county, Kansas. 
Beeley Family Collection


  Ron Kurz Collection

Rosa Deubler Kurz                      Jacob Kurz
1874-1965                                    1862-1951

Photographs taken  on March 22, 1948


Jacob Kurz b: 02 Nov 1862 in Brown County, WI d: 14 May 1951 in Coldwater, Kansas 
..  +Rosa Deubler b: 24 Mar 1874 in Warsaw, Illinois d: 05 Oct 1965 in Coldwater, Kansas m: 02 Nov 1892 in Comanche County, Kansas

Children of Jacob and Rosa Deubler Kurz:

1. Clara Kurz b: 06 Aug 1894 d: 21 Jul 1907 in San Pedro, California
2. Mable Kurz (Fred Leroy Parker)  b: 05 Jun 1896 d: 19 Jul 1977
3. Charles Jacob Kurz b: 18 Jan 1900 d: 21 Jul 1907 in San Pedro, California
4. Infant Daughter Kurz b: April 2, 1903 d: April 4, 1903

5. Rose Marie Kurz (Earnest Martin Oller) b: 16 Jul 1904 d: 17 Oct 1987
6. Ethel May Kurz (John Earl Swaim) b: 10 May 1913 d: 1982

Crown Hill Cemetery
Comanche County
Kansas, USA  

      Jacob Kurz was born on a farm in Brown County, Wisconsin to Peter and Katherine (Biblehausen) Kurz November 2, 1862.  His parents were natives of Germany.  He came to Kansas March 20, 1885.  Arriving by train in Attica, Kansas, he then took the stage to Kiowa and then walked to the Rumsey Township in Comanche County to join his brother Joe.  They both homesteaded on Government land living in dugouts for three years.  On April 22, 1885 the rains come and flooded the Medicine River, washing away houses and wagons.  Twenty-four bodies were found the next day.  There were four people in the Kurz dugout bailing water all night.  The only light was a saucer with lard in it and a rag for a wick.

 Jacob made money by working to help build the Santa Fee Railroad from Kiowa, Kansas through the Indian territory of Oklahoma.  With this money he established his farming and ranching operations.

 Rosa Marie Deubler was born to Gottlieb Friedrich and Mary Elizabeth (Enzeroth) Deubler in Warsaw, Illinois March 24, 1874.  Gottlieb Friedrich Deubler came to the United States from Germany and never returned to their native country.   Gottlieb was 17 when he immigrated in 1854.

  Rosa's mother, Mary Enzeroth,  immigrated several years before Gottlieb.  They met and married in Warsaw, Illinois. Mrs. Deubler left Rosa with a sister in Wichita, Kansas and hearing of homesteading land in Western Kansas brought her five unmarried children to Evansville, Kansas.  It wasn’t long until Rosa came by stage to join her family.  The Deubler land was near the settlement of Jacob Kurz.  (Rosa's father died 14 April/May 1882 at age 45.  Rosa was the 11th of 12 children. She was the youngest daughter and had one brother, Joseph Fredrich who lived only 2 months.  Another brother of Rosa, John Henry Deubler, married Mellie Orilla Hazen, born 9 Feb 1862 in Sandusky, Erie, Ohio. Her parents were Acel James Hazen and Sarah Ellen Corning.  John and Mellie married 28 Sept 1886/7.  John died 31 May 1958 in Seiling, Dewey, Oklahoma and Mellie died 20 Feb 1956 in Seiling. Deubler descendant: Margaret Sexton )

 Jacob and Rosa were married November 2, 1892 by Shelby P. Duncan, probate judge of Comanche County.  By this time Mr. Kurz had built a two room home, the first wood frame home in Comanche county.  Six children were born to this union.  Clara (August 6, 1894), Mable (June 5, 1896), Charles Jacob (January 18, 1900), Rosa Marie (July 16, 1904), the fifth child, a daughter, died in infancy, and Ethel May (May 19, 1913).

 Their greatest bereavement came when the ill fated steamer, the Columbia, sank in the Pacific Ocean July, 1907.  Jacob, Clara and Charlie were on their way to Oregon to visit his brother, Joe.  They booked passage in California on the steamship and eighteen miles out to sea the Columbia was hit broadside by another ship.  It sank at once.  Clara was in a room with another woman and they were never heard from.  Jacob, with Charlie in his arms, was forced into the water.  Unconscious, they were picked but by a life boat with thirty people in it.  After Jacob regained his consciousness, he looked around for his son only to be told he had died in his arms and the boat had no room for the body.  He was left at sea.  Word first received in Coldwater was they had all drowned.  It wasn’t for three weeks that Jacob got word back that he was alive.  He wasn’t very well and hoping to find the children stayed another thirty days.  They were never found.

 Years passed and Jacob and Rosa became well established in ranching.  In 1913 they bought a residence at 500 E. Maple in Coldwater so the younger girls could attend Coldwater schools.  Jacob was always interested in building and in the late 40’s built the brick office building on East Main by the Post Office.

 Rosa Kurz was an excellent cook.  Her kuchen bread recipe is a favorite of her great grandchildren today.

 Jacob passed away May 14, 1951 and Rosa October 5, 1965 leaving their estate to the three surviving daughters, Mable Parker, Rosa (Oller) Bannick, and Ethel May Swaim.

Linda Crowe, 1980
Birth:  Jul. 16, 1904, USA Death:  Oct. 17, 1987, USA
Rosa Marie Kurz Oller
Rosa Marie Kurz was born at the ranch home of her parents, Jacob and Rosa Kurz, July 16, 1904. Being the "good ole days" their closest neighbor was three miles away and trips to town were few, twice a year, with a wagon to sell hogs and ring home groceries. This took three days one to go, one to shop and one to come home. Mail came twice a month at a store in Aetna. She told of the Indians raiding their home as her family hid in the surrounding hills. They took beans and tobacco.
Rosa was one of six children. She had sisters; Clara, Mable Parker, Ethel May Swaim, a sister who died in infancy and one brother, Charles Jacob. Clara and Charles lost their lives on the ill-fated steamer, the Columbia when it sank on the Pacific Ocean July 1907 they were never found.
In 1913, Jacob and Rosa Kurz bought a residence in Coldwater and moved their daughters to town so they could attend Coldwater schools.

On June 7, 1922, Rosa married Ernest Martin Oller and made their home on his father's farm for a year. In 1924 they moved to "Home" and bought their first combine that was pulled by four horses and a Ford tractor. Rosa had a love for animals, especially horses. They raised all breeds of horses from palominos to Shetlands and showed successfully in many horse shows. She often told of the times her sisters and she would run their horses during the winter and slide them across the ice ponds. Many times the men would go out to gather the horses but they wouldn't come in. Ernest went to the house and get Rosa and they came trotting right in.

Jan 9 1926 was a special day as their only child, Ernest J. Oller, was born at the home of his grandparents, Jacob and Rosa Kurz. Of the many lessons in life Rosa tried to install in her son was "two wrongs don't make a right".
Ernest Martin Oller died in April 1966.

Rosa married Frances Bannick Jan. 16, 1971. He preceded her in death. She later married Lonnie Ware. He also preceded her in death. She enjoyed working and was a member of the Antioch Community Church, was a charter member of the Pikeview E.H.U., worked in the Loyal Hustlers 4-H Club and helped her husband in raising money to build the Pioneer Lodge.

Rosa was preceded in death by her parents, Jacob and Rosa Kurz, her husbands, Ernest M. Oller, Frances Bannick and Lonnie Ware, brother Charles, sisters, Clara, Ethel Swaim and Mable Parker.
She will be greatly missed by her son and wife, Ernest and Jennie Oller; grandchildren Leo and Karen Oller, Mike and Linda Crowe, and Larry and Katie Oller; great grandchildren Sam and Jennifer Oller, Bradley and Sara Crowe, Angela, Benjamin and Ann Oller.
Services were held at the Hatfield-Prusa Chapel in Coldwater Oct. 19, 1987 with Rev. Rob Weeks officiating. Songs sung by Rex Maris, accompanied by Fayette Blount, were "It is Well With my Soul: "Let the Rest of the World Go By', "I Know Who Holds Tomorrow".
The obituary was read by granddaughter, Linda Crowe.

Pallbearers were Bob Basnett, Robert Huck, Victor Stark, Virgil McIntyre, Russell Harness, and Wayne Kindsvater. Honorary pallbearers were Jim Haas, Clifford Blount, Frank Zielke, Ralph Klepinger, Harry Lohrding, Ralph Deewall and Ansel Dickinson.
Internment followed at Crown Hill Cemetery, Coldwater. Grandson Leo Oller played the Lord's Prayer on his trumpet.
Information provided by Willis Oller. 

Henry Kurz Collection
Inside view of the dugout cabin with storage and large cast-iron, wood burning, cook stove.
Jake Kurz is sitting at far left.
The oldest three children 
of Jacob and Rosa in 1900.
Left to right:
 Mable, Charley and Clara Kurz 
Veronica Kurz Holl Collection

Please click on the photos below for a full size view.
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Kurz Family in 1900 at the original "Dugout" House.
Left to right
Clara, Rosa, Charley in carriage, Mable and Jacob.

Beeley Family Collection

First Wood Frame House Constructed
in  Comanche County,  Kansas.
Photo 1900
Beeley Family Collection

Please click on the photos below for a full size view.
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Top: Scene from the Kurz Ranch 
in Commanche County, Kansas
Middle: Using a portable saw to cut wood. The large belt extending to the right lower corner was connected to a steam engine for power.

 Farm work.
Beeley Family Collection

Left to right:
Mable, Rose in buggy, Clara, Charley Kurz
Children of Jake and Rose.
Beeley Family Collection

The one story section is the original Jake Kurz wood frame ranch home, the first one built in Comanche County, Kansas. This photo shows the two story addition added later. Jake's son-in-law and grandchild are standing in front and were living there at this time. Jake and his wife Rose were newly moved to their Victorian home in nearby Coldwater, Kansas. 
Ron Kurz Collection


Taken from a newspaper account and
personal recollections.
contributed from the Beeley Family Collection

1907, July. — Steamship Columbia, sunk off Shelton Cove, California, in collision with steamship San Pedro; 50 lives lost.
1907, July 20.--American steamers Columbia and San Pedro collided on the Californian coast; 100 lives lost.

Steam Ship Columbia
Rita Neustiter Collection

Please click on the photos below for a full size view.
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Beeley Family Collection


July 27, 1907, Jacob Kurz, a farmer of Coldwater, Kansas, who was journeying to meet his brother at Falls City, Oregon, whom he had not seen in 20 years, is the only one to arrive here from Shelter Cove able to give a clear account of the landing of the ship with 15 people at that place.  Kurz arrived in Eureka this morning.  He had leaped into the sea from the Columbia with his 7 year old son and the boy died in his arms.

     I was not awakened by any crash, but the scurrying of people on the upper deck; I took time to dress, not realizing that the vessel would sink.  My boy Charley was in the room with me and I dressed him partly and ran toward the deck.  The water by that time was up to the grating and with Charley in my arms, I dropped into the sea.  I tried my best to keep afloat, but the water was icy and the cold soon got the best of us.  First my little boy grew cold and unconscious and then I lost my sense.  At the last moment I could see no boat in sight, but when I awoke I was safely landed on one of the ships with a lot of half clad women and men.  The sailors were rowing to get to the shore.  First they tried the sails but this didn’t work, and once or twice the boat came near capsizing.  But those good sailors, under the direction of Quarter master Hinner, kept on rowing, changing about and receiving relief now and then from passengers who were strong enough.  When I came to my senses, I looked about for my boy, but they told me that he had died in my arms and they could not pick up the body.  At Shelter Cove we were all taken care of and given clothes.  Next day we started out in a bark wagon, hauled by seven mules, for Briceland.  We changed horse and teams and went on to Harris.  Where the other survivors took the stage to San Francisco.

Jake Kurz taken near the time of the accident.

Rose Kurz taken near the time of the accident.

Kurz and O.P. Lewis, at the Sequoia hospital, are the only survivors who reached the shore at Shelter Cove to come through to Eureka.  {end.}

     Mable Parker tells:  “That Clara was in a stateroom with some other lady and was evidently asleep at the time of the collision.  Jacob attempted to go back to her room but the ship officers wouldn’t allow it.  So he took Charley and climbed a high pole (possibly the mast?).  As the ship sank and the water level rose higher and higher, Jacob and Charley let go and started swimming.  Jacob remained there several days hoping the bodies would be recovered but they were never found. 

(note: What was not mentioned at the time in July 1907;  Jake Kurz also was traveling to see his sister Catherine Kurz Maiers Murray who was diagnosed with terminal cancer earlier that year and was not ready for the family to know.  Catherine and her daughters had taken care of brother  Philipp Kurz for several years at her home in Oregon. Philipp had the diagnosis of Spinal Tuberculosis, which at the time brought gradual deterioration of the nervous system, paralysis and was eventually fatal. Philipp outlived his sister Catherine, who died in September 1909. Her daughters continued to care for him at the family home in Oregon until his death in 1915.)

The photographs below had the first names and ages of Clara and Charley Kurz hand written on the backs.
They had been given to their grandmother Catherine Bibelhausen Kurz who was living in Ladysmith,
Wisconsin, and were found among her charished collection of family images.

Clara Kurz
age 9 years
Henry Kurz Collection

Grave memorial in Kansas for Clara Kurz, lost at sea along the Pacific coast in 1907
Ron Kurz Collection

Charley Kurz
age 3 years
Henry Kurz Collection

Grave memorial in Kansas for Charley Kurz, lost at sea along the Pacific coast in 1907
Ron Kurz Collection

     Jacob remained in California for 30 days in hopes of recovering the bodies of Clara and Charley but to no avail.  It took approximately three weeks for word of Jacob’s safety to reach home.  First reports were that all had drown.  They were on their way to Oregon to visit Jacob’s brother, Joe and sister Catherins Kurz Murray, both in seriously deteriorating health.  The three boarded the ship in California bound for Oregon.  The Columbia was rammed by a logging boat and cut nearly in half.

San Francisco, CA Steamer Columbia Disaster, Jul 1907


Third Officer Accuses the Male Passengers of Failing to Assist the Rescued


Not a Child Aboard Wrecked Steamer Was Saved - Company Official Makes Statement

Revised lists show that 97 persons were drowned when the steamer Columbia was sent to the bottom off the Mendocino coast early Sunday morning as the result of a collision with the lumber schooner San Pedro. Not a child on board the Columbia escaped death. A wonderfully graphic story of the disaster, in which the horror of it all stands out so plainly that one can almost experience it, is told by Mrs. O. Liedelt, one of the survivors, who reached San Francisco yesterday. Third Officer Hawso expresses the utmost contempt for the men who were in the wreck, declaring that they did nothing to aid the women. Sworn statements made to government officials by the crew of the wrecked steamer seek to place the responsibility for the disaster on the San Pedro, which, it is declared, did not respond properly to the passing signals given by the Columbia.

(Special Dispatch to the Journal)
San Francisco, July 23.

The most graphic story which has been told of the steamship Columbia disaster was brought to this city today by a woman, Mrs. O. Leidelt, one of the survivors, who arrived on the steamer Pomona from Eureka. Mrs. Leidelt was the only survivor from among the passengers on the ill-fated Columbia who came in on the Pomona, although the ship brought the members of the crew who were saved and who had managed to reach Eureka. When Mrs. Leidelt started down the Pomona's gang-plank, after the ship was made fast, she faced a great crowd of anxious friends and relatives of those who had been aboard the Columbia. Every passenger who had preceded her down the plank had been stopped by anxious ones who inquired, "Were you a passenger on the Columbia?". Not until Mrs. Leidelt debarked was an affirmative answer obtained to the questions, and at first the woman was so overcome by her emotions that she could not talk, and constantly murmured, "I don't want to talk. Please do not ask me to say anything."

Story Moved Men to Tears.

Clad in a dark brown ulster which had been furnished her by the relief committee at Eureka, and closely veiled, she made her way uncertainly through the crowd on the pier, seemingly still in a daze from the terrible experience through which she had passed. She was crying constantly, and her replies to newspaper men who besought her to make a statement of the affair were broken by sobs. When at last she was induced to talk she told a story so graphic that the hardened newspaper writers who listened to the recital were moved to tears. "I was asleep in my berth when the crash came," she said, "and the jar of the collision threw me to the floor. I managed to get out of the stateroom although I was too bewildered to know what I was doing, and made my way to the deck. I could only realize that something terrible had happened, and did not stop to collect any of my belongings, or to don my clothing.

Passengers in a Frenzy.

"When I reached the deck, everyone was excited." Men and women and children were running about, screaming, and calling for friends and relatives. The dark hulk of the San Pedro could be seen floating away from the Columbia, and the rush of the water into our vessel made a noise that was heard above the din of the crazed crowd. The crew was at the boats, cutting and slashing at the lashings, and doing their utmost to launch them while the frenzied passengers ran everywhere begging to be saved. Some kneeled on the deck and said their last prayers, men clasped their wives in their arms, and mothers gathered their children about them. We waited for the end which, by intuition, we all knew was at hand. "Only the captain remained cool among all that number. He stood on the bridge, his arms stretched wide, and above all the other noises rose the roar of his voice, begging the people to be calm and to permit the launching of the life-boats and rafts. He was a heroic figure, standing there along on the bridge in the gloom and darkness of the night.

Fought like Maniacs to Be Saved.

"But his entreaties availed very little. People fought like maniacs for places in the boats, and piled into them before sailors had loosened the falls. Those who could not find places in the boats about to be lowered jumped over the side into the sea, and vainly tried to reach pieces of wreckage and lumber from the San Pedro that floated all about the ship. Every once in a while, the last cry of some poor soul struck terror to the hearts of those still alive and looking over the railing we could see faces uplifted and arms extended toward heaven as someone sank for the last time beneath the waves. "The seconds seemed like hours in the pandemonium that raged, and I scarcely had time to think. Pushed and pulled and jammed about, I suddenly found myself near the rail, and looking down into the water saw one of the life-rafts close to the side of the ship, which by this time was listing heavily. There was nobody on the raft, and thinking only to save myself, I leaped over the side of the ship into the sea. How I got on the raft I do not know. I must have struck it in falling, for I injured my hip when I jumped. Down there in the water, looking back towards the ship, I saw other women jumping over the side into the sea. Some of them had children in their arms. Others were clasped in their husbands arms.

Women Leaped Into the Sea.

"I saw two women make the leap into the ocean with their arms locked about one another's neck. In a moment, some of the women began to climb onto the raft. Some came from the water, others landed on the frail support as they jumped from the ship. One man helped a woman into the raft from the water, clung a moment to some of the side-lines, and then, with two words, 'Good Bye,' sank under the waves. "We drifted away from the side of the ship. Then came the explosion of the boilers. Just before the explosion, the Columbia's whistle began a terrific moanful screeching. Captain Duran had tied it down just as he shouted, 'Good bye. God bless you!' The explosion of the boilers seemed to heave the Columbia clear off the water, and the air was filled with flying bits of wreckage. then the ship settled by the head, and her bow disappeared under the waves, the wreck of the hulk gliding in after it. It was just like a porpoise settling into the water after he has made a leap.

Raft in a Whirlpool.

"As the Columbia went under, the waters swirled about our little raft until it seemed that we were in a whirlpool with the waves breaking over us. We were all lying prone, clinging to whatever holds we could find. One poor woman could not cling to anything as she had two babies in her arms. There was one other woman on the raft, and she and I managed to support the mother with our free arms until suddenly, a moment after the Columbia had disappeared, a terrific wave swept over us. Our hold on the woman was broken, and she and her two babies were washed away in the angry waters. "The one woman who was left with me on the raft began to lose her strength. She shouted to me that she could hold on but a moment longer, and begged me to support her. I tried to encourage her, saying help was almost at hand, but she did not have the strength. With all my might I clung to her, but I was weak too.

"O, God! I Can't Forget That."

"Gradually she slipped off the side of the raft. I leaned over, still holding to her until my strength gave out, and I had to let go. The poor soul died before my eyes, and I could not save her..O,God! I can't forget that! I will never forget that! Who she was I do not know. I can only realize that she drowned and I could not help her. "Now and then I caught sight of other rafts, and boats, and finally we drifted near the San Pedro, and a boat took the raft in tow. It seemed hours after the Columbia sank when we came alongside the lumber schooner, and we climbed up her side- it was a terrible climb. "The men tried to help me, but I was so weak, and felt so very, very old and broken that I thought I could never get up the ladder. It had been so long since I had leaped from the Columbia on to the raft. It was very cold, and we were clad only in our night robes, and then the waves kept breaking over us constantly. On the San Pedro, we were sitting on pieces of lumber, part of what remained of the deck-load the ship had carried. The San Pedro was down by the head, and the deck was almost awash. Suddenly a wave carried away the lumber on which we were sitting, and it was only by a miracle that we were not washed off into the sea.

Survivors Washed Off the San Pedro.

"A few moments later there was a second great disaster on the San Pedro. The rear mast of the ship snapped close to the deck, and as it fell it carried several of the survivors of the Columbia horror back into the water from which they had just been rescued. The boats were still out, and one or two of those who were swept overboard when the mast fell were found a brought back, but of the others we saw nothing more. "All this time the fog hung about us. There was not even the relief of a clear sky. All was darkness and misty gloom, and the sensations were terrible, for we did not know whether or not the San Pedro would hold together.

The officers did their best to cheer us though. "And then the day broke, the light coming on gradually, and penetrating slowly through the cloud of mist and fog that seemed wrapped about us. As the sun rose, it came up a dull, bloody red, and hanging low in the skies, it cast a ruddy glow over the swishing waves on which floated all manner of wreckage, and which in turn washed over the wreck of the Columbia, and the last resting place of God alone knows how many souls. "As the day broke, we could see who had been saved, and who had been lost. Oh, that sight!

It was awful to look about the deck of the San Pedro, and see men and women and children, nearly all half naked or clad only in their night clothes, to see the frenzy still on their faces, to see the horror and the sorrow for loved ones lost, and to know that only a few hours before we had been a happy, merry party, ever so much larger, on the Columbia. Everything was desolate and dismal, and we could do nothing. Then the Elder came up. We were transferred to that ship, where we were cared for and taken to Eureka."


(By Associated Press)

SAN FRANCISCO. July 23 - Three of the officers of the Columbia who arrived here today on the steamer Pomona made statements under oath to Inspectors of Hulls and Boilers - Bolles and Bulger. Second Officer Richard Agerupp said: "At 12 midnight, Saturday, July 20, I relieved First Officer W. F. Whitney on the bridge of the Columbia, being 68 miles to the north of Point Arena by the ships log and steering N. W. 3-4 N. by pilot-house compass. Captain Doran was also on the bridge, as the weather was foggy, but he went down to his room for about two minutes. Then he returned to the bridge again. 

"About 12:15 a.m. Sunday I heard a whistle on the starboard side and I reported to the captain, who said he had heard it too. We kept our whistle going regularly, and so did the other steamer. The sound apparently still came from the starboard bow, which proved later to be the case, for about 12:20 we saw the other steamer's headlights and her red sidelight, about two points off the starboard bow. We were going full speed ahead as shown by the indicator on the bridge. The captain ordered me to blow two blasts. 

While blowing the second blast the other steamer answered with one blast. The captain then ordered the engineer 'full speed astern;' His order was answered from the engine room and the captain himself blew three whistles. 

Soon after the steamer collided with the Columbia and struck her about 30 feet from the stern on the starboard side. This was about 12:22 as I looked at the clock. "Captain Doran shouted: 'What are you doing man?' and told the other steamer to stand by us as she was loaded with lumber.

"Captain Doran whistled down to the engineer on watch to learn if the ship was making any water. I went down to the engine room and asked the first assistant engineer, M. Burpee, if there was any water making. He said there was not. Returning to the bridge I reported to the captain. 

Just then the watchman came on the bridge and reported that the water was streaming in forward. "The first officer came on the bridge and the captain ordered him to take the bridge and for me to take off the head covers and get the boats ready for hoisting. By this time the ship listed to starboard and started to go down by the head. 

Several men were by this time getting the boats over. "The captain ordered me to cut the after life rafts adrift. While doing this I heard the whistle blow and looking around saw the bridge nearly under water. I saw there was no time to spare, so I threw a life buoy overboard and jumped over the stern into the sea. As I struck the water the Columbia disappeared and the suction brought me down with it. I got to the surface and about 30 minutes later was picked up in No. 10 boat by one of the quartermasters."


SAN FRANCISCO. July 23 - To his own prowess as a swimmer, John Swift, ex-fireman on the Columbia, can attribute his safe arrival on the Pomona this morning. With an arm broken in two place, he swam to some wreckage after the Columbia, sank and clung there until taken aboard the George W. Elder. Swift, with John Roach, was working in the Columbia's fire room when the crash occurred. Roach went on deck to find out what had occurred and to lend a hand in clearing away the boats. Not until Roach yelled down the ventilator that the ship was in great danger, did Swift know what had occurred. He scrambled up the iron stairway of the fire room ad had hardly reached the deck when the vessel gave a lurch and the whole starboard side went under water. 

Fortunately, he had come out on the port side, where, in the darkness, he did not know what to do. Before the enormity of the disaster dawned upon him there was another lurch, a wave swept him from his feet, and the next minute he was swimming in the water. "I don't remember what happened after the until I came to, floating about in the water. It was perfectly dark. I did not have a life preserver on and I don't know how I managed to keep afloat all that time. I tried to move. My left arm hurt terribly. Then I noticed it was limp and realized it must have been broken. I swam to a piece of timber floating by. I clung there until the Elder came along and picked me up.


SAN FRACISCO. July 23 - Chief Engineer J. Y. Jackson told the story of his personal experiences in the wreck. He said: "I was in my stateroom when the crash occurred and I scrambled into a few clothes and came upon deck. All was confusion and turmoil. The roar of the water as it poured in the hole of the Columbia's side was deafening. Then desperately swimming I caught a rope thrown from the deck of the San Pedro. From there I looked back at the Columbia, just in time to see her plunge beneath the waves. As she sank I could dimly see many men dash across the deck toward the San Pedro; the next moment the fog had hidden the dreadful scenes. "I am sure that many steerage passengers did not leave their staterooms as the interval was so short between the time she struck and the time that she sank that the men on watch in my department had no time to get to the deck, and those that did jump overboard were sucked down by the dreadful vortex created by the sinking vessel. "When I rushed about the deck it seemed to be deserted but I knew that many were about me, for the screams and cries were awful. I thank God that I am safe, but would willingly have given my life as Captain Doran did, to save those that perished. "I did not realize that the vessel was going to sink as soon as it did and I believe Captain Doran was of the same opinion."


SAN FRANCISCO. July 23 - The cool head of Second Steward A. Marks of the Columbia, saved many lives when the Columbia sank. As soon as the ship struck, the steward ran into the "glory-hole" where his men slept and ordered them to their posts. The men were well drilled and wasted no time in their duty of waking the passengers. They ran through the cabins assigned to them dragging the people out of bed and adjusting their life preservers for them. This accounts for the fact that all those who were on deck had life preservers on them. When the waiters were about half through their work on the starboard side the vessel gave a heavy list and all those who still remained in their staterooms on that side of the boat were doomed. The vessel filled to the deck and the doors of their cabins were jammed so that they were unable to break their way free before the vessel up-ended and dived to the bottom. The starboard deck was filled with half dressed people when the fatal list came. Those who were already on the deck were able to climb to the port side and cling there until the last plunge was made. The vessel went down without a noticeable suction but the passengers found that they were unable to remain on the surface of the water, although buoyed up by the life preservers. Many assert that they sank as far as 80 feet before they began to rise.



SAN FRANCISCO. July 23 - C. Murphy, a waiter, one of the survivors of the Columbia, who arrived here today said: "When the San Pedro struck us, the shock awoke me right away. The next moment, the Second Steward, Marks, called us to our fire drill posts and I ran to the deck on the starboard side toward the stern where my post was. When I saw the San Pedro I knew what was up. I was pretty sure she was sinking, so I ran into every cabin, shaking the people in the bunks and dragging out their life preservers. "I remember putting life preservers on eight women on that side. Everybody was cool but nobody knew what to do. They stood around dazed and let me put the straps over their shoulders just like children without asking any questions or trying to help themselves. I would not let them stop to dress. "The boat laid on her right side until she sunk. When we were all clinging to the port rail, hardly any of us with any clothes on, the captain stood on the bridge and looking down on us and said: " 'Well, boys, I did all I could for you, and I can do no more. She's a goner. Goodbye.' "


El Paso, Tex. - Misses Edna Bessie Wallace, sisters, were El Paso school teachers who had been in attendance upon the National Educational Association convention at Los Angeles.

Colorado Springs, Color. - Miss Katrina Hayden was a school teacher of this city who had been in attendance at the National Educational Association convention, in Los Angeles. Her parents reside at Cripple Creek.

Denver. - Miss Mary Persons was a Denver school teacher. She was traveling in company with Miss Alice Watson, another Denver teacher who was saved. She was 50 years old.

Decatur, Ill. - Mrs. George E. Kellar, and her three daughters, Thelma, Effie, and Grace, were residents of this city. Mr. Kellar is a secretary of the Decatur Racing Association and is one of the wealthiest stockmen in Central Illinois.

Omaha, Neb. - Mr. and Mrs. C. A. Winslow, of Omaha were well known here.

Litchfield, Ills. - W. H. Truesjale was a musician from this city.


(not all children and adults were not on this list - there were names of the lost missing)

SAN FRANCISCO. July 23 - The revised list of those who are missing as the result of the steamship Columbia disaster shows that 97 persons were drowned.

Cabin Passengers Missing
A - Miss R. Anderson, Franklin Aulf
B - W. J. Bachman, Miss Alma Bahleen, Mrs. J. Benson, Miss A. Bernal, Mrs. Jane E. Best, Gertrude Butler, W. E. Butler, Mrs. W. E. Butler
C - Mrs. R. B. Cannon, Miss Clarana Carpenter, J. W. Carpenter, L. Clasby, Mrs. L. Clasby, Marion Clasby, Steven Clasby, Miss A. B. Cornell, Mrs. A. F. Cornell, Miss Lena Cooper
D - L. L. Drake Jr., J. C. Durham
F - Mrs. K. Fagalde
G - Miss Mabel Gerter, Mrs. Blanche R. Gordon, Mrs. A. Gray
H - Mrs. A. Happ, C. H. Harrington, Miss A. Hayden, L. E. Hill
K - Miss Alma B. Kellar, Miss Effie B. Kellar, Miss Grace F. Kellar, Mrs. G. A. Kellar
L - Florence Lewis, E. Liggett, Ray Lewis, Mrs. B. Lippman
M - Lewis Malkus, Mrs. Lewis Malkus, Julia Matek, L. Mero, John B. McFadyen, Miss Margaret McKearney, Chew Moch
N - Miss Louise G. Nake, Miss Nellie A. Nake
P - Miss Mary Parsons, J. E. Paul, Mrs. J. E. Paul
S - Miss Frances Schroeder, Miss Cora Shult, Miss Sarah Shult, G. A. Smith, Mrs. William H. Soules, George Sparks, J. D. Springer, Miss Elsie May Stone
W - Miss B. Wallace, Miss Edna Wallace, Mrs. S. Waller, William Waller, Miss W. White, G. F. Wilson, C. A. Winslow, Mrs. C. A. Winslow, Mrs. H. P. Winters, Roland Winters, Miss H. Wright
Y - J. K. Young
Total - 72

Steerage Passengers Missing

Frank Giune, M. Mayo, C. W. Merill, John Miller, J. Premus, E. Silva, Mrs. E. Silva, A. Spieler, B. Viants
Total - 9

Officers and Crew Missing

P. A. Doran, captain; W. F. Whitney, first officer; C. Christensen, quartermaster; H. C. Dupree, first assistant engineer; Max Claus, second assistant engineer; C. Peterson, skaman; W. T. Anderson, water tender; Alexander, water tender; Ed Larkin, oiler; J. Maddison, oiler; A. Schneider, baker; Frank D. Davis, second cook; E. R. Drayer, pantryman; J. G. Alley, waiter; R. J. Alley, waiter; A. L. Blocker, waiter;
Total - 16

Daily Nevada State Journal, Reno, NV 24 Jul 1907


Please click on the photos below for a full size view.
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Swaim Family Collection
Working cattle at the Jake Kurz Ranch.

The Jake Kurz cattle brand

Back out at the Ranch, where the work seamed to never be done.   This picture (above left) is of Jake Kurz watching the cowboys work cattle, dehorning, shots, branding and making steers out of the young bulls.  The cowboy with the bucket is for collecting the mountain oysters which will be taken to the house for the women to clean and fry up with other fixings for a big feast when working cattle is finished.  The Jake Kurz Ranch was started by older his brother Joe, Jake arrived in1885, the ranch is still in the family today operated by 5th and 6th generations of Jake & Rosa.  Jakes original brand JK** is still used today by Oller Farms, Jake sold some cattle when he was retiring to his grandson Ernest J. Oller that already had the brand on them, so the brand was transferred also.

Please click on the photos below for a full size view.
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Swaim Family Collection 
Note: this picture was taken in late 1930s 
Back Row: Unknown, Unknown, son-in-law John Swaim, Unknown, grandson Ernest J. Oller & Jake Kurz.  Front Row: Neighbor Vaughn Coles, Unknown, Sons-in-law Fred Parker and Ernest M. Oller and Unknown

Swaim Family Collection
Cutting wheat at the Ranch with horse drawn header.

Wheat harvest was also a very busy time at the ranch.  Family and neighbors would work together to try to get the wheat cut at each others ranches, before a hail storm or super heavy rains did the harvest for them, sometimes for a total loss

Jake's 1910 Ford, the first auto in the county

Ron Kurz Collection
Always proud of his cars, Jake saved each purchase in his collection. 
Model T


Ron Kurz Collection
L-R: Sitting, Jake Kurz in his work car a 1914 Model T Ford, Rosa Kurz standing next to their family car a 1914 Essex,  Rosa’s Brother John Henry Deubler and Wife, Mellie Orilla Hazen standing next to their 1915 Model T Ford, Olga Kurz standing & Anton Kurz sitting in their 1916 Grant Six Touring Car.


Jacob & Rosa's 50th wedding anniversary.  Standing behind them is their three daughters (l. to r.), Mable, Rosie and Ethel.  This was taken in 1942.

Beeley Family Collection

Jake & Rosa Kurz home built in Coldwater, KS abt.1914. Jake had always taken great interest and pride in the construction of his homes. This was their city home.

Ron Kurz Collection

Daughters of Jake & Rosa Kurz

Henry Kurz Collection 

  Mable (standing) and Rose 
Henry Kurz Collection

                 Ethel               Rosa             Mable 

Swaim Family Collection
Ethel Swaim, Rosa Oller, Mable Parker


Philipp Kurz was the first to homestead in Kansas 1882. He sold his land to brother Jake due to illness. Philipp had started homesteading in the late 1870's in Minnesota with brother Jake .
Kurz. Jacob was traveling in 190 at the time of the ship wreck, to visit Philipp Kurz and sister Katherine Kurz Maier Murry at whose fruit orchard Philipp was recovering from Spinal TB in Oregon.
Mary Fern Collection

Vincent Kurz,  was the youngest brother and came from Ladysmith, Wisconsin, to help care for brother Jake in his final days - 1950's. Henry and Vincent owned  Kurz Brothers' Meats and Groceries. 

Henry Kurz Collection

Anton Kurz, also pictured below, came from mining in Colorado and Wyoming to Kansas for a visit with brother Jake and stayed to homestead in nearby Oklahoma in 1900.

Mary Fern Collection

           3 Kurz Brothers 

Swaim Family Collection

     Anton           Jake           John

Rosa & Jake with Jake’s Sister and Family in Hayes Wisconsin

Swaim Family Collection
Left to Right:
Rose Kurz, Jake Kurz, John Holl (Brother-in-law), Veronica Kurz Holl (Jake's sister), Elizabeth Holl Wagner (niece), Anna Holl (niece) and Holl grandchild being held. c:1930
3 Kurz Brothers

Ron Kurz Collection

          John,       Jake    &     Peter


50th Wedding Anniversary
Ernest Oller Jr., Aunt Rose & Uncle Jake Kurz oldest
grandson  was at this 50th Anniversary; he was about 16 then. 
He identified these people left to right, back row as:
his great uncles, Rose's brothers William (Bill) Deubler, 
John Henry Deubler and Jakes brother Anton Kurz. 
Front row: 
Jake and Rose Kurz.  Ernest said that Uncle Vincent was not there for
the 50th Anniversary Party but came a few years later when Uncle Jake was
sick just before he died. 
Beeley Family Collection


Ron Kurz Collection
L to R standing: Wood & Dorothy Beeley, Fred & Mable Parker, Rosa & Ernest M. Oller, Ethel & John Swaim.  Sitting: Jacob Kurz holding grandson John Jacob Swaim, Rosa Kurz and their grandson Ernest J. Oller


Ron Kurz Collection
Jacob & Rosa are surrounded by members of both their families, The Deubler family to the left and the Kurz family to the right with their children and grand children behind and near them.

Published in the Western Star, Coldwater, Kansas between May 14 – 17, 1951.
contributed from the Beeley Family Collection

8000 Acre Cattle Ranch in Rumsey Township
Which He Developed and Operated
Was One of the Finest in Southwest Kansas

       Death claimed the life of one of Comanche county’s pioneer ranchers, Jacob Kurz, who passed away in the Comanche County Hospital Monday of this week at the age of 88 years.  He had been in failing health for several years.

 Funeral Services were held in the Methodist Church in this city Thursday afternoon, May 17, at 2:30 p.m. and were in charge of the pastor, Rev. Donald A. Kessler.  A mixed quartet composed of Mrs. Martin Zerby, Mrs. Ferrel Guizlo, Rev. Bill Dial, and Wallace White sang “When The Roll Is Called Up Yonder”  and “Shall We Gather At the River?” with George Wolf as organist.

 Burial was in Crown Hill Cemetery.  The active pallbearers were Winston Williams, Victor Allerdice, Lovedner Hall, John McMoran, Charley Jackson, and J.W. Brewer.  The honorary pallbearers were Win Sunderland, Charles Allerdise, Dr. J.J. Shelley, Joe Darroch, Dan Jackson, Ray McMoran, Otha Landess, Horace Rich, George H. Helton, and Eyman Phebus.


 Jacob Kurz, well known Comanche County rancher, was born in Green Bay, Brown county, Wisconsin, to Peter and Kathrine (Biblehouser) Kurz on November 2, 1862.  Jacob’s parents were immigrants from Germany.

 He grew to manhood in Green Bay and when he was about 21 years of age, he moved to Warren, Minnesota.  After two summers there he joined his brother, Joe, at Medicine Lodge, Kansas.

 The following spring, 1885, Jacob came to Comanche county, Kansas, to file a claim on government land in Rumsey Twpt., Comanche county, Kansas.  Jacob endured the blizzards, droughts, and fleas that were in the grass.

 Jacob worked for sometime helping to build the new Santa Fee railroad line from Kiowa, Kansas through Indian Territory, before Oklahoma became a state, and down into Texas.  About 1890, he also helped replace the narrow gauge railroad from Salt Lake City, Utah, to Ogden, Utah, and also in Montana and Idaho.

 It was while working in Ogden, Utah, that he was called back to Kansas by the illness of his brother Joe.  He then began farming and acquired cattle in this county meanwhile living in a dug out which he built.  Jacob built the first wood frame house in Comanche county which still stands today at the Parker – Beeley Ranch.

 It was at this time, Jacob turned from farming to cattle raising.  He acquired Durumas breed cattle, then went to Gallaways.  Finally he and his son-in-law, Fred Parker, turned to Herefords.  They built up one of the finest herds of Hereford cattle in Comanche county.  The ranch brand was the “JK” brand.

 On November 2, 1892, Jacob and Miss Rosa Deubler were united in marriage.  To this union were born six children, three of which reached adulthood.

 In 1907, tragedy struck the Kurz family.  Jacob, Clara and Charles were en route from California to Oregon to visit Jacob’s brother.  There were sailing on a new steamship, the Columbia, when it was struck broadside by a lumber boat.  It sunk immediately.  Charles and Clara drown and Jacob himself was one of the few survivors.

 In 1913, the Kurz’s purchased one half block in the 500 block of Maple in Coldwater.  They then built a home there so Rosa could remain in town while Rosa and Ethel attended school in Coldwater.  Jacob continued to operate his ranch.  A few years after the marriage of his daughter, Mable to Fred L. Parker, they formed a partnership which continued in operation until 1947.  Jacob then sold his cows and leased the ranch to his children.

 On retirement, Jacob turned active management of his ranch and farms over to his son-in-law, Fred Parker.  In time he was assisted by the two other sons-in-law Ernest Oller, and John Swaim.  Jacob also owned extensive holdings in the city of Coldwater.

 Jacob had been in ill health for a number of years, although he continued to get around until the last 12 days of his life.  He was public spirited and erected a modern brick business property on Main street of Coldwater, besides several dwelling houses and kept up his farm property, one of the finest ranches in Southwestern Kansas.

 Jacob is survived by his wife, Rosa, and three daughters, Mrs. Mable Parker, Mrs. Rosa Oller and Mrs. Ethel Swaim, one brother Vincent Kurz of Ladysmith, Wisconsin; five grandchildren and 3 great grandchildren, all of Coldwater, several nieces and nephews and a host of friends.

 Preceding him in death were his three children, Clara, Charles Jacob, and an infant daughter, his parents, three sisters and five brothers.

 Jacob Kurz was a good, kind and loving husband, father and neighbor and will be greatly missed by all.  He was of the old school of rugged pioneers whose word was as good as their bond, whose honesty was never questioned and who was never known to have an enemy.  The passing of Jacob Kurz brings to a close the life of one of Comanche County’s finest citizens [end].

contributed from the Beeley Family Collection


      Death claimed the life of Rosa Kurz last Monday night at 8:30 p.m. She had been a patient in the Comanche County Hospital for ten years lacking only about a month.  At the time of her death she was 91 year, 6 months, and 14 days of age.  Funeral services will be held at the Methodist Church, Coldwater at 2 p.m. on Thursday, October 7, 1965.  Rev Vernon A. Horney will be in charge of the services.

     Singers will be Mrs. Lena Haun and Mrs. Martha Cline.  Songs chosen are “In the Garden” and “In the Sweet Bye and Bye”.  The organist is Mrs. Hazel McMurray.

     Pallbearers are John McMoran, Harry Lohrding, Winston Williams, Bill Steele, Jim Herrington, and Bob Gilchrist.


     Rosa Kurz was born in Wausau, Illinois, March 20, 1874 and passed away at the Comanche County Hospital on October 4, 1965

     Her parents, natives of Germany, came to the U.S. on their honeymoon and never returned to their native country.  They owned a shoe shop and home in Wausau, Illinois.  They had eleven children, Rosa being the youngest.  Mr. Deubler died at the age of 39.  Three children were already married at this time.  Mrs. Deubler decided at this time to move West.  She left Rosa with a married sister in Wichita.  Mrs. Deubler homesteaded near the homestead of Jacob Kurz on Salt Fork Creek.  It wasn’t long till Rosa came by stage coach to join her mother.  She was 13 years old at this time.  She lived with her mother until her marriage to Jacob Kurz.

     Jacob and Rosa were married November 2, 1892, by Shelby P. Duncan, Probate judge of Comanche county, Kansas.  They lived on Jacob’s claim where the first wooden home in the county was built.  In 1893, when the Cherokee Strip opened, they accumulated more land and their holdings became extensive.  At first Jacob tried raising crops but later turned to cattle.

     Jacob and Rosa had six children, Clara, Mable, Charles Jacob, Rosa Marie, Ethel May and a daughter who lived but two days.

     In 1907, they lost their eldest daughter, Clara and their only son Charles, when the ship, the Columbia, sand at sea.  {NOTE:  See story following this for further details about the wreck}.

     Rosa moved to Coldwater in 1915, with her family where she remained until 1955 when she entered the Comanche County Hospital.

     Jacob and Rosa celebrated their Golden Wedding Anniversary in 1942.

     She is survived by her three daughters:  Mable Parker, Rosa Oller and Ethel May Swaim.  Grandchildren:  Dorothy Beeley, Junior Oller, John Jacob Swaim, Robert Dean Swaim and Farin Ann Bennett. Great Grandchildren:  Woody Beeley, Leo, Linda and Larry Oller, and Michelle and Mitchell Bennett.
Proceeding her in death were her husband, Jacob Kurz, son Charles, daughter Clara, and an infant daughter; her parents, four sisters and five brothers.

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