LIFE OF JOHN BROWNER (See p. 21)
John Browner was born June 24, 1820, in County Wexford, Ireland. He came to America in 1852, remaining in New York City several months and then going to Amboy, Illinois. In 1856 he came to Omaha, Nebraska, and was one of the organizers of Columbus. He arrived in Platte County in October, 1856. Soon he took out a timber claim on Shell Creek and for several years spent about six months of the year on his claim, going in the summer time to Omaha as mason and bricklayer. Later he lived in Columbus, working in J. P. Becker's and John Wolfel's grocery store. In 1869 he was married to Mrs. Margaret Curry, widow of Mr. S. Curry, who died in May, 1890, leaving two children by her first husband, Sam and John Curry, and by her second husband, four children, Mrs. Sam Drinnin, Will and James Browner and Miss Nellie Browner. Mr. J. Browner was the fifth sheriff of the County, those in order from and including 1858 to 1867, E. W. Toncray, J. Rickley, J. E. North, L. M. Beebe and John Browner. His official duties extended to the western boundary of the State, the counties west of Platte being unorganized. During his two-year term he went as far west as North Platte. The worst case Mr. Browner had during his term as sheriff was when a man by the name of Wilson shot a farmer, Mr. Gardner of Butler County. Mr. Browner arrested Wilson and there being no jail or court house in which to place his prisoner, he watched over him all night in the Becker and Wolfel store where he was working. Next day he took him before H. J. Hudson, then Justice of the Peace, but during the trial a company of citizens overpowered Sheriff Browner and his deputy, J. W. Fulton, took Wilson from the room and lynched him, hanging him to a tree that once stood west of H. T. Spoerry's residence. We believe this is the only case of lynching in Platte County. Mr. Browner tells of the time when he went with a volunteer army. Some Pawnee Indians had got into trouble near Omaha, he did not just remember what they had done, but thought they had broken into a house. Anyway, it was the cause of a big scare, and they sent for Colonel Robinson and soldiers from Fort Kearney. They picked up volunteers on the road, many going from here. The Indians were traced down, followed about a week, and cornered where Norfolk is now located. When the poor fellows saw the cannon and the line of soldiers they immediately raised the white flag and turned over the two offending Indians, who were taken as prisoners to Omaha and after a few days, released. The soldiers, however, were very glad to give up the skirmish, for they were almost entirely out of provisions and were anxious to get home, on the way back, at Genoa, they met J. E. North and Frank Becher, who were coming to them with provisions, and they lost no time in having a big feed. Mr. Browner lived on his present farm two miles northeast of the city, for twenty-five years. Mrs. Browner passed away May 13, 1890. His death occurred on Jan. 6, 1901.
JOHN M. WALKER (1826-1907)
John McDonough Walker was born March 6, 1826, in Fermanaugh County, Ireland. In 1830, when John was four years old, his parents emigrated to the Province of Ontario, Canada, and settled on the unbroken forest country, where now the flourishing city of Lindsay is located. In his youth he endured all the privations incident to pioneer life, and, as he grew older, he assisted his father and brothers in the laborious work of turning a mighty forest into well-tilled farms and orchards. To those early years of self-denial and severe outdoor labors, Mr. Walker often attributed his strong constitution of later years, and he was never so happy as when talking over the early days with a friend.
At twenty years of age, Mr. Walker, who had eagerly read all of the books he could obtain, became anxious to see more of the world, and the war having just started between the United States and Mexico, gave him the desired opportunity. He left home without the consent of his parents and enlisted at Rochester, N. Y., and fought in every important battle of the war. He boasted of having been one of the few men who planted old Glory after climbing the heighths (sic) of Chepultepec.
At the close of the war, John Walker remained in the South for eight years in the service of Uncle Sam as a trooper. After that he returned to Canada, where, in 1854, he was united in marriage to Miss Catherine McCarthy. In 1865, Mr. Walker and family removed to
McGregor, Iowa, where they lived for five years, coming overland to Nebraska in 1870, settling on a homestead in this county, one and a half miles south of the present site of Lindsay.
THE LINDSAY POSTOFFICE
Mr. Walker, the first settler in that neighborhood, named the post office of which he the first (?) incumbent, Lindsay, after his old home in Canada and the name was retained for the town that grew around the settlement. The township was also named for Mr. Walker; in after years the township was re-apportioned.
He always took a keen interest in politics and served as a county commissioner in the early days. He was the first one in the northern part of Platte County to go about electioneering for his own person. From the time he first settled on Shell Creek, his home was the resting place of immigrants and other wanderers, and his hospitality was never sought in vain by the traveller. (sic)
In 1888 he rented his homestead and retired to Humphrey, where he resided until his death. In 1904 Mr. and Mrs. Walker celebrated their Golden Wedding.
"Uncle John Walker" passed away suddenly on Tuesday, October 8th, 1907, and was laid to rest, after the funeral services in St. Francis Church, at the Humphrey Catholic cemetery. He was survived by his widow and six children, namely Frank T. Walker, of Columbus; Mrs. F. T. Klebba, of Omaha; Mrs. John P. Duffy, of St. Joseph, Mo.; Mrs. J. W. Tagewerker and Mrs. F. J. Pratt. The latter two are now residents of Omaha, Nebraska, and Miami, Florida.
New St. Joseph's School--St. Joseph's Parish Hall.
Lady Workers of St. Joseph's Church, Platte Center, at dedication of New School
PERSONAL RECOLLECTIONS OF A PIONEER
(By "Uncle" John Walker.)
"It was about eleven, a. m., on the 28th day of May, 1870, that I, with my family and nephew, the late P. McHugh, of Langdon, N. D., made our entry by wagon into the little burg of Columbus. All my possessions were in two covered wagons, with the exception of three yoke of oxen and six cows, but myself and family were blessed with strong constitutions and bright hopes for the future.
"We made our first stop about where the Union Pacific depot now stands, and in a few minutes several of the sturdy pioneers of the town gathered around our wagon to give hearty greetings to the newcomer. It was then that I first made the acquaintance of James E. North, Charley Speice, Charley Bremer, M. K. Turner, H. P. Coolidge, John Rickley, Doc Stillman and last, but not least, my old friend, Hugh Hughes. H. P. Coolidge looked into one of my wagons and noticed a new cook stove that I had purchased while coming through Omaha. He asked what it cost me, I told him, and he replied that he was selling them for two dollars cheaper than the price I named. My feelings could not be expressed on paper, as I thought I was taken in by the Omaha man, who told me it was impossible to purchase any household furniture farther west than Omaha, and to find, after hauling the stove over a hundred miles over rough roads that I could have bought it cheaper at the end of my journey.
EXPLORING SHELL CREEK
NEAR PLATTE CENTER
"The evening shadows were beginning to fall, when I left Columbus and pressed onward over the hills in the direction of Shell Creek valley. We camped at the home of the late Edward Hays, a man of jovial disposition and a heart as big as an ox, where I remained for a few days, so I could look around the county before making any filings on land.
JOHN WALKER SETTLES NEAR LINDSAY
"I took my first claim about one mile below the present site of Lindsay on the fifth of June, 1870. My nearest neighbors on the south were Joseph Burrows, his son James and son-in-law, George Lamb, Robert Lewis and David Joseph, on the north side of the creek, and Robert Jonas and William Lewis, on the south side of the stream, about six miles distant. On the north there were three entries made about 8 miles up the creek and near the present site of Newman Grove. The three men who had taken these claims were Lou Warren, Billy Menice and John Smoker.
"Warren and Menice did not live on their claims, as they had horse teams and worked for the government on the Pawnee reservation around the Indian school at Genoa. They did not think themselves safe on their claims on account of the Sioux Indians, who were rather numerous along the valley in those days. Johnny Smoker lived in a hole in the bank of the creek like a hermit or a beaver, and he always claimed that the Indians were his best friends. This was proven by facts, as the Indians were always friendly to him, but later on, after selling his claim, he was murdered by a Norwegian for his money. The man buried Smoker in an old well, and did not confess his crime until he was on his deathbed in the old country.
"Billy Menice came from the Indian school to stop a night or two on his claim and one morning he stepped out to lariat his horse in a new place and while he was attending to his animal two Sioux bucks, who were lurking in the banks of the creek nearby, ran to his cabin and secured his rifle and two revolvers. When Billy saw this it took him only a second to cut the lariat, mount his horse and take a short cut to the settlement for help, but when he came back with reinforcements the miscreants had disappeared."
UNCLE JOHN WALKER'S REMINISCENCES
J. Walker found a fine tract of land and resolved to settle there. After getting to Columbus and back with lumber while M. N. Regan, Michael Maher, Pat Griffin and Mr. Hanrihan were dining at the house of a friend on the way, Mr. John Walker and his cousin, Hughes, had begun to put up a shack, when the claimant to the land arrived. As he had no building on the claim, and a fight seemed imprudent, as the doughty Walker produced his Winchester and trusty colt and his nephew, too, was ready for the fray, Walker was paid $20 and 5 gallons of whiskey, if he would agree to move on. He did so and, when he had selected another tract, the owner, Mr. Lyons, was willing to sell out for a reasonable sum and Walker accepted. Joe. Burrows, whom he met, agreed to help him find some good land. The second claim proved to be Mr. Lyon's claim and Mr. Walker paid him his expenses and a bounty to retain possession. Remembering that shortly before, in the same year, 1870, the Sioux Indians shot and wounded Neil Nelson's wife and shot at Billy Menice and ran him from his ranch and had took all the available property they could lay their hands on, John Walker, the
veteran of the Mexican war and Indian fighter, sauntered forth well armed to look up a home for his offspring, even if he should encounter a legion of scalpers. After traveling about ten miles, Walker came to a dugout in the bank of a creek, in the midst o a grove of timber and discovered, finally, an entrance through an alley to the main vault, where he beheld the famous "Johnny Smoker", "the friend of the red man", sleeping most soundly, like another Rip Van Winkle, on some wild hay.
On returning home quickly by the bee line, Walker saw some of the finest bottom land, which has since proved to be the equal of any in the state. So he entered 400 acres of choice land, to which he later added 160 acres of a timber claim and eighty of railroad land. Just then his brother and family arrived from Canada, and, as the wife of the same was mortally in dread of the Indians, John sold them the Lyons claim for fifty dollars and, going two and a half miles farther, got land for half the price, as it lay outside the railroad claim.
EXPERIENCES WITH THE INDIANS
"The Indians never bothered us much, with the exception of begging provisions for a few times, but for two years after our coming to Nebraska we were constantly on the watch for them. While chopping down trees along the little branch that runs into Shell Creek near Lindsay, every time the axe struck the tree, I would look around, expecting to see an Indian in sight and we always imagined to see Indians in every waving branch and big sunflower.
"One day, while breaking prairie, I saw two bucks on ponies cross the creek about eighty rods below my place and go to the shack that Pat Ducey had built on his claim for shelter. Pat was also breaking prairie and when he saw them enter his place without invitation, he left the plow and ran to protect his property. When he got there the bucks were just coming out with twenty pounds of smoked bacon that Pat had purchased of J. P. Becker, of Columbus, a day or two before. Pat saw it was a case of live or die with him, so he took hold of one end of the bacon while the bucks held on to the other. Pat evidently thought that half a loaf was better than no bread, for he grabbed his butcher knife and, in a twinkling, cut the piece of bacon in two. I always said that Pat's courage on that occasion was proof of his ability as a frontiersman. About the same time two Pawnees tried to purchase my dog Towser, a faithful old dog I had brought from Iowa, and which was as fat as a seal. The Indians were disappointed about their prospective dinner, as
I refused to sell the dog and kept a close watch to see that they did not steal him. These were the last Indians seen on Shell Creek, until years later when a number of Sioux tribes were taken down to the Territory by Captain Walker and Colonel (since General) Merritt.
RATTLESNAKES, PRAIRIE DOGS AND OWLS
"The Indian scares being over and the settlement growing stronger, the settlers now looked for better times. But there was still another enemy left lurking around in great numbers, and that was the dreaded prairie rattle snake. One day in the month of July, 1871, I saw in the distance a team standing in the prairie dog village, which was afterwards a part of Peter Galligan's farm, and by observing closely, I saw a man busily engaged in an encounter with some
Mr. and Mrs. John Walker.
thing. Hearing many discharges from his shotgun and revolvers, my curiosity overcame my fear and I went over to see what the fuss was about. I found it to be Lou Warren and he was kicking and dancing around a monstrous dog hill, and when he saw me he called me to come and see the result of the battle. I counted seventy-nine dead rattlers, four little owls and three prairie dogs. In those days killing rattle snakes was play for the farmers and their sons, as the snakes were so plentiful as to be a constant menace to the farmers and their livestock.
A QUEER "JOSEPHITE"
"Lou Warren was a comical fellow. One night while on his way home from Columbus, he put up at my sod castle and during the night, as he lay on his buffalo robe, in front of the fire, he said: "If Brigham Young gets hold of me he will hang me." I asked him why and he said, because he was a "Josephite" and didn't believe
Golden Wedding Couples of Humphrey and Vicinity:
Mr. and Mrs. Jacob Held
Mr. and Mrs. Fred Loeffler
Mr. and Mrs. J. F. Schure
Mr. and Mrs. Frank S. German
Mr. and Mrs. Wm. Haferland
Mr. and Mrs. John Lang
Mr. and Mrs. Henry Schaecher
Mr. and Mrs. John Frey
in the plurality of wives. However, before Lou died, he managed, at different times, to become the husband of eleven women but he preserved his Josephite scruples to the end and only lived with one at a time.
"Between snakes, floods, prairie fires, and grasshoppers, the early settlers had to keep on the alert, if they wanted to keep from going to bed hungry. My first five acres of wheat raised on sod I threshed out with a flail, my threshing floor being a piece of ground about sixteen feet square, which I had levelled (sic) off and flooded with water and let freeze. If not as complete as Aaron's floor, it sufficed and I threshed out my five acres of wheat, working at night by moonlight when it was fifteen below zero. It took me a week to finish my threshing and I had fifty bushels of wheat out of my five acres. While waiting for a fair wind to blow until I could get my wheat cleaned, I had to stand guard to keep the jackrabbits from cleaning it for me. I used to crawl into the straw pile with my flail and would wait for the jacks to make their appearance and when they would be sitting in a row on their hind legs devouring the grain, my flail would descend with lightning speed. Once I broke the necks of three with one blow.
THE NEAREST MILL THIRTY MILES OFF
"After the grain was threshed the next question was how to get it to the mill. The nearest mill was that of J. P. Becker and Jonas Welch, thirty miles from my place, in Colfax County. My first trip there I made with Wm. Connelly. We started out early in the morning, I with what was called in those days a "jumper", or homemade sleigh, hitched to my team of oxen, and loaded with four sacks of grain. Connelly's sleigh was also of home manufacture and was made from a forked stick like a bootjack from an elm tree. He also had an ox team and a small grist of wheat. The troubles of that journey would take hours to relate. Before reaching Pat Murray's, Mr. Connelly decided that he would go there and trade his grain to Murray for flour instead of going to the mill, so I proceeded on my way alone. While at the mill, waiting for my turn to come, one of the blizzards that Nebraska was famous for in the early days came on, and for several days myself and thirty others, some from as far west as Grand Island, were, after our provisions were all gone, thrown upon the generosity of Mr. Welsh. We were allowed to sleep in the bran in the mill and the men were certainly a sight, when they pulled themselves out of the bran in the morning. About a week after leaving home I returned with scarcely enough flour to last a week and was welcomed as one back from the dead.
GAME IN THE PIONEER DAYS
"The first two years I was in Nebraska, the antelope was as plentiful as quail. Herds of fifty and sixty could be seen most every day and the largest herd of deer I ever saw came into the valley through the big ravine north of Lindsay, in the month of August, 1871. They had come into the valley to get water and after quenching their thirst, scampered back to the hills. I had often seen large herds of deer in Texas, but there seemed to be a hundred head in this one.
"Our experiences with coyotes were amusing until we got used to their wily ways. One of their tricks was for part of the pack to lure the man of the house with his dog and gun away from the premises and then the rest of them would rob his hen roosts, or take anything in the line of eatables that they were able to carry away. One night a detachment of them got Towser and me to follow them for about half a mile, and, when I returned, it was to find out that three hens we had setting had mysteriously disappeared.
A DANGEROUS FLOOD
"Another experience, the memory of which is still fresh in our memory, was gone through one night in the summer of 1873. A few months before we left our sod house and I built a dugout in the bank of the creek for a dwelling, and a smaller one close by which we used as a store house, in order to be close to a supply of water. On the night in question there was a tremendous rainfall or waterspout in the vicinity of Lindsay, and all the ravines and small creeks leading into Shell Creek, and the creek itself, were overflowing in a short time. The first intimation we had of the flood was, when two feet of water rushed in on us. Luckily for us two men with horses had put up at my place for the night and only for their assistance some of the family might have been swept away by the flood. The men were Charley Wilson and Jeff Guyer who lived up the Cedar in Antelope County and were on their way home from Columbus. The men helped me get my family and some bedding and provisions up a ladder to a small loft I had constructed out of a few boards, and from there I got the little ones and the household goods out on horseback and the rest of us got through the water the best we could and with great difficulty reached the little sodhouse that we had deserted. Through the darkness we could hear Wm. Connelly call: "Walk-
Mr. and Mrs. Anton Pelle.
Mr. and Mrs. Gerhard Brockhaus.
Mr. and Mrs. Ferd Fuchs.
Mr. and Mrs. Kleve.
Mr. and Mrs. Gerard Biedinger.
er!" He, with his family, had just made their escape and they were trying to find out, if we were still in the land of the living. They also barely escaped with their lives, the youngest daughter, the late Mrs. M. Mogan of Lindsay, being almost dead when rescued. The two families stayed in the old house till the water went down and left part of our homes behind. Those were days to try the souls of men however brave, and the hardships we had to go through would hardly be believed by the present generation. I had one thousand pounds of pork that was under water for three days in the small dugout, and I expected it would be unfit for use, but after it was well washed and salted again it was as appetizing as ever. Shell Creek looked quite harmless enough, when there was no heavy rain, but when, as it often happened, it went over its banks, it was over twenty feet deep with a fierce current, and everything in its path was taken, bridges, huge logs, and sometimes hogs, cattle and poultry were swept away by its turbulent waters."
"We had plenty of ups and downs for our portion the first few years. All of my first year's hay was burned in the stack by disastrous prairie fires, something of which I knew nothing and for which I was entirely unprepared. This fire probably started hundreds of miles away and came down upon us with the speed of the wind. The cattle saved themselves by getting into the creek until the fire went by, and the family took refuge in a forty acre field that I had plowed and from there we witnessed one of the most terrifying sights that one can imagine. The air was filled with clouds of smoke, and roaring flames as the fire swept by, and some of the children screamed in terror that the end of the world was coming."--Thus relates John Walker.
We here subjoin a report:
Page 1. From The Columbus Journal, April 2, 1879. Prairie Fire--More Destruction--An Evidence that Something Is Needed to Prevent the Setting of Fires.
--To S. Davies we are indebted for the following facts: On Saturday last, at about six o'clock in the morning, Daniel Brooks of Humphrey Precinct, set fire to prairie grass on his farm. His neighbor, Julius Krueger, told him that if the wind should rise, the fire would jump his (Krueger's) guard and get away. The wind did rise about eleven o'clock, the fire did jump all guards and speed away on its mission of destruction. For Brooks, nothing was burned but prairie grass. The same for Krueger, who had time to defend himself. The fire took a southeasterly course, and striking Mr. Haschke's place, burned down his dwelling, stable, grain -about everything he had, in fact including 40 bushels of corn, 25 of rye, 6 of wheat, etc. Fortunately, he had sown his wheat, or that too, would have been lost. Out of ten feather beds, he saved two. His loss is estimated at $3,000, a large amount in those days. The heat was so intense at his place that the cooking stove, pots, etc., were run together as in a furnace. Mr. Martin Fox lost hay, hogs and one sheep -estimated of all, $90; Joseph Widhalm lost his dwelling, furniture, etc., besides 400-500 bushels of corn, 170 bushels of oats, etc. From other parties we learn that he lost everything in the shape of buildings, outside of his dwelling, also farm machinery and young trees.
The Pat O'Neill Home, Father of Rose O'Neill the Writer and Artist, Near Battle Creek.
Ferd. Rhode lost everything-house, stable, etc., saving nothing but his Sunday clothing. The fire ran faster than an ordinary horse.
But let us now continue Uncle John's Reminiscences.
"Troubles did not come singly then, but in droves, yet they were nothing compared to the voracious grasshopper. After the year the locusts came down upon us, the word 'grasshopper' was enough to make a sturdy settler turn pale.
"The first of these pests that I ever saw was in the early part of September, 1873, when I was coming back from Grand Island, after filing on my timber claim. While passing through Clarks and Silver Creek, the passengers saw clouds of the insects hovering in the air and descending with lightning speed on gardens, flower beds and other green foliage. Some of the women tried to save their gardens from the
Mr. and Mrs. Jacob Steffes.
Mr. and Mrs. Jos. Widhalm
Mr. and Mrs. Mathias Classen.
Mr. and Mrs. John Feik.
grasshoppers by spreading sheets, shawls, etc., over the plants, but the hoppers, being about as shrewd as the coyotes, turned their attention to the dry goods and soon had them full of holes. Some men from California were highly amused by the antics of the hoppers and remarked that they wouldn't take the whole of Nebraska as a gift. When we reached Columbus that day, we heard that a Union Pacific train coming from Omaha had run into a reef of grasshoppers and was compelled to back up and take several starts before it could force its way through the heap. I had no idea that my turn was coming, but it was; for in a few days after returning from Grand Island, the air began to fill with billions of hoppers. The sun was darkened and the cloud of insects seemed to be about a mile thick. Soon they began to drop and as I had forty acres of fine corn, I planned to save it if possible. My two eldest boys got on horseback and with a long rope between them tried to dislodge the grasshoppers by galloping back and forth through the field; but we all might as well have been in bed, for no sooner was one hopper down than there was a million to take its place. When I saw the locusts even eat the rope till it broke, I saw that it was all done with me and the corn. The neighbors suffered in the same manner, and after the locusts took flight, the whole country looked like a desert, with only a green spot here and there that had been overlooked by the marauders." --John Walker.
We insert here another report regarding this scourge.
JOURNAL, JULY 29, 1874
"On Thursday last (July 23, 1874), the grasshoppers made their appearance in the greatest numbers that we have ever witnessed. They were to human calculation, literally innumerable. As far as the eye could reach, they were visible, and still they kept coming or going for three or four hours,--an exodus, it seems, of all the grasshoppers that had been devastating the country northeast of Nebraska. There was a lively breeze from that direction, and these swarming clouds of destruction were riding on the wind to their southern home. Along the northern horizon could be seen black, streaming clouds stretching towards the zenith and moving with the 'breeze, and many were slow to believe that they could be grasshoppers, but, watching the approaching columns, they soon made themselves individually visible to the eye, the river of insect life passing about a hundred feet above our heads, with myriads dropping down, like a shower, to dine before they go. A similar sight reversed, was visible in the south, and there was no point of the compass where they were not to be seen. There seemed enough, if they had tarried, to destroy every living thing in the vegetable world. It is truly awful, the destruction by these pests.
"A west wind brought us (at least to some neighborhoods) more than ever before, leaving little prospect from crops not already gathered in."
(In History of Nebraska, 1882--The Andreas Co.)
Since the settlement of the county in 1857 the grasshoppers have appeared no less than eight times.
In August, 1862, they committed their first ravages. Considerable damage was done, though there was nothing like a complete destruction of crops. Again, on August 1, 1864, they appeared in large numbers, but little damage was done.
On July 8, 1866, grasshoppers again visited the county, though they did but little injury. Again, in 1868, there were a few, but no damage was done. In 1869, myriads of them came down and nearly all the corn in the county was destroyed, but the yield of the small grain was good. On May 22, 1873, they came with a heavy southwest wind, in immense numbers, though little damage was done.
Again on July 20, 21 and 22, 1874, they came in swarms, forming clouds so thick that the light of the sun was darkened. They remained for several days and everything that was yet green was completely devoured. Many of the settlers had relied on the corn crop alone and this was entirely destroyed. Those who had in a variety of crops were successful in saving most of their small grain, which was, with the exception of a few late fields, already ripe and was not touched by the grasshoppers. But the new settlers, who but recently had come here and as yet had secured no crops, and, of course, were the least able to lose, had nearly, if not quite all of their crop destroyed. Great suffering was the consequence. With a long winter before them and without food, without clothing and without money, starvation and death stared many families in the face. However, Congress and the state legislature made appropriations, and aid societies were promptly formed, and assistance in shape of grain, provisions and clothing were sent hither, in liberal quantities, from all parts of the United States and though many privations were endured, the settlers managed with this aid to live through the winter and the next summer until another crop could be raised.
Again on June 24, 1875, a few grasshoppers ap-
First Store in Humphrey.
Miss Knipping (Now
First Hotel in Humphrey.
Thos. Werner -- First child
First Saloon in Humphrey.
Francis Tieskoetter -- First
peared and did some damage. From August 8 to 10, of the same year, they again visited the county and considerable damage was done, but yet there were sufficient crops to keep the settlers from suffering. This year some disease seemed to have been contracted by the grasshoppers, and they were to be seen scattered all over the ground, where they had fallen dead when flying. On examination it was found that small maggots had bored into their vitals, thus killing them. Though there was no suffering among the settlers this year, times were hard, and the strictest economy had to be practiced by the farmers.
In 1876, there was still another visitation by the grasshoppers, but they were not very numerous and little damage was done.
Since the last named year, the grasshoppers have never again appeared in numbers sufficient to do any damage, and as with the cultivation of the soil, moisture increases, and as the grasshopper naturally shuns a moist climate, the settlers have little or no fear of another visitation by the ravenous pests.
L. C., P. 933, Hist. of Neb.
Let us now return to John Walker's Reminiscences:
"In spite of all our hardships we remained strong and healthy. There were many laughable occurences (sic) during those early days which helped to relieve the monotony. One diversion was to witness Mat Farrell racing his team of mules on moonlit nights against John Gogan's team of stage horses. The races were always run on the level stretch between Mike O'Boyle's place and Tom McPhillips'. Possibly because his mules had better eyesight, Matt usually came out ahead. One day, while Mike Morissey and Wm. Connelly were breaking prairie with a team of half-broken steers belonging to Connelly, Mike had hold of the plow and Connelly held the reins, and it was a sight to see the cattle cavort about. They finally stampeded and the men held on as they thought safe, but the cattle got away and that night both steers were found in Millslagel's pond hole.
WALKER TOWNSHIP AND LINDSAY POST OFFICE
I will close by saying that I was the first settler in the north range of townships, the township called "Walker", and when a postoffice was established there, I was appointed postmaster and named the office Lindsay after my old home in Canada. The settlers, who took claims in Walker Township shortly after my arrival, were Wm. Connelly, Pat Ducey, John Gogan, Jim Collins, Dan Holleran, James Walker, M. Morrissey, Peter Galligan, Thomas Thomazin and several others. As the country filled up, the early trials became a thing of the past, and prosperity followed."
--So far "Uncle John Walker".
George Berney, a native of Volz, Canton Grisons, Switzerland, was born January 30, 1832, his parents being Anton and Ursula (Fruger) Berney. When he was six years old, his mother died and his father married again three years later. George left home, herded cattle two years at Lindau, Germany; assisted his uncle at a hotel in Milan, Italy, became interested in the revolution of 1848, was made prisoner by the Austrians, nearly lost his life at the blowing up of an armory, escaped and returned to his old home in Switzerland in 1853. In the fall of 1854 he sought a home in the land of the free and the home of the brave. In 1855, at 23 years of age, he worked in the lumber camps of northern Wisconsin, then labored on a steamer between New Orleans and Mobile. In May, 1856, he came to Omaha and worked for John H. Green, a stone mason, and was sent to Columbus in company with Fred Gottschalk and Fred Becker, with two yoke of oxen, to cut lumber for a new sawmill, which had just been started. They got caught in a snowstorm and George stayed and nearly perished with his teams before his companions brought relief. The party returned to Omaha the next day. In March, 1857, George Berney traveled on foot from Omaha to Columbus, to find his old friends, Charles Reinke and Henry Lusche, who had preempted claims along Shell Creek, a few months before. Blinded by the snow, Berney passed the home of his friend and would probably have perished had not Reinke seen him and saved him. Mr. Berney secured a squatter's claim about two miles from the home of his friend and eight (8) miles northeast of Columbus and walked back and forth to Bellevue for supplies. In 1860, he sold his claim, started with an ox team for Colorado, raised hay thirty miles from Denver on the Platte river and sold it at Denver to the government for the cavalry horses at the post, until a flood spilled two feet of sand on his land. For a year he freighted between Omaha and Denver.
At the latter place he got $20 for a sack of flour which at Omaha cost $3.50. In the spring of 1865, he came by stage to Nebraska and took up a homestead five miles southwest of Columbus, turning his attention to the raising of cattle and hogs on an extensive scale. He was the first man in Platte County to ship corn-fed cattle to the Chicago markets. Some time after,
Mr. and Mrs. Aug. Wieser.
Mr. and Mrs. Mathias Fuchs.
The Greisen Brothers
he sold his farm and purchased a larger tract of land near the Platte river. In 1892, he retired to Columbus.
George was married on February 27, 1865, to Miss Rose Henggeller, who was born October 13, 1847, in Unter-Egeri, Canton Zug, Switzerland. Her parents, Franz and Magdalena (Wagner) Henggeller, left for America in 1854, settled temporarily at Wisconsin, and in 1858, came to Platte County, where they settled about nine miles northeast of Columbus. Mrs. Rose Henggeller Berney died at David City and was interred at the Catholic cemetery at Columbus in February, 1913.
George Berney spoke four languages: German, French, Italian and English. In 1881, 1889 and 1908, he made trips to Europe.
George Berney passed to a better life and was interred in St. Bonaventure's cemetery at Columbus.
PATRICK MURRAY, PIONEER,
One of the earliest and best known pioneers of Platte county was "Pat Murray," as he is familiarly called. He was native of King's county, Ireland, where his birth occurred, if we can believe the inscription on the tombstone, in (August), 1825. P. Murray had at least three sisters, who all came to America. Pat had imigrated (sic) thither, when he was eighteen years of age and worked as a farm hand near Peola, Chester county, Pennsylvania. One of his sisters was a nun near Parkersburg, West Virginia. According to old histories Pat Murray and Hugh McDonough walked all the way from Pennsylvania to Nebraska and even to Columbus on foot; "a pair of footpads" I. N. Taylor calls them. According to D. Anderson, another pioneer, who knew Murray in Pennsylvania, Pat's first stock in trade in Platte County, Nebraska, was a blind horse and a sum of forty dollars.
THE COLUMBUS PIONEER
Patrick and his comrade, H. McDonough, arrived in Platte county in spring, 1857, and homesteaded about three miles northwest of Columbus (near Shady Lake). Pat built a sod house across the road from the later residence and when the nest was prepared, he hastened to Council Bluffs (Omaha?), to bring home his partner for life, his beloved Bridget Hennessey. Soon after Pat put up a log house and when this burned down, he erected the frame house still standing beside the windmill and famous old barn. The latter was built of cotton wood lumber, for which Mr. Murray paid $70 per thousand and which he hauled with ox teams from Omaha. The posts were round, the rafters hand-hewn and there was net a nail in the building. Wooden pegs were driven into the dove-tailed parts into which holes had been drilled. He built his barn, which was a hundred feet long and a hundred feet wide (i.e. including two lean-to's on either side, the last of which was torn down about a year ago), "before he proved up on his homestead", i.e. according to the year chiseled into a rafter in the hayloft in 1861. Patrick needed large barns, feeding as he did, four to five car loads of cattle for the market and making and selling hay to Uncle Sam for the cavalry horses. Accordingly he frequently employed and boarded 30 to 35 persons. Of the Lost Creek Massacre, where Mr. A. Smith and probably an old man were killed, and Mrs. Murray wounded by five arrows, she barely escaping with her life, and the stealing of several teams by the treacherous Arapahoes, mention has already been made in the Fourth Chapter of this book.
MR. P. MURRAY, THE SHREWD BUSINESS MAN
Though Mr. Murray could not even write his own name, except in one continuous scroll, which he had to re-trace entirely, if disturbed therein; he was an excellent financier and employed any honest means to earn a penny. He sought to acquire as much land as possible, engaged in stock raising, feeding, hay-making, freighting, agriculture and trading with the Indians, etc. At the first sale of railroad land Mr. Murray made, at an Omaha bank, a loan sufficient to make the initial payment and purchased a tract costing $4,000. With two teams he broke 100 acres of land in four weeks and sowed it to wheat. The next year he harvested a splendid crop and sold nearly 1,600 bushels at Omaha, whither he hauled it with his ox teams at $1.02 per bushel. The second year he broke the remaining sixty acres and threshed 1,400 bushels the second season. in about four years the land had paid for itself. Some of this buckwheat he hauled one hundred and six miles to have it ground to flour.
DEATH OF MRS. BRIDGET MURRAY--
PAT MARRIES AGAIN
Mrs. B. Murray who had been severely shocked by the wounds received at the Lost Creek Massacre, lived nevertheless till February 3. 1892. His first union had remained without an offspring. Hence Mr. Murray, though about 56 years old, married again on July 3, 1892 (Church records) or, as others have it, on July 4th--this time to Miss F. Schultz, formerly of Humphrey, Rev. Pacificus Kohnen officiating, James Nolan and Catherine Knott being the witnesses. This marriage was blessed with seven children. They are Mary (now Mrs. John Podraza), Anna (died in infancy), Magdalene (Mrs. Joseph Ku-
Entraining at Columbus for the World War.
John Ratterman, Former County Judge.
Mr. and Mrs. John Krzycki.
la), Frederica (Madame F. Murray at Omaha), Duchesne College; Michael, Patrick, and Antonia (Mrs. Charles Kuta). A second sister of Patrick, Marguerite by name, was wedded to Mr. Adam Smith, pioneer settler at Columbus, who perished at the Lost Creek Massacre; and a third one named Catherine, Mrs. Thomas Cushing, a member of a pioneer family.
DEATH AND CHARACTER OF MR. P. MURRAY
He passed away on July 26, 1906, of the effects of old age and pneumonia. Interment was in the Murray family lot in St. Bonaventure's Cemetery, whither the remains of his first wife, interred at first in Father Ryan's Cemetery near the homestead, had later been brought.
Patrick Murray was a typical old sturdy Irish pioneer, without schooling, rough but astute. He was a good Democrat and a consistent Catholic. Though economic, many were his benefactions to the Franciscan Fathers and the Sisters, of whom he had a high esteem. Many were his donations to the School Sisters in wood, potatoes, corn, hay, etc. When the 1901 hospital addition was completed, Mr. Murray came to inspect the building and left a $100 donation on the table. Many orphans found with him a good home.
The old Irish pioneers were always spoiling for a fight, Mr. Murray was no exception. When, on one occasion, Pat was challenged by a man, who thought he had some grievance against him, he refused to fight in Columbus, but invited him to come along to a pasture to fight it out. When they arrived at the place designated, the opponent, eager for an immediate fisticuff engagement, jumped from the wa-
gon and pulled off his coat, to begin at once, while Pat immediately whipped up his team, leaving the disappointed opponent, the laughing-stock of their friends.
Pat is also said to have hauled, gratis, the cottonwood lumber for (the second) St. John's Church at Columbus (probably Father Ryan's Church),* by ox teams from Omaha. May he rest in peace.
*According to pioneers and Platte County History, the first St. John's was a log church.
REMINISCENCES GATHERED BY FRANK CONNELLY, JR.
The obituary of Uncle John Walker has already been given (see Miscellanea). One year after him, came Wm. Connelly from Lindsay, Canada. John had been back home and when asked whether the Nebraska climate was healthful, replied: "Yes, so healthful that to start a cemetery there, we had to kill a dog, to do so." Coming to Columbus the W. Connellys were there met by John Walker. Their sod house was built near the present site of Lindsay on Dry Creek. During the big flood of 1882, their house together with everything in it was ruined. John Gogan, who hailed from Peabody, Massachusetts, came to Nebraska in 1871. Samuel, the son of Wm. Connelly, was married to Alice Gogan September 16, 1876, at Columbus, by Father J. M. Ryan.
FUEL, LIGHT, BIZZARD, JAN. 12, 1888
The fuel used was cornstalks and slough grass. Kerosene and rags soaked in lard furnished the light. Corn was burnt for a beverage. When the grasshoppers came, Jim Collins, northwest of Lindsay, near the Dan Griffin farm, was the only one, who saved any corn by making a smudge (fire), burning grass and straw to drive the grasshoppers from his twenty acres. He kept up the smudge in the field all night and a day. The grasshoppers came about three o'clock, on July 15, 1874, and left the following day. They were so thick that they reminded one of a slight snow storm. They ruined almost anything, including onions and tobacco.
The blizzard of 1888 raged for three days. The railroad tracks, especially the big cut, one and one-half miles east of Lindsay, were blocked for. a week. Trains from the east would come as far as that point and unload the mail and other goods, then would back up to Cornlea. Trains from the west would come as far as Lindsay. The live stock were not fed the first day of the blizzard. On the second day Samuel Connelly tried to do so, but could not accomplish anything until he tied strings and rags to a clothes-line from the house (about 30 feet) to the barn, in order not to get lost; for the snow was absolutely blinding. The only thing to burn was corn, as everything else was covered with snow.
At social gatherings playing cards and singing were the chief pastimes. Quilting bees were also a fad. Baseball and horse shoe pitching were about the only sports. Mr. D. Roufs tells us of the favorite horse races on Sunday afternoons, each horseman trying to beat the others in the race.
At first Columbus was the nearest trading center, and the place, where they could satisfy their religious needs. In 1873, the Connellys drove in a crotch drawn by oxen to Columbus, in order to make their Easter duty. On the way home at the Scully Bridge near Platte Center they were overtaken by a blizzard and were obliged to stay at Scully's for three days.
Before the first elevator was built at Lindsay, a few farmers got together, shovelled (sic) the grain into a box car and shipped the same. Wheat, oats, barley and corn were the staple crops. Cattle raising and feeding were done on a large scale, Dan Holleran being the largest feeder of stock. Hogs were also raised in large numbers. Cattle sold for $1.75 to $3.00 per 100 pounds. The best milk cows sold for $25. Poultry was sold for 25 cents a piece; eggs brought five cents a dozen; hogs, three or four cents a pound; wheat, 50 cents a bushel; corn, 10 to 25 cents a bushel.
DAVID ANDERSON'S REMINISCENCES
David Anderson, who was one of the earliest pioneers of Platte, respectively of Colfax county, writes in the Schuyler Sun, 1880, as follows:
"When I first located in what is now Colfax county, in 1860, I found Judge Albertson and family on the homestead they still occupy; William Davis living on the farm he still owns, two miles east of Schuyler; R. W. Corson moved onto his present farm the same spring; and Daniel Haschberger was engaged in raising corn and entertaining pilgrims where he now resides. William Gillson owned a farm adjoining Haschberger's, that now embraces a portion known as Clarkson's Addition to Schuyler. Mr. Rolfer, an old Hollander, lived and kept ranch at the Islew bridge on the farm now owned by Mr. Hall. James Jeffries owned and lived on the Hurford farm, three miles west of Schuyler. Bushnell, late of Butler county, lived on the adjoining place west; and next to his farm was the famous Russell's Ranch, well known to ev-