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the great debate pending in congress on the right of petition, led by John Quincy Adams, that it hardly attracted attention, and was the first encroachment upon the terms of the Missouri compromise by any direct measure. This section of the state furnished the most aggressive emigration into the western territory in later years.
   In the year 1819 negotiations were opened with Spain for the purchase of Florida, and the treaty was ratified by both governments in July, 1821, and that sovereignty was formally transferred to the United States. The north boundary line of Florida followed the St. Mary's river from its mouth to its source, thence west to the Chatahoochee, thence along that stream to the 31st parallel, thence west to the Mississippi river, including the present state of Florida, parts of Alabama and Mississippi, and some parts of the present Louisiana. It also included all that territory west of the Rockies and north of the 42nd parallel to the British possessions, and from the Rocky mountains to the Pacific, including Oregon, Washington, Idaho, and part of Wyoming, thereby extinguishing the Spanish claims to this vast area. Florida proper was acquired with the institution of slavery existing, and was not subject to the restriction of the Missouri compromise, as claimed by one school of politicians and subject to the restriction as claimed by the. other. Slavery was neither prohibited nor sanctioned by the terms of this grant. About the same time this government ceded to Spain that country between Louisana (sic) and the Rio Grande, and in less than twenty-five years afterward, was very desirous of getting it back again.
   Prior to December 27, 1845, Texas had twice sought to be annexed to the United States, and was finally received by congress on that day, and ratified by that people on the 19th of February, 1846. Prior to this time it had proclaimed its independence, and had obtained some recognition. It was not subject to the restrictions contained in the compromise of 36o 30 min. At this time General Taylor was at Corpus Christi, near the mouth of the Rio Grande, with a large part of the United States army for the protection of the Texas frontier, and annexation was immediately followed by the Mexican war, at the termination of which, and by the terms of the treaty of Gaudalupe Hidalgo, 1848, a vast area of territory both north and south of the line of 36o 30 min. was acquired.
   The annexation of Texas and the beginning of hostilities between



the United States and Mexico, was followed by a message from President Polk to congress, asking that a sum of money be placed at his disposal for immediate use, in effecting a treaty with the Mexican government; and a bill was soon introduced for that purpose, appropriating $30,000 for immediate use, and placing $2,000,000 more at his disposal for the purchase of peace and the settlement of boundary lines. David Wilmot proposed a proviso to that section of the bill refering to the acquisition of territory, against slavery and involuntary servitude in any of its parts, "except for crime, whereof the party shall first be duly convicted." This proviso was substantially guarded in the terms of the ordinance of 1787, in the erection of the Northwest Territory, and is known in history as the Wilmot Proviso. This proviso provoked an extended discussion both north and south, its advocates being called free soilers and the opponents pro-slavery men. It was proposed by a democrat and was supported by democrats in the north. The bill and proviso both passed the house, and was sent to the senate on the day provided by law for its adjournment, August 10, 1846. The question was again raised in the bills introduced in 1848, providing for the organization of territorial governments for Oregon, California, and New Mexico, in which the principles of the Wilmot proviso figured largely. The bill for the organization of Oregon passed and was approved by the President. The battle ground was transferred to the remaining bills and finally to New Mexico. All public men took part in these discussions, pro and con, both within congress and out of it, and the people became well versed in the issues involved. Many also committed themselves by informal expressions in ordinary conversation, and by neatly written political letters, as the records of the times now appear. Among the number who are said to have approved the Wilmot proviso in ordinary conversation was General Lewis Cass, at that time in public life and journeying in a railroad car from Washington to his Michigan home. He was among the number, however, who wrote upon that subject, and in a letter dated December 24, 1847, and addressed to General A. O. P. Nicholson, took that middle ground afterward espoused by Senator Douglas, and known in history as the doctrine of "popular sovereignty." In the course of this letter he says:
   "The theory of our government pre-supposes that its various members have reserved to themselves the regulation of all subjects



relating to what may be termed their internal police. They are sovereign within their boundaries, except in those cases where they have surrendered to the general government a portion of their rights in order to give effect to the objects of the union, whether these concern foreign nations, if I may so speak, whether they have reference to slavery or to any other relations, domestic or public, are left to local authority, either original or derivative. Congress has no right to say that there shall be slavery in New York, or that there shall be no slavery in Georgia; nor is there any other human power but the people of those states, respectively, which can change the relations existing therein; and they can say, if they will, "we will have slavery in the former and we will abolish it in the latter."
   "In various respects the territories differ from the states, Some of their rights are inchoate, and they do not possess the attributes of sovereignty. Their relation to the general government is very imperfectly defined by the constitution, and it will be found upon examination in that instrument, the *only grant of power concerning them is conveyed in the phrase, 'Congress shall have the power to dispose of and make all needful rules and regulations, respecting the territory and other property belonging to the United States.'
   "The question as will, therefore, be seen on examination, does not regard the exclusion of slavery from a region where it now exists, but a prohibition against its introduction where it does not exist, and where, from the feelings of the inhabitants and the laws of nature it is morally impossible, * * * that it can ever re-establish itself."
   The third step in the restriction of slavery was, therefore, fully taken in the political campaign of 1848. The first had been the restriction of the slave trade, the second, the restriction of slave territory, and now the third was the doctrine of free soil in all the territories. The advocates of the Wilmot proviso were, therefore, called free soilers and nominated a candidate for president, thus taking a prominent place in the public gaze. It happened in this wise. The state of New York was represented in the democratic national convention at Baltimore, May 22 of that year, by two delegations, that of the free soilers or "barn burners," composed of Wilmot proviso men, and the Hunkers under the leadership of General Daniel, S. Dickinson. The convention undertook to conciliate both delegations by admitting



both to a seat and a half vote, upon which the free soilers withdrew and nominated Martin Van Buren for president, and Charles Francis Adams for vice president. The democrats nominated General Cass for president, and William O. Butler, of Kentucky, for vice president. At that election Van Buren received a popular vote of nearly 300,000, which defeated General Cass.
   Public feeling had been greatly intensified at the effort of the Wilmot proviso men to secure the restriction of slavery in the organic acts of the new territories, to allay which the whig party, under the leadership of General Taylor, undertook to establish a more pacific course. This doctrine is comprised in the message sent the house in response to a resolution of inquiry on the 21st day of January, 1850, and in which he recognizes the right of California and New Mexico to perfect, form, and adopt such constitutions as their people may choose, subject only to the constitution of the United States.
   On the 13th of February afterward, be communicated to congress the free constitution of California. There then remained only Utah, New Mexico, the District of Columbia, and the unorganized territories. Propositions for their adjustment were submitted by Henry Clay and John Bell, provoking extended discussion in both houses.
   These propositions were referred to a committee of thirteen, of which Mr. Clay was chairman, on the 28th of February, and their terms were held under consideration to May the 8th, when an extended report covering the many branches of the subject was made by Mr. Clay, the chairman. This report contained the celebrated Omnibus bill, which was afterwards rejected, and the compromise was finally effected on the original proposition of the great Kentuckian. These included the admission of California on her constitution, an adjustment of the boundary of Texas, and the organization of the territories of Utah and New Mexico. The organization of New Mexico had been the battle field, and among other things it was finally provided that when admitted as a state, the said territory or any portion of the same, shall be received into the union, with or without slavery, as their constitution may prescribe at the time of their admission." This is known as the compromise of 1850, and was generally understood by one school of politicians, to repeal the compromise of 1820. This compromise had long been construed as impairing the rights of the slaveholder.



    The consideration of the restriction of slavery from newly acquired territories was raised on different occasions after the introduction of the Wilmot proviso, but the fear that the prosecution of the Mexican war might be impeded, restraining many from voting in its favor until after the treaty of peace had made secure the coveted areas of New Mexico and California, and other lands which were included in its terms. Slavery was at this time considered by many to be upon an equal footing with freedom, and the questions between the two were considered to be at rest. The free democratic vote of John P. Hale, in 1852, was consequently about 100,000 less than that of Van Buren four years before. The general disposition was more pacific and quiet, and by the year 1854, it was supposed to have Subsided altogether.
   In the formation of the Kansas-Nebraska Act, the people were left free to choose for themselves upon this question, and the free soil doctrine prevailed.



[Read before a meeting of the Society, January 10, 1888.]

   In the last days of June, 1861, we chanced to meet William T. Donevan on the streets of Nebraska City, and upon our learning that he lived on Salt Creek and in the neighborhood of the wonderful salt basins, we speedily arranged to accompany him, that we might see for ourself the country and the basins of which we had heard so much. If we remember correctly, after passing the old Major's farm four miles out, we passed over an unbroken wilderness, save Wilson's ranche at Wilson's Creek, until we reached McKee's ranche on the Nemaha, where widow McKee and her sons lived. James Der also lived near the same point. This was twenty miles out, and near the present town of Syracuse. The next improvement was that of John Roberts on the Nemaha, near the present site of Palmyra, and five miles farther to the West lived Mr. Meecham, a weakkneed Mormon that had fallen out by the way. These were all the people that we saw on that trip until we reached Salt Creek. After enjoying the hospitalities of our friends here for the night, a somewhat novel mode of conveyance was improvised for our trip to the Basin. A tongue was fastened to the bind axle of a wagon, and a pair of springs were made of short ash sticks, and a board across the ends of the sticks for a seat, and our carriage was complete, and Buck and Bright served for motive power, and on the second day of July, 1861, we followed a dim track down to Lincoln - no, to Lancaster - no, but down Salt Creek (we hardly ever go up Salt Creek), to the mouth of Oak Creek, where we forded the stream. There was at the time a magnificent grove of honey locust timber on the west side of Salt Creek, and just south of Oak Creek, and a little to the south of the foot of O street in the large bend of the creek, there were perhaps a hundred majestic elms and cotton woods, with here and there a hackberry and honey locust. Those lovely groves would now, if



they could have remained in their natural grandeur and beauty as we saw them, be of priceless value to the city for a park. Joseph, the elder son of Mr. Donevan, was our teamster and guide. The big flies that infested the low bottoms were a great help as persuaders to our oxen; and at times our ride was exciting in the extreme, as the oxen would dart first to the right, then to the left, to get the benefit of a brush to rid themselves of the flies.
   It brings peculiar thoughts to mind as we look around us now, and consider the changes that twenty-six years have wrought. One dim track only crossed the sight of the future city from the east to west, that had been made by hunters and salt pilgrims, and the one already mentioned, running up and down the creek. As we viewed the land upon which now stands this great city we had the exciting pleasure of seeing for the first time a large drove of the beautiful antelope cantering across the prairie just about where the Government Square is. We forded Salt Creek just by the junction of Oak Creek, and what a struggle we had in making our way through the tall sunflowers between the ford and the Basin. There was something enchanting about the scene that met our eyes. The fresh breeze sweeping over the salt basins reminded us of the morning breezes of the ocean beach. The Basin was as smooth as glass, and resembled a slab of highly polished clouded marble. The wrecks of some old salt furnaces and two deserted cabins were the only signs of civilization, all was wild and solitary; but our soul was filled with rapturous delight. The geese, brant, and pelicans had undisputed sway, and the air was filled with their shrill notes.
   The nearest human habitation to either the basins or the present city was that of Mr. Donevan on the Caldwell place on Salt Creek, about five mites up the creek, or south of the ford, Joel Mason lived a mile further up. Richard Wallingford lived at his present home. A. J. Wallingford also lived just across the creek. John Cadman lived just across the county line, as the counties were first constituted, in old Clay County, and where the village of Saltillo now stands. Dr. Maxwell lived in that neighborhood, also Festus Reed, and where Roca now stands, J. L. Davidson and the Pray family had located. Wm. Shirly on Stevens Creek was the nearest settler to the eastward. Charles Retslef and John Wedencamp, also Judge J. D. Maine, held the fort a little further up the creek, and Aaron Wood was located



near the head of Stevens Creek. John and Louis Loder lived down Salt Creek near Waverly, also Micheal Shea and James Moran. To the westward it was a complete wilderness.
   In company with Darwin Peckham (now of Lincoln) we commenced making salt on the 20th of August, 1861. We pre-empted one of the log cabins and batched it during the fall. Salt was very scarce in war times, and was high in price; and of a necessity great numbers of people came to scrape salt. They came from all the settled portions of the territory, from Kansas, Missouri, and as far east as central Iowa. At the time of the second visit, we found the roads well broken by pilgrims in the search of salt. Going for salt in those days was like going a fishing. It was all in luck. If the weather was perfectly dry, they could get plenty of it; for it could be scraped up by the wagon load; but three minutes rain would end the game. We have seen a drove of men that came a full hundred miles and arrive just in time to see a little rain clear all the salt off the basin in a moment, and they left to hold an empty sack. We found a goodly number there when we arrived, and they were holding the empty sack; for it had just rained, and the basin was as black as ink. We remember Milton Langdon as one of the disconsolate pilgrims. The next morning, all except our party pulled out, and "we were monarchs of all we surveyed." We immediately built a small furnace, made a sheet iron salt pan, and began boiling salt; and by the time the next drove of pilgrims came, we had salt to trade or sell them. Many farmers would bring their sorghum pans to make their own salt, and when they would get enough, or get tired, we would trade salt for their pans and all their spare provisions. When the weather was dry, many would scrape up more than they could haul home, and we would trade for their scrapings at twenty-five cents per hundred. In dry times we would accumulate a mountain of scraped salt, and as soon as the first rain came, our scrapings would be worth from fifty cents to one dollar per hundred. Pilgrims would grab for it. They brought up all manner of provisions to trade for it, meat, flour, chickens, butter, fruit,. potatoes, eggs, and others were willing to go to the groves and cut and haul wood and trade its. Others would haul up a large pile of wood and then rent our furnaces for the night, and would work all night, and thus get a supply. So we had salt to sell, scrapings to sell, furnaces to



rent, and generally provisions to sell. One man, we remember, brought a fine suit of clothes and traded them to us for salt. A party brought us two four-horse wagon loads, 5,000 pounds, of flour from Winterset, Iowa, and we made him an even exchange of 5,000 pounds of salt for it. It was a lively time, for hundreds were coming and going continually during the fall.
   We remember several distinguished visitors of that fall, among whom was the Hon. O. P. Mason, and the Hon. J. Sterling Morton. We treated them to slap jacks of our own make, which the Judge seemed to relish, but our friend Morton did not seem to appreciate our cooking, just why has always been a mystery to us. Hon. P. W. Hitchcock, afterwards United States Senator, and his Excellency, Governor Saunders, (he was then our governor) also made us a visit. They were not repairing fences, but quite likely they were examining J. Sterling Morton's fence around the saline land. Many of lesser note visited us during the fall.
   Late in the fall we moved our family to Salt Creek and wintered in one apartment of the log cabin that Mr. Donevan occupied, and as the salt business always ceases when winter begins, we put in the time as best we could, chasing rabbits, &c. Uncle Dick Wallingford, learning that we had graduated at the carpenter's bench, he sought us to build him a house. We suppose that we have the honor of building for Uncle Dick the first frame building in Lancaster County, in the winter of '61-'62. We made the doors of black walnut lumber that was about as hard as glass. We also remember the struggle we had one night in the following summer in making a coffin for Grandmother Wallingford out of that hard lumber.
   We took up our abode at the Basin with the wife and two children, on the 1st day of May, 1862. That same day a county convention was held at the Basin, and nearly every man in the county was there; but we remember none of the proceedings, as we were occupied in setting our house in order. Two or three days later, Milton Langdon arrived with his family and took up their abode just west of the B. & M. bridge north of Oak Creek. The season of 1862 was exceedingly prosperous. Great numbers of people came and went every day. Numerous other furnaces were started, and the salt works presented quite the appearance of business.
   Here we must beg indulgence while we relate a little story: In



the winter of '62-'63, there was an old fellow by the name of Ben Vanthiesen camping and boiling salt, and there was an Indian camp a little distance away. The Indians had been bothering Ben until he had become impatient with them. A young, stalwart brave thought to play a joke on him, and approached him with the usual aborigine's salutation, "How", and at the same time offered Ben a finely polished ramrod, which he reached out to take, when Mr. Injin struck him a violent blow across the knuckles. Ben couldn't stand that, and quick as thought returned the compliment with his fist, propelled by his stalwart arm. The blow took effect just under the ear of the young brave, and he reeled backward and sat down in the pan of boiling salt water. A sharp shriek, and Mr. Injin jumped for life, and ran wildly into the swamp and mired down, hallowing all sorts of bloody murder in the Indian tongue. Other braves went to his relief and carried him to camp. He was thoroughly cooked and well salted. The little settlement soon became alarmed, fearing that the Indians would be enraged and seek vengeance. A hurried consultation was had, and the camp was visited to learn, if possible, the temper of the redskins. We found the man almost dead, and while he was writhing in agony the other Indians were making all sorts of fun of him, calling him squaw man, &c, and pointing their fingers at him. Finally Ben Venthiesen appeared on the scene and they began at once to lionize him, as if to further tantalize the poor unfortunate. They finally made a litter of a buffalo robe and carried him away with them, while in a dying condition.
   On the morning of the 4th of July, wife suggested that we celebrate by gathering a lot of gooseberries, of which there were great quantities. Just as we had filled our buckets, we heard someone hallowing and as we emerged from the bush who should we see but Elder Young and party, consisting of the Rev. Peter Schamp, Dr. McKesson, Mr. Warnes, Luke Lavender, and Jacob Dawson. They were on the search for a suitable location for a colony. They were patriotic, and had not forgotten the flag. Dinner was quickly provided and disposed of, the neighbors were called in, and we had a celebration that was a feast to the soul. As the dear old elder talked to us of our blessed flag and how it had been trailed in the dust by recreant hands, and of the mighty struggle that was then going on to maintain its supremacy, how our hearts swelled with emotion, as



we realized that our country and our all was at the moment trembling in the balance. This was probably the first time our national flag ever kissed the breezes of Lancaster county, and it was an occasion long to be remembered by all the participants. Some, we know not how many, of that little group have gone to their long home. Uncle Jacob Dawson lived just long enough to see the foundations of Lincoln well laid, and was called away. Our dear friend, Elder Young, lived to see the city of his founding great and strong, and marching forward to greater achievements, and he, "was gathered to his fathers, full of years and full of honors."
   In the second week in July, and after making a thorough examination of the surrounding country, the party made a settlement on the land where Lincoln now stands, and dedicated a portion of section twenty-two for a town site, and christened it Lancaster. Lancaster did not grow as more modern towns do. A few settlers began to arrive and settled on the beautiful lands in the vicinity; but not many cared to try their hands at building a city just then. Town building was a gsow process in those days, so far inland.
   It must be remembered that the bill providing for the Union Pacific Railroad had passed but the previous winter, and the eastern terminus had not been fixed by the President. Our nearest railroad was at St. Joseph, Mo. and Ottumwa, Iowa, and further it was yet very questionable as to whether our upland prairie was of any value for agricultural purposes. The farms were all yet confined to the creek bottoms. Prairie fires would sweep the prairies just as soon as the grass was dry in the fall, and leave the roots exposed to the scorching rays of the autumn sun, and then to the frosts of winter. The snow would gather into huge drifts, there being nothing to hold it except the ravines. This resulted in very short grass crops on the upland and frequently there was scarcely enough to hide a garter snake in midsummer. People saw the fact, that the prairie produced but little grass, but were slow to discover the causes, and were ready to condemn the land as worthless for cultivation. Some are lead to believe that great changes have taken place in the general character of the soil, as well as the climate. We have frequently been asked if this land was not all covered with buffalo grass. To this question we answer most emphatically No. It may have been at some remote period, but never since white men have known it. Many are of



the opinion that it scarcely ever rained in those early days. That is certainly a mistake. The summer of 1860 produced scarcely any rain (we well remember that year of the Kansas famine - we resided at Nebraska City at the time) and to help matters along there were sixteen days and nights of continuous hot south wind. It was almost insufferably hot, so stifling it was that people could not bear to. sit in the wind, even late in the evenings, but would be compelled to seek a windbreak. Except that memorable year rains were just as plentiful, and as well distributed through the growing season in those years as they are now, and vegetation where it had a fair show made the same luxuriant growth. But we do not wonder that the overland immigrant that passed through this country in the early spring, or late in the fall pronounced this a desert land, for as far as the eye could reach in all directions nothing could be seen but the black prairie; most dreary indeed was the spectacle, There being nothing to retain the moisture and the sun bearing down on the defenceless head, and the dancing vapor playing in the distance like specters, it did not seem that it ever could be a fit abode for civilized man.
   It took men and women of strong nerve and great faith to attempt to build a home in this wilderness then, but there were some brave souls that were equal to the hour, and such were the men who founded Lancaster. The story of the founding of the embryo city and the struggle over the location of the county seat is an interesting theme. The settlement at the Yankee Hill (where the insane hospital now stands) under the leadership of John Cadman and Wm. Field made an interesting and energetic fight for the prize. These men looked with jealousy upon the Lancaster colony. Our friend Cadman was wide awake and with a fertile brain, and was ready for almost any emergency. It will be remembered that the boundaries of the county were materially changed in the winter of 1862 and '63. Friend Cadman secured the election to the Legislature from old Clay county. John Gregory was by some trick of legerdemain elected to. represent Lancaster, and Hon. H. W. Parker was sent from Gage. The trio each had an ax to grind. Parker wanted to make the county seat secure for Beatrice and Cadman wanted to spoil Elder Young's little game and make a new town, and clothe it with the honors of the county seat. So they arranged and carried through the scheme to elminate (sic) Clay county from the map of Nebraska, and



give to Gage the south twelve miles, and the north twelve miles to Lancaster in the interest of Cadman and his friends. Thus it came that Gage and Lancaster are each thirty-six miles long, and that Clay County was buried out of sight to be resurrected at a later day further to the west. We have never been able to learn just what interest our friend Gregory was to have, but suppose he was to be endorsed for the Postoffice at a salary of one dollar per mouth at the Basin, and also to have his name perpetuated by re-naming the Great Salt Basin "Gregory Basin", both of which he secured, but the honors of his office and the name were very much like a soap bubble, they got away from him in a very short time. Cadman and his friends lost no time in fixing upon a point for their new town at Yankee Hill, and then came the tug of war. About this time what was known as the Steam Wagon road was located from Nebraska City to the west and the crossing of Salt Creek fixed at Yankee Hill. An appropriation of five hundred dollars was secured by the Legislature for a bridge on Salt Creek in Lancaster county, to be located by territorial commissioners. When these gentlemen came to fix the location of the bridge, the Lancaster party headed by Elder Young, and the Yankee Hill folks led by Cadman, each made all earnest showing why they should have the bridge, and we take it for granted that each succeeded in convincing the commissioners that their claim was the best, for they divided the money between the two points and thus with the aid of private help two good bridges were secured. Each place made slow progress, a little store and a blacksmith shop were secured by each. Lancaster had the help of the salt interest to assist it while its rival had the freight road. Each had energetic men as leaders and they were equally well situated, but Lancaster had the sympathy of the greater number of the people of the county. Friend Cadman had roused the ire of all his old neighbors on the heads of Salt Creek. They were very sore over having all their pleasant dreams of a county seat at Olathe suddenly disappear and their county torn in two and swallowed by her greedy sisters.
   When the county seat problem came before the people for settlement the Lancaster folks had a walkaway and secured a grand triumph at the polls.
   The county seat election occurred in the summer of 1864, and was held at the house of your humble servant just south of the Great



Basin. Notwithstanding his defeat in his pet project of founding a county seat Cadman secured a return to the Legislature for several terms, and had an honorable part in moulding the destiny of the county, in helping to secure the capital removal bill, and securing the. location of it within her borders, and while Elder Young may justly be honored as the founder of Lincoln, to John Cadman belongs the honor of doing splendid work in securing a grand triumph in removing the Capital, and of securing the principal benefit to his county, and while be did not realize the full fruition of his hopes in getting it at Yankee Hill we are glad to know that he has been duly rewarded, and that in his green old age he is blessed with plenty of the world's goods, and friends innumerable to brighten his pathway. Long live Hon. John Cadman.
   In the early summer of 1862 we had the pleasure of helping to raise a log house for Charles Calkins on Middle Creek on what was afterwards known as the Hartman farm and about five miles west of the city. This was the first log cabin between the Basin and the Grand Island settlement. In the beautiful month of June our good wife made a visit to Nebraska City and left us alone "with our glory" for a little season. One afternoon a vast throng of Omahas camped at the head of the Basin, but we thought nothing of it as it was a common thing to see great numbers of Indians on their way to their summer hunting grounds on the Republican river. John Chamber's family lived a little way from our cabin. We went to bed as usual that night with our bright sabre under our pillow, and a rifle standing within easy reach. Near midnight we heard a (not, very) "gentle tapping as of some one rapping at our cabin door". "What's the matter?" we cried: "Matter enough" says poor trembling John, his wife clinging to him like grim death, and crazed with fear. "The Indians are upon us, for God's sake what shall we do?" Whether we dressed or not you may guess. We forgot that we ever had a sabre or a gun. When we awoke our ears were greeted with the most unearthly sounds as if a thousand devils were let loose. We all ran as most folks do when badly scared, and we hid as best. we could among the hills, and waited the coming of events which we expected in about a minute. The pandemonium continued but came no nearer. We waited patiently for the enemy but they did not. come. We were disappointed. The Indians were expecting to.



meet their mortal foes (the Sioux) on their hunting grounds and were having a war dance "only this and nothing more."
   Salt Creek and its principal tributary Oak Creek were wonderfully well supplied with fish. Black suckers and buffalo were the leading varieties. The settlers had plenty of sport and much profit in fishing. We all had plenty of fish; great numbers were caught that would weigh ten or fifteen pounds each, and we have seen them that tipped the beam at thirty-five pounds. Elk and antelope were plentiful and the Nimrods of that day had great and exciting sport in the chase. Some of the settlers spent a great portion of their time roaming the prairies in search of game. Many of them never came home without a supply of meat. If elk could not be found or captured, some luckless freighter's steer had to suffer the ordeal of being converted into elk meat. Many a steer has undergone the change in short order, and Mr. Steer's only safety was in staying close to camp. The basins were a great place for wild water fowls to congregate. Geese, brants, swans, ducks, and pelicans were there by the thousands; it was the hunter's paradise. Wild fruits, such as grapes, plums, gooseberries, and alderberries were abundant along the streams, and were gathered by the bushel.
   As the Union armies regained the rebels trongholds (sic) of Missouri, great numbers of rebels found it convenient to find other quarters, and many of them seemed to have the idea that salt would save their bacon, consequently hordes of them would gather at the Basins and frequently they would show their rebellious spirits in acts and words that were very unpleasant for Union men to endure. At one time they became so insolent and threatening that the Union men of the valley thought it necessary to organize for self defense. Our Missouri friends came to the conclusion that "discretion was the better part of valor," so nothing very serious occurred.
   Elder Young preached the first sermon of the locality at our house, on the Sabbath following the Fourth of July '62 to a fair sized, congregation. A Sabbath school was organized very soon afterwards, and was of great value to the youth of the community. This was probably the first Sabbath school between the Missouri River and the Rocky Mountains. Religious meetings were held quite frequently under the leadership of Elder Young,



Rev. Dr. McKesson, and Rev. Peter Schamp, and other ministers that chanced to stray so far into the wilderness.
   As a general rule the settlers enjoyed themselves very well and were reasonably prosperous, but it was not always so. Sometimes winter storms would shut us off from communication with the world at large, and provisions would get short, and we would be driven to desperate straits. We have known families to live on boiled corn or wheat for a week at a time with no seasoning but salt. The winter of '63 and '64 was a most desperate one. The cold was extreme. The last day of December '63 was a memorable day for the intensity of the cold. We had no thermometer except our own blood and that told us that it was the most bitterly cold day of our life. Snow and salt combined to make our home about the coldest spot in North America. We afterward learned that at Burlington, Iowa, the thermometer indicated thirty degrees below zero. That winter was one of much suffering. Salt had declined materially in price and the demand had fallen off, while the wood for boiling had become scarce, and the weather was so severe, and it seemed that all things conspired against the people, and for a time the whole settlement was on the verge of starvation. The spring of '64 found the settlement in rather a dilapidated and impoverished condition, but hope soon revived. Immigrants began to arrive in goodly numbers, and they began opening up farms, and that gave new life and hope to all. Settlements began to extend westward, and all the people began to have more faith in Nebraska. It may be well to relate here, a common saying of those days just to show how absurd the expressed views of many people were in regard to this country. If an incoming immigrant talked of going over to the Blue Valley to look for a location, be was told at once that it was of no use to look at that country for it never rains west of Salt Creek. That fool notion had become so thoroughly imbedded in the minds of many of the early settlers, that we expect that some of them firmly believe it to this day.
   It has been claimed that F. Morton Donevan was the first white child born in the locality, but the locality was very large, for the fact is he was born on Stevens Creek ten miles distant. The first white child born at the Basin or in the immediate vicinity of the present city was a son born to Joseph Chambers in the Summer of '62. He



died in infancy. Our son Elmer Elsworth Cox was born March 3, '63 and was the first white child born in the immediate vicinity that is now living. There were some exciting and almost ludicrous scenes in the courts at the Basin. Milton Langdon and J. S. Gregory were the two prominent attorneys, and in all matters of judicial nature they were arrayed against each other. They were both of them keen and tricky, ever on the alert to catch the enemy napping and they had some high times. Occasionally a case would arise that tried the. mettle of court attorneys and officers. A rough customer who it was said had graduated in the Rebel army had put in an appearance, and had made some violent threats in which he promised to. kill some citizen. An information was filed and a warrant was issued and placed in the hands of the sheriff. A crowd gathered at the court room and it soon became known that the culprit refused to surrender to the sheriff. All became excited and while the court was giving some directions to the citizens about assisting the sheriff, the fellow came stalking into the court room, carrying his rifle in a position for immediate use. The sheriff followed at a convenient distance of probably ten rods. The court, invited the man to take a seat which was promptly declined, but he took a careful survey of the court and all the surroundings and with the rifle ready cocked and finger on the trigger, be began to retreat and all hands seemed to stand out of his way. The Justice remarked to the sheriff and posse "you will be justified in taking that man if you have to kill him to do it", but they didn't take him. He backed off with drawn weapon and bid defiance, and no one was willing to take the risk of his capture. He was bent on vengeance and had no intention of leaving until he had wreaked it on somebody. He became angry at the Justice for saying "take him dead or alive", and during the next morning while his Honor was busy at his salt furnace he happened to observe the sneaking scoundrel creeping up a little ravine in the rear with a view of getting a sure shot at him, but finding that his victim had observed him he started off at a rapid pace across the Basin. His Honor quickly halted him. He instantly cocked his rifle, but sternly and most emphatically his Honor commanded a truce, and marched straight up to the fellow, who curled down like a whipped cur, and received a court blessing in the open air and took his final departure for parts unknown. Had it not been for a



good degree of firmness on that occasion it is quite probable that some other speaker would have had the honors of this occasion.
   On the morning of August 20, 1862, there was a heavy frost that killed all the corn on the lowlands throughout Nebraska.
   During the spring of 1861, J. S. Gregory built the first frame house in the vicinity of the Basin, and made extensive improvements. Mr. Eaton of Plattsmouth, an uncle of our friend Gregory became quite well acquinted (sic) with him during these years and their fraternal relations are spread upon the court records, for many years, of Lancaster county. Settlements increased rapidly during the spring and early summer of '64, but took a serious setback later in the season on account of the Indian troubles so that the number wintering here in the winter of '64 and '65 was hardly greater than in the winter previous.
   The first term of district court was held on the eighth day of November 1864 (the day Lincoln was elected to the second term) in Jacob Dawson's double log cabin and was presided over by his Honor Judge Elmer S. Dundy with the same dignity as is manifest in these days in the great Government Courthouse. Members of the bar present were Hon. T. M. Marquette and Judge Pottenger of Plattsmouth. Uncle Jake's cabin stood just where commercial block now stands. Uncle Jake was put to straits to properly entertain the Judge and attorneys. We remember that he came over and borrowed all the store coffee at the Basin. As if to add to the pleasures of the occasion we enjoyed a regular blizzard of whirling, drifting snow. The Judge appointed Pottenger prosecuting attorney and friend Pott, as we called him, drew up one indictment against one Pemberton for shooting into a bird's nest. The charge was malicious assault with intent to kill. His Honor allowed Pottenger seventy-five dollars. Marquette defended Pemberton for ten dollars, and quashed the indictment, and Pemberton skipped the country before other proceedings could be had. The story of the crime is as follows: Old man Bird had some difficulty with Pemberton about the chickens and one of the young birds (a pullet) sung some unsavory songs for Pemberton's benefit. Pemberton met the old bird at the door one morning and demanded satisfaction, and finally drew a revolver and shot, the ball missing the old bird, but passing through the door and lodging in the wall just above a bed



full of young birds. Then he hits the old bird a lick on the head with the butt of the revolver. The old bird flew to the Justice office all covered with blood just as his Honor was being seated at the breakfast table, and of course a little scene occurred which we will not relate.
   In the summer of 1864 the whole west was very easily excited after the horrible massacre in Minnesota. Wild rumors were afloat continually, and the scattered settlements were harrassed with fears throughout the whole summer and fall. The most trifling circumstances were magnified as they were related by the panic stricken people into general massacres or wholesale slaughtering of some neighboring settlement. The impression prevailed that the Rebel Government at Richmond was inciting the redskins to a merciless warfare all along the frontier. Tomahawks and scalping knives of the Red Devils were vividly pictured in all our dreams. We knew this much that the dark hours of the war presented a grand opportunity for them to clean its out root and branch. We also knew that they were in no friendly mood, or in other words we were quite sure that they were thirsting for our blood, and all that kept them back was their fear of a terrible retribution, and further the fire we saw was not all fox fire. There were people murdered by them in Nebraska and not a few. At Plumb Creek of the west, on Turkey Creek, on the Little Blue, there were murders and kidnappings, such as make our blood boil to this day as we think of them. We had just cause to fear, and it would have been foolhardiness to be otherwise than on the alert.
   In the month of August while we were on a trip to the river with a load of salt, a panic occurred, the story of which we relate in brief as told us by our better half that helped to enjoy it to the full. During the day word was received that all the settlement on the Blue had been murdered, and from every appearance the Indians would bounce upon the Salt Creek settlement that night. It was nearly dark, wife and children were at the mercy of the neighbors, as they had no team. Uncle Peter Bellows came nobly to the rescue, with his broad German accent be said "Mrs. Coax you shall go wid us." Blessed be the name of Uncle Peter forever; but Uncle Peter had his peculiarities. He was a great hand to gather up things, such as old log chains, old plow shares, broken pitchforks, horse



shoes (he didn't have a horse in the world), ox yokes, and all sorts of old irons. He was rich in old irons. In packing up to go Uncle Peter had of course to take the last one of these precious jewels, but in the hurry and excitement he forgot to take any provisions for the family. When he came for wife he said, "Mrs. Coax we takes you and the childerns but we can take notings else. Vell dot ish so, hurry up mine Got, the Ingins is coming sure." Wife protested that she must take something to eat, and some bedding, and finally persuaded him to take a sack (50 lbs) of flour and a ham of meat, and a bed, provided she would walk herself. We then had three children, the oldest now Mrs. Kate Ruby, of Marquette, Neb., aged five years, the next aged three years, now Mrs. Nettie M. Pingree, of Colby, Kansas, then Elmer, of whom we have spoken, aged sixteen months. The oldest girl walked, and Nettie was perched upon the load of goods, and wife carried the babe upon her right arm and with the left she carried one end of a trunk a mile and a half or to the ford. The babe she carried the full ten miles, that dark stormy night. Wild with fright they went pell mell. Imagine if you can the terrors of that awful night, the rolling thunder, the lurid lightning, and the mortal dread of a savage foe. Weary and fainting they arrived at Shirley's ranch late at night. In the morning it developed that the sack of flour and ham of meat were all the provisions in camp for a hundred hungry souls, except green corn bought of Shirley, but they had plenty of old irons. It further developed that there had been no hostile Indians within a full hundred miles.
   When it became certain that the Union would triumph over the rebellion, and there would be ample security here as elsewhere for life and property, then great numbers came. Also a further stimulus to settlement was the certainty of the building of the Union Pacific R. R., its eastern terminus had been fixed in the fall of '64 and the first ground was broken, and it may fairly be said that Nebraska had awakened to a new and vigorous life. During the spring of '64, having become convinced that it occasionally rained on Blue River, we made up our minds to cast our lot with the little settlement in the neighborhood where now stands the beautiful little city of Seward, and made preparations during the summer and accomplished our object, and made the removal December 1. Thus ends our

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