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Past & Present of Platte County, Nebraska - Volume I

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Frank J. North was one of the pioneers and celebrities of Columbus. He was a son of Thomas J. North, a general merchant, who moved with his family from New York to Richland County, Ohio. In 1856 Mr. North moved to Omaha, Neb., and engaged as a surveyor under contract of the Government, and on March 12, 1857, while so engaged, he was caught in a terrific storm at Papillion River and perished. At this time Frank was seventeen years of age and was left with his mother to superintend the extensive business in which his father was engaged. He had charge of forty men, who cleared a large tract of timber land, on which the City of Omaha now stands. In 1837 he moved to Florence, just above Omaha, where he resided during the winter of 1857-8. In the following summer he came to Columbus, where he began to break prairie with teams which he had brought with him. In the fall of 1858 he joined a trapping party who established a camp 125 miles west of Columbus and remained there until the spring of 1859, returning to Columbus and farming during the summer, after which he began freighting from Omaha to Cottonwood Springs. In the spring of 1860 he went to Denver, but shortly returned to Columbus and continued freighting for sometime. Finally he went to the Pawnee reservation to work for the agent there. Having previously become proficient in the Pawnee language, Mr. North soon secured a good position at the agency as clerk, in which position he remained until August, 1864, when he began the organization of a company of Pawnee scouts to be enrolled for ninety days, under Gen. Samuel Curtis. North served as first lieutenant. Before bidding adieu to Lieutenant North and his scouts, General Curtis, without solicitation, promised Lieutenant North a captain's commission, which he received October 15,1864. He immediately recruited with a full quota of Indian Pawnee scouts, which he led to Julesburg and joined General Connor, going out on the Powder River campaign. Besides a great deal of scouting during the season, this




company killed more than two hundred Indians without loss of a man from the scouts, who attributed this wonderful escape to the Great Spirit. In 1865 Captain North was at Camp Genoa, twenty-two miles west of Columbus, remaining there until the spring of 1866, when all volunteers were mustered out of service. Returning to Columbus, he was appointed, in the fall of 1866, post trader for the Pawnee agency, where he remained until the spring of 1867. In March of that year he again entered the service as major of a battalion, organizing it and appointing its officers. These troops served along the Union Pacific line until 1871, when they were mustered out. In the summer of that year North was made post guide and interpreter for Camp Munson; in 1872 he was transferred to Sidney Barracks, where he remained until August 5, 1876, when he was called to Chicago to report to General Sheridan and ordered to proceed to the Indian Territory and enlist 100 Pawnee Indians as scouts for service in the department of the Platte. This was done and he brought his Pawnee scouts by rail to Sidney barracks, where they were equipped for service. They were ordered to Red Cloud agency. They then went with General Crook and served during the entire campaign of 1876 and 1877, returning to Sidney Barracks, where they remained until May 1st. They were there disbanded and then went to the Indian Territory. Soon thereafter Major North went to Omaha and formed a co-partnership with William F. Cody (Buffalo Bill), under the firm name of Cody & North, and embarked in the stock business, having accumulated.4,500 head of cattle which grazed on five ranches, embracing an area of country 25 miles in breadth by 30 in length, situated in the Dismal River section, sixty-five miles north of North Platte City, in Western Nebraska. On December 25, 1865, Major North married Miss Mary L. Smith, in Columbus, who was born in Hartford County, Conn., June 3, 1845. They had one daughter, Stella G.

  The company of Pawnee scouts previously referred to and commanded by Capt. Frank J. North, was first organized in 1864, under the authority of Gen. Samuel R. Curtis, who detailed North and Joseph McFadden to recruit the Indians. McFadden had seen service in the United States army and was with General Harney in the Ash Hollow fight of 1856, and had also served as interpreter. Seventy-seven Pawnees were quickly enlisted and McFadden was chosen captain and North first lieutenant. The Pawnees furnished their own horses and their native costumes. They were promised the same pay as the cavalrymen, but never received any compensation for their



services in the campaign. The Pawnees under the leadership of McFadden proved a disappointment. He had forfeited the confidence and respect of the Indians by marrying a squaw and adopting the dress and mode of life of the tribe and it was not long before the temporary organization of Pawnee scouts was disbanded. Lieutenant North was then instructed by General Curtis to enlist a regular company of Pawnees for scouting duty, with equipment, including uniform, like other cavalry soldiers. Thereupon, under a captain's recruiting order, North returned to the Pawnee Indian reservation, and after a great deal of difficulty succeeded in recruiting a full company of 100 men, who were mustered into the United States service, January 13, 1865, as Company A, Pawnee Scouts, with Frank J. North as captain, Charles A. Small as first lieutenant, and James Murie as second lieutenant, the commissions of the officers having been issued by Gov. Alvin Saunders, of Nebraska, on October 24, 1864. This company was credited to Platte County as so many volunteers furnished for the Union service. It was mustered out at the Pawnee agency in April, 1866. On March 1, 1869, Major North again organized three companies of the Pawnees, fifty men in each company, with his brother, Luther North, as captain of one company, and Captains Cushing and Morse commanding the other two, with Becher, Mathews and Kislandberry as lieutenants. With his command Major North joined General Carr at Fort McPherson for an expedition against the Sioux, under Tall Bull, in the Republican River country. The Pawnees wore cavalry uniforms and were well mounted. On this expedition the command recovered from the Sioux two white women, Mrs. Alderdice and Mrs. Weichel, both of whom had been shot by Chief Tall Bull when he found there was no hope of his retaining them as captives. The former died from her wounds almost immediately, and was buried on the battlefield. It was learned from Mrs. Weichel that the Christian name of Mrs. Alderdice was Susannah, and this name was given by General Carr to the place where the battle occurred. This was in Northwestern Colorado, on the summit of the sand hills between the Platte River and Frenchman Creek. The name was afterward changed to Summit Springs.


  The "Wild West," a tent show, in which was depicted the glories and customs of the aborigine and plainsman, excited the admiration of the world, and particularly the United States, because of its dis-



tinctive American flavor and origin. That it was organized in Platte County and a number of Platte County's citizens took part in its first exhibition, makes a short sketch of this, one of the greatest of all shows, a part of this history. William F. Cody, known as Buffalo Bill, and the chief attraction of the "Wild West," was born in Scott County, Ia., February 26, 1845. His parents were pioneers of Iowa, and removed to Kansas in 1852, when that state was still a wilderness. His father carried on a trading business with the Indians and here it was that young Cody learned to shoot the bow and arrow, and handle the gun. While still in his youth he became familiar with the Indian character and language. His father died in 1857, leaving a family of small children almost entirely to his care. His mother died in 1863, after which he joined the Seventh Kansas Regiment and went South. He served his country with honor until the end of the war.

  Anything that might be said in this history would not add to or take from the honors already won by Buffalo Bill. He is, without doubt, the most widely known American today, living or dead, and his show has never been equaled in the history of the world. In January, 1872, Grand Duke Alexis, of Russia, with a party of friends, was taken out on a buffalo hunt by him. It is said that on this buffalo exterminating expedition for the entertainment of the duke, Cody received the name of "Buffalo Bill," for at that time he distinguished himself by the number of buffaloes he killed and therefore earned the name which the duke gave him. During the summer and fall of 1872 he went upon the stage, first appearing in Chicago. In 1877 and 1878 he again went upon the stage in a dramatic performance, assisted by Charlie and Ed Burgess, two Columbus boys, the former known as the "Boy Chief of the Pawnees." They appeared in all the large cities of this country with great success. In 1881 the people of North Platte, Neb., near which town Cody had a ranch, where he spent his leisure time, decided to celebrate the Fourth of July, and at the suggestion of some prominent men of that city, they selected a wild west show. Cody was one of the men mostly interested in the scheme, and to him was left the work of securing the cowboys and Indians to help out the celebration. In North Platte at the time was an old stage coach owned by Jim Stephenson, of Omaha, who was the proprietor of the Deadwood-Sidney and other western stage lines. At the suggestion of Cody, the Indians were to attack the coach and be repulsed by the cowboys and soldiers. The program arranged included riding wild horses, shooting and all other amusements of a western man. That Fourth of July was the most exciting of any



celebration ever held in the state, and it attracted crowds from all parts of the West. Not many days after the celebration, Cody was met by numerous persons who said it ought to be repeated every year. Cody saw at once that it was something new in American entertainments, and he believed by taking such an aggregation East he could make money. The matter was discussed with some of his friends in North Platte, and finally Cody said he would advance the money and start out. The noted Indian fighters of the great West were selected, the most conspicuous of these being his old time friends, Maj. Frank J. North, George W. Clother and Fred Mathews, of Platte County.

The year following the advent of this great show, Cody selected George W. Turner, another one of Platte County's sons, to assist him in his gigantic undertaking. This noble quartette of brave, clear-eyed, broad-shouldered, well-formed men, whether on foot or on horseback, represented the most perfect types of physical manhood. They have been honored by the nations of Europe, and Her Royal Highness Queen Victoria outdid all other crowned heads by the attention she bestowed on the distinguished Americans.

The Indians, cowboys and others who were to be a part of the show, were collected together at the fair grounds, about one mile northwest of Columbus, in the spring of 1883. After a few weeks' preparation, a trial exhibition was given, at which many of the citizens of Platte County were interested spectators. The first exhibition to which the general public was admitted took place in Omaha, during the summer of 1883. At first the show was small, but he has added to it many new features, until now it is the greatest aggregation of this or any other country. The Wild West is an outdoor entertainment, intended to give the people a correct picture of life in the far west, showing the Indian dances, battles, shooting contests, buffalo hunts, etc. The Wild West has appeared in all the large cities of the United States and made two tours of Canada, the first in 1885, and the second in 1897. The first trip to England was made in 1887, where the show opened at the American Exhibition, Earl's Court, London, for six months, after which they played the following winter in Manchester, England. The show returned to the United States in the spring of 1888, where it remained until the spring of 1889, when it made another foreign tour, opening up in Paris, remaining there during the exposition. The countries visited during this tour were France, Spain, Italy, Austria, Bavaria and Germany. In the fall of 1890, Cody returned to the United States to act as chief of the scouts during the Indian uprising at Wounded Knee, Dak. Dur-



ing his absence the show went into winter quarters at Benfeld, Alsace, all the show people returning home except those necessary to take charge of the property. In the spring of 1891 the show opened at Strassburg, visiting Belgium, England and Wales. In the winter of 1891, they appeared in Glasgow, Scotland. During the summer of 1892 the show remained in London, returning to the United States in the fall. The season of 1893 was spent at the World's Fair, Chicago, since which time it has been touring the United States and Canada. To form an estimate of this show it is only necessary to give a few facts: Eleven acres of ground are required to give the exhibition. The amount of canvas used for the great tent is 22,750 yards, the actors performing in an open enclosure, the tent being used for the audience alone. The number of tent stakes to be driven is 1,104. Over twenty miles of rope is used in the construction of the tent, guard ropes, etc. Six hundred people are employed and over five hundred horses. The seating capacity of the big tent is 25,000, and frequently crowds are turned away.

  The Wild West again made its appearance in Omaha in the summer of 1898, just fifteen years from the time of its first appearance in the same city. There has been a grand improvement in this great show since its first exhibition in Omaha. As a show, it has no superior, no equal, no imitators. The parade makes, without exception. the most imposing spectacle offered to modern civilization in the whole world. The groups of American Indians, clad in the wild garb of the early times, forms one of the chief attractions. The Bedouins of the desert, on their prancing steeds, and the Cossacks from the steppes of Russia, cowboys, Arabs, the German, English and Cuban cavalry troops, scenes of the Custer massacre, never fails to awaken the keenest interest. The old stage coach, retired from business in 1896, has done good service in the Wild West and has quite a history. In 1876 it was purchased and put on the stage line between Cheyenne and the Black Hills. It led all others from Cheyenne when the first start was made in the spring of that year. While going from Custer to Fort Laramie, it was attacked by Indians and one man was killed; the rest escaped, and the Indians rode off with the mules. The coach remained there several days and was then brought into Cheyenne. It continued to make trips between Cheyenne and Fort Laramie for some time and carried the scalp of the famous warrior "Yellow Hand," which Buffalo Bill sent to New York. After General Crook had overcome Chief Red Cloud, Crazy Horse and Sitting Bull's bands of Indians, he and Buffalo Bill rode to Cheyenne in it. After this



it was used between Fort Laramie and Custer and finally made to do important duty in carrying gold from Deadwood to Cheyenne. This coach was attacked by robbers no less than eleven times, the last time being in 1878, in which one man was killed, one severely wounded and 828,000 in gold was captured. The old stage was then set aside and not used until it was purchased by Cody for the show. The old stage has had many ups and downs. Many of the most noted stage drivers of the stage coaching days have sat in the box of the old vehicle. This old stage is the last of its kind and is a relic of more than ordinary interest.


  Fred Mathews, deceased, one of the pioneers of Platte County, was born in Lobo, Canada, January 4, 1831, and died in Columbus, December 25, 1890. He came west in 1857 and was engaged in driving a stage coach in Iowa until 1861, when he came to Columbus, and drove the overland stage coach from Columbus to points in the west until the completion of the Union Pacific Railroad through Platte County in 1866. He did excellent service with the famous Pawnee Scouts as lieutenant under Maj. Frank J. North. When Buffalo Bill started his Wild West show, Fred was selected to drive the six-mule team attached to the stage coach which was driven in the arena and attacked by the Indians, in imitation of the real scenes he had passed through on the frontier, making one of the most exciting and realistic exhibitions of the Wild West. The coach was often filled with many royal personages who coveted a ride in the old coach while Fred skilfully handled the "ribbons." He was taken sick in Barcelona, Spain, in the spring of 1890, and returned to Columbus, where he remained until his death. Fred was a man of large muscular build, of iron nerve, used to the dangers common to frontier life. When our country needed help to clear the country of the settlers' deadliest foe -- the Indian -- as a loyal son he was ready to respond. He was a man of undaunted courage and when in border days knives and pistols were as numerous and common as watches are now, the pointing of a pistol at him seemed to give delight to his frontier life and border nature.

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Past & Present of Platte County, Nebraska - Volume I

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At the first session of the Legislature a charter was passed for a ferry across the Loup Fork River. The incorporators were James C. Mitchell and others. Mitchell was the founder of the Town of Florence, which in early times was not an inconsiderable rival of Omaha. It was claimed by him that the river at that place had a rock bottom and consequently, when the Iowa railroads built to the Missouri River, thought they would come to Florence instead of Omaha.


   In 1858 there was an immense immigration to the newly discovered gold mines in Colorado, and Mitchell's ferry stock was about the only property he had that was protected. He came to Columbus to give it his personal attention and remained during the season. John Rickly was then the proprietor of a steam sawmill and sold him lumber, but found it necessary to commence suits to collect the amounts due him. At that time the office of sheriff was vacant, the incumbent having moved away and no one was willing to take the office, nor would any one hold the office of constable. There was one justice of the peace and when he issued a summons he speedily authorized some person to serve it. At one of the suits of Rickly against Mitchell the litigants became quarrelsome. The lie was exchanged, whereupon the ex-sailor arose, shipped the magistrate's hatchet and ballast and steered for the door, preceded by about a half minute by Mr. Rickly, who had suddenly recollected an engagement which he had in another part of the town. The justice, appreciating the impossibility of supporting his dignity, as well as that of the people of Nebraska in holding court in Columbus without the assistance of an officer in court, became demoralized, and addressed a letter to the county clerk to the effect that he respectfully returned to the people the trust they had invested with him.




  In 1859 the ferry was sold to O. P. Hurford and others. Some circumstances of the sale may be found in the Nebraska reports under the title of the Columbus Company against O. P. Hurford et al. Noble R. Hayes was sent here as manager and was here in that capacity for four or five years. He, too, has crossed another river where Sharon is the ferryman. Subsequently the franchise was sold to F. G. Becher and J. P. Becker, who had the honor of building the first temporary bridge across the river.


  About 1859 the first district court was held in Platte County, Hon. Augustus Hall, chief justice, presiding. Judge Hall had been a member of Congress from Iowa. He was appointed by President Buchanan as Judge Ferguson's successor. Judge Hall was a short, very corpulent man, with a round, benevolent face like the full harvest moon. He had the perfect respect of the bar and it is said that his decisions were rarely reversed.

  The little town hall in Columbus, later known as the Saints Chapel, was used as the court room, and rooms in the American Hotel were secured for jury rooms. The grand jury, twelve good and true men, were impaneled, and on completing their labors returned twelve indictments, one against each of themselves for selling liquor without having a license. At that time there was a license law enacted more probably for its moral effect upon the people outside of the territory than with the intention of enforcing it. It bore evidence of lack of care in preparation and provided that any complaint of its violation being made before a justice, he should hear the allegations and if sufficient to convict, should render judgment against the accused, and be committed to jail until the fine was paid. Few, if any, convictions were charged under this law, largely for the reason that it did not have support, probably owing to the disinclination of magistrates to commit themselves to jail. By an oversight, the person drafting the bill aimed to provide for the payment of the costs by the constable.

  Judge Hall was gathered to his fathers just before the republican party came into power and while still an incumbent of the office he was succeeded by William Pitt Kellogg, of Louisiana fame, who drew pay as colonel of an Illinois regiment at the same time. He was succeeded by his uncle, William Kellogg, of Peoria, Ill., who filled the office until Nebraska became a state. He then wanted to be
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United States senator, but Thayer's then fresh military laurels were too much for him.

  At the first term of court held by Kellogg, the office of prosecuting attorney was held by Robert Moreland, who by no means was an ornament to the office. He had previously been bound over for breaking the peace and the only indictment returned that term was against the prosecuting attorney for assault and battery.


  In the summer of 1864 there were stationed at the Pawnee Indian reservation, now the Town of Genoa, a company of the Seventh Iowa Cavalry. In the summer of that year Patrick Murray was engaged in putting up hay at the foot of the bluffs on Looking Glass Valley. On the evening of a certain day when Mr. Murray was at his farming and Mrs. Murray was with the haymakers cooking for them, a party of Sioux came down to the bluffs for the purpose of stealing the stock and after asking for and receiving something to eat, commenced untying the stock, and being resisted by the men in the party and by Mrs. Murray, armed with a pitchfork, immediately commenced shooting them with arrows. One of the party was Adam Smith. Murray's brother-in-law, who had settled in Columbus in 1857, coming here with his brother Michael, who was one of the original stockholders in the Town Company. He fell, shot in the body with numerous arrows, and in the bottom of the foot with a musket ball, evidently after he fell, while his foot was raised. An old man was tomahawked and scalped. Another unfortunate, Reason Grimes, was shot in the side with an arrow and when the barbed head was afterward pulled out, a portion of his liver came with it. Mrs. Murray was also shot with arrows in the limbs, and although not struck in any vital part, the wounds produced by the poisoned arrows were extremely painful and she suffered from their effects for a long time. She escaped but passed the long night in wandering up and down the Looking Glass Valley and frequently endeavored to relieve the pain of her wounds by going into the creek and bathing them. Some settlers in the vicinity, hearing the firing, came to the spot and carried off the dead and wounded. Adam Smith lived until morning, when death came to his relief. The wounded were brought to Mr. Murray's farm and Mr. Grimes, after lingering in pain for several weeks, crossed the river of death, and Mrs. Murray, after a long period of suffering, got around again, although very much broken in health.




  Shortly after this there were alarming reports of a probable descent upon the settlements by hostile Indians and there was a general panic from Grand Island to the Elkhorn. The people around Grand Island flocked into that town and all the settlers around Columbus came into town and brought their stock with them. They hauled in all their cedar fence posts and built a stockade by setting one end of the post twelve inches in the ground, touching each other, which made excellent breastworks. The stockade commenced just west of the American Hotel and was continued east far enough to include Buffalo Square. There were a few openings for gates, which were always guarded at night. Thomas Lynch, Pat Gleason, the Carrigs and the whole Upper Shell Creek Settlement were there, as well as the Lusches, Reinkes, Erbs, Wetterers, Mewhus, Losekes, Edward Ahrens and his son John. All the settlers east and west in the county were here, including Herschel Needham, who lived with his wife, Christiana. One night about midnight one of the guards thought he heard Indians around and gave the alarm. The little fort became very much excited, especially Mr. Needham, who sought the partner of his joys and sorrows and thus exclaimed to her: "Now, Christiana, I expect the Indians will soon be here and I shall have all I can do to take care of myself, and you will have to skulk." The alarm proved unfounded, but spoiled the settlers' rest for that night.

  There was an eccentric man, named John L. Martin, who formerly lived at Buchanan but then at Grand Island, who christened that place Fort Sauerkraut, and Columbus Sockittoem. The latter was an allusion to the willingness of Columbus merchants of those days shown on all occasions to make fair profits in their mercantile transactions. After staying here two or three weeks, and the Indians failing to appear, the settlers returned to their homes.

  After the Pawnees were placed on their reservation at Genoa, they were passing back and forth and camping at different places and naturally did some stealing. They had been committing depredations on the Quinn boys, living near where John Heney later resided, and they became very much exasperated. One of them, upon discovering a young Indian stealing corn from his crib, shot him dead. A band of Indians came down from the reservation and demanded the surrender of the person who did the killing. A number of men from Columbus, hearing of it, were on the ground nearly as soon as



the Indians, who compromised by accepting a pony and two sacks of flour as full satisfaction.

  At one time when Jacob Guter was employed by Mrs. Baker at the American Hotel, the Indians had been in the habit of breaking into his house on his farm and taking what they could find, and it became in time very monotonous. Jacob had a half sack of flour there, through which he had diffused a quantity of strychnine. A party of Indians were encamped in Martin Heintz's timber, and shortly afterward an Indian on horseback rode furiously into town with a dollar bill in his hand and was very anxious to interview a doctor, and succeeded in inducing one to go to the camp. Several squaws and pappooses, as well as a dog, were exhibiting unmistakable evidence of having partaken of the poison. The unfortunate canine succumbed, but the pappooses and squaws recovered.

  In the spring of 1869 the Pawnees seemed to become embittered toward the whites. Some of the more lawless of the young men, while down in Kansas, committed some depredations on the whites and several were killed by the settlers there, and they wanted revenge. Depredations were committed on Upper Shell Creek, near Newman's Grove, by Indians, presumably Sioux, but possibly by Pawnees. Some stock was killed, one unfortunate woman was shot, another outraged, and a company of soldiers was stationed near there during that year. Edward McMurty, a resident of Butler County, on the 8th day of May of that year started from his home to Columbus on foot and failed to return. George D. Grant started out to look for him and was able to track him, owing to a peculiarity of one of his boots, across the south channel and for some distance on the island, where they were no longer found. It was the opinion of his friends that he had been foully dealt with, and as a Chowee band of Pawnees were at that time encamped on the island, suspicion pointed in that direction. When Mrs. Eliza Phillips, who then lived on her farm across the Loup, heard of the disappearance she stated that on that day she saw from her house some Indians on the island chasing a man, who was trying to run away from them, but supposing them all to be Indians, had not thought much of it at the time. On the 19th of June, as Mr. Perry and Mr. Rice were on the island, they found in the slough the feet and legs of a man sticking out, the body and head being still held under the water by logs which had been laid on the body. Summoning the coroner of Butler County, the body was taken out, and an inquest held, and although in an advanced stage of decomposition was identified as that of McMurty. Several knife wounds



were found on the body and five or six arrows were sticking in it, one of which had entered the mouth, passing downward into the chest, the last wound evidently inflicted while the victim was running, or perhaps after he had fallen. A verdict was returned that McMurty was murdered by Pawnee Indians of the Chowee band. The settlers became very much excited and the attention of the agent was called to the matter, who demanded of the chiefs that the murderers should be surrendered. One night the Indians, seeing some teams carrying supplies to troops stationed on Shell Creek, which had encamped over night near their reservation, and imagining they had come to chastise them, brought and delivered a number of Indians whom they said were the guilty ones. They were ironed and taken to Omaha to be tried in the United States Court, and when the trial came off were convicted and sentenced to be hung. One of the Indians made a dramatic exhibition, attempting suicide while in jail, and so it happened that a new trial was granted, which was never held, as a nolle pros was entered, the Indians discharged and the perpetrators of the murder were never brought to justice.


  About 1860 there arrived in Platte County a company of five or six families who went by the designation of "Gladdenites." Their leader was an old man, probably sixty-five years old, tall and straight, with long silver hair and a sanctimonious expression of countenance, whose name was Francis Gladden Bishop. According to reports, his mother was a religious enthusiast and previous to his birth had predicted that she would bear a son who would some day gladden the hearts of the people and would be the flying roll which Zacharias saw with his prophetic eye. Imbued with religious fanaticism from his cradle, he grew up, and meeting with Joseph Smith at an early period after his assuming the role of a prophet, he embraced his doctrines and was chosen as one of his apostles. After the death of Smith he, in common with the rest of those apostles, considered himself as the proper successor of the brother, but they became disgruntled with Brigham Young, seceded and unsuccessfully attempted to draw the church to themselves. After the exodus from Nauvoo we next hear of him in Western Iowa with a small band of followers, having declined to follow Brigham Young into the wilderness. His followers were mostly imbeciles, the halt and the lame, and for some reason, finding it desirable to leave Iowa, at the time mentioned



arrived in the western part of Platte County for the purpose of making a settlement and trying to gather converts from what remained of the Genoa colony, and also doing missionary work and making proselytes among the Lamanites, which was Bishop's name for the Indians. His efforts were entirely unsuccessful as to the Genoa colony. With the Indians he succeeded in but few instances in overcoming the natural repugnance of those people against the external application of water, especially in unfavorable weather. They made a claim on the Lookingglass, about three or four miles from Oconee, and built their houses along the creek, one of which was their place of worship. It was a long, low cabin, with a dirt roof, and door made of puncheon, latchstring hanging out and devoid of glass windows, but with a narrow opening on the front side, which was closed by a board. They remained there about three years and as they polled from ten to fifteen votes, were an important factor in elections of those days. At last dissension arose among themselves and dissatisfaction with their leader. Unsavory reports in regard to the orgies which were a part of their Sunday exercises in the windowless church came to the ears of the outside world and created such discussion that their condition became unpleasant to them and their presence obnoxious to the settlers, so that the process of disintegration began, some going east and some west, and the flying roll started on his flight to Colorado, attended by a few of his stanchest supporters, where he remained until his death, which occurred a year or two afterwards.


  The year after Pike's Peak emigration began, Moses F. Shinn and his associates established a rope ferry across the Platte about fourteen miles east of Columbus, which went by the name of Shinn's Ferry. Emigrants crossing the Columbus Ferry forded the Platte River at Fort Kearney. When the river was composed of numerous channels between the islands, the crossing was always difficult and in case of high water in June there was sometimes a delay in waiting for the water to recede. Emigrants crossing the Platte Ferry avoided all this, while on the other hand, the road on the south side of the Platte was sandy and generally bad. There was a man by the name of William E. Hill, who for a short time had a small store in Columbus and who afterwards was employed by the managers of Shinn's Ferry and stationed at the forks of the road when emigrants turned off to go to the Platte Ferry, to solicit patronage. After a year or



two he removed to North Platte and made a return trip to gather up such of his effects as still remained behind, among which was a young cow. Being ready to return, he crossed Shinn's Ferry just at dark, when the young cow, being unwilling to go, swam back to the island. He went back after it, full of rage and very much under the effect of stimulants. It was a dark, rainy night, the darkness only relieved by frequent flashes of lightning. A wagon in which three brothers bv the name of Brady were making the trip to Colorado had the next right of crossing and Hill endeavored to induce them to give way and allow him to cross, to which they declined. A quarrel ensued, in which Hill used very abusive language. Finally, in his anger, he shot the younger Brady, the bullet passing through the fleshy portion of the arm. The next moment the island was illuminated by another flash of lightning, by the light of which the aim of the other brother was directed, who sent a bullet into Hill's brain. The next morning Brady was found in his wagon, groaning with the misery of his wounded arm, and the swollen body of Hill lay on a buffalo robe on the sand. An inquest was held, the slayer had a preliminary examination but was not held for trial. After remaining here a while the wounded man recovered and went to his destination. Hill was buried and soon no trace of this, the first tragedy enacted in Platte County, remained.


  At the session of the Territorial Legislature held in the winter of 1857-58, a majority of the members elected favored the removal of the capital from Omaha and the subject was introduced early in the session. A majority of that body claimed that the Legislature was intimidated by the Omaha lobby and passed a resolution to adjourn to Florence, where the members went and held their sessions, provided for the removal of the city government to Douglas City and transacted a mass of other legislation that suited them. The Omaha and a number of other members, among whom was J. Sterling Morton, remained at the state house, drew their pay and adjourned for want of a quorum. The members at Florence also adjourned and received no pay, but those who remained in Omaha received their per diem for the full term.

  William A. Richardson, newly appointed governor, arrived about this time and it soon became definitely settled in the minds of all that the seat of government for a territory, after it had once been located



and an appropriation for buildings made, would not be removed until it became a state and no further discussion of the matter was made until the spring of 1867, when the first Legislature under the state constitution convened.

  In the spring of 1866 there appeared in Columbus a young Irishman named John E. Kelly, in the capacity of a buckboard driver in the employ of the Western Stage Company, his route being between Buchanan and Columbus. The company at that time ran stages and buckboards on alternate days between Omaha and Kearney. Kelly, was a long-haired, cranky looking individual, who had just graduated from the law department of the Michigan University, and being "broke," adopted that means to get a little "raise." In the autumn of 1866, the railroad having been completed to Columbus, his occupation was gone, so that he located in the county seat to practice law. Kelly's inclinations were toward politics and he commenced to work for the republican nomination as representative for the territorial and state legislatures. While at Buchanan, he had ingratiated himself into the confidence of two or three republicans there and had their support in the convention. He managed to secure enough delegates to receive the nomination over Leander Gerrard. The democratic candidate was James E. North, and, strange as it may seem, the carpetbagger was elected by a magnificent majority. When the State Legislature met in the spring of 1867 and the location of the seat of government was being considered, the prospects of Columbus would have been favorable had it not been that we were opposed by our own representative, or the man who should have been such, whose votes were always cast in favor of Lincoln. Being in the ring in the distribution of political rewards, he acquired considerable property there and in a short time became affluent and never returned to the bosom of his constituents.


  In and previous to the spring of 1857 the Elkhorn and Loup Fork Ferry Company maintained a ferry across the Loup Fork River near the town, where a bridge was erected. In the spring of that year the town company began the erection of a two-story frame hotel, containing four rooms on the first floor and six on the second. It was completed and opened in the fall, Francis G. Becher being the first landlord, and his sisters the landladies. That building is now part of the Grand Pacific Hotel.



  By this time speculation in townsites was running high and the Cleveland Land Company was organized. A body of land two and a half miles west of the Columbus townsite was claimed, surveyed and laid out into a townsite, and the ferry moved there.

  The erection of a hotel that should eclipse any building in Columbus was begun but the hard times of 1857 coming on during the summer, the work was suspended and it never was completed until it was moved to Columbus in 1868 by George Francis Train and became known as the Hammond House. The town projected fell through. There were three Ohio printers, John Siebert and Henry Lindenburg, of Columbus, Ohio, and Thomas Sarvis, of Cleveland. The two former soon returned east to enlist when the war broke out and at its close founded the house of M. C. Lilly & Co., of Columbus, Ohio, dealers in society goods. Thomas Sarvis was a young man of good education and considerable ability, and ambitious withal. At that time Platte was attached to Dodge County for representative purposes in the Territorial Legislature, and Sarvis was desirous of being the representative. Securing the support of Platte County, he started out to make a canvass of Dodge County. The time passed on and he did not return. On investigation it was learned that he had been at Fontenelle and the last he was seen he had left that place to walk across the country to Fremont. The supposition is that in crossing the Rawhide he got into deep water and was drowned. If so, his body never was recovered. Thus disappeared a young man who might have become one of Platte's prominent citizens, identified with the progress of the country.

  At the commencement of the settlement of this town the Columbus Company set apart a number of lots scattered through the Platte country, they to be donated to persons who would build a house upon them. And that year a number of cabins were built upon these lots. A Swiss by the name of Greenfelder had put up a set of logs on one of them and while the house was in an unfinished condition he became insane and went home to his friends. The probate judge felt it his duty to take care of the estate for the lunatic and therefore appointed a guardian. An inventory was taken, the property was sold according to law and fortunately brought enough to pay the fees of the court and of the guardian. Judge Speice was the purchaser and the logs were those that formed the walls of his old-time residence. About the same time that the Town of Columbus was laid out, in 1856, the two Albertson brothers, Isaac and Alexander, and E. W. Toncray came out to the mouth of Shell Creek and



laid out the Town of Buchanan, named after the man who the next year became President of the United States. There was then a house on the site of the Town of North Bend. A man by the name of Emerson settled about six miles east of the Town of Buchanan near where the present Town of Schuyler is situated. The intervening country between what is now Schuyler and Columbus was not inhabited. In the spring of 1857 a party consisting of Leander Gerrard, C. H. Whaley, Christopher Whaley, Robert P. Kimball and several others laid out the Town of Monroe, a little west of the present Town of Oconee, with the view of making it the county seat of Monroe County. During that year a number of log houses were erected. In pursuance of a proclamation issued by the probate judge of Douglas County (on what authority it is not quite evident) an election was held in August, 1857, both in the counties of Platte and Monroe to locate the county seats and elect officers.

  A townsite had been laid out about twelve miles east of Columbus and called Neenah. The Town of Genoa had also been laid out and immediately settled by a colony of Latter Day Saints. At the election Columbus gained the county seat, Buchanan and Neenah being the rival aspirants. In Monroe County, Monroe, Cleveland and Genoa each received the votes of their residents, and although Genoa had practically twenty times the population of Monroe, the residents of the latter place were so successful in getting out all their voters that they carried it in favor of their place.

  The title of the Pawnee Indians was extinguished to the land west of the Loup River in 1857 and as soon as that occurred the Town of Arcola was laid out on the farm of G. C. Barnum, the town company built a cabin and got Joseph Wolf to live in it and hold the townsite. He, losing his grip the following spring and succumbing to the attractions of Pike's Peak, sold the claim to Barnum and left for Colorado.

  During the same summer the Town of Bedford was laid out, embracing the intervening land not occupied by the Towns of Columbus and Cleveland. In the summer of 1857 an election was held for delegate to Congress. The previous incumbent was Bird B. Chapman who, although representing the territory, had never been a resident of it, his family residing in a very comfortable home in Elvria, Ohio. It was a sort of scrub race, Governor Thayer being one of the candidates, Dr. B. P. Rankin and perhaps others. But the race was between Chapman and Fenner Ferguson, who had been chief justice of the territory from the time of its organization and



who was put in nomination by a people's convention held at Florence. The settlers at Columbus favored Chapman's selection because they believed he could and would get an appropriation to build a bridge across the Loup River at the Military Road. Monroe County favored Judge Ferguson, because it wanted a stage route, and this time the whole county succeeded in polling the entire vote, rolling up a nice little majority of four or five hundred and electing the judge. Among the voters at Genoa were "Oliver Twist," John Doe and Richard Roe.

  At the election for representative that fall, Columbus favored the candidacy of Henry W. DePuy and showed it by returning a majority of 175 which, considering that the county had about seventy-five voters, some of whom were away, was as much as he could reasonably expect. He received the certificate of election and was elected speaker of the house. He was appointed agent of the Pawnees and lost his job in about a year afterwards through the intrigues of his employers and others.

  In the year 1858 the Pawnee Indians, who had then their village on the south bank of the Platte opposite Fremont, started out on their summer hunt and when on the Elkhorn River, near West Point, committed some depredations on some families who had settled there. Word was sent to the authorities at Omaha, who organized an expedition to pursue and punish them. Governor Thayer was made general of the Nebraska militia and was in command. The Columbus Guards, Captain Brewer, and John Brown, orderly, went across the country and made a junction with them. They followed the Indians, overtook them at Battle Creek, where they were in camp 3,000 strong. Great was the consternation of the Indians when they saw them. The head chief, Pe-ta-la-shara, threw down his arms, leaped on his pony and rode toward them, and uncovering his breast invited them by signs to fire at his heart. A parley was held with the chiefs and they agreed that the amount of their depredations should be deducted from the first annuity they should receive. This proposition was probably very gladly accepted by the officers, for if there had been a fight few of the whites would probably have returned. The troops returned by way of Columbus and remained here over night, which made it very lively.


Early in the year 1857 there arrived in Columbus a man about forty years of age, a native of Belgium. He had come to Omaha



at an early period after the organization of the territory and had lived there and at St. Mary's, Iowa. He was destined to play a prominent part in the politics of the early days of this country, being a natural politician. His name was John Reck.

  The headquarters for the transaction of business of the Columbus Land Company had been at Florence, and that year it was transferred to Columbus. John Reck was chosen president and J. P. Becker, secretary. At the legislative session in the winter of 1857, Reck was elected doorkeeper and in the year 1858, Platte County being entitled to one representative, John Rickly and John Reck were the opposing candidates, and the latter carried the election by a few votes. The following year C. H. Whaley was the representative. The following year Reck was a candidate for the democratic nomination and was defeated by S. H. Fowler. C. H. Whaley was nominated by the republicans and Reck ran as an independent candidate. He was elected by a fair majority. The following year the race was again between Reck and Rickly, resulting this time in the election of John Rickly.

The war had by this time burst on the country and the Government had made an assessment of the states and territories to raise money to carry on the war. As Nebraska was poor and unable to pay her quota, the appropriation for legislative expenses was applied to paying that assessment and no session of the Legislature was held.

In course of time Reck changed his politics and became a republican. Heretofore he had sufficient political influence to secure a position as doorkeeper or sergeant at arms during the session of the Legislature, of which he was not a member, and when the internal revenue law was passed, received the appointment of deputy assessor, which he held at the time of his death, which occurred in the fall of 1863. His remains were buried in the old cemetery on the hill, later a part of the Fred Blaser farm. Many years ago the officials of the Columbus Cemetery Association removed his remains to the present cemetery. Thus passed away a pioneer who long will be remembered by those who knew him for his amiability and kindness of heart and who was a born politician and diplomat.

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