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Compendium of History Reminiscence & Biography of Western Nebraska

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prairies to the ranch on the head waters at Little Powder river.

     Mr. Rowley was married October 4, 1888, to Miss Ella Felch, who is a daughter of Benjamin F. and Clara (Bremmer) Felch, of Scotch and English descent, both old settlers of Nebraska. Mr. and Mrs. Rowley have one adopted child, Maud E., who is being given the advantages of a higher education in the schools of Valentine and a convent. Prior to her marriage Mrs. Rowley filed on a homestead as Miss Felch, and in 1906 secured an additional four hundred and eighty acres under the Kincaid act.

     Mr. Rowley has gone through many hardships and met with much discouragement and loss, having been burned out four times by prairie fires, thereby losing all his barns, sheds, hay and much live stock, and these were only the large losses he sustained, for within seven years in which these fires occurred he experienced many smaller losses also. However, he did not lose courage, and is now the owner of sixteen hundred acres of land, with fine buildings and improvements, well stocked with cattle and horses, and has a leasehold on thirteen hundred acres additional, on which he runs some six or seven hundred head of cattle, one hundred and seventy-five horses and other stock. Mr. Rowley's ranch is located in section 30, township 30, range 31, of Cherry county, Nebraska. He is one of the progressive men in this section of the state, is numbered among the old timers, and his name will figure in the history of Cherry county. Mr. Rowley was one of the witnesses of the Indian scare of 1888, and describes vividly the experiences of that terrible time, but did not take to flight as many of the neighbors did.

     Our subject takes an active interest in local politics, and in 1896 was nominated for sheriff by the Populists of Cherry county. He is a member of the Modern Woodmen of America at Valentine. One of the interesting illustrations in this work is a view of the residence and surroundings. It will be found on another page.

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     A prominent place among the list of prosperous and successful farmers of Cheyenne county is accorded the gentlemen's name mentioned above. For many years he has been engaged in agriculture and conducts a large estate there.

      James R. Birdwell is a native of Harrison county, Indiana, born November 26, 1863, a son of Thomas R. and Mary A. (Waters) Birdwell. He made that locality his home until he was twenty-one years of age, living on a farm, and there he received a practical training as a boy and young man. His parents are still residing in Harrison county on the old homestead.

      Our subject arrived in Nebraska in September, 1884, settling at first in Saunders county, and farmed there for three years, then came to Cheyenne county and filed on a homestead of one hundred and sixty acres in section 22, township 16, range 50, which is now the home ranch. He has improved this property well, cultivating one hundred and twenty-five acres and runs about twenty-five head of stock. The farm is supplied with good buildings, has a splendid water supply, and is well adapted to stock raising and farming.

    Mr. Birdwell married in Saunders county, Nebraska, November 24, 1887, Miss Anna E. Potter, who was born in La Salle, Illinois, a daughter of Charles and Ella (Bancroft) Potter. She came to this state with her parents when she was girl of eleven, where both of her parents died. Mr. and Mrs. Birdwell have four children, who are named as follows: Thomas G., Alvah, James H. and Charles R.

     Mr. Birdwell is a Bryan Democrat with independent tendencies, and takes a commendable interest in local affairs. He is a member of the Dalton Camp, Modern Woodmen of America, and of the Methodist church.



     Joseph L. Wheeler, an active and pushing business man and farmer of Long Pine, Nebraska, has won a reputation and a standing second to none for the possession of those manly traits that mark the true American, such as honesty, a sterling integrity and an industrious habit that will not tire nor grow weary until the end is accomplished. While still in the prime of life he has become quite fore-handed, and shows in the story of his own career what steady labor, wise calculations and unbending uprightness may accomplish. Mr. Wheeler was born on a farm in Dodge county, Wisconsin, July 24, 1858, and is the oldest member of a family of eleven living children born to his parents. His father, J. T. Wheeler, is an old settler of Brown county, Nebraska, and his career forms the subject of an interesting sketch that appears on another page of this work.

     When Joseph L. Wheeler was ten years of age his parents transferred themselves, their children and all their appurtenances to

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Mahaska county, Iowa, where they maintained a home for the following ten years, after which they resided in Grand Island, Nebraska, for the five years following. In the fall of 1882 the subject of this writing came into Brown county, and for the ensuing five or six years divided his time between the work of helping the incoming farmers open and develop their claims and conducting the farming operations on the paternal homestead, and was of much assistance in the rearing of his younger brothers and sisters. On the 9th of February, 1889, he was united in marriage to Miss Emma Berger, a native of Nebraska, and a daughter of Eli Berger, one of the pioneers in the settlement of Brown county. To this happy union were born two children, Bert and Flossy.

     From 1894 to 1899 he conducted a meat market at Long Pine. Mr. Wheeler turned to farming for himself in 1899, after closing his meat market, and two years later bought the farm on which we find him at the present writing. It is situated on Willow creek, and is a part of section 7, township 30, range 20. It is a very choice tract of land, one hundred and sixty acres in extent, and though partially improved at the time of his purchase, has been modernized and brought to date by its progressive owner. New buildings have replaced the old, many fruit trees have been planted, and much small fruit is growing. He has one hundred and five acres under cultivation, and is making a marked success in his career as a Nebraska farmer. From the beginning Mr. Wheeler was always ready to push ahead by any honest enterprise. He broke bronchos, trained many a yoke of oxen to drive and never willingly let the "nimble nickle" (sic) go by unclaimed. He was formerly an active Populist during the prosperous days of that party, and is now in the ranks of the Democrats. He is a member of the Modern Woodmen of America at Long Pine.



     Judge Watson R. Towne, deceased, whose picture appears on another page, was probably one of the best known citizens of Cherry county. He was a resident of the county for more than a quarter of a century, and was closely identified with the history of its development.

     Mr. Watson was born in Franklin, Vermont, in 1834. His father, Ephraim Towne, a native of Massachusetts, was a farmer of English stock and his mother, Miss Jane Willis, was a Canadian of Irish descent. They had a family of nine children, of whom our subject is the fifth, all reared and educated in Vermont. The boy secured a common school education and his time between school hours was devoted to hard farm work. At the age of twenty years he came to Chicago, securing employment with a commission firm with whom he remained for four years. Thence he went to Minnesota and joined the pioneers and for two years, with St. Paul as headquarters, engaged in trading with the Chippewa Indians in the Red river valley. In the fall of 1859 he came back to Chicago, and at the outbreak of the Civil war enlisted in the Chicago Dragoons, an independent company of cavalry which furnished its own horses, equipment, etc. Ordered to West Virginia, they participated in a number of engagements and skirmishes during the early months of the great conflict. After being mustered out he still longed for the excitement of a soldier's life, and went to Missouri as a scout, serving in the southwest until the year 1864. When the war was over he went to Colorado and there drove mule and bull teams, freighting in the mountains, leading the usual frontiersman's life until 1867, when he came to Nebraska and there worked for the government along the North Platte. In the fall of that year he left government service and freighted in Wyoming until the summer of 1870, at which time he came to Schuyler, Nebraska, and from then to the present has made this state his home, with the exception of nine years spent in Iowa.

      Mr. Towne traversed the entire western part of the state on horseback. For three years he was live stock agent for the Elkhorn Valley railroad, and subsequently owned and operated a large sheep and cattle range on the Minnechaduza. In the fall of 1890 he located in Valentine, becoming one of the leading public-spirited citizens of the town, being honored in 1896 with the nomination and election to the county judgeship of Cherry county, an honor four times repeated, showing with what approval and esteem his decisions have been received by his constituents within his jurisdiction.

     Mr. Towne was married in 1872 to Miss Olive O. Aldridge, who came of Canadian ancestry. Four children have been born to them, and they are named as follows: George W., Nellie O., Maude and Mabel.

     Mr. Towne was universally esteemed and admired, and enjoyed the respect and confidence of his associates. His career illustrates the versatility and steady attributes that have made pioneers of the west what they are to-

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day--qualities that have given force to our institutions and have made a garden out of a wilderness of barren plains.



     Among the prominent business men of Georgia, Cherry county, the gentleman above mentioned occupies a foremost place. Mr. Johnson is well known all over this section of the country, and is highly esteemed as a citizen of true worth.

     Mr. Johnson was born in Cerro Gordo county, Iowa, March 16, 1867. He is a son of Sylvanus Johnson, whose sketch appears in this work on another page. Mr. Johnson is the third member in his parents' family of seven children and was raised in Iowa on his father's farm, where they lived the usual life of pioneers on the frontier of western Iowa, and later in Holt county, Nebraska, where they afterward settled. When he was twenty years old he came to Cherry county and begun (sic) as a homesteader, taking up a claim south of Georgia. The first days were spent in hauling wood to Valentine for a dollar and a half a load, using ox teams, and in teaching school in the neighborhood, in which he was successful. He put up a log house with sod roof and remained here until proving up on his claim. Here he engaged in stock raising, and also in the well-drilling business, putting in wells all over Cherry and Keya Paha counties. In 1900 Mr. Johnson left his farm and moved to Georgia, trading cattle for a store in town, where he is now engaged in the mercantile business, carrying a good stock of general merchandise. He sold the farm and later bought a large ranch of about seventeen hundred acres on which he runs a number of cattle, superintending its operation personally in addition to his other interests here. In 1900 he was appointed postmaster of Kilgore (Georgia station), succeeding his father in that office.

     On January 25, 1887, Mr. Johnson was married to Miss Mary Wray, whose father was an old settler in Holt county, and later moved to Cherry county. Mr. and Mrs. Johnson have five children, namely: Estella, Sadie, Bessie, Leonard and Ethel.

     Mr. Johnson is a prominent Republican, taking an active part in politics, serving on the central committee for ten or twelve years and has been serving as justice of the peace for an equal period of time. He has been delegate to both state and county conventions many times, and is one of the leading men of his community.



      Among the leading old settlers of Box Butte county, Nebraska, none is more widely known or more highly esteemed than the gentleman whose name appears at the head of this review. For many years he has been closely identified with the agricultural interests of this region, and he has done his full share in bringing about the present prosperity enjoyed by the residents of that locality. He has a pleasant home and well improved farm in section 11, township 27, range 49.

     Mr. Armstrong was born in the county of Fermanagh, province of Ulster, Ireland, on June 19, 1852. His father, John Armstrong, was also a native of that country and followed farming during his entire life, as did also his father before him. He married Elizabeth Wadsworth, of Huguenot stock. Our subject was reared and educated in his native land, attending the church education society school, and later the national school, receiving a better education than the average boy of his station, studying besides the common branches agriculture, botany, etc. When he was twenty-seven years of age he came to the United States. One brother had previously emigrated to this country and had located in Cuming county, Nebraska, and with him our subject spent a short time, later traveling to the Pacific coast and worked in the gold mines in that part of the country for about a year. In 1884 he came to Box Butte county for the first time, traveling all over this country on horseback, camping out nights on the ground. He also lived in Stanton county, but liked this region best of all on account of the price of land, and returned here, driving from Hay Springs with a team and wagon, carrying farm machinery, grain and seed, and driving four cows along. His first house was made of sod, in which he lived for about twelve years, occupying a homestead and tree claim which he filed on as soon as coming here. This land was situated seven miles northeast of Hemingford. He had a pretty good start, owning a team and several cattle, some hogs and chickens, which was a great deal more than most of the settlers had to begin with. He did well from the start and he did not try to farm any during those years. In 1899 he sold out his homestead and bought his present farm, which is located in section 11, township 27, range 49, the only reason for disposing of his former place being that this one offered better schooling advantages for his children. Here he has a fine estate consisting of ten quarter sections, all well improved, fitted with good buildings, wind mills, supply

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tanks, etc. He cultivates four hundred acres, and runs about two hundred head of cattle and thirty-five horses each year.

     Mr. Armstrong was married May 4, 1886, to Matilda Martz, who is a native of Prussia, born near Berlin, and came to America when a young girl settling near Muscatine, Iowa. Mr. and Mrs. Armstrong have a family of five children, all boys, named as follows: Will S., aged nineteen years, a graduate of the Creighton College of Pharmacy; Paul E., eighteen years old, who attended the Chadron Academy and later the Bayls Business College at Omaha, Nebraska; John W., sixteen living at home and attending school at Hemingford high school; Roy H., eleven, and Teddy F., two years of age, at home with their parents.

      Mr. Armstrong is determined to give each of his children a good education to fit them for the battle of life. The three eldest each own about twelve hundred dollars' worth of cattle and horses on the home farm, and have their own particular lot of stock to take care of, teaching them responsibility and as an inducement to remain at home and help their parents in the operation of the home ranch. Our subject is enthusiastic about the opportunities offered in this region for any man willing to work, and states positively that there is no need or excuse for any one to want a home and good farm who is energetic and industrious.

     Portraits of Mr. and Mrs. Armstrong will be found on another page of this volume.

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     Our subject and his family are members of the Methodist Episcopal church of Hemingford, Nebraska. He is a Republican, active in local affairs, tending to the betterment of conditions in his locality.


     Andrew Grover Wickham, residing in township 25, range 33, Cherry county, Nebraska, ten or twelve miles northwest of Mullen, is counted among the old-timers of Nebraska, and is one of those men who has ever been willing and ready to assist in the development of that locality, and takes a leading part in all school and public affairs.

     Mr. Wickham is a native of Westville, Champaign county, Ohio, born in 1840. His parents were of English blood, and took an important part in old colonial affairs. The father, Minor T., was a farmer all his life, and he married Martha Brown, of a well known family, and she died when Andrew was a small boy seven years old. He was reared and educated in Ohio, and in 1861, enlisted in the United States volunteer service, becoming a member of the Seventy-fourth Ohio Volunteer Infantry, and afterwards saw hard service for several years. He was at the battle of Stone River, Chickamauga, in the campaign of Atlanta, Savannah and at Nashville, and also was through North Carolina with his regiment, taking part in many skirmishes. While on a foraging expedition in North Carolina he was captured March 20, 1865, and held prisoner for ten days near the close of the war. After the close of the war he went to Indiana, arriving there in the fall of 1865, and began farming on rented land, remaining there for twenty-one years, and at the end of that time came to Nebraska, spending the winter of 1886 at Broken Bow, and in the spring of the year 1887 settled in the sand hills in Hooker county, nine miles southeast of Mullen. He drove through the country by team from Broken Bow, and after arriving at his claim at once erected a sod house, stable and sheds, and occupied his sod shanty for several years, proved up on his homestead and improved it in good shape. In 1891 his wife departed this life and he soon afterwards removed to Mullen, where he could give his children the benefit of the schools. While living on the farm he went through some hard times, experiencing every phase of pioneer life, suffering from prairie fires, in one instance having had his sod barns burned to the ground and losing all their possessions, also considerable hay, harness, etc.

     In 1860 before enlisting in the army, Mr. Wickham was married in Ohio to Susanna Schaeffer, and they reared a family of thirteen children, all but two of whom are living at the present time. They are named as follows: William H., died in 1890 in Chicago; John Anson, Ida May, Violet, George, Emery, Ella, Jessie, Andrew, Ollie (deceased), Frank, Elmer and Arthur. Mr. Wickham has given to each child a good education, sending a number of them to Indiana to attend different schools, and they are a very bright and intelligent group. Portraits of Mr. and Mrs. Wickham will be found on another page of this volume.

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     Mr. Wickham was one of the first county commissioners in Hooker county at the time the county was organized, receiving his ap-

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