If These Walls Could Talk K & A Implement

Anderson, Grenz & Straub. "If These Walls Could Talk K & A Implement." Northwest Blade, 1 December 2011, 5 & 7.

Settlers began arriving in McPherson County as early as 1884. When reading the biographies of these early settlers, a fact that is mentioned is that most of them arrived with very little earthly goods. Some of these settlers were fortunate enough to arrive by train, but a lot of them came with one thing in common; they had a team pulling a wagon which carried their possessions. It was noted in the 1937 History Book that Jacob and Christina Humann, a young couple that left Scotland, SD, in 1884, so desperately wanted to come to McPherson County that they traveled with the mismatched team of a horse and ox pulling their wagon.

Because of this influx of pioneers, Eureka grew rapidly. Lots were sold almost as soon as additional land was added to the city. The business district of Eureka, mainly located in the blocks around the "city square" (bordered by the banks, city hall and the Knickerbocker), soon extended south as far as current Highway 10.

The first mention of the land on which the current K & A Implement, LLC, is located is found in 1886. That year, a sheriff’s sale, initiated by Global Investment Co., formerly Dakota Mortgage Loan Co., of County Suffolk of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, was held because Martin and Maria Jackson defaulted on a loan of $400. The interest on this loan was 8%. After the default, the land was sold in 1909 for $540 to John Stock. (This author had encountered the name Jackson before in an ad for John Morrell in the 1937 Eureka Jubilee book, but it was not Martin Jackson. Perhaps, Martin & Maria were purely land speculators that had no connection to the community of Eureka.)

The Eureka 100 Year Chronology states that in 1892, wheat was brought from a 50-75 mile area by wagon with teams of horses or oxen. Sometimes, there were 40 or more of these wagons lined up waiting to be unloaded. This huge transportation of wheat continued for 15 years. There were 22 grain storage buildings and 10 elevators, employing over 200 men who worked day and night shifts to unload wagon after wagon.

All of the horses, bringing more immigrants and more and more bags of wheat to town, necessitated the need for a place for the care, feeding and stabling of these animals. Thus, the livery became a profitable business in Eureka. A livery is usually referred to as a stable which, for pay, will care for the horses. It also usually had horses and carriages for hire. John Stock saw the need for a livery barn and hit upon a gold mine of opportunity.

John Stock had immigrated to America, arriving in Eureka in April of 1889. His first employment was as a farm laborer on several farms. After his marriage in 1890, he farmed a homestead and timber claim located 6 miles east of Eureka. In 1905, he moved to Eureka and partnered with Jacob L. Klein in a livery barn. It took only several years for John Stock to amass enough wealth and bravado to step out on his own with his own business. Mr. Stock purchased the aforementioned lots in 1909 and proceeded to build his own livery barn.

The McPherson County business directory of 1911 lists John Stock as an owner of a livery and feed barn in Eureka. Again, in the 1916 Business Directory, John Stock is listed as owner of a livery barn and also secretary of Northwest Farmer’s Mutual Insurance Co. John and his wife, Margaretha Becker Stock, sold the livery to Adam Preszler in November 1915 for $3,000. At this point, John Stock pursued many other interests. He became sheriff of McPherson County for two terms, deputy co-assessor for 9 years, city alderman, and also was director of Guaranty State Bank and the Farmers Investment Company. Mr. Stock died in 1936.

The only information that this author could find on Adam Preszler was that he was also an immigrant from Russia, arriving in McPherson Co. in the spring of 1885. Mr. Preszler was known to be a homesteader who farmed until moving to Eureka at an older age. After owning the livery for only one month, Adam and Magdalena Preszler sold 1/2 interest share for $1,500 to Wilhelm Albrecht on Dec. 18, 1915; and after one more month, in January of 1916, the Preszlers sold the rest of their interest to Wilhelm Albrecht, listed as a single man.

Another brief ownership happened when Wilhelm Albrecht, in February of 1916, sold 1/2 interest to John Spitzer. By Nov. 1917, Wilhelm Albrecht sold the rest of his interest in this business to Fred Spitzer for $1.00. (When questioning why it sold for only $1.00, it was explained to this author by Wanda Berndt, owner of an abstract company, that since all of these records are open to the public, if both the buyer and seller agree not to publish the actual amount of money a business was sold for, $1.00 can be listed. Mrs. Berndt explained that it could actually have sold for a $1.00, but it is highly unlikely.)

Again, this author presumes that because of the quickness of the sale of this business, Albrecht never ran the business but instead, the Spitzers, John and Fred, ran the livery. The 1920 Aberdeen newspaper directory of Eureka businesses lists John Spitzer as an owner of a livery barn and auto livery. In the 1987 Eureka Centennial book, it is stated that John Spitzer’s wife’s maiden name was Albrecht. Perhaps Katherine Albrecht Spitzer and Wilhelm Albrecht were related.

The times were changing and autos were making their appearance in Eureka. The 100 year Eureka Chronology states that 1921 saw autos replacing the horse and wagon and buggies. But also, in 1926, it was stated that seven carloads of horses were shipped from Eureka to one buyer. The need for a livery barn was still evident, but an adaption process had to occur to meet the changing needs of the people of the community.

The Spitzer family, consisting of John and Katie Spitzer, Fred and Christina Spitzer, and Otto and Pauline Spitzer, ran the livery barn until 1932, when the lots were sold to Theophil and Elizabeth Mehlhaff. Theophil Mehlhaff was known as a Eureka carpenter and contractor from 1915 until 1944, when the family left Eureka, finally settling in California in 1957.

When the Theophil Mehlhaff family left Eureka, the lots and building were sold to Andrew Pfeifle in Dec. of 1944. Pfeifle Service consisted of father, Andrew, and his sons, Otto and Reinhold. In the fall of 1945, Andrew, Otto and Reinhold started the Ford tractor and implement business. Needing to modernize, in the spring of 1947, they tore down the old livery barn and built a new brick building. The Pfeifles added Ford cars and trucks in 1949. Massey-Harris machinery was also added, but that dealership was sold in 1951 to Albert Wittmayer (1987 Eureka Centennial Book). In 1953, a Ford tractor was listed for sale at Pfeifle Service for $1,474 (Eureka 100 Year Chronology).

Pfeifle Service continued as a business in this location until March 1955, when Ray Deibert bought the building, lots, and the Ford car dealership. Pfeifle Service continued to sell Ford tractors and Oliver tractors at a different location. This sale was also listed as being transacted for $1.00, with a quit-claim deed which means there was no title work done.

During the spring of 1955, Ray Deibert was awarded the John Deere Franchise, forming one of the largest business corporations and enterprises in Eureka. In 1955, there were seven full-time employees, including Roy Klein, who worked in this building from 1955 to 2001. His employment here spanned three ownership changes.

Ray Deibert’s son, Richard (Dick), after attending Northern State Teacher’s College of Aberdeen, SD, joined the corporation as a bookkeeper and salesman. The 1962 Northwest Blade notes that Deibert’s Inc. sponsored "John Deere Day." On this day, guests were given first-hand information as to upcoming changes in farm equipment, trying to prepare Deibert’s patrons to meet the challenge of rural living with more ease and comfort. This was a popular annual event, which drew many to Eureka.

A Deibert’s ad, in a 1962 Northwest Blade, stated "when man’s progress is considered, the wheel is usually credited with being the most important invention in history. Henry Ford, founder of the Ford Motor Co., did more than anyone in history to make people aware of the usefulness of the wheel. He brought the wheel to common man as a useful tool and we at Deibert’s have pioneered with him."

This author and her husband purchased their first new vehicle, a 1973 green ½ ton Ford pick-up, for $2,500 from Deibert’s Inc. A young employee named Garrett Bentz, who worked for Deibert’s Inc. during his high school years and for several years after his graduation from Watertown Vo. Tech, stated "a better group of men to work for would have been hard to find." After getting grease on the seat of a brand new Mercury car, Mr. Bentz was told by Ray Deibert, "men have been killed for less than this, but you are too young to die so YOU better start being more careful!"

In 1978, Ray and Dick Deibert made plans to sell the business. The Deiberts found buyers in identical twins, Alfred and Alvin Fischer, and their nephew, James Fischer. The business, known as Fischer Equipment Inc., began. The Fischer twins were well known in Eureka as a pair of flamboyant, confident men who did not seem to worry about starting large business enterprises. They had begun their business careers when purchasing the family farm in 1958. By 1970, the twins built a dairy barn and operated a large dairy cow operation. In 1977, they sold the farm and bought the John Deere Imp. and Ford Car dealership. (There are conflicting dates of this purchase; unable to be verified.)

When Fischer Equipment Inc. took over the Deibert building, two buildings to the south of the brick building were razed to make room for an addition that would house the repair part of the business. The two buildings to the south consisted of a car body shop that had been run by Sam Vilhauer until 1976 (1987 Eureka Centennial Book) and a large gray two-story wooden apartment building, which had been the home of several of the Spitzer families, and others.

Mel Kary, who lived directly south of this apartment building in the east side of Kary’s Service, remembers that he and Larry Spitzer, who lived in the apartment building, used to raid a garden where strawberries and rhubarb were plentiful. Mel would sneak some sugar out of his mom’s supplies and he and Larry would enjoy a wonderful summer snack. Patricia Grenz remembers visiting her great-uncle and aunt, John and Rosina Jung, in one of the apartments in the early 1960’s.

The Ford car dealership was sold in 1982, and Alfred sold his share of the partnership to Alvin and James Fischer. The partnership of Alvin and James Fischer was in business until December 1985, when they sold the building to the Case Dealer in Eureka, K & A Implement, in January 1986.
K & A Implement, formerly covered before in "If These Walls Could Talk" articles, had been located on the west side of Market Street in the building which is now empty and situated directly south of Eureka Plumbing and Heating. In 1986, owner and manager Keith Kramlich added the Ford tractor line, along with New Holland, which was a company that was a leader in haying and harvesting equipment. Keith Kramlich had become manager of K & A in 1983 and moved the entire business to 805 7th Street in January of 1986.

The business was sold to Leslie A. Lindskov of Isabel, SD, in October 2006. Lindskov incorporated under the name Premier Equipment in 2009. The Eureka business is now run under the name K & A Implement, LLC, with Kramlich still in the capacity of manager.

The buildings on this site have progressed along with the town of Eureka, from being a place where horses could gain respite, to a place where the first farm implements and the new mode of transportation, cars and trucks, were sold.

As early as 1928, a combine, harvester and thresher was sold to an unnamed progressive farmer who lived east of Eureka. The combine was described as a machine that cuts and threshes the grain in one operation, with the power supplied by a tractor (100 year Eureka Chronology). It was a revolutionary idea.

The purpose of the buildings on this lot has not changed as much as it has evolved to fit the needs of the locals. At the beginning, the building housed horses, and now it houses horse power. The settlers who first brought their steeds to the John Stock livery barn would be amazed at the horsepower now found under the roof of K & A Implement. Never in these settlers’ wildest dreams would they have envisioned machinery with that much horse power, which could accomplish the amount of work at the speed that it does now.

Klein & Stock Feed and Livery
Pfeifle Service built in 1947.
Gray apartment building & Sam's Body Shop owned by Sam Vilhauer.
Deiberts, Inc.
K & A Implement owned by Keith & Darcy Kramlich.
K & A Implement, LLC.

Story courtesy of the Northwest Blade, Eureka, SD.
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