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Compendium of History Reminiscence & Biography of Western Nebraska

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for the company until 1884; part of this time he worked as agent at Paxton, served for a time at Ogallala, to which town he came as agent in 1879.

     Keith county was organized in 1874 and our subject was on the board of county commissioners. He was elected county treasurer, which office he held for four years. He was also county clerk four years and served two more terms as county commissioner. When school district No. 1 was organized, taking in all of Keith county, Mr. Searle was elected first school treasurer.

     He resigned from the operating department of the railway in 1884, and was appointed agent of their land department for Keith county. This department included Lodgepole in Cheyenne county, and all the land in Colorado to range 46, about one million acres. The head office was at Ogallala, with branch offices at Julesburg, Colorado, and Chappell, Nebraska. He filed on a homestead, which is now a part of the town site of Ogallala, in 1876, and proved up on it. He is also interested in ranching and stock raising, having a fine ranch of two thousand acres, one and one-half miles west of Ogallala in the valley of the South Platte river, on which he has two hundred and fifty acres seeded in alfalfa, ranging nine hundred cattle and one hundred horses. He also has a ranch in McPherson county in the forest reserves which he uses for a summer range. His son, Edwin M. Searle, Jr., is associated with him in the real estate business.

     Our subject has made his home in Keith county for the past forty-two years and is well known and highly respect by all the residents of that county.

     Buffalo and Indians were the only inhabitants when he first came to Keith county, and he has seen herds of one million buffalo at one time. Herds of antelope were also common sights when he came to the county. One spring a herd of buffalo was to have been seen extending from Cottonwood Springs on the east to Sterling, Colorado, one hundred and sixty miles on the west: the herd average one mile wide and on hundred and sixty miles long, for which trainmen who made the run through it can vouch.

      Mr. Searle was married in the Wyoming hotel, Omaha, December 24, 1868, to Miss Eliza Gifford, Reverend Kuhus, a Lutheran minister officiating. Simeon Gifford the father of Mrs. Searle, was a farmer and old settler of Iowa and Minnesota, who died while in the United States army at Fort Snelling, Minnesota. Her mother was Jane Savage before her marriage. Mr. and Mrs. Searle have three children: Charles F., in the insurance business at Council Bluffs, Iowa; Edwin M., Jr., associated with his father; and Archie L., who is in business in Omaha. While Mr. Searle was living at Paxton, a big Indian saw Mrs. Searle and her baby sitting on the platform and offered Mr. Searle five ponies in trade for his white squaw and papoose. At times the Indians made war on the white settlers, marauding parties throwing trains off the track six miles west of Paxton in November, 1869, and had previously burned a train at Lexington two years before.

     A trail was opened up from Texas to Ogallala by the Texas cattlemen in 1874, this being the most western station of the railway and the nearest place from which to ship cattle. Herds of three hundred thousand head were trailed to Ogallala every year from 1874 to 1882, which made Ogallala the typical western cowboy town it was. During the early days of Ogallala from two thousand to three thousand cars of cattle were shipped east in a season of sixty days.

     Mr. Searle is a type of pioneer who succeeded in spite of all discouragements and is now prominent in all matters pertaining to the welfare and progress of the town of Ogallala. He is Republican in politics, a member of the Congregational church and a member of the Masonic order and the Workmen, and is a Grand Army man.


     Among the representative farmers and ranchmen of Cheyenne county, who have aided materially in its advancement and development since its early settlement, a prominent place is accorded Fred Bratz, who resides on his well improved estate in section 10, township 16, rang 48, Union Valley precinct. He is a gentleman of energetic character an well merits his success and high standing.

     Mr. Bratz is a native of the village of Helgerdhausen, Wurtemberg, Germany, born on the 14th of January, 1859, and grew to manhood in his native land. His parents, Michael and Barbara Bratz, spent their entire lives in Germany, and died there, the mother in 1899 and the father in 1907.

     Our subject started out for himself when he was a young man of twenty-three years, taking passage at Hamburg for America on the emigrant ship Harmonia, and after a voyage of twelve days, landed in New York city in October of 1882. He joined a brother and sister in Hancock county, Illinois, where he spent two years at farm labor and one year farming for himself: he then came further west, settling in Cheyenne county, pre-empting one hundred and sixty acres, and later took at homestead on sec-

Compendium of History Reminiscence & Biography of Western Nebraska

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tion 10, township 16, range 48. He has remained on this place ever since, now owning a fine ranch of four hundred and eighty acres, of which he cultivates on hundred and twenty-five acres, and uses the balance as pasture and ran for his cattle, keeping one hundred head of cattle and quite a number of horses. He has built up a good home, and whole place is well improved with a neat concrete cottage, a large new barn, and other good buildings. There is a fine orchard, groves and an abundant water supply, and altogether he owns one of the valauble properties in the section. We are pleased to call attention to an engraving of the home and surroundings in the illustrative section of our work.

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     February 16, 1892, Mr. Bratz was united in marriage to Miss Annie Wettrich, in Cheyenne county. She was born in Burlington, Iowa. Her parents, Fed and Elizabeth M. (Reil) Wettrich, were natives of Germany: their deaths occurred in Illinois, where they had spent the latter years of their lives. Mr. and Mrs. Bratz are the parents of one child, Otto, born on the 24th of March, 1896, a bright, sturdy boy, who is making good progress in his school work.

     Mr. Bratz is active in local affairs, and is devoted to the interest of his adopted land. He is a Republican politically, and lends his influence for good government. At present he is serving as treasurer of school district No. 54, and is a leading citizen, highly esteemed by his associates. He was reared in the Lutheran church.



     Among the interesting characters typical of a western life, and man who has had many and varied experiences during his career as a pioneer in a new country and throughout his sojourn among the sturdy settler of the west, the gentleman whose name heads this personal history occupies a foremost place.

     Mr. Chase is a genial, whole-souled individual, a wonderful story teller and enjoyable companion, beside enjoying the reputation of a leading old settler and one of the prominent citizens of his community. He resides on a very valuable estate in Dawes county, Nebraska.

     Mr. Chase is a native of Grant county, Wisconsin, born in 1850, and raised on a farm. His father was Levi R. Chase, a farmer and miner, and an early settler in Wisconsin. He married Miss Lucinda Brown, and when our subject was but eleven years old the father died, and the following year the mother was also called away, leaving him at twelve years of age to fight the battle of life alone. Since that time he has supported himself unaided, working out on farms and at anything he could find to do, and remained in Wisconsin up to the time he was twenty-one years of age. He then moved to Illinois, where he farmed for a time, then to Iowa, and there settled in Allemakee county. He lived there for several years, also spent seven years in New Albin, Iowa, and there engaged in general work and owned two lots in the town.

     In 1892 Mr. Chase came to Dawes county, Nebraska, and filed on a homestead of eighty acres, on August 15th of that year. This homestead was located in section 31, township 31, range 47, and was entirely unimproved property. He at once started to build up a ranch and home, but was able to do very little at first owing to the fact that he was utterly without capital. However, he went to work with a will, and his first work was to build a sod house, fourteen by sixteen feet in size, also sod stable and chicken house, the former sixteen by twenty, and the latter twelve by fourteen, also a cow barn sixteen by fourteen, all of which were comfortable and substantial, and were in use for a number of years. He "batched it" for a year, and in 1893 his family joined him and they helped him in his work of improving the farm.

     The time was spent in cutting timber and hauling it, breaking up land, and doing all manner of work to raise crops and make a living for himself and family, and he proved up on the farm, remaining on it up to 1900, when he bought his present home in section 28, township 31, range 47. Here he has a finely improved, well-kept place, with good buildings, windmill, etc., and engages in farming and stock raising, both of which has been most successful. He has six hundred and forty acres of land in his farm, all fenced all good land.

     While still living in Wisconsin Mr. Chase was married to Miss Katherin Stubenhaver, whose parents came to America from Germany in their young days, and settled in Illinois, where she was born, and later moved to Wisconsin, where they were among the pioneers and where she grew to young womanhood.  Mr. and Mrs. Chase are the parents of four children, namely: Luvina and Lucinda, twins; William Stewart and Lizetta. The family is highly respected and popular among their fellow citizens.

     Mr. Chase is a leader in local affairs, and always lends his aid and influence for the benefit of his community. He has held different school offices for many years. In political sentiment Mr. Chase is a Republican.

     On another page will be found a picture showing scenes on Mr. Chase's ranch.

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Compendium of History Reminiscence & Biography of Western Nebraska

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     The gentleman above named is one of the prosperous business men and farmers of Sheridan county, Nebraska. He has lived in this part of the country for many years past and has watched the development and growth of the region from the early days.

      Mr. Colson was born in Newburgh, Maine, in 1859. His father, Ambrose Colson, of American blood, was also a native of Maine, and never left his home county until he was seventy years of age, always running a large farm there. Of a family of fourteen children our subject was the youngest, his father having married twice. When he was twenty-one years old he started west, coming to Norfolk, Nebraska, in 1879. The railroad ended there, and he went still further on into Pierce county, but the land did not look good to him there, although he remained for several years working rented land, then moved into Dawes county. In the spring of 1885 he filed on a pre-emption on section 11, township 31, range 47, and moved on it. He also took up a tree claim in the same section, "batching it" there for four years. He was obliged to mortgage the place to get the money to prove up on it, and then the dry years came on and he lost both places. He tried farming but ran out of seed and was unable to buy more, so went in to the Black Hills. He took twelve cows with him and sold them receiving sixteen dollars per head, which just put him out of debt. He stayed in the hills for a year, then returned to Sheridan county, locating ten miles outh of Lakeside and filed on a homestead and later sold that, in 1901 moving to his present place at Bingham, where he bought three acres of land in the town site. He afterwards took his additional one hundred and sixty acres of homestead rights, which was all the land he could get in the locality, as it was taken or leased around the place. Here he engages in farming and also runs a general merchandise store at Bingham, carrying a good stock of dry goods, groceries, flour and feed. He also has the Bingham post office, and is doing well in his different enterprises. Of late he has erected a fine hotel at Bingham, where he also conducts his store and post office in the same building.

     In 1888 Mr. Colson was married to Miss Melissa Clark, born in Martin county, Minnesota, in 1871. Mrs. Colson is a daughter of William Clark, an early settler in Iowa, now a farmer in Dawes county, Nebraska. To Mr. and Mrs. Colson the following children have been born, all living at home: Pearl, Lulu and Ida. Mr. Colson is a Republican, always interested in local and county affairs, but never seeking public preferment.


     The above named gentleman is among the foremost business men of Kearney, Nebraska, where he has been engaged in the contracting and building trade for the past twenty-five years and more. He is a manufacturer of building, paving and sidewalk brick, and has immense plant covering twelve acres, fitted with a new dryer which works day and night to fill orders for his work. He has a complete up-to-date outfit, and yard will turn out from eight to ten million brick this year. Mr Hibberd established this business in 1880, when he came to Kearney to erect the first building for the State Industrial School, assisting his contractor, W. L. Van Alstyne. They put up this building in sixty days, but the present facilities and improved methods, much less than this time would have been required.

     Mr. Hibberd is a native of England, and learned the builder's trade there with his brother, John Hibberd, the family having rented and lived on one farm in North Staffordshire for over four hundred years, and was in the brick manufacturing and contracting business there for several generations.

     The family have always been strong Catholics, and one of the oldest families in England to adhere to this faith through all the struggles against this religion for centuries past.

     Mr. Hibberd came to America, in 1863, and settled in Whiteside county, Illinois. During the Civil war he enlisted in Company B, One Hundred and Forty-seventh Illinois: was in the secret service also for some time. He was with the Army of the Cumberland under General George H. Thomas, first brigade, second separate division, and in the Fourth Army Corps. During his life as a soldier he did not miss a day of service and was at the battle of Lookout Mountain, Chattanooga, Chickamauga, Resaca, Pullen's Ferry, Spring Place, Kenesaw and in the Atlanta campaign and with the march to the sea under General Sherman. After he was mustered out, he was chief clerk to Colonel Frank Clendenin, in the Freedmen's Bureau, located in Americus, Georgia, and Savannah, Georgia. Mr. Hibberd first came to Nebraska in 1871, settling at Lincoln and began the manufacture of brick and did contracting work at Seward, Lincoln and David City. Prior to this he had a plant at Atkinson and Geneseo, Illinois. In 1883 he put in a plant at Omaha, while he was building the State Deaf and Dumb Asylum. In 1884 he sold this and returned to Kearney, and he has since resided here continuously. Since coming to this city, he has been building and supplying the brick for all the school buildings in Kearney, for the five new buldings at the

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