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Compendium of History Reminiscence & Biography of Western Nebraska

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trees. Our subject has been an interested witness of the growth of this region. When he first settled here his house was one of the only two between Ogallala and Big Springs, twenty miles distant, and for three months Mrs. Couch never saw a woman in all the country.

     The marriage of Ilus Couch with Miss Charity Horton occurred in Buda, Illinois, February 9, 1882. The bride was a native of Illinois, a daughter of Eli and Mary (Hamilton) Horton, natives of Pennsylvania. Mr. Couch has done his share toward making the present high material standard of prosperity which obtains in Keith county, and he has taken a prominent place among the old settlers. His interest in political matters has been earnest and practical and he has held various offices of trust and responsibility.

      He has served as school treasurer for five years and has acceptably filled other minor offices. He is independent in politics and a member of the Ogallala lodge, Independent Order of Odd Fellows. A view of Mr. Couch's comfortable residence with its fine grove, large barn and pleasing landscape surrounding, is presented for inspection on another page.

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      The above named gentleman is a leading citizen of Sheridan county, residing in township 26, range 46, where he has built up a comfortable house and valuable estate.

     Mr. Kent is a native of Highland, Wisconsin, born in 1863, and is a son of Patrick Kent, who came from Ireland in 1844 and settled in Wisconsin immediately after striking this country, remaining there on a farm all his life, and it was there that our subject was raised and educate. There was a family of eleven children, of whom he was the ninth, and at the age of eighteen he started our for himself, securing a position as a teacher in a district school, which occupation he followed for three years, one year of which he served as principal of a high school, then resigned. He is a graduate of the Highland high school, of Highland, Wisconsin, and later of the State Normal School at Platteville, Wisconsin. He came to Nebraska in 1886 and took a pre-emption in section 17, township 25, range 47, and established a farm, remaining until proving up, and six months later took a homestead and still lives adjacent to the latter place. While he was holding down this claim he was engaged in teaching, and for a year and a half was cashier of a bank at Alliance, Nebraska.

     In this way he managed to make a living and save a little money, and had just started to farming on a larger scale when the dry years commenced, and through loss of several crops and other misfortunes got in debt and was obliged to go back to teaching to make this up. He held his land for ten ears without doing much in the way of improving it, and would have sold it at different times had he received a good offer. In 1897 he bought some calves, and this was his start in the cattle business. He gradually added to his herd until he now runs about three hundred head, and also is extensively engaged in the horse business, keeping about one hundred and fifty head all the time. Since he began this line of work he has been very successful and steadily increased his holding and improved his farm, but during the early years here he went through hard times. He tried hard to farm his land, but found that conditions were against him. He had a large portion of his land in hay and pasture, and sold his hay, but could not make anything by so doing and was unable to get enough off it to pay the taxes, and that decided him on starting in the stock raising business. Most of his land is valley land and he cuts about hour hundred tons of hay on the ranch, all of which is fed out to his stock. He has some alfalfa and intends to seed more of this, as it makes good fodder for cattle hogs. He has dealt considerably in the latter animals, but quit that branch of the work in 1906.

     Mr. Kent was married in 1904 to Miss Laura Gibbs, a native of this state, born in 1877. She is of English descent, her father, George Gibbs, having come from that country when a young man, settling in Nebraska in the early stage of its development. Mr. and Mrs. Kent have one child, William Walter, having lost twins, Ellen and Elizabeth, their death occurring in January, 1907, at the age of two months.

     Mr. Kent has resided on his present farm continuously since 1897, excepting for two years, 1901 to 1903, when he was serving his county as superintendent of schools, although he personally superintended the management of his ranch at that time. He owns thirteen quarter sections of deeded land, and in allition to this leases land adjacent to his ranch, and has just completed a fine dwelling on this place. Mr. Kent is a Republican and always takes an active interest in party politics. He has held local offices and is at present postmaster at Long Lake, a position he is well qualified to fill.

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      Should the reader ask for a representative type of the successful and energetic western ranchman, who has spent many years of his life in building up a home and reputation by honest industry and good management, we would mention the gentleman above. Mr. Pilster is a man who embodies all the attributes of a careful and capable manager of things, and wherever he is put would make a success through his sheer determination and perseverance in the object to be attained. He relived his first year. There were practically sides in section 23, township 33, range 51, and is one of the well known and worthy citizens of Dawes county.

     Mr. Pilster was born in the kingdom of Hanover, Germany, 1853, on a farm. His parents lived and died in that country, where the father followed the life of a farmer. Our subject remained at home until he was fifteen years of age, then came to America, landing in New York city in 1868, and from there went to Boston, where he remained for three years, learning the cooper 's trade with a man named Leopold Charley. He went to Pittsburg in 1879 and there built a house, which he afterwards traded for a one hundred and twenty-acre farm, soon selling the land for a good round sum, and in the transaction got a house to boot in a Pittsburg.

     In 1886 Mr. Pilster came to Nebraska and settled in Dawes county, and after a short time disposed of his property in Pittsburg and put the money in improvements on his ranch here, having taken a pre-emption in section 15, township, range 51. His first building was of frame and he built a large cellar, in which he lived during the first winter, remaining there only one year, then moved to his present location. Here he has a ranch of four hundred and sixty acres, all deeded land, and he also leases some good land adjoining his ranch. He has put up good buildings, corrals, fences and improvements, and has a fine property. Besides this ranch he has four hundred and eighty acres of Kincaid homestead land, on which he now resides. He is engaged in the stock business quite extensively, running one hundred and fifty cattle, and has made a great success of his undertaking in spite of many drawbacks.

     In 1877 Mr. Pilster was married to Miss Huldah J. Stuebgen, whose father was a well known farmer and hotel keeper of Armstrong county, Pennsylvania, born in Saxony, Germany. Mr. and Mrs. Pilster are the parents of nine children, named as follows: Edward, Henry, William August, John Adam, Edith Jane, Minnie Maria, Sadie Jane, Emma M., Flora Virginia and Mabel Belle. The family are popular in their community and enjoy a peaceful and happy home.


      Pete Lecher, who resides in a comfortable home in Dawes county, is one of the old-timers of western Nebraska. He owns a nice property, which he gathered together by dint of his industry and good management, and is held in high esteem by all with whom he has to do.

     Mr. Lecher was born in Ozaukee county, Wisconsin, in 1861. His father, John Lecher, was born in Germany and married there to Maggie Thomas, then came to this country to carve out their fortune in the new world. They settled in Wisconsin and there our subject was raised and educated, brought up on a farm until he was twenty-three years of age, then left home and struck out for himself, coming to eastern Nebraska and locating in Platte county, farming there for seven years. He came to his present location in Dawes county in 1894, purchasing a farm in section 14, township 33, range 48, which was partly improved land, and at once put up a house, barn and windmills. The place was well supplied with good water, being located on Big Bordeaux creek. He now has four hundred acres, farming one hundred acres of this, and has plenty of pasture lots of natural timber, and altogether a fine farm. He plans to devote most of his attention to the raising of fine grade stock and to the dairying business, and is engaged in the latter work to quite an extent, making about ninety pounds of butter per week. He is also engaged in the ice business, putting up large quantities every winter to supply the town of Chadron and vicinity. During the first years in this region he had a hard time to get along and for quite a long time was only able to make a living by getting out stove wood from Pine Ridge.

     Mr. Lecher was united in marriage in 1882 while living in Wisconsin to Miss Maggie Schommer, whose father was a prominent farmer and old settler in that state, and came from Germany to the United states when a young man. To Mr. and Mrs. Lecher have been born the following children: Casper, Annie, Katie, Barney, John, Jerry and Noah. All that are large enough are good workers, assisting their parents in the dairy, ice and general farming business.

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      Frank C. Bates, residing near Lodgepole, is one of the pioneer settlers of Cheyenne county, Nebraska. He has become widely know as a prosperous farmer and well-to-do ranchman, is a worthy citizen and enjoys the comforts of a rural home. He has followed the occupation of a farmer all his life, and has done his full share toward the development of the resources of the county where he chose his home in the early years.

     Mr. Bates was born in Wayne county, New York, January 30, 1858, and remained in that state until he was twenty-nine years of age, then came to Cheyenne county, arriving in that region in April, 1887, took up a homestead in section 20, township 15, range 47, on which he followed farming for many years. He now lives in section 24, situated one mile north-west of Lodgepole, where he has a fine one hundred and sixty-acre farm and engages in mixed farming and stock raising. Mr. Bates has owned several farms since coming to Nebraska, built them up and then sold out at a good profit, and has helped materially in the development of the locality.

     Our subject was married in his native county in the state of New York on April 22, 1883, to Miss Carrie A. Deuel. She is also a native of that state, and her mother in now living with our subject, the father being dead. Both Mr. Bates' parents are now deceased. Mr. and Mrs. Bates are the parents of two children, Louise and Ruth, both at home.

     Our subject is prominent in local affairs and takes an active interest in county and state politics.


      E.D. Ford, who has been identified with the agricultural interests of Keya Paha county, Nebraska, for many years, and is the owner of a valuable estate, was born in Harrison county, Missouri, in 1877, and when six years of age came with his parents to this county. His father, James B. Ford, was of Irish stock, born in Ohio, where he followed the carpenter's trade during his early life. He was an early settler in Iowa, and during the Civil war enlisted in an Iowa regiment and served for three years under General Grant. After the war he returned to Iowa and was there married to Miss Hannah Dennis, a native of Iowa, and to the couple two children were born, our subject being the only one living. At the age of eighteen years he started out for himself, going into the Dakotas, where he followed farming for some years. He came to Nebraska in 1883, where he grew up, and in 1903 bought his present home, located in section 35, township 33, range 20. Here he has one hundred and sixty acres of good land, with eighty acres under plow and the balance in hay and pasture. He is engaged principally in mixed farming, and does not deal in stock to any great extent.

     Mr. Ford and his father have done much toward the development of this county. They lived in a log house for many years and went through many hard at imes during the dry years. However, he has succeeded in getting together a comfortable property. They had the usual pioneer experiences here and in Missouri for ten years, then came to Keya Paha county. In 1902 he sold out his place here and moved to Colorado and died there a short time afterwards.

      Our subject was married in 1900 to Miss Gertrude Ewing, of old American stock, raised in Nebraska. They are the parents of two children, named Bertha, aged six years, and Harold, age three years. They enjoy a pleasant and happy home, surround by a host of good friends, and are highly esteemed throughout the community in which they reside. All of Mr. Ford's time is devoted to the care and management of his farm and home, and he has never taken an active part in public affairs. In political faith he is a Republican.


      The gentleman whose name heads this personal history is one of the representative citizens of western Nebraska, being one of the organizers of the Potter State Bank, and a director in the same institution. He is also a prosperous and successful business man, and a "booster" for his town, county and state. Mr. Johnson is at present engaged in a number of different enterprises, carrying on a large general merchandise business in Potter, where he makes his home, and also has large ranching and farming interest, and is among the large growers of small grains in the county.

     C. W. Johnson was born in Sweden, February 21, 1864, where he grew to the age of six years, then with his parents came to America, settling in Andover, Henry county, Illinois, where the family lived for two years. They then emigrated to Montgomery county, Iowa, remained for three years, and from there to Republic county, Kansas, finally coming into

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Cheyenne county, Nebraska, in 1887, where the father homesteaded in Banner county in the spring of that year. Their location was in the southwest quarter of section 30, township 18, range 53, and they also tool up a timber claim in section 34, which they later sold, but still own the homestead.

      Mr. Johnson's Banner county ranch is considered one of the most valuable properties in the west, and on this place he runs about three hundred head of cattle and sixty horses, with plenty of hay and pasture land for all his stock. The place contains twenty-seven hundred and twenty acres, and besides this large tract he leases a half section in the vicinity. The ranch is supplied with a complete set of good buildings and all improvements.

     In 1897 our subject engaged in the mercantile business in Kirk, Banner county, and carried this on for a number of years. While living in that vicinity he was appointed postmaster of Kirk and held the position fifteen years, remaining there until 1906, when he sold out his store and came to Potter, purchasing the general merchandise establishment of B. F. Thornburg. He is doing a good business and has a large patronage from the surrounding country.

     On April 21, 1886, our subject was united in marriage at Scandia, Kansas, to Ellen Nelson, who was born in Denmark and came to America in 1878. Mrs. Johnson's parents are both dead, but our subject's father and mother area at present living on the ranch in Banner county, which is owned jointly by father and son. Nine children were born to Mr. and Mrs. Johnson, eight of whom are now living, named as follows: Joseph G., Seola C., Victor, Clarence W., Leonard J., Lulu, Fred, Ervin (who died in 1905) and Nora, all living at home and making a most interesting family group. Mr. Johnson is one of the well known and leading citizens of his community and has served in numerous local offices, including justice of the peace and notary public.

      In political views he is a Republican. He affiliates with the Ancient Order United Workmen and is a member of the Methodist church.


      Henry Jochem was born in Piano county, Illinois, May 24, 1882, and was reared on a farm. His father, John Jochem, was a native of West Prussia, Gemany, and saw service in the army of the fatherland. His mother was Wilhelmina Bomgaardt, also a native of Germany.

     Our subject came west with the family to Omaha and thence to Blaine county, Nebraska, in 1887, where he found his first home in a sod shanty with a hay roof, and became conversant with the way of pioneer life. When he was seventeen years old our subject left home, going to Grand Island, where he spent five years of which time he was on rented land. In 1904 he returned home, purchasing a small farm on which he lived about a year, and then sold out, doubling his money. He then took a Kincaid homestead in Blaine county, in section 22, township 24, range 22, in the German valley.

     Mr. Jochem, although still a younger man, has achieved success and has accomplished it all as a result of his own efforts and planning. He has a splendid ranch of five hundred and sixty acres, one hundred and fifty acres of which he cultivates, and three hundred and twenty acres are deeded land. He has a good house, large barns, well and windmill, groves of forest trees and a fine orchard. He has made an enviable record as a man of energy and rare good business judgment and is willingly accorded a leading place among the old settlers of his locality.


      James Burns, of Morrill (formerly Cheyenne) county, Nebraska, is a man whose history invites reflection on the secret of success in the great western country. There re very few men who have come to this section with assured financial standing, and those who have gained wealth and affluence are very largely those whose native industry, shrewd business insight and daring have brought its due reward. Success means in Nebraska more than it does in the older east. Here it mean pluck, courage and self-reliance. There is may mean the bolstering help of friends and favoring circumstances, and the subject of this sketch is a self-made man in the truest sense of the word, as he has been through every phase of western life, having at various times followed freighting, farming, ranching, etc., and well deserves his present prosperity.

     Mr. Burns was born in St. Louis, Missouri,

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February 22, 1864. He was left an orphan at the age of four years and has no knowledge of any living relatives. He was taken into the family of Alfred S. Weeks, of Hudson, McLain county, Illinois, and remained with them until he was twenty-one years old. During boyhood he attended the country schools at such time since the year as did not interfere with his helping in the farm work of his foster parents, and when he became of age, entered the State Normal School at Normal, Illinois, continuing for a year and a half, his only start when he left Mr. Weeks's family being the suit of clothes he wore. There was a good library in the Weeks home and of this the orphan boy availed himself. He worked his way through school and acquired his learning by dint of self-denial and hard work. After leaving school he was stricken with typhoid fever, and after a severe illness came to Nebraska, locating at Kearney, where he attended the institute for a short time and from there lived at the home of friends north of the town of Kearney, where he taught a three months' term of school. In the spring of 1886 he came to Sidney, landing there on March 17th, and pre-empted a claim just across the state line in Colorado. He held this claim and worked at different points in that section of the country, riding range for the Powell & Whitney ranching outfit. During the summer of 1888 he had the misfortune to be bitten by a rattlesnake and was laid up for some months, and after recovering abandoned his claim, selling the deeded land at less than the pre-emption value. He next took a homestead on Cedar creek, along the North Platte river, improved it to quiet an extent and after proving up on it sold to the Belmont company.

     Mr. Burns came on his present ranch on part of which Mrs. Burns had filed prior to her marriage, in 1895. Part of it was the original homestead of M. S. Boyer. There are eight hundred acres of land, all in one body, with five hundred acres of the tract under Chimney Rock ditch. One hundred acres are under cultivation, two hundred in alfalfa, and the balance is used for hay land, as Mr. Burns runs a large herd of cattle and quite a bunch of horses. The ranch is fully improved with good buildings and everything necessary for the operation of a model farm, and is one of the most valuable properties in the county. In addition to this extensive ranching interests, Mr. Burns owns town property in Bayard. A view of the ranch residence, with Chimney Rock in the distance, is to be found elsewhere in this work.

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     September 18, 1895, Mr. Burns married Mrs. Ora E. Boyer, whose maiden name was Ora E. Maylan, daughter of William Maylan, a veteran of the Civil war and a prominent old frontiersman. The mother was a native of Worth county, Missouri. Our subject has a family of four children, namely: Clinton W., Alice A., Haldane and Catherine O. They are a most congenial family and have a pleasant home and large circle of acquaintances.

     Mr. Burns is a Democrat and has taken an active part in local politics since locating here, having held the combined offices of county clerk and as clerk of the district court, serving from 1900 to 1904. Cheyenne county was strongly Republican and the fact that Mr. Burns received the office against strong opposition goes to prove his worth and popularity in the opinion of the people. He is also school treasurer of district No. 50. His lodge affiliations are at Sidney, where he is a member of the Odd Fellows, the Modern Woodmen and the Knights of Pythias, of which he served as chancellor commander two years.


      Among the varied interest of Cheyenne county, Nebraska, stock raising and farming take a leading place. In fact, it may be said truthfully that it is the principal industry of that section. Many of the agriculturists have engaged successfully in this line, and the gentleman above named takes a prominent place among the number. He is the owner of a well improved place consisting of eight hundred and eighty-six acres, and is a substantial and highly esteemed citizen of his county.

     Quinton R. McAdam was born in Argenteuil county, province of Quebec, Canada, August 18, 1865, and grew to manhood there. He came to the United States in 1890, direct to Potter, Nebraska, and after spending just three days there went on to Cheyenne, Wyoming, and worked in that vicinity for three years as a carpenter. He then went to Denver and was in the employ of a wholesale commission house for about four years. Returning to Cheyenne for two years, he worked in the Union Pacific railroad shops prior to engaging in business for himself. He was associated with his brother Andre, contracting and building, and about this time they invested in ranch and cattle interests. A year after engaging in business with his brother, Robert came to Cheyenne county to take charge of the ranching interests, while Andre attended to the building operations, following later. Robert filed on one hundred and sixty acres

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