JOSEPH H. CAPRON.
Joseph H. Capron, a leading citizen of Ord, Nebraska, is widely known as a gentleman of good business ability and true public spirit. Mr. Capron has been a resident of Nebraska many years, coming to Valley county in 1874, and since his coming here has been an important factor in the development and progression of this part of the state.
Mr. Capron was born in Beloit, Wisconsin, September 4, 1856, and was fifth of six children in the family of Elias and Clara (Hurlbut) Capron who had three sons and three daughters. The Capron family moved to Illinois in 1860. Joseph H. Capron and his sister, Mrs. Emma T. Bryant, are the surviving members of the family; Mr. Capron resides in Ord, Nebraska, engaged in the real estate and insurance business, and Mrs. Bryant resides in Cleveland, Ohio.
Mr. Capron came from Freeport, Illinois, to Valley county, Nebraska, in September, 1874, becoming clerk in quartermaster's department of United States of America, at Fort Hartsuff, situated in the northern part of Valley county; his brother, T. H. Capron, was quartermaster at the fort at this time. Fort Hartsuff was established in 1874, to protect settlers from the Indians, and also to prevent different tribes of Indians from warring with each other. The fort was abandoned in 1881.
Mr. Capron remained at Fort Hartsuff until December of 1875, at which time he was transferred from there to Camp Sheridan in the quartermaster's department on the Spotted Tail agency, remaining here about seven weeks. Mr. Capron then returned to Wisconsin, becoming managing editor of the "Manitowoc Pilot," and although only in his twentieth year he was a successful newspaper man. In the spring of 1878 he went to Cheyenne, Wyoming, again becoming connected with the quartermaster's department of the United States of America, going on a military expedition into Montana returning some months later on, and back to Fort Hartsuff where he closed up his work in December.
In January, 1879, Mr. Capron purchased the "Valley County Courier" at Ord, changing its name to "Valley County Journal," - and edited same until July 1, 1887. He then went into the real estate and insurance business in which he has remained until this date. Mr. Capron is a successful man and has had much to do with the development of this portion of Nebraska.
Mr. Capron was married to Miss Mary F. Ramsey, daughter of William and Sarah L. Ramsey at the Ramsey farm home in Valley county, February 15, 1882. Mr. and Mrs. Capron have three children, two of whom are living: Hazel, who is the wife of Fred W. Coe, lives in Grand Junction, Colorado; and Arthur B., who is a student at school.
Mr. Capron is a progressive man, always taking a keen interest in all matters pertaining to the progress of his home state and county, and is regarded as a leading citizen of his locality.
JOHN H. HARDING.
John H. Harding, one of the prosperous agriculturists of township twenty-four, range three, Madison county, Nebraska, owns a fine farm of five hundred and seventy acres on section thirty, and is a progressive and industrious member of his community. For many years past he has been a part of the growth of the agricultural and best interests of his home county and state, and has been largely instrumental in the success of the region in which he resides.
Mr. Harding is a native of Missouri, his birth occurring in Holt county, May 23, 1862; he is a son of John and Margaret Harding who were natives of Germany, where they lived until 1869, when they sailed for America.*
Our subject reached the age of seven years in his native land, and in the year 1869, with his parents, emigrated to Madison county, Nebraska, where the father took up a homestead near Battle Creek; the family's first residence was a log house in which they lived some few years, later erecting a frame house.
Columbus was the nearest market place in those first days of settlement on the western frontier, and deer and antelope could be seen in large herds on the open prairie. Many hardships and dangers were encountered and braved by the sturdy pioneer sons who came to this wild, unbroken country to make a fortune for themselves. About the greatest source of anxiety was the hordes of grasshoppers that devastated the region, destroying every spear of vegetation to be seen for miles around, thus making it very hard for the new settler to make a living, as he was almost entirely dependent upon his crops for a livelihood. Prairie fires were another danger encountered, our subject and family often having to tight the treacherous flames of burning tall prairie grasses to save their homes, and sometimes even their lives.
In 1886 Mr. Harding was united in marriage to Miss Flora Palmer, a native of Indiana, and three children were born of this marriage: William, Clyde and Bessie.
In 1894 Mr. Harding suffered the loss of his entire season's crops by the hot winds that prevailed during the severe drouth, but still he prospered and now owns five hundred and seventy acres of fine land, as before stated, and has ten acres of trees, making it one of the best farms and homes in this region. Mr. Harding is highly esteemed in his community, and in 1904 served his constituents as county commissioner.
Mr. Harding was united in marriage December 22, 1898, to Miss Nellie Losey, a native of Iowa, and daughter of George W. and Elisa A.
* Those dates have been double-checked and are shown as appear in the original!
(Van Buskirk) Losey. They are the parents of three children, George, John and Albert.
Mr. and Mrs. Harding and family are highly respected and esteemed by all who know them and in their pleasant home are surrounded by many friends and acquaintances.
WILLIAM H. REEDER.
William H. Reeder, now living retired from active life at Merna, Nebraska, is an early settler there and when he came to the county found conditions very different from what they are today. For the first few years his nearest trading point was Kearney, a distance of ninety miles from his home. Mr. Reeder is a native of Lancaster, Wisconsin, born June 13, 1858, and next to the oldest of four children born to Henry J. and Wilhelmina (DeMour) Reeder, the father a native of Chautauqua county, New York, and the mother of Switzerland. Henry J. Reeder came to Nebraska in the eighties and died at Merna in September, 1905. His wife came to America in 1847 and her death occurred in Merna in 1909. They had two sons and two daughters, namely: William H. and Mrs. Frances J. Eddy in Custer county, the latter a resident of Broken Bow; one son in Sheridan, Wyoming, and one daughter in Colorado.
When he was eleven years of age William H. Reeder accompanied his parents to Clarke county, Iowa, and there reached manhood on his father's farm, being educated in the local schools and the normal school at Osceola. Later he taught in the schools of that state for three years, after which he engaged in farming. In the fall of 1881 he came to Custer county and took a timber claim of one hundred and sixty acres six miles northwest of Merna. In the following May he took a homestead, the first quarter west of Merna, on section thirty-one, township eighteen, range twenty-one.
Mr. Reeder was married in Wisconsin, January 24, 1883, to Margaret L. Bidgood, a native of that state, and they located on the Nebraska homestead, their home for many years. She is a daughter of Benjamin and Ann (Hutchinson) Bidgood, the former a native of New York and the latter, a native of England, came to America in infancy. The father served in the civil war and is now living at Plattville, Wisconsin, at the age of eighty-three years. The mother died in Wisconsin in 1890. One son, J. B. Bidgood, lives at Halsey, Nebraska; another son, W. G. Bidgood, lives at Wood Lake, Nebraska, a daughter lives in North Dakota, another in Wisconsin, and two in Montana; one son lives in North Dakota, and Mrs. Reeder.
Mr. Reeder was instrumental in the organization of school district number fifteen, in 1881, and for nine years he served as a member of its board. He was one of the very early settlers of his neighborhood and has passed through the varied experiences of the pioneer. He is well and favorably known as a public-spirited citizen who is actively interested in everything pertaining to the public welfare and is a successful business manager, being possessed of four hundred and fifty acres of fine farm and pasture land, besides good city property. In February, 1906, he retired from farm life and located in Merna, where he erected the fine modern residence now occupied by the family. He has won his prosperity as a result of business enterprise and energy and stands well with his fellows. He and his wife have one son, Clarence A., married to Maud Hall, of Nelson, Nebraska. They reside at Fairfield, Nebraska, and have one son.
CHRISTIAN A. REIMERS.
Few lives read more like a romance than that of a little Danish boy whose father died when he was an infant, leaving his wife with a family too large to support - one who with but a few months of schooling acquired a knowledge wide and deep enough to enable him to conduct large mercantile enterprises, a banking business, and fill public offices of honor and trust, in an efficient and creditable manner, such as many college bred men are unable to do.
Chris Reimers was born January 14, 1846, in the village of Ellendorf, Holstein, and was left an orphan at the age of four years. A brother, Jacob, had come to America about 1864, and after earning enough money to pay their passage, Christian and John decided to follow. The latter was a weaver by trade, and our subject had been apprenticed to a blacksmith. On landing in the United States, they traveled west, locating in Lyons, Iowa, and both worked at odd jobs to support themselves, often suffering greatly for even the necessaries of life, without shelter, and no permanent home or work.
They soon obtained regular employment, Chris receiving three and a half dollars per week, which seemed an immense wage to him, shortly afterwards getting a raise. After a time he went to Sabula, Iowa, where he obtained work in the shops and remained for one year. His next move was to Thompson, Illinois, and as there were no German speaking people there, he was obliged to learn English, exchanging German lessons for those in English, with a lady teaching in the public schools.
After spending eight or nine months in Illinois, he went back to Iowa, working in Van Buren, Jackson county, during the season known to old timers as "the hot summer." He again returned to Sabula, and after a time there rented a shop and went into business for himself, assisted by friends, who bought his equipment, as he had no capital, but whom he soon repaid. He prospered and soon bought the shop.
About that time he was married and built a comfortable home, and by hard and constant toil,
got along well and managed to save a little money. He was finally compelled to give up on account of failing health, and went to Chicago, where he sought medical advice, the head of Rush medical college telling him that he must quit work or order his coffin to be delivered within six months. He went home and traded his shop for eight hundred and eighty acres of land lying ten miles southwest of Pierce. His intention was to open a hardware store in Pierce, and meeting with D. W. Elliott, whose intention was the same, they formed a partnership and bought a lot and built a substantial store, establishing a business which they carried on for ten years.
In company with W. A. Spencer, he started the Pierce County State Bank, erected a fine building and after carrying it on for ten years, retired from the banking business. He is now in the brokerage and loan business, and is widely known its one of the pioneer business men of the state.
Mr. Reimers' first marriage was at Van Buren, Iowa, in May, 1869, to Anna Mohr, a native of that state. She died on October 14, 1891, survived by her husband and four of their seven children who are named as follows: Frederick and John, who died of diphtheria at the ages of ten and twelve years respectively; Edward, who died in 1904; Chris, junior, was appointed to the Annapolis naval academy, and after a short time there was compelled to resign on account of an obscure eye disease. This was a severe disappointment to him, but he immediately entered the Nebraska state university, taking an engineering course and graduating with high honors; he is now filling a good position as one of the head engineers in the employ of the Homestake Mining company, with a promise of brilliant success in his chosen work; Nettie, wife of F. A. Courtney, resides at Great Falls, Montana; Rosabel, who for seven years was a popular teacher at Plainview, graduated in 1909, from the Deaconesses' training school at Chicago, and has since entered Cornell for a two years' course of study in Greek, Latin and Hebrew; Lily, another daughter, who was a teacher in the Pierce schools for a time, married B. F. Lyle of Pierce.
In 1891 Mr. Reimers returned to Germany, where he met and became engaged to Miss Anna Tiedje, suggesting that she come to America and if she liked the country, they would be married. She came the following year, and after a year's visit, concluded to remain, they being married on October 22, 1892. One son was born of this union, Walter, now a student in the Pierce high school.
Mr. Reimers is a republican, active in party affairs. He is a member of the Masonic lodge in Pierce, and has filled all the various chairs. Also is a prominent Pythian. He served four years on the town and school boards, and was also county commissioner for a number of years, during which time the new court house, which some opposed on account of the cost, was built, but time has justified his judgment. He has also helped build the town up in every way, always advocating progress and expansion, and giving liberally of his time, influence and money to carry out his views.
GEORGE HERBERT GRAY.
George Herbert Gray, whose upright and honorable career should be an encouragement to the young men of the present generation, as in it they can see, what thrift and industry, honesty and integrity can always accomplish, was born in the state of Indiana, February 27, 1868, and was second of four children in the family of George H. and Louisa M. Gray, personal sketches of whom we herewith give:
George H. Gray, senior, father of our subject, was born in Bridgeport, Connecticut, in 1839, and moved from Connecticut to Indiana about 1857; and on November 4, 1861, was married to Miss Louisa M. Caswell. In October, 1872, Mr. and Mrs. Gray and two children moved from Noble county, Indiana, locating on a homestead about six miles northeast of Central City, Merrick county, Nebraska. Mr. Gray died on the homestead farm February 12, 1874, and Mrs. Gray and family remained on the home farm until 1877, sufficient length of time to prove up on the land. Then Mrs. Gray and family, moved to Prairie Island, east of Central City, so as to be in closer touch with the family of her brother, George H. Caswell, and her sister, Mrs. S. J. Boies, both families being pioneer settlers of Merrick county. These were the days of frontier experiences, Indians still being numerous on the island.
Mrs. Gray taught precinct school for one term, and after a residence of two years on the island, moved to Central City, then but a small village. Mrs. Gray became connected with the public schools of Central City as teacher of the primary department, where she remained for twenty-four years, or until about 1903; Central City growing from a small town to a model little city during this time. Mrs. Gray was a successful teacher and most of the youth of Central City received their first school training under her efficient careful teaching. She has seen her pupils go from the first grade to higher grades; grow up to their young manhood and womanhood days; marry and have homes and children of their own, and many of these children received their first schooling under Mrs. Gray, the same teacher that had taught their father and mother the A. B. C.'s, and had laid the foundation for their educational life. Mrs. Gray was also active in teaching the little ones in the Sunday school, as she was in charge of the primary department of the Methodist church Sunday school. She was a typical pioneer teacher, giving to the youth of
Central City the best foundation a child could have to build on, an educational and religious training. Mrs. Gray now resides in Grand Island, Nebraska, with her daughter, Mrs. John Donald, but much of her time is spent in Central City with her son, George H. Gray, and where she has many close friends.
Mr. and Mrs. Gray had four children, two of whom are living: Clarence, born in Rome, Indiana, died in infancy; George Herbert, married and living in Central City; Nellie, wife of John Donald, has one child and resides in Grand Island, Nebraska; and Clarence, born in Merrick county, who died in infancy. Mr. Gray, senior, was a veteran of the civil war, and a man of high character, honored and revered by all.
George Herbert Gray, son of the above mentioned subjects, when but a boy four years of age, came with his parents to Merrick county, Nebraska, and received such schooling as was afforded by the local schools; but at an early age of nine years Mr. Gray began to make his own way in life, and in the fall of 1883, secured a position on the Oregon Short Line railroad, and was located at Pocatello, Idaho, where he remained two years. Then he spent two years in school after which he was baggageman for the Union Pacific railroad at Central City.
In 1888 Mr. Gray and Mr. Stableton purchased the N. D. Keyes grocery store of Central City, and in 1892, Mr. Gray bought his partner out and continued the business until June, 1902, at which time he became connected with the Central City Bank, which became a National bank in 1906, of which Mr. Gray is now president. This bank was first organized as a private bank in 1877; as a state bank in 1887; and a National bank in 1906, with a capital and surplus of seventy-five thousand dollars, and the following officials: G. H. Gray, president; George P. Bissell, and Heber Hord, vice presidents; Ives A. Hord, assistant cashier. This bank is a solid financial institution, and was the first bank to be organized in Central City.
Mr. Gray is a practical self-made man with an enviable business record, a man of high character, active in business, educational, and religious circles. He is president of the Central City commercial club, and is otherwise prominently connected.
On June 1, 1892, Mr. Gray was married to Miss Mary Rodgers, in Central City, Nebraska. Mr. and Mrs. Gray have one child, Nellie Naomi. They have many friends, and a pleasant home, and are very estimable people.
J. V. HOLECEK.
To such sturdy pioneers as the Holecek family the great inland empire of the middle west owes its present commanding influence in the commercial and agricultural affairs of this nation. The Holecek family came to Nebraska when herds of buffalo and deer roamed the prairies, and Indians were still in control of a vast area of the territory, which was wild and undeveloped to such an extent that it was known as part of the Great American Desert.
J. V. Holecek, formerly postmaster of Sparta, and one of the leading merchants of Knox county, is a member of this family. He is a son of John and Elizabeth Holecek, and was born in Bohemia in 1856. He came to America with his parents when eleven years of age, the family going direct to Chicago after landing in the new world. They remained in Chicago two years, when a Bohemian homestead colony was formed, and John Holecek cast his lot with his fellow countrymen and joined the colony, coming direct to Knox county, where they have taken an important part in the upbuilding and development of the country.
The story of the life of J. V. Holecek can best be told in his own words:
"In 1867, or when I was eleven years old, my parents came to America and stopped in Chicago for two years. In 1868, while we were living in Chicago, my father became interested in a Bohemian homestead colony that was being organized, and in October, 1869, we started for Nebraska, then known as the Great Western Desert, our destination being L'eau Qui Cost county, which in 1879 was organized and christened Knox county. The railroad ended at Sioux City, where we secured ox teams and drove the remainder of the distance overland. The trip was a tedious one, requiring six days. We were warned by settlers of the dangers of the region we were going into, but we arrived safely at our destination with an escort of about a half dozen Ponca Indians. The village of Niobrara was made up of a few houses only; T. M. Paxton had a frame house; Frank Janowsek one of like construction; and Bruns & Westermann, who conducted a general store in a log house. These, together with Ponca Indians, their squaws and papooses, dressed in buffalo skins or red blankets, made up the town of Niobrara, (pronounced Neeobrare, from the Ponca Indian dialect, and meaning running water). The town was made up largely of Indians, there being something like a dozen tepees. The nearest town was Yankton, then the capitol of Dakota Territory, which comprised all of what is now North and South Dakota. Norfolk was about sixty miles southeast. Aside from the settlements of Niobrara, Yankton and Norfolk, the country was a vast wilderness of Indians, antelope and coyotes.
"Early in the spring of 1870, about a half dozen families settled on the bottom lands of the Niobrara river, in the vicinity of what is now Pishelville postoffice, and also on Verdegris creek. To one who has not experienced the hardships of pioneer life, it is impossible to explain the trials we underwent Indian scares were numerous.
as the Indians were not all peaceable. On May 1, 1870, the news was brought in by a frightened settler that a band of Indians were on the war path and had killed a boy eight years old, his sister, twelve years old, and wounded the mother. The settlers for miles around flocked to Niobrara with what household goods and effects they could carry, but in a short time the excitement died out and they returned to their homesteads. The Indians were a constant menace to the peace of mind and happiness of the settlers. They were constantly committing depredations, and no settler felt safe. The Indians would kill or steal their live stock, and demand food or whatever they wanted. The Indians, however, were only a part of our troubles; in 1874 and 1875 the grasshoppers destroyed everything in the way of vegetation. They were so dense as to shut out the sun, the air swarming with them, and when they settled down to the earth, shrubbery and small trees would be bent to the ground with their weight.
"In January, 1877, 1 took up a homestead claim, 'batching' it for twenty years; then I saw an opportunity to engage in mercantile life. I saw that it would accommodate my patrons to have a postoffice convenient, and arranged to have the postoffice established in my store. In July, 1902, I was appointed postmaster, my predecessor having resigned to move to Center. At that time the county seat of Knox county was moved to Center by popular vote of the people."
The experiences of Mr. Holecek would fill a volume in themselves, and many interesting stories and incidents he can relate in connection with pioneer life. He was one of the first supervisors of the county, and at the same time was manager of the Bohemian Anti-Hail Damage association, which had a membership of some two thousand, with forty lodges scattered over the state. He has also held other offices, such as assessor, township clerk, justice of the peace, etc.
Mr. Holecek firmly believes in the advice of Horace Greeley to "Go west young man and grow up with the country." When he came to Nebraska it was truly a wilderness, inhabited by Indians, buffalo and deer, and he has undergone hardships of every kind connected with pioneer life. He has seen the country in the same state that Lewis and Clark and DeSoto saw it, and he has helped develop it into a part of one of the greatest states in the Union.
Mr. Holecek is now living in Niobrara, having disposed of his business at Sparta, and he enjoys the confidence and good will of a large circle of friends and acquaintances in Knox county.
For over forty years, Andrew Johnson has been a continuous resident of Staunton county, Nebraska, where he owns one of the most valuable estates in the county. He is well known throughout the northeastern part of Nebraska as one of the foremost farmers and stock raisers in the state, and after many years of hard labor in building up this business, is now prepared to enjoy the remaining years of his life in peace and comfort.
Mr. Johnson is a native of Sweden, and was born in 1865, the son of Andrew Johnson, senior, and Mary Hansen Johnson. In 1870, when our subscriber was only five years old, the parents came to America. They embarked on the steamship at Gottenburg for New York, and were fourteen days in making the trip. The father came to Dodge county, Nebraska, first, in the spring of that year, and in the fall brought his family to Staunton county, where he filed on the homestead where our subscriber now lives.
A sod house was first put up here, to be followed later by other improvements as the times would permit. At first, the family met with many reverses. The first five years were almost total failures, as the grasshoppers took the crops each year. To new settlers in a strange land, this was a misfortune of considerable magnitude, and it is a matter of conjecture to the people themselves now, how they really did continue to exist under such misfortunes. Many times they were compelled to fight prairie fires, sometimes a very closely contested battle with the flames, too in order to save their homes from destruction. For some years most of the work was done by oxen, and they were used as a means of transit, also although hardly rapid transit as the phrase is now understood. Wisner was the nearest market place, and it took two days to go to town with a yoke of oxen, so slow were the beasts.
In 1883, Mr. Johnson was married to Miss Anna Norling, and of this union eight children have been born. They are named as follows: Alexandria, Anita, Ray, Silas, Lloyd, Harold, Bessie and Kenneth.
During their long residence in this county, Mr. and Mrs. Johnson have made many friends and acquaintances, and have won the highest respect and esteem from all.
Bega post office was located in the house of Mr. Johnson's father twenty-one years, but the details of the business was managed by the junior Johnson, he later becoming the appointed post master, and he has always been identified with the community affairs.
William Fosterman, proprietor of one of the most valuable estates in Knox county, Nebraska, has been a resident of that locality for some thirty-nine years. He is prominently known throughout Knox county as one of the foremost farmers and stockmen in the state of Nebraska; and after many years of hard labor in building
up his business, is now prepared to enjoy the remaining years of his life in peace and comfort, surrounded by a host of good friends and acquaintances Mr. Fosterman resides in section twenty, township thirty-one, range six.
Mr. Fosterman is a native of Germany, his birth occurring in the province of Hanover, in the year 1854, where he received a part of his education.
In 1868 our subject, with his parents, came to the new world to seek their fortune in the land of plenty and golden opportunities. After landing in New York, they proceeded to Minnesota, where they located and remained for four years. Later, in 1872, they came to Knox county, Nebraska, where the father took up a homestead, and also a tree claim, and on this land built a log house. Here the family experienced many hardships and privations through the many causes incident to those first days of settlement on the western frontier. During the first years of the family's residence in Knox county, the grasshoppers destroyed the entire crops; and, later, the hot winds that prevailed during one season burned every stalk of crops that had been planted that year.
In 1878 Mr. Fosterman was united in marriage to Miss Houzuika, and Mr. and Mrs. Fosterman are the parents of seven children, namely: Emma, Rosa, Lillie, Clara, William, Mabel and Arthur. They are a fine family and enjoy the esteem and friendship of a wide circle of friends and acquaintances.
Mr. Fosterman, as before stated, is a prominent man in his community and is known for his many good qualities. He now owns nine hundred acres of fine land, all well improved, and has one of the largest and finest tracts of trees in this part of the county, having forty acres of fine grove and orchard trees.
MILTON W. McCANDLESS.
Milton W. McCandless, now living retired front active life in Broken Bow, Nebraska, and honored as a veteran of the civil war, was one of the earlier settlers of Custer county. He was born in Butler county, Pennsylvania, June 28, 1841, the fifth born of the eleven children of James and Harriet (Mechling) McCandless. Two of the children now live in Custer county, Milton of Broken Bow, and Eli P., of Merna, and two daughters live in Indiana. The father was born in Ireland and the mother in Westmoreland county, Pennsylvania. He came to America with his parents in infancy and died in Indiana in 1894, and she died in that state in 1899.
At the age of sixteen years, Milton W. McCandless came with his parents to Indiana and lived there several years before his enlistment, which took place August 1, 1862, at Elizabeth. Indiana, when he became a member of Company C, Sixty-sixth Indiana Infantry, in which he served to the close of the war. He won a good record and was discharged in Washington city, in June, 1865. He was with Sherman on the memorable march to the sea and participated in the grand review in the city of Washington in June, 1865. He took part in many important battles during the Atlanta campaign, besides many minor engagements. At the close of the war he returned to Indiana and engaged in farming in Harrison county. On December 28, 1871, in Harrison county, he was united in marriage with Mary A. Black, a native of Indiana.
In the spring of 1886, Mr. McCandless came with his wife and three children to Custer county, Nebraska, homesteading on one hundred and sixty acres of land on sections twenty-nine and thirty, township eighteen, range twenty-three, which has been the home place throughout the years that have since intervened. He has been very successful in his operations there and added to his possessions as he was able, and finally owning a splendidly equipped stock and grain farm, where in 1906 he erected a nice house. He was very helpful in organizing school district number one hundred and ninety-five and has served on its board most of the time since coming to the county. In 1910 he retired from farm life and moved to Broken Bow, where he purchased two and one-half acres of land inside the city limits, where the family now make their home. Mr. and Mrs. McCandless have three children: Robert A., married and living in Seneca, Nebraska, has one child; Grace, wife of F. O. Brown, of Berwyn, has two children; Maud A., wife of G. W. Troyer, living near Callaway, has four children.
Being one of Custer county's earlier settlers, Mr. McCandless has passed through its various stages of development, front the days of pioneer existence to the present time. He has been closely identified with its upbuilding and progress and is one of the best known men in the county. His wife is a daughter of Robert and Matilda (Gunterman) Black, the former a native of Ohio and the latter of Indiana. Mr. Black lives in Indiana, being now ninety-one years of age, and his wife died on the home place there in 1903.
George Irvine, who enjoys the distinction of being one of the first resident settlers of Howard county, has been a potent factor in the development of the agricultural resources of that locality. He is known throughout the region as a prosperous and energetic farmer and thorough stockman, and owns a fine estate in Kelso precinct.
George Irvine was born in Roxburyshire, Scotland, on December 21, 1848, and grew up in that country, coming to America in 1870. He is
a brother of John and James Irvine, whose names appear in this volume at the head of a review of their lives, and his early residence in America was identically the same as theirs, his first location being in Kalamazoo, Michigan.
He came to Nebraska in 1871, his first stopping place being at Omaha, and from there he went to Columbus, remaining in that vicinity but a few days looking for a desirable location.
Not finding anything that suited him he came on to Grand Island, and from there to Howard county. Here he spent a few days looking over the land, returned to Grand Island, and finally came hack to Howard county during the latter part of March, making settlement on a tract situated on Oak Creek, April 6, 1871. James Baxter, also mentioned in this volume, Alex Lamb, and a brother, James Irvine, settled on adjoining claims, and these were the first white settlers in the locality. They passed through all the incidents of early frontier life in Nebraska, and to these same men and others of their character, the state owes its success. Mr. Irvine's claim was situated on section twenty-four, township fourteen, range twelve, and this still remains his home place. He occupied for many years his original dwelling, which was the first erected in the vicinity, but several years since built a fine residence, and his family are among the popular members of society in their neighborhood. Mr. Irvine is owner of nine hundred acres of as fine land as one ever saw, and he is called one of the wealthiest men of his county.
Mr. Irvine was married on December 26, 1876, to Miss Sarah Elizabeth Kerr, who resided east of Farwell. Mr. and Mrs. Irvine were married by James Baxter, who is a brother-in-law of our subject, and for many years justice of the peace. Mr. Baxter also officiated at the weddings of Mr. Irvine's brothers, William and John.
The Kerrs are an old Howard county family, coming here in 1872 from Canada, both Mrs. Irvine's parents, Christopher and Sarah (Armstrong) Kerr, now deceased. Six children have been born to Mr. and Mrs. Irvine, namely: James F., who married Sophia Mortensen, and lives in section seventeen of Fairdale precinct; Nellie Jane, wife of Herman Kaiser, section thirteen, Kelso precinct; Mary Delia, Esther Mabel, wife of George Kosch, of section seven, Posen precinct; John Robert, and Jennie Bell.
Mr. Irvine is a democrat in political views, and has for many years past taken an active part in the affairs of his county and state. During 1891 to 1898 he was county commissioner of Howard county, and for a number of years has been officially connected with the local precinct schools. Portraits of Mr. and Mrs. Irvine will be found on another page.
Mr. and Mrs. George Irvine.
JAMES G. HUFFMAN.
Few men have had more vicissitudes, more ups and downs during their initiative career, than James G. Huffman.
His parents, John and Lockie Huffman, were natives of Kentucky, whence they migrated to Indiana and later to Boone county, Iowa, in the fifties, where James G., was born May 15, 1860, soon after which the mother died. The father was again married about 1863, to a Missouri woman, and the same year moved down into that state among his wife's people.
This being a locality of strong southern sympathy, Mr. Huffman's outspoken unionism made him an object of persecution by guerillas [sic] who infested the country. Two of his stepsons, he learned, were members of a band of "bushwhackers," as they were called. So great became the tension that his life was endangered, so he had to abandon his eighty-acre farm and flee in the night, taking with him only a part of his children. James G., then a lad of but seven, who was not home at the time, was left with the hope of going back for him later. However, all communication between them were broken, and for ten years the boy lived around among strangers, some of whom were unkind or even cruel to him.
In 1877, by corresponding with people whom he could remember in Boone county, he learned his father had migrated to York county, Nebraska. He came out to this state and found that his parent and two sons had filed on a homestead twelve miles northwest from York.
Being too young to file on a homestead, Mr. Huffman secured farm labor for one year and then tried farming for himself two years in the vicinity of York. Filing on a homestead in Charles, Mix county, South Dakota, on going to take possession, he found a squatter on his land, and after three months, owing to the expense of long litigation, abandoned his claim and returned to Iowa and worked on farms in that county for a year, and then for a like period rented a farm there.
Coming a second time to York county, he was employed for a year breaking prairie and then again took up farming, having wisely married about this time in Iowa. For two years after his marriage, Mr. Huffman farmed in York county, when he sold and moved to Grand Island to take a six months' course in a business college, showing a determination and ambition few men exhibit at his time of life. During his boyhood in Missouri, drudgery was his lot, none caring to give him enough of his time to attend school.
He was in Grand Island during the memorable blizzard of January 12, 1888, and in the college at the time the storm broke. In making his way across an open square he became bewildered in the blinding whirl of snow, and ran
© 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001 for NEGenWeb Project by T&C Miller, P Ebel, P Shipley, L Cook