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NE History & Record of Pioneer
Vol VI, no 4 (part 4)
The Early Day Dug-Out
"0 those days that were
spent in that home on the plain,
Emanuel Peters of Guide Rock puts into rhyme
the story of the dug-out as he knew it. His rhyme runs as
Just a place to get in from the cold and
Dug-out of the ground, not a thing to call
Some days, in that little old dug-out of
How lonesome it was, in that dug-out to
For days at a time no one lifted the
A-dreaming of days spent in houses of
Some days, in that
little old dug-out of mine.
Sometimes I would plan, how to get me a
But who would share with me, a pioneer's
I'd get so discouraged and thus I'd
Some days, in that
little dug-out of mine.
With no papers to read, and books hard to
On rainy days, nothing to do but to
With little to eat when it came time to
Just plainest of foods in that dug-out of
The years, they seemed long as I lived day
But still I soon found they had all passed
And now of those days gone, I see not a
Of hardships like those in that dug-out of
But hardships bring blessings when latter
Our life has more pleasure, with victories
So when Life is ending, I'll shed no tears
For once having lived, in that dug-out of
Mrs. H. J. Miller sends the following
account of the young man who vowed to shoot the first Indian he
saw, to the the Hebron Journal. This incident occurred on the
Little Blue River in 1858, and was written out for Mrs. Miller by
Mr. Long, a member of a small party on their way to Pike's Peak.
"The next day a train of twenty wagons drove to camp near them
about noon. Shortly after they had got to camp, about 500 Indians
surrounded the camp when they demanded a man who had shot a squaw.
According to his vow he had killed the first Indian he saw.
Although the first was a squaw he shot her down in cold blood. The
Indians said they would know him, and they searched every wagon
and found him covered up with a lot of bedding.
"The Indians pulled the wagon up a hill, so all
the camp could see, and they tied him to a back wheel of the
wagon, took all his clothes off and skinned him alive, and burned
the wagon, then told the campers that they would take ten of their
number for every Indian killed after that. They then began a war
dance that lasted all night."
The old court house at Valentine, scene of many
early day comedies and tragedies, has passed into the hands of
Judge Quigley and Judge Harrington and may be preserved as a
historical relic. The editor of this magazine remembers well
serving as juror in the district court in this building in the
eighties. There were always a great number of shooting cases in
the early terms of court. Most of them arose from a combination of
soldiers from Fort Niobrara, saloons in Valentine and dance houses
on the prairie between. In this court also was held many of the
early time political conventions, some of them real "thrillers"
like the populist judicial convention of 1891. The old court house
ought to be preserved as an historic relic with a big rock tablet
in front of it giving its most interesting events.
"To An Old Branding Iron," by H. A. Mullin.
You're a warped and rusty relic of the days of long
Ere the foot of progress entered where you ruled with iron
You are of an age departed; of an epoch none may know
Who have not watched the progress you made throughout the
You have blazed the way for "nesters" who have turned their
Where the great herds roamed the prairies when you held
You have seen advancing thousands with their goods and chattels
Out across the unfenced ranges where the cattle chose to
You were pioneer and master in a region wild and rough;
You reigned supreme; in open court, your word alone meant
You were backed by men of action, who were made of sterner
Than the country to the eastward of your ranges ever saw.
You have seen the cattle barons waxing rich in cows and
From the brand you burned upon them in the dusty old
For you were the leading factor in the west for thirty
Ere the "nesters" claimed the country you had ruled so long and
On a thousand hills were cattle that had felt your smoking
And the draws and coulies echoed with the bellowing of
And they plowed a trail behind them as they straggled through
Urged by sinewy cow punchers who were careless with their
By the onward march of progress were your conquests held for
You have seen the herds forced slowly from the lands which you
You have bowed to plow and reaper, which intruded where you
You have seen your thousands scattered toward the far off
Now the cattle trails are grassy, and the herds no longer
Through the lands you fought to conquer from a subtle, cunning
For the "nesters came" and fenced it, and the spot you knew as
Had no ties to bind you longer, and you gladly chose to go.
Rippling seas of grain now ripen where the punchers rode the
And the hills no longer echo to lusty shout, long drawn;
You were forced to yield to progress with her customs new and
You're a warped and rustic relic of a life forever gone!
An article in the York Republican of June 12,
1924, gives a very interesting account of the early settlement of
that county, the kind of houses built, the crops raised, the
method of making a living, and the gradual coming in of improved
means of farming. Each item in the story is well told and,
speaking from ai clear boyhood recollection of the time and place,
accurate in its details. Mention is made of the beginnings of
wheat raising in the county and the fact that at first there was
no threshing machine to get the grain out of the straw. Chas J.
Rusler was the man who brought the first threshing machine and
made it possible for wheat growing to develop on an extensive
scale. From a little sod house on 160 acres of homestead land, Mr.
Rusler expanded to ownership of 800 acres of rich York county
"My mother had quite a flock of turkeys and
chickens. They were almost dazed at the sight of so many perfectly
good insects. They tried to eat them all. They had to give up the
task. They ate enough, however, to make themselves sick. The
grass-hoppers ate onions down to their very roots; they ate the
mosquito net that covered the windows of our house."
The editor of this magazine will supplement Mrs.
Hewitt's recollection of grasshoppers by saying that a herd of 40
shoats on his father's farm in Seward county and a flock of about
50 turkeys fattened themselves in the fall of 1874 by eating
nothing but grasshoppers, with a little prairie hay thrown in.
None of them seemed to get sick either, and we could taste the
grasshoppers in their meat, both pork and turkey.
The Aurora Register, June 20, 1924, contains an
interesting story of a Hamilton county pioneer who came there in
1871. In the grasshopper years with a sick wife and child he was
out of food and asked for 15 pounds of corn meal from a man who
had several hundred' pounds, but was denied. In desperation he
resolved upon violence. When the postmaster called to him that he
had a letter there. He expected no letter, but opened it and
found, to his astonishment, a $5 bill. This bought a sack of flour
and furnished a Sunday dinner for twenty-five other people in
similar desperate conditions. The preservation of such incidents
as these in printed form is a splendid contribution to the
historic history of these plains, when heroic incidents will stand
out as clear as the hardships and heroisms of the first settlers
at Plymoth Rock.
Fairbury Journal of June 19, in its section of
fifty years ago, brings back to memory one Marvin Warren, an early
greenbacker and voluminous writer on the money question, who
discussed in local papers the "money power" as seen by his eyes.
The name was a familiar name to the early pioneers, who thought
deeply on economic questions. Scores of other men whose names are
now forgotten were among the educators of the Nebraska public who
set the public to thinking intelligently upon the fundamental
question of currency and exchange.
George Lieb, the last of the pioneer stage
drivers on the old stage route from Omaha to Tekamah, was buried
at Pender, June 16, 1924.
David Beat homesteaded in Orvill precinct in
Hamilton county in 1873, and died at Spring Lake, Michigan, June
7, 1924, aged 72. His life as long and useful as a pioneer and
seven children came to bless his homestead home.
The old school house in district 48, in Dawes
county, in the Hartman district, is to be replaced by a new
building. The school house was erected in 1887 and the writer of
this paragraph has attended more than one gathering to discuss
social and political questions there in the early days. It is
suggested that the old building find a place in the State Park
south of Chadron and to that suggestion this magazine gives a warm
Mrs. Edward W. Thomas, wife of one of the early,
well-known lawyers of Brownville and Falls City, died in Omaha,
November 17, 1922. Her husband was known as one of the vigorous
and able members of the legal. profession in the early history of
Rev. E. D. Aller, 84, died at Crete,
May 6, 1924. "Grandpa" Aller, as he was generally called, was a
union soldier in the civil war. He settled at Crete in 1872 and
has lived there continuously ever since. He was gentle, loving and
a missionary throughout his life. For many years he was engaged in
Sunday School work in Nebraska and some of the tenderest memories
in the mind of the editor of this magazine belong to the times
when Mr. Aller was a guest in our home.
George A. Smith, 82, died at Long Pine May 10,
1924. He enlisted at 18 in the 5th Wisconsin Infantry and was
severely wounded at the battle of Fair Oaks. In 1866 he became a
stage driver for the Overland Stage Company, driving from Lone
Tree, now Central City, west. He was one of those present at the
driving of the Golden Spike, May 10, 1869, at Promontory Point,
Utah, marking the completion of the first Pacific Railroad.
Lloyd Geneskie plowed out a complete skeleton
near Elyria in Valley county, indicating the presence of an Indian
grave yard a that point.
Oliver Furnas, the oldest member of the Omaha
tribe, died April 23, 1924. He was about 104 years old and as a
boy remembers the great date in Indian history "when the stars
fell" in 1833. His name was Wa-ha-ga-be, his mother's name
Me-me-sha-ha-ba. He was often called "Little Chief" and was a
distinguished member of the Omaha tribe for many years. The name
"Furnas" was probably give him because of governor R. W. Furnas
who was agent of the Omaha Indians in 1866. Oliver was also known
by the name of Oliver Turner. It is nothing uncommon for an Indian
to have several names during his life time bestowed for special
J. C. Elliott died at West Point May 6, 1924.
For over thirty years he was prominently identified with the
Elkhorn Valley as editor, lawyer and pioneer.
The editor of the Hayes Center Republican is
reminded of May, 1886, when he sold the first town lots at the
town of Hildreth and southwestern Nebraska was alive with white
topped wagons and home-steaders. Now he "sits in" at Hildreth and
listens to the band playing at Hastings and other far away
Arthur Frazier, a Brule Sioux Indian, was
overseas in the world war. He was reported dead in service and his
body buried at Niobrara. Since then the same Arthur Frazier has
appeared alive, recognized by some of his relatives and comrades
and is an applicant for $2100 due him from the government.
Judge William Dilworth is publishing a very
interesting series of pioneer sketches, going back to the early
days of southwestern Nebraska, and dealing especially with the
early lawyers including that great and interesting character,
Judge William Gaslin.
Edmund Krause, born at Zirke, Germany, January
13, 1836, died at West Point May 11, 1924. He served two years in
the German army and homesteaded at West Point in March, 1867. He
was a stone and brick mason and did some of the important building
in that community.
Nels Alberts died at Saronville, May 12,
1924. He was one of the pioneers in the large Swedish settlement
there and held important offices in the history of that
John H. Campbell, 76, died at Kimball, May 11,
1924. He was a pioneer of Kimball county in 1876 and a member of
the first board of commissioners.
G. H. Schroeder died at Columbus, May 12, 1924,
aged 77. He had been a resident of Platte county for 55 years. He
was a good example of the German immigrant who has done so much to
The Historical Society Library acknowledges with
sincere thanks a gift of the History of the Pawnee Indians, by R.
W. Hazen, from Mrs. Jennie Fowler Munger. This little book was
first printed at Fremont in 1893 and is one of the interesting and
truly valuable compilations of the earliest stories of the Pawnees
in the Platte Valley.
James L. Moore, one of the earliest pioneers at
Minatare, Scotts Bluff county, died January 4, 1924, at Gering. He
was one of the leaders in the building of the Gering canal and for
many years a leader in the Methodist church in the North Platte
George Hampton died at Auburn, 79, January 8,
1924. He came to Nebraska, in 1866, having served in the 15th
Indiana Volunteers and 155th Indiana Infantry during the civil
war. At the battle of Missionary Ridge he was knocked down by an
exploded shell. He had an honorable career as a pioneer and
builder in Nebraska.
Mrs. J. J. Adams, widow of Capt. J. J. Adams, an
early pioneer at Crawford, Nebraska, died at Casper, Wyoming,
January, 1924, aged 86. The Adams family were well known to the
editor of this magazine, being active both in business and
political service in the history of Panhandle Nebraska.
Gottfred Weigle, 72, born at Bittenfeld,
Germany, died near Hooper, January 7, 1924. His family drove an ox
team from Long Grove, Illinois, to West Point, Nebraska, where
they settled in 1857, being one of the numerous sturdy German
settlers who laid the foundations for the development of the
The Hartington Herald reproduces some of the
stories well known to the historians of the early period in
northeastern Nebraska, but little known to the later settlers.
Among these is the story of the party of five Ponca Indians who in
1858 stole five oxen belonging to white settlers. The chiefs of
the Ponca Tribe severely punished those Indians and made the white
loss good. Another story is that of the Wiseman massacre when the
party of Yankton and Santee Sioux in 1863 murdered the five
children of Mr. and Mrs. Wiseman. This was one of the most
atrocious massacres of that region. The husband was in the Second
Nebraska Cavalry with Col. Furnas and the wife was absent at
Yankton when the Indians attacked their home.
An incident of pioneering is told by the
Nebraska City News in its section of 40 years ago. An industrious
German family in Otoe county was swamped with work. The mother and
children felt compelled to pick cherries all day while the father
was busy in the corn field. There was no one to take care of the
baby, so it was placed in a box on the beam of the corn plow and
travelled up and down the rows all day.
Chief Yellow Horse of the Brule Sioux and his
band were the great attraction at the Bonesteel celebration July
The editor of the Hartington Herald has been
looking over the world west toward the Pacific ocean and sets down
his musings in winged words. Among them are these "When a
traveller has passed over miles and miles of hot, arid,
unreclaimed desert where there nothing grows and no signs of life
except the animals that live there, and finally emerges into the
undescribably beautiful country of Kansas, Iowa and Nebraska, he
will realize what a wonderful region is his home."
Susan Jane Smith, 76, daughter of William R. and
Mary Cain, died December, 1923, at Kansas City. She was born at
Platte county, Missouri, in 1847, and came with her parents on a
steamboat locating the now extinct village of St. Stephens where
they built the third house in the village.
P. A. Williams, 75, died at Riverton, December,
1923. He came to Riverton in 1873 and published the Riverton
Review for 40 years. It was a small newspaper in a small town, but
had a distinctive quality of its own and its editor accumulated a
competence in real estate during his long and faithful
Mrs. Lucy J. Martin, 84, died June 5, 1924. Her
family located near Plattsmouth in 1857.
Augustus Roats, 80, born in Germany, died June,
1924, at Red Cloud. He was one of the first settlers in Webster
county, coming in 1870 and was the first man to pay taxes in that
county, the receipt for these taxes still being treasured by his
Hon. H. D. Lute of Sarben, Keith county, has
written a brief historical sketch of that county. The Paxton Times
June 6, 1924, contains the principal points of his sketch. It
shows from the time of the putting of the Union Pacific railroad
through that region in 1867, until 1883, there was practically no
settlement in the county away from the railroad track. Keith
county was organized May 7, 1873. The first census of 1880 shows a
population of 194, of whom 12 were children. There were six
railroad section crews and two telegraph stations in the county,
three large ranches, the Sheidley ranch west of Brule, the Paxton
ranch in the Keystone section and the Bosler ranch on the North
Platte near the present town of Lemoyne. Besides these there were
several small ranches including Searle, Raynor, Lute, and
Aufdengarten. At that time there were no fences and no plowed land
in the county except a few gardens. There was no hay machinery.
The live stock subsisted on the prairie grass and hustled in the
winter. The last herd of buffalo was seen in the spring of 1884.
The last hostile Indians were Dull Knife's band of Cheyennes who
crossed in 1878.
Col. Chas. P. Jordan, one of the most noted
of the frontier squaw men, died at Pierre, South Dakota, January
20, 1924. When the full story of frontier days and Indian wars is
written Col. Jordan will rank as one of the greatest white men in
his influence on the Indians. He was married to "Good Woman," a
full blooded Sioux squaw and is survived by two children. Colonel
Jordan was a cousin of George A. Custer and was a descendent of
Col. Hopkins, one of the original Mayflower colonists at Plymouth
Rock. He was for many years government Indian agent at the Rosebud
Agency and as such became well known to all visiting the Brule
Sioux during the period of the wars and the critical years that
followed. He knew not only the Indian language, but the Indian
tribes of the Missouri river, as perhaps no other white man knew
them. He was a pioneer of the country before the opening of the
Black Hills. He gained the confidence of the Indians and
especially that of the great chief Red Cloud and never lost it. He
was one of the leading characters in the Sioux Indian treaty of
1889, at Pine Ridge and Rosebud. The editor of this magazine was
present at this, the last of the great Indian councils, where the
voices of the leading orators of the Sioux tribe, American Horse,
Red Cloud, Man-afraid-of-his-horses, and others were heard. The
passing of Col. Jordan marks a great era of the Indians and the
J. F. Nesbit began general merchandising in
Tekamah in 1884. For 40 years he has done credit business, large
in volume and successful. Mr. Nesbit served in the legislature of
1897 with the editor of this magazine and brought to bear upon the
problems of this legislature a clear mind and sound business
judgment. It is a significant historic event that Mr. Nesbit now
announces that, beginning with the year 1924, he will discontinue
general credit business. He states that this policy is determined
by the financial stringency and by the strict credit rules now in
force by wholesale houses.
Mrs. William H. Smith, 91, died at Plattsmouth,
March 22, 1924. With her husband she came to Nebraska territory in
1857, preempting near Cedar Creek. Indians were very annoying at
that time, as both Pawnee and Otoe tribes traversed the territory
frequently, always begging and sometimes stealing. The Smiths
traded the Cedar Creek pre-emption for a homestead near Rock
Bluffs, built a cabin in 1861 and have been continuous residents
of the region since.
The 1888 Blizzard.
The editor of the Clarks Enterprise
remembers the great blizzard of January 12, 1888, as he drove a
load of grist from Holdrege to his father's home 25 miles
southwest through the storm. This parallels the experience of the
editor of this magazine. He drove a team of horses with a hayrack
five miles across the sand hills near Cody in Cherry county,
loaded tte hayrack mountain high with corn fodder for his stock
and drove back through the storm over hills where no track was
visible, reaching his log cabin home safely after an absence of
five hours. Hundreds of people and thousands of head of stock
perished in the same storm.
The O'Neill Frontier reprints an account of this
January 12 blizzard from its issue of January 19, 1888. It makes
nearly four columns of thrilling blizzard experience. It includes
the stories of Miss Etta Shattuck, a school teacher, nine miles
southwest of O'Neill, who got lost in going home and remained 74
hours in a hay stack before she was found, with both her feet
The Chadron Journal of January 4, 1924,
prints an extended account of the dramatic events at Chadron and
vicinity in December, 1890, and January, 1891. Among other items
printed from the old files of newspapers of that period there is
"As the news of the fighting at Wounded Knee was
vague and exciting, occasioned by lack of communication at that
time, a party of Chadronites resolved to visit the battle field
the day following the fighting. They visited General Miles, who
was quartered in the Chadron Hotel, and obtained passes. At four
o'clock Tuesday afternoon, December 29, 1890, Will Hayward, F. B.
Carly, E. E. Egan, A. E. Sheldon, Gus Trager and William Jones
left for the Wounded Knee battle field."
Mrs. A. L. Carlysle, 77, died at Peru, January
5, 1924. Her maiden name was Elizabeth Neal. Her family came to
Nemaha county in 1863 and she was one of the earliest students of
the State Normal Peru.
William Wetzel of Superior gave an exhibition of
his remarkable Indian collection before the Superior Chapter D. A.
R. January 7, 1924. His collection includes flint, wampum,
pottery, stone and bone implements and is of rare interest.
Veteran Post No. 84 G. A. R. of Falls City has
left but 16 members out of its enrollment of 196. The youngest of
these members is 79, the oldest 89, and practically all of them
were among the pioneers of Richardson county.
James Harris spent his last cent to get across
the Missouri river into Dakota county May 1, 1872, and died
December, 1923, aged 79. He was born in England, but was an
American most of his life.
Mrs. Gertrude Rebhausen, 87, reputed the mother
of the first white child born in Omaha, died April 1, 1924. She
was born Cologne, Germany, married at 17 and settled in Omaha in
1855. Later the family moved to West Point. They were good
pioneers of substantial German stock and were parents of six sons
and four daughters.
January 21, 1924.
State Historical Society:
I am sending you my check for my annual dues for
1924. Wish I could be with you this year. I came to Nebraska in
1868. I saw the first locomotive landed at Plattsmouth for the
Burlington. We crossed the Missouri on an old barge with a cable
owned by Vallery & Ruffner at Plattsmouth. Stayed with George
Dovey until our folks could get us out by stage 14 miles, about
where Louisville is now. Saw some hard times with no white bread
for weeks--how Nebraska has developed.
John H. Hefty, 81, died at Stockham, Hamilton
county, January 10. 1924. He was born in Switzerland and walked on
foot from Lincoln to Hamilton county in 1872 where on May 13, he
entered a homestead in Farmers' Valley. He was married, April 3,
1874, to Miss Katherine Baumgartner. Their first home was a
dug-out. They made a success of farming and lived to a competent
old age surrounded by their five children and grand-children.
STATEMENT OF THE OWNERSHIP, MANAGEMENT,
CIRCULATION, ETC., REQUIRED BY THE ACT OF CONGRESS OF AUGUST 24,
Of Nebraska History & Record of Pioneer Days published
Quarterly at Lincoln, Nebraska, for April 1922.
Before me a Notary Public in and for the State
and county aforesaid, personally appeared A. E. Sheldon who,
having been duly sworn according to law deposes and says that he
is the Managing Editor of the Nebraska History & Records of
Pioneer Days, and that the following is, to the best of his
knowledge and belief, a true statement of the ownership,
management (and if a daily paper, the circulation), etc., of the
aforesaid publication for the date shown in the above caption,
required by the Act of August 24, 1912, embodied in section 443,
Postal Laws and Regulations, printed on the reverse of this form,
State of Nebraska,
County of Lancaster,
1. That the names and addresses of the
publisher, editor, managing editor, and business managers are:
Publisher, Nebraska State Historical
Society, Lincoln, Nebraska.
Editor, A. F. Sheldon, Lincoln, Nebraska.
Managing Editor, A. E. Sheldon, Lincoln,
Business Managers, A. E. Sheldon, Lincoln,
2 That the owners are: (Give names and
addresses of individuals or, if a corporation, give its name and
the names and addresses of stockholders owning or holding 1 per
cent or more of the total amount of stock.) Nebraska State
3. That the known bondholders, mortgagees, and
other security holders owning or holding 1 per cent or more of
total amount of bond mortgages, or other securities are: None.
A. E. SHELDON, Editor.
(Signature of Editor, Publisher, Business Manager or Owner)
Sworn to and subscribed before me this
11th day of April 1922.
(My commission expires Aug. 4, 1927.)
Vol VI, no 4, part 3 Vol
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