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NE History & Record of Pioneer Days
Vol VI, no 2 (part 4)    



 Picture or sketch

SpacerPhoto by Addison E. Sheldon, 1907



     By this the rim
Of western hills in the cold, wasting light,
Grew indiscriminate; but up the east
Hung, in gray peaceful depths, the full-orbed moon.
Utterly silent was the field of death.
So then the women, who from far had marked
The waning battle as their heroes fell,
And heard the shouts of triumph and the moans
Of men death-stricken fainter grow and cease,
Warned by the ominous stillness of the eve,
Stole, timid, with all orphaned youths and maids
And infants hushed, as by a ghostly fear,
Across that dreadful field of moon-lit death,
Searching for husbands, brothers, sons.
As when a mother doe, with spotted fawn,
Hides by a runnel in some cool, blue glen,
While the brave stag climbs out on some near hill,
Observant of the huntsman and the hounds,
But, venturing too far, a stealthy shot
Reaches his vitals, and he turns and flies,
Bleeding, and falls before his mate, and dies.
But she and the weak fawn smell o'er his wounds,
And lick his face, and moan, and from their eyes,
Lustrous and large, fall piteous tears, so then,
When all their stain had found and turned them o'er,
And knew the light might never break again
In kindled glances from death-faded eyes,
They sat them down through lingering, painful hours
Of the dim night, and, without utterance, wept.
But when the moon, down her accustomed path
Descending, touched the west, He who o'errules
Particular troubles to the general good,
And pities all, and knows the loyal worth
Of true wives' tears, and tears of children--such
As weep a father slain--He, pitying, sent
A sympathetic shudder through the earth,
And the dead warriors sank to graves of calm.
But all the tears of children and of wives
In a green hollow of the lonely hills
He gathered in a fountain, that the sun
Dries not in the summer heats, but crystal pure
O'erbrims and murmurs through the changing year,
Forever on it flows, that gentle stream,
Fountained by tears, and glides among the hills--
Ne-hawka--in a valley of its own,



And passes happy homes, and smiling farms,
And rolling meadows spotted o'er with flocks
That drink its sweet cool waters; and so on
Past groves of leafy hickory, and beneath
Low painted bridges, rumbling to a team,
It moves a broadening current, swelled by rains
Or the chill ooze of Spring-dissolving snows,
And mirrors back the splendors of the sun,
And the cold moon, and the wide stream of stars,
Until, at length, it lingers at the marge
Of the untamable Missouri flood,
As loath to mingle its love-hallowed tears
With that fierce sandy rage; then looks its last
On the sweet heavens by passing day or night,
And sinks beneath the yeasty, boiling waves,
Whose like for might and fury earth has not. 

   Thomas Marsh died near Tekamah, October 19, 1923, aged 65. He came with his parents from Indiana by the ox team and covered wagon route in 1865 to the farm where he died. His home was a headquarters for geese and duck hunters for many years.. His hospitality was unbounded and his memory a tender one to all who knew him.

     Pioneers to Nebraska were many of them dreamers, perhaps all of them. The prevailing type of dream was a home with trees, and flowers and children and friends. Not all of these dreams were realized in completion. There were also some pipe dreams. Blair for many years had for one of its notable buildings a large square building erected by an early settler named Carson. His dream was to equip this building with a wind mill which would render all kinds of mechanical service. The windmill was never installed, but the odd looking building remained there for nearly fifty years until it was torn down this fall.

     The Women's Club, at Geneva, gave an historical exhibit in October, 1923. It was a very remarkable collection, including not only many colonial relics, but ancient articles from Germany, England, Czechoslovakia and a rifle made sixty years ago by a pioneer of Fillmore county, used in hunting buffalo.

     Mrs. Ellen Pierson celebrated her 93rd birthday at Bethany, October 20, 1923. She and her husband homesteaded, in 1869, five miles south of Bennett.

     W. H. Stringfield died, at Humboldt, October 27, 1920, aged 83. He came to Richardson county in 1861 and for years operated one of the old custom mills on the Nemaha River, which ground grain for one sixth toll, and was kept busy day and night throughout the year.

     Mrs. Mary Yule died at Los Angeles, October 16 1923. She was formerly Mrs. Burke and one of the pioneer settlers in Jefferson county. Her husband was a pony express driver on the Overland Route. He was later killed by the Indians while going to Fairbury with a load of corn.



Indian Summer
   None of the literary or the weather sharks knows the origin of the term "Indian Summer." Popular tradition has connected it with the Indians, but in truth the season has no more connection with the Indians than any part of the year. The smoky haze which dwells in the atmosphere it has been suggested came from Indian fires, but the Indians build fires at all other periods of the year. The origin of the name "Indian Summer" and the particular type of weather which it signifies are the subject of a very learned paper by Dr. De C. Ward of Harvard University in the Journal of the American Philosophical Society at Philadelphia. Dr. Ward's paper contains references to practically all of the important printed documents on the subject of Indian Summer, and is recommended to people who wish to know more about the subject. The principal cause of Indian Summer days is the passing from the heat of summer to the cold of winter, making a breathing spell between the two seasons. The storm areas move more slowly, it has become too cold for thunder storms and is yet too warm for snow storms. There is more of the discussion but the above is worth following.

Bows and Arrows
   Every red-blooded boy longs to be the owner of a real bow and arrow. It is a part of primitive man lingering in his system. It clothes him with the insignia of wild nature and makes him once more an animal among the animals. In the renaissance of wild life represented by the boy scout movement there is a large place for the bow and arrow. So the Nebraska Historical Society Museum has frequent calls for the exhibition of its bows and arrows and for directions how to make the implements. The University of California has just published a thorough, study of bows and arrows written by Saxton Pope. The book is abundantly illustrated and gives description of ancient bows and arrows and comparisons of them with American Indian bows and arrows. This book is available for examination and for loan to Nebraskans interested in the bow and arrow question. A few interesting facts regarding the distances shot by arrows from different bows, the result of careful tests in California:

An Osage Indian Bow

92 yards

An Apache Indian Bow

120 yards

A Black Foot Indian Bow

145 yards

A Cheyenne Indian Bow

165 yards

A Yaqui Indian Bow (from Mexico)

210 yards

An English Long Bow

250 yards

Arrows from the English Long Bow have been sent clear through an inch of solid oak.

The Pennsylvania-Germans
   The Historical Society Library has recently come into possession of a nearly complete set of the publications of the Pennsylvania-German Society. This society was founded in 1891, at Lancaster, Pennsylvania. In its more than thirty years of existence it has published twenty-two volumes descriptive of the migration and settlement of Germans to Pennsylvania and neighboring states, a history of the development of the so called Pennsylvania-Dutch people in America, their peculiar dialect, the part they have had in American life, their contribution to American thought and industry, their services in the revolutionary war, civil war and world war, the character of their people and the names of the families who came to America. Each of the European stocks which has settled in America has its own history and its own place in the making of this republic. Certainly among these the Pennsylvania



German has no reason to be ashamed of his part. The beginnings of the immigrations to Pennsylvania were from the Palatinate, the Rhine provinces of Germany, now occupied by the troops of France and in which there is at present a separatist movement to form an independent republic. These Rhine provinces of German speaking people have suffered since the time of Charlemagne from the continual wars between France and Germany. The industrious peasants and mechanics who produced the wealth in these beautiful provinces have endured unspeakable hardships from invasion of armies. When they learned that William Penn had founded a colony in America based upon the principle of peace they eagerly sought to escape from the miseries of the Old World into the wooded wilderness of Pennsylvania. Their immigration began in 1681 and continued at such a rate that the first census of 1790 showed 145,000 people of this stock living in that commonwealth. The Pennsylvania-Dutch have migrated to all the states of the Union and descendants have married freely with the descendants of New England, New York and other colonies. They have been among the most industrious, law abiding, religious and patriotic people of the United States. Thousands of them have served as soldiers in the American Army in each period of our history. The Pennsylvania-Dutch language is an interesting composition of high German, low Dutch and English. In its written form it is not difficult to understand by a person either German or English. In its spoken form it is difficult for either English or German to understand. It has an extensive literature all its own, that literature will always be an entertainment for the scholar and sociologist. A single simple stanza may be given from one of its poets:

Ihr Pennsylfanisch-deutsche Leut,
     Ihr brauchet euch net schamme,
Juscht loss der Englisch euch auslache,
Mit seine hoochgelerndte Sache--
     Er lernd euch a'h noch konne;
Un's isch en Lerning, net in Bucher,
Wan net so hooch, doch juscht so sicher.

   Nebraska has many thousand descendants of this sturdy Pennsylvania-Dutch stock. Some of the best known families in the settlement and development of the state bear the Pennsylvania-Dutch names. It will be a matter of interest for these Nebraskans to know that the Historical Society has these volumes in its library which may aid them in acquiring a better knowledge of their ancestors in America.


   The Hartington News comments upon the list of historical sites in that county as given by the year book of the Nebraska Society of the Sons of the American Revolution, and urges that citizens there study the data and locate the sites of important points connected with the early time history. It will be found that the shores of the Missouri river are rich in the many camp sites, council points and other important historical events.--

   October 26, was Pioneer Day at Yankton, participated in by many Nebraska settlers. A pageant representing the old time voyagers up the Missouri river was given with great effect.

   The Syracuse Journal recalls that forty years ago the republican County Committee of that county ordered forty thousand republican tickets printed, dividing the job between the five republican newspapers in the county. Present day voters are thus reminded of a system, of furnishing ballots unknown to many of them. The editor of this mag-



azine well remembers receiving an order for his share of republican county tickets in Madison county nearly forty years ago and of waiting two years for his pay.

   The editor of this magazine has a vivid recollection of West Point, in Cuming county, in the early eighties, and the wagon shop maintained by Mr. Larson. This wagon shop was one of several manufacturing industries located at West Point immediately following its first settlement. West Point was the first small sized city of Nebraska to start development as a manufacturing center. A remarkable group of enterprising men placed its name upon the map and for a number of years it appeared that the town was to attain great distinction in the field of manufacturing. Discriminating railroad rates and new business methods changed all this, centering in the larger cities of Nebraska the hopes of these founders of small manufacturing towns. There is room for a splendid story upon the industrial development of our state in the early manufacturing period.

   The 75th anniversary of the Chicago & Northwestern Railroad was celebrated at Chicago, October 24, 1923. It was made a great occasion by the managers of that great railroad as it justly should be. Nearly all of the great railroad lines of the West are developing a historical department for the purpose of preserving remarkable events in the history of these railroads using them for advertising purpose and serving the general cause of historical record.

   Old Nursery Hill was a station on the steam wagon road between Nebraska City and Salt Creek. Pioneers who traveled by stage or ox team over this road in the sixties and seventies will never forget Nursery Hill. It was a picturesque little group of houses on the sidehill looking out over a valley. The chief feature of the landscape was the big, wide overland trail winding its way from the Missouri river to the Rocky Mountains. The writer of this paragraph has promised himself for many years to revisit this historical stage station and see whether the picture of the place as he saw it with the child's eye more than fifty years ago can fit into the present landscape. One of the oldest pioneers of Otoe county, Mrs. Kate Hedges, who settled near Nursery Hill in 1861, passed away October 20, at the age of 85. She had lived more than sixty years in that community. An intelligent, well-read woman, a lover of nature, a good neighbor, a true wife and mother. Can any picture of pioneer life be more complete and satisfying than the one merely outlined in this paragraph?

   At Schuyler the Bohman Opera House, an old land mark dating back to 1875, has been sold and will be torn down. In the early period it was used as a public hall as well as a local theatre. It was the scene of many stormy political gatherings, as well as the development of the Bohemian theatre brought by the settlers from the Old World along with other artistic acquisitions, to the prairies of Nebraska and made a means of entertainment and dramatic development through the early period of our history.

   A skull supposed to be the skull of a Sioux Indian was found in the Republican river near Franklin, in October. Mr. Chas. H. Davis, of that locality, is the old settler, who relates from a Sioux Indian the story of a battle between the Omaha and Pawnee on one side and the Sioux on the other, in which a number of the Sioux were killed along the bank and in the Republican river, which was then high.



   Thomas Gerrard died at Schuyler, October 19, aged 84. He homesteaded in 1870 five miles north and one mile west of Schuyler, and was one of the well known and influential citizens of that county for 53 years. His six grown sons acted as pallbearers at his funeral.

   By the death of Mrs. William F. Stolley, aged 86, at Grand Island, January 31, 1923, one of the best known pioneer women of that region has gone. Mrs. Stolley was a native of Holstein, Germany. She came to America on a sailing ship, landing at New Orleans when she was twelve years old. In 1856 she was married at Davenport, Iowa, and came with her husband the next year as a member of the German colony to Grand Island. The story of that pioneer colony is one of the most thrilling of the Nebraska frontier and its final victory over hardships and dangers one of the moat notable in the history of our state. Mrs. Stolley was the mother of ten children among them Emil G. Stolley member of the Constitutional Convention in 1920.

   Grant L. Shumway of Scottsbluff calls attention to the Fickler's Ranch, sometimes known as Scottsbluff Pony Express and Stage Station.. It was located a few miles east of where Gering stands now and the remains of sod walls still exist. Early travellers on the overland trail mention the place but the actual time of its construction and ownership are in doubt.

   The story of the great roundup at Camp Clark Bridge (sometimes called Sidney Bridge) across the North Platte river in the spring of 1881 was told recently at Bridgeport by W. E. Guthrie at a noon day luncheon of the Lions' Club. At that time the big cattle outfits controlled the panhandle region of northwest Nebraska. The business was highly profitable. Thousands of cattle covered the country and hundreds' of cowboys were employed. On June 1, 1881, about 300 cowboys started from the Camp Clark Bridge and covered the entire range from the Union Pacific railroad to the Niobrara river in one great roundup. It was the great event of the land, long remembered around the fading campfires as the cowboys were crowded from the range.

   Joseph Wilkenson, 2627 Davenport Street, Omaha, was one hundred and one years old October 31. He has lived in Omaha since 1880. Bought from his savings as an iron moulder a little farm of six acres forty years ago. The farm was sold recently for enough to make a competence for himself and family even though they might live for another one hundred years,--one of the many examples of the increased value of land arising from the increase of population.

   Margaret Engbery Crisler writes an interesting story in the State Journal regarding Table Rock, in Pawnee county, one of the historical sites in Nebraska. Originally the rock looked like a toadstool, but the top became loosened and slid down the hill. The rocky there is a favorite place for people to carve their names. One of the names carved upon the rock was that of old John Brown, the anti-slavery leader who made frequent journeys through this part of Nebraska in the earlier years.

   At Spencer, Boyd county, James T. Woods, said to have been the first white settler in that county after it was opened to settlement in 1890, died November 16, 1922, aged, eighty-five years. He was a soldier in the Union army during the Civil War.


Made a State Institution February 27, 1883.

    An act of the Nebraska legislature, recommended by Govenor James W. Dawes in his inaugural and signed by him, made the State Historical Society a State institution in the following:

   Be it Enacted by the Legislature of the State of Nebraska:

   Section 1. That the "Nebraska State Historical Society," an organization now in existence--Robt. W. Furnas, President; James M. Woolworth and Elmer S. Dundy, Vice-Presidents; Samuel Aughey, Secretary, and W. W. Wilson, Treasurer, their associates and successors-be, and the same is hereby recognized as a state institution.
   Section 2. That it shall be the duty of the President and Secretary of said institution to make annually reports to the governor, as required by other state institutions. Said report to embrace the transactions and expenditures of the organization, together with all historical addresses, which have beer, or may hereafter be read before the Society or furnished it as historical matter, data of the state or adjacent western regions of country.
   Section 3. That said reports, addresses, and papers shall be published at the expense of the state, and distributed as other similar official reports, a reasonable number, to be decided by the state and Society, to be furnished said Society for its use and distribution.

Property and Equipment

   The present State Historial Society owns in fee simple title as trustee of the State the half block of land opposite and east of the State House with the basement thereon. It occupies for offices and working quarters basement rooms in the University Library building at 11th and R streets. The basement building at 16th and H is crowded with the collections of the Historical Society which it can not exhibit, including some 15,000 volumes of Nebraska newspapers and a large part of its museum. Its rooms in the University Library building are likewise crowded with library and museum material. The annual inventory of its property returned to the State Auditor for the year 1920 is as follows:

Value of Land, 1/2 block 16th and H


Value of Buildings and permanent improvements


Value of Furniture and Furnishings


Value of Special Equipment, including Apparatus,
     Machinery and Tools


Educational Specimens (Art, Museum, or other)


Library (Books and Publications)


Newspaper Collection


Total Resources


Much of this property is priceless, being the only articles of their kind and impossible to duplicate.  

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