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Compendium of History Reminiscence & Biography of Western Nebraska

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successful cattle feeder in Saline county, Missouri. where his mother, Virginia F. Gilliam, was born. His father was a native of Maryland, and the Youngs have long been identified with American affairs, tracing their lineage to a sire mentioned in colonial affairs in 1780.

     Mr. Young was ninth in a family of ten and the youngest son of his parents. His earlier years were spent on the parental farm, but when he was nineteen years of age he left home, and for a time was employed in Lincoln, where he was connected with a wholesale grocery. From Lincoln, he went to Ogden, Utah, with a sheep "outfit." and for some months was engaged in trailing sheep from Ogden to Soda Springs, Idaho. For a time he was a fireman on the Southern Pacific railway, running between Ogden. Utah, and Carlin, Nevada. On a trip into Yellowstone Park he became stage driver for the trip and posed as an old guide, a bluff he successfully carried out. After his trip to the Yellowstone Park he again secured work ranching at St. Anthony, Idaho. He was employed as a horse ranger in Montana for one summer and in 1901, came to Thedford, Nebraska, with horses from Montana, which he trailed over to Dewey's Lake, where he remained for a month, and then went back to the old Missouri home, having contrived to pack into a few brief years about as many and as varied experiences as often fall to the lot of a young man. In March, 1902, he returned to Cherry county and finding a tract on Gordon creek that suited him purchased first about two thousand acres. In the following autumn his father also came to this part of the state, and together the two bought adjoining land from time to time until a tract of five thousand five hundred acres had been purchased, all of which has been fenced and very extensively improved. The property is known as Gordon Valley Ranch and extends for over ten miles along Gordon's creek. It is one of the most desirable tracts of land devoted to cattle raising in this entire region, and feeds annually upwards of a thousand cattle and about fifty mules. The improvements are better than the average, and the buildings compare favorably with those constructed in far older communities. The brand is V bar open A. The place is equipped with a fine set of scales and such other improvements as a modern and up-to-date cattle ranch demands There are three fine groves on the ranch, eight good wells, over three of which have been erected windmills with accompanying tanks. One of the interesting illustrations in this work is a view of the residence and its surroundings.

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     Mr. Young was married October 15, 1905, to Miss Stella M. Crowe. Her father, J. W. Crowe, a native of Nova Scotia, is an old settler, locating southwest of Merriman, Nebraska, in 1888. The mother, Catherine (House) Crowe, was born in Wisconsin. They are highly respected for their many sterling qualities of heart and mind. To Mr. and Mrs. Young have been born two daughters: Virginia Catherine, born August 3, 1906, and Laura Edna, December 2, 1907. They are members of the Methodist church. Mr. Young affiliates with the Masonic fraternity at Valentine.


     William I. Wray, a representative citizen of Cherry county for the past twenty years. and a prosperous business man and former agriculturist, is a gentleman of sterling character, who commands the respect of a large circle of acquaintances.

     Mr. Wray was born on his father's farm in Jasper county, Iowa, February 25, 1870. The latter came to Nebraska with his family, settling in York county near the line of Holt county in the spring of 1879 and moved to Holt county in the spring of 1881, where he located on a homestead, remaining until the spring of 1888, when the family came to Cherry county and settled on a farm. Our subject started out for himself, working in Keya Paha county for about six months, going west in 1895 overland to Idaho and all through Wyoming, Nevada and Oregon, where he worked at freighting, mining. etc., and remaining three years. At the end of that time he came back to this county and farmed for one year, then engaged in the tubular well drilling business. Since starting in this work he has put down nearly two hundred wells in Cherry county alone. He has been very successful in this work, and has followed it for seven years, becoming well known all over the county and adjoining counties for his faithful work and strict attention to business.

     December 15, 1898, Mr. Wray was married to Miss Cora A. Elliott, whose father, Nathaniel Elliott, is an old settler of Nebraska, now residing on the Niobrara river, twelve miles south of Georgia. His wife was Miss Sarah Keys prior to her marriage. Mr. and Mrs. Wray have a family of five children, who are named as follows: Flossy, Sylvia, Eddie, Violet and Olive.

     Mr. Wray has a nice residence in Georgia, as well as a ranch home, the dwelling erected in the spring of 1908 on a Kincaid homestead of six hundred and forty acres, one and a half miles west of Georgia. The family is well known and highly esteemed as good citizens

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and neighbors. Mr. Wray is a Republican, and takes a commendable interest in all affairs that tend to the advancement of educational and commercial opportunities in his community. He is a member of the Brotherhood of American Yeomen, the Modern Woodmen of America and the Odd Fellows lodges of Georgia.



     Capt. W. H. Banwell, one of the leading physicians of Orleans, Harlan county, Nebraska. has been engaged in the practice of medicine for many years in this locality.

     Mr. Banwell was born in Andover, Ashtabula county, Ohio, September 10th, 1832, and is a son of Henry and Hannah Castle Banwell, both born and raised in Northamptonshire, England. He was educated in Springfield, Clark county, Ohio, and there studied medicine up to 1859. At the breaking out of the Civil war he enlisted in the Sixteenth Ohio Regiment, the second day after the firing on Ft. Sumter, and served four months, participating in several battles in West Virginia, then re-enlisted and served for four years in the Forty-fourth Ohio Regiment as a private under Colonel Samuel A. Gilbert. He received the appointment of second lieutenant in this company, and afterwards as first captain of Company B, serving until the close of the war. Then he enlisted in the Eighth Ohio Cavalry. He refused a captain's commission in this company and entered the secret service, serving four years and eight months. His last service was at Nashville, Tennessee, under Lieutenant Colonel Shafter, who died in 1906.

     On this occasion Capt. Banwell followed after Champ Ferguson, who with a company of thirty soldiers rode through Tennessee and shot down Union men, he being one of those who caught and helped hang Ferguson, and in a recent letter General Shafter refers to this occurrence. He also served in the Twenty-third Army corps with the army of the Cumberland. His brother, Henry, was killed at the battle of Petersburg, Virginia, and his other brother, George, was with our subject all through the war. Captain Banwell was first at the killing of the rebel General Garnet at Carricks Ford. He was at Lookout Mountain and in battles around Nashville and Chickamauga, Antietam, Winchester, etc., and during all of this hard service he was never once wounded, and was always at the front of his regiment. At the closing of the war he resumed the study of medicine, graduating at the Cincinnati College of Medicine and Surgery July 1, 1871, soon after establishing himself near Springfield, Ohio, where he continued to practice up to 1882. He was elected president of the Clark County Medical Association and held that position for a year, and in the fall of 1882 came to Harlan county, Nebraska, and took a homestead, where he has remained ever since. He has made Orleans his home for the past twenty-four years, practicing all over Harlan and the adjoining counties. His professional career extends over a period of thirty-five years. He is a man of active public spirit, taking a deep personal interest in all affairs of the community, both commercial and social. He has been a member of the Masonic lodge since 1864, and has taken all the degrees of that society. He is a Shriner in the veteran Masonic association of Nebraska, which means that he is over sixty years old and has been a Mason in good standing for over thirty years. He was master in Melrose lodge, No. 60, in Orleans for five years. Was for sixteen years a member of the Grand Army of the Republic, and has held the post of surgeon of the Burlington & Missouri Railway at Orlean for the past sixteen years.

     Capt. Banwell was married in Clark county, Ohio, in 1867 to Miss Lucina E. Sprague, daughter of Darius Sprague, a leading farmer of Clark county, Ohio. Mr. and Mrs. Banwell are the parents of three children, who are named as follows Jessie, wife of Ed. L. Means, a banker and druggist of Orleans; Ollie, wife of Walter H. Green, cashier of the Massachusetts National Life Insurance Company, of Indianapolis, Indiana; and Colonel Hayes Banwell, residing at Arapahoe. Nebraska, cashier and manager of the Citizens State Bank at that place.

     In addition to his professional work, Capt. Banwell is interested in a large tract of farming land situated near Orleans, to the management of which he gives his personal attention. In politics he is a strong Republican.



     Joseph Leopold DeBock is well-known to nearly all the pioneers of western Nebraska as a leading citizen, and for many years prior to his demise was a resident of section 22, township 32, range 55, in Sioux county.

     Mr. DeBock was born in Belgium, in 1842, and grew up in that country. His father, Carlos, was a farmer and nurseryman, and a very wealthy man, and Joseph received many advantages in the way of education and travel as a young man. At the age of twenty-five years

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he came to the United States, settling at first in Michigan, where he worked in the pine woods for a time. He was a man of very strong character and iron constitution, and a hard worker, and his strength was tested to the utmost in his work, as many times he was obliged to stand all day in water while logging and doing that work. He finally drifted to Utah, where he lived for twelve years, engaged in the mining business, and owned a mine of his own, also manufactured charcoal. In 1884 he came to Nebraska, settling in Sioux county, driving in with two teams and covered wagon, camping out along the road, the trip taking three months, making this journey on account of his wife's failing health, and while on the trip she experienced much sickness, to which was added the discomfort of having to go through many storms and rough weather. On arriving in this region they located on Hat creek, where Mr. DeBock built a log cabin twelve by fifteen feet, and made a comfortable dwelling, in which they lived for a number of years. Chadron was their nearest trading post, a distance of sixty miles. He went to work to break up land for crops, and used the numerous springs on the places to irrigate his land, planted small fruits, and after they were in bearing peddled the fruit at Ft. Robinson, twenty miles away, also sold vegetables, and in this way got a start. He bought three cows, for which he paid forty dollars each, and these furnished them with plenty of milk, butter, etc., and also had some to sell, When the drouths struck the vicinity he suffered crop failures, but his irrigation system helped him out considerably, and he was able to add improvements, and gradually added to his ranch, owning at the time of his death, July 23d, 1903, four hundred and eighty acres, well improved with good buildings, etc., and stocked with cattle, hogs and some horses. Mr. DeBock put in many years of hard work in opening up his ranch, which was in the timber belt, and he did much grubbing and clearing. He also helped in developing the resources of his locality, and did much toward aiding the prosperity which has come to the county.

     Mr. DeBock was married, in 1864, to Antoinette Connen, born at Green Bay, Wisconsin, where she was reared, her father being a farmer in that vicinity. Nine children were born to them, named as follows: Rose, Louis, Henry, Mary, Silva, Arnold, Leo, James and Roy. Since the father's death Mrs. DeBock has successfully carried on the home ranch and is assisted by Leo, who bids fair to be as successful ill the work as his father was. They have a pleasant home, and many friends in the community.



     W. H. Kocher is one of the leading business men of Holdrege, Nebraska, and for the past twenty years has been associated with the commercial interests of this community. He has a large and lucrative trade, having been engaged in the building and contracting business since 1887, and has gained a wide reputation as a master workman.

     Mr. Kocher is a native of New York state and removed to Wisconsin with his parents at the age of six years. He was engaged in the builders' trade for nineteen years before coming to Nebraska, having resided for that length of time near Madison, Wisconsin, and was prominently known all through that section. He first came to Nebraska in 1887, at once establishing himself in this business, and ever since has devoted all his time to this work, meeting with the greatest success in every instance. He has made a specialty of putting up frame residences of the best class, and his work along this line is of the very highest order. The Ed. Titus' residence in Holdrege is a specimen of the work clone by Mr. Kocher, which was built at a cost of about $10,000. The city of Holdrege has, for its size, more such residences than any other city in western Nebraska, and for this it is indebted largely to the faithful and superior workmanship of our subject. He, was one of the workmen who helped erect the Hampton House, the City National Bank, and other large buildings here. Mr. Kocher built a fine residence on East avenue for his own occupancy, which is presided over by his wife with much taste and intelligence for the home comfort of herself and husband, there being no other members in the family. Here they entertain their numerous friends, and everything is of the highest order and modern convenience.

     Mr. and Mrs. Kocher are members and earnest workers in the Presbyterian church here, and in all social and religious circles they are held in the highest esteem. He is a strong Republican in political sentiment, but has always refused all office preferment.



     Among the successful self-made men of Dawes county may be truly noted Herman C. Rincker. He came to the new world from his mother country when but a boy, and since his residence here has displayed an enterprising spirit and the exercise of good judgment in a manner that commends him to all as a worthy citizen. He now resides in section 11, township

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31, range 52, and is one of the prosperous farmers of his locality. He went to that region as a pioneer, has accumulated a flue property and applied himself closely to his calling. He is well versed in agricultural pursuits and possesses what years of experience teach to the observing only.

     Mr. Rincker was born near Weisbaden, Germany, in 1849. His father, William T. Rincker, was a veterinarian, also engaged in the meat business, and our subject was a lad two years old when his parents left their native land and came to America, settling in Chicago, where they remained for a time, then went to McLean county, Illinois, locating in Lexington, where Herman was raised and educated. He became familiar with farm work as a boy, and drifted into different kinds of labor, building telegraph lines, etc. In 1875 he came to North Platte, where he did line work for a time, then was trainman on the Union Pacific railway for thirteen years, eleven years of this time having charge of a train as conductor. He left the railroad in 1888 and went to Fort Laramie, Wyoming, where he engaged in the meat business, remained a year, then returned to Nebraska and settled in Crawford in 1889, opening a meat market there and continued in the trade up to 1901, building up a good business and making money. He bought his present farm in 1894 situated three-quarters of a mile east of Crawford, and has spent six years on the place, improving it in fine shape. He owns three hundred and twenty acres, thirty of which are cultivated and forty of it under irrigation. He has a comfortable house, two-story, and twenty-four by twenty-six feet in size, fitted up with modern conveniences, and everything about the farm bespeaks thrift and industry.

     Our subject was married in 1888 to Charlotte H. Diehl, whose father, John Diehl, fought and died in the Civil war. Mr. and Mrs. Rincker have a family of two children, namely: Edna and Clarence.

     Mr. Rincker is a staunch Republican, and takes an active interest in local and county affairs.



     Much has been written of the hardships and privations endured by the men who are the pioneers of a new country, while but little is ever said of the fortitude and courage of the women. Their lot is immeasurably harder than that of the men, and owing to their confinement to the household and its many duties, see less of the stirring events that go far toward lessening the tedium of a lonely, sparsely settled land.

     The west has had an attraction for many maidens, some of them teachers to whom the wide prairie meant the breath of life, some of them from other walks of life, while some came for health or adventure. Among this stream of emigration from the more thickly settled regions east of the Mississippi, came the Misses Van Orsdoll, of Columbia City, Indiana, daughters of Henry Van Orsdoll and nieces of J. W. Pike, who was a pioneer in Cherry county about 1883. Miss Maude visited the region in 1894, having been teaching in Iowa. In 1900 Miss Mary came, and with her, filed on homestead rights some six miles west of Valentine, erected the required buildings and proceeded to hold down their claims. In June, 1904, they filed on their additional rights under the Kincaid law, and will when the title is perfected, own two sections of fine land, much of it good hay flats, the rest in range. They proceeded to stock it with cattle, and with the assistance of hired help are managing to increase their herds at a satisfactory rate. They have not escaped the usual experiences of pioneers. Miss Maud losing her first dwelling by a cyclone. A second was erected at once. In another instance, thinking he had only a woman to deal with, one of the neighbors proceeded to cut hay on their land, expecting to haul it away. He soon learned his error and has not repeated the offense. Another was more successful, felling and stealing a fine hackberry grove that had sprung up on the place. This grove gave the name to Miss Mary's place, "Hackberry Hall," which was christened with hot coffee to make the naming complete.

     After living for a time in the smaller claim house, Miss Maude erected in sight of the main road between Valentine and Crookston, one of the best furnished dwellings in the hills. and named it "Prairie Manor." A view of this building appears elsewhere in this work together with their earliest dwellings.

     The ladies are more versatile than most men, and can turn their hands to carpentering, painting, excavation, building fence or breaking bronchos to ride or drive and training cattle to stand for the milking.

     Both sisters have travelled much throughout the west as well as in the east, and have met on intimate terms many men of distinction. They were favored with an invitation by the state geologist of South Dakota to take a scientific trip through the Bad Lands. They are also intimately acquainted with most of the noted Indians, and speak quite fluently the language of the Sioux. Many are the specimens of Indian work they have secured which few can acquire, so strong a friendship have

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