The first mention of Burrows Township discovered in the minutes of the county commissioners is of date August 5, 1873, when the polling place for the precinct was ordered to be at the house of John Greisen; Richard Bashel and George W. Lamb, justices of the peace; Peter Bockshaken and John Moriarty, judges of election; Richard Bashel and Joseph Burrows, clerks. Burrows consists of all of congressional township 19, range 2 west. It is bounded on the north by Granville, on the east by Grand Prarie, south by Lost Creek, and vest by Joliet. Shell Creek cuts across its extreme southwestern corner where a tributary stream flowing from the north enters it. Other effluents of Shell Creek form in the central part of the township and flowing toward the east, enter the main stream on section 13, in Lost Creek Township. The Sioux City & Columbus Railroad enters the township on section 36 and leaves it on section 1, having a station called Tarnov on section 13. The topography is a fine level upland, with soil of fertile black loam.
Among the early settlers in this township were John and Joseph Burrows, John Greisen, George and Richard Bashel and George W. Lamb. James Noonan settled here in 1874 and remained until his death in 1912.
Within a year or two after the township was organized a school was in operation. Among the early teachers was Miss M. Rebecca Elliott, daughter of John Elliott. A local item in the Journal in 1877 says: "In district No. 9 a school meeting was held at 7 P. M. On April 11th. All the levy that was made was 2 mills for teachers' fund. There is upwards of $500 in the treasury. The board was instructed to have school seven months, the winter term to begin on the first Monday in December. G. W. Galley, who has been director ever since the organization of the district, was re-elected. Miss Clark has been employed as teacher for the spring term, school to commence April 16th. The district has never before employed a
378PAST AND PRESENT OF PLATTE COUNTY
lady teacher. The schoolhouse is being removed by Loveland & Ellis, a half mile west of the former site, and a few rods east of John Burrows' residence. A. M. Buckley has been employed in this district during portions of four years. The school board is at present made up of, moderator, Jacob Guter; treasurer, Samuel Galley; director, G. W. Galley."
The gold fever was quite intense in this township in 1877, and many venturesome spirits went to the Black Hills in search of the precious metal. Among them was Thomas Taylor, who in May of the year mentioned, with E. A. Brown, of Monroe; William Wilson and Alex Shillitoe, of Stearns' Prairie, started for the Black Hills. Their route was up the Elk Horn to the Niobrara, where they joined a large train of gold seekers.
Tarnov is a little village on the line of the Sioux City & Columbus Railroad, numbering about one hundred and twenty-five souls. It was laid out on section 13, by the Union Land Company, per Thomas L. Kimball, president, July 25, 1889, and called Burrows. The name was afterwards changed to Tarnov.
Tarnov was quite a busy little trading point, with the customary general stores, shops, a good school and church. St. Anthony's organized soon after the village was founded and incorporated by Bishop Richard Scannell, November 15, 1889, at a meeting held in the City of Omaha, attended by the bishop, Rev. William Choka, vicar general, and two laymen, Peter Ripp and Gerhard Gronenthal.
The Bank of Tarnov was incorporated September 12, 1911, with a capital stock of $15,000, by George P. Bissell, P. J. Ternus, and J. W. Hutchison.
The postoffice was established July 24, 1891, A. C. Leas in charge. His successors in the postmastership and the dates of their commission, were: Henry Marek, December 15, 1893; M. C. Skompa, April 24, 1895; A. C. Leas, February 12, 1898; Frank Schram, September 3, 1902; John F. Weber, April 21, 1903; A. C. Leas, June 24, 1903; J. A. Matya, January 27, 1911; J. W. Liss, May 16, 1914.
St. Michael's Church was organized in the year 1880, and on January 18, 1893; incorporated, by Bishop Richard Scannell, of Omaha; William Choka, vicar general of the Omaha diocese; Anastatius Czech, pastor of the church, and two laymen, John Jworski and Stanislaus Szawica. The first pastor was Father Cyillus Augus-
PAST AND PRESENT OF PLATTE COUNTY 379
tinski, whose successors were Fathers Anastatius Czech, Ladislaus Czech, Rembert Stanowski, Ladislaus Czech, a second time, and Dennis Czech. The present pastor is Father Canutus Lobinski. In 1886 a parochial school was established by St. Francis Sisters from the mother house in Lafayette, Ind. During the pastorate of Father Dennis Czech a new modern, two-story brick school building was erected on a lot adjoining the church, at a cost of $60,000.
The first church edifice was a small frame structure, erected soon after the congregation was organized, and this was replaced by a handsome brick structure in 1901. The church is attended by 150 Polish families.
St. Anthony's Church is located 2 1/2 miles south of Tarnov. This society was founded in 1878 by Father Sebastian Zubulla. The church is at the present time in charge of Father Maurus Eberle.
On June 12, 1905, a petition signed by A. Volz and twenty-nine others, was presented to the board of supervisors asking for the incorporation of Tarnov, the same to include the following territory: Sections 10, 11, 13 and 14, and the west half of section 12, of township 19 north, range 2 west.
On June 16, 1905, the board found that the petition contained the names of a majority of the inhabitants of Tarnov and from the affidavit of K. P. Wettengel, a taxable inhabitant of Tarnov, the territory contained no less than two hundred inhabitants and actual residents. The prayer of the petitioners was granted and A. Volz, D. Czech, John L. Flakus, A. C. Leas and J. E. McDaniel were appointed trustees for the village to serve until the election and qualification of their successors.
This township is part of towns 17 and 18, range 3 west, and when created, in January, 1860, comprised all of the territory then lying west of Columbus Precinct. The first election was held at the house of Charles Whaley and the judges were Joseph Gerrard, Joseph Selzer and Charles Whaley.
Monroe is bounded on the west by Nance County and Woodville Township; on the north by Joliet Township; east by Lost Creek Township, and south by Oconee Township. The Lookingglass enters the Territory of Monroe on section 6 and wending its way along the western border flows into Oconee from section 82. A branch of Lost Creek, Shell Creek and Cherry Creek water the east half of the township. On section 5 is a hamlet containing one store known as West Hill. Near by on section 4 is a church and another one on section 7.
Monroe Township and that part of Lost Creek in Oconee taken from it, attracted settlers as early as 1857. Among them were Leander Gerrard and C. H. Whaley. Gerrard came here, helped organize Monroe County, which subsequently became a part of Platte, and while a citizen of the Town of Monroe, now in Oconee Township, engaged in the cattle business, overland freighting and trading with the Indians during the period from 1857 to 1866. In the latter year he removed to Columbus. A full detail of his activities thereafter is found on another page.
C. H. Whaley also took up a claim here about the time of Gerrard's arrival, and he, too, finally found his way to Columbus, where he became quite prominent in the affairs of that community and the county.
Robert E. Wiley, one of the pioneers of the county, arrived here in May, 1873, with his father, mother, four sisters and a few companions, and immediately became the possessor of 160 acres of the community's rich soil. His first night in Monroe Township will not
PAST AND PRESENT OF PLATTE COUNTY 381
soon be forgotten. With a number of others, he stopped in a sod house, belonging to Henry Clayburn. Soon after all had retired for the night, a heavy rainstorm came on, such as frequently occurred at this time of the year, but this one seemed to the newcomers more severe than they had ever witnessed. The roof of the house was carried away, part of the earthen walls caved in, and the inmates rushed from their beds to secure anything at hand which would protect them from the drenching rain. Mr. Wiley was married in 1881 to Jane M. Brown. Prior to her marriage Mrs. Wiley had taught four terms of school in the township. Mr. Wiley became quite successful and at one time owned 500 acres of land.
Samuel C. Smith came to Platte County in the '60s. He was Government trader at the Pawnee reservation eighteen months, after which he located on a farm in Monroe Township, about 1866. Here he remained four years as a successful farmer and in 1871 removed to Columbus, where he opened a real estate office. Mr. Smith was agent for the Union Pacific Railroad lands in Platte and surrounding counties through which the road extended.
On section 5 is a locality known as West Hill, where there is a general store. On section 4 is the Lookingglass Swedish Methodist Episcopal Church, which was organized about 1880. In 1882 a meeting of the members was held for the election of trustees to hold property for the use and benefit of the society. Nels Munson was moderator of the meeting, and Jonas Anderson, clerk. The trustees elected were Nels Munson, Nels Olson, August Peterson, Frederick Peterson and L. Hedlund.
William A. Walton was one of the large farmers and a breeder of thoroughbred Durham cattle of this township and settled on section 82. He was born in Maryland and in 1869 started West, stopping to visit his father, the Government Indian trader at Genoa. Here he remained and in 1871 bought out his father in the post tradership. Two years later he became instructor of the village Indians. In 1877 he located in this township, on what became known as the Elm Springs farm. Walton devoted much of his time to raising thoroughbred cattle and took a great interest in educational matters. With others, he organized a library, known as the Loup Valley Library, located at Keatskotoos, in this township. It was organized in January, 1881, with sixty volumes, and its officers were: James O. Tasker, president; George S. Truuman, secretary; William E. Walton, treasurer; Lafayette Anderson, chairman.
382PAST AND PRESENT OF PLATTE COUNTY
At a session of the board held August 1, 1871, Bismark Precinct, consisting of towns 18, 19 and 20, range 1 east, was created and named Bismark. Andrew Mathias, Henry Lusche and C. Reinke were appointed judges; Henry Rickert and Benjamin Spielman, clerks. From this territory the townships of Sherman and Creston later were carved out. Bismark has the County of Colfax for its northern boundary line. On the south is Columbus Township, west Shell Creek Township, and north, Sherman. Short Creek coming into the township from the west, forms a junction with Spring Creek on section 8, which then forms a junction with Loseke on section 2. Then trending south, the reinforced stream empties into Shell Creek, which crosses the central part of the township from west to east. The topography of the country here is two-thirds level upland and one-third is rolling, and throughout, the soil is of a rich loam. The farms, with their improvements, take first rank in this agricultural prairie country. Corn, oats and wheat grow in profusion, and the staple industry is that of stock-raising.
Bismark has no towns, but cannot be said to be unfortunate in that respect, as its people are within a short distance of the county seat. With the modern automobile, with which many of the people are supplied, the journey has been shortened to a great extent, for it should be added also that Bismark has a number of very good thoroughfares leading into Columbus. There are five school districts, with passably good schoolhouses, and two churches.
Charles Schroeder was one of the well known men of this day in Platte County and an early settler in his township. Coming from Germany to the United States in 1862, he worked in various places and in 1868 located on a homestead in this locality. Here Schroeder farmed until 1873, when he moved to Columbus and opened a blacksmith shop, which developed into a wagon and carriage factory. He established the first and only foundry and machine shop and also was an extensive dealer in farm implements, etc. The Schroeder mill, still in operation, chiefly owes its existence to the exertion and enterprise of Charles Schroeder.
Edwin Ahrens was born in Oldenburg in 1833 and crossing the Atlantic, he set foot on the land which harbors no principality or potentates. He came to Nebraska in 1860, and finding his way to Platte County, located on section 23, in Bismark Township, becoming not only one of the first settlers of the county, but also of this
GERMAN EVANGELICAL LUTHERAN CHURCH, BISMARK TOWNSHIP
GERMAN EVANGELICAL LUTHERAN SCHOOL, BISMARK TOWNSHIP
PAST AND PRESENT OF PLATTE COUNTY 383
township. He was a good farmer and stock raiser. In 1864 he married Miss Anna Loseke, at Columbus, who was also a native of Oldenburg.
William Gerhold was born in Pennsylvania. His parents removed to Ohio and when the war broke out he was in Charleston, Ill., where he enlisted for the Civil war. Previous to this, while a boy, he drove mules on the Ohio canal. Mr. Gerhold became quite prominent in the township as a farmer, citizen and public officer. He was for many years justice of the peace. Mr. Gerhold first spent three years in Columbus as a carpenter and bridge builder and in 1870 began farming in this township. He married Mary Wiss, at Columbus, in 1868.
Carl Reinke was the first settler in this township, locating on section 24, in what is now Bismark Township. A full description of Carl Reinke, one of the original thirteen members of the Columbus Town Company, is given elsewhere.
Henry Lusche, a native of Oldenburg, Germany, was one of the pioneers of this county and located on section 23, in 1856. He had in his home farm over seven hundred acres, where he raised large quantities of corn, wheat and other grain, besides cattle, hogs and other stock. He married Katherina Mistedt, a native of Oldenburg, at Columbus, in 1858, and was the parent of eight children.
Herman Wilkin was one of the early settlers of Bismark Township. He was also a native of Oldenburg, Germany, immigrated to America in 1859, first located in Pennsylvania, and then in Illinois, where he enlisted for the Civil war and served three years. He was with General Sherman in his famous march to the sea. Wilkin returned from the war to Illinois, where he remained until January, 1867, and then went to Wisconsin and married Miss Anna Wurdeman, a native of Oldenburg. With his bride, Herman Wilkin came to Platte County in the fall of 1867, and located on section 4, in this township, where he prospered and long was known as one of the prominent men of the community.
The Evangelical Lutheran Church congregation was organized early in the history of the township and on April 4, 1906, the church was incorporated by Adolf Marty, Heinrich Buss and John Ahrens, who were elected trustees; Fritz Otte, clerk.
Sherman Precinct was created December 2, 1872, and comprises township 19, range 1 east. J. Stauv, Herman Bockenhouse and
384PAST AND PRESENT OF PLATTE COUNTY
Norman Small were township judges; John Riley, constable; Herman Small, assessor; Herman G. Luschen, road supervisor.
This township is bounded on the east by Colfax County; on the south by Bismark Township; on the west by Grand Prairie Township, and on the north by Creston Township. The soil here is very good for general farming purposes and stock-raising. There is a superabundance of water furnished by Elk Creek and its tributaries, Suiss Creek, Spring and Loseke creeks.
One of the early settlers who came to Platte County was John Henry Wurdeman, who removed from Wisconsin in 1869, and in March of that year located on section 10, Sherman Township. Like his neighbor, Herman G. Luschen, he was a native of Oldenburg, Germany, and possessed the capabilities of the German people for the making of first class farmers. Needless to say, Wurdeman became successful in his undertakings and before many years owned several hundred acres of well improved land. This he acquired through industry, frugality and good business judgment. Like others who came to this new country, he and his family were for some years deprived of many conveniences and even of actual necessities, which go to make life worth the living. His neighbors were few and far between. There were no roads to speak of and schools and churches were in the dim distance. He lived to see this section of the county blossom out as the rose, with many fine farms, comfortable buildings' good roads, schools, churches and all the conveniences of older communities.
Wurdeman's neighbor, Herman G. Luschen, who had first settled in Wisconsin, removed from that state to Platte County in the summer of 1869, and located on section 8. He was a man built physically and mentally to battle bravely and successfully against the trying difficulties met in the life of a pioneer settler. He was possessed of the habits and instincts of the builder, and coming here with the determination to make for himself and family a new home, he became eminently successful in his endeavors, soon having one of the well improved farms of this section. Mr. Luschen developed into a citizen and neighbor of value. He had, before coming here, earned a splendid record in the Civil war, having been engaged in many hotly contested battles in that great struggle for supremacy between the North and the South.
James Davis arrived here from Iowa in 1873 and settled on section 8. He was a good husbandman and a valuable citizen. Joshua
TWO VIEWS OF FLOWING WELL ON ADOLF H GROTELUSCHEN'S
FARM IN SHERMAN TOWNSHIP
PAST AND PRESENT OF PLATTE COUNTY 385
and Mary Davis, his aged parents, came with him and settled here permanently.
In 1878 Sherman Precinct had a population of 310, which showed an increase of 34 over the preceding year, of which 132 were Americans, 13 Irish, 3 English and 162 German. The agricultural report showed 3,380 acres under cultivation.
A German Lutheran Church was organized early in the '70s and a church building erected on section 2, in 1877. A burial ground was laid out across the road opposite the church, and the first interment there was of the wife of Julius Hempd, in February, 1877.
Town 19, range 3 west, was organized August 5,1873, as Lookingglass Township, but later the name was changed to Joliet. It was located on the petition of B. J. H. Yerion and others, and the first election was held at the house of Robert Jones. The land here is about one-half rolling and about one-half level upland. The soil is a rich loam and is nicely drained by Shell Creek and its tributaries. This township is devoid of any trading point. It is bounded on the north by St. Bernard; east by Burrows; south by Monroe, and west by Walker and Woodville townships.
Loup Precinct, or township, was created September 7, 1880, and comprises all of the territory on the south bank of the Loup Fork River, where the east line of section 24, township 17, range 2 west, joins said river; thence running south on the section line to the southeast corner of section 36, town 17, range 2 west; thence west on the section line to the west line of Platte County; thence north along the west line of Platte County to the Loup River. The first election was ordered to be held at district schoolhouse No. 37; judges, John C. Whitaker, John Graham, John Jaisli; clerks, John B. Kyle, J. G. Kummer.
Loup Township has no towns or railroads. Its northern boundary line is the Loup River; on the west is Butler Township, on the south Butler Township and Merrick County, and on the west, Nance County.
This township was erected May 7, 1872, and named Stearns Precinct. On October 13, 1874, the name was changed to Grand Prairie. The territory of Stearns Precinct at its birth was comprised of town 19, range 1 west, and the east half of town 19, range 2 west. When Burrows Township was created this township lost that part of its territory lying in town 19, range 2 west, and it is now known as town 19, range 1 west. When established, the place selected for the first election was what was then known as the Half-Way House. The judges were Robert Gentleman, John Brown and William Gentleman; clerks, O. E. Stearns and John P. Brown.
Grand Prairie is a full congressional township. Its soil is watered by Elk Creek and its tributaries. The land is about one-half rolling and one-half level upland, having a rich loam soil. There are no villages, towns or cities within the borders of Grand Prairie. Its farms are well improved and its people prosperous. With good schools and churches, splendid roads and a railroad just across its border line in Burrows, the citizens of this township have no cause for complaint. The boundaries are as follows: On the north is Humphrey Township, on the east Sherman, on the south Shell Creek and on the west Burrows.
At the meeting of the board of county commissioners held September 7, 1875, all of the territory in town 20, range 2, was separated from Pleasant Valley Precinct and named Granville Precinct. A. G. Quinn, Riley Leach and Andrew O'Donnell were appointed judges of election; Abraham Rowe, clerk; H. A. Potter was appointed assessor; W. H. Selser and C. McAlpin, justices of the peace; P. L Baker, S. C. Morgan, constables; G. W. Clark, road supervisor. The polling place for the first election was established at schoolhouse No. 38.
The persons whose names appear in the preceding paragraph, chosen by the board of county commissioners to control the township
PAST AND PRESENT OF PLATTE COUNTY 387
affairs until an election could be held to complete the organization, were chief among the men who first came into the township and settled here. They were all of good pioneer timber, well fitted for the strenuous undertaking of staking out homes on the open prairie, and braving all the vicissitudes of a frontier life. They accomplished their desires and made this township one of the best in Platte County. Special mention should be made of Henry T. Spoerry, who was early upon the scene of action and made his name familiar in all parts of the county through his activity in local public affairs. Spoerry was born in Canton Zurich, Switzerland, in 1835. He emigrated to this country in 1845, after an ocean voyage of thirty-two days, which was considered a short trip for those days. He took the train for Chicago, and upon arriving there discovered that the railroad extended no farther west. He went to Milwaukee, Oshkosh and other towns in Wisconsin, traveling over eighty miles of the journey on foot. Finding employment in sawmills of the different lumber camps of Wisconsin, he remained there until 1857. His home was at Milwaukee from that time until 1861, when he enlisted for the Civil war, becoming a member of the famous Iron Brigade, in which he rose to the rank of first lieutenant. Shortly after the war Mr. Spoerry came to Platte County, when the unbroken prairie stretched in endless extent in every direction. He clerked in a store for John Rickly until 1872, when he took a homestead in Grand Prairie Township and industriously began working to improve a farm. Mr. Spoerry was among the first settlers here and held the office of justice of the peace a number of years. He was elected to the Nebraska Legislature in 1877, to fill a vacancy, took an active part in educational matters and with his assistance the little schoolhouse was one of the first buildings erected here. This pioneer lived in a sod house for ten years with his widowed mother. After a successful career of over fifteen years on the farm, during which time he accumulated property, he removed to Columbus. For his third wife he married the widow of Vincent Kummer.
Henry T. Spoerry was one of the men who gave Grand Prairie its first start in life, and in speaking of the infant days of this township in a letter to the Journal, he had this to say, on December 11, 1874: "Since about all our expostulations and applications for aid have reached deaf ears, we will try what effect printer's ink will produce. Two years and eight months ago only one family was living in what is now school district No. 21, and at this day twenty-two families, numbering 104 persons, are actually living and residing
388PAST AND PRESENT OF PLATTE COUNTY
in this district. Some families moved away this fall, with the intention of returning next spring. This shows we are all new settlers, without the advantage of former years' abundance of crops. This last season 385 acres were sown in wheat, and 2,696 bushels harvested, averaging not quite 7 bushels per acre; 37 acres were sown to oats and 724 bushels harvested, averaging 19 2-3 bushels per acre; 387 acres were planted to corn and not one bushel harvested; potatoes, cabbage and garden vegetables were a complete failure. At this day 1,079 acres are under cultivation, which proves we are not idle. Some of the wheat has been sold to pay last summer's store bills and nearly al1 of the oats has been fed during fall plowing. Fuel consists of prairie and slough grass. No other wood is growing in the district except what we planted here since our settling. The shoes and clothing we brought are by this time worn out and as the grasshoppers have destroyed our crops, we are unable to replace them and consequently are at the mercy of the Nebraska storms."
Another early settler here was 0. E. Stearns, whose name was first given the precinct, and which was for some reason changed to Grand Prairie. Stearns took a very active part in the building up of this community and in 1877, among other things, the following was published in the Columbus Journal: "Stearns' Prairie, April 25, 1877. O. E. Stearns writes that at the last meeting of the school district No. 28, a school site was donated by your humble servant on the main road, 100 rods south of the house. Bonds to the amount of $400 were voted for a school building, and 0. E. Stearns, Robert Gentleman and P. McNamara were appointed a building committee. The director, Alexander Shillitoe, reported that he is bound for the Black Hills and Stearns was elected in his place. There is hardly a grasshopper to be seen in the neighborhood. Wheat is now three to four inches high. I notice lumber being hauled to the next town west, presumed to be for the colony locating there."
Robert Gentleman, Sr., took up a homestead in Grand Prairie Township in 1872. At the time his son, Robert W. Gentleman, was twelve years of age. Here the family lived for many years. When Robert W. grew to manhood, he farmed for several years in Shell Creek Township and later conducted a livery stable at Platte Center. He then became a resident of Columbus.
Grand Prairie is well supplied with churches. The St. John's Evangelical Lutheran Church was organized January, 1879, by Rev. E. A. Frese. The original members were: W. Patschke, W. Hoeflemann, M. Froehlich, F. Schure and E. Brundt. The first meeting
EVANGELICAL ZION'S CHURCH, GRAND PRAIRIE TOWNSHIP
PAST AND PRESENT OF PLATTE COUNTY 389
was held in the district school and the first church was built in 1884. Present church built in 1898. The church has 200 communicant members.
The Evangelical Zion's Church of Grand Prairie was organized in 1890 and incorporated May 28, 1891. The Otto Kalweit and Gehring families were charter members. There were at first twenty-one voting members; now there are over a hundred. The church was built in 1893.
St. Mary's Church had been organized for some time when it was incorporated, October 24, 1893, by Bishop Scannell, Rev. Valentine Dorenkemper, pastor of the church, and Joseph Kruse and Vincent Wieser, two members of St. Mary's.
Woodville Township was created August 5, 1873, and comprises the north half of town 18, and south half of town 19, range 4 west. It is bounded on the north by Walker Township, on the east by Joliet and Monroe townships, on the south by Nance County, and on the west by Boone County.
At the time of its creation the board of county commissioners appointed B. F. Baird, Samuel Picken and H. Sanders, judges of election; Alonzo Getchell and Joseph Apgar, clerks; Joseph Fitzgerald was appointed justice of-the peace; John Harkins, constable; Joseph Apgar, assessor; H. A. Sanders, road supervisor. This part of the county is drained by Beaver, Spring, Branch and Lookingglass creeks and offers special advantages for stock-raising and dairying. Woodville has no towns or railroads within its borders, but about two miles to the west is the Town of St. Edward, in Boone County.
The names of some of the first settlers in this township are mentioned in the paragraph above, among those selected by the board of county commissioners to perfect the organization of Woodville Precinct. These men formed the nucleus of a strong body of pioneers who came into the township and opened farms, built schoolhouses, churches and roads. Within a few years these men and women of brawn and determination placed Woodville permanently upon the map as one of the important agricultural communities in Platte County. The products from their farms, consisting of the cereals to which this climate is favorable and large herds of stock gave this section high standing and credit in the business world.
390PAST AND PRESENT OF PLATTE COUNTY
The First Baptist Church in Palestine was organized and some time later, on November 14, 1889, it was incorporated as the Palestine Baptist Church, A. G. Rolf, P. G. Jones and S. Mahood were elected trustees, and W. D. Henchett, clerk.
On the 7th day of May, 1872, town 20, range 1 east, and town 20, ranges 1 and 2 west, was erected into a new township and named Humphrey, but in 1875 that part of its territory lying in township 20, range 2, was taken to form a part of Granville Township, so that Humphrey is now in town 20, range 1 west. Its northern boundary line is formed by Stanton County. On the east is Creston Township; south, Prairie Township, and west, Granville Township.
The Fremont, Elkhorn & Missouri Valley Railroad enters Humphrey Township at the extreme northwest corner of section 30. It is here that the Valley road crosses the Sioux City & Columbus Railroad, where the Town of Humphrey is located.
Humphrey is a full congressional township and one of the best in the county. Tracy Creek waters its northern boundary, together with branches of that stream, and also a tributary of Elk Creek.
After the first settlement in Humphrey Township, which was in 1870, Humphrey Precinct began to grow quite rapidly. Edward T. Graham, a native of Prince Edward's Island, just married, migrated to Nebraska and located on section 12, in this township, where he improved a farm and became one of the prosperous and influential men of the community, owning at one time some fifteen hundred acres of land. A few weeks thereafter came J. M. Alderson and these two made strenuous efforts to induce settlers to come and locate here After he had been here about four years Mr. Graham was highly gratified to note the unexpected inflow of people to this part of the county. He said at the time, in speaking of the efforts of his neighbor and himself: "We resolved to use our influence to induce a few more people to come in, hoping that we might enjoy the social privileges of a neighborhood, though small. But we expected to see a good many years go by before houses dotted the prairies as thickly as now (1874 ). The progress of the precinct you may judge from the following statistics, which I gleaned while assessing: Number acres assessed, 26,487, assessed value, $132,435; assessable personal property, $10,050.80, number of acres under cultivation, 1,700; sown to oats, 200; balance to be planted in corn, potatoes and garden stuff. We have
PAST AND PRESENT OF PLATTE COUNTY 391
a population of 250 and can poll over sixty votes at the next election. If there is any other precinct that has made greater progress in the same time, let us hear from it."
On petition of John Walker and forty-five others, Walker Precinct was created August 1, 1871. It was comprised of the north half of town 19, ranges 3 and 4 west, and all of town 20, ranges 3 and 4 west. The commissioners selected James Walker's house for the place of election; John M. Walker, Matt Farrell and James Collins, judges; Pat Ducey and M. Murray, clerks.
Later it lost the south half of township 19, which was given to Joliet, and all of town 20, range 3 west, which is now St. Bernard. Walker Township is bounded on the north by Madison County; on the west by Boone County; on the south by Woodville; and on the east by St. Bernard township. Shell Creek, with tributary streams, waters the northeastern part of the lands in this community and the Lookingglass with its tributary streams supplies abundant water and drainage to the south half. About one-half of the land is rolling and one-half level upland rich loam soil. Here are to be found many well improved farms and the products of the soil are yearly adding vastly to the wealth and prosperity of the community. There are no trading points in this part of the county but contiguous thereto in Madison County on the Fremont, Elkhorn & Missouri Valley Railroad is the Town of Newman Grove.
The earliest settler in this section of the county and for whom the township was named, was John Walker, who left Ireland and came to this country by way of Canada in 1845. John Walker served all through the Mexican war and helped bear away from the field General Shields, who was quite seriously wounded. He fought Indians in Texas and in May, 1870, came to Nebraska and settled in what was then known as Pleasant Valley Precinct, on land contiguous to the precinct, now bearing his name. He was a man of stamina and ability, and took a considerable part in local public affairs during the early years of the county's growth.
Within a few years after the coming of Walker, this township was pretty well settled. In 1878 only 1,600 acres of Government land was left in the township, and almost all of the Union Pacific Railroad land had been purchased. Schools for the children had been provided and the people in the northern part had places of religious worship to attend at Newman's Grove, where the United Brethren
392PAST AND PRESENT OF PLATTE COUNTY
and the Methodist Episcopals held services, each alternating every two weeks. A postoffice had been established in the southern part, with Joseph E. Jacobs as postmaster.
The St. Ansgar's Church, Danish Lutheran, of Walker Township, was organized on October 14, 1884. The church was at first without a regular pastor, but was supplied by a minister from Hamilton County until 1889. Upon this date Rev. P. Kjolhede came. The present pastor of this congregation is Rev. J. J. Lareger: there are about sixty families in the church, making a membership of nearly 300. The first church building was erected in 1889 and dedicated August 11th of that year; the second and present church structure was dedicated September 24, 1911.
The Bethania Danish Evangelical Lutheran Church, on Section 13, Walker Township, was organized November 13, 1879. The first trustees were: H. Christensen, J. B. Kock, and P. Christensen. The first pastor was Rev. O. E. Torgerson, and following him have been: Revs. Udahle, J. J. Dalbo, P. P. Thisted, J. P. Jensen, J. Marccessen, and the present pastor, A. Rasmussen. The first church building was constructed in 1881 and in 1899 was remodeled. The first membership of this organization was only fifteen; now there are twenty-four members and sixty-seven in the parish.
Some time in the year 1879, the Evangelical Lutheran Salem Congregation of Walker Precinct was organized, and on January 3, 1881, the church was incorporated, at a special meeting, held in the house of worship, located on section 5. At this time the society was under the pastorate of Elias Peterson, and the following persons took part in the organization: John Blomquist, N. D. Anderson, C. E. Carlson, W. P. Carlson, John Newman, Andrew Anderson, Hans Peterson, August Egman, Charles Grif, Peter Johnson, Lars Johnson, Oscar Eng, Peter Anderson, L. G. Pansard, Ludwig Swenson, Erik Sodergren, S. E. Nelson, N. C. Knudson, Jonas Eng, August Jacobson, C. Jacobson, John Swenson, J. P. Anderson, Lars Anderson, Ole Olson, Gus Wallgren, Henry Anderson, J. Anderson, Oscar Blomquist, John Hendrickson, C. Erik Grif, A. G. Peterson, C. W. Nelson, A. G. Rockstrom, J. Alberg, C. J. M. Samuelson.
The character of the names given above shows upon its face the nationality of the people who organized this church, and it is also a good indication of the class of people that early became settlers in this township. A large part of the men and women who opened the lands here to cultivation and improvement were of the Northland, principally of Sweden. They are good farmers, frugal and thrifty, and are numbered among the best citizens in the county.
The question of temperance has been pretty thoroughly discussed in Platte County from the early days to the present. On the 22d day of February, 1873, Division No. 29, Sons of Temperance, was organized in the City of Columbus, with a charter membership of fifteen, which in two years reached 125. Good Templars Lodge No. 176 was organized in Columbus, September 16, 1874. Neither of these orders is now in existence.
RED RIBBON MOVEMENT
The services of J. B. Finch were secured by the Sons of Temperance to deliver a series of temperance lectures at the opera house in Columbus. These meetings commenced November 19, 1878, and continued for twelve days. Meetings were held in the afternoon and evening. A great interest was awakened in the cause of temperance and all classes of citizens crowded to hear Mr. Finch. The opera house was filled to overflowing for twelve nights. Hundreds of signatures were secured to the red ribbon pledge and the moral tone of the whole county was greatly strengthened and improved.
Captain Bontecou worked faithfully in Platte County for a few weeks after Finch left, securing many signers to the pledge. Col. John Sobieski visited Platte County a number of times, delivering temperance lectures to crowded houses, with marked success.
St. John's Total Abstinence Society was organized by Father Ryan, in July, 1872. Much good was accomplished.
The Band of Hope, a juvenile temperance society, was organized at the Congregational Church in Columbus in 1874. Quite an enthusiasm was awakened among the young people in favor of temperance. The only temperance organization existing in Columbus at the present time is the Woman's Christian Temperance Union, which was
394PAST AND PRESENT OF PLATTE COUNTY
organized October 17, 1881. Regular meetings are held, where the faithful few keep up the organization.
THE FIRST PICTURE TAKER
The pioneer picture taker of Platte County, and the only one for many years, was A. J. Arnold, a sketch of whom is given elsewhere in this volume. His photograph gallery was built on a wagon. As early as 1863 he was taking the pictures of the pioneers from Columbus to Genoa, and the settlements on the road. A few years later he located permanently in Columbus. It is reported of Mr. Arnold that on one occasion a gentleman appeared at his gallery for a picture. .Mr. Arnold asked him if he wanted a full-length, half-length, bust, face or what. Being a little nervous, he said he would take "or what." Mr. Arnold yanked his camera around, recklessly poked the skylight curtains this way and that with a long stick, and then ordered the man to sit down. Mr. Arnold presented a revolver to the head of the gentleman who was sitting for his photograph, with the cheering remark: "Sir, my reputation as an artist is at stake. If you don't sit perfectly still and not move a hair, and look smiling, I'll blow your brains out." It is unnecessary to state that the gentleman "smoIe" a ghastly smile, and thus saved the artist's reputation and his own life.
PARTITION OF TOWNSHIPS
- 1. Columbus -- Towns 16 and 17, range 1 east.
- 2. Bismark -- Town 18, range 1 east.
- 3. Sherman -- Town 19, range 1 east.
- 4. Creston -- Town 20, range 1 east.
- 5. Shell Creek -- Town 18, range 1 west.
- 6. Grand Prairie -- Town 19, range 1 west.
- 7. Humphrey -- Town 20, range 1 west.
- 8. Lost Creek -- Towns 17 and 18, range 2 west.
- 9. Burrows -- Town 19, range 2 west.
- 10. Granville -- Town 20, range 2 west.
- 11. Monroe -- Town 18 and part of town 17, range 3 west.
- 12. Joliet -- Town 19, range 3 west.
- 13. St. Bernard -- Town 20, range 3 west.
- 14. Woodville -- North half of town 18, south half of town 19, range 4 west.
PAST AND PRESENT OF PLATTE COUNTY 395
- 15. Walker -- North half of town 19, range 2 west and town 20, range 4 west.
- 16. Loup -- Town 17, range 2 west, and town 17, range 8 west.
- 17. Butler -- West half of town 16, range 1 west, and town 16, range 2 west.
- 18. Oconee.
Population, 19,006; area, 682 square miles; miles of railway, 97.16.
Platte Center ........
Hill Siding ..........
Munroe Station .....
St. Bernard ..........
DESCRIPTION OF TOWNSHIPS
Those in range 1, township 17, one-half rich black loam; one-half mixed with sand.
Township 18 -- Two-thirds level upland; one-third rolling rich loam soil.
396PAST AND PRESENT OF PLATTE COUNTY
Township 19 -- About one-half rolling; one-half level upland, rich loam soil.
Township 20 -- fine level upland, rich black loam.
Range 1 west, township 17, one-half good black loam; one-half sandy.
Township 18 -- Fine level upland, rich black loam.
Township 19 -- Fine level upland, rich black loam.
Township 20 -- Fine level upland, rich black loam
Return to the Index
Use your Browser's Back button to return to the previous page.
© 1997, 1998 Ted & Carole Miller
and 2002 for the NEGenWeb Project