Isaac Kurtz was the sixth child of Abraham and Esther (Showalter) Kurtz. He was born January 1, 1841, in Alexander, Huntington County, Pennsylvania. Little is known concerning his early life, until his marriage to Sarah Foltz on March 26, 1863. In the course of their lives five children were born to them – Charlotte, Ann, Amanda, Howard, and William.
Isaac and Sarah started west several times and had always gone back to Pennsylvania. They moved to Illinois and then to Missouri, where in 1867 Isaac was issued an Exhorters license in the Methodist Episcopal Church of the Kansas City District. By 1875 Isaac had been working for two and a half years in a coal mine in Coshocton, Ohio. He was what was called the bank boss of the mine.
Isaac was in the milling trade in Massalon, Ohio, in 1877 when he decided to join other members of his family in Osborne County. They arrived March 4, 1877, and Isaac took a homestead in Grant Township. He was never a big farmer. He would rather work around his garden, smoke house, and shop. He apparently was more interested in living off his land than in making money. He had an orchard and also cared for honey bees.
Isaac possessed skills in sharpening stone burrs for grist mills he had learned in working for mills in Ohio. The owners of the Harlan mill would bring their stone burrs to Isaac for him to sharpen. He also worked several years at the Bush mill south of Alton.
In 1882 Isaac had a local preacher’s license by the Methodist Episcopal Church. He helped form the Northwest Kansas Methodist Conference and organized as many as fifteen Methodist Churches within a twenty-five-mile radius of his farm, including the Beulah Church in Hancock Township, Osborne County; Spring Branch Church in Ash Rock Township, Rooks County; and at Alton. In 1886 he became a deacon and in 1890 he was ordained an elder. From 1886 through 1914 he served the Woodston, Alton, and Bristow Methodist Church circuits.
One Sunday when preaching to the congregation at the Spring Branch Church, a rider came in with a body over his saddle. He asked that Isaac bury the man. Isaac and the congregation went out into the cemetery and had a service. When Isaac asked the name, the gentleman replied, “It doesn’t matter.” And so there is a stone commemorating the deceased as the “Traveler.”
The manner of Isaac’s death was touching and appropriate. The Gospel Team from Woodston was holding an afternoon service in the Spring Branch Church on July 19, 1914. While Isaac was using this opportunity to testify to the grace of God, his arms raised high, he was stricken with heart failure. He was laid in the pew and in a few moments he was dead.
Isaac was buried in the Spring Branch Cemetery. Isaac Kurtz was a dedicated man and did a lot to promote religion the area. Several of the Kurtz family in each generation still carry on with his calling.