The late Henry J. Hudson was a man of great versatility, and among his various accomplishments was a knack he had of furnishing to the press articles conveying his observations and impressions of local affairs, that proved to be not only very interesting, but valuable from a historical standpoint. Mr. Hudson was a frequent contributor to the columns of the Omaha Herald and from a scrapbook, now in possession of his daughter, Mrs. James H. Galley, excerpts have been taken to make up this chapter. The first letter used for the purpose was written in 1867. Those that follow were published in the years as they appear at the beginning of each article.
1867 -- Allured by the balmy breeze we rode along at a merry pace, ever and anon catching the sound of the plowman's cheery voice as he followed his team with quickened step in response to his familiar tones. We found upon the premises of J. H. Galby & Brother a large two-story frame house, containing eight rooms all ready for the plasterers, where two months ago these young men had their house and its contents to the amount of $3,000 destroyed by fire, during their absence, cause unknown, and today they have the best arranged house for farm purposes in Platte County. The winter has been so favorable that a great deal of building has been going on with scarce a day's cessation. The cost of this building will be about two thousand five hundred dollars. W. B. Dale, one of our first-class merchants in every sense of the word, has nearly completed a model cottage, not only an ornament to our town, but a display of taste at once refined and elegant, at a cost of $4,000.
We referred recently to the preparations being made for spring. We are borne out in the statement by the large quantities of pine lumber direct from Chicago arriving at the yard of W. B. Dale & Co. We learn also that Clarkson & Hall, of your city, have made arrangements for opening an extensive lumber and coal yard near the railroad depot. In comparing prices of W. B. Dale & Co. with the
246PAST AND PRESENT OF PLATTE COUNTY
commercial reports of the Herald we are satisfied that lumber will be furnished here at rates that will enable many to build who hitherto have been deterred by the high rates of lumber at this point until competition has removed the obstacles. P. G. Becker has built him a snug, compact house, at a cost of $2,000, and although less pretending in its exterior appearance, we venture to say, for comfort and convenience, its large, airy rooms convey an impression as you enter of generosity and welcome that amply compensates for any lack of exterior adornments. We might enumerate many other improvements completed and in progress that we observed in our ride around town, but forbear at present.
1868 -- Many improvements in our county have taken place; a number of good, substantial dwellings and a few stores have been put up this season, the foundations of our courthouse have been excavated; huge piles of brick are upon the ground, but the contractor, Maj. J. P. Becker, in consequence of the difficulty to obtain lime and materials (it being almost impossible to obtain cars for transportation on the Union Pacific Railroad), has abandoned labor upon the building until spring.
The steam flouring mill of F. A. Hoffman has been running to its utmost capacity ever since it commenced operations, and cannot supply the great demand from the country west of us; by the way, this mill, though inadequate to the wants of the surrounding country, being unable to do custom work, is nevertheless a credit to its proprietor and furnishes a rebuke to croaking self-complacency that is always predicting failure, while pluck and perseverance submit to no denial of its purposes, demonstrates that the power of the will is all dominant. This Columbus mill is capable of turning out 500 sacks of flour per week, is furnished with all the improvements known to mechanical science, and was built in four months, at a cost of $19,000. The excavation for the basement, twelve feet in depth, which is built of rock brought from Omaha, was begun on the 1st day of April and delivered in operation by the 1st day of September.
The low pressure bridge built by Maj. J. P. Becker last spring across the Loup Fork has proved a complete success and withstood the ice last spring, and the vast volume of water precipitated over its ever shifting bed. This bridge has settled the hitherto questioned fact, whether a bridge could be constructed in quicksand streams without stone abutments. The initiatory steps have been taken by the business men of our town to build a bridge across Platte River at this point, of similar construction to the one across the Loup Fork. Next
PAST AND PRESENT OF PLATTE COUNTY 247
summer will give us communication with the country south of the Platte, threading out the air line route from the center of the North American continent to the Gulf. This is no chimera, but feasible and practicable, so palpable indeed, that skepticism that once hooted at the idea of a great central artery, constructed in three years, connecting the two oceans of the Western Hemisphere, has ceased its scoffings and unites its investigations with the giant minds of the age, that have traced in clearest lines the great central routes of our continent from South to North, intersecting the greatest achievement of modern times, as in 1869 it welds the connecting link of the Union Pacific Railroad in its transit from East to West.
One other project of vast interest to our young state, though in embryo, has been discussed. On Saturday last a committee was appointed to investigate and confer with the authorities of Dakota, the probable cost to construct a railroad to Yankton or some point on the Upper Missouri, with a view to reaching the vast coal fields near Fort Rice in Western Dakota.
1869 -- It is in contemplation by the county commissioners to bridge the Platte River at this point; in fact, the rapid settlement of Butler and Polk counties makes it imperative that facilities of ready communication should be furnished for this vast trade seeking a market, to flow into the coffers of our merchants.
Though late in the season for outdoor work, yet we hear the merry stroke of the carpenter's hammer on either hand. Ten new buildings are in various stages of progress, and thirteen piles of lumber we counted, in several localities, that will assume symmetry and form this winter, if favorable for building.
The Episcopal Church and stores of C. B. Stillman and Dale & Co. are finished and occupied and stand out in bold relief as beacons of advance demanded by the laws of demand and trade.
The drug store of C. B. Stillman will suffer none in comparison with those of older growth and more numerous inhabitants. All the fittings are in excellent taste. One entire side is enclosed with glass doors, presenting one huge showcase filled from floor to roof. The moldings and cornice are massive, elegant and chaste. The counters are models of scroll work and carpenter's cunning. The cost of buildings and fittings was about five thousand dollars. An assorted stock of $8,000 enables the doctor to supply the surrounding settlements with panaceas for humanity's ills, stationery, ladies'fancy goods, wall paper, oils, paints, white lead, glass, liquors.
The medical profession has three representatives. Doctor Still
248PAST AND PRESENT OF PLATTE COUNTY
came among us in 1856, has gained an experience with the various diseases, as developed, in our climate, and now excels as a physician. Dr. E. Hoehen is a graduate of the medical schools of Germany and following the fortunes of war, has reaped an experience in surgery that commands confidence in those so unfortunate as to need the use of the lances or scalpel. These two gentlemen have secured the lion's share of patronage. Dr. S. A. Bonesteel is a young man of much promise, careful and studious, but will have to bide his time ere he attains the front rank of medical lore.
October, 1869 -- One scarcely realizes how great an aggregate of lands are settled upon in a few months, till we group the facts and figures together. We have marked the nakedness of our lumberyards and upon inquiry of the dealers we learned they could not stock up. So constant was the demand that teams were receiving it from the cars, affording no opportunity to deliver at the yards. W, Dale & Co. have sold since the 1st day of March, 850,000 feet and 300,000 shingles; J. B. Wells, 350,000 feet and 250,000 shingles, lath, doors and sash--an unusually large quantity. A great many of the old settlers are removing their houses and substituting good panel doors for the old batten, plank, or "shakes," the only available material of a few years since. So much for the benefits of a railroad.
Dale & Company have eleven carloads of lumber in transit by the Chicago & Northwestern Railroad via Blair. J. B. Wells has just received several carloads, not included in the above figures. The incoming settlers have a vast advantage over the pioneers. We had to take such lumber as the locality afforded -- cottonwood -- and at such prices often in excess of pine that can be purchased now; and with the exhaustless beds of coal in Wyoming, freighted over the Union Pacific Railroad and the increased facilities of the Columbus and Sioux City road, reaching into the vast lumber regions of Wisconsin and Minnesota, will settle Northern Nebraska with a rapidity beyond a parallel in the history of the great West, possessing as it does a soil unsurpassed in fertility, as the immense yields of grain of the past season attest, and a climate for healthfulness and purity are clearly indicated by the elastic step and the bright eye of the toiler, the blooming freshness of our ladies (the comment of all visitors), putting to shame the tawdry adornment of cosmetics and pearl paste.
We visited a few of the business houses of Columbus, with a view to give the Herald's distant readers an insight to our growth and business, as we are in constant receipt of letters inquiring of these mat-
PAST AND PRESENT OF PLATTE COUNTY 249
ters, referring to the Omaha Herald as their source of partial information that led to more minute inquiry.
We find about eighty-five breaker and over one hundred staving plows sold the past season, fifty-one reapers and mowers, cultivators and improved hay rakes, etc. A great many farming implements of improved kinds, far in excess of the most sanguine expectations of our dealers, they having to replenish frequently during the season, Col. John Rickly and Maj. J. P. Becker taking the lead in this class of goods. One day's sales, amounting to $3,700, were shown us upon the books by J. P. Becker's clerk. Colonel Rickly assures us that his grocery sales are more than double of any previous years. There are several other establishments whose aggregate sales would make a good showing and add largely to the sum total of sales.
One other stubborn fact we will report: H. P. Coolidge a year since opened a stove and hardware store, and has added to his building until now his storeroom, 100 feet in length, is filled from floor to roof, his sales of stoves footing up 256, with three men constantly employed in fitting up tinware. Prompt, energetic, courteous -- courtesy being the talisman of business -- he has earned a reputation hurrying him on to easy circumstances, and earned him the cognomen of "smiling Harry."
Having elicited so much palpable evidence of prosperity, we sought its solution and found it in the following statement of facts, gathered from the books of Gerrard & Taylor, real estate agents, another firm that by untiring industry and careful anticipation of the wants of strangers, have contributed largely to the settling of the counties of Platte, Butler, Madison, Colfax and Dodge. I. N. Taylor, the senior member of the firm, personally inspected the lands selected by them in the above counties.
For the past six months, ending October 1st, they have located in Platte County 194 homesteads and pre-emption claims, making an aggregate of 20,000 acres for actual settlement -- 194 homes made in six months. In addition they have done a large business in real estate by sales of non-residents' lands; besides purchasing over one hundred tracts of Union Pacific Railroad lands for settlers of larger means. Here then we find the solution of so much demand for lumber, agricultural implements and general merchandise. Mr. Taylor informs me that in the western part of this county there are six townships of as choice land, beautiful for situation, as the most ardent tiller of the soil could desire.
1870 -- A better and more hopeful feeling among our merchants
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and farmers is palpably manifest. The prices of grain rule low, but the prospect of improvement increases with the lengthening days. Wheat has been offered here at 35 cents per bushel, but no buyers till the last few days, sadly embarrassing farmer and merchant, and has necessitated more than an average amount of notes of hand and due bills, in the balances found due our merchants for the past year.
SHIPMENTS OF GRAIN
J. P. Becker has shipped three carloads of grain to your city (Omaha) the past week, receiving as far west of us as Silver Creek, and Schuyler on the east of us. He has also shipped several loads of flour west, the product of his flouring mill on Shell Creek, producing flour that can compete in the market with any other mill in the state, either steam or water power. Col. John Rickly is busy receiving grain for the same destination, the pleasant weather bringing in the farmers with their grain from long distances.
IMPROVEMENTS IN COLUMBUS
The erection of buildings and public improvements by the old fogies of the place continues unabated, notwithstanding the slang of the misanthrope that has neither "love or joy" in his nature. Since we last referred to improvements in progress and about to commence, the large store of P. McAvoy has been built by Davis & Brewer, contractors, and the interior fittings are nearly ready for the painter. H. N. Lathrop has finished a very comfortable and tasty residence, containing eight rooms. A neat two-story cottage belonging to the Widow Freston, the dwelling houses of C. Shaer, Thomas Welch, J. Kelley, P. McAleer and ice houses for S. Marmoy and Johnny Bowman, have all been finished since the dawn of 1870. A large warehouse for H. Compton & Brother is in progress and will be ready for occupancy in a few days.
Maj. J. P. Becker has commenced another warehouse for the storage of agricultural implements of all kinds, he having the agency for Skinner & Briggs' breakers, and Deere's Moline plows, the warehouse built by the major last year near the side track of the Union Pacific Railroad being required exclusively for grain and flour.
1870 The beautiful weather with which we are favored continues to allure our mechanics to undertake just another and another house to erect. At present writing (January 13, 1870), we see three
PAST AND PRESENT OF PLATTE COUNTY 251
buildings progressing, some siding and roofing, others painting and finishing. P. McAvoy, a gentleman of large means, recently come to Nebraska, from under British dominion, has a large force of men excavating a cellar 40 by 18 feet, over which he intends to build this, winter, if practicable, a large two-story building, the lower room for a store, the upper story for offices or a public hall.
M. B. Dale is moving into his new store, pronounced by all who have visited it the most beautiful in finish and completeness of arrangements of any store west of Chicago. You will smile, Mr. Editor, at our assumption, we know, but anything undertaken by W. B. Dale to build, must surpass each former attempt, and well he has displayed his taste and fitness for the task. His residence on the corner of Washington Avenue, and his new store on the opposite corner, excites attention and secures admiration for their elegance and scrupulous adherence to refinement and comfort.
Their proprietor, raised in the State of New York, associated with first class business houses in dry goods, has cultivated his natural fine conceptions of the chaste and beautiful.
The main building is 22 by 60 feet, height of store room 14 feet, upper story 12 feet, with an additional lower room 44 feet in length that can be thrown into one room if necessary, making the store 100 feet in depth. All the rooms upstairs are occupied, and the demand for more continues every day. If fifty were available there is demand for them.
The interior of the store is so superior in its finish to anything west of the Mississippi River, that your correspondent in attempting to give an adequate idea of its superiority, would be charged by those who have not seen it, with puffing, which we shall not do unless we get after Lovejoy, the Republican's correspondent from this place, whose initials in full are D. L. B., if we mistake not.
The building finished cost $6,500, of which amount $2,500 was spent in the fitting and painting of the store. The carpenter work was done by Charles Davis, assisted by two first class joiners. The painting, graining and paper hanging was done by Lathrop & McGinness. The graining (English oak) was done by Jerome McGinness, the junior member of the firm, and challenges comparison for naturalness and fidelity in imitation of England's royal oak. The frescoes, statuary and wall paper were obtained from the house of Taxton & Co., Chicago, and have called out surpassing skill in hanging paper (done by H. N. Lathrop) and stands as a permanent advertisement to all that have refined tastes and money to lavish in gorgeous display.
252PAST AND PRESENT OF PLATTE COUNTY
Columbus, the center of Nebraska, for other matters than "railroad," can pride herself on the finest dry goods store in the state. The new stores of H. Wellman and Blaser, Stauffer & Co. are finished and occupied, and doing a thriving business.
W. C. Sutton, a merchant of small beginning, has had to make large additions in his store to meet the increase of his business, consisting of general merchandise and furniture, the last mentioned outgrowing his most sanguine expectations and calling into requisition considerable capital.
Hugh Compton, our postmaster, has made several additions to meet the extended business and trade, the result of large settlements made on the Elkhorn and Union Creek, on the north of our county, that naturally flows into Columbus. From a small beginning, three years since, H. Compton has built up a large business in groceries and produce. Ever courteous and attentive to his customers' wants, by honorable and fair dealing, he has secured no inconsiderable share of patronage. Having associated his brother, John Compton, with him, we learn they contemplate building, in the spring, a store house large enough to accommodate their increased trade.
November 22, 1870 -- Hearing that the contractors of our Platte River bridge were ready to submit the structure to an inspection, with a view to acceptance, we this morning cast round for means of conveyance to the river, when we were familiarly greeted by J. A. Baker, and invited to take a seat in his buggy, which we were not slow to accept. We have a weakness for a fast team and Joe drives a span of beautiful roans, so off we went at a rapid rate, the keen November air, crisp and frosty, giving zest to our ride of two miles over the road.
We found Mr. Means, the foreman, and judging from our estimate of the man, he means all he says, with a gang of men executing the finishing touches and rushing to completion one of the finest structures in the bridge line in Nebraska.
We shall reserve, for another occasion, a description of the bridge, its plan of construction, its workmanship and adaptability to Nebraska streams, but we must record at this time, the pleasure we realized while walking over the bridge and reviewing the sectional strifes of the past, engendered by a North and South Platte, having nothing to bind us together but a rope of sand, and saw the link that welded our common interest together, crushing the apple of discord that negatives all public improvements and checks the wheels of progress and advancement.
PAST AND PRESENT OF PLATTE COUNTY 253
Well may the citizens of old Platte jubilate in the completion of our bridge. Fremont, Grand Island and North Platte are jubilant in anticipation. We extend welcome greetings to North Platte, Omaha and all intermediate counties that realize with us, the speedy annihilation of sectionalism through the progressive and peaceful bonds of commerce and trade.
We are assured that five years hence we shall see every county in the state, through which the Platte River runs, with their beautiful structures across the river--the duplicate of our bridge at Columbus. Teams will be crossing in the morning.
1870 -- Immigration is fast flowing into our county. We are now proving the value of a live journal, persistently spreading upon its pages, and "Heralding" to the distant states the fertility of our soil and the matchless beauty of our valleys, prairies and climate.
Our real estate agents are doing a "land office business" (in more than one sense) in locating homesteads and pre-emptions. Gerrard & Taylor are doing the lion's share, both these gentlemen giving their personal attention in selecting lands, and have the advantage of several years' experience in the business. A. G. Stevens also finds plenty to do, and so extensive has the business become that C. A. Speice and J. E. North have associated themselves together in the real estate business. These gentlemen are both pioneers, whose integrity and reputation for the past fifteen years in Nebraska stands out bright and are worthily entitled to their share of the greenbacks that the immigrants are cheerfully handing out for the assistance furnished them in the prompt selection of their homesteads. So thoroughly have all these agents systematized their selections that many who came weeks ago to get ahead of the rush and pick their land, are yet undecided, hovering from piece to piece, bewildered with the unvarying sameness. Those who upon their arrival go to the real estate agents, examine the plats and make their selections are often hauling their lumber and in some instances have their houses under way, while the men who are on the rush and the pick return to give vent to their mortification by finding the piece selected in their mind, but went farther and found worse.
254PAST AND PRESENT OF PLATTE COUNTY
THE LOUP FORK BRIDGE
has passed its ordeal of practicability and has met the most sanguine expectations of its designer and is now ready to span the treacherous stream, no longer a terror and fear to settler or emigrant, alike free to all from tax or toll, the commissioners having, by rigid economy -and masterly financiering, declared the bridge a county road. We have parties surveying locations and sounding for the
PLATTE RIVER BRIDGE
at this place. Their reports are so favorable that the commissioners at their next meeting will have no difficulty in selecting and deciding upon a plan for constructing our bridge.
Butler County is equally interested (we think more so than our citizens) in the success of this bridge, but voted against issuing their share of the bonds for its construction. This defeat was produced by those local jealousies that are engendered and fed by men of narrow views and distorted ideas of public benefit, unless the project for public improvements, requiring an outlay of money, directly and exclusively meets their views of local surroundings. Our commissioners have determined to proceed with the bridge, having the pledge of some few live men and more liberal minded citizens of Butler County to meet their share of the expenditure by private subscription.
Building is the order of the day and every carpenter has constant work. We can see, from where we write this letter, seven new houses in progress. We see the huge piles of lumber rapidly disappearing from the yards and we are assured by competent judges that the present stock of lumber will be exhausted in weeks, but F. G. Becher, of the firm of Becher & Toncray, is now absent in Wisconsin, making arrangements for a million feet of lumber of every grade from stock to shipping.
BRIDGING THE PLATTE
The contract for building the Platte River bridge at this place was awarded to Wells, French & Co., of Chicago, at $9 per lineal foot, and will be completed in August next. William Gerhold was awarded the three bridges on Shell Creek at the same figures. This will make seven first class free bridges, at an aggregate cost of $30,000 in one year by the county. We think such liberal outlays
PAST AND PRESENT OF PLATTE COUNTY 255
in a new country sparsely settled, shows an enterprise that rebukes more favored localities and casts back into the throats of such vilifiers as Lovejoy, Aunt Hannah and other acariatre, reliable correspondents of the Republican, "That this place is a nest of old fogies, who will neither eat themselves nor let any one else." Mighty right are they in one thing; we don't intend any one shall eat us.
SETTLEMENT OF THE COUNTY
In the years that are past, when traveling the crowded cities of the old world and listening to the popular song "Uncle Sam is rich enough to give us all a farm," often have we speculated upon means that could be brought to settle the vast domain in the land of the setting sun, and the wise provision made for the support of unborn millions of earth's toiling sons, and for whom Thomas H. Benton, with remarkable prescience, agitated for a railroad to the Pacific.
The constant settlement of the unoccupied lands, both United States and railroad, in our county, attests the wisdom of the advocates of liberal land grants to railroads in the West and the munificent homestead to the actual settler, which, but for the conception of and the completion of the Union Pacific Railroad, would have remained for ages a wilderness that a few years have made prolific of industry and life.
The school lands of our county are offered for sale on the 28th inst. (June, 1870), and many are turning their attention to securing them. Liberal as is the Union Pacific Railroad Company, the school lands are more favorable to the man of small means, one-tenth of the purchase money down and ten years' time for the balance, thus giving the purchasers the benefit of today's value against the enhanced value of ten years hence, which will, upon the most reasonable calculation, be quadrupled, independent of the improvements that may be put upon the land, which will be no inconsiderable item in the estimate of an industrious man.
LOUP RIVER BRIDGE TO BE FINISHED NEXT SATURDAY
July 29, 1874 -- Yesterday we took a stroll to the bridge that has been in course of erection for some time across the Loup River to see what condition it was in. The main bridge is across the channel
256PAST AND PRESENT OF PLATTE COUNTY
of the river and is 538 feet in length, four spans varying from 132 to 136 1/2 feet. There are five piers, each composed of twenty-one oak piles, eighteen of which are 30 feet in length, all driven into the sand 21 feet below low water mark. This part of the work was done by J. B. and L. M. Beebe. The piers are cased all around with three inch oak plank and towards the current of the stream is an ice-breaker, shod with railroad iron. The front pile facing the current of the stream is also shod with railroad iron and the pier (at that point in shape of an A) is shod with polished plate iron. These hollow piers are to be filled with brush.
The superstructure is the Howe truss, which is universally adapted and used by all railroads as the best wooden bridge constructed. The floor is of pine plank, three inches thick, laid diagonally on joists 3 by 12 inches. This part of the bridge was let by contract to H. P. Handy, of Grand Island, in February last, and has been constructed under the supervision of John L. Means, who superintended the construction of the Platte River bridge, and who in our opinion is an excellent man at the business. We believe that this is one of the best and cheapest bridges in the State of Nebraska. Mr. Means expects to be through with his work today (Wednesday).
The bridge spans the central part of the river and a short time since, the county commissioners seeing the urgent necessity of providing a crossing, employed L. M. Beebe, working by the day under their orders, to erect approaches to each end of the main bridge, which work he is now engaged in and expects to have completed as far as to allow the crossing of teams by Saturday of this week. The north approach is of trestle work and is 96 feet in-length, the piers being composed of three piles driven 14 to 15 feet in the sand. This part is now completed. The south channel bridge is designed to be a permanent structure, being constructed like Platte River bridge. Of this part there are to be two spans, each 48 feet in length, resting on piers composed of hard pine piling 12 by 12 inches, four to the pier. There is perhaps no river in the state that is more difficult to bridge successfully than is the Loup and we hope that what we now have will remain as a permanent monument of the enterprise and pluck of our county as well as of the skill and workmanship of the builders.
July 11, 1877 -- There are some fine farms between the Loup and Platte rivers. The farm of G. C. Barnum, Sr., looks well and his cornfield near the road as you come up the valley presents a good appearance; although not so high as that of C. S. Webster, yet it
PAST AND PRESENT OF PLATTE COUNTY 257
stands well and has a good color. What makes it look so well is the fact that it is one continuous field, comprising one hundred and thirty or one hundred and forty acres. All it wants to make a splendid crop is to keep the plow running in it this hot weather, which was being done last week.
On the farm of J. E. North some good crops are growing. The corn and potatoes near the road look well.
C. Dewey's farm on the roadside does not seem to have received either as early or as good culture as other farms in the valley, except immediately in the vicinity of the dwelling house, where a nice garden and potatoes present a good growth and will doubtless yield a good crop.
Next in order as you go west are the farms of Charley Morse, Henry Bean, A. J. Arnold and C. S. Webster. All of them appear to have received careful attention and culture. We could only see the crops at a distance on the farm of Henry Bean, but they presented a good appearance and the cultivated land on Mr. Arnold's farm was hid from our view by his large grove of timber. C. S. Webster is farming on a large scale. This year he has cultivated land on his own place and the farm of Charley Morse. On his own place he has a nice stand of forty-seven acres of grass wheat, which from present appearance will yield twenty-five bushels to the acre. He also has some corn on his own farm and with that growing on the farm of Mr. Morse will all amount to seventy-five acres and is the largest and best we saw on the roadside. The soil of this farm is a rich loam, with just the quantity of sand to make it productive.
October 23, 1878 -- The terrible scourge that every fall as regularly as the season turns around visits almost every section of our county with more or less destruction of property, is this season causing more damage than usual. Not only is personal property destroyed but in some instances fatal accidents to human life are recorded among the calamities.
Franz Henggler lost by fire Sunday $700 to $800 worth of young timber. In the same neighborhood Mr. Schmitz's cornfield was burned. John Haney, a few miles east of Columbus, lost a large rick of hay. G. P. Shatts lost grain and hay. James Compton, Jr., his dwelling house and contents of granary, stable, windmill, etc., besides his stacks of grain. His neighbor, Patrick Griffin, lost his
258PAST AND PRESENT OF PLATTE COUNTY
granary and cattle sheds. The fire which did this work started from the railroad track near Martin Regan's Saturday evening and reached Shell Creek about midnight, the wind being in the southwest. Reaching the creek, it traveled slowly, and in the evening the wind changing nearly north, the fire swept southward on the west border of its former line, stopping very nearly where it started.
From William M. Stevens, living across the county line in Colfax County, we learn of the following losses by fire: Captain Brown lost all his small grain; Henry Gluck, stables, hay and grain, Gus Gluck, grain, hay and considerable wood; Mike Burk all his grain, hay, cattle sheds and corral; Larry Burns, all his personal property, except house and granary; Mr. Barnes lost everything except house and furniture, also a threshing machine belonging to the Jenny brothers.
H. T. Spoerry of Stearns Prairie, reports a destructive fire there last Sunday, destroying for R. W. Young all his hay and grain, three horses and all his buildings; T. J. Ellis by the same fire, all his grain, hay and stable; and Mr. Hellbusch, twelve stacks of grain and his grove of timber.
Mr. Peterson lost 1,000 bushels of wheat, all his outbuildings, stable and hay; Louis Cedar, his team, harness and stable; Andrew Larson, grain, hay and stable; S. Nelson lost all his hay; William Irwin, eight stacks of small grain; Peter Valine, eight stacks of wheat on his timber claim; J. W. Dickinson, four stacks of wheat; Mr. Burling, wheat, oats and rye and all his hay and stable; Jacob Jacobs, all his grain and hay and his wife was badly injured; John Ennis, all his wheat and part of his hay and stables; George Mitchener everything but his sod house, and was himself badly burned, and his neighbor, Mr. Middleton, in trying to help him, lost his life; Mr. Zeigler lost all his grain; S. C. Osborn, 500 bushels of wheat destroyed in the stack; and all his hay and flax; on Shell Creek, Charlie Williams, four stacks of wheat; Daniel Holleran, large amount of hay; Martin Bohan, all his hay and nearly all his grain; Hans Oleson, four stacks of wheat; James Ducey, everything he had but live stock -- buildings, machinery and wagon all burned; Pat Ducey, everything but his house and forty bushels of wheat and live stock.
PAST AND PRESENT OF PLATTE COUNTY 259
THE LOUP BREAK
March 23, 1881 -- On Saturday last the long looked for breakup of the Loup River took place, making considerable havoc. There has been no such flood of water and ice since 1867, when the waters covered the bottom south of the city. There was an abundance of ice upwards of two feet in thickness. One piece was seen which was three feet, two inches in thickness. The middle spans of the Loup River wagon bridge were seen to loosen and quietly float down stream. Many other bridges were swept away. Travel was completely cut off of the wagon bridge with the South Loup and South Platte country. Houses in the "bottom" with good solid foundations, especially protected by trees, were not much disturbed, although they were more or less filled with water. Three or four were carried off and some damaged by being struck with large cakes of ice. George Spooner's residence was taken several squares and set down again in good shape. Mrs. Hamer's building was considerably damaged. David Anderson lost $100 worth of hogs, and water filled his cellar within six inches of the floor. The Union Pacific track from the culvert west of the depot to the big bridge across the Loup was more or less torn up, the culvert swept away. John Haney lost 210 head of cattle swept off and only fifty recovered. The schoolhouse near Mrs. Barrows' residence was moved about a mile by the flood and placed very nearly in the center of the district. Mrs. Barrows and her children were rescued from their dwelling. Henry Bender had more than two hundred dollars worth of sheep drowned.
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