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EDWARD P. CROMER
21, 1914. Mr. and Mrs. Elmquist are members of the Swedish Lutheran church at Axtell. Mr. and Mrs. Jurberg have an attractive little four year old daughter named Evelyn. Mr. Jurberg is a good citizen but not very active in political matters except in relation to the guarding the interests of the farmers. He is a member of the Farmers Union at Bushnell, has stock in the Farmers Elevator Company, and also is a stockholder in the Farmers State Bank at Bushnell.
EDWARD P. CROMER. -- Nearly thirty-five years have passed since Edward P. Cromer drove up the valley in true pioneer style and settled on a homestead in what was then old Cheyenne county, and is now Scottsbluff, where habitations were few and far apart and civilization existed in a most primitive form. Since that time he has lived and labored in varied vocations in this section, slowly and arduously improving his land in the early days and at the same time taking an important part in civic and scholastic developments of this section of the country.
Mr. Cromer was born in Indiana, January 18, 1860, being the son of the Reverend John B. and Mary (Hedrick) Cromer, the former a native of the Keystone state, while the mother was a daughter of the Old Dominion, having all the gracious hospitality and charm which Virginia gives her children as an inheritance. Both are now deceased. The father was a preacher of the English Lutheran church, holding charges in various places in the middle west, where he labored as a shepherd of God's Kingdom all his days. There were ten children in the Cromer family, six of whom are living: Jas. M., a Lutheran preacher, who for several years had charge of Grace church, of Kansas City, before being called to Casper, Wyoming; John B., who for twenty years before his death was a train dispatcher at Ossawatomie, Kansas; Richard W., a farmer in Iowa; now residing in Des Moines, retired; Emma J., the wife of Judge Scott M. Ladd, a member of the Supreme Court of Iowa for twenty-eight years, now residing in Des Moines; Rosa H., married Samuel Wiley, deceased, and she now lives in Irving, Illinois; Mary, deceased; Clara J., deceased; George C., has charge of a Lutheran orphanage at Louisville, Kentucky, and Effie, the wife of a Mr. Nelson, editor of the Prohibitionist, of Turtle Lake, North Dakota. Mr. Cromer received his elementary training in the public schools of Illinois and after these courses were completed entered Carthage College, Carthage, Illinois, where he pursued higher studies. He at once engaged in the teaching profession and became one of the well known and successful men of the pedagogic fraternity, but he was ambitious to become independent and knew that a man who owned land and was not dependent upon a salary was so. He studied farming in his spare time and in 1886 came west. As the railroad was not built up the valley at that time he drove overland from Sidney, landing in what is now Scottsbluff county the 22nd of February, 1886. Mr. Cromer at once filed on a homestead and tree claim of 320 acres in section 30, township 21, range 54. As he had been a teacher before coming to the Panhandle and as men of his profession were scarce in this section in the early eighties, Mr. Cromer, after he had made some improvements on his land, was induced to teach here and opened school in a "soddy" south of the present site of Gering, the first school in the valley. Summers he devoted to working his land, putting up the necessary farm buildings and in time erected a home for his family, where they would be comfortable. As these were hard and trying years on the settlers the money Mr. Cromer made by professional work tided the family over a time when many of the residents of the Panhandle grew discouraged and returned east, but he and his wife had faith in the country and happily both have lived to see it justified. Mr. Cromer taught in Gering four years, in Minatare two years, and then in Harrisburg two years. From there he went to Kimball two years, then to Mitchell to assume charge of the schools four years, and returned to Gering for a period of two years. The first class graduated from Gering consisted of L. L. Raymond and Mary Sayer, now Mrs. E. S. Wood, while the last class to graduate under Mr. Cromer consisted of seven boys: Earl Neeley, Harry Barton, Earnest Moore, Lesley Moore, Amon Downar, Roy Leavitt, and Robert McFarland. Since he resigned his post as teacher, Mr. Cromer has devoted his entire time and energies to farming. He paid twenty dollars an acre for his present land and home of 120 acres, December 1, adjoining the city of Gering. Today he has a well-improved farm, is engaged in raising beets, general crops, forage and feeds cattle to a large extent. He has been a breeder of purebred Percheron horses for some years and in this line has won an enviable reputation in the valley, as he took eleven prizes out of twelve entries at the county fair in 1918. Mr. Cromer now owns horses that won prizes at the International fair at Chicago in 1919, as well as at the state fairs. The head of his herd is an International winner. He has seen great changes come to the valley which today is one of the
richest farming districts in the world, and he has shared in the great wealth that has come with irrigation as 120 acres of his land is under ditch, a fertile and productive tract. He has seen this land advance from $50 a quarter section to $500 an acre. Sometimes Mr. Cromer can be induced to recount experiences of the early days, and they are not all hardships as he tells them. He remembers when their oldest child, Rowena, was but six months old, he and Mrs. Cromer drove to Sidney with a team and wagon, to have a picture of the baby taken, a trip that required two days; then he recalls the time when Robert Osborn came tramping up the valley and by the time he reached the Cromer home he had been so long on the open prairie that he had eaten nothing for two days, having run out of supplies on the way.
Within recent years Mr. Cromer has become convinced that the upper valley is adapted to fruit and now has a fine young orchard of four acres which is now bearing bountifully. He is one of the pioneers in this line.
In politics Mr. Cromer is an independent voter, while he and his wife were charter members of the first Methodist church in the valley.
In 1883 Mr. Cromer married Miss Ida J. Kerr, of Hillsboro, Illinois. Four children have been born to them: Rowena C., wife of Reverend E. M. Kendall, of Bayard; she is an accomplished musician, having taught in Wesleyan University after completing her musical education in Boston; George C., of whom personal mention is found on other pages of this volume, a farmer, who graduated from the agricultural course at the State University; Ida Gladine, the wife of George C. Coughran, who was a teacher in the Gering schools; and Miriam, who graduated from the normal course at Wesleyan University, is now employed in the Gering schools.
FRED D. RUTLEDGE, whose large ranch interest and success in the stock industry, mark him as one of the important men of Kimball county, was born January 14, 1886, in Wyoming, a member of a well known family, the representatives of which are responsible men and women leading useful lives in their communities. The parents of Mr. Rutledge were Thomas and Minerva Rutledge, the former of whom was born in Canada and the latter in Missouri.
The parents of Mr. Rutledge were early settlers in Laramie county, Wyoming, where the father was an extensive ranchman for many years. His death occurred in 1915, since which time the mother has alternated residing with her children. Of these Fred D. was the first born, the others being as follows: Frank, who is a farmer and ranchman near Pine Dale, Wyoming; Thomas and Richard, both of whom live at Pine Bluff, Wyoming; Harry, who is in business at Denver; Mary Elizabeth, who is the wife of Edward W. Peterson, living on the old Rutledge ranch west of Pine Bluff.
Fred D. Rutledge passed his boyhood on his father's ranch and attended the public schools, later entering the Wyoming State University at Laramie, where he continued his studies for two years. After his return he assumed the larger part of his father's labors on the ranch and in this way his training for his own important industries was thorough and practical. He came to his Nebraska home on June 12, 1917, purchasing his ranch of eleven hundred and twenty acres, a small part of which he is devoting to general farming, giving, his main attention to ranching. He is an example of the sound sense and and good judgment that belong to an encouraging number of the well educated young men of the state, for in no field of endeavor could he have found a more useful or needed exercise of intelligent or generally remunerative effort.
In 1911, Mr. Rutledge was united in marriage to Miss Eliza E. Cook, a daughter of Charles and Anna Cook, who reside on their sheep ranch near Hayward, California. Mr. and Mrs. Rutledge have two children, James and Agnes, aged respectively eight and five years. The family home is at Pine Bluff, Wyoming.
THOMAS E. BOWERS, a widely known and highly respected citizen of Kimball county, now in the United States mail service, was born in Missouri, December 25, 1873. His parents were Charles and Matilda (Harris) Bowers. The mother was reared in Missouri, to which state the father came from Virginia, soon after the close of the Civil War, having been a soldier in the Confederate army. On the maternal side, two uncles of Mr. Bowers entered the Union army but both met a soldier's death before they were far from home.
Thomas E. Bowers lived in Missouri until he was fourteen years of age, when he accompanied his parents to Nebraska. They stopped first in the eastern part of the state but later came to Kimball county and settled four miles southeast of Dix, this then being included in Cheyenne county. The father died there in 1899, after which the mother lived with her
children until her death in September, 1912. Mr. Bowers has two sisters, both of whom live at Loveland, Colorado.
During early manhood Mr. Bowers worked for the Union Pacific Railroad, after which he homesteaded eighty acres, later acquiring four hundred and eighty acres under the Kinkaid law, recently selling the entire five hundred and sixty acres for $36 an acre and has made plans for the investment of his capital. In the meanwhile he is taking care of a United States mail route.
On July 26, 1894, Mr. Bowers was united in marriage to Miss Olive Robinson, a daughter of William and Mary Robinson, natives of Indiana and early settlers in Adams county. The father of Mrs. Bowers is deceased but the mother survives. Mrs. Bowers has three sisters and one brother. To Mr. and Mrs. Bowers the following children were born: Alice Fay, who is teaching school in Wyoming; Eva, who is also a teacher in Wyoming; Estelle, who resides in Kimball; Leta, who died aged eight months; Eathan, who is attending the high school at Kimball; and Charles William, who is at home. Mr. Bowers and family be-belong (sic) to the Methodist Episcopal church. He belongs to the order of Modern Woodmen, and politically has always been affiliated with the Democratic party, although never blindly following any leader, being a thoughtful man capable of entertaining independent views.
EDWARD E. LESTER. -- The passage of the Kinkaid law brought to Kimball county many men of ambition and enterprise who now are some of the county's most substantial citizens. One of this class is Edward E. Lester who is a limited farmer here but an extensive stockraiser.
Edward E. Lester was born June 10, 1868, in the great state of Illinois, his father's farm lying in Henry county. His parents were James B. and Barbara Sarah (Kemerling) Lester, the latter of whom was born in October 1832, and died October 28, 1878. They had the following children: Lucretia, who died in 1852; Cyrus Jerome, who was born July 10, 1853, lives at Lamont, Iowa; Frank Delos, who was born November 6, 1857, is a farmer in Nebraska; George W., who was born in January, 1859, lives at Omaha; Grant, who was born June 8, 1864; Edward Elbert, who is of Kimball county; Minnie, who was born July 29, 1871, is the wife of Alexander Carbaugh, of Iowa; Emma B., who was born in June 1873; and Jefferson, Ella and James, all of whom died in infancy.
During Mr. Lester's boyhood the family lived in Illinois, Iowa and Missouri. He had fair educational opportunities and remained at home assisting his father until he was twenty-four years old and afterward was variously employed until January, 1899, when he came to Nebraska, which state has been his chosen home ever since. He remained at Omaha until 1904, when he homesteaded in Kimball county and still lives on his original homestead to which he has added other tracts. In association with his wife he now owns four entire sections in Kimball county, and they also own a quarter section in South Dakota. Mr. Lester has two hundred acres under the plow but is not doing a great deal of farming, bending his efforts more to the raising of fine stock, aiming to turn off a good number of head annually.
On July 17, 1911, Mr. Lester was united in marriage to Miss Joannah B. Hulsebus, a daughter of Bernard Hulsebus, a substantial farmer of Shelby county, Iowa. Mrs. Lester's father is still living in Defiance, Iowa, but the wife and mother died October 1, 1918. Of their children Mrs. Lester is the first born, the others being: Julia, who was the wife of Frank McGuire, died in Defiance, Iowa, February 10, 1912; Albert, died June 2, 1907; Gerhard, living at Eddieville, is a minister in the Evangelical church; Tillie, who is the wfe (sic) of Benjamin Ahrenholtz, a farmer near Defiance, Iowa; Marie, who is the wife of W. W. Jenkins, a merchant in Defiance; Bennie, who died March 6, 1896. Mrs. Lester is a member of the Methodist Episcopal church at Kimball. Mr. Lester belongs to the Farmers Union. In his political views he is independent, casting his vote for the candidate that meets the approval of his own excellent but unprejudiced judgment.
JOHN CLAUSEN, Jr., who is successfully operating his large farm and ranch in Kimball county, is well and favorably known in his neighborhood, for he was born on the site of the present thriving town of Dix, August 2, 1890. He was reared and educated here and his main interests have always been centered in this part of Kimball county.
The parents of Mr. Clausen, John and Catherine Clausen now live retired at Tecumseh. They came to Kimball county in 1883, the father being section foreman on the railroad. He homesteaded a quarter section just south of Dix, which he later sold for $200, the same land being now held around $70 an acre. He then bought five sections
for $1.25 an acre, which he later sold for $20 an acre, then purchased seven sections as pasture land. Mr. Clausen not only proved to be an able and enterprising business man during his most active years, but became influential in Democratic political circles and for several years was a county commissioner in Kimball county. He belongs to the order of United Workmen and Woodmen of the World, and both he and wife are members of the Presbyterian church. They have had the following children: Minnie, who is a school teacher at Fairmount, Nebraska; Mary, who is the wife of Gustav Wendt, of Kimball county; Emma, who is the wife of Clarence Anderson, of Tecumseh, Nebraska; Annie, who is the wife of Glenn L. Byers, of St. Joseph, Missouri; John, who is of Kimball county, Hilda, who is the wife of Richard Rowe, of Tecumseh; Otto R., who is a railroad man at Buford, Wyoming; and Herman, who attends school and lives with his parents at Tecumseh, and is taking a course in agriculture in Lincoln. ffl (sic)
Before Mr. Clausen started out as a business man for himself, he had the opportunity of acquiring practical agricultural knowledge, which he has put to good account, as is evidenced by the success attending his present undertakings. He owns a half section and has the other half section under lease, has one hundred and sixty acres under the plow and keeps about one hundred head of stock. His place is highly improved with a really fine residence, a barn with dimensions of 42x90 feet, an abundance of well kept out-buildings, and a well two hundred and eleven feet in depth. Progressive, intelligent and scientific, Mr. Clausen as an agriculturist, is removed as far as possible from the old-time farmer who expected from his land more than he put into it. ffl (sic)
Mr. Clausen was married June 1, 1916, to Miss Lillian M. Birt, a daughter of Clarence E. and Catherine (McRory) Birt, whose sketch appears in this volume. Mr. and Mrs. Clausen have one son, Bruce John, who made his welcome appearance April 28, 1917. Mr. and Mrs. Clausen are members of the Presbyterian church, attending St. John chapel. He belongs to the order of the Woodmen of the World at Potter, Nebraska. Mr. Clausen lives tip to the requirements of a good and useful citizen, but is identified with no political party, and has never been a seeker for public office.
CLARENCE E. BIRT, who is one of Kimball county's representative men, is widely known and is identified with many important interests here. Dependable and reliable, true to every trust reposed in him in boyhood, Mr. Birt grew from youth to manhood with the sound, steady character that has ever since gained him recognition among those who cherish high ideals of the true value of life.
Clarence E. Birt was born in County Kent, England, January 12, 1868, a son of Alfred Nelson Birt, who came to America in 1888. The mother of Mr. Birt never left England, her death occurring in the city of London. Of the family of five sons and three daughters Clarence E. was the third in order of birth: the others being as follows: Alfred, who died in infancy; Henry, who resides in the city of London; Claude, who is a resident of Fargo, North Dakota; Herbert, who served as a soldier in a Canadian regiment during the great war; Maude, who is the wife of John B. Kenyon, of Carlton, Oregon; and Agnes and Florence, both of whom died when infants. The father died in Humoldt county, Iowa, in 1903.
When fourteen years old Clarence E. Birt went to work as a clerk in the office of James Carr & Sons Flouring Mill, at Waltham, England, and Mr. Birt prizes highly a testimonial as to his character and efficiency that is signed by this great English firm, and, in fact, has similar testimonials from every business house with which he was connected while remaining in his native land. For three and a half years he was employed by the great firm of J. Jackson, clothiers, London, and still later traveled as a jewelry salesman, and in this capacity while in Ireland, during industrial troubles there witnessed the eviction of tenant farmers. He also had mercantile experience in a Capital and Labor store, in London, where goods were sold for cash on a five per cent basis, the daily sales sometimes amounting to $4,000.
In 1893, soon after his marriage, Mr. Birt and wife left England, crossed the Atlantic ocean in the steamship City of Paris, landed in the harbor of New York and immediately joined his father in Humboldt county, Iowa. Prior to this Mr. Birt had not had agricultural experience, but, with his father's encouragement and substantial backing, he embarked in the business of farming, and finding the venture both congenial and profitable, continued to rent farms and operate them in Iowa for the next fifteen years. In 1907 he came to Kimball county, Nebraska, and bought a relinquishment claim of four hundred and eighty acres, under the Kinkaid act, and proved up, in the meanwhile engaging in other business enterprises, especially merchandising, the details of which were familiar to him. Railroad building
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