NEGenWeb Project
Resource Center
On-Line Library

Compendium of History Reminiscence & Biography of Western Nebraska

Horizontal Bar

page 580

pointment through Governor Thayer. Our subject is prominent in affairs in his locality, taking an active part in all public matters.



     Truman Freeland, of whom a portrait appears elsewhere, is one of the first settlers of the western half of Nebraska, coming to the state when many homesteads were yet to be taken within fifty miles of Omaha; coming to the state when all that portion of Iowa west of Fort Dodge was mostly unsettled land, and no bridge yet spanned the Missouri river. Thousands of deer and antelope roamed over the country between Lincoln and Grand Island, and when he first saw the country north of the Platte and west of Columbus it was wilderness, uninhabited except by Indians, buffalo, elk, deer and other wild animals roamed in countless numbers over the entire tract; there were also many beasts of prey, such as the mountain lion, buffalo, wolves, coyotes and wildcats. Otter, beaver, mink and other fur-bearing animals were numerous in all the streams, and Mr. Freeland states that beaver dams were often raised to a height of three and four feet, and that near where he now resides trees were felled by the beaver, that were more than twenty inches in diameter.

Picture button
     Mr. Freeland assisted in the construction of the first bridge thrown over the waters of the Platte and carried the chain when government surveys were made in what is now Custer and Loup counties.

     He was the second settler of what is now Garfield county, C. H. Jones and family having settled in the county a few days before his arrival as an actual settler. He erected the first residence on the valley of the North Loup river west of Haskell creek, and twenty miles above it, having but one neighbor nearer than twenty miles. Mr. Freeland assisted in the construction of the first school house erected in the county, the building being placed on his pre-emption; Mrs. Freeland taught the first school held in the county. Mr. Freeland erected the first frame dwelling built of foreign lumber erected in Garfield county, hauling the material from Grand Island, a distance of nearly one hundred miles.

     The subject of this sketch is decidedly a man of peace, and took but little part in the Indian troubles of pioneers days. Mr. Freeland received his education in the common schools of northern Illinois, and is a man of marked literary ability, his writings having appeared in various publications throughout the United States, not one of his contributions having been rejected. He is now publishing a volume of poems entitled "My Thoughts and Yours," a few stanzas of which, by permission of the author, we print below, as they are very appropriate in this volume. Mr. Freeland was born in Rock Island county, Illinois, February 22, 1852, and came to Nebraska in 1869, where he has since resided. He settled in Howard county in May, 1872, and moved to Garfield county November 19, 1872, where he has since resided near Burwell, the county seat of Garfield county, which was all government land at that time, the nearest town being Grand Island, located one hundred miles from their camp.

     Mr. Freeland was married February 3, 1874, to Miss Almira J. Russell, a native of Vermont, of English descent. Mrs. Freeland was a teacher in the first public school established in Garfield county. She departed from this life the 22nd day of August, 1907. Mr. and Mrs. Freeland have never had any children, but reared two which they adopted, a boy and a girl, Melvina and Earl.

     Mr. Freeland had always voted the Prohibitionist ticket up to several years ago, but has changed his political views of late years, and now leans toward the Socialistic cause. It can be truly said that he comes of genuine pioneer stock, his mother's father having been one of the pioneer settlers of Indiana, whose original purchase from the government included a portion of the battleground of Tippecanoe in Marshall county, Indiana. Mr. Freeland's mother came to Rock Island county, Illinois, in 1832, when that country was yet a wilderness, and is still living in good health with her son Truman in Garfield county, Nebraska.



No human foot e'er pressed thy sides.
For centuries unknown,--
Wild beasts upon thy high divides
Unmolested roamed.
Once the home of finny tribes,
Buried in the mighty deep--
Tonight upon thy sloping sides
Feathered songsters sleep.
Monuments of God are ye.
Piled at the tomb of time,--
Piled that man may wiser be
Beholding thee--His work sublime.


O'er all this rolling prairie land,
Reigned perfect silence--solitude--
O'er the billowy hills of sand
and where the pines and cedars stood.
Spreading elms and cottonwood
Along the river's brink were seen,
And here and there the silent flood
Rolled through a grassy plain.
In the valleys smooth and wide
Roamed the buffalo, elk and deer;
And gamboling on thy high divides,
Were timid antelope everywhere.

Compendium of History Reminiscence & Biography of Western Nebraska

Horizontal Bar

page 581



     The above mentioned gentleman is well known to all the residents of McCook, Nebraska, as the genial and popular proprietor of the Bixler opera house. He is one of the younger citizens of McCook, who by his faith in the city and his liberal enterprise is adding materially to the fame of McCook as one of the coming prosperous cities of the west. In 1906, Mr. Bixler built and operated a large roller skating rink here, which was a popular amusement resort for the younger members of the community, and this year he has enlarged the rink so as to make it the largest and best equipped theater between Lincoln and Denver. The main floor is so constructed that it can be lowered evenly and used as a rink, thereby combining theater and rink. Everything is run in the very best manner, catering to all classes and tastes of this beautiful and cultured city. He has started right, and is determined to take every precaution to keep out worthless amusement companies, whose stock in trade is all in their show bills, producing only plays and operas that are worthy of the patronage of the very best class of people. These plays are limited to about four each month, and by this method his clients are not surfeited and are prepared to enjoy the occasional treats which he gives them. The McCook public has a well trained and critical taste in music and the drama, and to a less capable man it would be extremely difficult to always provide plays to their liking, but our subject strives hard to please the most particular, and in this he has the sympathy and active support of the best people of the city. The auditorium seats ten hundred and fifty-eight people, and its acoustic properties are splendid. The main building is sixty by one hundred and forty feet, being fifty-four feet high over the stage, which is thirty-two by sixty, and forty feet high to rigging loft. The three drop curtains used in this playhouse would do credit to any theater in larger cities. The place is fitted up with four hundred electric lights, and there are five dressing rooms. This theater is used for religious services, lectures and political demonstrations, thus filling a great public need.

     Mr. Bixler has lived in McCook since his boyhood, having come here with his father in 1884 from Pennsylvania, where the family lived near the Maryland line. His father, Hiram K. Bixler, owns a fine river bottom farm near McCook. Our subject was connected with the Burlington & Missouri Railway for seven years, and was chairman of the protective board of the Brotherhood of Locomotive Firemen for all the territory west of the Missouri river. He was one of those who helped to get the first schedule of the Burlington & Missouri Railroad after the great strike of 1887.

     Mr. Bixler was married to Miss Alice Coe, daughter of M. H. Coe, who settled in this county in 1884, now residing at Perry, Iowa. Mr. and Mrs. Bixler have one son and two daughters.

    Mr. Bixler is a deservedly influential and popular resident of McCook, and one who is always foremost in promoting the interest of all that tends to the growth and advancement of the community in which he resides.



     Louis Martinson, who was numbered among the old and honored settlers of Kimball county, was a successful and fore-handed farmer of that region, was thoroughly identified with life on the frontier and knew its light and dark shades by experience. His estate is on section 36, township 16, range 55, where he had a well improved farm and was classed among the well-to-do citizens of his locality.

     Mr. Martinson was born in Sweden, July 26, 1851. He was the youngest in a family of eleven children, all growing up in their native land. When our subject was a young man he came to America with his wife and five children. They landed in the United States May 6, 1887. They came to Nebraska, settling in Antelopeville, Cheyenne county, which is now a part of Kimball county. The father homesteaded on section 24, township 16, range 55, and began to improve a home and

Compendium of History Reminiscence & Biography of Western Nebraska

Horizontal Bar

page 582

farm. They went through all the pioneer experiences in getting their farm started, going through good, bad and indifferent times, often meeting with disappointments in the shape of crop failures and other discouragements that fell to the lot of the early settler in that section, but finally succeeding in putting improvements on their place and getting ahead.

     At the time of his death, our subject had a ranch of eight hundred acres, about sixty acres under cultivation, and ran a large bunch of cattle and horses. His son Charlie owns four hundred and eighty acres, farms extensively and keeps a small herd of cattle and horses. Since his father's death he had had charge of the ranch.

     Mr. Martinson was married in Sweden, in 1875, to Miss Ellen Jansen, who died July 4, 1908, on their homestead here. They were the parents of the following children: Hilda, wife of Walter Haycock, living in Kansas; Charlie A., mentioned above, single; Avery C., Millie, Peter, deceased; Helen, wife of James Wells, living in Cheyenne, Wyoming, and Harry.

     Mr. Martinson was a Republican. He had held different local offices and always took an active interest in local affairs. He was also treasurer of school district No. 13. Since his death, which occurred October 1, 1908, his son Charles has assumed the management of the ranch, which he now controls and operates. He was assessor for one term and school director for a time, and has taken an active part in local affairs.



     John W. Radford, known throughout Kearney county as a prosperous and successful stockman and ranch owner, resides in Logan township, where he has a fine home and farm. He came to this place in 1887 and homesteaded where he now lives, taking forty acres, and the same year bought another one hundred and sixty acres, and has since added to it until he is now proprietor of six hundred and forty acres of fine ranch and farm land. He farmed in Iroquois county, Illinois, prior to coming here, bringing some stock with him from that state, and has since kept increasing and improving his herds, and now has about one hundred and fifty head of good grade cattle. He prefers the white faces, and has one thoroughbred white-faced male at the head of his herd, and has some fine animals among them.

     Mr. Radford was born in England in the year 1850. His father, Robert Radford, was born in Somersetshire, England, and came here in about the year 1885, settling in Logan township and living in this locality up to 1896, when he moved to Oregon, where he died in 1898. He was eighty-six years old, and was well known to the residents of this county as a man of good business judgment and industrious habits. The mother, whose maiden name was Mary Langdon, was also a native of Somersetshire, England.

     Comparing this country with Illinois, where he farmed for twelve years, Mr. Radford states that he much prefers it here, as there is much more money to be made here, a man being able to do twice the amount of work and making dollars in Nebraska where he could only make cents in Illinois. He has a nice herd of Duroc Jersey red hogs, and has had marked success with them. He has tried the Poland China, but was unable to get as good results from that breed, and thinks the former are better for all purposes. He has about one hundred and fifty head on hand at present. He raises a number of mules and colts each year for market, and realizes good profits from this source. He has about eighty acres of good alfalfa and intends growing more right along.

     Mr. Radford was united in marriage in 1883 to Miss Mary Sherrill, daughter of Jesse and Elizabeth Sherrill, who were from Kentucky and settled in Iroquois county. Mr. and Mrs. Radford have seven children, namely: Ben and Harry (twins), Letha, Luke, Lulu, Edna, Pearl and Nell. The family is highly esteemed in their community and prominent members of the Methodist Episcopal church, our subject acting as treasurer and member of the church board. He is also school director in his district.



     David V. Morgan, one of the well-to-do and probably one of the most prominent of the old settlers of Dawes county, Nebraska, resides on his fine estate in section 21, township 31, range 48, where he has a pleasant and happy home and is held in high esteem by his fellowmen.

     Mr. Morgan was born in Coal Valley, Rock Island county, Illinois, in 1860. His father, Thomas Morgan, was a coal miner, and the family lived in the mining districts in that vicinity, and the father was finally killed there in May, 1865, soon after the Civil war. He was a native of Wales, and came to this country in his young manhood, his wife also having been born in Wales. Our subject was reared in Illinois until he was nineteen years

Compendium of History Reminiscence & Biography of Western Nebraska

Horizontal Bar

page 583

of age, then came to Boone county, Iowa. He had traveled considerably through the middle and western states. He had worked in the coal mines from the time he was eleven years of age, spending altogether fifteen years in that work, and even after coming to this country worked for a few winters in the mines in Kansas and Iowa. When he first came to Dawes county he teamed from Valentine, and then afterwards freighted for several trips, hauling produce, etc. He located on the section where he now lives, where he put up his first house, which was made of logs, and there "batched it" for a time. He brought a good team of horses with him, and they were stolen from him, but he soon got another team and went to work building up his farm, breaking land, etc. During the first several years he dug fourteen wells, averaging two hundred feet deep each. The dry years overtook him and he suffered considerable loss at different times, but continued to build up his farm and improve the place, adding to this acreage constantly until he is now owner of four hundred and eighty acres of deeded land, besides operating quite a tract of leased land. He had been very successful, and is counted among the prosperous citizens of his locality, and is a man of sterling character and integrity.

     Mr. Morgan was married on January 25, 1888, to Miss Anna Frazier, of Lehigh Valley, Iowa. Her father, Robert Frazier, was a miner, and both father and mother were natives of England and were reared there, where Mrs. Morgan was born. Six children blessed the union of Mr. and Mrs. Morgan, and are named as follows: Lulu, Edith, Blanche, Hazel, Lawrence and Ellsworth.

     Mr. Morgan is active in local public affairs, and is serving as road supervisor at the present time. He is also on the school board and has served his district in different capacities for several years. He is a Republican.



     Daniel A. Haney, one of the pioneer settlers of Grant county, Nebraska, has acquired a valuable property on the south line of the county, and is classed among the substantial ranchmen of his community, and enjoys the respect and esteem of his fellowmen. He has watched the growth of the region from the earliest days of its settlement, and has taken an active part in its development as an old-time resident.

     Mr. Haney was born in Moultrie county, Illinois, in 1863. His father, Isaac, was a well known farmer and ranchman, and an early settler in western Nebraska, and our subject was raised and educated here. The family settled in this state in 1871, in Saline county, and Daniel grew up on the home farm, passing through all the pioneer experiences so familiar to the old settlers in this region. In 1884 he left home and went to Kansas, remaining there for several years, following ranching. He then returned to Nebraska and filed on a homestead in the southeastern part of Grant county, there putting up sod buildings and "batching it" for about three years. He started his ranch, breaking up some land for crops, trying hard to farm same, but found he was unable to do very well, so gradually got into the cattle business and rode the range for a number of years. He lived on that ranch up to 1906, and succeeded in building up a good property, owning in all one thousand acres, all of which is deeded land, well improved with every kind of ranch building, fences, corrals, etc., and all in first-class shape. In the latter year he built a handsome residence in Hyannis, and now makes that his home, although he personally superintends the operation of his ranch.

     Mr. Haney was married in 1896 to Miss Minnie Goble, whose father, A. J. Goble, is a prominent old-timer and successful ranchman of Grant county. Four children have been born to our subject and his good wife, named as follows: Pearl, Jessie, Alma and Ethel. These form a charming and interesting group and they have one of the most pleasant and happy homes to be found.



     Henry Rethmeyer, a resident of Minden, Kearney county, is well and favorably known as a worthy citizen and good business man. He is a contractor and builder, and has followed this trade constantly since coming to Minden twenty-four years ago.

     Mr. Rethmeyer was born in Cook county, Illinois, February 13, 1858. He is a son of Fred and Dorothy (Dullmeyer) Rethmeyer, who came to Illinois from Schamberg, Lippe, in 1854, settling in Cook county, where he followed farming for many years. He is now eighty-six years of age, and his wife seventy-nine, both hale and hearty. Since locating in Kearney county Mr. Rethmeyer has built a good many dwelling houses and barns all over the county and also in the adjoining counties. He has done work in Adams and Clay counties, and erected the German parsonage at Grand Island. This is a beautiful residence, and he has put up many of the finest houses in his home town, of which his own

Compendium of History Reminiscence & Biography of Western Nebraska

Horizontal Bar

page 584

home is a good example. He employs four or five assistants and carries on a large business, giving the best of satisfaction with whatever he undertakes. He owns two houses here, and has met with pronounced success in his line, and has made all he is worth through industry and strict attention to his business, supplemented by honesty and good judgment. On the grounds surrounding his residence he has in full bearing a fine orchard of cherries, apples, plums, apricots, etc., showing that all of these fruits can be successfully grown in Nebraska if properly planted and cared for.

     Mr. Rethmeyer was married in 1883 to Miss Mary Heimerdinger, who came from Stuttgart, Germany, in 1882. They are the parents of two children, namely: Mary, wife of John Stader, a farmer living in this county, and Julia, wife of J. Blackburn, who is engaged in the fruit business in Banning, California. Mr. Rethmeyer has four grandchildren--Edward, Onita and Hilda, in Kearney county, and Olpha May, in California.

     In the summer of 1907 Mr. Rethmeyer went into the cement block business and does considerable contracting in the line of cement work. He does cement floor work, porch columns, baluster work, steps, etc.

     On another page of this volume will be found portraits of Mr. and Mrs. Rethmeyer.

Picture button


     Allison C. Harbert owns and operates a fine estate of seven hundred and twenty acres, located in section 20, township 34, range 42. He is one of the leading agriculturist of Sheridan county, and is highly esteemed by all who know him.

     Mr. Harbert is a native of Benton county, Iowa, born in 1866. He is a son of John D. Harbert, of American stock, born and raised in Ohio, now a resident of this county. There were three boys and four girls in his father's family, of whom he is the second member. At the age of twenty-one years he struck out for himself and came to Nebraska, locating on the homestead he now lives on. He first landed in Gordon, March 16, 1887, and was obliged to borrow money to file on his land. He went to work at once building up his place, and never worked out for any one in his life. His father had a homestead near his own, and he worked on that until he took his own farm, assisting his parents in carrying on their farm and supporting the family. During these first years he worked very hard to get a start, and the dry years from 1893 on were very disastrous to him, as he lost all his crops, and had to begin all over again when the good years came along. He began to raise better crops after a time, and has been very successful of late years, having gone into the stock business to quite an extent, and also cultivates a large part of his land,

     Mr. Harbert was living on his present farm during the Indian scare of 1891, occupying a sod house, and here he stayed during all that time, but never met with any serious trouble from the savages. He lost all his household goods in 1888 by fire, and this was a severe loss to him, having to rebuild and fit up his home with new goods. He has "batched" it ever since coming here, never having been married.

     Mr. Harbert is well satisfied with conditions in this region, and thinks western Nebraska the place to live. He has never taken an active part in politics, but votes the Republican ticket.



     Irvin E. Myers stands well among the younger settlers of Nebraska, and is pushing rapidly to the front at Newport, Rock county, where his sturdy manhood, manly character, and honorable methods give him prominence. His birth occurred on a farm in Erie county, Pennsylvania, July 22, 1868, where his father, George W. Myers, was engaged in trade as a mason and also followed farming to some extent, Irvin, the youngest child in a family of three, was reared to manhood in Erie county, where he received a somewhat liberal education. When he was eighteen years of age he struck out for himself, and secured work in the Pennsylvania lumber woods, where for thirteen years his time was entirely demanded. The young man found, however, as thousands of others had found before him, that opportunity grew harder for every oncoming generation in the older regions, and that if a young person hoped to find place for himself in the work of the world he must "go west," and as Horace Greeley recommended, "grow up with the country." This he did in 1888, that year coming to Rock county, Nebraska, and making a homestead entry of a farm for himself, on which at first was a sod shanty for a home and such rude shelter for the stock as he could hastily construct. He did his farm work with oxen, and at the end of five years was able to "prove up" and finally secure title.

     The wedding festivities of Irvin E. Myers and Miss Etta J. Hornby were celebrated May 1, 1895. She is a daughter of George C.

Compendium of History Reminiscence & Biography of Western Nebraska

Horizontal Bar

page 585

and Myra (Jones) Hornby, who were for years pioneers of Rock, and are now living in South Dakota. She has taken part in the earlier settlement of this part of the state, and is now, while still a young woman, reckoned among the oldest pioneers of Rock county. To Mr. and Mrs. Myers have come two bright and charming children, Helen and Harold.

     Mr. Myers brought his young family to Newport in 1898 that he might take a position as foreman of the E. L. Myers lumber yard, a position he held until the month of October, 1905. At that time he set up in business for himself in a store specially devoted to the handling of feed and merchandise, of which he disposed May 21, 1907.

     Mr. Myers is a landed proprietor of standing and owns a section of land, three hundred and twenty acres in Rock county and an equal amount in Wheeler county, both tracts devoted to the production of hay. The Newport creamery, in which he was interested for a time, was largely indebted to him for its organization. In politics his influence is felt, and he is an active worker in the Republican party. He is a member of the Workmen and Royal Highlanders of Newport and the Modern Woodmen at Bassett.



     The farming community northwest of Oshkosh has an able representative in the person of Israel Kimbel. For many years he has been a resident of Deuel county, during which time he has been successful as an agriculturist and stockman, has gained an extensive acquaintance on account of his many sterling qualities, and is known as an energetic and prosperous farmer and worthy citizen.

     Mr. Kimbel is a native of Missouri, born May 3, 1861, but made the state his only a short time, his parents removing to Iowa, where he grew up. He and the family came to Nebraska in 1888, landing here in Deuel county on March 7, during a heavy snowstorm, and drove out by team from Ogallala. In the same spring he took a homestead on section 13, township 17, range 45, proving up in due time, and members of his family now own land adjoining to the amount of about sixteen hundred acres. Mr. Kimbel cultivates three hundred acres and runs a small bunch of cattle and quite a number of fine horses, also a good drove of hogs. He has the entire ranch well improved, and has an abundant water supply, the home ranch being located on the Platte river bottom, seven miles west of the town of Oshkosh. It is one of the best situated tracts lying along the river, and is a very valuable property. He started on the ranch in 1888 on wild prairie land, and lived in a tent the first six weeks until a sod house was built. Comparing the differences between that time and the present it shows Mr. Kimbel to be an energetic and worthy citizen.

     Mr. Kimbel married Jennie A. Dowell, a native of Illinois, the event occurring in Council Bluffs, Iowa, on September 14, 1882. Both parents of Mrs. Kimbel are dead. Mrs. Kimbel's father was a pioneer in Montana, where Mrs. Kimbel spent thirteen years of her girlhood days. Later the family moved to Iowa. Six children have been born to Mr. and Mrs. Kimbel, namely: William Leroy, single; Jessie, wife of Grover Crane, living near the home ranch; Pearl, wife of Verde Fought, they residing north of Oshkosh on a farm; Gertrude, Bessie and Maude, all at home. The entire family of our subject are well and favorably known throughout the locality and their home is one of the most hospitable to be found. Mr. Kimbel is a thoroughly congenial gentleman, and bears the reputation of being a true sportsman among those who love to hunt, and has participated in many a fine hunting trip with a party of genial good fellows. Mr. Kimbel has done much in the way of assisting in the establishment of the schools in his locality, and taken an active interest in local affairs. In politics he is a Democrat.

     Mrs. Kimbel's mother was born and raised in Illinois. Her father was a prominent and well-to-do farmer of Manard county, Illinois, seventy-five miles from Springfield. He had an extensive estate. Mrs. Kimbel's grandfather, William Dowell, was a Baptist minister, born in Kentucky. He made Illinois his home for many years, where he raised a family. Later he removed to Missouri.



     In the gentleman above mentioned we have one of the leading old-timers of Dawes county, Nebraska. He came to this region when it was a wild prairie land and through his industrious habits and energy succeeded in building up one of the valuable estates of the locality, and has been intimately identified with the development and growth of this section from the pioneer days.

     Mr. Akes was born in 1861 in Henry county, Iowa. His father, Granville S. Akes, was a farmer and mechanic, who came to Missouri with his family in 1865, settling in Gentry county, where our subject grew up, and was

Horizontal Bar

Prior page
Name index
Next page

© 1998, 2002 NEGenWeb Project Resource Center, Marilyn J. Estrada, T&C Miller