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History of Western Nebraska and Its People




     The town of Lodgepole is the second, oldest town in Cheyenne county. It had the first newspaper, the first bank, first business house, and first post office in the county outside of Sidney. School district No. 4 was located there, which is the second district organized within the present limits of the county. Its high character of morality, and its religious and educational institutions appeal to people who are looking for a permanent abiding place.
   There are now resident there some excellent people who came and located when the cattlemen occupied, the wide domain. They have adopted the newer standards of an ownership of acreage, instead of the open range.
   There are the first grangers also, who came and remained through the years of stress, a number of which are yet residents after the lapse of a third of a century. Here was born the first white boy in that part of the county; Guy C. Newman. Here also is Col. A. B. Persinger and his Hardscrabble ranch. Here two of the names that mean much to early history of the region were recently united in marriage. Not the younger generation, but the principals who were in the drama of early Years. A. B. Persinger, aforesaid, was a ranchman of the seventies, while Mrs. G. H. Jewett, the bride, was the widow of the first state senator from the Panhandle of Nebraska. He it was who built the first bridge across the South Platte river at Big Springs in the early eighties.
   At Lodgepole also is the veteran editor, J. V. Wolfe, who for so long, directed the destinies of the Express, recently retiring in favor of Claude Grisham, who is keeping a standard of excellence. This paper was established about 1884.
   Lodgepole also had to its credit one of the state's best members of the legislature in 1917- 1919, and who in 1921 became regent of the State University, William L. Bates.
   Fred Lehmkuhl is another Lodgepole name

History of Western Nebraska and Its People


that runs steadily through the progress of town, county, and community welfare, from the very beginning. J.R. Young. is still another long familiar name, a pioneer in merchandising, and always forefront for the good of the town.
   F. H. Wolf cashier of the Cheyenne County Bank, can tell you stories of forty years ago, when he and his brother Ed, Were two of the four pupils attending the first school (a private school) held in the old wreck of a depot at Chappell where John O'Neil, the station master, gave him his first lesson.
   Lodgepole is located on the Union Pacific railroad near the cast line of Cheyenne county. It is beautifully located, surrounded by many
natural meadows in which are many lakes made by daming Lodgepole creek. This locality is popular with hunters from the eastern part of the state. The town lies in the valley which has a gentle rise to the north and south. It has a park which was established by the railroad, is well kept and has a band stand. A statue of Lincoln marks the spot where Lodgepole's first school house stood, now the center of the park.



North Side of Sheldon Street, Lodgepole

   The station was first established when the railroad built through the county. At first it was very small, just a section house and improvised depot. Not until 1882 or 1883 was there any town. A school was established in 1879. Merchandising came later when the country began to settle up with permanent, farmers. Year by year more homes have been erected and since the introduction of wheat as the main crop Lodgepole has prospered. Irrigation has led to the growing of potatoes and other produce which has given the surrounding country an impetus which is reflected in the town. After its incorporation and the good years of plenty, sidewalks were laid. Miles of concrete walks were laid, and an electric light plant and water system were established that render excellent service and give Lodgepole a metropolitan aspect. The electric plant and water works are housed in the same building. Lodgepole has a modern school house of cut stone and it is rated one of the best in the county. Lumber and coal yards have been established, elevators to handle the grain, hardware and implement houses have been started and furnished the country side with all machinery and articles needed by the farmers. The leading mercantile house was started, in 1888 by a Mr. Young and a large fine building was erected to house the store in 1892. It is an establishment of which Lodgepole may well be proud. A furniture store was one of the early business houses, established by E. Fenske, also handling hardware, harnesses and monuments and for years he operated the elevator. Lodgepole was established as a post office some years after the railroad was built and for years L. R. Barlow, one of the early settlers was postmaster. Today Lodgepole is one of the attractive and prosperous towns of the Panhandle and with its rich surrounding country has thrived and


History of Western Nebraska and Its People

grown into one of the good shipping and trading points on the Union Pacific.
   Lodgepole's shipment of wheat in 1920 totaled three hundred and forty-four cars, approximating a value of $60,000. Last year (1919) the value of wheat shipments was around $80,000.
   Potter, situated in the western part of Cheyenne county, midway north and south, is located on the Union Pacific railroad, not far from the western boundary. It owes its existence and early establishment to the railroad, built in 1870, was the only building in Potter for a number of years and was at one time, station, post office, and school room as the first school was held in this building with a teacher from Omaha. The county around Potter station was used first by the cattlemen but gradually some settlers came. Among the men prominentin setting up this locality was the Reverend Charles Anderson, who lived at Sidney but was active in locating people in the Potter district. Another family prominent in the promotion of the town was the Brotts, (Andrew and Lewis.) and their families. They established the first hardware store on the corner where the Citizens' State Bank now stands and also built the building first used for the post office after it was removed from the station. William and Andrew McAdam built on the corner where the James Lumber Company now has on office. They were engaged in the furniture business. The McAdams also built the old school house which stood for years on school house hill, which was later removed and used for a hotel on Main street. This old school was built about 1887 or 1888, but after being removed from the station the first school was held in a small frame building where the Thornburg house was built later. The teacher then was Miss Mary O. Strong. By this time Potter has quite a few houses and was becoming a village. One of the first postmasters was Fred Nelson. The old livery barn was built by Frank Hyde and was one of the oldest buildings in Potter outside the section house and depot. He dug a well, the first in Potter, and put up a tank and windmill, and even went so far as to pipe water to some of the buildings and houses, installing the first water system in the town, though it was primitive, and of simple construction.



High School, Lodge Pole, Nebr.

   Civic advancement began in real earnest in 1885, when the first hotel was built just west of Thornburg's building, O.L. Erickson being the proprietor. By 1889 Potter was thriving

History of Western Nebraska and Its People


it had two grocery stores, two hardware stores, a newspaper called the Potter Press, one hotel, one restaurant, one blacksmith shop, a furniture store and a feed-store. About this time the Lutheran church was built in practically its present form except, for the tower and some interior changes. Mr. D. Shultz was one of the prominent men in its organization. The. Potter Press was short lived and within a couple of years Potter was without a paper. Later the Potter Review was started but was likewise abandoned. A third attempt was made when H. Stevens was hired by some enterprising men to reestablish the Review and has been published ever since under that name.
   By 1890 the farmers who had settled around Potter began to raise grains, mostly wheat and 'oats and as 1892 was a good year, Potter had to build grain storage houses but not of the type used today. Everything seemed bright for the young village of Potter but the droughts of 1893 to 1895 made great changes. Many settlers left the country and the small country towns suffered from the migration and hard times. Some better years followed but made little change in Potter. After the section homestead bill was passed Potter began to look up a little and, in 1907, the first bank was organized, before which the people of Potter had to bank at Sidney. The next few years saw great changes in Potter, new stores were erected, the Gunderson hotel was built. Dr. Ames put up a building and the Potter State Bank, after organization, was located in a new building.
   In the meantime Potter was incorporated and began to put in sidewalks. Bonds were voted and municipal light and water systems were established. The Union Pacific railroad built a new station and tank, while the farmers organized and put up a large grain elevator; later they also erected a flour mill. Mr. Seyfang projected a theatre building and hall for the growing town. New additions were laid out while many fine homes were constructed. Farming was prosperous and was reflected in the growth and development of the town, so that today it is one of the prosperous young towns of the Panhandle with great opportunities for bigger and still better expansion.
   The Lutheran church is of stone with furnace heat. It has a large membership with a resident. pastor. The Methodist church also has a large membership with resident minister and both organizations have societies for church work.
   Potter's school has developed from the old station where it was organized by Joseph Oberfelder, when county superintendent in 1883, to two rooms in the late eighties and about 1915 to four rooms well equipped, in a brick, structure with basement,gymnasium, domestic science and clay molding.
   In the winter of 1886-1887 the grangers to the north used to bring in red cedar posts and trade for groceries.
   During that winter I was in Potter a number of times on that mission. The first time was with George Hendricks. I believe we broke the road just about as it now stands. I am sure our little pony team was the first to go up that hill with a wagon out of Big Horn canyon on the east side of the place where the principal road now runs. We crossed Lawrence Fork at the same point this road now occupies. We were unable to sell or trade the posts in Potter and drove to Sidney, where we made the necessary exchange with A. Pease, then in business there. On the way in I shot and wounded an antelope, but had only the one cartridge and could not complete the job, for it could still travel.
   In some way while there Hendricks managed to get a pair of soldier blankets and a United States rifle, inveigling them out of some dissolute soldier. Soldiers were forbidden to sell them but occasionally they needed the money and risked doing so.
   Another time in Potter with Martin Draper, we were in a store, and there was a little kitten playing on the counter. Unless one has been used to the domestic animal life of older communities, and has been transplanted into a wilderness where only wild life exists one cannot understand the yearning and home- sickness for old associates, when reminded of them.
   This feeling proved too strong for Draper and he surreptitiously slipped the kitten into his overcoat pocket. It was taken out to Pumpkin creek, the first domestic cat in the present Banner county limits.
   The Potter Review calls that town the "biggest little city in Nebraska," which is emphasized by the character of its numerous business houses of today, Among these are Farmers Union Trading Company, Johnson-Cords Company, Thornburg & Hager, Housen, Seyfang Mercantile Company, Potter Lumber Company, Johnson's Implement & Feed Store, Potter Grain Company, Jones Furniture Store, Central Market, Potter Bakery, Gunderson's Hotel, Seyfang Theatre, The City Garage, Hite's Transfer and numerous others.
   The two banks have substantially aided in the progress of the community, furnishing credit for the rapid expansion of agriculture


History of Western Nebraska and Its People

and the development of the raw prairie into magnificent fields of wheat.
   At one time in the county division agitation a "Potter county" was proposed. This proposal which left Sidney on the edge of two counties had much to do with Sidney's sudden change of heart in 1888, and brought that city to support the five-county plan, which carried.
   In 1920 Potter shipped 375 cars of wheat, of a value of approximately $700,000, a drop of probably one-third from last year's total cash, but twenty-five percent of the wheat is yet in the farmers' bins.


   The high divide north of Sidney was traversed by the overland stage, pony express, and western bound emigrants, before Sidney existed. The Jules Cut-off from the South Platte valley at Fort Sedgewick (now Julesburg) went up Lodgepole creek to near the present site of the town of Lodgepole. Here it crossed the divide to Mud Springs (now Simla) then up the North Platte river on the other old trails.
   After the coming into existence of the town of Sidney cattlemen locating in the "North River" county opened new roa4s across the empire of buffalo grass. Then the Black Hill's trade made one of them of high importance.
   A handicap to this territory from the settlement point of view was lack of water. "The Water Holes" offered the one spot where it was possible to obtain shallow water. The freighters and stage routers had located this spot and put down some wells.
   So the first locating on the divide aside from timber claims, was in this vicinity, that they could haul water until such a time as they could dig a well. As water was two hundred to three hundred feet below the surface, well-digging was no small undertaking. These "Water Holes" were some distance southwest of the present town of Dalton. Eventually such beautiful lands were destined to become homes; they were settled upon by homesteaders, many of whom are yet to be found in the prosperous community. At first wells were dug at rare intervals, but later the drill, the windmill, and the gasoline engine have solved the water problem.
   The Burlington in 1920 projected its line south from Alliance to the North Platte river, establishing Bridgeport, then up the North river to Guernsey. It connected Bridgeport with Denver by way of Sidney. The stations on the divide were Dalton, Gurley and Huntsman.
   Dalton led off in progress and enterprise, and was a town of growing importance in proportion to the acreage of buffalo grass that was plowed up, and the acres of wheat sown.
   Dalton is located on one of the high points in the county and commands a beautiful view. Twenty-five years ago this site was a field of grass; a wagon road leading from the river country wound through this territory, and the location was visited by a party of eastern men, as they passed over the divide in a freighter's wagon, for Sidney was then the first town south of Alliance. On reaching the "highest point," where Dalton, "Queen of the Prairie," today lifts her head, the men stood up and asked why the country was not farmed better and why better stock was not raised



Blind Cannon Near Point of Rocks

and the driver responded that farming did not pay. Great has been the change from that day to this for Dalton is now surrounded by a rich, productive agricultural district. Only three years after the travelers passed the Burlington railroad was built through Cheyenne county and a side track and section house were established on the top of the notch of the divide and named Dalton. Shortly afterward a man put up a store and scales and the scattered people who lived in the district began to come. in for supplies saving the longer trip to Sidney. Then settlers east of Dalton told that they had been raising enough wheat and grain for their use. Other farmers questioned why large fields would not yield as well as small ones. Macaroni wheat was introduced, which had drouth resisting qualities. Farmers remembered the years of 1893 and 1895, which were well nigh rainless. The pioneer merchant, W. S. Woolsey, became busy and prosperous and another man ventured into the station town to establish the Clough store. During this period farms grew closer to the village and a small school was established. From

History of Western Nebraska and Its People


this time the town grew; gradually more buildings of good and permanent character were built for commercial purposes. Livery and feed barns sprang up to accommodate the farmers; the post office was established in the Woolsey store; J. A. Walford and C. B. Shanks ran a grocery and meat market; the Bridgeport Lumber Company established a lumber yard under the management of Jesse Ewing, and J. C. Franden opened a drug store, while Dr. A. E. Hedlund was the early physician to open an office, and enjoyed a good practice. Not long after, when farm lands began to sell, H. C. Anderson opened a real estate office. The busy blacksmith shop was conducted by Herman Martin and a hardware and furniture store by Charles Veith; a confectionery store by H. C. Christensen and a livery and im- plement house by C. W, Handley. J. B. Hire managed a restaurant while A. P. Gustin operated a pool hall and barber shop. The garage of Dalton was opened by Ben Carter, while his wife was in charge of the telephone exchange. Steve Davis, the well driller, was a busy man.
   Dalton supports four lodges, all of which are thriving; they are the Workmen, the Woodmen, the Yeomen and the Royal Neighbors. Since the town was incorporated many cement sidewalks have been laid which makes the business and residence property most attractive. The Bridgeport Lumber Company established a plumbing and tinware department, always busy and a number of carpenters are active building the new residences with the increase of population.
   With the increase in agricultural products it was necessary to have means to handle the immense quantities of grain shipped from Dalton and three of its four elevators were built more than ten years ago; the Central which was then conducted by Ray Clough; the Farmers Cooperative, managed by H. Harmuch, and the Foster Milling Company conducted by James Morrison.
   D. R. Jones & Company are large realty dealers of Dalton; they have handled several hundred families in farms and also deal in city property. Due to the growing business Mr. Jones took into partnership in 1913, A. J. Jorgenson, who had been the local manager of the McNish Land Company. The Western Realty Company was organized in 1906 with W. E. Swartzlander as president. This company always had a large list of farm properties for sale or rent with automobiles ready to take the prospective buyer to look at land.
   Today Dalton is well represented in church work and civil improvement institutions. It is remarkable the growth the town has had within such a short period, and as it serves an agricultural community all its business is necessarily such as supplies the wants of the farms and the progressive owners who trade in Dalton. Its main business street has many good and attractive business houses; the stores are up-to-date in stock equipment and service and all are doing a fine business.
   A traveler arriving by train sees the two-story hotel just across the street from the station. It is enjoying a fine trade and already is growing small for the accommodation of the traveling public. This house was conducted by W.N. Foster who also kept a ranch ten miles from town.
   Dalton now has a population of about three hundred and fifty, two excellent banks, and four elevators. Its mercantile interests are well represented. The Farmers and Merchants Bank, and the Dalton State Bank look after financial affairs, which is an undertaking in the wheat town where elevators of the capacity of those at Dalton are in evidence. Three hundred and forty-one cars of wheat were shipped from Dalton of the 1920 crop to the close of the year. In 1919 the shipments were four hundred and twenty-one cars. The value last year was about $1,000,000. but this year's wheat shipments fell off in value as well as quantity, being probably $600,000. About thirty percent of the crop remains unsold.



   Gurley, the next town of importance in the progress of Cheyenne county, is five or six miles south of Dalton. It has two banks and is otherwise represented in a business way. Gurley shipped two hundred and fifty-two cars of wheat in 1920.
   There was a drop in production in 1920, but owing to the lack of cars there was also a short shipment. This year's crop is only seventy percent marketed, thirty percent being in local elevators and farmer's bins.
   The character of the country about Gurley is a continuation of the Dalton community.



   Huntsman lies still further south on this tableland, and nearer to Sidney. The town has a bank and mercantile facilities. There being no station agent the grain shipments and other products are billed from and included in the report of the Burlington at Sidney.


History of Western Nebraska and Its People


    Lorenzo is near the Colorado line south of Sidney on the "South Table" as it is called, but is of little commercial interest, except as a shipping station. Its freight business is like wise handled by the Burlington agent at Sidney. The "South Table" did not come into importance until after the "North Table" had been settled. The first homesteaders were attracted north on account of the pine and cedar forests that covered the rough lands, supplying fuel and, building materials for the first important needs.
   Along the Lodgepole valley on the Union Pacific railway, aside from Sidney, Lodgepole and Potter, there are in Cheyenne county a number of shipping points., Colton and Bronson are cared for by the agent at Sidney.


   Sunol has an individual identity, and its quota in the shipment of wheat in 1920 was one hundred and six cars, valued at about $250,000. It has a bank, stores and garage, being on the Lincoln Highway.
   Government statistics put the total wheat product of Cheyenne county at 2,900,000 bushels for 1920. Shipments, however, were in excess of that amount. Conservative figures show a total of 2,111 cars of wheat shipped out, or about 3,100,000 bushels, and that represents but seventy percent of the crop. The other thirty percent on hand will bring a grand total yield in 1920 of around four and one-half million bushels. Sidney and the stations handled from there shipped 693 cars.
   Of the 2,111 cars shipped, 1,197 went over the Union Pacific, and 914 over the Burlington, the difference being due to better railroad and car service.
   The Lincoln Highway traverses the county east and west, paralleling the Union Pacific railway, and a highway from Denver and Sterling north, passes through Sidney. Its connections are with the North Platte Valley Road, Yellowstone Road, and the Black Hills.
   Important community centers in Cheyenne county were established and post offices located, but generally these have given way to rural routes from railroad stations, and the automobile has shortened the time between the railroad and the interior communities.

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Contributed by Sandy Smith

© 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001 for NEGenWeb Project by Sandy Smith, Ted & Carole Miller