Keya Paha Early Settlers © 2002-2008 smc




Early Settlers


The early days of Springview have often been referred to as “Vigilante Days” due to the many horse thieves that roamed the area and the apparent lack of justice. It earned Keya Paha its nickname that still sticks today, “Mob County". The likes of Doc Middleton and Kid Wade roamed the countryside hiding out in the deep canyons along the Niobrara River.

Keya Paha County has also seen its share of fine upstanding citizens who have made Springview the great place it is to live today. Following are a few names that are still remembered in the minds of local citizens:

Ross Amspoker was born November 18, 1874 to Samuel and Mary Jane Amspoker in Villisca, Iowa. He came to Keya Paha County in 1884 with his family. He attended the University of Nebraska graduating from the College of Law in 1903. He returned to Springview to practice law with Attorney W. C. Brown. Ross served as Keya Paha County Treasurer from 1904 to 1908 and three terms as County Attorney from 1918 to 1921. Ross was elected to the State House of Representatives in 1923 and to the State Senate from 1927 to 1931. After his terms served in the legislature, he returned to Springview where he continued his law practice until his death in 1957.

W. C. Brown was born in Syracuse, NY November 28, 1853, and moved to Rochester in 1865. He attended the Collegiate Institute at Rochester and then entered a law office in Pennsylvania and in 1884 came to Keya Paha County. He was the mayor of Clarendon, PA, served four terms as Keya Paha County Attorney, and served as State Senator during the twenty-eighth session of the Nebraska Legislature. W. C. Brown continued his law practice in Springview for a number of years.

Capt. A. J. Burnham came to Keya Paha County in 1883 and was instrumental in having the county separated from Brown County and establishing the county seat in Springview. He engaged in the practice of law and was the first representative elected from this district to the State Legislature. In 1889, Capt. Burnham moved to Auburn, NE then on to Oklahoma where he lived out his life. Capt. A. J. Burnham died suddenly on May 1, 1913.

J. F. Carr was born August 9, 1852 in Clinton County, Iowa to pioneer homesteaders, Eli and Catherine Carr. He and his family arrived in Keya Paha County September 17, 1883 and immediately set up a homestead southeast of what is now Springview. When it came time to lay out the town of Springview, John Frank donated 40 acres in what is now the southwest corner of town. He served the 52nd legislative district as representative in 1908-1909. In 1906, J. F. purchased the general store from a Mr. Wolfe and ran it on his own until his death in 1914. His son, John E. Carr was the first child born in Springview.

John Coble came to Keya Paha in 1884 from Waterloo, NE. He was born in Elkhart County, IN on December 14, 1856. John was appointed to be Keya Paha County Sheriff in 1885, was elected to the position which he served from 1886-1889 and again from 1897 to 1902. He was appointed Deputy United States Marshall under President Cleveland, a position he held from 1893 to 1896. For a number of years, John conducted a real estate business under the name of Coble & Ballard, until George Ballard passed away. John died February 5, 1944 at Springview.

K. Duane Cook was born in Keya Paha County to Henry and Eva Cook in March 1913. He and Frances (Snider) were married in 1931 and moved to Springview in 1937. Duane served Springview in many capacities including school teacher, commodity and welfare clerk, County Welfare Director, and for a time operated a ranch and farm supply store. President Eisenhower commissioned him as postmaster in September 1954, a position he held for 26 years until he retired in 1980. During his tenure a new postal facility was acquired in Springview. Ty, as he was most commonly known, died July 31, 1997.

Miles Cowger was born in Dallas County, Iowa in 1983. His family came to Keya Paha County in 1879. Miles owned the Springview Exchange Telephone Co for many years and also specialized in the repair of watches and clocks.

Ira Schuyler Hollingsworth was born in Florence, NE in 1869 and came to Keya Paha County in 1909, bringing with him his wife and family. They first operated a hotel in Brocksburg, and at the same time was also a “Raleigh Man”, traveling through the countryside selling Raleigh products. Ira was elected Keya Paha County Treasurer in 1922 and served in that office until his health failed, retiring at the end of his fifth term in 1941. Mr. Hollingsworth passed away as a result of a stroke on December 22, 1943.

Marcus Hoops was a physician and surgeon who served the people of Springview and the surrounding community from 1911 to 1926. He was born at Staplehurst, NE in 1879. Dr. Hoops graduated from the Lincoln College of Medicine in 1908. He took further training at several teaching hospitals including the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN.

Oscar A. Jackson was born in 1891 at Mt. Ayr, Iowa. He came with his mother and stepfather to Keya Paha County in 1899. Mr. Jackson served in World War I from 1917 to 1919. After his release from military service, Oscar worked as a draftsman in the Allis-Chalmers factory at West Allis, WI. Eventually he returned to Keya Paha County and was elected to the office of Keya Paha County Clerk, a position he held from 1934 to May 22, 1953 when he passed away.

Charles E. Lear was born in Rock Island, IL on October 9, 1859. He came to Keya Paha County in 1883, settling on a homestead northeast of Springview. Mr. Lear had studied law prior to coming to Keya Paha County and was admitted to the bar in 1888. He had the distinction of being elected the first county clerk of this fledgling county. Charles served as Keya Paha County Attorney from 1894 to 1897 and again from 1926 to 1929. His son, Forrest Lear, followed in his father’s steps and served as County Attorney from 1910 to 1917.

James Harvey Mock was the owner and operator of the Springview Flour and Grain Company, maker of the famous Square Deal Flour which was a flour of such great quality it won a prize a the Nebraska State Fair.

Pardon A. Morris was one of the early settlers of Brown County and served as one of the first Commissioners of the newly formed Keya Paha County.

Bennett A. Painter and his family moved to Brown County (later to become Keya Paha County) in April 1884 where they established a homestead south of Springview. He was born in Green County, Iowa on April 25, 1863 to early Keya Paha pioneers, Levi and Fanny Painter. Ben was instrumental in establishing the location of the future town of Springview and served Keya Paha County as sheriff from 1907 to 1910 and as County Commissioner from 1923 to 1926. Mr. Painter passed away January 17, 1960.

Clarence A. Ripley, one the early pioneers of Keya Paha County, was born in Lockridge, Iowa in 1858 and arrived in this county in 1884 taking a homestead south of Springview. He served this community in various capacities through the years including establishing a livery business, acting as postmaster, and serving as County Clerk from 1899 to 1904. After leaving public office he ran a lumberyard, acted as an undertaker, and dealt in the sale of coal, farm machinery, implements and automobiles. Eventually he established a Chevrolet dealership. Mr. Ripley was also very involved in community and civic affairs. He passed away in November 1941. After Clarence’s death, his son Bill took over the Chevrolet dealership and garage, which he carried on until his death in 1964. Although the business is no longer a dealership for Chevys, it was passed down to Bill’s son Ceile, then to Ceile’s son, Jim who is now the current owner.

Willard Snyder was born to Edward Lorenzo and Lenora Snyder on December 9, 1899 in Keya Paha County, NE. Willard attended school in Keya Paha County graduating from Keya Paha County High School. He attended the University of Nebraska for one year, completing the requirements for a Bachelor of Science degree at Chadron State College. Willard taught school at Clinton and Merriman, NE for four years, and then was elected Keya Paha County Superintendent of Schools in 1930. Willard was always involved in community and civic affairs and served as County Red Cross Chairman for 15 years. Willard remained the Keya Paha County Superintend of School until his death in 1963.

Frank Deforest Stapleton was born January 15, 1867, in Madison County, NY and died June 25, 1852 at Tacoma, WA. Frank homesteaded in Keya Paha County in 1886. He was a farmer and rancher in the community until he assumed the duties of Keya Paha County Sheriff on January 1, 1911. Frank served in this capacity until December 22, 1921. In 1947, he moved to Tacoma where he passed away.

U. S. Weddel was born in New London, IN on July 2, 1865. Mr. Weddel arrived in Springview in 1911. He was an accomplished carpenter, and the evidence of his skills is still visible in the old School District #56 building and the old Keya Paha County High School which now houses the Keya Paha County Historical Society. He built many fine homes throughout the town and the countryside. Springview remained Ulysses’ home until his death in 1945.

T. G. Weddel was the son of U. S. and Arzilla May Weddel. He was born in Indiana on June 19, 1888. Tom attended the Grand Island Business College, graduating in 1905. At that time he had the choice of teaching penmanship in a Denver college or coming to Springview to work in the State Bank. He opted for Springview. Tom served as Keya Paha County Clerk from 1922 to 1933. He studied for the bar and was admitted to practice law in 1935. He served as County Attorney from 1936 to 1965 when he retired. Twice Gov. Robert Crosby commissioned him as an Admiral in the Nebraska Navy in recognition of his dedication to public service, the second time for his service to the Boy Scouts of America. He also received the Silver Beaver, the highest honor that can be paid to a non-scout. In 1969 he received special recognition from the US Treasurer for continuous active service in the Savings Bond program since 1917. Tom passed away June 1, 1970.


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Information donated by Sandi McCoy, co-coordinator

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