of 1884 he worked out at husking corn near Norfolk, and his wife assisted him in every way possible, helping him in the work of hauling wood, cutting posts, etc.
He gradually increased his holdings and now owns a farm of six hundred and forty acres of good land. Eighty acres of this is in a high state of cultivation, and on this he raises banner crops of grain, corn, etc. He is engaged to quite an extent in stock raising and dairying, and now keeps twenty-two milch cows. He recently built a fine large barn on his place, size forty by fifty feet, and has a commodious house, and all necessary farm buildings, and all the modern farming implements with which to carry on a model farm. At the time he located here there was not a tree in sight and he went to work and planted a large number of forest trees, and has a beautiful grove now growing on his place.
Mr. Royse was married in 1883 to Miss Rose Green, whose father, Jonah Green, was a miller by trade, of American blood. The family is widely known and highly respected throughout the community in which they reside. Mr. Royse is active in local public affairs, and stands firmly for the principles of the Democratic party.
SKETCH OF SHERIDAN COUNTY
BY CHARLES P. BRESEE.
Comparatively few white men had seen what is now Sheridan county when the writer, in April, 1877, first entered its borders. The country at that time was covered with short, curly buffalo grass, the salt grass.only appearing in the valleys, giving the hills and ridges a smooth, bald appearance. The Sioux Indians had full possession of the country, which was indeed a magnificent hunting ground, fairly teeming with antelope and deer, and some few elk still remained. Ducks and geese were abundant and some grouse were to be found upon the prairie. No white man at that time lived within its borders and to the prospector passing through it seemed that a generation would perhaps pass away before it would ever be inhabited by the white man. But with the opening of the Black Hills the Sioux Indians were soon gathered in by the United States government and located on the Pine Ridge reservation, which joins Sheridan county immediately on the north, and which agency is only some two miles distant from what is now the northern border. However, soon after the establishment of the reservation, a strip of land some five miles wide and ten miles long which is now a part of Sheridan county, was set aside by the government under pretense of keeping bootleggers away from the agency but was in all probability really accomplished by the post traders that independent stores might not be put in too close. This strip was known as the "extension" and was held by the government and used only by a few favored cattlemen until it was thrown open to settlement in 1904, and immediately became a part of Sheridan county, as it was fully within her borders. This is a splendid strip of agricultural land and was covered with squatters in forty-eight hours after being opened. However, the one section lying immediately south of the agency was taken by one Charles Nines who proposed to open a store on his homestead, and at once the interested parties on the reservation brought such pressure to bear President Roosevelt that he again set aside this one section and the same is yet withheld from settlement.
Almost before the government had placed the Sioux Indians on the reservation the hardy cattleman pushed to the front and in the fall of 1878 Newman and Hunter both established ranches in what is now Sheridan county, and while it is true that the Newman ranch , buildings were just in the edge of what is now Cherry county, close by the old Gordon rifle pits, yet his range was almost wholly within the limits of Sheridan county. These two ranches continued to monopolize almost, the entire territory until the coming of settlers in 1883, when they were crowded out by the settlers, although a number of their cowboys are still residents of Sheridan and Cherry counties. John Riggs, who was foreman of the Hunter ranch, became the first sheriff of Sheridan county, and is at the present time on a beautiful farm situated on the Niobrara river, some fifteen miles southeast of Rushville and near the site of the old Hunter ranch. T. B. Irwin, who was foreman of the Newman ranch, was for many years a resident of western Cherry county, where he owned and operated a large cattle ranch of his own. Ed. T. Ross, one of the wild and wooly cowboys of the Newman ranch, now resides at Gordon and is one of the most prominent and wealthy cattlemen of that section. Several more of the old-time cow punchers at present reside in Cherry county, while quite a number of the old-time range riders now sleep beneath Sheridan county soil.
Sheridan county was organized in June, 1885, with James Loofborrow as clerk. Its
first general election was held in November, 1885, and its first elective officers were: Abel Hill, clerk; John Riggs, sheriff; S. S. Murphy, superintendent; Chris Mosler, treasurer; C. Patterson, county judge, and W. H. Westover, county attorney.
From the time the territory was taken from the Indians until 1883 its entire population consisted of a few cattlemen and three or four squaw men scattered along its northern borders, but in 1883 a few hardy pioneers pushed their way into its present territory and following close on their heels came the Indiana colony, headed by Major John A. Scamahorn, settling in its eastern borders, where now stands the town of Gordon. From that moment on the tide of civilization poured in until in 1885 nearly every quarter section of land north of the Niobrara river was occupied by a homesteader. Then came the Fremont, Elkhorn & Missouri River Valley railroad, crossing the northern part of the county from east to west and the towns of Gordon, Rushville and Hay Springs sprang up like magic, and by October, 1886, there were within its borders nearly fifteen thousand people, and what eight years before had been the hunting ground of the most warlike tribe of Indians in America had in this short space of time become a happy community of civilized people.
For years a fierce county seat fight was waged between the towns of Hay Springs and Rushville, but Rushville was finally successful and is the present county seat, with a population of some seven hundred people.
Sheridan county is sixty-nine miles long by thirty-six miles wide. The Niobrara river runs through the county from west to east about midway. North of the river the soil is a rich limestone loam similar in texture to the famous blue grass region of Kentucky, and is one of the finest farming regions in the west. South of the Niobrara river the greater portion of the country is sand hills and is occupied by cattlemen, but has numerous lakes and hay valleys, while the hills are covered with luxuriant grass, affording a paradise for ranchmen, and while this portion of the county is thinly populated, yet it is a rich country and produces some of the finest cattle in the west. The Burlington & Missouri railroad runs entirely through the southern part of the county, along which are located the stations of Bingham, Lakeside, Ellsworth and Reno.
The northern portion of the county is watered by several creeks which flow in a northerly direction, emptying into the White river in South Dakota. There is little timber in the county except along its northern border, where pine trees once covered the hills and the streams are fringed with elm, ash, box elder and cottonwood. It is fast becoming the greatest potato country in the west and produces immense crops of all kinds of small grain, and corn of the earlier varieties is successfully raised. Its output of cattle and horses is large and no better stock country can be found anywhere in the world. Water is pure and abundant at an average depth of about thirty feet. Its mean altitude is about thirty-five hundred feet, and while its rainfall is only about twenty-four inches per year, yet this practically all falls in the growing season and is sufficient to produce bountiful crops. Land is cheap and abundant and untold thousands may yet find homes within the borders of Sheridan county.
Among the capable and industrious men who hold responsible positions in McCook, Nebraska, none is more highly respected than the subject of this review, A. M. Wilson, who is superintendent of the electric light company here. He has held this position since 1894 and has been connected with the concern for fourteen years.
Mr. Wilson is a native of Missouri. His father, J. W. Wilson, settled in Keokuk, Iowa, in 1859, and moved to Omaha two years later. At the breaking out of the war, he enlisted and served for three years in a Nebraska regiment, taking an active part in the battle of Gettysburg, and was with the army of the Potomac. He was shot and severely wounded during a hard-fought battle. He was a native of Terre Haute, Indiana, and after being discharged came back to Nebraska but afterwards moved to Kansas, where he died. During his young manhood, our subject learned the electrical work at Tarkio, Missouri, and came from there to Nebraska, afterwards working all over the western states. In 1894 he settled in McCook, and began with the company he is still with. This plant has a two hundred and twenty horse power boiler, six dynamos, 2-30 K. W. and 4-15 K. W. S. The electrical capacity is ten hundred and twenty-eight amperes. It runs about three thousand lights, and is a private plant. It has the meter system. The plant has been increased seventy-five per cent. in three years, in order to keep up with the growth and demands of the city. Mr. Wilson has three men working under him all the time, and besides gives his
entire time and attention to the work. The company will soon install a day system to meet the growing demand for its light, and it now enjoys the reputation of being one of the best plants in the state for even the continuous service.
Mr. Wilson married Miss May Colling, daughter of Nicholas Coiling, an old settler of Indianola, Nebraska, who came west from Illinois in 1872. Six children have been born to Mr. and Mrs. Wilson, who are named as follows: Florence, Ethel, Francis, Royal, Mina and Merna.
Mr. Wilson is a Republican in political faith, and takes an active interest in all local and state affairs. He is a member of the Ancient Order of United Workmen lodge of McCook.
Eber A. Smith, one of the most prominent farmers and stockmen of Deuel county, and a man of untiring energy and good business management, resides on section 12, township 13, range 45. He has in all one thousand eight hundred acres, and is one of the wealthiest men of the locality. He has been a resident of Deuel county since 1886, and is widely known, and universally respected and esteemed.
Mr. Smith was born in Washtenaw county, Michigan, on the second day of August, 1845. He grew to manhood there, receiving a good education, and worked as a clerk in a general merchandise store at Lawton and Paw Paw for a number of years. In April, 1863, he enlisted in Company F, Twelfth Michigan Infantry, served with his regiment for two months, then was mustered out on account of illness which compelled him to leave his regiment. He returned to Michigan, and secured employment as a solicitor, traveling for eight or nine years, covering territory in Michigan, Indiana, Ohio and Illinois. In 1886 he came to Nebraska, arriving in Deuel county in July, and immediately took a homestead on section 12, township 13, range 45, proved up on a quarter section, and went through all the early Nebraska times in getting started. He witnessed the drouth years, when he was unable to raise any crops, and often became thoroughly discouraged, but never thought of giving up his farm, and as the better years came on he was able to add improvements gradually and bought land adjoining his original homestead, so that he now has one of the finest properties in the region. He has about two hundred acres under cultivation, and plenty of hayland and pasture for a large bunch of stock. He is now breaking up about one thousand acres, using for the purpose one of the late model steam plows, and has every kind of improved machinery to make the operation of a large farm easy compared with the way farmers were obliged to do in the early days. He has good buildings of all kinds, a good grove and many fine trees surrounding his residence. He devotes his entire time to the improvement of his farm, and every part of it evidences his good management and business ability.
Mr. Smith was married May 12th, 1869, to Mary B. Beach, at Medina, Michigan. Mrs. Smith was also a native of Washtenaw county, that state, and the parents of both our subject and his wife were pioneers there. There are three children living, who are a credit to their parents, named as follows: Frank A., now a professor in the University of Wyoming; Fred E., who is a graduate of the University of Wyoming and of the Denver Law School. He is now married and living on a farm joining his father's ranch. Another son, Roy D., is at home.
Charles E. Lear was born in Rock Island, Illinois, October 9, 1859.
His father, William Lear, was a millwright by trade, and in his business capacity made three trips to Pike's Peak, the first in 1859, erecting saw mills, stamping and quartz mills which he operated for a time. He died in Des Moines, Iowa, in 1896. His wife was Caroline Coleman in maidenhood. Our subject was the eldest of his father's family, and was raised and educated in Jasper county, Iowa, finishing his education at Hazeldell Academy, Newton, Iowa. After graduating he began teaching school, which calling he followed for two years. In 1883 he came to Keya Paha county and settled on a homestead in the southwest quarter of section 30, township 34, range 20, and also took a timber claim southeast of this location. His first house was a log cabin of one room, the roof of which was made of boards with tar paper and sod.
In 1885 he was elected county clerk, serving for four years, and enjoys the distinction of being the first clerk of the Keya Paha county. Previous to the time of coming here Mr. Lear had studied law, and in 1888 he was admitted to the bar in Nebraska, was elected and served as county attorney for four succesive (sic) terms. He devoted his time to the practice of law, including
the real estate and collection business, and also to the introduction of blooded stock in this locality, importing fine blooded Durham bulls and Percheron stallions into Keya Paha county. He is also interested in the culture of different kinds of grasses, and in addition to all this, he still finds time to personally direct the management of his three ranches comprising about four thousand acres, which are given over to stock raising, running over three hundred head of cattle and forty horses all the time.
In 1883 our subject was married to Miss Emma Tomlinson, daughter of Thomas and Jane (Miller) Tomlinson. Previous to her marriage she was a school teacher in Iowa. She died October 28, 1889, leaving two children, Forrest and Everett. She was sincerely mourned by her family as a loving wife and mother, and was esteemed by all who knew her. In 1894 Mr. Lear was married to Miss Effie Manifold, who was a native of Ohio. Her father, Boyd B. Manifold, died in Ohio, the mother, Gertrude (Stalcup), is now living in Caldwell, Ohio. Mr. and Mrs. Lear have one child, Gertrude, born December 21, 1900. Mr. Lear has been a Populist since 1893. He is a member of the Masonic and Pythian orders of Springview.
The gentleman above named is an old settler of Nebraska, who has assisted in the development and growth of that state for many years past. He is a resident of Georgia, Cherry county, lately retired from all active business, and is well known and highly esteemed by his fellowmen as a stanch Christian and God-fearing man, who has always labored earnestly for the cause of the righteous.
Mr. Johnson was born in Meigs comity, Ohio, December 23, 1831. His father, Isaac Johnson, of American stock, was a hatter by trade, and followed the calling of a minister in the United Brethren Society, for many years preaching the gospel throughout the section in which he lived; later on moving to Fulton county, Illinois, in 1837. He traveled over the country on horseback, preaching the gospel, a contemporary with Peter Cartwright and other pioneer evangelists. Our subject's mother, Miss Chloe S. Baker, was of English descent, her great-grandfather having been an English sailor and an early settler in Massachusetts. Of a family of eleven children our subject was the third member, and came to Illinois with his parents when he was seven years of age. He was raised on a farm and he learned to do all kinds of hard labor, many a day in his young boyhood cutting his four acres of wheat with a cradle, working for fifty cents a day; he was also expert in handling a scythe, then in exclusive use in the hayfield. At the age of twenty-one years he started in for himself, working out by the month on farms during the summer, and followed lumbering in the winter. In 1861 he came west and settled in Cerro Gordo county, Iowa, taking a farm, where his nearest market was sixty-five miles away, sometimes being compelled to haul his produce one hundred miles before finding sale for it. These were dangerous and tiresome trips, consuming several days, and he was obliged to camp out nights on the road, hoppling his oxen, the only draught animals of those days. In 1863 he enlisted in Company H, Fifteenth Iowa Infantry, and was sent south with his regiment, where he saw hard service under General Sherman. They campaigned around Atlanta, through to the sea, and all over the Carolinas. The company was in many engagements and experienced all the hardships of soldiers' life. His service ended at Raleigh, North Carolina, and after taking part in the grand review at Washington, with his company, was discharged at Davenport, Iowa. After leaving the army he went back to his home and again took up farming, remaining there until 1872, when he moved with his family to Osceola county in the spring of 1873. There he settled on a homestead, beginning a pioneer's life for the second time, living in that region for several years. He went through many hardships, witnessing the grasshopper raids and for seven years made no progress. These were their hardest times, for nine years their only fuel was twisted hay; be lost crops every season so that he had to give up his farm and begin all over again. He then decided to leave Iowa, so came to Nebraska and located first in Holt county in the fall of 1884, moving on to Cherry county, in July, 1887. Here he acquired land situated south of Georgia and farmed this up to October, 1898, when he went to Newport, residing there until 1902, when he returned to Georgia. He was a carpenter by trade and followed this occupation a great part of the time in Iowa, preaching the gospel when opportunity offered as an evangelist of the United Brethren church, of which he was a member for thirty years. He was about thirty-five years old when he started as a minister, and during his first series of protracted meetings held at Bigelow, Minnesota, there were thirty-three souls converted, and this after he was told that he was incompetent to preach.
Mr. Johnson was first married in 1856 to Miss Elizabeth Bates, who died in 1858, leaving one child, Marinda J., who married James Kirkpatrick and died January 5, 1903. In 1861 our subject married Miss Celinda Morphew, to whom seven children were born, named as follows: Arminda, widow of W. H. Lance, and a teacher for some years, now conducting a millinery and ladies' furnishings establishment at Georgia; Charles, deceased; James A. W., a sketch of whom appears elsewhere in this work; Lemuel, deceased; Clara, wife of Elvin Elliott; Ellen, wife of Paul H. Danofski; and William, deceased.
Mr. Johnson has been four times a pioneer, going through the hardships on the frontier in that many different regions. He served as postmaster of Kilgore for a year or two, giving the best of satisfaction to all patrons of the office.
Mr. Harry I. Whitesell is one of the leading pioneers of Garfield county, who has always expressed himself to the effect that a man's chance for making money in western Nebraska with a small amount of capital to start with, is much better than anywhere in the eastern states, and says that the only excuse for a man being poor here is his own dislike for work; that anyone willing to work can come to Nebraska without a dollar, and in six years' time can become independently well off. Mr. Whitesell is a practical farmer, and a good manager, as his farm bears evidence by its well-kept appearance and splendidly tilled fields. Mr. Whitesell is prominently known throughout his county and is highly esteemed by all as a worthy citizen and good neighbor. He resides in section 24, township 22, range 15.
Mr. Whitesell is a native of Pennsylvania, born in 1859. He comes of sturdy German stock, reared on his father's farm, receiving his education through the country schools of his native state. He declares that his success in life is due to his early training, for his father taught him early in life that it was only by his own efforts that he would become wealthy or even attain a competence and this teaching has clung to him through all his later years and acted as a spur to his labors.
Mr. Whitesell came to Nebraska in 1882, settling in Dodge county, where he was engaged in the sheep business for several years, going to Holt county from there and remaining up to 1892. He then came to Garfield county and pre-empted a claim of one hundred and sixty acres, which he soon afterwards disposed of. He next landed in the Southeastern part of the county, where he took up a homestead, later buying more land until be owns altogether one thousand two hundred acres, all of which is good pasture and farm land, four hundred acres of it being under cultivation. He engages in the culture of corn, oats, wheat and also barley and rye to some extent. He has good barns and other farm buildings, and a fine residence. During the first few years, in fact, up to within the past ten or twelve years, his greatest trouble arose from lack of water, but he now has a fine supply for all purposes, furnished from deep wells which he drilled, and this is of the purest quality. Mr. Whitesell formerly raised a good many cattle, but of late years has not kept any large number. although he raises several carloads of hogs for the market each year, finding more profit in them than from cattle raising. He raises all the grain and hay which he feeds on his place, growing a great deal of alfalfa, which is the best feed possible for all stock, and also finds that the land in his vicinity is particularly well adapted for the raising of English blue grass, which is something entirely new in this part of the country. Mr. Whitesell leases land to farmers who have not enough hay on their own farms, and the yield on his range is from two to three tons per acre, all of it the very best quality.
In 1890 Mr. Whitesell was married to Mrs. Martha (Sterling) Butterfield, a native of Pennsylvania also, of German stock, a daughter of John C. and Rhoda (Parshall) Sterling. They are the parents of seven children, who are named as follows: Mabel, Laura, John, Grace, Rhoda, Martha and William. The last two named were twins, and both are deceased. Our subject and his family are active members of the Methodist Episcopal church, highly respected by all, and form a most intelligent group. Mr. Whitesell is a Republican, and was precinct clerk for seven terms. He has also served as road overseer.
One of the leading citizens of Valentine is the subject of this sketch, Amberson G. Shaw, a well known figure who has held a unique place on the frontier and in the settlement of the west.
Mr. Shaw was born in Brown county, Ohio, November 27, 1842. His father, Sylvester Shaw, was a veterinary surgeon and farmer, and was a son of Russell Shaw, who was one of the first pioneers of Ohio, for whom Russellville was named. Our subject's mother, Miss Elizabeth F. Hatfield, was of English descent, born and reared on the river Dee. She was the mother of nine children, of whom Amberson G. Shaw was the youngest.
At the breaking out of the war Mr. Shaw enlisted in Company B, Eleventh Ohio Cavalry, serving in Missouri, and was sent west through the Indian country, seeing service from Omaha to South Pass in the Rocky mountains. He was in the government service for three and a half years, and in 1865 in Omaha he received an honorable discharge, after which he did freighting from Omaha to Fort Laramie for two years, then working for two years as telegraph operator at Horseshoe,
He has the distinction of sending the only dispatch ever sent to Fort Phil Kearney for relief, at the time of the Indian massacre near there. After quitting this position he spent two years on a ranch south of Fort Laramie. In the meantime he had married into the Sioux nation, when he, together with E. W. Raymond, were instrumental in getting the Sioux tribe on to the Rosebud reservation from Fort Laramie, and subsequently was employed as a carpenter on the reservation for twenty years. Part of this time, however, he worked as a scout, serving under General Miles and Crook, and was one of those on the ground the day after the Custer massacre had taken place. Through his knowledge of the Sioux language he has been employed as interpreter for numerous parties of Indians engaged to travel with wild west shows, and in this capacity has visited all the principal cities of Europe and America; is well known for his skill as a fancy shot with rifle and revolver and the throwing of knives, in which he has few equals. In 1894 Mr. Shaw came to Valentine with his family and here established the first photograph gallery in this town. He has always been active in lending his influence and assistance wherever needed, and is closely identified with the development and growth of this locality. In the early days he served as justice of the peace for four terms. This was during the wild days of Valentine, and he had many tough and lawless characters to handle.
Mr. Shaw was married March 16, 1905, to Miss Pauline Sarah Augusta Petraty, a native of Wisconsin. Two children have blessed this union, Valentine Queen and Richard Fremont. By a former marriage Mr. Shaw had four children named as follows: Dallas, an Episcopal minister; Byron B., Annette and Valentine I.
Mr. Shaw is a comrade of Colonel Wood post,
No. 208, Grand Army of the Republic, of Valentine and of the
Ancient Order of United Workmen. In political sentiment Mr. Shaw
is an Independent. A portrait of Mr. Shaw will be found on another
page in this work.
Dr. J. O. Vallette, a prominent resident of Alma, Nebraska, is well known and held in the highest esteem by all in this locality. He was a leading physician near Chicago, and has an enviable reputation, which he has built up by successful practice and faithful attention to duty. He has retired from practice since 1888. Dr. Vallette is a son of Jeremiah Vallette, a native of Rhode Island, known as the best agriculturist of his day. His grandfather, also Jeremiah Vallette, served in the Revolutionary war, and his mother was Miss Abiah Mott, daughter of an old settler in Connecticut. Both families are well known throughout those sections of the country, and their names figure in the early history of both states. Our subject received his education at Hahnemann College at Chicago, and after coming west taught school near Chicago for several years. He was born and raised in Stockbridge, Berkshire county, Massachusetts, and spent his boyhood years at that place. In 1864 he enlisted in the One Hundred and Forty-first Illinois Infantry and was physician to Colonel Brunson, serving mostly in Kentucky.
In 1883 the family came to Illinois, moving on a farm which is now a part of the great city, and our subject has watched the growth of Chicago from the time it had but four thousand people. After receiving his diploma as a doctor he began practising (sic) in Illinois, and followed the profession at Wheaton for twenty-four years. In 1883 he came to Harlan county and located on a homestead in Eldorado township, having come west on account of throat trouble. The climate here greatly benefited him, and he continued the practice of medicine, finally giving it up in 1888. He is now ninety-two years of age, enjoying perfect health of body and mind, takes an active interest in all current events, and is one of the best informed men in this locality.
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