NEGenWeb Project
Resource Center-
On Line Library


Compendium of History Reminiscence & Biography of Western Nebraska

Horizontal Bar

page 165

lars, and when he bought it he only gave twenty dollars an acres, showing a good advance. Mr. Black lived in Iowa for four years, then in Missouri for ten years, and states that from his experiences he thinks Nebraska by far the best place he has ever seen, taking one year with another. One has better crops here, it is healthier, better water, and the land is easier worked, one man being able to till twice the number of acres that he could in either of those states. When Mr. Black came here ten years ago he had very little to start with, and he has been one of the successful men of the section, and is now proprietor of a valuable estate. He now has sixty head of pure-bred Duroc Jersey hogs and feeds out and sells to the local markets over two hundred head each season. He has dealt in these hogs for the past six years and has met with decided success, and is of the opinion that the Durocs are the best hogs for this country, being healthier and better rustlers, making quicker growth and larger litters, usually getting a third more pigs. They are always in good demand and are the best lard hogs in the world. Mr. Black also ships from two to three cars of cattle and hogs each week during the shipping season, usually sending them to the St. Joe market.

   Mr. Black was married in 1893 to Miss Luella Lawler. By a former marriage Mr. Black had three children, one of whom was an adopted child. One son, C. C. Black, died in 1905 at the age of twenty-one. In the family there are now three children, named as follows: Frederick L., Henry L. and Irene.

   Our subject went into the dairy business in 1906, and has a herd of forty-five dairy cows. He sells all his milk at the city of Holdrege. He has made a success in this business; in fact, in his community he can't supply the demand for dairy products. He has gradually increased his land until now he has a ranch of two hundred and forty acres, although his start was made with only seventeen cows.



   To the pioneers of a county is due most of the credit for the prosperity enjoyed there in after years, and among those who have spent many years in assisting the development of the agricultural and commercial resources of western Nebraska, the gentleman above named is accorded a prominent place. He went through the hardships of a pioneer's life, starting in when but a boy, and despite many losses and discouragements which overtook him at different times worked steadily and earnestly on, and is now one of the substantial citizens of Dawes county, residing in Chadron, where he is engaged in the feed and grain business.

    Mr. Lenington was born at Marietta, Ohio, in 1866. His father, J. B. Lenington, was a farmer, of American stock, and the family remained in Ohio until our subject was six years old, then went to Minnesota, settling in Stearns county, on a farm, where he was reared and educated. He was brought up to do all kinds of hard farm work, and he and his father carried on the farm up to 1885, when they came to Nebraska, where the latter took up a homestead and started a farm. He was only here two years when he died, and our subject was left to run the farm, which he did for two years. They had put up a log house and lived in that all the time they were on the place. He remained on his farm, also working out in the vicinity of his home, and part of the time worked as an engineer in a sawmill, where he had full charge of the lumbering operations. He then was employed as foreman of a horse ranch in Cherry county for five years. Mr. Lenington came to Chadron and for three or four years was engaged in the cattle business on his own account, and made a success of the work, but opened his present feed store in 1899 and has built up a fine trade in that time.

    In 1891 our subject was married to Miss Ada M. Canaday, whose father died when she was a baby. To Mr. and Mrs. Lenington two children have been born -- Marcie, aged fourteen, and Eva, aged nine.

   Mr. Lenington has taken a very active part in local affairs since coming to Chadron. He has been assessor in Chadron for several terms and has assessed nearly half of Dawes county eight different times. Politically he is Republican.



   The gentleman whose name heads this personal history is a widely known physician of Kearney county, Nebraska, who has been a resident of the town of Minden for the past twenty-five years.

   Dr. Hapeman is a native of La Salle county, Illinois, born in Earlville, Illinois. Dr. Hapeman first came to Minden in 1884 and opened up in the office he now occupies, being the oldest physician in this county. He has made a specialty of surgery, and his practice ex-

Compendium of History Reminiscence & Biography of Western Nebraska

Horizontal Bar

page 166

tends over the state and into Colorado and Kansas. He devotes his entire time and attention to his clients, and has gained the confidence and esteem of a host of people, all of whom recognize in him a master of his profession. Prior to coming west Dr. Hapeman practiced in Polo, Illinois, for two years. He received his education and training at Rush Medical College, Chicago. He is a member of the State Medical Society and District Medical Society, also railway surgeon, and is surgeon for the B. & M. railway at Hastings.

   Dr. Hapeman is interested to some extent in farming lands in this section of the country, and is thoroughly familiar with all important matters relating to agriculture, and has seen the value of lands in this section raise from eight dollars per acre to seventy-five dollars in the past few years.



    In compiling a list of the prominent business men of Purdum, Blaine county, who have been for many years intimately identified with the upbuilding of the commercial interests of that locality and are widely and favorably known, a foremost place must be given Granville H. Cox. He is engaged in the general mercantile business at that place, has established a splendid trade throughout the section, and enjoys the confidence of all with whom he has had to do. He is also one of the earliest settlers in the county, coming here in 1887, and has watched the growth of this region from almost its very beginning as a farming community.

   Mr. Cox was born in Preble county, Ohio, in 1872, and while a small boy the family lived in Iowa, Indiana and later in Nebraska. Levi Cox, the father, having been an early settler in this state, locating at first in Custer county, Granville being about fourteen years of age when they came to Nebraska. In 1887 they came from Custer county to Blaine county, driving the entire distance with a team and covered wagon, and settled on a homestead which they farmed for a number of years. Their nearest trading point at that time was Ainsworth, about fifty miles from the claim, and our subject lived with his parents, assisting them in building up the home farm, until he was past twenty-one, then filed on a claim for himself and started to develop a farm and ranch. He was married in 1896 to Miss Gertrude Keller, whose father, George Keller, is a pioneer in this vicinity, and together they worked faithfully to build up a comfortable home, going through many hardships and privations at the first, but gradually improved their place, proving up on the land, which he still owns.

   In 1900 Mr. Cox was appointed postmaster at Purdum, so removed to the town and soon afterwards established his present business, beginning with a capital of about four hundred dollars, putting in a small stock of general merchandise, and during the first weeks of his career as a merchant his sales amounted to something like two dollars and half each day. His store was a rude little building, 12x14 feet floor space, and from such a start he has grown to be one of the leading business men of the town, occupying a building 14x50 feet in size, and nearly as much used as a store room. He carries a very complete line of general goods and furnishings, hardware, groceries, shoes, etc., having a machine shop 30x36 feet for this stock. He has made a success of the enterprise, and is one of the well-to-do men of the town, taking an active part in local affairs and recognized as a gentleman of superior business ability and a worthy citizen of the community.

   Mr. Cox has a pleasant home, and the family occupy a prominent position in the social affairs of the town. There are three children, Kyle, Bessie and George.



    Harry D. Alford, the popular mayor of Grant, has been a resident of Perkins county for the past twenty-five years, and is well known all through the region as a man of strong character and the strictest integrity.

   Mr. Alford was born in Jasper county, Iowa, November 12, 1868. His father, George P. Alford, is of Scotch blood, and was an early settler in western Nebraska. He married Jennie Kirk, of old American stock, and the family settled in Perkins county during its early days as a county, Mr. Alford being appointed postmaster at Grant and served for eight years. Our subject grew up in Iowa, coming to Nebraska with his parents when seventeen years of age, locating on the father's present homestead a mile and a half southeast of Grant, and he worked with his father until he was twenty-one years of age. He then left home and settled in Grant, establishing a draying business, starting with one team and wagon, did very well, and in 1894 added a livery business, which he carried on for several years. He

Compendium of History Reminiscence & Biography of Western Nebraska

Horizontal Bar

page 167

bought a small hardware store in 1900, started in this September 10th of that year with a small capital and a floor space 24x40 feet. He soon was obliged to increase his stock and now has a frontage of seventy feet on the main street of the town, and occupies a store of six hundred and fifty square feet floor space. He enjoys a good trade, and is classed among the solid and substantial business men of the town, always ready and willing to help in promoting the best interests of his community, financial, commercial and educational, and is one of the best known men in the county.

   On November 10, 1892, Mr. Alford was united in marriage to Miss Laura Yenney, whose father, John Yenney, was a homesteader and early settler in this county.



    A. T. Davis, one of the leading farmers of section 31, township 26, range 38, is also one of the old settlers of Cherry county, Nebraska. Coming here in the early days of its settlement, he has aided materially in the development of the region, and well merits the high standing he has gained as a citizen and progressive agriculturist and stockman.

   Mr. Davis was born in Meigs county, Ohio, in 1858. He is a descendent of an old American family, his father, Robert, being a native of New Hampshire and an early pioneer in Ohio. He married Elizabeth McNeil.

   When our subject was a lad of seven years the family came to Illinois and settled in Wayne county, where they lived on a farm for seven years, and then emigrated to Nebraska, locating in Redwillow county. They landed there in 1873, traveling by team and covered wagon through the wild and unsettled country, camping out along the road on the journey, and met with numerous exciting experiences. During the early settlement in Nebraska father and son did quite a good deal of hunting and killed many buffaloes and other wild game, and they went through the pioneer incidents, encountering many difficulties in getting their home established and opening up a ranch and farm. Our subject received his education in the country schools during his early boyhood, and later attended the State University for two years, the family having settled in Lincoln county, where the father died. After several years the mother with her little family came to Cherry county, arriving here in 1888, our subject settling on a ranch sixteen miles north of Hyannis, and was among the earliest settlers in that vicinity, which was later named "Davis Valley," one of the greatest hay valleys in the county, yielding annually about twenty-five thousand tons of hay.

   Mr. Davis worked faithfully and succeeded in building up a good home, improving the place in good shape and grew into the stock business gradually, and now has some of the finest herds of cattle and horses in the county, which brings him in a nice income, and he has made a great deal of money in that line. He is now proprietor of a two thousand-acre ranch, all deeded land and splendid range country. Although he has prospered in a wonderful degree since coming here, he has at different times met with reverses, in 1889 losing his entire hay crop by fire, besides other property. Also, several times he has had serious cattle losses on account of severe storms, but has in the main had great success in his ventures, now standing in the front ranks of the well-to-do men of his county.



   The above firm, successful business men of Alma, Harlan county, Nebraska, are engaged in the real estate and investment business at that place. They are special agents for the Burlington Railway lands, and have acted in this capacity for over twenty years; also for the B. & M. railroad and the Lincoln Land Company. They established this firm in 1877, and have carried it on continuously ever since that time, and have built up an enormous trade, extending all over the western part of the state of Nebraska and part of northern Kansas. It is the pioneer real estate business in Alma, and father and son are well and favorably known all over this section of the country.

   J. B. Billings was a pioneer of Wisconsin, born in Montgomery county, New York, in 1846. He has three sons, namely: Aubrey A. Billings, who lately was cashier of the Bank of Alma, having held that position for the past fourteen years, and has recently resigned; James Earl Billings, a dentist, of Grand Junction, Colorado, and Robert F., associated with his father in the real estate business. For several years Mr. Billings was a resident of Parkersburg, Iowa, and then came to Harlan county in 1872, where he located on a farm near Alma, and remained on this place for eight years. He then moved to the town. He held the office of justice of the peace for many years, and was police judge of the city several years. He was county commissioner for six

Compendium of History Reminiscence & Biography of Western Nebraska

Horizontal Bar

page 168

years, and was appointed postmaster of Alma under President McKinley, proving a most efficient and popular public official. He was the first mayor of Alma, and a member of the town board for several terms. He also served on the school board for many years.

   The firm of J. B. Billings & Son have been potent factors in the development and growth of this section, and have aided materially in the building up of the community. They have brought many settlers to this county, and have the greatest faith in land here. They own several large tracts of land, having twelve hundred acres located in Phelps, Harlan and Furnas counties, most of which is in the first named. During the past four years lands in this part of the country have advanced more than double. On the first of March last year this firm closed sales of over one hundred thousand dollars.

   J. B. Billings is an active member of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows, also of the Ancient Order of United Workmen, and takes an active part in all local and state affairs. In political faith he is a Republican.




   In the story of the career of this enterprising and successful citizen of Newport, Rock county, Nebraska, we have a story of far more than the usual interest, and yet one that is repeated thousands of times in the redemption of the children of the old world from the oppression of intolerable conditions, and their introduction into the larger life and liberty of the new. The transference of such vast multitudes from the almost hopeless poverty, destitution and toil that so largely rule across the ocean to the freedom and enlightenment that attend manhood and industry on American soil is a marvel of history, and gives a zest and a glory to the humble life of many who have toiled and labored here never dreaming of the possibilities their achievements bring, not only to their own descendents (sic), but to the land of their adoption as well.

   Mr. La Bell was born in Italy, near the city of Rome April 10, 1865, where his father died when he was only eight years of age. At that time he was brought to this country by a German musician who agreed to teach him music, pay his mother $12 per year for his time and return him to her at the end of four years. On the arrival of the steamer the German was arrested for kidnaping (sic) a boy some three years before and Clell and three other lads were left strangers in a strange land to make their own way in the world alone. Cast adrift in the city of New York, it was his good fortune that he did not remain a homeless waif on its streets, but was cared for by the Humane Society and through them adopted by Elijah Longbottom, of Rockford, Iowa, where for some three years he was employed in farm labor. He was cruelly treated here and to escape a threatened flogging for staying overtime at a neighbor's ran away. From there he went to Hamilton county, after being abandoned by a brother of his adopted parent, and was fortunate to fall into the hands of Abraham Johnson, who gave him the advantages of school and a Christian home, and here he remained until eighteen years of age. The following year was spent by him in Montana in labor and mining, from whence he returned to Hamilton county, remaining until he attained his majority. That year Mr. La Bell came to Rock county, Nebraska, and filed on a homestead entry six miles southeast of Long Pine, where he "kept bachelor's hall' for a year, and for two years did his farm work with oxen.

   Clell La Bell and Miss Luda O. De Witt were married April 5, 1891, and by this union he has become the father of two children, Ethel and Mabel. Mrs. La Bell is a daughter of Solomon De Witt, who comes of an old American lineage. Mr. and Mrs. La Bell passed through several protracted drouth (sic) periods and have seen hard times, but success has greatly crowned their efforts. With the opening of the year 1896 a fire swept away their hay and cattle sheds, causing a loss of about five hundred dollars, at that time a serious blow. However, with true grit he recovered from it, and when he sold out in 1902 had acquired an entire section of land for his homestead, on which he had a five-room residence and a barn that could shelter a hundred head of cattle. We show a view of this homestead on another page, together with a view of the prairie at the time of his coming, covered only by the prairie grasses. We also show a view of his residence and business property in Newport. There was an abundance of water and an orchard that attested faithful care. With the proceeds Mr. La Bell came to Newport and engaged in trade, opening a general store and inviting patronage especially to his harness, hardware, boot and shoe and grocery departments. He has been in business since leaving the farm and his store has become widely and favorably known alike for its reliable goods, fair treatment and the courteous manners of its management. In political af-

Compendium of History Reminiscence & Biography of Western Nebraska

Horizontal Bar

page 169


fairs Mr. La Bell is a Republican. The family are all members of the Methodist church, while Mr. La Bell is a member of the Newport clan of Royal Highlanders and was formerly affiliated with the Knights of Pythias.

Picture button  Picture button  Picture button



   George M. Cleavenger, residing in Mullen, Hooker county, Nebraska, is one of the leading and substantial citizens of that thriving town, highly esteemed for his unswerving integrity and sterling worth.

   Mr. Cleavenger was born in Hardin county, West Virginia, in 1847, and is of English and Irish descent. His father, Thomas, was a farmer and blacksmith, and he followed his calling in Hardin county, West Virginia, for many years. The family moved to Ohio in 1851, remained there for about two years, then emigrated to Iowa, settling in Union county, where they were among the pioneers and spent several years on the frontier, our subject growing up in that vicinity. When he reached the age of eighteen he left home and went to Kansas, locating in Washington county. At that time the country was full of Indians, also buffalo and other wild game, and a great deal of his time was spent in hunting. He took up a tract of land and developed a good farm, living there for twenty-two years. He was married while in that region, in 1871, taking as a wife Belle Lavering, daughter of William Lavering, an early settler in Kansas. Mrs. Cleavenger's mother was Ann Snyder, and the former grew up and was educated in Kansas. Our subject succeeded in accumulating a good home and farm in Kansas, but in 1888 disposed of the farm and moved to Montana, settling in Custer county, the family driving through the country to their new location from Whitewood, South Dakota. As soon as they reached Montana he took up a desert claim and began to open a ranch, starting at once in the stock business. His ranch was situated one hundred and twenty miles from the county seat, Miles City, which was also his nearest trading point, and his nearest postoffice was a distance of forty miles. Mr. Cleavenger succeeded well in the ranching business, and remained on the place for ten years, then came to Nebraska, settling in Hooker county. This trip was also made by team, they being on the road for forty days, camping out along the way, sleeping under their wagon and cooking their meals over camp fires. As soon as he arrived here Mr. Cleavenger bought land and began to start a ranch, also farmed some from the beginning, and has been following the same work for the past ten years. He deals principally in horses, raising the animals for breeding and market purposes, and is considered one of the best judges of horses in the region, well known all over this county as an authority on all matters pertaining to horseflesh.

   Mr. Cleavenger's family consists of seven children, who are named as follows: Elvery B., Carrie May, Georgia, Frank, Charles, Grace and Estelline.

   Our subject has always taken an active part in local affairs and is known throughout his locality for his liberal views on all matters of public interest. He was elected county commissioner of Hooker county in 1899 and served in that capacity for five years.




   Judge Albert Muldoon, a prominent attorney of North Platte, Nebraska, is a gentleman of exceptional ability as a lawyer, one of the best informed men in the state of Nebraska, and is highly respected and esteemed as a worthy citizen. He is probably the most widely known man in the profession in this section of the country, and has built up a large and lucrative practice since settling here.

   Judge Muldoon was born January 28, 1860, in Logan county, Illinois, and was educated in the schools near his home, afterwards attending the State Normal located at Normal, Illinois. After this he engaged in teaching and followed that occupation for six years in Logan county. His parents, James and Mary Costello Muldoon, both natives of County Derry, Ireland, came to America in 1858 and settled in Illinois, where they raised their family, and they still reside there. Our subject came to Nebraska in 1889, locating at Ogallala, and there practiced his profession for about seven years, and then moved to North Platte, where he has resided ever since, following his chosen work. He was elected county judge of Keith county on the Republican ticket in 1890, serving one term, and county attorney for two terms. He has served on the county central committee for Lincoln and has been on the district committee.

   While in Ogallala he finished his studies, which were begun in his young manhood, and it was there that he was admitted to the bar. He is now district attorney for the Union Pacific Railway, and attorney for the Exchange Bank of Ogallala, the Sutherland and State

Compendium of History Reminiscence & Biography of Western Nebraska

Horizontal Bar

page 170

Bank and the Commercial Bank of Paxton, Nebraska. His time is fully occupied in looking after the interests of these different concerns, together with the general practice which he enjoys and which extends all over the western part of Nebraska, and the success which he has attained in his profession proves him to be one of the foremost lawyers of his time.

   Judge Muldoon was married in 1886 to Miss Mary E. Lucas, a native of Logan county, Illinois.



   Peter Dahlsten, of Barlett, Nebraska, is one of the old settlers of Wheeler county and a public official of enviable reputation, well known throughout the northwestern part of the state of Nebraska. He is the present county clerk, and his popularity is best evidenced by the fact that for the past fifteen or twenty years he has constantly held office in Wheeler county in some capacity or other, serving as postmaster at Erickson for six years, receiving his appointment under President Cleveland's regime. He has also held the office of treasurer of the county for four years, and was representative from the Forty-ninth District, consisting of eight counties -- Greeley, Wheeler, Garfield, Loup, Blaine, Thomas, Hooker and Grant -- elected to that office in 1900 on the People's Independent ticket. In 1905 Mr. Dahlsten was elected county clerk, and is still acting in this capacity, now serving his second term. He is a popular and efficient public official and one of the foremost men of this region, noted alike for his active public spirit in every matter pertaining to the good of the locality and for his many sterling qualities of heart and mind.

   Mr. Dahlsten was born in Clayton county, Iowa, December 4, 1862. His father, Carl Dahlsten, was a native of Sweden, as was also his mother, Carrie (Hansen) Dalhsten. Our subject's father died in Madison county, Nebraska, November 2, 1905, and his mother in the spring of 1883. The family came to American in 1857, making the trip across the ocean in a sailing vessel, the journey taking three weeks from the time of leaving their native country up to the time of landing in New York City, and during the trip they were exposed to much hardship and suffering.

   In 1876 our subject, with his parents, three brothers and a sister, moved from Clayton county, Iowa, to Cuming county, Nebraska, where they lived for three years. They then moved to Madison county, Nebraska, where our subject assisted in opening up a homestead filed on by his father in 1883. When twenty-one years of age he came to Wheeler county and took up a homestead and tree claim on Cedar river, which is now three miles southeast of Ericson. Here he now has a ranch of six hundred and forty acres of deeded land, besides six hundred acres leased school land. He has forty thousand cottonwood and ash trees and a large orchard growing on his place, mostly planted by himself.

   On December 25, 1893, Mr. Dahlsten was united in marriage to Hannah McCart, a native of Nebraska, born in Otoe county, February 13, 1875. Her father, Henry O. McCart, and her mother, Minerva (Blevins) McCart, were pioneer settlers of Otoe county, near Palmyra, Nebraska. To Mr. and Mrs. Dahlsten the following children have been born: Belle, aged fourteen; Carl, aged eleven, and Anna, aged nine, this being October 22, 1908. The family are all active members of the Lutheran church and highly esteemed by all. Mr. Dahlsten is a member of the Modern Woodmen of America and the Ancient Order of United Workmen. 



   The above name will be readily recognized as one of the leading business men and worthy citizens of Sidney, Nebraska. Mr. Sweet is one of the oldest settlers in this part of Nebraska, and has various financial interests in Sidney and vicinity. He is a man of strict integrity and of energy and one of the wide-awake and influential men of his community.

   Mr. Sweet was born in Dodge county, Wisconsin, June 8, 1858, on a farm. His father was Dodge Sweet, of American stock and came west as far as Denver as early as 1849. He married Miss Susan Crawford, of Ohio. Our subject was raised in his native state, attended the country schools and helped his parents in the farm work up to 1881. He had learned the carpenter's trade when a young fellow, making the farm his home for years, his father having died when he was four years old, and Elmer assisting in the care of his mother and the family. When he was twenty-three years of age he came to Sidney, settling there, where he followed his trade up to 1904. He did contracting here and all over the surrounding country, and he put up some of the finest buildings in the place and is considered one of the foremost men in his line of work. In 1903 he opened a lumber yard and carries a large stock of lumber, feed, building material,

Compendium of History Reminiscence & Biography of Western Nebraska

Horizontal Bar

page 171

grain, etc., and has done a flourishing business since starting up. He also owns land in this vicinity.

   In 1881 Mr. Sweet was united in marriage to Miss Lucy M. Rogers and she died in 1890, leaving a family of four children, named as follows: Samuel R., Arthur W., Susan and Henry, the latter having died in infancy. Mr. Sweet was married the second time, in 1894, to Miss Luella Fetterly, and she died in 1900, leaving one child, Irene.

   Mr. Sweet is interested in politics along reform lines and votes the Prohibition ticket. Fraternally he affiliates with the Independent Order of Odd Fellows, the Modern Woodmen of America and the Maccabees.





   The gentleman above named is a representative Nebraskan and one of the progressive farmers of Sioux county, owner of a fine estate of sixteen hundred acres in section 35, township 31, range 54. He is a young man of excellent business capacity and well merits his success and enviable reputation as an up-to-date agriculturist and worthy citizen. We take pleasure in presenting a portrait of Mr. Denslow on one of the illustrated pages of this work.

Picture button

   Mr. Denslow was born in Dodge county, Nebraska, in 1870, on a farm. His father, Jeremiah, was a farmer and pioneer in this state, settling here in 1856, and he experienced all the phases of frontier life, freighting through the country when this region was practically a wilderness and was here ahead of the railroads. He gradually worked into the stock business, and in later years was recognized as one of the leading stock growers and ranchmen in western Nebraska.

   Our subject grew up on the home farm, receiving his education in the country schools, spending his youth in eastern Nebraska, farming in Dodge county, and later coming to Sioux county, arriving here June 22, 1902. This, however, was not his first trip to this section, as he had been through the territory previously, locating the tract on which he settled, which lies fifteen miles west of Crawford, on the White river, and on seeing this locality was so well pleased that he decided to make it his home, which he did. The tract was entirely unimproved land at that time. The town of Glenn lies one and a half miles east of the place and is his postoffice. The ranch is well supplied with timber and is all good land, on which he has built a fine set of farm buildings and many miles of fence. His entire time has been spent in developing his farm and making it a model ranch home, and he intends soon to have one hundred and twenty-five acres under irrigation. He is a young man of energetic character and indomitable will, and is on the high road to wealth and success, who is doing his full share in building up the commercial and financial resources of this section.

   Mr. Denslow was married while living in Dodge county in 1892 to Miss Elizabeth Baldwin, daughter of B. J. Baldwin, a well known farmer residing at Fontanelle, Nebraska, and an old settler in that locality. Prior to her marriage Mrs. Denslow taught school in Dodge county, and is a lady of superior mental attainments. To our subject and his good wife have been born the following children: Aurelia, Grace, Rachel, Clyde, Ford and a baby, named Nina. The family occupy a pleasant home, and theirs is one of the most hospitable places to be found anywhere by the traveler through this part of the state. In politics Mr. Denslow is a supporter of Mr. Bryan and the policies he represents.



   J. L. Kay, prominently known as a leading physician throughout Redwillow county, resides in McCook, Nebraska. He has an extended practice all over this and the adjoining counties, and by his skillful methods in all cases has won the confidence and esteem of every one in this section of the state.

   Dr. Kay was born in the state of Ohio, in 1853. He came to Nebraska in 1883 from Cullom, Livingston county, Illinois, where he had practiced his profession from 1876 up to that time. He is a graduate of the Louisville (Kentucky) Medical School, class of 1876.

   For some time after locating in McCook Dr. Kay held the position of physician for the B. & M. Railway, traveling from Hastings to Denver. Owing to failure of his health, in 1897 he removed to Joplin, Missouri, where he built up a large practice and was recognized as a master in his profession. He returned to McCook in 1905, and has rapidly regained his old practice, his patients of former years welcoming him back, and he has also gained many new once (sic) since McCook has grown rapidly during the latter years.

   Dr. Kay is the owner of the Commercial Hotel, located on one of the best corners of the Main street. This is conducted by his son,

Compendium of History Reminiscence & Biography of Western Nebraska

Horizontal Bar

page 172

Elmer Kay, and is the leading hostelry in McCook.

   Dr. Kay takes an active interest in all local affairs, and has served on the city council for two terms, also on the city school board. He is prominent in Masonic circles, and is a past master and high priest of the Chapter. He is a member of the Commandery and Scottish Rite.



   Hon. J. B. Beeler, a prominent attorney of North Platte, Nebraska, is a gentleman of excellent qualifications and enjoys universal esteem all through western Nebraska.

   Mr. Beeler is a native of the north of Holland and came to the United States when a small child, and has made a trip back there once since coming to this country, in 1872. He received his education at Hedding College, Abingdon, Knox county, Illinois, and also studied law at Bushnell, Illinois. He was admitted to the bar in Nebraska in 1890, and was elected county attorney, serving from 1895 to 1898, inclusive, on the Fusion ticket. He was a member of the board of education for six years, and is now serving his third term as chairman of that body. During his earlier years Mr. Beeler followed teaching as a profession and taught in Illinois, later in Holdrege, Nebraska, for about twelve years. He has always taken a deep interest in educational affairs in his community and helped build the twenty-five thousand dollar high school building at North Platte, also the wings on each of the ward buildings. The schools in this town are exceptionally well equipped, and has (sic) a force of twenty-seven efficient teachers.

   Mr. Beeler is at present acting as attorney for the town of North Platte, also in the same capacity for the McDonald State Bank and the N. P. Land and Water Company. In 1906 he was nominated to represent the Fusion party from his district in the state senate. He first located in Lincoln county in 1886, and in 1890 began the practice of law, coming to this place in 1895, where he has since resided, and has practiced all over the thirteenth judicial district. He is a member of the Methodist Episcopal church and a trustee of the same, acting on the building committee. He is a prominent worker in the Independent Order of Odd Fellows lodge here, and trustee of the Workmen.

   Mr. Beeler was married in 1881 to Anna D. Thomas, of Abingdon, Illinois. To this union four daughter have been born, namely: Winnie O., married to Marshall B. Scott, cashier of the Farmers' State Bank of Cuba, Illinois; Fenna C., who is attending the State University at Lincoln; Jennie G., married to Charles F. Temple, stenographer and law student, and Myrtle, who is attending school.




   R. C. Whitaker, one of the leading citizens of Lake township, Phelps county, is the owner of the celebrated Duroc Jersey farm of three hundred and twenty acres in section 5. He has this year sold off one hundred and sixty acres, and will now devote most of his attention to the breeding of pure-bred Duroc Jersey hogs. In 1892 our subject and his father, N. M. Whitaker, came to this county from Macon county, Illinois, and bought four hundred and eighty acres, and started in the hog business here. They had owned a farm of one hundred and sixty acres in Illinois and there made a specialty of raising and feeding hogs for the Chicago market, and were very successful, and numbered among the best shippers in their locality. They are of the opinion that Nebraska is superior to that state for the successful raising of hogs, as the dry atmosphere here is much better for their culture, while in Illinois the wet weather in the spring and fall is very damaging to their perfect growth and development. Since they have located here they have not lost one hog, where in that state they lost a dozen, and again, the alfalfa raised here and used as a food gives this country a wonderful advantage. In 1903 our subject established himself in the Duroc Jersey pure-bred business, and he now has ninety head of hogs from the best strains in the country. He will hold his first sale in February, 1907, and as every farmer and stock raiser in the sections knows the quality of his animals, he will be able to dispose of whatever he has on hand at a good round sum.

   While living in Illinois he also handled a big bunch of cattle, but since coming here he has given up handling those animals and confines his attention to handling Duroc Jerseys exclusively. Mr. Whitaker considers Nebraska far ahead of Illinois for farming, as one man can attend to eighty to ninety acres of corn here while there forty acres would be all one man could successfully cultivate, and the yield and quality here will be just as good. His own farm is exceptionally well located for the markets at Holdrege, the county seat, which is five miles west, and Funk, located

Compendium of History Reminiscence & Biography of Western Nebraska

Horizontal Bar

page 173

three miles to the east. Sacramento, two miles distant, is also a good shipping point, so that they have only a short distance to drive their stock when ready for shipment. When they came to this locality they paid eight thousand five hundred dollars for one-half a section, and recently sold a quarter section for ten thousand dollars, which shows conclusively the rapid advance in land values.

   Our subject's father died here in 1903, aged seventy-one years. He was a native of Indiana, son of B. B. Whitaker, and his parents located at Lincoln, Illinois, when he was an infant. He married Mary C. Novell, who is now living with her son, he having been the only boy in the family, with four sisters, one of whom Mrs. G. O. Perrine, now resides in Illinois, and two in Kansas, Mrs. T. F. Bridget and Mrs. L. E. Street; one in Alberta, Mrs. B. M. McCurdy.

   Mr. Whitaker married Miss Irene Erickson, daughter of Andrew Erickson, of Lake township, Phelps county, who is a successful farmer. The Whitaker are of Kentucky descent, and our subject and his two sons, Lloyd and Clinton, are the only representatives in a direct line on his father's side. He is an "old-line" Democrat, all the time, and has always taken an active part in politics. 



   Clarence Elmer Lawson, known throughout Cherry county as a prosperous young agriculturist and ranchman and worthy citizen, resides on his well improved estate in section 15, township 25, range 39. He is a gentleman of good business judgment and is the proprietor of a valuable property by dint of his industry, economy and honesty.

   Our subject was born in Lynn county, Missouri, in 1873. His father, W. J. Lawson, was a pioneer settler in Dawson and Custer counties, Nebraska ,a native of Tennessee. He married Miss Dicie Montgomery, a native of Kentucky. Clarence grew up on a farm in Dawson county, receiving a limited education in the country schools, and became well acquainted with the life on the frontier. He started for himself in 1894, coming to Cherry county, and the following year located on the place he now occupies, which lies in section 15, township 25, range 39. Here he at once put up a sod house and stables, beginning to farm a little the first year, but did not have very good success at first. He improved the ranch as fast as he was able and kept it up in splendid shape. There are three hundred and twenty acres of deeded land, all in one piece, and he also controls a thousand acres of leased land lying near Motler Lake, and he is part owner of this lake, which is a beautiful body of water, where many ducks and other wild fowl abide, making an ideal place for the sport during the hunting season.

   When Mr. Lawson first settled in this vicinity the whole country round was raw prairie land, and one look at it now will convince the spectator that he has certainly done some work to accomplish the task of developing it into the fine ranch it now appears. He has been earnest and painstaking in all his efforts, always striving to get the best possible results from his labors, and is one of those men who aim for the making of good homes and upright citizenship. He has good buildings and a comfortable home.

   Mr. Lawson was married in 1902 to Laura Woodruff. Mrs. Lawson was a native of Canada, daughter of Emmet Woodruff, one of the best known pioneer ranchmen of Cherry county, and her mother, whose maiden name was Mary Perrett, was born and reared in England. One child has been born to our subject and his estimable wife, a daughter, Lois, aged five years.




   Among the prominent citizens of Thedford, Thomas county, who has for the past many years taken an active part in the development of the county and is familiar with the changes which have taken place throughout the section, we mention the name of George L. Mathews. This gentleman is one of the well-to-do residents of Thedford, where he was the first man to build a house.

   Mr. Mathews was born in New York state in 1854, reared on a farm in Delaware county, and is of American stock. His father, Robert, was a farmer all his life, his wife's maiden name being Jane Riddle. Our subject lived in his native state until he was twenty-one years of age, then came to Nebraska, settling in Lancaster county, where he was among the earliest settlers. He spent one year there, then went to Council Bluffs, Iowa, remained but a short time and drifted to Colorado, where he spent three years, engaging in mining near Leadville. From there he went to Arizona, remained for eight months, then to California for sixteen months, following mining nearly all of this time. A part of his time was occupied in ranching, following lumbering, etc. In 1884

Compendium of History Reminiscence & Biography of Western Nebraska

Horizontal Bar

page 174


he want to Utah. landing there in the spring of that year, and after a short time there returned to Leadville, Colorado. His next move was to Dunning, Nebraska, and there was ahead of the railroad, that not entering Blaine county for some little time afterwards, and there was not a building up in that place when he arrived there. He finally landed in Thomas county in 1887, and his was the first house built in Thedford, he having previously taken a homestead about a mile and a half from the town site. There he put up a house and began developing a ranch and lived on it for twenty years, transforming the tract from a barren prairie to one of the best improved ranches in the vicinity. He moved to Thedford in 1907 , and here has a comfortable and pleasant home, and his family are among the foremost in the little town. For six years he held the office of county clerk of Thomas county, and is a popular and capable public official, enjoying the esteem and confidence of his associates.

   Mr. Mathews was married in February, 1888, to Miss Addie Dunn, daughter of E. P. and Arabella (Thornburgh) Dunn, who were pioneers of Blaine and Loup counties and for several years Mr. Dunn held the office of county surveyor in that county. Mr. Dunn was born in Massachusetts, where he was reared, coming to Nebraska in 1878. *Mrs. in Nebraska * (sic) Mrs. Mathews was reared and educated in Iowa, and has taught school to quite an extent in this vicinity. Our subject has a family of four children, as follows: Robert, Jane, Ella and Sarah, all of whom were born on the homestead, which Mr. Mathews sold in 1907, the family then coming to Thedford to reside.



   Among the younger residents of Sidney, Nebraska, who have spent the greater part of their lives in western Nebraska, we mention Ernest Kruse, Jr., a successful business man and worthy citizen.

   Mr. Kruse was born in Davenport, Iowa, in 1872, and is a son of Ernest Kruse, a well-known carpenter of Davenport, born in Hamburg, Germany, who came to this country as a young man and built up a home and competence for his family in the western states. One brother of our subject, Rudolph, born at Davenport in 1877, is now a partner in the latter's business. When Ernest, Jr., was fifteen years of age the family moved to western Nebraska, landing in Sidney in January, 1888, the father taking up a homestead nine miles northwest of the town of Sidney. Here they lived in a tent for a time, and built a sod shanty and frame house combined, and while living there went through all sorts of pioneer experiences, seeing many hard times and suffering much privation. When he was seventeen years old he went to Colorado and worked in the brick yards for three years, then returned to Nebraska and filed on a homestead adjoining his father's place, and proved up on it. Three years and eight months were spent in working in the round house at Sidney, his brother Rudolph keeping house for our subject and another brother who also worked in the round house. Rudolph was graduated from the High School at Sidney, and was one of the brightest pupils in his class. The two brothers opened their present business, in 1897 and have been very successful. They are now erecting a 28x48 ft. one-story stone building on the principal street of the town, and are among the substantial citizens of Sidney, giving all their time and attention to their business.

   In 1901 Ernest Kruse was married to Miss Mame E. Tobin, born and raised in Sidney. Rudolph was married in 1899, to Grace Moore, also born in Sidney. Albert, another brother of our subject, was married in 1904 to Miss Sophia Urbach, daughter of Morris Urbach, one of the pioneers in Sidney. They have one child, Myron. The brothers are all highly esteemed in the community, and are good citizens and substantial business men. Mr. Kruse has been a member of the I. O. O. F. since 1898.



    W. R. Watt, one of the prominent residents of Minden, Kearney county, has for the past twenty-five years been closely identified with the development and growth of this section of the country. Mr. Watt is an active member of the community in which he lives, taking a deep interest in whatever tends to improve conditions relative to commercial and social affairs, and is widely known throughout the country as a public-spirited citizen.

   Mr. Watt is a native of Warren county, Illinois, born in 1868. He came to Minden in 1883, opening a farm in Logan township, and remained on that up to 1895. He then started in the horse business, buying and selling horses and mules, shipping these to the eastern and southern markets. His operations extend all over the state of Nebraska, and during each year handles from 1000 to 1200 head. During

Horizontal Bar

Prior page


Name index

Next page

© 2000, 2001 NEGenWeb Project Resource Center, Marilyn J. Estrada, T&C Miller