Johann Hermann Richard Pappe 1852-1903

This biography has been pieced together from a variety of sources. We welcome any additions or corrections by family members or other researchers. Please contact us if you have additions or corrections to the biography of John Hermann Pappe.

Photo: Pappe's Vienna Bakery in Wichita (see Note 1)

John Herman Pappe was born in Stotternheim in 1852. The second of five brothers, he was the son of (Johann) Gottfried Wilhelm Pappe (1811-1894) and his second wife, (Johanna) Catherina Heinemann (1824-?). Early in his life he was known as Hermann Pappe, but about 1880 he started going by John Pappe or J.H. Pappe.

From the records we have found, it appears that he moved around a lot, working mostly as a baker and occasional miner. We have collected a lot of information about John Hermann from church and civil records, ship's manifests, immigration and legal documents, newspaper archives and city directories. As far as we can tell, John left no heirs and he may have been somewhat of a black sheep in the family. After leaving Germany he lived in Illinois, Missouri, Kansas and Alaska. It's possible he spent some time in Washington as well.

When Herman was eleven years old, his father passed away. As a young man he probably was trained as a baker or confectioner. In November 1972 when he was 20, Hermann Pappe left Germany and immigrated to the US. He sailed from Bremen, Germany on the SS Strassburg, stopped in Le Havre, France and Havana, Cuba and finally debarked on November 12 in New Orleans. Hermann was the second of the five Pappe brothers to immigrate. Albert Ludwig Pappe had arrived a few months earlier in April 1872 and Richard Pappe arrived ten years later in April 1882. Several more Pappe descendants immigrated in the early 1900s.

Herman lived for a time in Illinois where he filed a Declaration of Intent in Tazewell County on January 5th 1875, declaring that he intended to become a naturalized American citizen. December 15, 1875 he married Mary A Drayer on in Cass County, Illinois. Mary was the second daughter of Samuel and Hanna Drayer. She was born about 1854 in Pennsylvania but her family moved to Missouri at some point before 1870. Soon after their marriage, in Illinois, Hermann and Mary moved to Missouri, where their son Willy Pappe was born.

By 1880 the federal census shows Herman, Mary and Willy Pappe living in Newton, Harvey County, Kansas. Mary's 14 year old sister, Emma Drayer, was also living with them. The census states that Hermann was from Sachsen (Saxony, Germany) and he worked in a restaurant. That is the only time we have found the family living together in the census schedules. Court documents and newspaper clippings indicate that he bought property in Newton in 1880 and opened a bakery there. (See Clippings).

Sometime after 1880 he began to call himself John. According to the Newton newspapers, in March 1882 John Pappe sold his bakery and moved to California. But, by June of that same year he was back in Newton and opened a candy manufacturing operation. We don't know what he did while in California, but since he was an off-and-on miner, perhaps he was working a claim there. About the same time (July 1882), John's younger brother Richard Pappe, and his brother-in-law Joshua Drayer (Mary's brother) arrived in Newton and took over operation of the Empire bakery there. Then in September John purchased a lot in Block 48 of Newton for $400.

In May 1884 John again opened a bakery in Newton but by September, according to the Newton newspaper, he had left again for Edwards County, Kansas to work a claim. In the 1885 Kansas state census, John is enumerated in Brenham, Edwards, Kansas and working again as a baker, while Mary and Willy were still in Newton.

It appears that John Pappe had more than one brush with the law while he was in Kansas. In December 1884 he was brought into Newton by the sheriff, but was able to prove himself innocent and was released. Then in January 1886 he avoided arrest by skipping town. Five other saloon operators there were jailed. In May of that same year he pled guilty to selling liquor "contrary to the law," was fined $100, and spent a month in jail. There were a number of other court judgments and liens against John and Mary Pappe related their business dealings as late as 1888. At one point, their home was sold by order of the court to pay their debts. (See Clippings.)

In 1889 John was living in Coolidge, Kansas in Hamilton county, which lies on the western side of the state along the Kansas-Colorado border. The March 1889 edition of the Southwest Business Directory lists J.H. Pappe as a baker in Coolidge. From there he moved further west.

The 1892 and 1893 Ballinger's Denver City Directories list John H. Pappe as a baker, living at 183 W Dakota Street. That's the last directory listing we have for John. However, Mrs. Mary Pappe and William E Pappe are listed in the Denver directory for the years 1894 through 1898 and we assume they are Johns wife and son. They are shown as living at the same address with a business address near where John lived. William's occupation is listed as butcher. After 1898 there are no Pappes listed in the Denver. Nor have they been located in any state or federal census schedules or online directories for any other city. When John's estate was settled in 1904, the court papers state that he had no living heirs.

At some point between 1892 and 1903 John moved to Alaska in search of gold. Unconfirmed information from Raymond Pappe indicates that it may have been about 1897, when news of the Klondike gold strike reached the states. Other family information indicates that he probably reached Alaska by way of Seattle, Washington.

In 1903 John staked a claim at Thanksgiving Creek, which is near Rampart, Alaska along the Yukon River. Conditions were harsh there and miners were locked in by the frozen river except for a few months each summer. On March of that year, while hiking 35 miles to his camp by sled and on foot, John H Pappe froze to death. His partner, Daniel Headman, was with him at the time and stated that John had crawled on his hands and knees for the last half mile. After his death, two acquaintances named George Krastning and Nick Nelson were accused of "diverting a good claim from the estate of J. H. Pappe." Not long after a "Generous Paystreak Opened" at the claim according to the Rampart newspaper. (See Letter and Clippings)

In the end, the entire estate of John H Pappe, including his steam boat and gold claim, was consumed by his partners and the attorney hired to settle the estate. The payment to John's surviving brothers, Albert and Richard Pappe, totaled $100.



(1) This may be John Hermann Pappe's bakery in Wichita, Kansas. On the left on the side of the awning it appears to say "Vienna Bakery, H Pappe." The name is difficult to read in the old photo, however, so it's possible is says "R Pappe.


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