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Published Monthly by the Nebraska State Historical Society
Associate Editors
The Staffs of the Nebraska State Historical Society and
Legislative Reference Bureau
Subscription $2.00 Per Year
q All sustaining members of the Nebraska State Historical
    Society receive Nebraska History without further payment.
q Entered US second class mail matter, under act of July
16, 1894, at Lincoln, Nebraska, April 2, 1918.





Twenty below, and I hear the wind roaring,
See the snow drifting and filling the air,
And I'm quite agreed my papers to read,
To sit by the fire in a well-cushioned chair.


Where drifts were piled high. green grass will be growing,
Soft breezes will murmur, birds flit through the air:
I'm not re'lly complaining, but 0, I am longing
To sit out-of-door in my old rocking chair.

January, 1918. - S. C. B.


The poet's zeal is dead and gone,
No longer burns poetic fire,
No longer thoughts blaze forth in rhyme
To soft accompaniment of lyre.

Strangled at birth by cold neglect,
Suffering the pangs of cruel scorn;
'Twould sure have been a kinder fate,
Better never to have been born.

- S. C. B.

   While on a prospecting tour for the State Historical Society in May of this year Frank A. Harrison found much valuable material in Nemaha county. The biggest treasure was in a box covered with rubbish in a basement at Auburn.
   In this box were the first court records. sheriff's fee book, and other official documents of Nemaha county dating from 1855; books of the first treasurer of Brownville; records of the first Bible society; records of the early organization of an Episcopal church at Nemaha City; record book of the "Union Club" during the civil war; surplus bonds of the "Brownville & Ft. Kearney Railroad;" files containing hundreds of letters from men of note during the pioneer days; original maps and plats of Nemaha county and its boom towns; complete census returns for 1870, and much other material which had been lost to sight for nearly fifty years.
   It is probable that in others of the old river counties there are cellars and garrets containing just as valuable historical material as that found in Nemaha county. It would seem to be a patriotic duty for old residents to inspect their old papers and report to the State Historical Society. In this way much valuable material will be saved for future generations.

   Through the use of moving pictures we are able to bring before us almost the actual presence of the builders of Nebraska. It was a fortunate circumstance that a very fine film was taken of Charles M. Bessey working in his garden a few weeks before his death. Films were also secured of Isaac Pollard while engaged in the examination of fruit blossoms; Judge M. B. Reese visiting with another prominent member of the Nebraska bar; Mansel Davis, a Valley county pioneer, standing in the doorway of his original log house; John 0. Goss welcoming a guest at his home in Bellevue; and others of men prominent in the early history of the state.
   The list of individual films will be extended as rapidly as possible, and the pleasing assurance is given that the taking of a moving picture film is no intimation that the subject is liable to die at an early date.

   Forty years ago the name "J. Brown" carved high up on one of the historic rocks near Table Rock was pointed out as the autograph of John Brown, of Osawatomie. Brown frequently crossed the southeast corner of Nebraska from Tabor, Iowa, which was then a center of anti-slavery agitation on the underground railroad. Dan Cole, of Peru, still tells the story or seeing Brown at Squire Kennedy's house just west of Brownville early in 1859. In volume II of the Nebraska State Historical Society's reports Mr. A. R. Keim has an article upon John Brown's travels in Nebraska with particular references to his headquarters in Falls City and relates the story of his discussion with Wilson M. Maddox, one of the noted Richardson county pioneers, of plans for his Harper's Ferry campaign to free the slaves.
   The Nebraska City News of Feb. 12, 1859, contains a fierce and lurid denunciation of Brown in these words:
   "John Brown, Captain John Brown, old John Brown of Osawatomie .... passed through this city late last Friday eveniing [sic] at the head of a herd of stolen niggers taken from southern Missouri, accompanied with a gang of horse thieves of the most desperate character. They had a large number of stolen horses in their possession - two or which were taken and are now held by the deputy sheriff of this county.
   "There is an appropriateness and fitness in nigger stealers being associated with horse thieves that the rankest black republican cannot fall to appreciate."
   The Historical Society will be glad to receive any accounts or traditions of John Brown in Nebraska in addition to the above.

   A copy of the Blue Valley Record, published at Beatrice by Howard & Nelson, and dated November 11, 1868, bears evidence of having followed the U. S. land office to the Gage county town. Most, of the advertisements in its columns are by Brownville and Nebraska City business men. Only about a dozen small news items appear in the paper. One records the marriage of Nathan Blakely and Maggie C. Tinkham.
   The Gage county officers are listed as follows: representative, Oliver Townsend; probate judge, H. M. Reynolds: treasurer, Albert Towle; clerk, 0. Townsend; sheriff, L. P. Chandler; surveyor, A. J. Pethoud; coroner, Dan Freeman; commissioners, H. P. Freeman, William Ticknor, H. M. Wickham; constable, T. J. Chesney.
   Mails are advertised to arrive from Falls City and Nebraska City three times a week. Another line arrived from Marysville, Kan., three days each week, while the Plattsmouth mail came in by way of Lincoln on Wednesdays at noon and started back at one o'clock the same day. There was a mail once a week to Big Sandy. Albert Towle was postmaster.
   The editorial colum [sic] of the Record is devoted to a boost for the future greatness of Beatrice. It tells of rapid building, of water power, and of wonderful soil. The article concludes: "We have already the Land Office - will soon have a Church and a Court House, and we trust 'that in less than twelve months projected lines of Railway may penetrate our country both from the north and east, so as when completed to make Beatrice one of the Railroad centers of Nebraska."


Nebraska History and Record of Pioneer Days

The Union Club -- Civil War Sub-
stitute for "Council of Defense"

   A recent find for the Historical Society is the original record book of the Union Club, which was organized in Brownville in 1863, during the strenuous days of the Civil War. It was a time of great differences on the war question, even in Nebraska, and this book is valuable because it establishes the status of many citizens of Nemaha and surrounding counties. We quote entire the record of the first meeting:
   At a meeting held at the office of C. W. Wheeler in Brownville on the evening of the 28th day of February, A. D. 1863 for the purpose of taking the initiatory steps to form a Union Club, the following gentlemen were present, viz: T. R. Fisher, O. B. Hewett, W. H. Hoover, R. W. Furnas, R. V.Hughes, A. D. Marsh, C. F. Stewart, C. W. Wheeler, S. R. Jamison, Jonas Hacker, T. C. Hacker, John L. Carson, and C. G. Dorsey. The meeting was temporarily organized by the appointment of John L. Carson president and Charles G. Dorsey secretary.
   An oath was then administered to each person present to support the constitution of the United States, the Organic Law of the Territory, etc. as required by rule in preliminary organization.
   A motion was then made and accepted, that the meeting proceed to the election of permanent officers for the club. Whereupon a vive voce vote was taken resulting in the choice of the following persons to fill the offices set opposite their respective names:
   John L. Carson, president; C. W. Wheeler, vice president; T. R. Fisher, corresponding secretary; C. G. Dorsey, recording secretary; W. H. Hoover, treasurer; R. V. Hughes, marshal; C. F. Stewart, sentinel.
   A tax of fifty cents was by vote levied on each member present for the purpose of procuring a charter and other needful expenses, which tax was thereupon paid in by each person present to the treasurer.
   The corresponding secretary was then directed to draw five dollars from the treasury and therewith procure a charter for the Club. On motion the meeting was adjourned subject to the call of the corresponding secretary.
   This record is signed by the president and the recording secretary. Through the records of succeeding meetings no light is given as to the parent club or where the charter was issued. The presence of R. W. Furnas at the preliminary meeting and the absence of his name in the further records of the club would indicate that he was home from the army for a brief time and was responsible for the idea of organization.
   The next meeting was on March 19, after the charter had been received, and the record says: "The Club was opened and the additional obligations imposed on the original members and they were then initiated in the misteries (sic) of the Order and instructed in the Signs and Pass words."
   The minutes show that during the next seven months the Club met once or twice a week. Unfortunately the record does not mention the discussions that took place. It is a cold record of the examination and admission of members. But this list, with the occupation of the men, is very valuable.
   The process was to propose the names of new members, appoint a special committee to investigate them, and vote them in at a succeeding meeting if the report of the committee was satisfactory. Here is the list of members taken in after the second meeting:

W. W. Hackney. freighter, Brownville.
Benjamin Rogers, liveryman, Brownville..
John August, teamster, Brownville.
A. G. Gates, mason, Brownville.
David Bell, farmer, Nemaha county.
N. Blakeley, farmer, Beatrice.
J. H. Morrison, butcher. Brownville.
Wm. Hackney, freighter, Brownville.
Wm. Blakely, clerk, Brownville.
James Medford, carpenter, Brownville.
S. L. Swan. clerk, Brownville.
John L. Scott, soldier, U. S. A.
Jonas Drury, carpenter, Brownville.
Fred W. Britmeyer, shoemaker, Brownville.
Evan Worthing, saloon keeper, Brownville.
R. I. Whitney, government contractor, Brownville.
A. G. White, minister, Brownville.
F. M. Paulin, justice of peace, Aspinwall.
W. Grant, shoemaker, Brownville.
Theodore Hill, merchant, Brownville.
Joshua Rogers, teamster, Brownville.
D. H. McLaughlin, miller, Brownville.
G. C. Thomson, Brownville.
John. McPherson, physician, Brownville.
H. H. Dobbins, minister, Brownville.
Wesley Penny, farmer, Brownville.
James Berry. merchant, Brownville.
J. H. Crow, freighter, Brownville.
H. H. Marsh. deputy postmaster, Brownville.
Frederick August, laborer, Brownville.
John H. Mean, soldier, U. S. A.
C. P. Richardson. soldier, U. S. A.
S. F. Cooper, soldier, U. S. A.
Alex Robinson. shoemaker, Brownville.
David Gwin. physician, Brownville.
Peter Smith. laborer, Brownville.
Fred I. West, laborer, Brownville.
John V. Denser, tinner, Brownville.
Chas. Denser, tinner, Brownville.
George Denser, tinner, Brownville.
Phillip Denser, tobacconist, Brownville.
H. H. Dye. saddler. Brownville.
James R. Dye, carpenter, Brownville.
John W. Middleton. saddler, Brownville.
J. L. Columbia, soldier, U. S. A.
J. W. Bliss, soldier, U. S. A.
B. F. Lushbaugh, Pawnee Indian agent.
T. G. Jamison, clerk, Brownville.
R. F. Barrett, register. U. S. land office.
Lewis Hill, soldier, U. S. A.
J. L. Roy, soldier, U. S. A.
Chas. Haywood, farmer. Pawnee county.
S. W. Kennedy. farmer, Nemaha county.
S. L. Collins, minister, Nemaha county.
Daniel Peony, farmer, Nemaha county.
Henry Gilchrist, farmer, Nemaha county.
George Wheeler, farmer, Nemaha county.
David Gilchrist, farmer, Nemaha county.
John A. Small, liveryman, Brownville.
Timothy McLaughlin, laborer, Brownville.
Albert Mead, gunsmith, Brownville.
Wm. Amsbary, minister M. E. church.
T. Manholl, minister M. E. . church.
J. M. McKenzie. minister M. E. church.
Hiram Burch, minister, M. E. church.
Jno. B. Maxfield, minister M. E. church.
H. Hackney, Brownville.
Wm. T. Den, merchant, Brownville.
Rob't. Morrison, hotel keeper, Brownville.
George Clark, farmer, Nemaha county.
Enoch Clark, farmer, Nemaha county.
T. S. Ward, farmer, Nemaha county.
James Entwistle, farmer, Nemaha county.
Andrew Stevens, farmer, Nemaha county.
Wm. Bell, farmer, Nemaha county.
Isaac Range, farmer, Nemaha county.
A. Sherfy, sexton, Brownville.
Jesse John, justice of peace, Brownville.
J. W. Hollingshead, farmer, Pawnee county.
Wm. Hanley, farmer, Nemaha county.

   E. Phillips, Calvin E. Phippenny, George Reane, T. H. Ausden, H. P. Manning, W. R. Leach, Gibbard Watts, Samuel Callen, W. H. Kendall, George Sapp, J. K. Chamberlain, J. L. Fort, Joseph Hamilton, John Collins, T. N. Sanders, John Beard. George Thompson, Wm. M. Hannaford, Thomas Collins, C. P. Ware, George Hughes, Joseph Saulsey, J. Q. A. Smith, Win. Foliat, John H. R. Drury, A. Dodd. Benjamin Chapman, Joseph Schutz, Wm. Thorn, Riley Kelly. J. .J. Leach, John Crine, W. B. Phillips, Allen Phillips, Wm. Zook, J. R. Brockman, Chas. Helman, Jacob B. Berkley, W. J. Rains, Jesse Rains, A. Borsh, Louis Waldter, Wm. Rossell, W. S. Hughes, Phillip Huffman. Peter Zook, W. W. Smith, Samuel Snyder, N. Thorp. John Chapman, R. R. Smith, J. F. Neal, R. W. Frame, T. M. Green. R. A. Stewart, Samuel Petit, Joseph Foster, James G. Melvin, George L. Turner, Daniel Butler, Wyman Kent, Samuel Skaats, W. G. Glasigow, Seymour Tomlinson, John Ashley, George Ashley, Wm. Bagley, Levi T. Knox, Francis Redfern, John Brown, Samuel Wagstaff, Johnathan Higgins, James McLure, H. T. G. Krupfer, George F. Bixby, J. L. McGee, H. S. Hill, W. W. Hill, Richard Buckan, John A. Kelso, Thomas Arnold, Thomas Murray, Goldsberry Pavy, Jeremiah Stringham, Stephen Groesbeck, H. F. Dorsey, J. R. Kelley, George R. Belden, Silas Pierce, Robert Gilman, Charles Keiswetter, Michael Barada, R. V. Muir, Levi Richmond, David McReynolds, Jeremiah Burnett, Wm. Vandeford, James M. Hacker, Wm. H. Hacker, Jeremiah Marlatt [?], Antoine Barada, J. J. Leach. Joseph Opelt, Samuel H. Randall, John Blacklaw, W. W. Randall, Richard Carr, Amos Stephens. Jacob Stephens, Mark Stephens, James H. Lahne, A. Hellman, Israel Noggle, George W. Dodge, John Long, B. B. Thompson, John Argabright, Wm. H. McCreery, Wm. R. Massey, Antoine Cabany, Wm. Stilwell, Joseph S. Marsh, Daniel Shadley, Wm. Lyda, Jos. Medford, Jacob Mahron.

   On April 19, 1863, the club elected A. G. White president, in place of John L. Carson, who was absent from the territory, and at the same meeting assessed the members ten cents each to pay for badges. About this time the club made preparations for a big meeting of the Lolay National League for the 2nd of May, and a committee was appointed to hire a hall and a band and procure speakers.
   On May 22 this resolution was adopted: "Resolved. That this club will co-operate in the formation of a Territorial Grand Club, and will do all in its power to secure the union of all leagues and organizations of Union men throughout the Territory under some uniform organization."
   On June 26. 1863, a new election of officers was held. with this result: A. G. White. president: Jonas Hacker, vice president; Chas. G. Dorsey, recording secretary; Thomas R. Fisher. corresponding secretary; Wm. Hackney, treasurer; W. H. Hoover, marshal; Michael Barada, sentinel.
   On August 26, the club adopted a resolution its follows: "That it committee of ten members be appointed to meet the grand lodge of the United Sons of Liberty at Nemaha City on tomorrow evening and to use their endeavors with said grand lodge to bring about a union of the two union organizations under the organization of the Loyal League of America." At the same meeting the officers were authorized to procure a charter under the Loyal League of America.
   With this merger of the scattering Union clubs into a territorial league, which seems to have been perfected, the record kept by C. C. Dorsey closes. It would be interesting to find the further records or the organizations at Brownville and other towns.

Nebraska History and Record of Pioneer Days


Picture or sketch


The Historical Society in France

   John Edward Hunt, whose wife has been, before and since their marriage, a valued member of the Historical Society's staff, is fighting for his country in France, having sailed from Newport News on April 14. He was at Box Butte county boy, born at Alliance November 8, 1888, but spent most of his life in Morrill county. He attended the Alliance schools and the State University, after which he engaged in the wholesale grain and hay business at Bayard. He was drafted in the new army, went to Funston, where he was selected to go with Company C, Fourth U. S. Infantry, and in a very short time was on his way to France. In a recent letter to his wife he tells of his experiences:

   "April 28, Somewhere on the Atlantic, but in sight of land.
   "We left Newport News just two weeks ago. and our voyage is now almost completed. This is a beautiful day and the ocean or bay is as calm as can be. I can see the waves splashing idly on the rocks, and everything looks peaceful. The third day out I saw a school of whales. That was close to the gulf stream, but in the middle Atlantic there were neither fish nor birds, only a big, rough sea, ugly as could be and looked a thousand miles deep. This has been a wonderful trip, but we are glad to see land. For the past three days we have been in the submarine zone, and it was not until we reached this that things began to be real interesting. One submarine tried to get 'gay,' but our chaser buried him at sea; so now Kaiser Bill is short one. We can see the French and American aeroplanes flying around us. The men wave at us as they go over the ship. The little towns which we see along the bay are certainly a welcome sight. Almost every one has a church steeple towering high in the air.

   "May 12, Somewhere in France.
   "Here most all the buildings are made of rock. The houses, barns and other buildings are very close together and many of them all connected, sometimes in a straight row and sometimes in rectangular form with the garden wall on one side making it a tight corral with big heavy gates. I see that they use some American made machinery, and I noticed yesterday a big haypress being operated by a woman, and it was just like one we have on the ranch. Even the hillsides are cultivated and have enormous crops. The climate is simply grand and cool and moist, with lots of rain.
   "I am sitting out in a pretty little thicket of Norway spruce trees on a big elevation and can see for miles around, a pretty sight to be sure, but not so pretty to my mind as the land of Nebraska. I have my bunk made in the loft of a big barn full of rats and mice. I am more afraid of the rats than of the Germans. I have my helmet and gas mask now and look almost like a wild animal. This morning we fellows had our hair shaved short. I sure did hate to see mine go, but I guess it was for the best. I do sometimes get sleepy and hungry and tired, but I would not be back in America for any money until the war is over. As some say, I am seeing the world, and if I have good luck will soon be in the trenches. I want to get into them, and be a real veteran before this thing is over."

   The new courthouse for Burt county was dedicated on Tuesday March 19, 1918. In an account of the dedicatory exercises, the Burt County Herald of March 22 quotes the inscription of it historical tablet which was placed in file courthouse, in part as follows:
   "This new courthouse stands on the site of the old Blockhouse built by the United States war department fin 1855 to protect the first while settlement in this county from Indian depredations." In the account it is said further that General John M. Thayer organized a military company at Tekamah, the members of which "were mustered into the regular United States army. . . "
   The first military organization in the Territory of Nebraska was formed in accordance with an admonitory proclamation issued by Acting Governor Cuming on December 23, 1854. The organic Act of the territory declared that "The governor ... shall be commander-in-chief of the militia thereof." But the first Legislative Assembly did not exercise its power to authorize the organization of a militia. This was first done by the second assembly, in 1856. So the Acting governor's undertaking was legally premature. He directed that there should be two regiments, the First regiment by, for and of the North Platte section; the Second, by, for and of the South Platte.
   The proclamation prescribed further that
   "Said companies shall elect their own officers, the regimental officers being commissioned by the commander-in-chief.
   "Said companies are recommended to keep such arms and ammunition as they can procure, in good order and ready for service; also in the frontier settlements to . . . provide blockhouses for shelter, in case of attack, until word can be sent to other companies.
   "In pursuance of this proclamation I have this day appointed and commissioned regimental officers, viz: one colonel, one lieut. colonel, one major, and one adjutant for each regiment."
   In a book named Executive Proceedings and Official Correspondence, Territory of Nebraska there is a partial record of the organization of this provisional militia, or rather the undertaking to organize it; for while I was writing the first volume of the history of Nebraska I cross-examined General Thayer about this incident, and he informed me that very little of practical importance was done. This record shows only the appointment of officers for the Second, or South Platte, regiment, "up to January 1, 1855"; but it discloses that on February 7, 1855, the, acting governor commissioned Andrew J. Hanscom colonel of the First Regiment Nebraska Volunteers, William C. James Lieutenant colonel, and Hascall C. Purple major; also. John M. Thayer brigadier general, and Anselum Arnold adjutant of the first brigade, as the entire organization, consisting of the two regiments, was designated.
   Thus it appears that the war department of the United States took no part in the building of the blockhouse at Tekamah and that the local company of men who built it were part of it purely territorial and extemporized militia. General Thayer first entered the army of the United States soon after the beginning of the Civil War. The fact that he became a brigadier general in that war probably led to the confusion and misapprehension I have pointed out.


   Among the old records found stored away in a basement in Nemaha county are the organization papers of the Protestant Episcopal parish at Nemaha City, April 22, 1867. The meeting was called to order by Rev. G. R. Davis, with F. G. Holmes as secretary. A resolution was adopted calling the new organization "St. John's Parish." F. G. Holmes was elected senior warden and Geo. Hodkin junior warden; H. B. Strong, J. B. Hoover, John Ritson, William Young and J. S. Cope were elected vestrymen. One year later the records show that J. H. Hoover, 0. K. Fisher, B. Y. White and Seymour Howe, Sr., were. elected vestrymen, with Holmes and Hodkin reelected wardens.

   A well printed invitation to a Valentine's Day mask ball at Nemaha City is before us, and it would be interesting to know in what year this famous ball was held - sometime thirty or forty years ago. It. was held under the auspices of the Nemaha City Cornet Band, and was at the Hoover Opera House. Tickets were one dollar and spectators were charged twenty-five cents. Supper was served at the Park Hotel, but the price is not stated. Music by the Band orchestra. Committee on invitation, Geo. N. Sanders, Fred Scovill and John E. Crother; Committee on reception, James C. Miller. Lance Jones and J. Lambert Melvin; floor managers, Thomas B. Finch, I. F. Rathbone and George W. Fairbrother.

   Samuel E. Rogers, one of the very oldest pioneers of Nebraska, both in point of years and in length of residence, died at Omaha April 14. He was 96 years old and had lived at Omaha since 1854. He was born at Flemingsburg, Ky., Feb. 10., 1822, went to Michigantown, Ind., as a young man, clerked in a store, married in 1841, moved to Crawfordsville, Ind., graduated through Wabash college in 1848. moved to Pekin, Ill., and took up the practice of law, where he became the intimate friend of Abraham Lincoln. He came to Omaha with the first rush of settlers. He was a member of the Nebraska legislature in 1855 and 1857. His wife died in 1907.

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