Out of the depths of his mature wisdom Carlyle wrote, History is the essence of innumerable biographies. Believing this to be the fact, there is no necessity of advancing any further reason for the compilation of such a work as this, if reliable history is to be the ultimate object.
Southeastern Nebraska has sustained within its confines men who have been prominent in public affairs and great industrial enterprises for half a century. The annals teem with the records of strong and noble manhood, and, as Sumner has said, the true grandeur of nations is in those qualities which constitute the greatness of the individual. The final causes which shape the fortunes of individuals and the destinies of States are often the same. They are usually remote and obscure, and their influence scarcely perceived until manifestly declared by results. That nation is the greatest which produces the greatest and most manly men and faithful women and the intrinsic safety of the community depends not so much upon methods as upon that normal development from the deep resources of which proceeds all that is precious and permanent in life. But such a result may not consciously be contemplated by the actors in the great social drama. Pursuing each his personal good by exalted means, they work out national destiny as a logical result.
The elements of success in life consist in both innate capacity and
determination to excel. Where either is wanting, failure is almost certain in the outcome. The study of a successful life, therefore, serves both as a source of information and as a stimulus and encouragement to those who have the capacity. As an important lesson in this connection we may appropriately quote Longfellow, who said: We judge ourselves by what we feel capable of doing, while we judge others by what they have already done. A faithful personal history is an illustration of the truth of his observation.
In this biographical history the editorial staff as well as the publishers have fully realized the magnitude of the task. In the collection of the material there has been a constant aim to discriminate carefully in regard to the selection of subjects. Those who have been prominent factors in the public, social and industrial development of the country have been given due recognition as far as it has been possible to secure the requisite data. Names worthy of perpetuation here, it is true have in several instances been omitted, either on account of the apathy of those concerned or the inability of the compilers to secure the information necessary for a symmetrical sketch; but even more pains have been taken to secure accuracy than were promised in the prospectus. Works of this nature, therefore, are more reliable and complete than are the standard histories of a country.