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JOHN W. SPRACKLEN AND FAMILY.
he prospered for three years, then bought an elevator at Cook, Nebraska, but shortly afterward sold and went to Lincoln and bought barber shop privileges in the Lincoln Hotel. He disposed of his interests there eighteen months later, traded his property for a store at Havelock, which he moved to Glenrock. These changes were made for excellent business reasons but Mr. Gordon was too honest a man to make a financial success out of any of them at someone else's expense, and when he sold his interest at Glenrock and went to Graf, in Johnson county, his entire capital in money was just fifty dollars. He had the good name, however, which gave him credit, and enabled him to again embark in the mercantile business and from the very beginning he prospered and during the next seven years he settled all his obligations and did an excellent business.
About that time Mr. Gordon decided to try ranch life and traded his store for a ranch on which he lived for four years and then traded the ranch for a farm of eighty acres in Scotts Bluff county, later bought a hundred and twenty acres in Morrill county and another farm in Scottsbluff county comprising eighty-eight acres, all valuable land. In 1915, Mr. Gordon came to Scottsbluff, where he occupies one of the most attractive residences of the city, and embarked in the real estate business with Charles McElroy. That partnership continued a year, when the firm name became Gordon & Osborn, and two years later, Mr. Gordon, with Mr. Douglass as a partner, organized the Gordon Realty Company. They own an entire subdivision and are selling lots to responsible people and building houses of modern style of construction.
In 1894, Mr. Gordon was united in marriage to Miss Cora Belle Cook, who was born in North Carolina, a daughter of Columbus L. Cook, who came to Nemaha county, Nebraska, in 1890, where the mother of Mrs. Gordon died. Her father then returned to North Carolina and died there. The following children were born to Mr. and Mrs. Gordon; Mable, William A., Charles, Mary, Grace, Bessie, Raymond and Harold. The older daughters live at home and the younger children are yet in school. The two older sons, William A. and Charles, have but recently been honorably discharged from military service in the World War, the former with rank of orderly sergeant and the latter sergeant major. William A., was a member of the One Hundred and twenty-seventh Artillery and was with the first contingent of the American Expedtionary (sic) Force to land in France. Charles A. was also in the One Hundred and Twenty-seventh Field Artillery from the first, but while in training at Fort Sill was injured and sent to the hospital. Both sons in their conduct and service, reflected credit on their parents and country. Mr. Gordon and family beolng (sic) to the Methodist Episcopal church. In politics he is a Democrat.
JOHN W. SPRACKLEN. -- An early settler and one of the substantial and representative men of Dawes county, is found in John W. Spracklen, whose business activities here have covered many years, and one whose experiences, in some ways, have been typical of a large class of western homesteaders. Like others, Mr. Spracklen met with unexpected difficulties, but in his case, the star of hope was never lost sight of, and resolution and common sense were constant companions. There was a time when, in spite of industry and seeming exercise of good judgment, his efforts seemed futile, but that season was lived through, a change came and today the signature of few men in Dawes county carries with it more financial weight.
John W. Spracklen was born at Belle Plaine, Benton county, Iowa, August 23, 1862. His parents were Peter and Catherine (Russell) Spracklen, natives of Ohio and Tennessee respctively (sic). In 1852, Peter Spracklen entered government land in Iowa and engaged in farming in Benton county until 1878, when he moved with his family to Pawnee county, Nebraska. During 1882, he ranged cattle near the river, then came into Dawes county to decide for himself concerning the value of the land to which he had heard settlers were beginning to come. In his estimation the prospect was favorable and he immediately hastened to the filing office at Valentine, where his friend, John Danks, of Long Pine joined him, and unexpectedly his son, John W. Spracklen, who had also determined on homesteading in the newly opened tract. Peter Spracklen had to make his way from his range camp to his camp on the Niobrara river near Valentine, and after the party had secured the numbers of sections, range and town, in order to make filings, they found so many other settlers already in the entry office, each one demanding priority, that they spent an entire day, going without their meals, before they secured their papers. John W. Spracklen secured the first homestead in his township, filing on section 29-32-49, and also, at the same time, April 5, 1884, filed on a
timber claim on section 20, while his father filed on a homestead and timber claim adjoining his son's entries.
Peter Spracklen resided on his Dawes county land for some years or until his health failed, when he began to think of a home in another climate. In younger years he had read of the magnificent forests of Oregon and often expressed a desire to visit them and also, if opportunity presented, to kill a bear. So he sold his Dawes county land and moved to Oregon and lived in the shadow of the great trees until he had satisfied his ambition in regard to the bear, when he returned to Belle Plaine, Iowa, where he made his home for the rest of his life with a daughter, his death occurring in May, 1898, when seventy-three years old. His wife had homesteaded in Pawnee county, Nebraska, and the children completed paying for the land. She died in Pawnee county in 1913. They were members of the Methodist Episcopal church. Of their nine children six are living, John W., being the only one residing in Nebraska.
During boyhood, John W. Spracklen attended school during the winter months, and also was instructed by a teacher whom he remembers with high regard, Mr. Jackson Gunn, who still resides at Belle Plaine. He was sixteen years old when he accompanied his parents to Nebraska and after that rode range for a number of years every summer. A normal, wholesome young man, as soon as he had filed on a homestead his thoughts turned to establishing a home, and on April 17, 1884, he was united in marriage to Dora M. Gillmor, a daughter of John P. and Rosanna (Howe) Gillmor, residing twelve miles north of Seneca, Kansas.
Immediately after their marriage Mr. and Mrs. Spracklen started for the homestead, he having an old covered wagon, and a steady old team. They did not own any large amount of household goods but had all that seemed actually necessary. On their way they stopped at Bradshaw to visit cousins, then went on as far as Willow Springs where other cousins lived and there Mrs. Spracklen was taken ill. During the two weeks that she was sick Mr. Spracklen plowed corn land for his cousin. They then resumed, their journey and when they reached Long Pine came up with Mr. Spracklen's brother, who had become uneasy because of their delay, his father also coming in from the homestead with an oxteam. After all had finally reached the homestead locality, they spent a day and a half before they were able to identify the land, not being familiar with the method of the early surveyors who marked section lines with pitch sticks. Only a few years ago Mr. Spracklen found one of these old sticks still remaining on one of his ranches.
Mr. Spracklen immediately broke up five acres on the homestead and the same amount on, his tree claim, got in crops and watched them give promise of abundant yield, only to have them all destroyed by the range cattle. In the second year the government issued orders to the cattle rangers that led to the removal of the cattle to the north side of White river and later on still farther west. Mr. Spracklen and family received their mail at the Half Diamond-E ranch, on Chadron creek. They lived on the homestead for five years, proved up and then immediately borrowed a thousand dollars on it and bought relinquishments on adjoining land. This proved poor policy as the crops failed and he was not able to meet the interest on the loan, then surrendered his deed to a loan agent who also secured a judgment against him for eighty-five dollars. For six years he and his family then lived on a pre-emption and during that time dug two wells but neither afforded a sufficiency of water. About this time someone contested his tree claim, and while he won the court case it cost him money and anxiety and it was eighteen months before he was assured of his right by the land office.
During the first summer the Spracklens lived in their wagon, but in the fall built a log house, after which came a large amount of trouble in sinking a well. Like many other homesteaders Mr. Spracklen found it desirable to work for wages when jobs could be secured, and he remembers breaking land for five dollars an acre, when his wife had to accompany him to drive the team while he cut a road through the brush. The present highway follows very closely the original passage made by Mr. Spracklen on Dead Horse Creek. Did space permit, it would be interesting to follow these hardy and courageous settlers through those early days and note how patiently and resourcefully they met and overcame the hundred little annoyances and the losses that were important only because there were no near neighbors to help out, or supply depots where lost articles could readily be replaced.
As indicated, Mr. Spracklen lost his homestead and pre-emption. In 1896, he went to Sioux county and traded his herd of horses for the William Young farm and made money in handling horses and cattle there, but lost through unfortunate investments and then re-
turned to Dawes county, where he bought his brother-in-law's homestead for two hundred and fifty dollars, a tract that had seventy acres of land already broken and a house that had cost five hundred dollars. He lived there two years, then bought for two hundred and fifty dollars, on a five-year time, a quarter of his father's old homestead, and additional property, giving a mortgage on his timber claim and the homestead he had bought. In the next year he bought two hundred and forty acres for eight hundred dollars, continuing to buy one tract after another, raising rye and cattle in the meantime to meet his payments, and by 1908, was one of the largest landowners in the county. His financial good management, brought about by foresight, surprised his friends who did not have as supreme faith in the value of Dawes county land as he has had. It is a matter of satisfaction to Mr. Spracklen that he has made good on every deal for the past twenty-five years. Today he values his land at a hundred dollars an acre, and has refused one hundred and twenty-five dollars for land he purchased for seventeen and a half dollars. In addition to his farms and ranches, he has a hundred and five head of registered Shorthorn cattle, two hundred head of hogs and a handsome modern residence at Chadron. He is a stockholder in the Chadron State Bank and a director and also a dircetor (sic) in the Farmers Union Store Company.
A family of eleven children has been born to Mr. and Mrs. Spracklen, of whom the following survive: John P., who is a rancher on Dead Horse creek, Dawes county, married Harriet Whitehead and they have three children, Ralph L., John W. and Harry; Leonora M., who is the wife of A. A. Vannatta, of Chadron, and they have four children, Blanche M. Lawrence A., Lester and an infant; Clement A., who is a rancher on White river; Delinda P., who is the wife of Lloyd Robbins, a rancher on Dead Horse creek, and they have one child, Evelyn K.; Sadie M., who is the wife of Walter Owens, living on White river, and they have two children, Rosalie and Dora J.; and Frank E., Roy W., Nellie A. and Mildred L. Mrs. Spracklen belongs to the Royal Neighbors, and Mr. Spracklen to the Modern Woodmen of America. In politics he is a Republican but has never been willing to accept political offce (sic).
CHARLES C. NELSON, who is a highly regarded citizen of Bridgeport, where he has lived retired since 1912, is a man of large capital and formerly an extensive raiser of cattle. Mr. Nelson is well known in other sections of the country, for he started out a youth with but little means and sought and found work wherever he could make his industry profitable. Thus, unassisted, he built up his ample fortune through his own efforts.
Charles C. Nelson was born in Virginia, July 17, 1849. His parents were James A. and Margaret A. (Trimmier) Nelson, both of whom were born in Ireland. They came to the United States in 1838 and settled in Virginia. He was a soldier in the Union army in the Civil War, served three years and was wounded in the hand at the battle of Springfield, Missouri. Mr. Nelson settled in Missouri in 1861, and after the war returned to his farm and died there. The mother of Mr. Nelson came later to Nebraska and died at Sidney. There were but two sons born in the family, John and Charles C., the former of whom was accidentally killed when a small boy. James A. Nelson was a man of importance in Henry county, Missouri, at one time owning land there and serving on the board of county commissioners. He was a Republican in his political views and both he and wife were members of the Episcopal church. The paternal grandfather of Mr. Nelson, James Nelson, brought his family to the United States in 1838, and settled in Virginia but later accompanied his son and family to Missouri and died there. The maternal grandfather, Joseph Trimmier, was born in Ireland but died in Scotland.
Charles C. Nelson had district school opportunities in Missouri. He remained at home assisting his father until he was nineteen years of age, then started out for himself and finally reached Texas, where he went to work on a stock ranch and remained ten years. In 1879, he came to Nebraska and went to work on a ranch in old Cheyenne county, invested his earnings in land and in the course of time had it well stocked and continued in the cattle business for many years afterward. He still owns nine hundred and sixty acres in Nebraska. Additionally he has important oil interests in Oklahoma and is a director of the Wyoming Refininig (sic) Company. He is a man of fine business judgment.
In 1874, Mr. Nelson was united in marriage to Miss Alice Clark, who died in 1885, leaving two children; Fredonia, who is the wife of John Clowges, a ranchman near Bridgeport, and Margaret, who is the wife of Albert Cuddy, living in Montana. Mr. Nelson was married a second time in 1909, to Miss Lillian Franklin, who was born at Eureka Springs,
Arkansas. Mrs. Nelson is a member of the Baptist church. Throughout his whole political life Mr. Nelson has been a Republican and sees no reason to change his opinions at the present time. He has served as school treasurer and school director but otherwise has never consented to accept public office. He belongs to the Masonic lodge at Bridgeport.
JAMES A. GAINES. -- Shrewd business ability, special adaptiveness to his calling, appreciation of its many advantages and belief in his own power to succeed placed James A. Gaines among the foremost and substantial merchants of Bridgeport. From his small beginnings, his efforts brought forth the development or (sic) large interests, permitting his retirement in 1917, and his consigning to younger hands the tasks that made up the sum of his existence for many years. He has a modern home at Bridgeport and is regarded as one of the financially strong and morally high retired citizens of his community.
Mr. Gaines was born at Lexington, Illinois, March 3, 1859, a son of James and Fannie (Shotwell) Gaines, natives of old Virginia. They were married in their native state, and subsequently moved to Illinois, where, in the vicinity of Lexington, James Gaines, who was the son of a Virginia planter and former slave owner, carried on successful agricultural operations until his death in 1915. He was a self-made man in every respect, and one who won the confidence of his fellow men through a display of integrity and good citizenship, and was a Democrat in his political adherence. He and Mrs. Gaines, who survives him and still resides at Lexington, held membership in the United Brethren church. They were the parents of four children: Bert, who was for thirty-four years been in the service of the Chicago, Burlington & Quincy Railroad, and is a resident of Hastings, Nebraska; Mrs. Sarah Gray, the wife of a painter of Illinois; James A., of this review; and William E., who for years was a partner of J. L. Miller at Bridgeport, but is now engaged in the coal business at Greeley, Colorado.
James A. Gaines obtained his educational training through attendance at the public schools of Lexington, Illinois, and grew up in the atmosphere of the home farm, where for some years he was engaged in assisting his father in the latter's extensive operations. Desiring a career of his own, in 1899, he came to Nebraska to make his permanent home, and here embarked in the mercantile business at Bridgeport. His opening venture was a modest one, but he possessed the necessary qualifications for the acquirements of success, and it was not long ere he enlarged the scope of his operations. When he had his Bridgeport business operating upon a handsomely paying basis, he started branches at Bayard, Morrill and Minatare, all of which he developed into successful commercial houses. He also secured a concession at City Park, Denver, which he conducted for three years, and which yielded his handsome returns for his foresight and labor. He established a reputation for integrity, veracity and probity, which gave him an excellent standing in business circles, and this standing has also held good in the matter of citizenship for he has always been a hearty supporter of good measures. His faith in the future of Nebraska, has been evidenced in his purchase of two irrigated farms, which he still retains and the operations on which he supervises. In 1917, he sold his store property and retired from active business pursuits, content with the material compensation which he had been able to lay aside during the years of his business activity.
Mr. Gaines was married in 1910, to Miss Olive E. Millhollin, who was born in Iowa, a daughter of Hugh Millhollin, who came to Bridgeport in 1889, and for many years was engaged in the carpenter trade. Three children have been born to Mr. and Mrs., Gaines: Leland, aged nine years; Kathryn, aged seven years; and Linden, aged five years. Mr. Gaines is a Democrat in his political views, but not a politician. His fraternal affiliaton (sic) is with the Modern Woodmen of America, and he has numerous friends in the local lodge, as he has also in business circles.
RICHARD L. HOFFMAN was born in Missouri on December 30, 1860, the son of Benjamin Franklin and Susan I. Hoffman. Both his parents were natives of Kentucky, and their family consisted of five children, of whom three are living. A son, William, and a daughter, Sallie B., are deceased. Another daughter, Susan E., now Mrs. William Lane, lives in Kansas City, Missouri, as does the youngest son, Frank. The father was a farmer by occupation. He died in 1862, and the mother followed him to the grave in 1865.
Richard was educated in the Missouri schools, and after finishing his schooling he took up railroading and followed that calling for a number of years. As the great opportunities of the new west began to be known, and the younger spirits who are always attracted by adventure began to follow the advice
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