Special to The Gazette

Two brothers and a sister left a legacy that benefits the children of Chase County through the Kaltenbacher Charitable Trust.

By all accounts, Fred, Ferd and Lottie Kaltenbacher “were just hard-working, good people,” remembers Dan Nurnberg of Chase County. “They had patches on their clothes and were very frugal.”

The Kaltenbacher Charitable Trust has supported the health, education and safety of the children of families residing in Chase County for the past three decades. It will continue to do so into perpetuity.

Tom Bell of Cottonwood Falls, the Trust Advisor, said the trust has provided funds for many projects, including the Strong City Park, Camp Wood scholarships for Chase County youth, school supplies for teachers, pottery wheels for the art department of Chase County High School, and scholarships to technical and community colleges. A recent grant to Pioneer Bluffs will create a children’s education area at the historic ranch.

Bell credits Bob Mushrush of Exchange National Bank in Cottonwood Falls and Mark Hurt, an attorney in Emporia, for suggesting the Kaltenbachers structure a trust to benefit the kids of Chase County.

The three Kaltenbacher siblings lived modestly, running their farm operation at Saffordville.

“They didn’t seem to spend money on anything except John Deere equipment,” Nurnberg said. “Except if a kid came in the elevator they would buy him a pop or a candy bar.”

“They were fun to work for,” remembered Gene Eidman of Saffordville. “They always had the latest equipment; they treated me well and paid fairly.”

Eidman enjoyed working for the brothers while he was in high school.

“I had worked for them a couple of summers,” he said. “One rainy day, the brothers decided we needed to go to the jewelry story to pick up a watch for one of them. At the store, they shopped and asked my opinion about the watches. I was so surprised when they bought one I liked as a gift for me. That had been the purpose of the shopping trip.”

The family of Derald Lind lived just half a mile away from the Kaltenbachers.

“They were the best farmers in the county,” Lind said. “When people saw the Kaltenbachers planting, they started their own planting.”

The brothers had their own bookkeeping system and paid for everything separately.

“When they came to settle up a bill, each would pay half,” Don Immasche of Emporia said. “And, if there were odd cents, they would take turns. If the price of something ended with 25 cents, one would pay 13 cents and the other 12. They would remember, and the next time the other one would pay the odd penny.”

Lottie gardened, cooked, and took care of the household.

“She was the best cook in the county,” Immasche said. “You never turned down an invitation to lunch. It was a noon-time spread.”

The Kaltenbachers were “good people,” who continue to make a difference in the community through their trust fund.

With a Kaltenbacher grant, along with support of an anonymous individual donor, a children’s area will be built in the 1916 granary at Pioneer Bluffs near Matfield Green. Children will experience, learn and play through the creation of educational activities and exhibits. This project, to be completed in 2020, will share the important heritage of Flint Hills ranching with the next generation.

“One of the most unique features of the children’s area will be a Virtual Trail Ride,” Dave Leiker of Emporia said. “The ride will use technology to replicate an authentic cowboy experience.”

Leiker is the Pioneer Bluffs Board President and works with the committee designing the children’s exhibit.

Pioneer Bluffs is a nonprofit organization with a mission to preserve the ranching heritage of the Flint Hills. A National Register Historic District, Pioneer Bluffs is on Flint Hills National Scenic Byway K-177, 14 miles south of Cottonwood Falls or 1 mile north of Matfield Green.

The Kaltenbacher Charitable Trust is administered through the Emporia Community Foundation, which connects the diverse citizens and communities of Lyon and its six contiguous counties through the charitable actions of a variety of funds established for the purpose of bettering the lives of individuals within its communities.

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