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H. LESLIE SMITH.
in the office of constable and at that time his duties included those of sheriff. Mr. Grubbs is a mine of information in reference to much of the development of Banner county in the last thirty years, and a great many illustrations seen in volume two of this addition were taken by Mr. Grubbs, a business he followed for ten years, being at that time a great source of the resources that were so needed. He succeeded in obtaining a great many scenes of interest in the county.
H. LESLIE SMITH, the acknowledged leading criminal lawyer of the Scottsbluff bar, may easily claim inherited tendencies as well as choice in his selection of a profession. On both sides of his ancestral line there have been men of unusual distinction at the bar. He grew up in an intellectual atmosphere, and recalls the veneration he felt in boyhood for a father whose knowledge and practice of the law brought so wide a reputation and attracted to him so many men of high purpose and deep learning like himself. Although Mr. Smith came to Scottsbluff at a comparatively recent date, it was not altogether as a stranger, for his work in the lecture field for a number of years had made him a familiar figure to many. His remarkable gift of oratory assists in the success which attends his efforts as a criminal lawyer, which branch of his profession he prefers before others. Mr. Smith was born at Aurora, Nebraska, December 28, 1879, the son of J. H. and Roseltha (Likes) Smith, both of whom were born and reared in Iowa, in which state they married. The paternal grandfather was Thomas Smith, born in Pennsylvania, and was a cabinetmaker by trade and an early settler in Iowa. The maternal grandfather, Philip Likes, also settled at an early day in Iowa and became one of the greatest criminal lawyers of that state. The father of Mr. Smith began the practice of law at Osceola, Iowa, from which place he moved to Nebraska and in 1878 located at Aurora, where he became a corporation lawyer, to which difficult branch of the law he subsequently mainly devoted himself. He was district judge while in Aurora, then moved to Lincoln and engaged in corporation law, having no practice except in district, supreme, and United States courts. Needing a wider field for his talents, in 1904 he moved to Lincoln and subsequently was made judge of the district court. He practiced all over Nebraska and had many cases in the superior and United States courts. While in practice at Lincoln, he was attorney for the Burlington Railroad, the Beatrice creamery, the Royal Highlanders, the Modern Woodmen, and many other corporations. He was a Republican in his political views and was a member of the Christian church, as is the mother of Mr. Smith, who yet resides at Lincoln. The father died in 1912. Of their family of six sons, H. Leslie is the second of the five survivors, the others being: Herbert H., of Lincoln, who is a well known musician and artist; Roscoe L., who also resides at Lincoln, is an X-ray specialist; Jerome H., of Scottsbluff, is in the real estate business, and Philip P., a veterinary surgeon, lives at Ogallala, Nebraska. The fourth son, Fred, succumbed to influenza, during the recent epidemic.
H. Leslie Smith received his elementary education in the public schools, followed by a course in Wentworth Military Academy. After leaving the academy he entered the University of Nebraska for a literary course before taking tip the special study of law in that department, from which he was graduated. He received his A.B. degree in 1902, and that of LL.B. two years later. He entered into practice at Estancia, New Mexico, where he remained one year, then accepted a flattering offer from a lecture bureau, and for the next five years appeared on the lecture platform all over the country, filling engagements in Iowa, Missouri, Florida, and Nebraska. For several years afterward he devoted himself to commercial pursuits. In December, 1915, he came to Scottsbluff and has engaged in the practice of law here ever since, He has always been quite active in politics and while in New Mexico was permanent chairman of the Republican territorial committee.
In 1913 Mr. Smith was united in marriage with Miss Beulah Garman, who was born in Iowa and is a member of the Christian church. They have one son, H. Leslie, who was born March 8, 1917, Mr. Smith is prominent in advanced Masonry and belongs also to the Royal Highlanders. As a citizen he has been warmly welcomed and as a token of appreciation he was elected in January, 1919, president of the Chamber of Commerce of Scottsbluff.
RICHARD SKINNER.-- A widely known and highly respected pioneer of Banner county, Richard Skinner, came here when most of the present flourishing towns were still prairie, and when the only pretension of Gering to being more than a hamlet, lay in the fact that it had a general store. Mr. Skinner has been a judicious farmer and at one time owned large bodies of land, still retaining a hundred acres. As one who has lived continuously in Banner county for thirty-three
years, he has had many experiences, the recital of which would add value and interest to the county's official history.
Richard Skinner was born in Perry County, Ohio, December 13, 1841, one of four children born to Eli and Emma (Allen) Skinner, three of whom are living. Mr. Skinner has a brother in Wyoming and a sister in North Dakota. The father was born in Ohio and the mother in Virginia. The father died when Richard was three years old, but the mother, coming from a long lived race, lived to be eighty-six years old and her mother survived to the unusual age of a hundred and five years. The father was a small farmer in Ohio all his life. He was a Democrat in politics, and both parents were members of the Baptist church.
Richard Skinner had some schooling in Perry county when a boy, but work claimed him before he was very old, and after some years on a farm he went into the coal mines and spent fifteen years in that industry, in the meanwhile becoming bank and track mine boss. Thus, he was already a man of business experience when he enlisted for service in the Civil War, entering the Sixty-second Ohio volunteer infantry, and served during the closing eighteen months of that war. He was never wounded or taken prisoner, although he was on the picket line between the two opposing armies at the siege of Richmond, when the cross fire for three continuous days so injured his sense of hearing that it still annoys him in the right ear, and he still has some rheumatic reminders at times of the long nights of army exposure, He relates a tragic incident of this time, and tragedy belongs to all war, that many of his comrades witnessed. After a long period on duty the men were parched with thirst and when relieved hastened to the nearest well for water without carefully observing its location. Mr. Skinner's cousin was in the act of drinking when a Confederate sharpshooter shot him and he fell at Mr. Skinner's side and later died.
When the war was over, Mr. Skinner returned to his old home in Ohio and from there moved to Missouri in 1873, farming there until 1886, when he came to Banner county, Nebraska, and homesteaded on the tract that adjoins his present home farm. The first home of the family was a dugout. They left Missouri with four horses and two covered wagons, and reached their new home with the two wagons, two horses and twenty dollars cash capital. They had reached Sidney and remained over night there, but yet had to drive across the country a distance of forty-five miles, and on the way an electric storm came up. Although there were nine people in the party none was injured to any extent but one of the horses was killed by lightning and the other so shocked that he never recovered. Mr. Skinner and family lived in the dugout for two years but it was never felt to be a safe place of residence because of the great number of wild cattle then on the range, that had to be continually driven away to keep them from trampling over the little home in the ground and breaking in on the inmates. At first they had a neighbor two miles away who afterward left the country, and then they had to go from eight to ten miles for a friendly little visit. There was very little money in circulation in this section and Mr. Skinner with others gathered bones on the prairie and wood in the hills and hauled to Potter and Sidney, selling bones for eight dollars a ton and getting eleven to twelve cents apiece for cedar posts. The government at that time ran a stage line from Sidney to the Black Hills, crossing a bridge at Camp Clark, between Bridgeport and Bayard. This bridge was owned by a man named Clark who charged toll of twenty-five cents for every wagon and an additional twenty-five cents for every person in the wagon. He was said to have become wealthy through operating this toll bridge.
After proving up on his homestead, Mr. Skinner borrowed money on it in order to buy cattle for livestock had long been recognized as the foundation of a fortune in the west. However, when sickness fell on the children Mr. Skinner found his money had to be spent for medicine and doctors, Dr. Lonquest visiting them from Bayard. After two years in the dugout the family moved into a sod house and lived there for ten years, when Mr. Skinner bought the land adjoining his homestead and built a still more comfortable sod house, in which they have since lived. For a number of years Mr. Skinner was an extensive farmer and at one time had three hundred and ninety acres in alfalfa alone, but with added years he gradually relieved himself of many responsibilities, keeping only a hundred acres, in the management of which he has his son Edward as assistant.
On August 2, 1868, Mr. Skinner was united in marriage with Miss Emma Powell, in Perry County, Ohio, the only one, living in Nebraska of a family of eight children born to Moses and Elnora (Barnes) Powell, natives of Ohio and Pennsylvania, respectively, both of whom died in Ohio. Mr. and Mrs. Skinner have nine children: Darlington, who lives in Ban-
ner county, married Clara Sickels, and they have three children; Jennie, the wife of Samuel Kelly, has seven children; Nora, is the wife of Arthur Hermann, and they have six children; Laura Belle, is the wife of Arthur Burnett, and they have four children; Margaret, is the wife of Charles Hutchinson, and they have two children; Eunice, who is the wife of Bernard Hutchinson, and they have four children; Bessie, the wife of Omar Smith, and they have two chidren (sic); Ona, is the wife of Harry Bartling, of Riverton, Wyoming, and they have one child; and Edward, who resides at home. Mr. and Mrs. Skinner have the satisfaction of having their children all happily located and within an easy automobie (sic) ride. When they celebrated their golden wedding anniversary, August 2, 1918, their guests included their nine children, twenty-nine grandchildren and one great-grandchild. They are members of the Seventh Day Advent church. Since the Civil War Mr. Skinner has been a Republican. He served many years as road overseer, as precinct assessor and as school director, He belongs to the order of Odd Fellows.
THOMAS U. VAN PELT, has for years been identified with history-making events in Banner county, and it will be many more years before his name is forgotten by those who honored him in life or now benefit by the beneficent agencies he led in organizing and all his life labored to maintain. He was the owner of D bar ranch in Banner county, later known as the Van ranch.
Thomas U. Van Pelt was born in Marion county, Iowa, November 12, 1860, and died in his home in Banner county, August 6, 1912. His parents were Thomas and Nancy (Lucas) Van Pelt, natives of Ohio. The father was a soldier in the Civil War, enlisting at Iowa City, Iowa, under Captain Johnson, in the Fortieth Iowa infantry, and died while in the service. His six children were: Sarah J. Johnston, who lives near Harrisburg; Mary, who is the widow of August Stanfield, lives at Greybill, Wyoming; Jonathan, now deceased, left a widow who lives at Omaha, Nebraska; William, who lives in Banner county, married Blanche Snyder; Cyrus, who lives south of Harrisburg, married Jennie McKee; and Thomas U., who came to Banner county in June, 1887.
At Essex, Iowa, on February 22, 1880, Mr. Van Pelt was united in marriage to Miss Lot. Brookheart, a daughter of Henry and Matilda (Middaugh) Brookheart, both now deceased.
The father of Mrs. Van Pelt died August 3, 1888, and the mother, April 14, 1910, having spent the last five years of her life with Mr. and Mrs. Van Pelt. To the latter were born ten children, as follows: Lester, who lives in Banner county, married Nellie Noyes; Charles, who lives at Pine Bluff, Wyoming, married Miss Lottie Noyes Schindler, who was accidentally killed August 10, 1907, Rachaell who was the wife of Lester Nighswonger, of Wheatland, Wyoming; Myrtle, who is the wife of A. C. Hottell, of Banner county; Lewis, who is a farmer in Banner county, married Hazel Grubbs; Alonzo, who lives on the old home place, married Frances Wilson, now deceased; Frank and Gertrude, both of whom died in infancy; Alice, who is the wife of Arthur Lundberg, of Banner county; and Brookheart, who lives at home on the Van ranch.
In the spring of 1887, Mr. and Mrs. Van Pelt shipped their teams from Vincennes, Iowa, to Schuyler, Nebraska, to select a homestead in Banner county (then Cheyenne). Mr. Van Pelt had two mule teams and two wagons and found not enough vegetation to picket the animals. The had shipped their teams from Des Moines to Ashland, Nebraska, where they had spent the winter, during which time Mr. Van Pelt and Mrs. Van Pelt's brother Alexander, had worked on the B. & M. railroad. The immediate necessity being water, the men borrowed barrels from the nearest neighbor after fixing up a shanty, started out to find water which they had to haul a long distance. While they were gone Mrs. Van Pelt saw men running wild horses and with a fear of Indians in her mind, got out a revolver. The men came and asked for something to eat and gave their names as Frank Pearce and Charlie Hall. After Mr. Van Pelt had built a sod stable he went to Grand Island and bought cows, hogs and chickens, and also a year's stock of oats, corn and flour. After he came back he built a dugout of two rooms. Mr. Van Pelt's filing on his homestead was at Sidney, July 2, 1887, and is the second filing recorded at that place.
Mr. Van Pelt hastened to get a well dug as water had to be hauled a distance of nine miles, and secured a good flow of water at a depth of two hundred and twenty-seven feet. In the fall of 1889, he harvested a scant crop of wheat but the range cattle were so numerous that they had to be constantly driven away or they would have trampled every field. Antelope came also and often provided meat for the larder. Money was needed and as pre-
viously Mr. Van Pelt had been a locomotive engineer he secured work on the run between Cheyenne and Sidney, and Mrs. Van Pelt agreed to teach the school at Fowerfield, although that necessitated her driving a distance of seven miles morning and evening. The school house in district number twenty-two stood on the present site of Gary. At one time, when the Cherokee Indians were hostile, there was talk of building a fort here, but the necessity of it grew less and less and now, the beautiful place known as Flowerfield, would be about the last location where war or savagery could be imagined.
In fall of 1890 the state of Nebraska voted on the prohibition amendment for which Mr. Van Pelt had worked long, but at that time was lost, only to be victorious at a later date. All his life Mr. Van Pelt was a strong advocate of temperance. He helped to organize the United Brethren church and meetings were held at Gabe Rock school house. He was vice president of the Banner County Sunday School Association for a number of years. The early Sunday school history is interesting. At first each attendant brought along a chair or bench and the building was used for day school and other meeting purposes.
In 1894 a Baptist church edifice in Lorraine district was bought and moved by Mr. Van Pelt and his brother-in-law, and it is still in use and was known as the Long Ridge School, later the Van School and now the Flowerfield school. Mrs. Van Pelt was the first teacher in the new school house. Later she taught two years at Gary, one year at Clearfield, two years more at Flowerfield, two years at McKinnon and two years, 1915 and 1916, at Gabe Rock. During the World War she was county chairman for the Woman's Council of Defense; helped to organize the county W. C. T. U., of which she is president, has been secretary and treasurer of the Sunday School Association for six years and for a number of years previously was vice president. During the war she visited Camp Cody to investigate hospital conditions, on her own responsibility.
In 1895, Mr. Van Pelt built a sod addition to the log residence and in 1900, a very large, modern dwelling. All the farm buildings are complete and substantial, and the last government survey gave this homestead as the highest point of altitude, in Nebraska. Mrs. Van Pelt owns six hundred and forty acres, three hundred of which is farm land, and is now homesteading an additional one hundred and sixty acres of grazing land. Mr. Van Pelt belonged to the Modern Woodmen lodge, was interested to some extent in the organization of the Farmers Alliance. He was a man of sterling integrity, after a life of useful effort, left an honorable name behind him.
FRANKLIN W. SCHUEMAKER, who is well known and highly esteemed in Banner county, was born at Osceola, Iowa, August 15, 1889. He is the seventh member of a family of eight children, born to Martin and Mary C. (Wakeford) Schuemaker, the others being: Alexander, who lives in Canada, married Tena Heatthly; William J., who lives near Mitchell, Nebraska, married Sarah J. Yoe; Mary A., who is the wife of John Shiestel, lives in northeastern Canada; George, who lives at Blackfoot, Idaho, married Nancy Smith; Margaret, who is the wife of Philo Gallup, lives at Kansas City, Missouri; Angeline A., who is the wife of Ernest Preston, lives in Montana; and Sarah, who, is the wife of John F. McComsy, lives northwest of Hull, Nebraska. The father moved from Iowa to Canada in 1890, and lived there seven years as a farmer. In 1898, he came to Kimball, Nebraska, then spent a year at Gering, before going to Dorrington, near Hull to live on his brother's place for several years, returning then to Gering, where his death occurred in 1900, The mother resides near Hull.
Franklin W. Schuemaker obtained his education at Gering. All his life he has been connected with farm and cattle, and for years, up to 1914, he rode range. After that he operated land for Mrs. Lottie Van Pelt and is a successful farmer and stockraiser on section four, town seventeen, with post office at. Bushnell, Nebraska.
Mr. Schuemaker was married November 14, 1915, to Miss Luella Van Pelt, a daughter of Cyrus and Jennie (McKee) Van Pelt, who are well known pioneers of Banner county, and they have three children: Cyrus A., Juanita I. and a baby. Mr. Schuemaker is a Republican in politics, and is a member of the order of Knights of Pythias.
CARL A. WAGONER is one of the honored pioneers of Morrill county and one of the successful exponents of agricultural and business enterprises in this section of the state, an influential citizen who resides in the vicinity of Broadwater.
Mr. Wagoner was born in the Buckeye state December 14, 1857, the son of Thomas and Amanda (Miller) Wagoner who were residing in Coshocton county. Both parents were natives of Ohio and are still living at the ages
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