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NE History & Record of Pioneer Days
Vol VI, no 4 (part 3)    



Special Banking Charters

   The session of 1856 was prolific of bank charters. As banking was made unlawful under the criminal code, special charters were required from the state by concerns which contemplated entering the field of banking. At this session the following banks came into existence: Bank of Nebraska, at Omaha; Platte Valley Bank, at Nebraska City; Bank of Florence; Nemaha Valley Bank, at Brownville; Fontanelle Bank at Bellevue. At the session of 1857 the following were added to the list: Bank of Tekamah and Bank of De Soto. These were all the specially chartered banks doing business in Nebraska at this time. The last two banks named wre chartered over the governor's veto, but six applications were made for charters which did not fare so luckily, as the bills chartering them were killed by the power of the veto of the chief executive of the state.
   The banking business was finally made legal in the state by a repeal of the criminal code in its entirety. Later an amendment was passed excepting banking, thus restoring the law which made the business a criminal offense, but in the meantime a number of banks had been established and were transacting business.
   A very interesting collection of bank currency issued by these institutions may be seen in the Byron Reed collection in the public library of Omaha, also at the State Historical Society in Lincoln.

Example of Early Failures

   The officers of the first banking institution organized in the state, namely, the Western Exchange Fire and Marine insurance Company, were: Thomas H. Benton, president; Leroy Tuttle, cashier; A. U. Wyman, assistant cashier. The two latter officers of the institution afterward became assistant treasurers of the United States, and Mr. Wyman was later United States Treasurer. For many years he was president of the Omaha Loan and Trust company of this city, which concern but recently retired from business. The bank with which Mr. Wyman was first connected failed in 1857. At the time of its failure it held assets amounting to $288,083, the principal part of which was in 11 notes and bills receivable." The cash on hand amounted to $191.03 in specie and $121 in bills of insolvent banks. It is said that nothing was ever realized for the creditors of the institution out of the notes and bills receivable.
   David H. Moffat, now a millionaire banker and railroad man of Denver was closely identified with the second bank launched upon the financial sea in Nebraska. He was teller of the concern. The name of the second venture was the Bank of Nebraska. It collapsed in 1859. It is said that it paid all of its liabilities, and that all of its notes bearing the name of B. F. Allen, its president, were redeemed by his Omaha agents in full. He was a wealthy Des Moines banker, who afterward moved to Chicago and lost his fortune in the failure of the Cook County National bank of that city. Allen and his associates transferred their interests in the Bank of Nebraska to other parties, who attempted to continue the business but it proved a failure in the end.
   Deposit banking had the beginning of its history in the year 1857. Seven banks commenced business prior to 1860, and it is a remarkable fact that they are all in existence today, although they are now running under different names than they possessed at their inception. They are: Lusbaugh & Carson, Brownville; Kountze Brothers, Omaha; Cheever, Sweet & Co., Nebraska City; Barrows, Millard & Co., Omaha; McCann & Metcalfe, Nebraska City; J. A. Ware, Nebraska City; Tootle & Hanna, Plattsmouth. The names are given in the order in which they started business.



Kountzes, Millards and Others

   Kountze Brothers & Co. organized the First National Bank of Omaha in August, 1863. This was one of the first of the national banks organized under the then recently adopted national currency act. The private bank of the firm which was organized at an earlier date was continued as an independent institution until 1865, when it was merged with the national bank. Branches were established by the First National in Denver and Central City, Colo., in 1862. During the construction of the Union Pacific the Kountze Brothers also opened a bank in Cheyenne, but this bank retired from business in a short time. In 1868, one of the brothers, Luther Kountze, opened a bank in his own name at 52 Wall street, New York. Later he was joined in the New York business by his brothers under the name of Kountze Brothers.
   The name of the banking house of Barrows, Millard & Co., was early changed to Millard, Caldwell.& Co. In 1865 the two Millard brothers withdrew from the firm and established the Omaha National Bank, and the private banking house adopted the name of Caldwell, Hamilton & Co. and continued under this name until 1883, when the United States National Bank was organized and the private concern was merged with that institution. Ezra Millard withdrew from the Omaha National Bank in 1884 and organized the Commercial National Bank, of which he remained president until his death in 1886. J. H. Millard succeeded his retiring brother as president of the Omaha National.
   A branch bank of one organized in Nebraska City. was opened in Omaha in 1866 under the name of J. A. Ware & Company. Ware's bank in Nebraska City failed in 1872, but in 1870 the Omaha branch had been purchased by ex-Governor Saunders, Frank Murphy, B. B. Wood and others and organized into the State Bank of Nebraska, which later became the Merchants National Bank of Omaha.



Bonnie Vista, Escalon, California, February 16th, 1924.

Addison E. Sheldon:
   I received your letter, also your magazine, and was much interested in the reminiscences of old Nebraska settlers. You spoke of yours and your wife's families settling in Nebraska in 1859 and 1868. We had quit the plains in 1869. When the Union Pacific Railroad was completed, our occupation was gone. My brother, John Campbell, and I, landed in Kansas City in 1858. It was then a village of a few thousand inhabitants. We went to work for Majors, Russell & Waddle, driving teams to New Mexico with government freight. We found plenty of excitement in connection with this teaming, having a number of fights with Comanche Indians during the two years we drove over this route. In the spring of 1860, we arrived in Nebraska City, still employed by the same company. At this time, we went with train loads of supplies to Fort McPherson in Western Nebraska, and hauling cedar logs out of the hills for building stations for the Overland Stage Line to Salt Lake and California, this stage line being operated by the same company which employed us. We worked for this company for several years, building these stations and riding Pony Express. We then went into the freighting business on our own hook, and were quite successful in our venture. We hauled clothing for Siegel Bros of Salt Lake City, and for three years ours was the first train in every year.



   We received 25c per pound for hauling, and it took us sixty days to travel eleven hundred miles through bad Indian country. We had to keep our mules all side hobbled to prevent the Indians from stampeding them. About this time, construction was begun on the Union Pacific Railroad from Omaha. This was about 1866, and we took contracts for grading as far west as Nevada. When the golden spike was finally driven near Ogden, our work there appeared to be at an end.
   We then bought farms west of Nebraska City, about five miles distant, and proceeded to improve them. I married Jennie Fitchie, daughter of James Fitchie, who came to Nebraska City in 1855. My brother John, married Miss Arvilla Munn, of the pioneer family near Nehawka, Nebraska. He died recently, at the age of 87 years.
   From this time on, I farmed, and fattened beef cattle for the next twenty-five years. I was very proud of the fact that I topped the Chicago market with two car loads of Durham cattle, when there were 32,000 head on the market. Mine averaged 1600 lbs, and were shipped alive to Europe. I felt that I had just cause to be proud in view of the fact that I was competing against the whole United States. During this time, I was a near neighbor and friend of Senator C. H. Van Wyck, and was his advisor in stock matters.
   I was elected State Senator in his place when he was elected United States Senator, and also served one term as County Commissioner, greatly against my wishes. I never sold a load of corn, but burned quantities of it, at ten cents a bushel. We were reducing supplies. About this time, I was compelled to seek a milder climate on account of my health, which I recovered in our beautiful San Joaquin Valley in California. Here we took an active part in the development of the San Joaquin Irrigation District. We now have 140,000 acres under water, with 600 miles of irrigation ditches to water fruit orchards and alfalfa fields. There are also large dairying interests in this district, great herds of Holsteins and Jerseys. We feel great pride and pleasure in the fact that we have helped in our small way, in the development of three great states, and we are thankful that we have been permitted to live to see the results of these fifty years of development.
   My good wife and I, at seventy-eight and eighty-three, are enjoying life as best we can, now, with our family of seven children settled within a few hours ride to reach the home of Dad and Mother. They will soon all gather with us to celebrate our fifty-fifth wedding anniversary.
   I hope that this little chronicle will be of service to you, and with kindest regards, I am,
SpacerSincerely yours,


Crete, January 13, 1924.

Addison E. Sheldon:
   In a late edition of the Historical magazine you speak of Mr. and Mrs. J. R. Templeton of Pawnee City being the owners of a clock running continuously since 1838 and that it was no doubt made prior to 1810. You may be interested to know that I have in my possession a clock running continuously and keeping good time since 1792 and no doubt was made some years prior to that date.
   It was my grandmother's wedding present on above date, 1792. Remained in her home until her death (1848) when it became the



property of my father. After the death of father and mother, in 1894, I came into possession of it. The works are solid brass throughout. It has only one weight for both striking and running. The works are encased in a solid walnut case seven and half feet tall. It is really a grandfather's clock but glad to say that it did not stop when the "old man died." It is in our home at Crete and a precious heir-loom indeed.
   The clock was originally bought from Nathan Gulick, Easton, Pennsylvania, 1792.
SpacerYours truly,


7149 Wabash Ave., Chicago, Ill.

Dear Mr. Sheldon:
   Your very kind letter was received several days ago and I immediately wrote my sister, Mrs. Katherine P. Davis, of Hot Springs, South Dakota, for any letters or papers left by my father. My mother lived with this sister for several years before her death and all her letters, papers, etc., were left in her care. The clippings I am enclosing are all that she could find, up to last Saturday, but she was going to open some trunks as soon as she could get them from where they had been stored and if there are more that would be of interest I will send them to you.
   Perhaps the "Big Foot" letters and other sarcasms of a political nature will not be of great interest to the Society but everyone who knew my father well will understand them, and I could not very well separate the items. Trusting these may be of some use and that I will be able to send more and thanking you for your kind interest I am as ever.
SpacerMRS. E. L. SAYRE


Omak, Washington, March 3, 1924.

Dear Mr. Sheldon:
   Enclosed is a bank draft covering my dues for 1924 for which please give me credit.
   Although I am far away from Nebraska I am still a big student of its early history and am getting new books and information of its history right along.
   Right now I am specializing in all the information I can secure on the history of the Battle of the Arikaree Fork of the Republican River September 17-25, 1868, and would like to have some more information from you.
   While attending school in Lincoln in 1916 I bought your book "History and Stories of Nebraska." In this book you give a description and a picture of the battlefield.
   Is it possible, Mr. Sheldon, that you have an extra photograph of this Beecher Island Battlefield, larger than the photo in the book? If so let me know of the extra cost, as I will gladly pay you for the extra trouble imposed upon you. Is there in any of the Historic Collections a report of your trip to this place and if so let me know what book it is in and I will send you a check for the same.
   I am much interested in this battle and its history. The men that were with General George A. Forsyth were recruited at Old Fort



Harker I understand. Some of these scouts came from what is now Lincoln County, Kansas, and joined Forsyth's band as a result of Indian raids in that part of the county in the 60's.
   I lived in Lincoln County, Kansas, at one time and met one of these old scouts who was with Forsyth in this fight. I also attended the dedication of the monument at Lincoln County Court House May 31, 1909, in memory of those early settlers who were killed and captured in the late sixties by the Sioux.
   So you see I am much interested in this part of the early history, and would be very much pleased if you would give me the information I ask for.


Crawford, Nebr., January 19, 1924.

Addison E. Sheldon:
   My brother found the upper half of a human skeleton here which had been buried at one time, but the creek which flowed nearby had gradually widened its bed until this skeleton was partly uncovered. There was a small stone, about six inches long and three inches wide, with the numbers 1771 on it. Of course, we believe this to be the date of the death and the stone looks as though it may have some writing on it, but we can not distinguish any words with a reading glass. This stone was near the shoulder of the skeleton. We found three places where there were buried stones, two of them were about fifty feet from the grave and one about ten feet from it.
   Every one that has seen it believes it not to be the skeleton of an Indian, because it is not the right shape and then these numbers too! If you could send me any interesting fact that might concern this skeleton I would thank you very much.

The Buffalo Wallow.
   Emanuel Peters, of Guide Rock, describes one characteristic feature of the earliest Nebraska landscape very aptly in these words:
   "Perhaps my readers can, from what I have written, form a good opinion of how the surface of this country would have appeared from an airplane in 1870. One peculiar feature I have not mentioned is the buffalo wallow. The whole surface of the country was dotted with miniature lakes which became just holes in the ground when the weather was dry. In them the buffaloes would wallow in the dust, the bulls digging it out with their horns. I have seen dozens of them at a time down on their knees, running their horns in the ground and throwing dirt in every direction. The old bulls had their horns about half worn away by this practice. This was one of their methods of fighting flies.
   "From an airplane there would have appeared to be thousands of bare pockets in the surface of the prairie as if this part of the earth had had the small pox. During a rainy season when these became ponds of water I have seen thousands of wild ducks on them. There were many more wild, ducks and geese then than now. Fifty years have passed since the buffalo roamed the plains, and yet a few of these wallows remain today."

   Thomas J. Williams, 75, died at Melbeta, June 11, 1924. He homesteaded in 1887 seven miles northwest of Bayard in Scotts Bluff county.




Addison E. Sheldon:
   In April, 1861, my mother went as a volunteer nurse under Gov. Dick Yates' call. She was at one of the very first battles of the war at Wilson Creek, near Springfield, Missouri, when General Lyon was killed. I enlisted in August, 1861, in Co. "I" 26th Ill. Vol. Infantry under Col. John Mason Loomis of Chicago. We were brigaded with the 47th Ill., 8th Wisconsin, (Eagle, Old Abe), 5th Minnesota, Faribault Indians, and the 11th Mo. under General Pope. We were afterwards under Sherman in the "Army of the Tennessee." Were under Dodge (17th corps) but under Logan most of the time in the 15th corps. I learned the Indian mode of warfare while brigaded with them, 5th Minn., on the "March to the Sea." I was selected as one, with 34 others out of the entire army, as Independent Scouts for the "Army of the Tennessee" at Gen. Sherman's Headquarters, under command of a 2nd Lieutenant of the 6th Iowa Infantry. We were all mounted. In 1867 I got a job of scouting. The U. P. road was then at North Platte. Gen Sherman and Sheridan came out at that time and called for Gen. Custer to go after Black Kettle and his Cheyennes. I had no trouble getting a job.
   Mr. Schramm of Kearney took the generals and escorts across the Platte in a skiff to Fort Cottonwood. They afterwards made their Headquarters at Old Julesburg. With the thermometer at zero and below, frozen army crackers and "Sow Bosom," orders not to light a match or have a smudge, we captured them after a hard fight on the Washita river. We didn't have the push cart with "hot doughnuts" those days. I was in the west after that 32 years and never saw a relative, and still exist, 78 years of age.
   We did not see and endure the hardships and privations that the North Brothers, Major and Lute, did--God bless them and the Pawnees. If you can put in a good word, or be influential in any way towards bronze statue of Major Frank North and Co-rux-ah-hah-wah-dee (Traveling Bear) the best-ever trailer, barring none, on the mountain or plain, I will be amply repaid for all my share of opening up the west.
   In Gen. Carr's report of the Battle of Summit Springs in 1869 he wsa (sic) mentioned for his bravery, and given a medal by congress. He was in Capt. Lute North's company. May the soft, south winds murmur sweet requiems o'er the Pawnees' graves, and the twilight dews fall gently as angels' tear-drops upon the cactus and sage brush where they lie dead. Their efforts have given the rising generation one of the best states in the union to live in.
   When the Sioux whipped the Pawnee on the Republican river (in 1873), I read a report somewhere that an army surgeon was first to care for the wounded. I think this is an error. Mr. Al Wise, now of Callaway, Nebraska, and I think Dr. Bancroft, of Lexington, Nebraska rode over from old Plum Creek, now Lexington, Nebraska. Write to Wise in regard to it, and he will give you a full account of what transpired.
   I mailed you the picture of Fort McPherson today. I think it is the only real one now in existence, taken at that time. The trees obliterate some of the buildings, but they are partly visible. I will gladly belong to your society.
   The picture of "Old Fort Kearney" in Nebraska, is copied from the one taken in the book which Gen. Dodge presented to me. I wrote the publisher. "Monitor Printing Co.," Council Bluffs, to find the original photo from which the plate in the book was taken. They turned my



letter over to Miss Anne Dodge. "She was very sorry she could not give me the information desired and did not know whom to refer me to." Gen. Dodge belongs to Iowa. The Historical Society there has a bronze statue of him. I also saw a large cedar chest there bearing his name upon it. May be it is there. I have written them in regard to it. There is no doubt about the genuineness of the book picture. It is perfect, but if I had the original photo I could have one enlarged to any size. This one taken from a paper print, I do not think can be made larger, and be perfect, unless it is enlarged on a scale of inches and a steel or copper plate engraved from it, and printed. Kindly excuse all the composition as I could not go to school and rustle red men at the same time.
SpacerCallaway, Nebr.
   I enclose the book so you can see what the picture was copied from. All of the pictures are perfect, at that time. If you want the photo of Jim Bridger you can have one taken off. He was Dodge's head guide in building the Union Pacific. The book was never on sale, and cannot be replaced. You can get authentic information from it. Read it and return to me.


Mr. A. E. Sheldon:
   Yours of recent date at hand. I want to tell you more about my father's log house of which I sent you a picture. I think it was the winter of 1857 that father donated the use of the room shown at the left of the picture to a subscription school, there being no public school money yet. The school was taught by one Mary Stocking. She was afterword drowned with her husband and children in a flood near Denver, Colorado. Isabel Davis, afterward married Burwell Spurlock, went to school in that house. They were the founders of the children's home at York, Nebraska. They raised one child, George Spurlock.
   In the year 1900 I had to tear down the old house to make room for a new frame house. I built up one room of it in the back yard and it is still standing. The logs are so hard I can hardly drive a nail into them. Church, Sunday School and Prayer Meetings were held here before there was any place to hold them, for my parents were both strong believers in the good old Methodist religion.
   The original picture that yours was taken from I have framed with material from the window at the left of the picture. The frame was made by my brother-in-law at Plattsmouth, Henry Broeck, now of Los Angeles, Calif. There is an enlarged copy of this picture in the library at Plattsmouth.
SpacerD. A. YOUNG,
SpacerPlattsmouth, Nebr.

   Mrs. Mary J. Jean died near Plattsmouth May 28, 1924, being 99 years old. She and her husband, Nelson Jean, came to Cass county in 1856 and located a pre-emption out on the prairie. She was a charter member of the Methodist church in the community and reared a family of five children, with many grand-children and great-grand-children.

   The grave of Mrs John M. Thurston, wife of former U. S. Senator John M. Thurston and a woman of great character and influence in the early Nebraska period, is to be marked by the Daughters of the American Revolution with a monument to her memory.




   In 1871 I became a resident of Lincoln, as a young girl, with my parents, and registered at University Hall. As a student I can well remember how I enjoyed the classes, our Chancellor shared the work in conducting classes. Professors Samuel Aughey and O. C. Dake, two scholarly and kindly men, were loved by students and many names now historic and well known were on their class rolls, "Bruner," "Holmes," "Snell," "Rogers," from Illinois, and many others. Prof. Dake was particularly kind to me, as he learned I loved poetry. It was May, 1872, and I was young is the reason one day I brought a little poem entitled "Nature" to a literature class. I read it and after I sat down Prof. Dake asked if I would remain after class, he would like to talk to me. Of course I was willing to stay. Very kindly he looked over my little effusion. Put his pencil through a phrase or two then told me of his book. The manuscript was in the drawer of his desk, up in one of the west rooms on the second floor. How well I remember the bright sunlight as it streamed in that afternoon. He asked if I would like to hear some of his poetry? Of course, I would, and felt highly honored as he read of the young folks who were young when he was. About the young girls "with sunshine enough for a city, lying tangled and soft in their hair."
   I never forgot the phrase. Soon after his book was printed, and I used to be proud to know that I heard some of the work in manuscript form. Though I never spoke of it, but to one or two.
   Prof. Dake's life was not long. He had a fine mind and could have done much good. In 1872 we were living in one of the row of houses, shown in last Sunday's Star, looking south from the University.
   Leave out the name if you should use any of this copy, but the initial would be all right.
   At a Baptist social and supper in 1873, held in the hall called "The Academy of Music" my father bought me a volume of Prof. Dake's poems.
   Little is left of Lincoln as it was in those days but we have the old memories and a few of the old friends. Mrs. Emma Huff, who now lives on Garfield (832) with Mrs. Perla M. Beek will be 89 in June, and Mrs. Huff has lived continuously in Lincoln since 1869. It might be you could get some things of interest from her. Her memory is good.
   I still have the poem which bears the pencil marks, kindly placed by my friend Prof. Dake in 1872.
Spacer1415 So. 11th Street

   James Ewing, was founder of the village of Ewing in Holt county. He was born in Knoxville, Tennessee, June 14, 1817, and died Feb 16, 1886. In 1871 he squatted on a quarter section in Holt county. The land was not yet surveyed and as soon as the surveys were made he filed a homestead upon it. This homestead was about a mile and, a half below the village of Ewing and included both sides of the river. Mr. Ewing built a log house with a sod roof and was made the first postmaster in Holt county, the mail being brought from Norfolk, the nearest railroad station, once a week. The post office was called Ford, but when the Fremont, Elkhorn Missouri railroad reached the location station Ewing was established. One of Mr. Ewing's grandchildren, Guy Davidson, is said to have been the first child born in Holt county, the date being January 31, 1872.

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