Ellsworth County Barn Move

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barn 21  The Kepka Barn Movebarn 2

A structure no matter the size is a large undertaking to move. Ball & Son Movers has had the privilege of serving Kansas and Nebraska for almost 80 years doing just that, moving structures.  They have moved everything from the tin tractor shed to a historic masonry structure weighing in at 350,000 pounds as well as moving aircraft, transformers, and jacked bridge structures to name a few.

In March, Sean Petersen of Ellsworth, Kansas called to relocated the Kepka family barn to his property. Upon asking Mr. Peterson how he came by the movers name, he said that his father-in-law and Dr. Dennis Kepka had watched Ball & Son Movers along with Rolling Hills Electric Cooperative relocate the Midland Railroad Motel barn back to its original site in March of 2020.

The teamwork on this project was sensational, watching two electric cooperatives work towards a mutual goal. Rolling Hills Electric Cooperative and Western Electric Cooperative conducted their part of the relocate like a well-trained symphony orchestra.  North Central Kansas is lucky to have these cooperatives in the area!


The History of the Kepka Barn

History and pride in the family name run deep in the Czech community of Wilson.

The Kepka family farm was a 4-generation farm homesteaded in 1872 from “Touch Up Land” obtained from the Union Pacific Railroad. Jon Kepka was a settler and the first owner, Joseph Kepka (son), second owner, Fred Kepka (grandson) was 3rd owner.

In 1924, Joseph built the barn with the help of Fred who was 20 years old at the time. The farm was a cattle and crop operation and upon Joseph’s death, Fred received ownership of the farm.  The barn housed cattle and horses for the family.

A tornado took the roof off the barn in 1948.  The roof was then replaced by the Karbon brothers and labor was donated by many community farmers.  Lumber was purchased from Hoch Lumber Company, all of Wilson, KS.

In 1962, at the age of 18 (and still in college at Hays), Dr. Kepka resumed farming until leaving for medical school in Bologna, Italy.  He received ownership upon mothers’ death and retained until May of 2022 when the farm was sold.  

The farm was owned for 150 years by the Kepka family, and the barn is 98 years old!  It measured 30’ 7” wide, 42’ long and was 36’ to the top of the cupola and weighed 122,000 pounds.  It was the first barn to move with a 2-story hay loft for Ball & Son Movers.

Mr. and Mrs. Peterson plan on redoing the historic barn into a new home on their farm east of Wilson.  It had a new main floor installed by Ralph Doubrava Construction of Ellsworth during the move process and was placed over a full basement poured by Tim Kyler Construction of Ellsworth.  Upon completion, the 98-year-old structure will have 4 floors of living space and a deck over a walk-out on the southwest side of the basement.

After a quality relocation and structure repurposing like this, the Peterson family should be blessed with another 100 plus years of service from the barn.  

History research and credit provided by: Leon E. Ball of Ball & Son House Movers