Biography of Benjamin F. Kiefer

Benjamin F. Kiefer, of Mesa county, who resides at Fruita and has been in partnership in business with his brother Frank Kiefer, a sketch of whom will be found elsewhere in this work, was born in Franklin county, Indiana, on May 10, 1858, and is the son of Dominic and Caroline (Witt) Kiefer, whose history is set out more at length in the sketch of their son Frank. Benjamin was reared in his native county, and received his education in the district and parochial schools near his home. He remained on the homestead until he was twenty-two, then went to Howard county, the same state, and there, in company with an older brother, leased a farm about one mile north of Kokomo. They had an opportunity to buy the farm of one hundred and sixty acres for the sum of three thousand two hundred dollars, but neglected to do so, and soon after the discovery of natural gas in the neighborhood made the land much more valuable and secured it rapid absorption within the corporate limits of the town. In the spring of 1883 Benjamin came to Grand valley, in this state, with his mother to join his brother Frank in business. They have carried on extensively, among their operations being the plotting of one hundred and sixty acres into an addition to Fruita known as Cleveland, and also the construction of the Kiefer extension to the Grand Valley canal, they building seventeen miles of ditch to irrigate ten thousand acres of land below Fruita. The Fruita Canal and Land Company, with a capital stock of one hundred thousand dollars, in ten-dollar shares, was organized for the purpose of building this work and to acquire land and water rights. The officers of the company are F.D. Kiefer, president; B.F. Kiefer, secretary and treasurer, and B.F. Hughes, vice-president, they being also the directors. The construction of this ditch brought under cultivation a large body of excellent land, especially well adapted to raising sugar beets, and this has made possible the success of the best beet sugar factory at Grand Junction, which was otherwise a failure. In 1892 Mr. Kiefer and his brother established at Fruita the Mesa County Mail, a weekly newspaper, for the purpose of advertising the resources and industries of Grand valley, more particularly the portion around Fruita. Of this paper H.C. Wagner is the editor. The Kiefer Brothers are energetic and wide-awake business men, with a large allowance of business enterprise and public-spirit. They have been very useful and influential in developing the valley and filling it with productive activities. In politics they are active Democrats, but not aspirants for public office, although the subject was appointed postmaster at Fruita by President Cleveland and served four years. On October 6, 1897, he was married to Miss Mary C. Masser, a native of Republic county, Kansas, and daughter of Dr. Masser, of Fruita. They have two children, Gladys Gertrude and Lucile. Mr. and Mrs. Kiefer are both church members. The Kiefer Brothers were the primary agitators of the high-line ditch enterprise and most effective in bringing it to the attention of the legislature. In consequence of their activity the district irrigation law was passed and surveys have been made. The ditch will be sixty miles long, and forty feet on the bottom and will carry six feet deep of water taken from the Grand river about one mile above Plateau creek. It will have capacity for irrigating sixty thousand acres thousand acres. Mr. Kiefer has been the moving spirit in many of the industrial enterprises of his town and valley, and never lost confidence in the future greatness of the western part of Colorado, and especially the valley of the Grand river, where he resides, and since the fruits of his efforts and enterprises, coupled with the wonderful resources of the valley have been realized, he has succeeded in realizing a handsome competency and comfortable home for his family and himself.

Source: Bowen, A. W. Progressive Men of Western Colorado. Chicago: A. W. Bowen & Co., Publishers. 1905.

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