NEGenWeb Project
Resource Center
On-Line Library 

Compendium of History Reminiscence & Biography of Western Nebraska

Horizontal Bar

page 635

try when there was nobody but soldiers and cowboys here. At that time there was not a house on "the table" and only five or six along the river bottoms for thirty miles east of Fort Niobrara. In 1888 he settled on a homestead in section 14, township 34, range 25, and put up his first building, which was a log house with a sod roof. Here he built up a good home and farm, consisting of a quarter section all fenced, with ninety acres under cultivation when he sold the place in 1906. June 28, 1906, he sold out his farm and had shipped his goods to Missouri and started to drive with his family to that state. On the road he met C. F. Callen, owner of the Sparks store, and closed a deal for that emporium and has since been engaged in mercantile pursuit at that point, where he also serves as postmaster. For two years, while living on his farm, Mr. Haley drove the mail wagon from Sparks to Valentine and then disposed of his contract in this branch of government service.

     In 1895 our subject was married to Miss Maud Allen, whose father, W. J. Allen, was an old settler in Cherry county. A sketch of him and his family appears elsewhere in this work. Five children have been born to Mr. and Mrs. Haley, namely: Jno, Floyd, Ervie P., Alma J., Martha E. and Everett Chauncey.

     Mr. Haley is a Democrat, and takes an active interest in local party affairs.


     The opportunities afforded honest industry to gain a footing in America were embraced by the gentleman whose name heads this article, and he is now one of the recognized substantial and influential agriculturists and ranchmen of Cheyenne county, Nebraska. He came to that region in its early days of development, and has passed through all the strenuous Nebraska times, becoming by his labors in behalf of his adopted state one of the leading citizens and well-known supporters of all that goes to make up the locality a prominent section in the western part of the state.

     H. G. Miller was born in the village of Papens, adjoining the city of Aurich, province of Hanover, Germany, October 14, 1845, and was the fourth child in a family of ten children, born to his parents, Gerd and Gische (Dirks) Miller; but five of these are living at this time. The family came to America in 1852, sailing from Bremen Haven, and after a voyage of eight weeks, landed in New York, thence they traveled by river, canal and lakes to Chicago. Here they took a flat boat down the canal to the Illinois river, which landed them at Peoria. At Peoria they took a steamer for St. Louis, and at this point they secured passage on an up river boat, which carried them to Quincy, Illinois; from Quincy they went direct to Clayton township, Adams county, Illinois. The thirty miles from Quincy to Clayton township, were made in a covered wagon, which also carried their possessions. They arrived at their destination on September 2d. There they farmed for about thirty years, our subject working for himself after he grew to manhood, and in the spring of 1884 he came to Nebraska, locating first in Johnson county and two years later in Cheyenne county. He filed at once on a homestead on section 14, township 16, range 48, taking up one hundred and sixty acres. He went through hard times during the first few years, and met with many discouragements in the way of financial loss from failure of crops, through drouths, (sic) hail, prairie fires and grasshoppers, but never gave up hope, determined to succeed in spite of all obstacles. How well he has succeeded is evidenced by his fine ranch of six hundred and forty acres, all fitted with good buildings and improvements, about one hundred and eighty acres being in a high state of cultivation; he engages in stock raising on quite a large scale, running about one hundred cattle and twenty-five head of horses.

     Mr. Miller has an interesting career outside of his farming operations, having taught school for a number of years throughout Cheyenne county, and is possessed of a good training, and a man of superior talents and broad character. He is also an auctioneer of wide repute, having acted in that capacity throughout the region, and is thoroughly familiar with the whole country from his travels in following his career as a teacher and auctioneer. For seven years he was member of the Illinois National Guards, serving as lieutenant of Company I, participating in the East St. Louis railroad riots. Mr. Miller was secretary of the Bryan Political Club in Cheyenne county. He has also held various local offices, acting as justice of the peace, notary public, deputy county assessor, and is equally prominent in church and social life in the community. He served as superintendent of Sunday schools for some years, and is a trustee in the German Lutheran church near Weyerts, of which he is a member as are the other members of the family.

     Mr. Miller has a pleasant home and interesting family. He was married in Adams county, Illinois, October 15, 1865, to Miss Trienje Behrens, who was born in Germany and came to the United States at the age of thirteen years with her parents, Ekke and Anche (Fecht) Behrens. Mr. Miller is the father of the

Compendium of History Reminiscence & Biography of Western Nebraska

Horizontal Bar

page 636

following children: Sophia, wife of Henry G. Henrichs; Minnie, living at home; George, a thresherman; Anna, wife of John Henrichs; Rena, wife of Chris Jurgens; Mary, married to John Jurgens, all living near the home ranch; Hannah (deceased); Ekke Berney, Dirk G. and Herman J. are living with their parents and assist in the operation of the home ranch.

     In political views Mr. Miller is a loyal Democrat, and lends his influence for good local government.


     James H. Cook, numbered among the old and honored settlers of Sioux county, Nebraska, was born at Kalamazoo, Michigan, in 1857. He was reared in that locality, having very poor schooling advantages, being only able to attend the common schools, but in after life his wide experience gave to him extensive knowledge of all affairs of state and nation, and today he is a well-read and intelligent gentleman with whom it is a pleasure to meet and converse, His father, Henry Cook, was an old sea captain, born in England, and all of his male ancestors for generations back were seafaring people.

     When James was a lad of twelve years of age, he left home and went into southwestern Texas, where he secured work as a cowboy, and for years traveled over the plains of Texas and other western states, working as a rancher, scout and guide for the United States troops. He was with Captain McNally's celebrated Texas Rangers on trips at different times as guide and scout and his services were at times invaluable, as many desperate and lawless characters had often to be dealt with. He also acted as guide with the Fourth, Fifth, Sixth, Seventh and Eighth United States Cavalry, as a guide and had many thrilling experiences while acting in this capacity. During the late Indian campaigns near Pine Ridge, South Dakota, he was in the service of General Miles. These took place during the years 1890-91, and a number of those old Indian chiefs are still visitors at Mr. Cook's home, often bringing him valuable presents of beadwork, trinkets, etc., which help in a considerable degree to make his home one of the most interesting to the visitor in western Nebraska that is to be met with. He has many Indian relics, and with each of these is connected some interesting and historical anecdote.

     During the time Mr. Cook acted as a guide, he traveled with the United States troops all over Arizona and New Mexico, and associated with the different classes of people, and in his rovings has learned to speak fluently the Spanish language, as well as several Indian dialects. In reviewing the incidents connected with his early western life, mention should not fail to be made of the fact that he helped lay out many of the famous cattle trails from Texas into the northern states, and he also has the distinction of having aided in surveying the first trail into Yellowstone Park.

     In the year 1886 Mr. Cook came to the old cow ranch in Sioux county, which was established by Dr. Graham, in 1879, and was located about twenty-three miles south of Harrison. Dr. Graham and Edgar Bronson were the first men who brought cattle to Sioux county. Thus Mary C. Graham, who came to the ranch in the following year, was the first white woman to settle in Sioux county. She held the first religious services ever held in that part of the state, for the cowboys on the ranch. She has since made her home on the ranch, and for several years was postmistress and had charge of the United States weather station at Agate for several years. At the time our subject took hold of the ranch it was nothing but an old time western cow ranch, with shabby buildings and scarcely any improvements. He has installed an irrigation system, dug ditches and made a lovely garden spot of the ranch home. Trees have been set out with the design of beautifying the place, walks and driveways built, and the residence, grounds and ranch house would be a credit to any city and compares favorably with the finest homes, both inside and outside. Mr. Cook's private den, with the best collection of Indian relics in the west, is one of the most pleasant corners of the house. The ranch consists of about eight thousand acres, extending along the Niobrara river and about one thousand acres of it are under cultivation. The most interesting feature of this ranch is its deposits of fossils. It contains the most extensive deposits of vertebrate mammals of any place in America. Scientists from all over the country have been there to get specimens and study the subject, and Mr. Cook has entertained many of the most noted scientists of both hemispheres on their visits to this part of the west.

     John R. Cook, a brother of our subject, has been one of the managers of the ranch, coming here in 1887. Agate Postoffice, the mail station of our subject, was established in 1893, John F. Cook being postmaster for several years since its establishment. Before coming to Agate Springs ranch, he traveled all over the western part of the United States from Old Mexico to British Columbia. He was for several years associated with the ranch operated by his brother in New Mexico, and while there he had an active hand in

Compendium of History Reminiscence & Biography of Western Nebraska

Horizontal Bar

page 637

the work of establishing law and order in that country. He is at present deputy state game warden and justice of the peace.

     James H. Cook gave to the ranch its name calling it the "Agate Springs Ranch" on account of the many different kinds of agates found on the place. It is a wonderful spot and too much can not be said in describing its beauties and natural resources. Mr. Cook having made of it a model and ideal ranch home.

     In 1886 Mr. Cook was married to Miss Katie Graham, daughter of Dr. E. B. Graham, of Cheyenne, Wyoming. Two sons were born to this union, namely: John, born in 1898, now attending school at Pittsburg, Pennsylvania; and Harold, born in 1888, who is a geologist and scientist, having been elected a member of the American Society of Vertebrate Paleontology, and has the distinction of being the youngest member of that body, and considering his youth, this is a great honor. He went to the University of Nebraska in 1907 and 1908, and while there was a member of the geology department and the state geological survey. At present he is a member of the American Museum of Natural History staff and will continue his studies at Columbia University.

     In politics, although never a candidate for office, Mr. Cook has always taken an active part locally. He has had considerable influence at Washington through his acquaintances with prominent easterners whom he guided through the western states during his early career on hunting trips, etc.

     The efforts put forth by the gentlemen above named to make for himself a good home and comfortable competence have called out the heartiest praise of his fellowmen, and too much can not be said in his favor. Mr. Clasen has gone through many disappointments in his endeavors and often became discouraged, but through perseverance and hard work has overcome many obstacles and richly deserves the success he has attained.

     Mr. Clasen was born in the village of Sassen, near Coblenz, in the Rhine Province, Germany, October 8, 1836. His father, Anton Clasen, was a farmer, and died in the fatherland in 1866, and the mother, who was Susanna Simon, died in the same year. Our subject grew up in Germany, following farming and cattle raising, also dealing in hogs and sheep to some extent, and during the war with France served in the German army in the pioneer corps and was stationed near Metz during the siege of the city. In April, 1872, he came to the United States, sailing from Hull by way of London. After a twelve days' voyage on a steamer of the German line he landed in New York city, April 28, 1872. He started west on April 30, in the same year and settled in Fond du Lac county, Wisconsin. After working here in a brick yard for a year he removed to Mitchell county, Iowa, settling in Stacyville, where he resided for fifteen years. He next moved to Milford, Iowa, where he made his home for five years. In 1892 he came to Cherry county, Nebraska, and took up his present farm as a homestead, which is situated in section 32, township 34, range 31, and started a home. He built a farm house and first met with misfortune in the loss of a team of fine horses. The dry years followed and he was unable to raise a crop, making it hard to support his family. But he endured all the hardships and is now proprietor of two hundred and eighty acres of good land, improved with a good house and farm buildings, well of good water, windmills and fences. He is assisted in his farm work by his son Tony, and running ninety head of cattle, twenty-four horses and other stock. From eighty to ninety acres of land are under cultivation, and on this they raise good crops, and are counted among the successful and prosperous farmers in their vicinity. Prior to emigrating Mr. Clasen worked in the coal mines of Essen, Germany, some two thousand feet below the surface, but feeling safer above ground he found three months of mining enough. In 1902 a bolt of lightning running along a wire fence near which Mr. Clasen was driving in his stock, prostrated him. This is a shock from which few men recover.

     Mr. Clasen was married in Wisconsin in 1873 to Miss Katherine Cramer, a native of that state, daughter of Anton and Mary (Brust) Cramer, of German descent. To Mr. and Mrs. Clasen the following children have been born; Mary, wife of Anton Long, of Iowa; Pete (deceased); Matt and Joe, living in South Dakota; Anton, Lambert (deceased), Annie, Frank, Henry, Rose and Caroline.

     Mr. Clasen is an adherent of the Republican party and a member of the Catholic church.


     Prominent among the progressive farmers of Sheridan county is the subject of this review, a young man of sterling character and good business judgment. He is energetic and industrious, and has gained a fine farm and pleasant home in section 2, township 33, range 41.

     Mr. McDowell was born in Pennsylvania in 1871, and was raised there until he was fifteen years of age. His father, Cyrus F. McDowell,

Compendium of History Reminiscence & Biography of Western Nebraska

Horizontal Bar

page 638

was of Scotch-American descent, and served his country during the Civil war, and was later in the navy. Our subject is the eldest of three children, and came with his parents to Sheridan county, Nebraska, in 1885, and one year later learned the printer's trade. He worked on the first paper ever printed in Gordon, and followed this occupation for two years, after which he clerked in a store for one year. He then started at farming, and during his first year at this business the dry season came on and ruined all his crops, which caused him to lose nearly everything he had saved. After this he started in the cattle business, putting what capital he had left in this venture and succeeded from the start. He had a brother interested in a ranch, and they worked together, and in 1902 he bought his present home, each year becoming more extensively engaged in the stock business, until he now owns one thousand six hundred and eighty acres of good land and devotes nearly all his time and attention to this work, doing but very little farming. He has a fine herd of one hundred and twenty-five thoroughbred Shorthorns, and this is from a start of fifteen head of cattle. His farm is well improved with good buildings and all fenced, and he is counted among the successful ranchmen of his community.

     Mr. McDowell was married in 1902 to Miss Genevra Bresee, who was born in Iowa, in 1869. Her father, David Bresee, was an early settler in Iowa, and later a pioneer settler in Nebraska. Mr. and Mrs. McDowell have no children. When he landed in Nebraska he was obliged to go in debt for the purchase price of his land, and he has steadily worked up, gradually adding to his farm until he is now owner of as valuable a piece of property as there is in this locality, his land being worth more than double the price he paid for it. His first impressions of Nebraska are very amusing, and he says he will never forget the time he first struck Valentine. He had never seen a tent until he landed here, and he was sure that every Indian he met was after his scalp. He is a Republican, and has held local office, always taking an active interest in all party politics.


     Homer A. Priddy, who occupies a prominent place among the younger members of the ranching community of Sioux county, is one of the early settlers in that region who has built up a fine estate and gained an enviable reputation as a worthy citizen and progressive ranchman. He has been one of the foremost men of his locality during the past many years, and has done his full share in the development of the resources of the country where he chose his home.

     Mr. Priddy was born in Jasper county, Iowa, in 1861, on a farm. His father came of German stock, and his mother of English-Irish blood, she being a descendant of Sir Francis Drake, well known in the history of Great Britain. Our sub-

Compendium of History Reminiscence & Biography of Western Nebraska

Horizontal Bar

page 639

ject was raised in Iowa, as a boy learning all kinds of farm work, attending the common schools, and later the Greenfield high school, of which he is a graduate. He learned the trade of blacksmith at Greeenfield and followed that occupation considerable during his entire career, While living at the latter place he was married to Miss Maggie Woods, daughter of William R. Woods, who had followed the trade of blacksmith from his boyhood days. Mrs. Priddy's mother was, prior to her marriage, Sarah Brinton, of Pennsylvania Dutch stock.

     In 1888 our subject and his family came to Sioux county and filed on government land located on Monroe creek, and at that time there was but one white settler between that place and Harrison. He put up a log shanty twelve by fourteen feet, and started to develop a farm, having a team of mules and one horse. His entire cash capital was seventy-five dollars. He arrived in the region driving his mules, coming all the way from Iowa, camping out under the wagon, cooking their meals over camp fires. The first several years were hard ones, and they had difficulty in making a living, as several crops were utter failures, and Mr. Priddy finally opened a blacksmith shop in Harrison, and followed his trade at that place for twelve years, driving to and from his homestead, and managed to make quite a little money in this way. During that time he improved his place in good shape and bought additional land, so that he is now owner of a fine ranch of one thousand two hundred acres, part of which is used as hay land, and the balance as range for his stock, as he runs quite a herd of cattle. There is plenty of running water the year around, and he has considerable natural timber on the place. He has good buildings, and about seven miles of fencing. His residence is on section 8, township 32, range 56.

     Mr. Priddy and his estimable wife are the parents of five children, named as follows: Linley R., Dollie R., Karma D., Edouard T. and Noel M.

     During the winters the family live in Harrison, where the children have a better opportunity for attending school. Our subject is active in local affairs, and for five years held the position of postmaster of Harrison, serving from 1902 to June, 1907. Politically he is a Republican and lends his influence for the best principles of his party. Mr. Priddy has a nice stream, Monroe creek, passing through his farm, well stocked with mountain trout, and it bids fair to be one of the best fishing places in the west. His place abounds in some fine willd game, such as deer, etc., and he is trying his best to protect them from the ravages of the hunters and sports.


     The two gentlemen whose names head this personal history reside in section 15, township 26, range 50, Box Butte county, Nebraska, and are leading old settlers of the western part of the state who have made this region their home for the past twenty-three years, and are well known and highly esteemed by all who know them for their thrift and energy, as well as for being thorough farmers and good business men. We take pleasure in presenting portraits of both these gentlemen on other pages of this work.
Picture button     Picture button
     Both John and Henry Michaelsen were born in Hanover Province, Germany, Henry in 1845, and John in 1848, sons of farmers, the father having followed the trade of a harnessmaker for many years, and both parents lived and died in their native land. The two brothers served in the German army during the war of 1870 and 1871, fighting for their country as all loyal subjects were compelled to do. John came to America in 1881, and lived in New York one year, then settled in Wisconsin, where he remained for a time, then drifted to Omaha and spent four years there employed at different kinds of work in that city, where his brother, Henry, joined him in 1883, coming directly from the old country. In 1885 they came to Box Butte county, where each filed on a homestead, and upon their arrival here John had just seventy-five cents and Henry but ten cents in money in their pockets, and this was their start in a business. They began their homes, living in the open air for a time, then built a sod house, cooking their meals over a camp fire in old tin cans which they found, and during the early days had a struggle to make a living. However, they stuck to their purpose through all kinds of hardships and privations, and finally proved up on the land, gradually improving it with buildings, fences, etc., and together now own a fine ranch of about nine hundred and thirty acres. They raise cattle and horses principally, and are doing well, and are worthy citizens. But a short time after coming here they bought two cows. One of these died soon after they got it, and the other, for which they paid twenty-five dollars when she was a two-year-old, was the beginning of their entire herd. They kept the increase from this animal, while using her product for their living, and from her have sold over two hundred head, and after keeping her for fourteen years sold her for thirty dollars.

     The brothers are now classed among the prosperous and enterprising residents of their locality, and have succeeded beyond their wildest hopes since locating in this section of the country.

Compendium of History Reminiscence & Biography of Western Nebraska

Horizontal Bar

page 640


     Should the reader ask to see one of the very finest farms in Rock county, Nebraska, or become acquainted with one of the most thorough and capable farmers in all this region, he would be taken to the farm owned and operated by the gentleman with whose name this article begins. Here he would see careful cultivation of the soil, that thorough tillage without which success is not possible anywhere; the various farm buildings are modern and ample for all the needs of the day; the machinery that is needed saves labor and earns interest; the stock is of good grade, and year by year improves, and the farmer himself hale and hearty, now in the prime of life and at the maturity of his manly powers, "with his natural force unabated and his eye undimmed." A good farm to visit, and a pleasant gentleman to meet.

     Columbus A. Duncan was born on a farm in Monroe county, Arkansas, March 6, 1855, the tenth child in a family of twelve children of Willis and Nancy (Matlock) Duncan, and inherits good American blood from both branches of his ancestry. In 1869 the family came to the north to make a home in Watonwan county, Minnesota, where he grew to manhood and his education was completed in the public schools. The young Columbus from a very early age did what he could to help his parents and much hard work came to him as he grew older. When he attained his majority, he began for himself, and for some years followed farming in Minnesota. In 1877 he entered into marriage with Miss Mary Southerland, daughter of James and Martha (Green) Southerland. Her father was a farmer, and the family was well and favorably known in the state. Mr. and Mrs. Duncan have five children come to bless their union: Charles E., Walter S., Nettie L., Nellie V. and Wilma M.

     Four years after their wedding Mr. and Mrs. Duncan came to Nebraska to make a home on government land, where their homestead right might still be exercised. They made the journey from Minnesota to Rock county in a covered wagon and brought two cows with them. When Mr. Duncan arrived here he had only two dollars in money and a debt of twenty-five dollars behind him which had to be paid, but he was rich in courage and strength, and rejoiced to live and labor for his wife and two children. For a time a dug-out made a home for this little family, but after two years he was able to replace it with a better shelter. At first he worked for others where he could find work to do, cut posts for barter, at the railroad points, and, as might be imagined, made but slow headway, but he persevered. The second year he was here he secured an ox team, and prospects brightened for success. It was in vain, however, as a protracted drouth (sic) swept away all chance of a crop, and after the drouth (sic) came sickness in the family. Twenty years have rolled by since the Duncans arrived. They no longer suffer and toil and all but starve--that has forever passed. He owns, as already noted, one of the finest farms in northern Nebraska, consisting of five hundred and sixty acres, on which he erected ample buildings, and has provided a full stock of farm machinery, a good house, barns, and a grove of forest trees which gives what fuel the family needs. He also has about two hundred apple trees. In addition his son Charles owns a tract of eighty acres of land acquired under the Kincaid homestead law, and together father and son have a fine pasture of at least one hundred and twenty acres, while Mr. Duncan's home pasture embraces an entire quarter section.

     Mr. Duncan helped to construct the railroad when it was put through Newport, thereby securing funds to support the family during the famine years.

     In political matters he has affiliated with the Populist party. He has attended many conventions as a delegate, and is now chairman of the Rock county central committee. He is a member of the Mariaville lodge No. 399, Ancient Order of United Workmen, of which he is recorder and his son Charles is master workman. He has been president and general manager for a number of years of the Independent telephone line between Newport and Mariaville and has proved to be a very efficient officer. When Rock county was separated from Brown, Mr. Duncan was the first assessor of his precinct, an office he held a number of terms.


     Among the leading and substantial agriculturists of Cherry county, Nebraska, the gentleman whose name heads this review occupies a prominent place. Mr. Hudson lives on section 4, township 24, range 25, where he has one of the valuable estates in that locality, well improved, and enjoys a peaceful and happy home.

     Mr. Hudson is a native of Nodaway county, Missouri, born September 20, 1857, the third in a family of eight children. His father, John Hudson, a carpenter by trade, was one of the early settlers and farmers in this county, coming here in 1883. He married Miss Rutelia Lamar, of American stock, Saturday, December 31, 1853, and to them were born a family of eight children, two of whom died in infancy. He was

Compendium of History Reminiscence & Biography of Western Nebraska

Horizontal Bar

page 641

reared in his native state, becoming inured to hard work during his boyhood years, and came with his parents to Cherry county where he helped his father to open his farm. He soon afterwards took a homestead and tree claim in the vicinity of his father's home, and with ox teams broke the prairie sod which he cultivated in addition to helping on his father's claim until 1892, when he made a home for himself, building a good house and other farm buildings and he is now owner of three hundred and twenty acres, of which one hundred is under cultivation and the balance in prairie meadow and pasture. His farm is all fenced, has a bountiful supply of good water from several wells, with windmills, and a fine young orchard. During the drouths (sic) in his locality he lost two crops, and from a patch of eight acres of land one year got thirty-five bushels of corn. A severe hail in 1907 left nothing in its track. However, he kept his courage during the hard times, and has become one of the prosperous and successful farmers of Cherry county.

     Mr. Hudson was married October 26, 1892, to Miss Hattie Berry, daughter of Preston Berry, a farmer and old settler in Knox county, Nebraska. He took up a claim in Holt county, where he died in 1873. He served in Company B, Tenth Iowa Volunteers, and was a prominent member of the Grand Army of the Republic. The mother proved up on the Holt county claim and in 1882 came to Cherry county, where she purchased the ranch of her son-in-law at what is now known as Berry bridge and which she still owns. Five children have been born to Mr. and Mrs. Hudson, who are named as follows: Etta, Gladys, Edmund, Dorothy and John, all born and reared in this locality. The family is well-known and highly respected by all and enjoy a pleasant and comfortable home.


     Per Mattson, whose successful career demonstrates what may be accomplished by persistent labor and honest dealings, is proprietor of a valuable farm in section 30, township 15, range 43, and is known throughout Deuel county as one of the worthy citizens of this locality.

     Mr. Mattson was born in Sweden, December 10, 1864, and grew up there, receiving a limited schooling, working on his father's farm during his boyhood. In 1882 he, with his father, mother and brother, came to America, they settling at first in Pennsylvania, where they lived for two years, then came to Nebraska, landing in Deuel county in October, 1885. The father homesteaded in section 30, township 15, range 43, and this is now used as the home ranch. Here they went through pioneer experiences in establishing their home, going through hard times during the drouth (sic) seasons, often having a bitter struggle to get along, but worked hard to improve the homestead and finally succeeded in proving up on the claim. The family were among the very first settlers in the region, and have taken part in every movement which was started to develop the natural resources, remaining to enjoy the prosperity which has overtaken the locality. The father died in 1891, while our subjects' mother makes her home with her son on the home ranch.

     Mr. Mattson is now proprietor of a good farm, owning in all four hundred and eighty acres, considerable of which is under cultivation. He has a complete set of good farm buildings, a good well with windmill attached, and all conveniences and machinery necessary, and has a pleasant and comfortable home. He has a herd of about eighty cattle, and a good bunch of horses, with plenty of pasture and hay land, also good groves, etc. In 1908 he built a fine residence, and altogether has one of the best improved farms in the locality.

     Mr. Mattson was united in marriage to Miss Emma Olson, on December 15, 1907. Mrs. Mattson was born and raised in Sweden, coming to America in 1891 and located in Chicago.


     For over a score of years the gentleman whose name heads this review has resided in Sheridan county, Nebraska, where he has built up a fine farm and comfortable home through his perseverance and industry, supplemented by his good business judgment and capability.

     Mr. McDowell was born in Mercer county, Pennsylvania, in 1841, and is a son of Isaiah McDowell, of Scotch-Irish descent, a native of eastern Pennsylvania, who settled in Mercer county, when it was first opened up. He had a family of twelve children, and our subject was the tenth member, all raised on the home farm. When the war broke out our subject enlisted in the One Hundred and Sixty-ninth Pennsylvania Regiment and served up to 1863, and after being discharged, then entered the United States navy and served until the close of the war. Just after the close of the war he learned the cabinet maker's trade and opened a shop, but was not successful and lost all the money he had in this venture. In 1869 he located in the "oil country" in his native state and lived there until 1885. He stayed in the oil regions for seventeen years, and managed to save up one thousand three hundred dollars, then came west and landed in Ne-

Compendium of History Reminiscence & Biography of Western Nebraska

Horizontal Bar

page 642

braska in 1885, locating in Sheridan county on his present homestead, and has since that time lived on this farm continuously. When he first moved on this place there were twelve pine poles on the farm, and the balance of his timber needed for a house had to be hauled a distance of twenty miles, so he started to build a sod house, and put up a rough dwelling and waited until the first train should come through this section so he could have the lumber hauled by freight for the roof. He was the first to receive lumber shipped over the new road into Gordon, and also got some of the first flour made at the Gordon mills. He had a hard time getting started on his farm and lost quite a sum of what he had saved when he came here. He just got nicely caught up when the dry years struck him and this put him back again so that he had to make another start. During the late years he has been very successful, engaging principally in stock raising and not trying to farm very much, and now owns a farm of four hundred and eighty acres, and has some of the best land in this section of the country.

     Mr. McDowell was married in 1870 to Miss Ella Berlin, born in Clarion, Pennsylvania, in 1849. Her father, Nicholas Berlin, of German descent, was an old resident of Clarion county, who died at the advanced age of eighty-nine years. Mr. and Mrs. McDowell have a family of three children, named as follows: Anson B., Elizabeth and Milton B.

     The family have a pleasant home and are well and favorably known throughout the entire community in which they reside. Mr. McDowell has spent many years here and has watched the development of this territory from its inception. He is one of the very first settlers in this locality and the only one within a radius of four miles to stay on his original homestead. He has done his full share in opening up the country and is familiar with conditions which have existed here since the early days and tells many interesting experiences which he has passed through. Mr. McDowell has never acted in any official capacity, nor has he ever served on a jury in his life. He is a Populist, but always votes for the best man in local affairs.


     Michael Brennan, a farmer of ability and progressiveness, resides in section 12, township 31, range 48, and is one of the leading old settlers and respected citizens of Dawes county. He has watched the growth of that section from its early development, succeeded in building up a good home and farm, and may be classed among the self-made men of his locality. He is now well-to-do and enjoys a pleasant home and peaceful surroundings.

     Mr. Brennan was born in Carbon county, Pennsylvania, in 1845. He is of Irish descent, his father and mother both having been born in Ireland, coming to this country when young people and settling in Pennsylvania, where their family of children grew up, the father working in the coal mines for many years in that section. Our subject was also employed in the mines when but a young lad, and at the breaking out of the Civil war he enlisted in the Third Pennsylvania Cavalry, and served for one year, taking part in many campaigns and battles,

     After the war he returned to his home county and remained there for some time, then started west with his family, locating in Boone county, Iowa, and later in Green county, spending two years in the coal mines there.

     Mr. Brennan first came to Dawes county in 1885, driving all the way from Iowa with a team and covered wagon containing his family and household goods, the trip taking a month on the road.

     He located on a farm ten miles from Hay Springs and sixteen miles from Chadron, and put up his first building of sod and logs, in which the family lived for quite a time. Their start was very small, and they had a hard time to get along during the first few years, witnesssing the dry years when nearly everything he planted failed him. One year he sowed one hundred bushels of seed wheat, and did not even get enough back for seed. During these hard times he left home and went into Hooker county, where he worked out on a farm in order to make a living for his family, and also spent some time in Wyoming in the coal mines. However, he stuck to his farm through it all, and has now built up a good home, has improved much of the land, put up good buildings, three windmills, and has one well three hundred and twenty feet deep. His ranch consists of about nine quarter sections of good land, nearly all fenced, and he runs a large number of horses and cattle, and also farms one hundred and seventy-five accrues.

     Mr. Brennan was married while still living in Pennsylvania, in 1870, to Miss Mary Walsh. Her father, James Walsh, was born in Ireland, and worked as a coal miner in Pennsylvania, and in his later years farmed there for many years. He married Elizabeth Hoben, a native of Pennsylvania, and Mrs. Brennan was born January 10, 1855, and reared in that state. She is a good, kind-hearted lady, full

Compendium of History Reminiscence & Biography of Western Nebraska

Horizontal Bar

page 643

of jolly good cheer and hearty sympathy with any one in distress. No one is ever turned away hungry from her door. Twelve children came to bless the union of our subject and his wife, namely: Mart, James, Charles, Lizzie, John, William, Thomas, Fred, Terry and Joe. Alice and Maggie, both deceased, the former being killed by a cow on the farm; the latter dying in infancy. An interesting picture is presented on another page showing Mr. Brennan's family and some of his ranch property.

Picture button     Picture button

     C. H. Woodruff, of Alma, Nebraska, owner of "Ash Grove Farm", located on the eastern outskirts of Alma, comprising three hundred and fifty acres of the finest river bottom and second bottom land, is one of the leading citizens of his locality. He has lately erected a handsome residence on this place, and is a gentleman of sterling qualities who enjoys a wide circle of friends.

     Mr. Woodruff was born in 1849. His father, J. H. Woodruff, came to Ogle county, Illinois, in 1840, from Great Barrington, Massachusetts, and in 1884 moved to Nebraska, settling in village of Sutton, Clay county. He died at Alma in 1905, aged eighty-eight. He married Miss Frances Williams, of Illinois, born in Westfield, Massachusetts. One son, E. M., was a pioneer settler of Clay county, this state, and is now in the treasury department at Washington, District of Columbia. Our subject's mother is a descendant of Roger Williams of old colonial days.

     In 1882 Mr. Woodruff, our subject, located at Sutton, Nebraska, living there for a time and then engaged in the general merchandise business at Keene, Kearney county, running this for five years. He also was at Norman for a time, and in 1894 came to Harlan county, starting a farm. He has since bought a number of farms here when land was cheap, and in 1903 realized on these and invested in his present fine property. He has one of the finest groves in the locality, and his place is all in a high state of cultivation, well improved with good buildings, fences, etc. The alfalfa crop and its possibilities bespeaks this farm a fortune. He now has seventy-five acres of alfalfa land. Mr. Woodruff has started a herd of Shorthorn cattle of the best strain--Scotch. The bull heading Mr. Woodruff's herd is Lord Linton. Also Lord Lancaster is a bull of Mr. Woodruff's breeding and raising. He will have fall and spring sales at Alma, Nebraska, in conjunction with F. A. Heath, of Naponee, making Alma one of the best Shorthorn markets in the country. He also has a herd of pure bred Poland China hogs, and raises a large number each year for the market.

     September 10, 1879, our subject was united in marriage at Rockford, Illinois, to Miss Nettie Jewell. Mr. and Mrs. Woodruff are the parents of the following children: May, Inez, Chester (deceased), Harry, Henry, Grace, Frank, Percy (deceased), and Bertha. Mr. Woodruff's son Henry is engaged in the stock business with his father, and they have jointly established a dairy business. They have a breed of dairy cattle in the country, and some fine animals for sale.

     Mr. Woodruff is an active member of the Congregational church here, and his family are prominent in social circles, and all are highly esteemed in their community,. In politics Mr. Woodruff is a Republican. Mrs. Woodruff died April 7, 1904, mourned by a large circle of friends.


     As a citizen of integrity and worth and a man of industrious and energetic character this gentleman is well known to the people of Dawes county. Mr. Sateren is counted among the oldest settlers on the "table," coming to Dawes county in the year 1885, before that section was organized under its present name. He has been largely instrumental in its development and growth, and richly deserves a prominent place as one of its foremost citizens. He resides in section 15, township 31, range 47, and has a very fine ranch.

     Mr. Sateren was born in Goodhue county, Minnesota, in 1856, and is a son of John Sateren, a native of Norway, who came to America when a young man, landing in New York in 1842, and who settled in Minnesota on a farm, where his family grew up. The mother was also born in Norway, and now lives with her son Edward, at the ripe old age of seventy-seven. Our subject helped his parents in the farm work from his early boyhood, and received his early education in the country schools, later attending school at Zumbrota, Minnesota, for some time. In 1877 he left home and came to Nebraska, locating in Cuming county, near Wisner, where he farmed for about three years, and also worked on the steamboats on the Missouri river, plying between Yankton and Bismarck.

     In the spring of 1882 he went to Valentine, teaming from Long Pine, and there summered a bunch of cattle, camping out all through that summer and leading a typical

Horizontal Bar

Prior page
Name index
Next page

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