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Compendium of History Reminiscence & Biography of Western Nebraska

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Rucker's mother was Elizabeth Mitchell, of Indiana. Mr. and Mrs. Rucker have had three children, namely: Julia Emaline, born in Colfax county, Nebraska, Arlie Oscar Rucker and Lucy Rucker, both born in Dawes county, Nebraska. Lucy, the last named, is now deceased.

   Mr. Rucker has held local office, serving as assessor for several years, also as justice of the peace and has always taken an active interest in school work in his locality, and was on the school board for years. He is a Prohibitionist.


   H. A. Knight is a prominent and much respected resident of Holdrege, Phelps county, and owns a valuable estate a short distance east of the town of Holdrege, part of his property indeed, being within the city limits.

   Mr. Knight was born in McDonough county, Illinois, in 1851 on the three hundred and twenty acre farm on which his father, Milton Knight, settled as a pioneer in that part of Illinois. He was born in the log cabin on his father's farm, reared and educated there, farming with his father up to 1905, when he came to Nebraska, and his experience there and later here make his opinion of agriculture in these two sections of value. He considers this county far superior to Illinois land for tilling, as it is looser soil and holds the moisture better. Before locating here he sold his land in Illinois for one hundred and thirty-five dollars per acre, and is confident that the good land here will in a few years sell for prices equal to the best in Illinois. In fact, he prefers the land here, and besides, this is a much healthier climate, more sunshine, better water, etc., and with good churches, schools and neighbors will be equal to any section of the county as a commercial and social locality. Mr. Knight has about forty acres in alfalfa, and will put in more of this grass as it grows finely here, but can not be raised with any degree of success in Illinois. In that state he was known all over for the quality of the hogs which he shipped to the Chicago market. He kept about six hundred head all the time, and preferred a cross of Poland Chinas and Chester Whites for breeding and feeding. During four months of 1906 he has sold over a thousand dollars' worth of hogs, and finds this a most profitable branch of his work. Mr. Knight is an active, intelligent and successful business man and farmer, and employs all modern methods in his farming and stock raising enterprises, believing in the progressive, up-to-date way of doing business. His home farm consists of three hundred and twenty acres, purchasing this two years ago for fifty dollars per acre, and he has lately refused one hundred dollars per acre for it, showing the rapid advance in land values here. He also owned three hundred and twenty acres in Sheridan township, north of Holdrege, and sold one hundred and sixty acres of this at an advance of one-third in the price in two years. Besides these lands he owns four hundred and eighty acres in the northern part of the county near the Platte River bridge, and on some of this he has planted alfalfa and gets a good crop each year. He has his home place improved with a good house, barns, etc., and has a lot of good horses, cattle and other stock which he brought with him from Illinois. His harvest of 1903 amounted to seventeen thousand bushels of small grains, and in 1906 twenty thousand bushels, wheat running thirty bushels to the acre, and corn sixty.

   Mr. Knight is originally of New England stock, his family settling in Illinois years ago, when that state was new. He was married in 1883 to Miss C. J. Allison, a native of Illinois, of Pennsylvania stock. To Mr. and Mrs. Knight five children have been born named as follows: H. A. Knight, Jr., Florence and Helen, living; and two, not living, who were named Annette M. and Ruth W.

   Mr. Knight moved to Holdrege in the fall of 1907, and bought his present fine residence in the best residential part of the city. He has retired from active farming, but still retains about one thousand acres of farm lands in Nebraska and other states.


   Dave Litz, one of the early settlers and prosperous farmers of western Nebraska, lives on his extensive and well-tilled farm of six hundred and forty acres located in Bassett precinct, Rock county. Here he has succeeded in building up a good farm and home and has gained the respect and esteem of a large circle of acquaintances.

   Mr. Litz is a native of Monroe county, Indiana, born November 13, 1860, of German stock. His father, Andrew J. Litz, was a farmer, who died in Indiana in 1882, leaving a wife and six children, of whom our subject is the eldest member. He was reared in his native state, and in 1883 came west settling in Rock county on a homestead, situated in section 32, township 30, range 19. Here he started to establish a home. His first building was a sod house with no floor in it. His first team was a yoke of oxen, and after using them for some time he traded them for a

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span of horses, giving besides the oxen $100 in cash. During the fall of 1883 he husked corn on the banks of the Missouri river to make a living for himself and family, and also worked in the roundhouse at Long Pine. Four or five of his crops were destroyed in succession through the drouths, and he lost some stock from the same cause; this was when times were hardest for him, when it required all of a man's courage to remain. Since conditions in this section have changed for the better he has been very successful, and has gradually added to his original place until he is the owner of a farm of six hundred and forty acres, and of this he has one hundred and twenty acres under cultivation. He has lately built a new two-story dwelling fitted with all modern conveniences of rural life, while the whole place is one of comfort and plenty. He has a large barn built to accommodate one hundred head of stock, good granary, corn cribs, hog pens, etc., with over seven miles of fence on his place. He has a fine grove of forest trees an his farm, and a large orchard. Everything is kept up in the best condition making one of the pleasantest places in the locality.

   Mr. Litz was married May 10, 1883, to Miss Sarah Roberts, born of American stock. They have a family of three bright children, namely: Pearl, Nora and Needa.

   Mr. Litz has always taken an active interest in public affairs in his county and state; and is a strong Bryan man, and a firm believer in the righteousness of the Democratic party. He is .a member of the Modem Woodmen of America camp at Bassett.


   John D. Richards is one of the earliest settlers in this part of the state of Nebraska, and during his long residence here has closely identified himself with the history of this region. He has succeeded in building a fine home and ranch, and has an enviable reputation as a citizen. He first came to this locality during the time the big cattle men were trying to drive out the smaller ranchmen, and when he first arrived here he thought it was about the worst place to which he ever emigrated.

   Mr. Richards was born in Canton, Ohio, September 26, 1848. His father, Adam Richards was also a native of Ohio, by trade a wagonmaker and farmer, and with his wife and family of seven children, moved to Williams county, Ohio, when our subject was ten years old. There he was reared and educated, starting out for himself when but fourteen years of age, by enlisting in the One Hundred and Eighty-second Ohio Volunteer Infantry and served until, the close of the war. He was one of those who in the campaign in Tennessee under "Dad" Thomas, saw a great deal of hard service all through the war, and he was mustered out at Camp Chase, Ohio, after the declaration of peace. When the war was over he went to the lumber woods in northern Michigan, where he worked for two years, going thence to California in 1870. He lived there for about three years mining and ranching and then traveled north to Oregon, where he engaged in cattle and horse raising, continuing in this for eight years. From there he went to the Big Horn basin in Wyoming where he took up ranching for a time, carrying a large herd of cattle and horses. He then moved to Sioux county, Nebraska, in 1888, engaging in cattle and horse breeding at that point and also started farming, but he quickly saw that it would not pay and discontinued that branch of agriculture. In 1890 he located on Gordon creek forty miles south of Merriman in township 29, range 38, which place he still holds, and on the nine hundred and sixty acres of this property about five hundred and sixty acres are good hay land. He also owns a ranch of one thousand one hundred and twenty acres north of township 31, range 38, on which he runs about five hundred head of cattle, and a number of horses, using the south range in the winter and the north range during the summer season. About one hundred and forty acres seeded with alfalfa, and from this he cuts three or four crops each year, making a profitable addition to his income. He has a valuable estate, well improved, and after the rough times he went through on the frontier, is prepared to enjoy the balance of his time in a pleasant home surrounded by comfort and plenty.

   Mr. Richards was never married but has a sister who keeps house for him. He is entitled to a good sized pension, but has never applied for it, not needing any aid from the government. Two brothers were also in the army with him.

   In political sentiment he is a republican and a member of Brewer post, Grand Army of the Republic, at Gordon.


   The gentleman whose name heads this review is a prominent old timer of Deuel County, Nebraska, being one of the first settlers on the table land. His home is on section 18, township 12, range 44, where he is the owner of a fine estate, and is held in the highest citizen esteem as a worthy citizen and leading public-spirited man.

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   Mr. Smith was born in Lawton, Van Buren county, Michigan on August 20, 1859, and grew up in that state. His father was Geo. P. Smith, who settled in Deuel county about 1886, was a homesteader and prominent citizen, holding the office of county judge about the years 1890-'91. He died here February 13, 1905. Our subject settled in Nebraska in 1883, living for a short time in Saunders county, later in Saline and Phelps counties, and finally came to Deuel county in the spring of 1886. He at once filed on a homestead on section 12, township 13, range 45, went through pioneer experiences on the place, but proved up and sold out in 1896. He is now located on section 18, township 12, range 44, the home place containing one thousand four hundred and forty acres, part of which his father's old homestead, which land he has bought, all of which is well improved, with about seventy-five acres under cultivation. During late years he has been extensively engaged in the stock raising business, and at the present he is running about one hundred and fifty cattle and a bunch of horses, and is called one of wealthy and most successful men of his locality.

   Mr. Smith was married in Phelps county, on November 10, 1884, to Miss Emma J. Beadle, who is a native of Pennsylvania. To them have born the following children: Maud, wife of George Peters, now living in Cheyenne county; Minnie, who is a school teacher in the public schools of Deuel county; Mabel, Maggie, Annie, Grant D., William McKinley, and Ray, all of the latter living at home and assisting in the work on the ranch. The family have a comfortable and pleasant home, and all are well liked in the community. Mr. Smith is active in local affairs, serving at the present time as treasurer of school district No. 39. He is a member of the Odd Fellows lodge, and venerable consul of the Modern Woodmen. In political faith he is a republican and takes a leading part in county and national politics.


   William Souther, one of the best known of old settlers of western Nebraska, is a business man of more than ordinary capacity. He conducted numerous large enterprises during his career, and is possessed of wide experience and a character of the highest integrity. He has done a great deal toward making the town of Crawford what it is today, aiding in every manner possible in promoting its commercial development, and is one of the solid and substantial citizens of Dawes county.

   Mr. Souther was born in Fryeburg, Maine, in 1854, of old American stock, his father having been John W. Souther, a lumberman of that country, and his mother Miss Katherine Cameron, from Vermont. Our subject grew up in his native state, as a young man attending Bowdoin College for some time, at Brunswick, Maine, and is an alumnus of the different literary societies there. After completing his education he went into the lumber woods of Maine, where he spent ten years, also did farming, and for a year was in the Wisconsin lumber districts. In the spring of 1883 he went west to Oregon and Washington, where he engaged in the sheep business, and spent three years in that region. In the spring of 1886 he became superintendent for the New Hampshire Cattle Company, and ranched with them up to 1893, this being all cattle business. He next became interested in the mercantile business in Crawford, and also in Lusk, Wyoming, and while at the latter place was in partnership with John H. Barron, the two building a syndicate block, in Crawford, and for three years were extensively engaged in the mercantile work. In 1891 they were burned out at Crawford and lost a large amount of money, then for a time Mr. Souther was associated with the firm of Pratt & Ferris, a large cattle concern, with headquarters at Big Red, Wyoming, and at the same time was interested in the sheep business in that state. Mr. Souther has made Crawford his home town more or less ever since coming west, and that city claims him as one of their leading men. He has a large ranch near Crawford, one thousand three hundred and forty acres, with nearly five hundred of it under irrigation, and on this place he feeds a large number of cattle each year. Besides his different enterprises in the west, including a wheat farm in North Dakota, Mr. Souther has large lumbering interests in Maine, which net him considerable property.

    In 1892 Mr. Souther was married to Miss Mabel Graham MacIntosh, of Ypsilanti, Michigan. Mrs. Souther is a daughter of Charles MacIntosh, a carriage-maker there. To Mr. and Mrs. Souther have been born the following children: John Barron, Susan Page, Grace and Mabel.

   Mr. Souther is a strong Republican, active in party politics.


   Leopold Moeller, one of the leading agriculturists of Box Butte county, is a resident of township 28, range 49, where he has improved a large farm and enjoys the comforts of rural life. He is a man of industrious habits, and is

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held in the highest esteem by his associates. Mr. Moeller was born in the Kingdom of Prussia, Germany, May 20, 1855. His father, John Moeller, was a farmer who lived and died in his native land. The mother came to America in 1889 with our subject, and died here March 19, 1895.

   Leopold Moeller has served in the army in Germany for three years, and worked out as a servant for a rich man in that country, spending fifteen years in that business. Two brothers came to America in 1883, and our subject decided to follow, and landed in New York in 1889, at Castle Garden, coming directly to Nebraska, locating on a government claim in Box Butte county near where his brothers had settled, and the same year he arrived here was married to Miss Alexandrina Kablenberg, a native of Hessen. Nassau, Germany.

   Mr. Moeller had a good start when he landed here, as he had brought $1,100.00 with him, and he filed on a homestead on southeast quarter of section 8, township 28, range 49, put up a sod shanty, bought a team of oxen and an old breaking plow and lumber wagon, then started farming. He drove to this locality from Hay Springs, which, at that time, was the nearest railroad point. The first year he lived here hail destroyed all the stuff he had planted, and the first crop he raised was in 1891, when he received a fair yield. After that the drouths caused severe losses each year and the only thing he was able to raise for feed was the Russian thistle for his stock, besides a few corn stalks and potatoes for his family. He found that it was useless to try to farm, so started in the cattle business, at first on a small scale. but kept gradualy (sic) spreading out in this line, buying more land as he grew better able, and is now owner of six quarter sections, operating besides this a section of leased school land. He runs over a hundred head of cattle and just enough horses for farming purposes, and his entire ranch is well improved with good buildings, etc. He has one hundred acres cultivated, and is considered one of the well-to-do men of his locality.

   Mr. and Mrs. Moeller have a family of two children, Frank, aged seventeen years, and Johannah C., thirteen years old.

   Politically, Mr. Moeller is an Independent.


   Michael B. O'Donoghue. residing on section 29, township 22, range 14, Garfield county, Nebraska, on his Kincaid homestead, was born in Newmarket, Cork county, Ireland, September 27, 1835, grew up in that country and on account of the Fenian troubles of 1860 and '65, in which he held a prominent part, was forced to leave his native land. The young men of his neighborhood were all organized for the cause of the republic of Ireland, and, as is well known, this movement was a complete failure, and those who escaped after the government got after them, were very fortunate, and the ones who were caught received sentences of from five to fifteen years in prison. Our subject was smuggled out of the country by friends on board the American vessel, the Jeremiah Thompson, the second officer in charge of the ship being a Mr. West, who was a good friend of his. The ship landed in New York in the fall of 1865, and our subject went at once to Boston, where he worked at his trade as a tailor until 1880, and when an Irish colonization society was formed about this time in that city, he joined that body of men and all came west, many of these persons being well known throughout this region by the older settlers. They settled in Nebraska in April of 1880, and our subject took up a timber claim of one hundred and sixty acres in township 24, range 14, one year later homesteading a quarter section adjoining his original tract, making three hundred and twenty acres which he proved up in due time. After the Kincaid law had been passed he took up one hundred and sixty acres more under that act, making a total of four hundred and eighty acres which he owned but has since sold his old farm, only retaining his Kincaid homestead. From the first he engaged in grain raising, also the stock business to quite an extent during the early days, but of late years he has not kept very many cattle, as the government land became scarcer, nearly all of it having been settled on and fenced in. During the first fifteen years Mr. O'Donoghue was in this state he had thousands of acres available for pasture for his herds, but all has been taken up by homesteaders. He relates many interesting anecdotes of the early times in this region when wild deer were plentiful, but as the settlers came in very rapidly the country became quickly cleared up and the wild game was killed off in large numbers. In the '80's many beavers and plenty of otter were seen in the vicinity of Cedar Creek, which stream heads near his land and empties into the Platte river near Cedar Rapids. There were large hordes of Indians in this region when our subject first located here, but neither he or any of the other settlers had any serious trouble with them. Mr. O'Donoghue has worked hard and faithfully since coming here and accumulated a nice property. When he left Boston he was a poor man, but through industry and good management is now independently well off, hav-

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