The Windthorst Story


Windthorst Kansas was named after Ludvig Windthorst. Ludvig was born in 1812 at Keldendorf, near the city of Osnabruck in the kingdom of Hanover Germany. In 1836 he was admitted to the bar and quickly developed a thriving practice as a respectable lawyer.

Windthorst became known as as the oustanding Catholic leader in Germany, giving unsparingly of his time and energy in seeking civil justice for his church. With the slogan "Fur Warheit, Freiheit, and Recht"--"For Truth, Liberty and Right" and under the leadership of Windthorst, the Catholics formed a political party, called "Central Verein"--"The Center Party", to protect the church from state domination.

The creation of Windthorst actually began in 1876 when a number of men met at the Arbeiter Hall in Cincinnati, Ohio. These men were from various trades. They met to better their conditions in this land of opportunity as times and wages were not all their best.

Several meetings were held by these German men and the German Catholic Aurora Homestead Association was formed with Henery Macke named president and John Luzins named secretary.


The three individuals above were dispatched to Southwest Kansas in 1877 on behalf of the German Catholic Aurora Homestead Association of Cincinnati, Ohio to inspect land for their new settlement. The association eventually bought ten sections of land for ten dollars per acre from the Sante Fe Railroad. The new settlement would be named after Ludvig Von Windthorst.

On February 21, 1878, a contingent of seven families and three single men left the civilization of Ohio and arrived in the wild west town of Offerle Kansas three days later. These seven families were: Joe Antermeier, Mathais Droste, Fred Hain, Henery Lampe, August Hessman, Henery Tasset and Leo Tritzler. The single gentlemen were Joe Demming, Anton Bicard and Henery Zerhausen.
They brought their own lumber from Ohio to build their houses on a freight car for $75.

In the spring of 1879 a small church was built by the Windthorst pioneers who labored free of charge. The exact cost is unknown but is remembered to be around $750. The first mass was celebrated  by Fr. Wolf O.S.B. on Easter Sunday in 1879. There were approximately 96 families living in Windthorst at the time. The original church was named St. Francis Parish, and changed to Immaculate Heart of Mary Parish in the early 1880's.

              Fr.  Ferdinand Wolf O.S.B. 
              First Pastor of Windthorst
              May 1878 to October 1881.


This is a picture of the first school in Windthorst, circa 1901. The school was built in 1883. Prior to 1883, the church was used as a school with the students sitting on the church kneelers and using the pews as desk tops.
Windthorst First Teacher   Anna Tasset


First Teachers House -- also used as a boarding house and part of it was used as a school room until 1926-1927. 

Miss Anna Tasset, the first teacher to 26 boys and 18 girls received $25 for her 6 month term. Her salary was paid by Bishop Zink, Bishop of Kansas.

   The first communion class May 21, 1899.

             Choir members in 1895.
Back row: Sophia Interman, Emma Tasset, Lizzie Knoeber, Kate Thesing, Mary Knoeber. Front Row: Tony Buttonboehmer, Ernest Besser, Father Disselkamp, Henery Klenke and Fred Torline.

Windthorst school picture taken in 1912.