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Albert and Cora Magee Latas - Browns Grove Cemetery, Burdett, Pawnee County, Kansas

Albert Latas was a pioneer of Pawnee County, arriving in May of 1878; however, his father came a year prior and established a homestead and tree claim west of Larned in Grant Township. When Albert arrived, he located his claim next to his father. Together, they built the family home, which consisted of a single-room sod house plastered with native limestone. The family lived there for seventeen years.

Albert Peter Latas was born in Pennsylvania in 1855. He was the oldest of six children born to John and Karoline Latas. Albert grew up in Wisconsin and Iowa as he followed his parents and siblings.

The family loaded their belongings in a wagon and tied several cows, calves, and horses behind them. Like most other Kansas homesteaders, the family found it difficult to survive by farming. There were almost constant failures of crops due to grasshoppers, drought, and storms. So for two years, Albert was sent to work husking corn in McPherson County to help make ends meet.

After seven years, John Latas, like 80 percent of all homesteaders, failed to prove his homestead in Kansas. Albert took up his father's claim in 1884 and seven years later acquired the title.

On January 1, 1889, thirty-three-year-old Albert Latas married sixteen-year-old Cora L. Magee. Cora was the youngest of seven children born to Clemmons and Rebecca (Barham) Magee. When she was two years old, the Magee family left Illinois and headed west with stops in Missouri and Cloud County, Kansas, before arriving in Pawnee County in 1879.

Albert and Cora raised five children. Unfortunately, at age sixteen, their son, Raymond died of typhoid and pneumonia, and their youngest daughter, Nellie, at age two.

In 1900, Albert's mother, Caroline, came to Rozel. She died three years later, and her body was shipped back to Iowa for burial.

Albert was a prosperous wheat farmer and stock grower. In September 1916, the family moved into Rozel where Albert died on April 4, 1919. Cora died less than five years later, on January 17, 1924, in Osawatomie, Miami County, Kansas, at age 51. They are buried in Browns Grove Cemetery with Nellie and Raymond.

The rest of the story: Albert's father, John Latas (1826-1912), was born in Austria and came to America at the age of twenty-one. He made his way west with stops in Wisconsin and Iowa. During the Civil War, he had assisted in recruiting troops for the Union but was never a soldier himself. His date of death and location are unknown.

In 1909, Albert's sister Mary returned to Kansas with her children and second husband, Edward Ewing. Mary wrote the "Northwest of Larned" column for the Larned Chronoscope.

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