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History of Western Nebraska and Its People




   Practically all the leading church denominations have organizations and church buildings in the county. The Catholics have churches in Alliance and Hemingford and Lawn. The Methodists have churches at Alliance, Hemingford, and at Fairview, twelve miles northeast of Alliance. The Baptists, Presbyterians, Episcopalians and Seventh Day Adventists, and Lutherans each maintain a church in Alliance. The Congregationalists have a church in Hemingford.

   The people are sufficiently interested in religious matters to support their ministers, as well or better than in other communities of much larger population.

   The Salvation Army maintains a corps at Alliance, being one of only five in the entire state of Nebraska.



   The press has played an important part in the development of the county, and has had many ups and downs, the number of papers published varying at different times.

   At the organization of the county in 1887, there were three papers published, which is the same number as at present. At Hemingford was published "The Gleaner," with Joseph Hare as editor and Publisher. The "Box Butte Rustler" was published by Charles A. Burlew, while Gene Heath's Grip" flourished at Nonpareil. Soon after this "The Gleaner" was purchased by Gilman Brothers, moved to Nonpareil, and its name changed to that of "Box Butte County Republican." It survived one year when it gave up the ghost.

   During the summer of 1897 the "Northwestern Times" was established at Nonpareil by H. B. Fetz and W. I. Hitchcock. After two months publication it was moved to Grand Lake and its name changed to "Grand lake Times." In the spring of 1888 it was again moved to the present town of Alliance and the name changed to "A1liance Times," and continued under the same ownership and management until 1892, when it was purchased by H. J. Ellis, and continued under his ownership and management for a number of years. During this time it was made a semi-weekly and by Mr. Ellis sold to the present owner, Ben J. Sallows. It has continuously increased in influence and importance for a period of thirty- four years.

   The "Box Butte Rustler" ceased to exist about 1890, and its printing machinery was moved to Berea, and Mr. and Mrs. B. W. Raymond established the "Berea Tribune" which, after a dozen issues, also ceased to exist.

   The original Nonpareil newspaper, "Gene Heath's Grip" was moved to Alliance in 1890, purchased by F. M. Broome, and its name changed to the "Pioneer Grip." It continued being published until about 1902 when this business was taken over by its rivals and the printing outfit sold to Crawford parties.

   "The Guide" was established by J. S. Paradise at Hemingford in 1889 and its publication continued there until the spring of 1898, when it was moved to Alliance where it was published for one year and was then absorbed by its rivals.

   Hemingford was without a newspaper about a year when the "Hemingford Herald" was established by T. J. O'Keefe. This was moved to Alliance in 1901 and the name changed to the "Alliance Herald." Mr. O'Keefe later sold it to J.W. and L. C. Thomas, who continued its publication until 1920, when it passed, into the hands of the present owners, Edwin M. and George L. Burr, who publish it as the "Alliance Semi--Weekly Herald."

   There is one paper now published at Hemingford known as the "Hemingford- Ledger," which is owned and published by A. M. Vance. Other publications in the county with a brief existence were the "Alliance Argus" and the "Alliance News."



   The bar of Box Butte county had its organization in 1887, and consisted of four lawyers. James H. Danskin and C. W. Gilman were located at Hemingford, while W. G. Simonson and A. L. Field practiced at Nonpareil. During the year 1887 their numbers were increased by admission to practice of R. M. Hampton, W. J. McCandless, J. V. Parker and Smith P. Tuttle. Among the lawyers arriving in the county and engaging in practice during the next two years were B. F. Gilman, J. P. Arnott, R. C. Noleman, Charles T. Jenkins and William Mitchell. Mr. Mitchell has been in continuous and successful practice for more than a third of a century, and is at present the Dean of the Box Butte County Bar.

The present bar consists of the law firms of Boyd, Metz and Meyer, Mitchell and Gantz,



History of Western Nebraska and Its People

Burton and Reddish, with L.A. Berry, F.A. Bald, E.C. Parker, P.E. Romig and Lee Basye as single practitioners.

   Box Butte county was originally a part of the twelfth judicial district which was created by the legislature of 1897, when the Honorable Moses P. Kinkaid was appointed by the governor as first judge of the new district. He, continued in this capacity until 1992 when the district was given an additional judge, and the Honorable Alfred Bartow, of Chadron was made the colleague of judge Kinkaid. This district was about three hundred miles in length, extending. from the east line of Holt county to the Wyoming state line. Judge Bartow was succeeded by Honorable W. H. Westover in 1896, who has held the office and is still judge of this district. Judge Westover had for his colleague, after the election of judge Kinkaid to Congress, judge J. J. Harrington of O'Neill, Nebraska. Later the district was divided, judge Harrington presiding over the new district created from the eastern half, and judge Westover presiding over the new district created from the western half.

   In the county court, the first judge was A. L. Field, who served two terms. He was succeeded by judge D. K. Spacht, who served two terms, followed by James H. H. Hewitt, who served two terms and was succeeded by Bruce Wilcox, who served one term and was succeeded by D. K. Spacht, who served one term, followed by Abel Hill, who died after a few months service and was succeeded-by B. F. Gilman, who served his unexpired term. He was followed by L.A. Berry, who filled the position for eleven years. Owing to ill health, Judge Berry retired January 1st, 1917 and was succeeded by Ira F. Tash, the present incumbent.



The medical profession at the organization of the county was represented by Dr. John Blood, practicing at Hemingford, Dr. W. H. Smith looking after the physical ills of the people of Nonpareil and vicinity. Dr. Blood was a middle age man, wore a silk hat and full beard, drove a fast stepping team and made quite a dignified appearance, and it was generally understood that his knowledge of the horse far exceeded his knowledge of the human anatomy. Dr. Smith was a young practitioner just out of school, whose principal claim of distinction was a splendid nerve.

   The first amputation performed in the county was by Dr. Smith, who amputated the arm of one Albert Nelson who was the victim of a hunting accident. The doctor was not supplied with up-to-date surgical instruments and his kit was especially deficient in saws, so he called upon a local carpenter, Mr. D. J. Lahr, who consented to file one of his fine carpenter saws to such a state that the doctor used it in amputating Nelson's arm. Nelson being of strong physique survived the operation.

   During the summer of 1887, Dr. H. B. Miller joined the profession and opened an office at Nonpareil. The next amputation was performed by Doctors Smith and Miller, who amputated the limb of William Morton, a victim of a gun shot wound, and as they consumed most of a forenoon Morton did not survive the shock and died that night.

   Dr. F.M. Knight was a regularly accredited practitioner, but being engaged in the more remunerative business of banking, practiced but very little and, as he used homeopathic remedies, he never was accused of doing any harm, though he may not have done any good.

   Dr. W. H. Smith is practicing in Los Angeles, California, while Dr. H.B. Miller is practicing in Lincoln Nebraska, and Dr. John Blood is dead. The oldest practitioner now practicing in the county is Dr. Luther W. Bowman, who came to Alliance in 1888 and has been in continual practice since that time. Another of the pioneer doctors now retired was Dr. W. K. Miller, yet living, who had an extensive practice and served the county in the capacity of coroner for several terms. There are now eleven members of the medical profession in active practice, all of whom seem to be quite busy, and with the facilities afforded by St. Joseph's Hospital, which has a capacity sufficient to care for fifty patients, the health of the community is well cared for.



   When the county was organized there were three banking institutions in operation within its borders. These were the Box Butte Bank, of which C. A. Burlew was president and manager;. The Farmers & Merchants Bank, of which B. F. Jones was president. and E. A. Coates was cashier, both located at Hemingford, Nebraska; and the Bank of Nonpareil, located at Nonpareil, with F. M. Sands, president, H. C. Hashoff, cashier, and F. M. Knight, assistant cashier. Each of these three banks was capitalized at five thousand dollars. The two former went into voluntary liquidation.

   The Bank of Nonpareil, when Nonpareil ceased to exist, became the Bank of Grand Lake, later the Bank of Alliance, which was


History of Western Nebraska and Its People


merged into the Alliance National Bank and is still operated with F.M. Knight as president, who has been connected with it since its organization in 1886, and is therefore the dean of banking circles in the county.

The next oldest bank in existence was started in Alliance and called the American Bank, operated under a state charter, which later absorbed the Citizens' Bank, and also took over the business of Porter, Eihlers & Company, and was continued under this name until the fall of 1889,. when it was reorganized with the same officers and became the First National Bank of Alliance. Its first president was 0.M. Carter, with R.M. Hampton, cashier and D.M. Forgan, assistant cashier. Mr. Hampton is now president of the institution and has been in the banking business continuously since 1888.

   Among the other banks of the county was the Bank of Hemingford, which was established in 1888 and failed in 1895, and the Box Butte Banking Company of Alliance which was founded in 1888 and failed in 1896. These were the only two bank failures in the county since its organization. The financial interests of the county are now cared for by seven banks. The Alliance National Bank, the First National Bank, First State Bank and Guardian State Bank, all of Alliance; the First State Bank, First National Bank, and Partners' State Bank, of Hemingford.



   The first fraternal organization to organize in the county was the Knights of Pythias, who .instituted Clarion lodge, No. 88 in the second story of the courthouse at Nonpareil in September, 1889. This lodge was later moved to Alliance, but after some years was discontinued.

   The next fraternal organization was that of the Masons. A preliminary meeting was held in November of that year, in the second story of the wooden building on the north side of west Third Street in Alliance, which is now used as a cream station. Word was sent out and about all the Masons living in Box Butte county assembled in this small hall and selected a committee to secure a dispensation from the Grand lodge of the state. This petition was signed by the requisite number of Master Masons in good standing. Reverend Henry J. Brown, a Presbyterian minister hitched his two horse tandem to a high wheeled cart, and he and Thomas Shurtz drove to Hay Springs and secured the approval of that lodge. This petition was presented to the Grand Lodge and a dispensation issued in January, 1889, authorizing Alliance Lodge to confer degrees.

   The first officers were: Henry J Brown, Worshipful Master; John Carman, Senior Warden; David Peters, Junior Warden; J. W. Phillips, Secretary; and H. W. Axtell, Treasurer.

   In July, 1889, a charter was granted and the name of Alliance Lodge No. 183, A. F. & A. M , assigned, which has had a continuous existence since that time, and has grown to a membership of over three hundred and fifty, owns and occupies a fine three story temple at the corner of Laramie Avenue and Third Street in Alliance, which is also used by Sheba Chapter No. 54, Royal Arch Masons, Buena Commandery No. 26, Knights Templar, Aloyah Chapter No. 185, Order of the Eastern Star, and Adoniram Lodge No. 6 Scottish Rite Masons, with the institution of a consistory and the order of the Mystic Shrine in the near future.

   The next oldest fraternal order was that of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows Lodge No. 168 being eitablished in Alliance, with another lodge of the same order at Hemingford. The Odd Fellows also own their own hall on West Third Street in Alliance.

   The most recent fraternal organization to organize in Alliance is that of the Knights of Columbus, who have a large and growing membership with their hall located on Box Butte Avenue between Third and Fourth.

   The Benevolent & Protective Order of Elks was organized in 1904 with William Mitchell as its first Exalted Ruler. It has had a prosperous existence and continuous growth and is numbered 961. It now has a membership of over six hundred and owns a handsome building located on Box -Butte Avenue between Forth and Fifth Streets.

   Other fraternal orders which have had more or less precarious existence are the Modern Woodmen, Woodmen of the World, Ancient Order of United Workmen, Highlanders, Eagles, Owls, Modern Brotherhood of America, as well as other fraternal labor organizations.

   Among the social organizations are The Rotary Club, Post M., Travelers Protective Association, Lions Club Country Club, Woman's Club, P. E. O., while all of the churches have their guilds and aid societies.


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Contributed by Sandy Smith

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