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Compendium of History Reminiscence & Biography of Western Nebraska

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twenty-five by one hundred feet, carrying a large general stock of merchandise. He has a wide patronage from the farmers all through the county, and is one of the prosperous and successful business men of the place. In addition to conducting this enterprise he is interested in the land business, and owns thirty-two quarter sections in Sheridan and Cherry counties, and is engaged in farming to quite an extent.

   Mr. Schmitt was married in 1880 to Miss Elizabeth Kirsch, born in Wisconsin. They have a family of eight children, named as follows: Carrie, Rose, Anna, Mamie, John, Helena, George and Raymond. The family have a pleasant and comfortable home in Gordon, and are well and favorably known.

   Mr. Schmitt takes an active part in all local affairs, and has been a member of the town board for years, and is at present serving on the school board. He is numbered among the old settlers of this region, and his name will occupy a prominent place in the early history of Nebraska.


   Among the prominent old-timers of western Nebraska who have done their full share in the building up of the region in which they chose their home in the early days, the gentleman above mentioned is recognized as a leading spirit. Mr. Smith has a nice farm in section 32, township 35, range 24, of Keya Paha county, where he is prepared to enjoy the fruits of his many years of labor, surrounded by his family and a host of good friends.

   Mr. Smith was born in Saginaw county, Michigan, February 14, 1865. His father, John L., Sr., was a farmer; the mother was Ermina Rhodes in youth. The father died in 1864, and shortly, afterwards the latter married Ezra J. Smith, born in Buffalo, New York, who settled in eastern Nebraska in 1875. Our subject was reared in the eastern part of Nebraska on a farm, where he became inured to hard work during his boyhood years, remaining at home and coming with his parents to Keya Paha county in 1889. Here he took up and improved a homestead, which is his present home. Here he has built up a good farm, consisting of one hundred and sixty acres of deeded land, with one hundred and fifteen acres held under lease. He went through the dry years when for several seasons he was unable to raise a crop, and during that time was compelled to work out to make a living for himself. When he first took this place he had two cows as a start in the cattle business, which he had increased to seventy head at the time he disposed of them to discontinue cattle raising. His dwelling is a commodious grout house, with substantial out-buildings, good well and windmill. A fine view of them is to be found in this work.

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   Mr. Smith is a strong Republican, and has held the office of assessor of his district for the past three terms.

   John N. Ferguson, one of the representative citizens of Brown county, Nebraska, was born in Richland county, Ohio, April 18, 1838. His father was a farmer of Scotch descent, and his mother, who was Margaret Snook, was of American blood, German descent. In a family of six children he was the second member, and when he was three years old the family came to Jefferson county lowa, where they were among the pioneers of that state. Our subject was reared on the frontier, where he became accustomed to all kinds of hard farm work, receiving but scant schooling in his boyhood days. At the age of twenty he went to Des Moines, where he attended school for a time. In 1861 he enlisted in Company D, Second Iowa Infantry, and saw service in Missouri during the first year of the war. He was at the battle of Belmont, and with Grant's army during the winter of 1862 and 1863, guarding prisoners at St. Louis. He also participated in the charge on Fort Donelson, at the battle of Shiloh. the advance on Corinth and later the battle there. He also took part in the Atlanta campaign, then through Savannah and to Washington in the grand review, and was mustered out in 1863 at Louisville Kentucky. He served in the army for four years and three months, taking part in thirty-one battles, in all that time received only one slight wound.

   After the war closed he went into Montana and spent one year in the mining regions, then to Iowa, where he bought a farm in Taylor county and farmed for six years. In 1880 he came to Nebraska, bringing his family with him in a team and covered wagon, settling at Blue Springs, in Gage county, where opened an office and was engaged in the real estate business for four years. In the spring of 1884 he purchased his present farm in section 8, township 31, range 24, moving his family here in the same way they had come into the state, by team and wagon, driving through during of heavy rain storms, much of the time compelled to camp out during the night. His was the first white family who came to Porter Valley and for three or four years they occupied a rude

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sod shanty, at the end of which time they erected a log house. The dry years came on, but he managed to raise fairly good crops and got along pretty well, later engaging largely in stock raising. He has accumulated a splendid property, his ranch containing two thousand eight hundred and forty acres, which includes homesteads of his sons, Frank and Charles, and a section of leased school land. He has summer pasture for one thousand head of stock, and farms some of his land. He has erected a good set of farm buildings and has altogether one of the most valuable estates in Brown county. When he first came here Wood Lake had only one small store, and the town of Johnstown boasted of just a section house. He helped to build a house and organize the first school, and was for many years director, also treasurer for two or three terms. Mr. Ferguson was married in Iowa, September 3, 1868, to Miss Alice Slatten, who died in October, 1879, leaving one child, Guy, now living in Kansas City, Missouri. Our subject married again, May 2, 1880, Miss Ida C. McCasky, daughter of Reuben McCasky, of Scotch descent, in Pennsylvania, and an early settler in Ohio and Iowa. Five children were born of this union namely: Francis V., Charles M., Nellie, Fred and Winnifred (deceased). Mr. Ferguson adheres to the Republican party and affiliates with the Masonic lodge at Wood Lake.

   A fine view of his home appears elsewhere in this work.

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   Probably no citizen of Franklin township, Franklin county has shown a more active public spirit, or done more for the upbuilding of the better interests of his community, than the gentleman whose name heads this review. Mr. Taylor has resided in Franklin county for the past thirty years, where he has formed a wide acquaintance and is held in the highest esteem as a progressive agriculturist and worthy citizen. He is a man of unquestionable character, and well merits his success and enviable reputation.

   Mr. Taylor is a native of Scotland, born in May, 1847. He grew up there and during his young manhood was a conductor on the Caledonian railway there. In 1878 he came to America, coming direct to Nebraska, after landing in New York, and bought his home place from the railroad company, paying five dollars and fifty cents per acre for the land. The same land he now values at seventy five and eighty dollars per acre, which is a pretty good gain. He owns two hundred and thirty-six acres in the home farm.

   On his place he has a herd of thoroughbred Shorthorn cattle, and some pure-bred Poland China hogs, raising from one hundred to three hundred hogs each year. He used to keep about one hundred and seventy-five head of cattle during the earlier years here, but later marketed but one carload a year. At the present time he has sold all stock. He has done exceedingly well here and is well satisfied with what he has accomplished,

   In 1904, Mr. Taylor was united in marriage to Mrs. Jane Simpson, also a native of Scotland, daughter of Alexander Murray, now of Rhode Island, United States of America. Mr. Taylor has three nephews with him, namely: William, David and Robert. Mr. Taylor is one of the pioneers in Nebraska. When he came to Nebraska, antelope, deer and all kinds of wild game was plentiful.

   Our subject was county supervisor for three terms, elected the first time in 1893, and for a second term in 1901, and again in 1903, serving six years altogether. Mr. Taylor and his wife visited Scotland in 1906. They are held in the highest esteem by the people of their locality, and enjoy a pleasant home and many friends.


   Fred. A. Macomber, prominent among the progressive farmers of Dawes county, Nebraska, is a young man of sterling character and strict integrity. He is energetic and industrious and has gained a valuable estate and has a pleasant home in section 27, township 32, range 52, and is highly esteemed by his associates and well merits his success and enviable reputation as a worthy citizen.

   Mr. Macomber was born in Bennington county, Vermont, in 1860. His father was a mechanic, of Vermont. When our subject was a small boy the family moved to New York, where he grew up, and at the age of twenty-one came west to Iowa, where he spent two years, then came on to Nebraska, locating in Brown county, but only lived there one year. In 1883 he arrived in Dawes county, driving from Valentine by team, with three other men who wished to locate in the section. Here he "batched it" for several years, living in a log house and during the first few years went through many hard times and much privation. He was severely affected by the drouth periods, when he could not raise a crop, but kept on building up his farm and home as best he could, and finally succeeded in getting together a little property. He gradually added to his acreage, and now owns a ranch of one

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thousand acres, five hundred of which can be irrigated, and is counted among the prosperous and successful farmers of the county. The ranch is finely located and well supplied with good water and natural timber, and is a valuable property.

   In 1889 Mr. Macomber was married at Conway, Iowa, to Miss Emma Rowland who was born in Illinois. Mrs. Macomber died in 1901, leaving a family of two children, Arunah and Prudence.

   Mr. Macomber is a Democrat in political views.


   James G. Johnston, who for the past many years has been successfully pursuing agriculture in Phelps county, Nebraska, is a gentleman of energetic spirit and capable mind. Mr. Johnston has a pleasant home in Prairie township, and there is enjoying the fruits of a well-spent career.

   Mr. Johnston is of Scotch-Irish descent, born in Pike county, Illinois. The family came from Fermanaugh county, Ireland, in the early days. His father, Ezekiel Johnston, owned a good farm in Logan county, Illinois, on which he was reared, and as he is thoroughly familiar with farming conditions in that state, is capable of good judgment in comparing the two sections, preferring Phelps county as an agricultural and stock raising proposition. A young man can not get land in Illinois as they can here, and those who were tenants and remained there are tenants still, whereas tenants from there who settled in Nebraska now own fine farms. When he first came here, in 1887, he paid two thousand dollars for a quarter section, and the same land is now worth five or six times that amount. He brought with him good stock and has bred and handled Clydesdales and Shires ever since, also gone in for thoroughbred Poland China hogs and Shorthorn cattle. His farm comprises two hundred and eighty acres in section 26. The land is all improved, and he has a nice residence, barns, orchard and altogether owns one of the show places of the county. His thoroughbred horses have been famous, Jubilee Roberts taking first prize at the Nebraska State fair. He also owns Iams Roberts, who took second premium at the Harvest jubilee held at Holdrege in 1903, and is the sire of two first prize winners at the same show. He is also sire of a two-year-old filly which beat a registered filly that sold for three hundred and forty dollars. His hogs are equally well-known, and he has some out of Old Expansion, and a number of fifty dollar pigs, keeping altogether about one hundred and fifty hogs all the time. He keeps from five to eight brood mares all the time and breeds for the market, making more money from the colts than from the horses.

   Mr. Johnston is a director in the Farmer Elevator Company, and was the only organizer and a director until recently of the Phelps County Mutual Fire Insurance Company. He is an Independent in politics and has never sought public preferment. To show the advantage to the farmers of the organization of the Elevator Company before this elevator was built, all they receive for their product was thirty-six cents per bushel for wheat, and after the elevator was in operation the price jumped to fifty cents.

   In 1884 Mr. Johnston was married to Miss Sarah E. Keys, a native of Pike county, Illinois. To Mr. and Mrs. Johnston the following children have been born: Elmer, Silas James, Ernest Paul, Ethel Bell, Susan Jane and Bertha May.


   C. K. Lawrence is a bright and pushing young business man of Potter, Cheyenne county, where he is engaged in the lumber and hardware trade, and is bidding very successfully for his share of the public patronage. The firm is known as The Potter Lumber Company, and was established in 1907. For a number of years Mr. Lawrence was a well-known educator, and was engaged in teaching in this vicinity.

   Our subject was born in Racine, Wisconsin, June 9, 1872, and during his boyhood lived in that city and Milwaukee with his parents, and received his early education there. The family located in eastern Nebraska in 1880, spending some time in Seward county, also made Lincoln their home for about twelve years where he attended school most of the time. They next came to Cheyenne county, landing here about 1892 and bought a large tract of ranch land and, engaged in the stock business, following the work for a number of years, but Mr. Lawrence finally sold out his interest to a brother, although he still owns, about fifty head of horses which he runs on the ranch. He is a progressive and up-to-date business man, and is making a success at his line of work.

   On June 9, 1904, Mr. Lawrence married Juanita Maud Rose, in Bayard, this county. The event was the occasion of a double wedding, a sister of Mr. Lawrence being married at the same time to Mr. Ben Wagner, of Redington. Mr. Lawrence's wife is a native of Shelby, Iowa and both brides are charming and accomplished young women. The parents of Mrs. Lawrence

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are now living at Miller, Nebraska. Our subject's father resides in Fremont, Nebraska.

   Mr. Lawrence is active in local affairs, and is fast becoming one of the leading men of his town, and enjoys the esteem and confidence of all who know him.


   Fred. H. Robinson through his long residence in Cherry county, Nebraska, and his wide experience in farming has become thoroughly versed in the growth and development of that region. He is one of the leading citizens in his community, and has acquired valuable possessions by his industry and good management, supplemented by honesty and integrity.

   Mr. Robinson was born in Yorkshire, England, in 1864, and raised there. His father, Reverend Hugh G. Robinson, was connected with the English Endowment School Commission of England and Wales, and served on this commission for nearly twenty years. Later he was on the commission looking toward the higher education of Wales, and while in this position was associated with some of the best known and most prominent men of Europe. His mother, who was Miss Emma Chamblers, is a second cousin of Wm. E. Gladstone. She is still living, and at the advanced age of eighty years is hale and hearty, and spends a large part of her time in climbing the mountains in Wales, where she resides. They had a family of nine children, all but one of whom are now living.

   At eighteen years of age our subject left his parents' home and came to America, locating with Hughes' English Colony in Tennessee, remaining there for two years. In 1881 he went to Denver and was employed on different ranches there for three years then came to Nebraska. and located northeast of Chadron, engaging at first in ranching, and later in farming to some extent. When the dry years came he lost what he had worked so hard to gain, and in 1891 gave up trying to farm and moved to Cherry county, taking a homestead near his present place, and engaged in the cattle business. Since coming here he has been very successful, and is now the proprietor of a ranch comprising fifteen thousand acres, two thousand of which is good hay land. He has about eight hundred head of cattle and sixty horses. When he first came to Nebraska he went through some hard times, living in a sod house where he "batched" it for several years. He was obliged to go one hundred and fifty miles for his supplies during those times, and although he does not regret the time and hard labor spent in the building up of his home, he would not care to go through the same experiences again. His ranch has all the improvements of a model farm, and he has a fine grove of trees which he planted, plenty of water, and everything that goes to make up a comfortable rural home.

   Mr. Robinson was married in 1896 to Bessie Taylor, born in Alabama in 1874, and raised in California. Her father, Captain M. F. Taylor, of good old American stock, was on General Robert E. Lee's staff during the civil war, and is now manager of W. R. Hearst's estate in California. Her mother was a daughter of Colonel Thornton. Mr. and Mrs. Robinson have two children, namely: Butler B., and Frederick Hampden, both born and raised in this locality. Mr. Robinson is a Democrat, always voting for the best man on the ticket.


   Among the early settlers in the western part of Nebraska who came here when the place was still practically a wilderness and out of its wild state has succeeded in building up a good home and valuable possessions, is the gentleman above named. Mr. Smith has spent many years of his life in this region, and has now reached an independent position after his hard struggles and endeavors to acquire a competence by industry and strict integrity, and is recognized as one of the leading old timers and worthy citizens of his locality.

   Mr. Smith was born in Jackson county, Tennessee, in 1838. His father, Calvin M. Smith, was of American stock, who followed farming all his life, and he married Miss Susan Pennington, also of American blood. Our subject grew up in his native state until he was thirteen years of age, then, with his father, came to Iowa in 1851, where they were among the pioneers, leading frontiersmen's lives and building up a farm there. In 1870 Mr. Smith came to York county, Nebraska. and again went through pioneer experiences, remaining there for seven years, when he moved to Furnas county and took up a preemption and lived on it up to 1894, building up a good home and farm and was most successful in his operations in that county. In the latter years he sold out his holdings in Furnas county, Nebraska, and came to Sheridan county, same state, settling in the Sand Hills forty miles east of Alliance, and started in the stock business, ranching it for six years. In 1900 he came to Dawes county and purchased his present farm, located in section 10, township 31, range 50, this being a partly improved place. He now has a

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