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John G. Becher, son of Francis G. and Mary E. Rickly Becher, was born in Columbus, Nebraska, on February 5, 1863. His grandfather, Gustavus G. Becher, came to Columbus in 1857, where he conducted the first store. John's father was connected with the management of the American Hotel, an early hotel in Columbus, and was the first Union Pacific operator there.

John had one brother, Will S., and two sisters: Anna, Mrs. Oliver Richards, died in March, and Estella, Mrs. Stockham, of Omaha. They all attended school in Columbus.

On November 5, 1888, John G. Becher was married to Susan Wake, the daughter of Charles and Emma Shefford Wake. John and Susan Wake Becher had eight children: Frank, married to Rosa Kipple; Charles; Lottie, Mrs. W. S. Washburn; Marguerite, Mrs. Elias; Estella, Mrs. Otto Heur; Henry, of Lincoln; Lester; and Katherine, married to Louis Newman, of Hastings, Nebraska. William Becher II, a grandson, married to Josephine Stovicek and lives at Hastings, Nebraska. The Becher children all attended the Columbus schools.

John G. Becher served two terms as county treasurer, from 1900 to 1904. In 1903, he was elected Mayor of Columbus. Prior to his term as county treasurer, he served four years as deputy in the office under Hanson S. Elliott. In 1905, he became the junior member of the real estate firm of Elliott, Speice and Company, and at the time of the organization of the Equitable Building, Loan and Savings Association, he was chosen secretry (sic) by the board of directors.

Mr. Becher was prominently identified with several local societies. He was a charter member of the Orpheus Society, an honorary member of the Bissel Hose Company, of the City Fire Department, a member of the Knights of Pythias, a member of the Modern Woodmen, Woodmen of the World, Sons of Herman, A.O.U.W., the Modern Brotherhood of America and the Royal Highlanders. Politically, John Becher was affiliated with the Democratic Party.

John G. Becher died November 19, 1908, in Columbus.


Dietrich Albert Becher, son of Siefke D. and Johanna Mohlman Becher, was born in Hanover, Germany, January 17, 1859, and died in Columbus, Nebraska, September 4, 1937. His father died in Germany in 1874, and six years later, Dietrich, then twenty-one, immigrated to the United States with his mother and four sisters. On arriving in this country, the family first went to Illinois, and a few months later, came to Nebraska, where they located on a farm in Grand Prairie Township, eleven miles north of Columbus. Mr. Becher farmed there until 1904. For a number of years, he served as school director in District 77. He was a Democrat and played an active role in his party councils.

In 1892, he was elected County Commissioner for Grand Prairie Township, when the County Board was composed of eighteen commissioners, elected from various towns. He was still serving in that capacity when the organization was changed, which resulted in the creation of seven supervisor districts and a county board of seven supervisors, in 1895. He thus became the first supervisor from District 1, serving until the close of 1897.

In the fall of 1909, he was elected as Platte County's representative in the State Legislature, where he served two terms. His service in that capacity was followed by two terms as County Treasurer, to which office he was first elected in the fall of 1904. During his four years in office he resided in Columbus. Then he returned to the farm for three years, after which he established his family home in Columbus permanently.

In 1911, Dietrich Becher became cashier of the Commercial National Bank, later was made president, and in that capacity was an active figure in the business life of the city until 1933.

He was councilman from 1922-1929, elected mayor and re-elected two years later. He was a leader in improving the city's water system and insisted on an economical administration with as low a tax rate as possible. He took an adamant stand when Pawnee Park was bought from the Wayside Country Club. The proposition, as first made, was for the club to retain the river frontage as part of its golf course. Councilman Becher at once declared that he would favor the purchase provided the city also got the river front. He won his point, thus the fact that the city has its park frontage on the Loup River bank stands as a permanent monument to Mr. Becher's foresightedness as a public official.

When the Loup River Public Power District was organized, he was named as one of eleven men on the first Board of Directors. He served until his term expired, January 1, 1937.

Dietrich A. Becher was twice married. His first wife, Anna Jansen, was born April 8, 1854, in Germany, and died March 8, 1887, in Columbus. They had three sons: Fred married Frieda Hellbusch and farms in Platte County; Dietrich, Jr. married Emma Meinke, and died in June, 1948; and John married Louise Hellbusch and farms in Platte County.

In 1888, Mr. Becher married Catherine Gesina Johannes. They had six children:. Herman married Olga Dete, and lives in California; William married Emma Groteluschen, and farms in Platte County; Anna married William Inselman, a farmer; Hannah married Henry Kapels, a farmer; Emma married Fred Bargmann, and farms in Platte County; and Louise attended the Immanuel Lutheran Parochial School and was graduated from Columbus High School. She worked twenty years as bookkeeper for the Henry Ragatz Grocery Company, and was later employed by the Rogers Motor Company, in Columbus.

Inherently honest, a man of high ideals in private

The History of Platte County Nebraska

and public life. Mr. Becher wrote his name indelibly on the pages of history of his township, city, county, and state. Throughout the years that he lived in Grand Prairie Township, he was an active member of St. John's Lutheran Church, and later was a member of the Immanuel Lutheran Church in Columbus.


John Siegfried Becher, son of Dietrich A. and Anna Jansen Becher, natives of Germany, was born March 14, 1881, in Grand Prairie Township, Platte County, Nebraska. His father, a farmer and legislator, was born January 17, 1859, and died September 4, 1937, in Columbus. His mother, born April 8, 1854, died March 8, 1887, in Columbus. In 1888, his father married Gesina Johannes.

John has two brothers: Fred and Dietrich; two half-brothers: Herman and Wilhelm; and four half-sisters: Anna, Hannah, Emma and Louise.

John Becher lived on the farm and has been engaged in farming all his life. Being one of the older children in the family he had to help on the farm. He handled a team of horses when he was eleven years old, and early learned all of the farm operations with machinery and carpenter tools.

He was much interested in baseball, but never a professional player. He was a band member at the age of fifteen, and later was the director of bands at Shell Creek, St. John's, Creston, and Leigh. In all he was connected with band work for fifty years.

On April 16, 1903, at St. John's Lutheran Church, he married Clara Louise Hellbusch, daughter of John F. and Elisa Anna Hellbusch. Her parents were both born in Germany; her father in 1850, and her mother in 1880. They were farmers and lived in the St. John's neighborhood. She had five brothers and a sister.

The John Becher family included six children: one child, Eldore, who died in infancy; two foster children, Arthur R. and Violet; and three of their own children, Norwin, Leonard and Lorna. Arthur, who married Della Henke, has three sons and a daughter; Violet, who married Walter Berends, has four children, all graduates of Kramer High School, in Columbus; Norwin married Lucille Sarge, of Sidney, Nebraska, and lives on a farm near Creston. During World War II, he served with the United States Army Ground Forces, where he was in the band; Leonard graduated from Creston High School and served with the United States Army; Lorna took a business course at Kramer High School.

John S. Becher was president of the Creston Lumber and Grain Company during its entire existence. For about twenty years he was president of the Creston Oil Company and treasurer of the Sherman Township Division of the Madison Cooperative Creamery. He is a member of St. John's Lutheran Church and an Elder of that church. He was a member and also treasurer of the school board. Politically, he is a Democrat.


Fred Becher, well-known Grand Prairie Township farmer, was born in Platte County, September 25, 1882.

His father, Dietrich Albert Becher, was a native of Ostfriesland, Hanover, Germany, born January 17, 1859. He immigrated to the United States with his mother and four sisters in 1880, and in the fall of that year began farming in this county. In 1880 he married Anna Jansen, who died in 1887, leaving three children: John S., Dietrich "Dick," and Fred.

In 1888, Dirk Becher married Catherine Gesine Johannes. They had six children: Herman, William, Anna, Hannah, Emma, and Louise. Dirk Becher died September 4, 1937.

Fred Becher received his early education as well as his instruction in the art of farming in Platte County. On April 16, 1906, he married Frieda R, Hellbusch, daughter of John F. and Elisa Anna Wilke Hellbusch. The Bechers have four children: Elsie, born January 26, 1907; Edgar, born September 25, 1909; Carrol, born December 7, 1914; and Bruno, born December 7, 1918. They all attended St. John's Lutheran School.

Mr. Becher is engaged in farming in Grand Prairie Township, the occupation he has followed most of his life. He is a member of St. John's Lutheran Church.


John Peter Becker, one of the founders of Columbus, Nebraska, was born May 29, 1833, at Warsau, Hesse, Darmstadt, Germany, and when he was five years old, he immigrated to the United States with his parents, George Philip and Rebecca Weis Becker. They located at Columbus, Ohio.

His parents were natives of Warsau, Hesse-Darmstadt, Germany. His father was born March 13, 1804, and died in Columbus, Ohio, January 20, 1852. His mother was born June 4, 1809, and died in Columbus, Ohio, in March, 1888.

John Peter had three brothers and three sisters: John Morris, known as "Fred," George Philip, William, Magaline Elizabeth, Mamie Catherine and Rebecca Elizabeth. "Fred" joined his brother, John Peter, in October, 1856, and died here May 31, 1857. George Philip lived in Columbus, Ohio, and William came to Columbus in 1863, and died here in 1929. Mamie Catherine married Tobias Bauer, an early settler here. They were the parents of Emma, who married F. H. Rusche, a Columbus harness maker. Rebecca was known here as "Aunt Becky."

John P. attended the German Lutheran Parochial School in Columbus, Ohio, until his fifteenth year. He then served an apprenticeship of three years at the carpenter's trade, learning finer finishing by hand.

He was one of a group of ten men from Columbus, Ohio, who early in 1856 joined with three men from Illinois, forming the "Columbus Town Company," in Omaha. These thirteen men arrived here on the evening of May 29, 1856, to found the town of Columbus, Nebraska. That day was also John Peter's twenty-third


birthday. In the years that followed, the celebration of May 29 held a twofold significance for the group of founders.

J. P. Becker was identified with much of the early business transacted here. Besides working as a carpenter, he and J. C. Wolfel had a store on Seventh Street, in 1863. Later, he conducted a store at Eleventh and Olive Street, from 1866 to 1872. He sold groceries, implements, grain and flour. In 1872 he sold his grocery and implement stock, and continued his grain and flour business.

In 1867 he formed a partnership with Jonas Welch, and they built the first grist mill in Platte County, on Shell Creek.

Mr. Becker was a member of the Masons, and in politics was affiliated with the Democratic Party. He was the first Recorder of Deeds in Platte County. In 1864 he was a member of the Territorial Legislature. In 1866 he was Pawnee Indian Agent at Genoa, under President Johnson. In 1872 he was a member of the Constitutional Convention, and in 1880 he was Mayor of Columbus for one term. He was a contractor and built the first Platte County Court House in 1870. He also built the Thurston Hotel.

On March 15, 1875, John Peter Becker married Philipina Schram, daughter of Michael and Caroline Drum Schram. Michael Schram was born in Germany, August , 1814, and died in Columbus, Nebraska, August 2, 1894. Mrs. Schram was born in Germany, February 15, 1820, and died in Columbus, June 20, 1894. Philipina was born March 12, 1851, at Massillon, Ohio, and died January , 1935, in Morrison, Illinois. She came to Columbus in 1874 with her parents. She had five brothers and two sisters: Jacob and Michael died in Columbus; John and George died in Seattle, Washington; Daniel, who was connected with the Commercial National Bank here for several years, died in California. Her sisters were named Caroline and Elizabeth.

John Peter and Philipina Schram Becker had four children, all born in Columbus: Caroline Rebecca, born March 6, 1876, died February 3, 1881; Minnie Fredericka, born October 7, 1877; John Peter, Jr., born June 6, 1881, died May 31, 1883; Albert Daniel, born February 15, 1883, married Paulina Bucher, and lives in Columbus. Minnie married William Ellsworth Weaver, and lives in Morrison, Illinois.


Albert Daniel Becker, known as "A. D.," son of John Peter and Philipina Schram Becker, was born in Columbus, Nebraska, February 15, 1883. He is the youngest in a family of four children. A sister, Caroline Rebecca, and a brother, John Peter, Jr., are deceased. His sister Minnie, Mrs. William Ellsworth Weaver, lives in Morrison, Illinois.

Albert attended the Columbus schools and was graduated from the Columbus High School. He studied accounting, auditing and banking, after which he entered the Commercial National Bank as cashier.

From Columbus he went to Tacoma, Washington, and Great Falls, Montana where he spent several years in the production of crude oil and natural gas, oil field contracting and the real estate business. For a time, he was associated with the Coolidge Oil Interests at Great Falls. He later lived in San Antonio, Texas, and in Los Angeles, California, where he was an auditor during World War II. Since his return to Columbus, he has worked as an auditor and tax specialist.

On September , 1906, Albert D. Becker married Paulina Bucher, daughter of William and Catherine Kumpf Bucher, pioneer residents of Platte County. Mrs. Becker had one brother and eight sisters; four sisters and one brother died in infancy. The others are: Louise, Mrs. Myron Gray, of Beverly Hills, California; Minnie, Mrs. Fred Boehm, of Columbus; Martha, Mrs. George O'Brien, of Beverly Hills; and Ella, Mrs. Keith Perkins, of Columbus.

Albert D. Becker is an active member of the Platte County Pioneer's Association and served as its president in 1947. He is a member of the B.P.O.E., the Izaak Walton League and politically is a Republican. He learned carpentering and is interested in building. He enjoys outdoor sports. His hobbies are travel, hunting, fishing and golf.


William Becker, known as "Billy," son of George Philip and Elizabeth Rebecca Weis Becker, natives of Hesse-Darmstadt, Germany, was born July 20, 1842, in Columbus, Ohio.

His father died in Columbus, Ohio, in 1852 and his mother died there in 1888. A brother, John Peter, was one of the thirteen men who founded the town of Columbus, Nebraska, in May 1856.

William attended the schools in his native city and when a young man was apprenticed to a shoemaker there.

On March 6, 1863, he left the family home in Ohio, and came west to visit his brother, John Peter, in the frontier village of Columbus, Nebraska. The last part of his journey was made by stage coach.

After a short time he went to Omaha, where he followed his trade as shoemaker for a year, spent two years in St. Louis, and then returned to Columbus, Nebraska, to make his home.

In 1866, he engaged in the shoe business on Seventh Street, which was then the chief business street in Columbus. From 1870 to 1877 he was associated with his brother in the grocery and grain business, on Eleventh Street-which was then the main business street of the town. At that time, Thirteenth Street was beginning to come into prominence as a business street, arid in 1877 William Becker went into the grocery business in the Becker Block, at the southwest corner of Thirteenth Street Sand Twenty-third Avenue.

From 1877 to 1892 Mr. Becker devoted his time chiefly to the grocery business, but for a short time he had an implement, flour and feed store on Twenty-seventh Avenue, south of the Friedhof Store.

The History of Platte County Nebraska


He left the retail field in 1893, when elected City Clerk, which office he held from 1893 to 1929. He was the city's first librarian, handling that work in connection with his duties as City Clerk for the first year after the library was founded. The City Hall was then located on the second floor of the Gray Building, now occupied by the Columbus Bank.

William Becker was prominent in organization work. He was one of the first members of the Columbus City Band, playing the bass drums during the first few years after its inception in the early seventies, and was one of the first members of Engine Company No. 1, of the Columbus Fire Department.

On November 19, 1874, he married Sophia Reece, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Henry Reece. Sophia had come to Platte County in 1873, with her parents and brothers, William and George Reece. Upon. their arrival Henry Reece took a homestead on the Monastery Road, but Sophia remained in Columbus at the home of Mr. and Mrs. Peter Meyer. It was here that she met William Becker.

Mr. and Mrs. William Becker had a daughter and two sons: Anna, Karl and Paul. Anna attended the Columbus schools and lives in Columbus, where she engaged in dress-making. Paul was graduated from Columbus High School, married Ethel Cook, of Dennison, Iowa, and was engaged in the teaching profession.

The William Beckers were among the first group of families who joined with Reverend Herman Miessler in the organization of the Immanuel Lutheran Congregation in Columbus, in 1883. Mr. Becker was one of the incorporators of that church in 1887.

About 1909 the Beckers affiliated with the Presbyterian Church in Columbus and became members of the Federated Church, when the Union of the Presbyterian and Congregational churches was effected.

William Becker was a member of the Democratic Party. He died February 18, 1929, and Sophia Reece Becker died June 30, 1937.


Karl A. Becker, son of William and Sophia Reece Becker, was born in Columbus, Nebraska, January 30, 1880. He has one brother, Paul, who married Ethel Cook, of Dennison, Iowa, and a sister, Anna, of Columbus.

Karl attended the Columbus schools, was employed as a sales clerk in the Friedhof Dry Goods Store, and later was a member of the Friedhof and Company firm, which was purchased by George Schweser and Sons. He later was associated with the Kaufman Hardware Company as a sales clerk.

On November 4, 1908, at Omaha, he married Ruby Helen Rasmussen, daughter of Julius and Julia Scavanius Rasmussen. Mrs. Becker had four sisters and one brother: Ella J., Mrs. Homer A. Saunders, lived in Lebanon, Oregon; N. Rose died June 30, 1909; Anna, Mrs. Frank Schram, died January ii, 1941; Albert, who was married to Vera Freeman, of Columbus, died November 6, 1941; and Olga, Mrs. David Schultz, died September 24, 1943.

Karl and Ruby Becker had two sons: Frank, born in Columbus, October 2, 1909, was graduated from the Columbus High School and the Grand Island Business College. He married Lenore Stillman, of Grand Island. They live in Kansas City, Missouri, where Frank is employed under Civil Service, in the War Department. Karl, Jr. was graduated from Kramer High School in 1932, attended Antioch College, at Yellow Springs, Ohio, and later enrolled at the Ohio State University School of Dentistry, where he received his D.D.S. degree in 1940. He is married to Evelyn Gray, of Moreland, Kentucky. They have two children, Michael Richard and Steven Robert, and live in Columbus, Ohio, where Doctor Karl W. Becker practices dentistry.

The Karl A. Becker, Sr. family are members of the Federated Church in Columbus. Mr. Becker is a member of the B.P.O.E., the Wayside Country Club, and politically, is affiliated with the Democratic Party.


Fred A. Behlen, son of Dietrich and Hanna Genuschke Behlen, was born in Shell Creek Township, Platte County, November 11, 1878. His grandfather, John Behlen, died in Oldenburg, Germany, in 1858, and his grandmother, Anna From Behlen, immigrated to the United States in 1867 with her sons, Dietrich and John, Jr. They farmed in Ogle County, Illinois, for two years before coming to Platte County. Phillip's Platte County History gives the date of their arrival as March, 1869. Mr. and Mrs. Dietrich Behlen both died in Fresno, California.

Fred had four brothers and four sisters: Edward, Arthur and Phillip are in the grapefruit business in California; Harry is a carpenter; Hulda, who was married to John Fittje, of Humphrey, is deceased; Minnie is Mrs. Adolph Markelin; Laura is Mrs. John Kamm, formerly of Platte County, but now of Fresno, California; Clara is Mrs. Henry Doberstein,

Fred Behlen attended school in District 35, Platte County, and afterward he farmed.

On November 4, 1903, at the Shell Creek Baptist Church, he married Ella Sara Benthack, daughter of Reverend H. P. and Dorothea Tiedge Benthack. Reverend H. P. Benthack served as the first minister of the German Baptist Church in Shell Creek Township. The ground for that church was donated by Dietrich Behlen.

Ella Benthack Behlen's maternal grandfather, John Tiedge, was a blacksmith by trade in Germany, where he worked for the first railroad built through Germany. She had one brother, Doctor P. L. Benthack, of Platte Center, who died in 1938, and one sister, Mrs. J. W. Wetgen, who died in 1939.

Fred and Ella Benthack Behlen had nine children: Adolph Frederick, of Los Angeles, California; Walter Dietrich married Ruby Cumming, of Woodville Township, and is president of the Behlen Manufacturing Company; Gilbert Edward, married to Irene Bunney,



is treasurer of the company; Herbert Peter married Ethel Russel, of St. Joseph, Missouri, now deceased. His second wife is Lois Hickey. He is secretary of the Behlen Company; Selma is Mrs. Frank Burns, of Tucson, Arizona; Norma is Mrs. Berthold Tiesing, of Long Beach, California; Ruth, twin of Ruby, is married to Wilbert Wilkens, assistant manager of the J. C. Penney Store, in Elgin, Illinois; Ruby is the wife of C. Vincent Jones, of Columbus, who is associated with the Behlen Company; and Frances is Mrs. Frank J. Brakel, Jr., of Omaha.. She was formerly the social editor of the Columbus Daily Telegram.

Fred A. Behlen was for several years engaged in farming in Platte County, ten miles north of Columbus, in Shell Creek Township. From 1921-1940, he owned and operated the Behlen Dairy near Columbus, and is now vice-president of the Behlen Manufacturing Company. Mr. and Mrs. Behlen are members of the Baptist Church in Columbus.



Gilbert Edward Behlen

Gilbert Edward Behlen, son of Fred A. and Ella Sara Benthack Behlen, was born April 17, 1907, on a farm in Shell Creek Township, where he lived until 1921, when he moved with his parents to a farm north of Columbus. He attended school in District 35. the Fourth Ward School in Columbus, and was graduated from Kramer High School.

On December 29, 1934, in Columbus, he married Irene Bunney, daughter of Loren and Fannie Mae Tunison Bunney. Mr. Bunney, a game conservation officer, was born May 25, 1891, in Orleans, Nebraska. Mrs. Bunney was born November 7, 1893, in Orleans. The Bunney family formerly lived in Columbus. Irene Bunney Behlen has two brothers and two sisters: Leonard married Irene Hanson, and has a sporting goods store; Curtis married Estelle Lewis, and is a mechanical engineer; Norma married Russell Hadley, of Columbus; and Dorothy is a Western Union clerk.

Gilbert and Irene Behlen have three children, all born in Columbus: Sharon, born February 25, 1938; Kurt, born May 2, 1942; and Rodney, born July 21, 1946. The children attended the Third Ward School.


Mr. Behlen farmed with his father for eighteen years, worked for the Railway Express Company in Columbus, and is now associated with the Behlen Manufacturing Company, of which he is treasurer. On December 1, 1943, Walter and Gilbert Behlen purchased the old Clother Hotel in Columbus, and renamed it the White Hotel.


Gilbert Behlen is a member of the Baptist Church, the Knights of Pythias Lodge, the Y.M.C.A., and the Chamber of Commerce. Politically, he is a Republican.



Herbert P. Behlen

Herbert P. Behlen, the son of Fred A. and Ella Sara Benthack Behlen, was born in Shell Creek Township on October 1, 1909. In 1921, he moved with his parents to a farm near Columbus.


He received his early formal education in the District 35 and Emerson schools. He was graduated from Kramer High School, and following this, attended the University of Nebraska for two years. His first work was at the Columbus Bakery. Later, he was employed successively at the J. C. Penney Company, Montgomery Ward and Company, and for the Union Pacific Stage Lines, for which he was the agent at Sioux City, Iowa, and Grand Island, Nebraska. During World War II, he held the rating of a technical sergeant and served in the Army Air Corps as an instructor.


After his discharge from the Air Corps, he became associated with his father, Fred A. Behlen, and his brothers, Walter D. and Gilbert E., in the Behlen Manufacturing Company, as secretary. He is also the president of the United Products Company of Columbus.

Herbert P. Behlen was twice married. His first wife was Ethel Russel, who died in 1946. They had a daughter, Donna Lee. On January 24, 1947, he was married to Mrs. Lois Hickey Strombom, the daughter of Mr. and Mrs. A. G. Hickey, of Columbus.

Herbert Behlen is a member of the Columbus Chamber of Commerce and served as its president from 1949-1950. He also holds memberships in the Lions Club, B. P. O. Elks, the Wayside Country Club, and the Federated Church.


Joseph Bender, Granville Township farmer and the son of Mr. and Mrs. Peter Bender, was born June 5, 1866, in Henry, Illinois, and moved to Platte County, March 5, 1886.

Peter Bender was born October 3, 1825, in Menamebach, Germany, and died at his son's Nebraska home, on November 7, 1910. Mrs. Bender, born February 17,

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