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NE History & Record of Pioneer Days
Vol VI, no 3 (part 1)  




   The following tribute to Robert Harvey, pioneer of Nebraska and state surveyor, was written by Grant Lee Shumway, who as state commissioner of public lands and buildings, was associated with Mr. Harvey:

He ran the lines of the frontier leas
   When buffalo roamed the plain,
His cheeks were brown by western breeze,
   He laughed at storm and rain,

He laid the corners across the sand
   To far-off vanishing ken,
And outlined leagues of the golden land
   For homes of children of men,

He treaded the trails in Indian wars
   'Til red-men were subdued,
He knew the glory of western stars,
   And camped in primitive wood,

He saw the cattlemen come and go
   In the pageant of the years,
They swept the plain of the buffalo
   And filled it with Texas steers.

And on they went in the Big stampede
   Far over the Great Divide,
Then frontier trails of the grangers lead
   To settlements far and wide;

The little grey house of western lore
   Rose out of the native sod,
And commerce came with a rush and roar
   Across the prairies of God.

So Robert Harvey, of earlier times,
   You traced the prairies and streams,
You saw folks coming from other climes
   The people who builded dreams.

But you have gone to the New Frontiers
   In the land of the Is-to-Be.
Where boundless spaces and changing years,
   Are merged in Eternity.




Picture or sketch

Pioneer, Homesteader, Surveyor, President, Oregon Trail Commission, Historian of Howard County




State Surveyor, President of Oregon Trail Commission, Former President
of Nebraska State Historical Society.

A Brief Sketch of His Life and His Service to Nebraska.

   The Nebraska State Historical Society mourns the loss of one of its most active and efficient members and officers, in the person of Robert Harvey who died at his home in Lincoln, November 1, 1923.
   Mr. Harvey was born in Ashland county, Ohio, January 5, 1844. He moved with his parents to Noble county, Indiana, where he grew up on a farm, attended country school. He enlisted in Company D, 74th Indiana Volunteer Infantry in August, 1862, and saw many marches and battles in the south. After being mustered out of the U. S. service he became a student in Adrian and Albion colleges, Michigan. He was especially interested in history and surveying.
   In 1869 Mr. Harvey moved to Nebraska, having married Miss A. H. Ames of Coldwater, Michigan, in 1868. Soon after coming to this state he took service in U. S. surveying forces. He was almost continually in the field surveying for the next thirty years, being promoted until he became the chief of a surveying corps. His delight was in running guide meridians and standard parallels,--the frame-work of the surveying which followed. He had charge of a large part of the field surveys in the country west of Grand Island, both north and south of the Platte. Surveying in this region, in early years, called for a high combination of engineering skill, physical endurance, management of men and personal courage. Hostile Indian bands roamed over the region. Every survey party went armed and frequent skirmishes were a regular feature of life on the surveys.
   In 1902 Mr. Harvey became State Surveyor, having charge of the original U. S. plats and field notes at the state capitol. He held this position until his death. He became widely known as the man having the most detailed and accurate knowledge of U. S. surveys in Nebraska. He was frequently called upon to settle important land disputes, both as a surveyor and as a witness in court. He was an expert in relocating lost corners and wrote a book on that subject which was approved for use by the Land Department at Washington.
   In the field of Nebraska history Mr. Harvey was a pioneer homesteader, taking a soldier's homestead, April 16, 1871, near St. Paul, Howard county. He became the historian of Howard county, writing its centennial history in 1876 and subsequently revising it. He became a member of Nebraska Historical Society Board in 1905 and has been continuously upon that board, being president of the Society during the years 1921-22. He wrote for the Society publications an account of the battle of Ash Hollow, an account of Ft. Grattan, a History of the Second Standard Parallel and many other contributions.
   In 1911 Mr. Harvey was made president of the Oregon Trail Commission, which he held until his death. Under his direction surveys were made and fifty-five monuments erected at different points on that trail across the state, reaching from the Kansas line to the Wyoming border. A history of the Oregon Trail in Nebraska, was the last work upon which Mr. Harvey was engaged.
   For the writer of this article the memory of Mr. Harvey is forever blended with the memories of several summers spent with him upon the Oregon Trail in Nebraska. Tracing the Trail from section line to section line, marking the points where monuments should be placed, surveying and platting carefully the location of these monuments by



the government corners of the land, making field notes of old Indian fights to accompany the illustrations, camping out under the open sky and talking of the pioneer days gone by,--these were part of the experience of the summers on the Oregon Trail with Robert Harvey. His ambition was to make the report upon the Oregon Trail in Nebraska a complete and authentic document, fully illustrated with pictures of all the important scenes upon its course, with an accurate map and field notes which should make it a perpetual memorial of the heroic days and people of the pioneer period. This work is incomplete, but all the manuscripts, plats and documents for the complete book are in the possession of the Historical Society and will be prepared for publication at the earliest date when there are funds available therefor.
   Like a good soldier, Mr. Harvey met the last call. He knew that he was going. Just a few days before he departed he asked the superintendent of the Historical Society to visit him and went over carefully the things he desired done after his death. To each member of the Historical Society staff and to its board he sent his last message saying: "When the board meets again I will not be there, but I believe the Historical Society has a great work to do and I want to see a generous state afford it the means for its work."
   So passed the spirit of one of the great pioneers of the West, quiet and simple, painstaking and thorough in all that he did, and with over-flowing love for the life of the frontier and for its literature.


Echoes of the Old Slavery Bitterness Between North and South Sound Strangely in These Years.

A Republican Campaign Document of 1860 With a Speech of Chas. H. Van Wyck.
Now in the Library of the Nebraska State Historical Society.

   [The library of this Society has just received a republican party campaign document used in the campaign of 1860. It is a speech made by Chas. H. Van Wyck, then a representative in Congress from New York, afterward U. S. Senator from Nebraska. The day is long past when publication of such a speech could create sectional division between the north and south. A few extracts from the speech are printed herewith as historic antiquities. It seems incredible now that rational American citizens could ever have reached the state of mind shown by this speech and its interruptions. Still more incredible that human slavery in a land dedicated to freedom and liberty could have been the basis for such antagonisms.]
   The House being in Committee of the Whole on the state of the Union--Mr. Van Wyck said:
   Mr. Chairman: For many weeks I was a patient listener to eloquent speeches from the leaders of the so-called democratic party on the floor of this House.
   Why do they charge the republicans as agitators, when they themselves have been sounding the notes of disunion, and preaching violence for the only purpose of alarming the timidity of one and the weakness of another section of a common country; of arraying faction against faction: first, to steel the heart against all sentiments of humanity, and then nerve the arm to execute its unholy impulses: charging upon the North and counselling the South to rebellion and resistance?
   Within a few weeks. the legislature of Nebraska by law, prohibited slavery therein; and the willing tool of this administration vetoed the



bill. The people of that territory, now numbering some forty or fifty thousand, along whose rivers villages and cities are springing up as if by magic, whose prairies are teeming with fruits of free and educated industry, are told that they cannot frame their domestic institutions, even to keeping back "the bitter water that causeth the curse."
   Pause for a moment, and see the positions democratic leaders must assume in waging this unholy war to extend slavery. Senator Jefferson Davis said, in Mississippi, in July last: "Thus for a long period error scattered her seed broadcast, while reason, in over confidence, stood passive. The recent free discussion by the press and on the forum have dispelled delusions which had obscured the minds of a generation, until even among ourselves it was more easy to find the apologist than the defender."
   Alexander H. Stephens, the acknowledged leader of the democracy on this floor during the last congress, said in Georgia, in June last: "Negro slavery is but in its infancy; it is a mere problem of our government; our fathers did not understand it. I grant that the public men of the south were once against it, but they did not understand it."
   Do you ever reflect upon the treason of your insane threats? said the member from South Carolina,. (Mr. Keitt)
   "The south will resist, to the overthrow of the government, the ascendency of the republican party. Should the republican party succeed at the next presidential election. my advice to the south is, to snap the cords of the Union at once and forever."
   Said the member from Mississippi, (Mr. Davis):
   "The Black Republicans showed their organized rebellion when they presented Fremont as a sectional candidate for the presidency, as a representative of their system of free labor in opposition to our system of slave labor. Against that rebellion we intend to act; we mean to put it down, even if we have to do it with the bayonet. Gentlemen of the republican party, I warn you; present your sectional candidate for 1860, elect him as a representative of your system of labor, and we of the south will tear the constitution into pieces."
   Sir, craze your brain, nerve your arm, precipitate this issue upon us and we are ready. Our northern fathers were told by an English officer, "Disperse, ye rebels: throw down your arms, and disperse." Their answer, if necessary, shall be our answer.
   He (Mr. Davis) continued:
   "I, today have more affection for an Englishman than a Black Republican",
   Quite likely. Many of the men in the south, during the Revolution. experienced the same thrill of joy in loving a British red-coat. or a Hessian child-butcher, better than an American patriot or a colonial rebel.
   You also threaten to dissolve the Union in case another demand is not complied with. The member from Georgia (Mr. Crawford) said:
   "We have now four million slaves. In some twenty-five years hence we will have eight million. We demand expansion. We will have expansion in spite of the republican party."
   The member from Mississippi (Mr. Singleton) said:
   "We have now four million slaves in fifteen States: we will. in fifty years from now, have sixteen million. But I tell you the institution of slavery must be sustained. Yes sir: we will expand this institution; we do not intend to be confined within our present limits; and there are not men enough in all your borders to coerce three million armed men in the south."
   Have you, gentlemen, made any calculation where you will expand your institution when. you have withdrawn from the Union? Have you



the madness and the folly to believe that you could wrest it from the states who retain their allegiance to the Constitution and Government?
   Sir, I will indulge in no unkind remark to wound the feelings of any man; but the charge must be met, and history vindicated, let the consequences fall where and as they may. One other gentleman spoke of Massachusetts burning witches in the ancient times. Does he not know that your own people burn slaves at the stake, and it seems to awaken no horror in your minds?
   Mr. Davis, of Mississippi, (interrupting). I pronounce the gentleman a liar and scoundrel, I pronounce the gentleman's assertion false--utterly false.
   Mr. Van Wyck. My time is short, and I hope not to be interrupted.
   Mr. Davis, of Mississippi. You have no right to utter such foul and false slanders.
   Mr. Gartrell. I rise to point of order. It is, that no member upon this floor has a right to libel the people of any section of this country, and then deny to the representatives of that people the right to reply. I pronounce the assertion made by the gentleman false and unfounded. (Cries of "Order!" on the republican side.)
   Mr. Van Wyck. I have heard such words before, and I am not to be disturbed or interfered with by any blustering of that sort. I am not here to libel any part of the Union.
   Mr. Davis, of Mississippi. Will you go out side of the District of Columbia, and test the question of personal courage with any southern man?
   Mr. Van Wyck. I travel anywhere, and without fear of any one. For the first eight weeks of this session, you stood upon this floor continually libelling the north and the people of the free states, charging them with treason, and all manner of crimes, and now you are thrown into great rage when I tell you a few facts.
   Gentlemen tell us, in certain contingencies they will dissolve the Union. However much you desire it, whatever of power and influence the "Gulf squadron" may bring to bear upon that issue, neither you nor your children's children will witness that gloomy event.
   Your own people would rebuke your mad ambition. Their arm of power would be raised, and the voice of prayer ascend to spare us the curse of a ruptured brotherhood. They would suffer you to commit no such treason against human hope. They never would indulge you in the agricultural pursuit of which so flippantly you have spoken, "to run a burning plowshare over the foundations of the Republic."

   In the decade 1870 to 1880 Western Nebraska had closer contact with Texas than with any other part of the Union. The reason for this was that farming in western Nebraska was regarded as impossible.
   No one attempted it. On the other hand grazing was highly profitable since grass and water cost nothing, not even taxes. Texas had a surplus of cattle, wild long horns running loose in the cactus and mesquite. A great commerce sprang up between Texas and Nebraska. By driving of thousands of head of cattle every summer north from Texas to the grassy plains of Nebraska, thousands of Texans became familiar with western Nebraska and sometimes stayed there. One of these cow men, David Albert Cockran, died at Kimball, Nov. 3, 1923 aged 59. He was noted as one of the best riders and ropers on the plains. He had a large circle of friends and a family of children.

   Dennis Tracy died at Cedar Rapids, November 2, 1923, aged 78. He served four years in Company D, 6th Indiana volunteers during the civil war, being wounded at Vicksburg and ten months in prison at Tyler, Texas. He homesteaded near Cedar Rapids in 1879 and was for twenty-five years postmaster at that place.  




The 47th Annual Meeting of the Nebraska State Historical. Society will be held Wednesday, January 16, 1924, in Art Hall, State University Library Building.
     Business Meeting 10 a. in.
     Program-Afternoon and Evening.
     See Daily press for full announcement.
SpacerH. B. LOWRY, President


   Dr. Melvin R. Gilmore, formerly a member of State Historical Society staff, has recently been on the Omaha reservation in Thurston county. He has revived interest in the ground bean, a wild Nebraska plant which he discovered and wrote upon while engaged in Nebraska. His latest discussion of the ground bean is worthy of preservation in the history of this state and is here given:
   "The plant, called the ground bean, originally was native and common over many of the north central states and was known as far east as New York. It belongs to the bean family and is near relative of the present day bean which has been improved by long cultivation. There are two species of the plant and it has a peculiar characteristic of a two-fold fruit habit. The plant has a vine like growth that climbs fences and shrubs and produces a cluster of beans, larger than the ordinary bean, in the air. In addition it produces an underground fruit like the peanut plant. Both are edible and either will produce a new plant.
   "The Indians gathered the beans from the vines and also dug them from the ground, storing them for winter use. Prepared for eating in different ways this native bean had a recognized place in the primitive diet of the native tribes which is almost wholly lost in the age of cultivation."
   Mr. Gilmore states that in early days ground mice also were common. These burrowed into the soil for the ground beans which were carried to underground store houses. Not infrequently the Indians found as many as a bushel of ground beans in one of these store houses. In helping themselves from the ground mouse's hoard it was a common practice for the Indians to deposit some other kind of food which the mouse could eat, such as corn, in place of the beans taken. That was the Indian's sense of fair play, and a reward for a service rendered. When asked why the experiment stations of the agricultural schools have not tried the development of the ground bean the botanist replied. "Bah! That's too simple and practical a problem. They would rather spend time in trying to coax something to grow that is foreign to the climate than develop what nature already has acclimated."
   The food value of the native ground bean is such that Mr. Gilmore expresses a strong criticism of the neglect of the white men to give it a place among cultivated plants. In its wild state it is ahead of our cultivated beans, he declares. If developed by the processees of seed selection and cultivation we have no idea of what a food product might have resulted. Belonging to the legume family it enriches the soil with nitrates.




   Many letters have reached the editor regarding the Spanish expedition into Nebraska in the year 1720, and the Nebraska History Magazine article describing its defeat near the forks of the Loup and Platte on August 10 of that year. Copies of this magazine were mailed to Baron Marc De Villiers, author of the French text, from which the story in the January-March magazine was translated. Baron Villiers is a distinguished member of the Society of the Americanistes at Paris. The purpose of this society is the collection and publication of historical and scientific material upon America.. A letter received from Baron de Villiers is of sufficient interest to the western public to warrant its translation, which follows:
SpacerKerminy, Rasporden, (Finistere) France,
November 18, 1923.
My Dear Sir:
   I have just received your kind remembrance and thank you for the manner in which you have translated my article and for the fine mode in which you have presented it.
   I am very much interested, also, in the information furnished by M. Shine.
   "Swallow" for "Shallow"--(referring to the name of the river Platte) is in fact a plain typographical error.
   I am still in the country--for about three months--but when I again return to Paris (No. 5 Avenue de Segur) I will make for you a copy of the Spanish text (of the Spanish officer's diary) This is not the original, but if my recollection is correct, only a copy, more or less well transcribed. It is at least the one reported to me, for I understand Spanish imperfectly. The two French translations, one made in Louisiana, differ very little.
   For thirty years I have been collecting a mass of unpublished documents for my work upon Louisiana. Unfortunately I have no other text just now published especially relating to Nebraska.
   I have a number of documents relating to Fort Orleans of the Missouri and as you suggest I know of the existence of the diary of Boisbriant on his Grand Expedition. I have never published this document which is of special interest to Kansas and Missouri. It contains unique topographic information designed to locate the course of the rivers. It is dry reading.
   The office of the Society of the Americanistes directs me to say to you that with the greatest pleasure it will exchange publications with, you. You will shortly receive our volume for this year now in bindery. If your society would like a complete collection of our publications it, may receive a large number of our annual volumes. Unfortunately some numbers are now out of print.
   You will note how nearly the bibliography is complete. I prepare the summary of all the historical, ethnographical and archeological studies.
   If you could send me one or two additional copies of your translation I would be greatly honored.
   By this mail I send you certain separate publications. Am sorry I do not have all I wish to send here in the country.
SpacerBelieve me your devoted

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