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Compendium of History Reminiscence & Biography of Western Nebraska

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business as partner of John H. Lacy, and together they have built up a good trade, and are doing well. Both gentleman are first-class business men, and well liked by all with whom they have to do in a business or social way.

     Mr. Dieckman was married in 1904 to Myrtle Pontius. Mrs. Dieckman is a daughter of E. F. Pontius, one of the old settlers of this region, and he is at present serving as county clerk of this county. Our subject is the father on one child, Frank.

     Politically Mr. Dieckman is a Democrat. He is a member of the town board of Harrison, and takes a commendable interest in local and county affairs.



     Charles A. Weir, of North Platte, is prominently known in railway circles in the western part of the state of Nebraska. He is conductor on the Union Pacific railway, western division. His father, James Weir, was connected with this road, at the beginning of its construction, and remained in this department up to the winter of 1886. Weir Siding was named after him. Prior to coming here he was in Canada on the Grand Trunk railway, having come there from Ireland, where he was born in 1826. Our subject's grandfather, James Weir, died in 1898, aged one hundred and nine years, at Montreal, Canada.

     Mr. Weir was born at Julesburg, in 1868, and at the age of twenty began railroading at Sterling, Colorado, with the Union Pacific railway in 1884, employed as section foreman, then went west in the train service, and has been conductor on that road for the past ten years. He is a member of the Order of Railway Conductors, and past chief conductor of that lodge. He has five brothers, all of whom are, or have been, railway men nearly all their lives. W. J. Weir is trainmaster on the Midland Valley railway at Forth Smith, Arkansas; Frank Weir, conductor on the El Paso & N. W. Railway, of Texas; Andrew Weir, retired conductor, residing at Colorado Springs; Joseph Weir, retired railway man, now a farmer at Sterling, Colorado, where the father also resides; Robert Weir, with the Union Pacific, now conductor at Denver. Our subject's wife, who was Miss Kelker, of Pueblo, Colorado, had six brother who were all railroad men, and two sisters who married engineers. Four members of her family have met death through railway accidents. One brother, John Kelker, is master mechanic at Lima, Ohio. Mrs. Weir is a daughter of John Kelker, born in Lebanon, Pennsylvania. Her father as a young man went to Baldwin Locomotive Works, at Philadelphia, and became a traveling salesman. He took the first engines to the Rio Grand railway at Pueblo, and afterwards entered the service of that road, and for twenty-five years, up to 1903, was master mechanic of the first district of the Rio Grand system. He is now eighty years of age, hale and hearty, living at Pueblo. Mr. and Mrs. Weir have two children, namely; George and Elizabeth. Mr. Weir's mother was, prior to her marriage, Elizabeth Granger, born in Edinburgh, Scotland.

     Mr. Weir was a delegate to the National Convention of Railway Trainmen, held at Galesburg, Illinois, in 1895. He is a prominent Mason and at present senior warden of No. 32 lodge at North Platte, having passed all chairs. He has served with the Union Pacific company for twenty years, and has never received a demerit mark, and is justly proud of his record.



     Charles J. Portrey, a Nebraskan born and bred, is a typical westerner. He is an intelligent and progressive citizen of Cheyenne county, and classed among the successful farmers of Brownson precinct. He is a gentleman of firm characteristics and his high standing as a worthy citizen is well merited.

     Mr. Portrey was born in Richardson county February 20, 1865. His parents, Charles and Catherine (Santo) Portrey, were natives of Ohio, of French and Italian lineage respectively, though their parents were born in Germany. Both are now deceased. When our subject was five years of age the family moved to Kansas and made that state their home for many years. When he was about twenty-three years of age he left home and drifted around through Colorado, Wyoming and the western states, finally locating in Idaho Springs, Colorado, where he spent about nine years, engaged in mining. In 1898 he came back to Nebraska , and settled in Cheyenne county, locating on the southwest quarter of section 12, township 14, range 51, where he filed on a homestead, and on March 6, 1905, added an additional half section under the Kincaid law, all located in Lodgepole valley. He farms one hundred and sixty acres, raising good crops of small grains and has plenty of pasture and hay land for about eighty head of stock. Mr. Portrey has succeeded in building up a good home, having erected a good set of buildings and put many improvements on the land since coming here. His residence is situated near Brownson station on the Union Pacific railroad.


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     Mr. Portrey was married to Miss Eva Andrews on February 30, (sic) 1893, at Idaho Springs, Colorado. Mrs. Portrey was born in Wisconsin, a daughter of Warren and Sarah (Ray) Andrews. Her parents now reside at Morrell, Scotts Bluff county, Nebraska. Seven children have been born to Mr. and Mrs. Portrey, named as follows: Pence, Charles, Frank, Nellie, Gertrude, Viola and a baby. Four are at present attending school, and all live at home, forming an interesting and congenial family. Our subject is a man of energetic and industrious habits, prominent in all local affairs, always lending his best efforts for the improvement of conditions in his locality. In political views he is a staunch Socialist, using every effort to increase the membership of that party.



     Prominent among the old settlers in western Nebraska who have aided in the development and growth of this section from its early days, is the gentleman above named. Mr. Davis resides in Gordon, Sheridan county, where he is well and favorably known as an enterprising business man and worthy citizen.

     Mr. Davis was born in Union City, Darke county, Ohio, in 1856. His father, Andrew C. Davis, was of American stock, born in the south, and a railroad man by occupation. There was a family of eight children, our subject being the fifth in order of birth, and he was raised in Ohio and Indiana.

     In 1883 he struck out for the west, spending a year in Kansas, then came to Valentine, Nebraska, driving from there by team to Gordon, where he arrived September 30th, of the year 1884. He located on a homestead four and a half miles northwest of the small town of Gordon, and there lived during the winter of 1884-'85, having a hard time to make a living those first days. He worked at freighting, teaming from Valentine to Gordon, and experienced many rough times. He lived in a sod house which he had put up on his place, and batch it for two years, and altogether spent five years on this farm. He then moved to Gordon and established a mercantile business and has since been engaged in this enterprise with the exception of two years. He engaged in the restaurant and hotel business at different times, also dealt in stock for a time, but finally went back to the mercantile business and he now has a fine general store with a good stock and is doing a large business. He had a hard time to get along during the years from 1892 to 1900, but times gradually got better and he has succeeded in a marked degree, enjoying an extensive trade all through this section.

     In 1890 Mr. Davis was married to Miss Carrie Parker, whose parents were among the early settlers in this region.

     Mr. Davis has done his full share in building up the town of Gordon, and takes an active interest in all that tends to its value as a commercial center. He has served on the town board for three years, and is a leading spirit in all local affairs. He is a strong Bryan man, and has always voted the Democratic and Fusion tickets.



     John Weyer, an honored veteran of the civil war out of which he came with scars and honor, is a Brown county pioneer settler and now a resident of Buffalo precinct, east of Ainsworth, where his high character and useful career command public respect and confidence. Locating in this region in the very early days, he has passed through all the vicissitudes that belong to the frontier, but with grim determination he has held on, and long since passed from penury and want to comfort and plenty. In his declining years he is enjoying a competence which he wrested from the soil by hard and unremitting labor, and many here are to say him "well done."

     John Weyer was born on a farm in Canton Berne, Switzerland, August 19, 1839, and was reared to an agricultural life in which his father, Benedict Weyer, had won success. In 1850 the family emigrated to America, sailing from Havre, France, and after a voyage of thirty-five days, landed in New York. The father settled with his family in Tuscarawas county, Ohio, on a farm in what was then very largely a new country. Here the young lad grew strong and sturdy, and imbibed from his first associations a great devotion to the welfare of his adopted country, and on the breaking out of the great rebellion was ready to take up arms to protect the union. Accordingly he enlisted in Company K, 80th Ohio Volunteer Infantry, and for three years was in the western army, seeing hard and dangerous service in Kentucky, Tennessee, Mississippi, and elsewhere, participating in the great battles of Corinth and Iuka and the siege of Vicksburg. He was also engaged in many skirmishes that in a less mighty struggle would have been dignified by the name of battles. In the spring of 1865 he was discharged, being at the time of the expiration of his enlistment on the

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"March to the Sea" and on arrival at Savannah he received his mustering-out papers.

     The war-worn veteran, young in years but old in the lore of camps, returned to his old home, and in the spring of the same year went to Benton county, Iowa, where he resumed the peaceful vocation of farming. For three years he made his home in Benton county, and for fifteen years was a resident of Webster county, where he farmed on his own land. There he was married in 1870 to Miss Elizabeth Switzer, who was born in Tuscarawas county, Ohio, but reared in Bureau county, Illinois. Her father, Morris Switzer, was born in Switzerland, and made agriculture his life-long vocation. To this union have come five children: Edwin, Etta Lovelea, wife of George Wheeler, Brown County; John LeRoy, Stephen M. and Frank Elmer.

     In February, 1884, Mr. Weyer and family came to Nebraska, and effected a location on what is now their comfortable and well cultivated homestead, and at once constructed a small frame house, sufficient to meet their immediate needs, and devoted themselves to the preparation of the claim for cultivation the ensuing season. Here Mr. Weyer and his family passed through many trials, and only strength of character and persistent purpose enable them to win out at the last. Several crops were lost in dry seasons, and more than once he has had to drive his cattle thirty miles into the sand hills that they might not perish for want of grass which in the flats was parched and dry. While still in Iowa he was burned out, losing all his household goods and furniture, but that seemed almost a tame experience compared with what befell on his attempt to make a home in Nebraska.

     Now. Mr. Weyer owns a ranch of sixteen hundred acres of as rich land as lies in Nebraska, and is largely engaged in both grain and stock raising. In 1906, he had four hundred acres under active cultivation. Here he has erected what is conceded to be the finest country residence in Brown county if not in western Nebraska. It is supplied with flowing water, bath, and other conveniences; heated by steam in winter and has a small steam engine installed for use on washdays and other times when hand power would otherwise have to be used. Other buildings on the place are a large barn, a cow-shed, hog-house, two granaries and several smaller buildings. He is well provided with the machinery needed to carry on the cultivation of his broad acres. Without question he is a thoroughly modern and up-to-date farmer, a wide awake and progressive citizen, and generally one of the leading men of this community. He is Republican in politics, a member of the Modern Woodman of America, and with the family a communicant of the German Reform church. A double page view of Mr. Weyer's splendid place will be found elsewhere in this volume.

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     As an old settler of Buffalo county, and an agriculturist of untiring energy and perseverance and a worthy citizen, the gentleman here named needs no introduction to the people of his locality. He has spent over thirty years of his life in their midst, has gained a host of stanch friends, and incidentally acquired a good home and placed himself in position to enjoy his declining years in peace and quiet. He is a resident of Centre township, section 9, township 9, range 15.

     Mr. Henderson was born in Centre township, Buffalo county, Nebraska, and is a son of Abraham and Elenor Henderson, who were the first settler on the "Divide," on which the Indians were then roaming in large numbers. The Hendersons came from Missouri, and started a farm here on which our subject grew up, attending the public schools, and later the Military Academy at Kearney and the Normal University at Lincoln, Nebraska. In 1898 he enlisted in Company I, First Nebraska Infantry, and was with the second expedition to the Philippines. There took part in the capture of Manilla (sic) by land forces, and was with the company in defending Manilla (sic) against the attack by insurgents, also the San Juan fight, lasting from 9 o'clock a. m. to 6 p. m. of the second day. The 1st Nebraska regiment was in the detachment that advanced to the water works. Mr. Henderson was also in the expedition which marched against Mololos, the insurgent capitol, and took part in all the battles of this campaign, from Manilla to Mololos. After a year's service there our subject entered the educational department and taught in the schools for four years, and he opened the first government night school in Manilla. (sic) He had seven hundred and fifty pupils, and five American assistant teachers, also two native assistants. He was principal of the day school with an enrollment of four hundred and fifty pupils, and had two American and four native teachers under him. Mr. Henderson considers the Philipinos (sic) a fine race with great capacity for acquiring the language and good imitative powers, but absolutely no initiative qualities. They would develop splendid clerical ability under proper training, and in time will equal the Japanese as students. After remaining two years in Manilla our subject was sent to San Fernando, which is

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the largest city in the province, and there was appointed principal which position he retained for two years, having one thousand eight hundred pupils, twelve native and two American teachers as assistants. While in the Orient Mr. Henderson traveled all over the Philippines, also Japan China during the time of the Boxer troubles, and there saw the "army of the nations."

     In 1903 Mr. Henderson returned to the states, and back to Nebraska, where he has since remained. He bought a fine tract of land on which he built a comfortable two-story frame residence, and put up substantial barns and has improved the place in fine shape. He was married in 1904 to Miss Mayme B. Williams. They are the parents of one child--Laura Marie. Mr. Henderson is an active Republican, and one of the public-spirited citizens of his community.



     In the person of the gentleman above named we find one of the leading old timers of Dawes county, Nebraska. Mr. Harvey came here when the country was in the earliest stages of development, and he has been an important factor in its growth, aiding materially in the upbuilding of its agricultural and commercial resources. He resides in the town of Crawford, where he held the office of city marshal for seven years up to May 1, 1908, and is esteemed and respected by the entire community.

     Mr. Harvey was born in Missouri, near Roanoke, in 1852. He is a son of John H. Harvey, a farmer of Virginian stock, and Eliza A. Markland, a native of Kentucky. He was reared in his home county, assisting his parents in the work of carrying on the home farm, and had the misfortune to lose his father by death when he was a boy. At the age of eighteen he left Missouri and went to Montana where he freighted and worked with the Circle Dot Cattle Company up to 1874. In that year he went back to Missouri and remained for eleven years, engaged in the mercantile business at Armstrong. Mr. Harvey came to Nebraska April 18, 1886, taking up a pre-emption five miles from where Crawford now stands, putting up a dug-out in which he lived with his family for some time, he having married ten years before. He proved up on this land and then began railroading on the C. & N. W. Ry. and followed this work off and on up to 1900. Mr. Harvey moved to Crawford in 1900, with his family, and was appointed city marshal in the spring of 1901, serving for seven years. He has a wide acquaintance all over Dawes and the adjoining counties and is one of the leading public spirited men of the community, having always been active in local affairs.

     Mr. Harvey was married in April, 1876, to Miss Lillie D. Phelps, daughter of William P. and Lizzie Finnell Phelps, of American stock. To Mr. and Mrs. Harvey nine children have been born, five of whom are now living, named as follows: George, Ethel, Lee, Guy and Alicia.



     A. S. Ennis, the gentleman who is the subject of this review, is a young man of great push and natural ability in his line of work, is a promising business man who bids fair to be one of the leading contractors of western Nebraska. He located in Toledo, Tama county, Iowa, and came west to look the country over, locating in McCook, at Alma, taking the contract there for all the work of stone, brick and plastering to be done on the twenty-five thousand dollar high school, which is now completed, and is one of the finest buildings of its kind in this part of Nebraska. He also had the mason work on the Danbury high school, costing seven thousand dollars, and was the man who got the contract for all the stone, brick and plastering work to be done on the McCook high school, which is to cost forty-five thousand dollars. This building is to be completed by August 15, 1907, and will be a large and fine building, of which the city may be justly proud. He has also put up a large store building at Orleans, Nebraska, costing ten thousand dollars, and a bank in Marion, Nebraska, making in all five big contracts which he secured in this year. Prior to his moving to Nebraska, he together with his brother had many big contracts all over the state of Iowa, and also in Illinois, and they were very successful in every instance, giving the best of satisfaction in every way. He had decided to remain here permanently, and will shortly build a fine residence.

     Mr. Ennis was married in Iowa, to Miss Selma Studebaker, and they have one child.

     Mr. Ennis is a member of the Woodmen Lodge of McCook, and a worthy citizen of the town, highly respected by all who know him.



      Geo. H. Williams was born in Rice county, Minnesota, October 2, 1875, on a farm. His father, Edwin C. Williams, is one of the prominent old settlers and pioneers of Keith county, Nebraska, having settled there with his fam-

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