Jump to Navigation

Margrave Family Papers

Microfilm reel nos.: MF 2680-MF 2683




This collection consists of the papers of the Margrave family of southeastern Nebraska and northeastern Kansas. The Margraves, a family of Sac and Fox Indian extraction, owned a great deal of land, which they used for cattle ranching. Most of the papers in this collection consist of business papers in connection with the Margrave's cattle ranching business, such as real estate papers, property tax receipts, account ledgers, stock certificates, and minutes of meetings of the board of directors. Other papers concern government relations with the Sac and Fox Indians, financial contributions to Baker University and the estates of William Addison Margrave and William Charles Margrave.

The Kansas State Historical Society also has photographic reproductions of 52 photos of the Margraves. The originals are in the hands of Suzanne Heck, who loaned the collection to the Kansas State Historical Society.

This microfilmed manuscript collection circulates through interlibrary loan from KSHS. Please indicate the reel number when requesting microfilm.


Margrave family.


Margrave family papers, 1861-1961.


Collection No. 5015/Microfilm MF 2680 - MF 2683.

1.5 cubic feet.


Kansas State Historical Society (Topeka).


Recorded history concerning the Margrave family dates at least as far back as 1814, with the birth of James Willis Margrave in Kentucky on August 16th. In 1838, he married Elizabeth Hopkins in Putnam County, Illinois. The Margraves had eight children, including William Addison Margrave, born on May 1, 1845, near Peoria, Illinois. The family moved to the far southeastern tip of Nebraska, near Preston. It was in this area, extending into northeastern Kansas, where the Margraves bought extensive tracts of land for cattle ranching.

W. A. Margrave, who was the leading family member in the cattle business, married Margaret Rubeti. Margaret's mother was Wah-se-con, a Sac and Fox Indian; her father, Jean Rubeti, a French Canadian who lived near the Sac and Fox Reservation. After the death of her parents in 1851 (when Margaret was six years old), she and her sisters were raised by the Samuel Irvin family, missionaries to the Iowa and Sac and Fox Indians.

Over time, the Margrave Ranch became one of the largest ranching enterprises in either eastern Nebraska or Kansas. By 1920, the Margrave ranch was incorporated as the W. A. Margrave Company.

William A. and Margaret Margrave had five children: Julia, Margaret Lunette (who died at birth), William Charles, James Thomas, and Earl Irvin, all of whom were members of the Sac and Fox tribe.

After the death of William A. Margrave from a horse and buggy accident in 1906, William Charles Margrave became president of the W. A. Margrave Company. He married Mary Waller, of Padonia, Kansas, in 1897, and had four children: William (who died in 1899), Howard, Julia, and Martha. Mary died in 1908. Two years later, William married Ida E. Pribbeno of Preston, Nebraska. They had three children: Helen, William A. "Skeets," and Warren Robert (who died in 1924).

In addition to his ranching activities, William C. Margrave was an advocate for Indian rights and represented the Sac and Fox on business and government matters. He was also a member of the Indian Rights Association.

A dramatic and tragic event in the history of the Margrave family occurred on November 11, 1933, when Sam Martin entered Margrave property and incited a gun fight. James Margrave (William Charles' brother) was killed, as well as James' two sons, William and Stuart. James' wife, Mary, was wounded, but survived. Martin was subsequently found guilty of murder and served a life sentence in the Nebraska State Prison. Mary and her daughter Margaret, sold their home in Nebraska, moved to the east coast, and never returned.

William C. Margrave died in 1942 of diabetes.

Scope and Content

This collection consists primarily of the papers of the W. A. Margrave Company from the 1890s to the 1930s (actually, the financial ledgers date as early as 1861, and span to 1961). The W. A. Margrave Company was a cattle ranching enterprise located in northeastern Kansas and southeastern Nebraska. As with all manuscript collections, there is always material outside of the main series. The seven series in this collection are arranged alphabetically according to the first word of the series. That being the case, the W. A. Margrave Co. series appears last of the seven.

In addition to this manuscript collection, the Kansas State Historical Society has reproduc-tions of fifty two Margrave photographs. See the Photograph Catalogue for more details.

Contents List

Series Description

Series 1:
Baker University, Endowment subscription, and scholarship investment, 1914-18.

Although the biographical records of the members of the Margrave family do not reveal that any of the Margraves attended Baker University, the Margraves did believe in higher education and contributed generously to the Baker University endowment fund. In 1914, the W. A. Margrave Co. contributed one thousand dollars, and in 1918, the company donated another one thousand dollars for the establishment of the W. A. Margrave Scholarship Fund.

Series 2:
In re: Estate of William Addison Margrave, deceased, 1919.

When William Addison Margrave befell a horse and buggy accident on July 31, 1906, he died intestate, meaning, he died without a will. Series 2 contains the court transcripts of the Richardson County (Nebraska) District Court, which determined the allocation of the Margrave property. Oddly enough, the District Court did not issue a decree on the fate of the estate until 1919, thirteen years after Margrave's death. One of the most significant features of the six transcripts in this series is that they give a complete legal description of all of the parcels of the Margrave property.

Series 3:
Irvin Memorial Chapel, dedication bulletin, 1916 March 12.

One of the buildings on Margrave property was a Methodist Episcopal Church, which they had built in 1916. Series 4 is a photocopy of the bulletin for the dedication service of the church at Margrave's ranch, on March 12, 1916. This chapel was named after Rev. Samuel Irwin, one of the first missionaries to the region.

Series 4:
Last Will and Testament of William C. Margrave, 1923 August 24.

Documents such as wills are revealing in that they show what people owned, valued, and how they really felt about their family members. Not surprisingly, W. C. Margrave allotted a third of his estate to his second wife, Ida, and the remaining two thirds to his six children, following the settlement of his debts. He also intended that his heirs continue raising livestock, if they possibly could.

Series 5:
Power of Attorney (Thomas L. Sloan c/o David and Lucy Green), 1895.

Except for the fact that David and Lucy Green were Sac and Fox Indians, there is little that links these two individuals, or their attorney Thomas L. Sloane, to the Margraves. It seems that W. C. Margrave may have been involved in mediating the interests of the Greens in the latter part of their lives.

Series 6:
Sac and Fox Papers, 1894-1953.

An area of great concern to William C. Margrave was the status and well being of Native Americans, the Sac and Fox, in particular. This series contains a wide variety of materials concerning this tribe, namely a petition to the Secretary of the Interior to liquidate the trust fund maintained by the federal government. The petitioners wanted the fund to be disbursed equally to the individual members of the Sac and Fox. Other items include newspaper clippings, depositions, and correspondence with the Indian Rights Association and the Department of the Interior concerning the Sac and Fox. Also found among the correspondence are two letters from Vice President Charles Curtis (of the Kansa tribe). This series also contains farming and grazing leases between the federal government and the Sac and Fox, and a numerical and alphabetical index of original allottees of the Sac and Fox land. The items in this series are arranged chronologically.

Series 7:
W. A. Margrave Co.

As substantiated by the documented evidence in series seven, the Margraves, William C. Margrave, in particular, were astute and careful businessmen. The last series, which is by far the largest and most substantial, contains a wide variety of papers concerning the ranch, started by William Addison Margrave in the late nineteenth century. This series holds material on all aspects of the business of ranching, such as: articles of incorporation, minutes of the meetings of the Board of Directors, general correspondence, insurance records, plat maps of Margrave property, promissary notes, bulletins and ledgers from the ranch store, papers for the purchase, lease and mortgage of land, secretarial reports, stock certificates, and of course, property tax receipts. The fact that the Margraves kept important legal and business papers is a tribute to their careful and attentive business practices and their success as ranchers.

There are six transcripts on the Margrave property because the family owned property in five different counties.

These five court decrees, plus a petition for the determination of heirship for a total of six sets of transcripts.

Microfilm Reel: MF 2680

Series 1:
Baker University, Endowment subscription, and scholarship investment, 1914-1918.

Series 2:
In re: Estate of William Addison Margrave, deceased, 1919.

Series 3:
Irvin Memorial Chapel, dedication bulletin, 1916 March 12.

Series 4:
Last Will and Testament of William C. Margrave, 1923 August 24.

Series 5:
Power of Attorney (Thomas L. Sloan c/o David and Lucy Green), 1895.

Series 6:
Sac and Fox Papers, 1894-1953.

Series 7:
W. A. Margrave Co.

Accounts, 1892-1893.
Articles of Incorporation, 1920. Board of Directors. Minutes of Meetings, 1907-1920 (2 volumes).
Correspondence, 1895-1928.

Mutual Life Insurance Company of New York, 1896-1901.
New York Life Insurance Company, 1892-1901.
Northwestern Mutual Life, 1896-1902.

Plat Maps, undated.
Promissary Notes and Receipts, 1893-1908.

Ranch Store:

Bulletins, 1911.
Vol. 1, 1861-1893

Microfilm Reel: MF 2681

Vol. 2, 1919-1924

Microfilm Reel: MF 2682

Vol. 3, 1924-1930
Vol. 4, 1927-1961
Vol. 5, 1929-1931


Papers, 1893-1930
Land Patents, 1891-1917
Reports of the Secretary, 1910 and 1914.
Roubedoux business transactions, 1928-1935.
Stock Certificates, 1907-1920.

Microfilm Reel: MF 2683

Tax Receipts:

Brown Co., Kansas, 1889-1902.
Cherry Co., Nebraska, 1899 March 17.
Nemeha Co., Nebraska, 1865-1901.
Richardson Co., Nebraska, 1895-1911.
Sheridan Co., Nebraska, 1893-1902.

Related Records and Collections

Materials cataloged separately

Photographs in this collection have been separately cataloged.

Materials transferred from the collection

Photographs removed to the photograph collection (accession no. 1999-127.01)


Suzanne Heck, collection lender.

Lewis C. Edwards, "The History of Richardson County, Nebraska: Its People, Industries and Institutions."

Index Terms

Access Points

Indians of North America -- Kansas.
Indians of North America -- Government Relations.
Ranches -- Kansas -- Brown County.
Ranches -- Nebraska -- Richardson County.
Fox Indians.
Sauk Indians.
Wills -- Nebraska -- Richardson Co.
Indians of North America -- Nebraska.
Indians -- Sac and Fox.
Brown Co. (Kan.) -- Ranches.
Richardson Co. (Neb.) -- Ranches.
W. A. Margrave Co. -- Kansas.
Margrave, William Addison, 1845-1906.
W. A. Margrave Company.

Other Correspondents

Charles Curtis
John Morehead
S. M. Brosius
Edwin Minor

Additional Information for Researchers


The Margrave family papers were loaned to the Kansas State Historical Society in 1999 for the purpose of arrangement and description and for microfilming.



Usage restrictions


Publication rights

The Kansas State Historical Society does not own literary property rights to these records.

Copyright © Suzanne Heck, 2005.

Preferred citation

[identification of individual item and/or series], the Margrave family papers, 1861-1961, Ms. collection 5015/microfilm MF 2680-MF 2683, Library and Archives Division, Kansas State Historical Society, Topeka.

Acquisition information

Suzanne Heck, loan, 1999 (accession no. 1998-058.01); manuscript collection no. 5015.

Processing history

Processed by Robert A. McInnes in 1999. Microfilmed in 1999 by the Kansas State Historical Society (Topeka) (lab. no. 49434).