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History of Western Nebraska and Its People




     A roster of Civil War veterans officially prepared in the year 1891, showed the names of eighty-one men residing in the county, who wore the blue uniform of their country during the '60s, and now that that generation has passed this number has been lessened to barely a dozen survivors. The ranks have been reduced principally by death there being fifty-two graves of Civil War veterans in Greenwood cemetery at Alliance, and twenty-one at Hemingford. A few have moved to other states, and those still remaining in the county in 1921 are:

Albert Wiker, 11th Iowa Infantry, Alliance; Robert Garrett, 24th Iowa Infantry, Alliance; Aaron Poo1, 89th Illinois Infantry, Alliance; Joseph B. Denton, 139th Pennsylvania Infantry, Alliance; James Dickey, 98th New York Infantry, Alliance; Elsa Vaughn, 8th Iowa Cavalry, Alliance; Cal. H. Underwood, 8th Missouri Infantry, Alliance; Fred Abley, 6th Michigan Infantry, Hemingford; Alvin M. Miller, 76th, Illinois Infantry, Hemingford; Robert Anderson, 127th U. S. Colored Infantry, Hemingford; Augustin H. McLaughlin, 18th Iowa infantry; Ambrose Hadley, 3d Rhode Island Infantry, Alliance.

     Concerning the boys in service in the great World War, a list has come to the editor in chief which is added to the splendid story of Ira L. Tash, the county editor. This list may not be complete, but is presumed to be. There were three ways open to entrance in the service for the government army: enlistment, Voluntary induction, and induction in the draft.

    There were seventy-two enlistments as follows:

Earl E. Acord, Harold, W. Berg, Henry L. Coker, Albert A. Duncan, Matison P. Gasteneau, Leon C. Ives, John, Martin King, Clarence F. Levere, Norman A. McCorkle, Russell C. Miller, George J. Moscrip, Elmer F. Noe, George E. Ormsby, Ray Vernon Reddish, Horace H. Anderson, Don Brenaman, Donald Cooper, Daniel Elliott, William H. Hammond, John Henry Kane, John Spencer Knight, Frank Lyman Lewis, Ervin J. Macken, Ronald Moore, Robert W. Murphey, Martin J. Nolan, Wilbur F. Patterson, Clarence H. Reed, Eiza J. Barger, Merritt L. Chaffee, William E. Davis, Louis R. Pederlin, Claude Hersch, Thomas E. Katon, Wincel Lackey, Glen Dale Locke, Leo Roscoe May, William Moravek, Archie E. Nickerson, Everett B. O'Keef, John Priess, Harry Roberts, Harvey Benjamin, John Tyler Claer, Floyd R. Donovan, John T. Fitzgerald, Howard Oliver, Frederick A. King, Joe Lando, Roy A. McCluskey, Herbert E. Milan, Harry A. Morrisey, Leo M. Nicolai, William L. O'keefe, Gaylord H. Pry, Clifford T. Roberts, Howard Rucker, Charles V. Schafer, James H. Tally, Rex Truman, James E. Rundle, Guy E. Speaker, Lloyd Thomas, Walter H. Voight, Frank M. Schmidt, George C. Stoll, Chester M. Thompson, Chester Z. Wells, Pete Sciora, Dick W. Strong, Francis Townsend, Corbin V. Wittty.

   In addition there were voluntary inductions numbering nineteen as given here:

Howard H. Bennett, George A. Hielman, Carl Theo. Koester, George Dening Read, Walter W. Anderson, Lester G. Brittan, Leland Bane Hirst, Roy F. Mendenhall, Chester H. Shreve, Raymond L. Bartlett, Gilbert Dayton John Albert Johnson, Norman M. Newberry, Donald W. Spencer, Abram E. Bennett, Chester C. Johnson, Carl H. Powell, James E. Wiley.

   Those who were inducted through the regular order of the draft are as follows:

Alexander Barry, Dwight L. Bennett, Leo Brandle, Charles A. Barlew, Alex C. Cahill, Harry Chester, Charles A. Conley, Petenon Domenico, William M. Ellis, Mike Abas, John P. Bayer, Conrad Blume, William J. Brandon, Floyd S. Barnes, Peter V. Callahan, Hans P. Christensen, Louis E. Cottrell, Emil H. Dryson,, Ruben E. EIquist, William G. Bailey, Perley J. Beach, Malcolm M. Bogar, Archie Brown, Robert W. Bums, John Thomas Capps, Fred W. Cloud, Frederick E. Cutts, Robert Duchon, Jacob H. Elsea, Clarence O. Baldwin, Fred A. Beckenbach, John S. Bostrom, Frederick R. Brown, William H. Butler, William M. Casey, Harold I. Cochrane, Harrison H. Derric, James Earl Eaton, Henry G. Emde, Neal W. Erskine, Martin L. Fitzgerald, Joe B. Frohnapfel, Harry Gavelick,, Eddie W. Green, James Theo. Henry, George A. Harry, Orla Hawley, Cecil R. Henry, James G. Hibbert, Vern Fred Hucke, John Jiackas, Adrian J. Kean, Joe Kelly, Charles E. Kincade, Fred Krebs, Lloyd Langford, Edward P. Lewis, Paul Glenn Lundin, Peter L. Manewal, Charles E. Martin, William J. Eversall, David E. Fleming, James E. Ford, Thos. A. Golshannon, Walter R. Griffith, Albert Hare, Richard Haugh,


History of Western Nebraska and Its People


Hugh L. Hawkins, Clarence R. Herbison, George Hoke, Ira Irby, Henning M. Johnson, Milton J. Keegan, Charles G. Keough, Ulyssess Kirk, Frank Kriz junior, Forrest A. Lape, Joe Lopaze, Ernest D. McCarthy, John J. Mannion, Clay R. Melick, Jess G. Fairchild, Eugene S. Flickinger, Tom Ford, John E. Glass, Wilbur L. Haggerty, George E. Hare, Roy Haugh, William F. Head, William C. Herman, Roy Holton, James R. Jacobs, Samuel Lee Johnson, Benjamin C. Keeler, Bedford Keown, Moritz Kittleman, Anthony M. Kuhn, Solomon H. Lazerus, Lyle W. Lore, Archie E. McNeill, Warren O. Marcy, Clarence E. Meek, Ponde S. Fileff, Wilard J. Freshla, Thomas W. Gahagan, Royce L. Glass, Leslie A. Hall, Obe Harris, Cryil Havalik, George R. Heckman, John H. Hessler, Fred Homan, Thomas A. Jewell, Gilbert F. Kays James E. Keenen, Albert Kibler, Robert Klase, Olaf David Kuhn, Armond J. LeSage, Adam Jay Lortz, Arthur Macken, Fred L. Marsh, Chester A. Melvin, Fred J. Meyer Jr., Martin Nelson, Ranson Herby Parks, John Peltz, Leslie L. Poole, Floyd Ratleff, Elvis James Rhein, William K. Robertson, Frank A. Rumer, Oakley D. Seeley, Irving E. Smith, John Ames Statny, Fred Birdsell Sweeney, Jay H. Vance, Benjamine F. Ward, Joseph Williams, James J. Moore, John Earl Nolan, George H. Parsons, Montague H. Pendleton, Carl H. Powell, Wayne L. Reddington, Alonzo Rice, Jacob Rohrbouck, William M. Shoenmann, John A. Shay, Charles A. Spacht, Alva P. Stockdale, William S. Tadlock, Benjamin F. Vanderlas, Ralph M. Weidhamer, Thomas E. Yeager, Carl Moscrip, Paul J. Norton, Edward R. Paul, Leslie Perry, Charles A. Powell, Hans P. Renswold, Arthur Rice, John Rosendorfer, John Schwaderer, George H. Shaffner, Charles L. Squibbs, George F. Stockfleth, Charles Calvin Tash, Walter Walker, Alvah G. Whaley, Dwight F. Zediker, Max Moscrip, Frank E. O'Banion, Johnnie Payne, Archie T. Phillips, Charles W. Rathburn, George C. Roth, Herman Seidler, Harry W. Smith, Thomas L. Squibbs, John E. Sullivan, Leo J. Toohey, William F. Walker, George E. Whaley, Noble F. Zerbie.

     There were thirteen rejections and discharges from physical disability, and a service flag in Box Butte county should have five known gold stars, and perhaps there are others. Box Butte county contingent contained five colored men, one of whom died of injuries. The organization of a company at Alliance early in the war gave to Box Butte county volunteers, a number from outside the county limits, principally in close-by counties.



     The local Box Butte county historian tells of the affair of November, 1890, when there was a meeting in Alliance of the indigent citizens over the Burlington attitude on the county seat question. He also tells of the defense of the records as proposed by the county officials. A story has come to the editor-in-chief, which he will relate for what it is worth, and for the amusement of the old-timers who were in the conflict. I am sure that no one will accuse the writer of any unkind motives when the joke is upon his two especially good friends, Ira Tash and Eugene Hall. These men are referred to as guarding the county records in the anticipated siege of Nonpareil.

     When the meeting was held in Alliance, Superintendent Phelan of the Burlington had present, as he usually had at any gathering, a man who would report to him what "was doing." The man in this case "fanned it" to headquarters that the crowd was organized to go out and take the records, and as stated Phelan had the engine ready. Also the wires conveyed the information to Hemingford. The people of that town, quite a number of them, took shot guns and bulldog revolvers, and any other weapon handy and the "flimsy structure" known as the court house at Nonpareil was filled with the defenders, had the enemy appeared. But there had been a change of heart in the Alliance crowd, and the affair had been called off.

     After waiting until late at night part of the defenders at Nonpareil started home. When some distance away from the building, so the story goes, one who had started south to his home decided to try out his gun. At that someone in the court house yelled, "Alliance is coming," and the effect was said to be about the same as the effect upon the German west front, when the sound of "the Yanks are coming" came over the battlefield. Over and under each other they went, finding exits where they could. Several brave boys jammed in the doorway and tore out the side of the building, others smashed the windows, carrying the sash away with them. In fact, it is said, that the north side of the building was a wreck, this side being in the direction of Hemingford. I have no doubt that Hall and Tash stood the test all right, but of the rank and file, one party reports at least four of them went down in one pile just outside the building, but they soon recovered their feet, and faded into the moonlight.



     As told in the local historian's chronicle of early events, 'Gene Heath succeeded in having the




History of Western Nebraska and Its People

name of Buchanan changed to Nonpareil. 'Gene, being a democrat could not quite reconcile himself to the constant reminder of a wholly unsatisfactory democratic president of that name, who was the last in the antebellum days. 'Gene also believed in consistency, and Nonpareil was a small place. Nonpareil type is the smallest type known that will do for legal and official printing. To this idea the town was about as small as it could be, and yet be the legal municipal center of the county of Box Butte.



   Fred Shonquist, the first sheriff of Box Butte county, was a prince of good fellows, but occasionally he undertook to put the distillers out of business, by drinking everything in sight. At such times, instead of being a guardian of the law, he would shatter about all the statutes that had anything to do with good government. The Republicans renominated him, however in 1890, but the Democrats had the good judgment to place in nomination Eugene A. Hall. Hall was elected and two times re-elected, serving six years. During that time, he was successful in breaking up the cattle rustling that had been carried on before and in assisting in the arrest of the murderer of young Ross at the state line south of Kimball.

     Two men named Holliday and Cochran had worked out a plan for rustling cattle over the state lines of Colorado, Wyoming and South Dakota, bringing them to western Box Butte county, and so mutilating the brands that they had few points to identify them as the original marks. There was a local man in Hemingford and another just over the line in Sioux county, who in some way stood in with the rustlers, although they had never been implicated in the transactions, so far as known. In 1891, a bunch of cattle were brought in from Colorado, and when they came out of the Holliday Cochran run branding pens it was with different brands.

     Jack Elliott, who was agent for the cattle association, located the cattle, and he and a banker named Sterling came up from Colorado to replevin them. Cochran and Holliday were both in Kimball, and the cattle were in charge of George Zimmerman, and two other men, and were just over the line in Sioux county. It took a bit of maneuvering to get the cattle over the line into Box Butte county, but it was accomplished in time, and then Sheriff Hall served the necessary writ, and Sterling and Elliott started for Hemingford with the cattle. It was nearly dark and they spent the night on the prairie. To their surprise in the morning Cochran and Holliday were on hand. It later developed that their friend in Hemingford had been advised, and he in turn had sent a wire to Holliday at.Kimball. Cochran and Holliday had ridden the nearly one hundred miles from Kimball during the night.

     Sheriff Hall had gone home, but he came back in the morning, to find that the rustlers were trying to prevent the movement of the cattle towards the railroad. When he arrived they rode away, but followed along at a distance of a mile or so, keeping on the ridges, evidently debating what to do. They finally evolved a plan, of having their friend Webb replevin the cattle in turn. "Bob" Noleman of Alliance was secured, and the Colorado crowd had secured the services of Tuttle and Tash. Tuttle directed the legal process, land Noleman had Webb, who had been very busy condemning the procedure, asked for the writ. Tuttle had wisely anticipated that this would be done, and had put the name of Webb in the original process. Sheriff Hall told him that he was one of the parties defendant, and there was no way by which a defendant could counter with an alternate writ. Noleman stormed at what he considered the high-handed procedure, and he secured constables Gavin and Reed who served the papers. They did not take the cattle however, for they were in the process of being loaded on the cars. Sterling had a Winchester, and Elliott had a big-looking gun, and while these never spoke, they seemed to be very effective arguments in favor of letting the loading proceed.

     Holliday and Cochran put up a stiff legal fight for the cattle, and had some of them returned, but the lawyer's bills took the most of what was saved, for when the affair was over they were pretty well cleaned of livestock.



  Cochran determined to make another raise, and turned his attention to northern Colorado. Near the state line, almost directly south of Kimball, lived an elderly couple named Ross, and their son, who had accumulated a nice bunch of cattle, and on these fell the covetous eyes of Cochran.

   One morning they were missing from their usual haunts, and Willie Ross, the young man, went out to look for them. He did not come back and neither horse, rider, or cattle could be found.

   Again Jim Elliott was called to action. He found the trail, followed north across, the Union Pacific railroad near Dix, and across



History of Western Nebraska and Its People

Pumpkin creek at Indian Springs and Wright's Gap, then across the Platte and Snake. He found Cochran and the cattle in Coyote canyon. Cochran did not recognize him and when within a few feet he pulled his gun, and made Cochran put up his hands. While disarming and hand-cuffing him, Cochran was protesting his innocence, and asked him to look at "the paper," a bill-of-sale. He said he had bought the cattle of young Ross, who had told him that he was going away. As the horse and saddle were gone, the story looked plausible. Sheriff Hall participated in the proceedings attendant and following the arrest.

     The parents of young Ross, when they heard this, stoutly declared that it could not be so, and that it was "not like Willie" to do a thing like that. An extensive search brought about the discovery that the body had been buried in a sand draw, and also the horse and saddle. Cochran, it appeared, had gone to a nearby house and borrowed a spade, and when he returned it there was no one at home. He had entered the house, secured some writing materials, and made several attempts at writing a bill-of-sale before he had succeeded in getting one in proper shape to suit him. He had attempted to destroy the unsatisfactory efforts by burning them, but there were some fragments left, which were secured. He had then taken the herd, and milled it about on the sand, where he had buried the man, horse and saddle. A subsequent rain had also further obliterated the place, and washed out many of the tracks.

     There was a question as to whether the murder had been in Colorado or Nebraska, and the surveyors had to be called out, to definitely locate the line. From their reports, and the evidence at hand it was determined that the crime had been committed in Colorado, and the body dragged some distance, and buried in Nebraska. This surveyor party was at work when some of Scotts Bluff county people were on their way to Colorado to pick spuds, among whom were William P. Young and Antoine Hiersche.

     Cochran was never tried for the murder. He was tried for cattle stealing, convicted and given forty-five years in the pententiary at Canyon City. After about twenty years penal servitude, he was paroled on account of being tubercular, and if yet living, is still at large.



     When the county was organized in 1887, the first officers elected were only for the completion of that year. On November 4, 1887, the regular election was held and at this time officers were chosen for the following regular terms. - A roster of such officers is as follows:

   Judges: The first county judge was A.L. Field. He was followed by D. K. Spacht, who was succeeded by James H. H. Hewitt. Bruce Wilcox then served one term, he being followed by D.K. Spacht who was returned to the office. Abel Hill next followed, and he died in office, after a few months service. B.F. Gilman completed the term, after which L.A. Berry assumed the judicial ermine and held the office for eleven consectitive years, retiring January, 1917. Ira L. Tash then assumed the office, and has held it since.

     Clerks: The office of county clerk was also ex-officio clerk of the district court, and of the board of county commissioners, when the county was organized. The first clerk who served for the nine months of 1887, was Geo. W. Clark. At the regular election following Charles A. Burlew was elected, and he was followed by Ira L. Tash. Mr. Tash was clerk at the time the county seat was moved from Nonpareil to Hemingford. Next following was Joseph K. Neal, then Fred M. Phelps. Sam M. Smyser then was elected, and he was followed by D. K. Spacht, W. C. Mounts was then elected, and M. S. Hargraves followed. Mounts again returned to the office, and now Miss Avis M. Joder is the efficient incumbent of the office.

     Treasurers: The first county treasurer, who served for the short term of 1887, was Eli Gerber. John O'Keefe, Sr., became the next treasurer, and he was succeeded by John, O'Keefe, Jr. Then Samuel B. Libby was chosen and he was succeeded by Alvin M. Miller, and A. S. Reed followed. Alex Muirhead was next in order, and then Charles W. Brennan. Fred W. Mollring next looked after the county finances, and he was followed by Edgar M. Martin. Frank W. Irish, the present excellent treasurer completes the list of treasurers of Box Butte county.

   Sheriffs: Fred A. Shonquist was the first sheriff of Box Butte county, serving the short term of 1887, and then one full term. At the election of 1889, Eugene A. Hall was elected, serving three terms. Then came Edwin P. Sweeney, then Ira C. Reed. Albert Wiker was the next sheriff, and he was followed by Calvin M. Cox, and, James W. Miller in turn, the latter being the present popular head of the law enforcement division of the county government.

     Superintendents: The educational department of the county is always its most important function, for it deals with the children of the future. Box Butte county has been fortunate in the class of educators that it has had



History of Western Nebraska and Its People

for its county educational head: These who have served in that capacity are: First, Nathan S. Simpson, then Burton F, Gilman, John Leith, H. F. Fillmore, Anna E. Neeland, John W. Baumgardner, Leora Rustin, Ora E. Phillips, Della M. Reed, and Opal Russell, the present incumbent.

   Attorneys: The county prosecutors have a large duty to perform, for a small compensation. So poorly paid has this office been considered, that it is always difficult to get the best talent to consider the sacrifices that it involves. Excellent lawyers are sometimes found in these offices, but it is usually with a view to the acquaintanceship they thereby secure. The first county attorney of Box Butte county was James H. Danskin, who served the short term when the county was organized, and was reelected. In June, 1890, he resigned to accept the office of Receiver in the United States Land Office at Alliance. William M. Iodence was appointed and filled out the unexpired term. Robert C. Noleman next served for one term and then Burton V. Gilman for two terms. Iodence was then returned, in 1896 for one term. He was succeeded by Smith P. Tuttle. William Mitchell was elected in 1900, and served four years, after which Eugene Burton served three terms. Lee Basye the present incumbent, is serving his third term in the office.

   Surveyors: Barring the original work of surveying or locating the settlers the office of county surveyor in a new county is not one of much compensation. Box, Butte, county has had the following occupants of the surveyor's office: Charles A. Barney, H. H. Burnette, Daniel W. Hughes, John P. Hazard, and Reuben E. Knight, the latter being the present official.

     Coroner: This office was in the new counties of western Nebraska, and not much sought for, but nevertheless it was a very important position, and was filled by the medical fraternity of capableness and high order. The following doctors of Box Butte county have held the position: John Blood, W. H. Smith, W. W. Hamilton, W. K. Miller, J. F. Moore, G. W. Mitchell and Chas. E. Slagle.

    Commissioners: The first county commissioners, who served for the nine months of 1887 were James Barry, Louis C. De Coudress and Thos. L. Irvine. On these fell the first duties of the new county's organization. At the first regular election R. R. Ralls and Charles Nichols took the place of the first two named. Other commissioners who followed were: Alex Burr, Leonard Sampy, Edgar Sweezey, James Hollinrake, Geo. W. Duncan, Geo. W. Loer, James Barry, (second election), John Meintz, L. P. Smith, Frank Caha, Joseph M. Wanek, and Anton Uhrig (second. election). Calvin L. Hashman, Geo. W. Duncan and George Carrell are the present incumbents.

   District Clerk: This office was established in January, 1921, or separated from the office of county clerk. W. C. Mounts was elected first clerk, now serving in that position.

   County Assessor: This office is of comparatively recent origin and has been filled in turn by A. S. Reed, E. P. Sweeney, John Jelinek, J. A. Keegan and John Pilkington, the last named being the present incumbent.

   Box Butte county can well be proud of those who have served it in an official capacity. The offices have been quite equally distributed between the political parties, and there has never been a shortage, an arrest, a scandal, or indictment attaching to a single public official.



   Box Butte county has never had a state official outside of the legislative branch of state government. In 1901, J.H.Van Boskirk was a member of the state senate, being the. First in that capacity from the county. Earl D. Mallery served in the same capacity, in the session of 1915, he being the second and last state senator from the county to date.

   L.W. Gilchrist was the first member of the legislature, in 1889. Then in 1913, Earl D. Mallery was a member. Prank M. Broome was chosen for that post in 1915, and was later appointed Receiver of the United States Land Office at Valentine. In. 1917 Lloyd C. Thomas was chosen. Thomas was one of the members joining in the introduction of the Nebraska mineral statute, which, was passed at an extraordinary session of the legislature in 1918. He volunteered for the world war, but was not inducted into service owing to its abrupt end .

   John W. Thomas was deputy state land commissioner during the administration of G. L. Shumway as chief of that office, during 1917 and 1918.

   William L. O'Keefe was assistant in the office of Chas. W. Pool, secretary of state, at the beginning of the war, but resigned and went into the service in the World War.

   Each of these have performed well the, duties assigned to them, and no word of reproach can be truthfully said concerning any of Box Butte county's contingent in the duties of the state assigned to them.



   The United States Land Office was established at Alliance on July 1, 1890. Fred M.


History of Western Nebraska and Its People


Dorrington, of Chadron, was appointed Register, and James H. Danskin, Receiver. They served until the change of administration in 1893, when they were succeeded by John W. Wehn of Wilber, Nebraska, as Register, and F. M. Broome, of Alliance, as Receiver. Following another change of administration in 1897, Fred M. Dorrington was appointed Register and William R. Akers, as Receiver. Dorrington died in office in January, 1903, and was succeeded by Bruce Wilcox. Akers and Wilcox administered the office for four years, and were replaced by W. W. Wood of Rushville as Register and H. J. Ellis of Alliance as Receiver. Upon the election of Woodrow Wilson as president in 1912, J. C. Morrow, of Scottsbluff, became Register, with T. J. O'Keefe, of Alliance, as Receiver, and they continue to draw the salary and perquisites pertaining to the office.



County judge of Box Butte county, was born in Clarke county, Iowa, February 13, 1862, and remained there until he was 25 years of age, with his parents, who were farmers. He taught school during the winter and worked at railroad construction work during the summer months. He received his education in the country schools. In March, 1887, he came to what is the extinct Nonpareil and engaged in real estate and farm loan business until January 1, 1890, when he was elected County Clerk. He conducted that office for one year, then the office was moved to Hemingford, the county seat, and after four years, in 1994, he formed the law firm of Tuttle & Tash, which continued there until 1900, when the firm, moved its offices to Alliance. In 1895 he was appointed receiver, of the Bank of Hemingford and settled its affairs. While living at Hemingford he served on the school board and city council. In 1901, he engaged in the clerical work for the contractors rebuilding the Union Pacific; in 1902 was associate editor of the Alliance Times; in 1903 was appointed postmaster of Alliance, serving in that capacity for twelve years, and in 1916, was elected county judge, re-elected in 1918 without opposition, and is thus serving the people of his county at this time.

   The public service of Ira E. Tash has always been of the best. Box Butte county has cause for congratulation in the fact that Mr. Tash became a citizen of the county at a very early date and has been continually one of the bearers of the county's escutcheon through all the years. Never has he faltered, and but for him the record of the county achievements, and of its people would be incomplete. His experiences, his memory, his ability to state the occurrences with precision, and withal his splendid fund of good humor, have made the Box Butte County History a splendid narrative. Editor-in-Chief.


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