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



The Early Day Dug-Out
   Emanuel Peters of Guide Rock puts into rhyme the story of the dug-out as he knew it. His rhyme runs as follow

   "0 those days that were spent in that home on the plain,
   Just a place to get in from the cold and the rain.
   Dug-out of the ground, not a thing to call fine,
   Some days, in that little old dug-out of mine.
   How lonesome it was, in that dug-out to batch,--
   For days at a time no one lifted the latch,--
   A-dreaming of days spent in houses of pine
      Some days, in that little old dug-out of mine.
   Sometimes I would plan, how to get me a wife,
   But who would share with me, a pioneer's life?
   I'd get so discouraged and thus I'd repine
      Some days, in that little dug-out of mine.
   With no papers to read, and books hard to get;
   On rainy days, nothing to do but to fret,
   With little to eat when it came time to dine,
   Just plainest of foods in that dug-out of mine.
   The years, they seemed long as I lived day by day,
   But still I soon found they had all passed away
   And now of those days gone, I see not a sign
   Of hardships like those in that dug-out of mine.
   But hardships bring blessings when latter days come,
   Our life has more pleasure, with victories won,
   So when Life is ending, I'll shed no tears of brine
   For once having lived, in that dug-out of mine."

    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 ago
Ere the foot of progress entered where you ruled with iron hand,
You are of an age departed; of an epoch none may know
Who have not watched the progress you made throughout the land.
You have blazed the way for "nesters" who have turned their furrows deep,
Where the great herds roamed the prairies when you held unruffled sway;
You have seen advancing thousands with their goods and chattels creep
Out across the unfenced ranges where the cattle chose to stay.

You were pioneer and master in a region wild and rough;
You reigned supreme; in open court, your word alone meant law;
You were backed by men of action, who were made of sterner stuff,
Than the country to the eastward of your ranges ever saw.
You have seen the cattle barons waxing rich in cows and steers,
From the brand you burned upon them in the dusty old corral;
For you were the leading factor in the west for thirty years
Ere the "nesters" claimed the country you had ruled so long and well.

On a thousand hills were cattle that had felt your smoking brand,
And the draws and coulies echoed with the bellowing of herds,
And they plowed a trail behind them as they straggled through the land,
Urged by sinewy cow punchers who were careless with their words.
By the onward march of progress were your conquests held for naught;
You have seen the herds forced slowly from the lands which you had won.
You have bowed to plow and reaper, which intruded where you fought
You have seen your thousands scattered toward the far off setting sun.

Now the cattle trails are grassy, and the herds no longer roam
Through the lands you fought to conquer from a subtle, cunning foe,
For the "nesters came" and fenced it, and the spot you knew as home,
Had no ties to bind you longer, and you gladly chose to go.
Rippling seas of grain now ripen where the punchers rode the range,
And the hills no longer echo to lusty shout, long drawn;
You were forced to yield to progress with her customs new and strange;
You're a warped and rustic relic of a life forever gone! 

Spacer--The Potter Review.

   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 soil.



   "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 second.

   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 southeastern Nebraska.  




    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 occasions.

   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 places.

   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 community.

   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 develop Nebraska.

   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 Valley.

   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 Elkhorn valley.

   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 4, 1924.

   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 service.

   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 family.

   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 great west.

   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 frozen.



   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 the following:
   "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.


Of Nebraska History & Record of Pioneer Days published Quarterly at Lincoln, Nebraska, for April 1922.

State of Nebraska,
County of Lancaster,

} ss.

   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, to wit:
   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, Nebraska.
    Business Managers, A. E. Sheldon, Lincoln, Nebraska

    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 Historical Society.
    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.)  


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