NEGenWeb Project
Resource Center, On-Line Library




of Horace Greeley and go west to grow up with the country, Mr. Hoffman came to western Nebraska and found employment as a cowboy in 1880. He followed this vocation for some years, leaving in 1902, for Montana, and spent the next ten years in the vicinity of Missoula, Montana, and Fort Collins, Colorado. In 1912, he returned to the North Platte valley and filed on a government homestead, and is now the owner of eighty acres of fine land and is in position to take advantages of the great increases in land values in this section of the state.
   Mr. Hoffman was married in Gering in 1892, to Addie Ford. Following his marriage he and his father-in-law conducted a hardware business in Gering for several years. Two children have been born to Mr. and Mrs. Hoffman. The older son, Richard Frank, is now connected with the United States Reclamation service, having recently been discharged from the United States army. The other son, Millard J., lives at home. Mr. Hoffman is a Democrat in politics, is a member of the Christian church, and belongs to the Odd Fellows.

    EVERETT P. WILSON, who is an honored member of the faculty of the State Normal School at Chadron, is widely known as an educator in Nebraska, which state has been his chosen field of effort almost since the termination of his own schooldays. He has been identified with the above institution as head of the department of history and civics, since the beginning in June, 1911.
   Professor Wilson is a son of John W. and Mary E. (Magee) Wilson, natives of Ohio. He is the second of four sons all of whom are living. He was born September 2, 1868, near Princeton, Bureau county, Illinois. In 1870, the family moved to Iroquois county, Illinois and settled on a piece of raw prairie land which they improved. In 1883, they moved to southwestern Iowa, settling in Cass county, near Atlantic, where they lived for many years. Mr. Wilson's parents were both teachers in their younger years. After their marriage they turned their attention to agriculture, in which they became unusually successful. His father was a man who read widely and who possessed an unusually clear understanding of public questions. His death occurred at Ames, Iowa, in 1912. His mother survives and makes her home with the oldest son at Jefferson, Iowa.
   Mr. Wilson's early education was received in a rural school, in eastern Illinois and in the wholesome atmosphere of a good home and in a community environment unusually rich in that sterling pioneer stock that has, given America her great place among the nations. As a boy in Iowa he took an active part in a neighborhood debating and literary society. At an early age he became deeply interested in current political questions. After teaching three terms in rural schools he became a student at Highland Park college at Des Moines, Iowa, where he remained for several years. In 1894, he entered the Lincoln Normal University located at Lincoln, Nebraska. He was graduated from the classical course of this institution. After his graduation he remained with the school for some time as teacher of history and civics. He retired from this position in 1898, to become principal of the publc (sic) school of Niobrara, in Knox county, where he continued until 1900. From 1900 to 1905, he was superintendent of schools at Ponca, Nebraska, and then served in the same capacity at Wayne, Nebraska, until 1909, in which year he came to Chadron. Here he served as superintendent of the city schools until 1911, when he was called to accept the position he has held ever since on the faculty of the Chadron State Normal School.
   This school was established by the legislature of Nebraska in the session of 1909, for the Sixth Congressional District, and its opening was in June, 1911, although the first summer session was held in the high school building as the new accommodations had not yet been completed. That people were anxious to take advantage of this course of instruction was shown by the enrollment of pupils in the first year. Enrollments have increased in number each year and at persent (sic) the students number more than three hundred, of both sexes.
   The first president of the institution was Joseph Sparks and W. T. Stockdale became dean, the latter still occupying that office, but the present president is Robert I. Elliott. The majority of the students are from Nebraska, Wyoming and South Dakota, and the interest shown is very encouraging. The best of educational talent is employed, and the standard is the same as is maintained in all other normal schools in the state. Further state appropriations ensure the carrying out of plans for extensive expansion in the near future.
   Mr. Wilson was married at Oakland, Nebraska, in February, 1997, to Miss Cora E. Young, a daughter of Andrew and Edvinna (Brand) Young, who came to Nebraska from Ohio in 1856. They stopped first in Omaha which was then a small village. They settled



in Burt county, which became their permanent home. They endured all the hardships, of pioneer life. They were in danger from hostile Indians. Their first home was engulfed in the Missouri river, when that treacherous stream cut away a large part of the bottom land in Burt county. Their few domestic animals perished in the awful winter of 1856-57 At times they were in dire need of the necessities of life. As the country developed living conditions improved and hardships were replaced by comforts. They reared a large family of children who became successful men and women in Nebraska and in other states.
   Mr. and Mrs. Wilson are the parents of five children, Mary, Eleanor, Ruth, Winifred and Evelyn. The eldest, after completing a collegiate course in the State Normal and teaching for three years in the high schools of northwest Nebraska, is now a student of piano in the American Musical Conservatory in Chicago.
   In politics Mr. Wilson is a Republican. He has served the community in which he lives in various way. For many years he has been chairman of the city park board and also a member of the city library board. For a number of years he has been a member of the board of directors of the Young Men's Christian Association. During the period of the World War he delivered numerous patriotic addresses. He has been prominently identified with the development of agriculture in northwest Nebraska. He was one of the pioneer promoters of the Dawes County Farm Bureau and has served as its secretary since its organization. In the Constitutional Convention of 1919-20 he represented the 74th district composed of the counties of Dawes and Sioux. He served on the committees on arrangement and phraseology and on municipal government. In the campaign for the ratification of the amendments proposed by the convention he addressed a large number of audiences in western and northwestern Nebraska. For many years before the liquor traffic was prohibited he was an ardent opponent of saloons.
   In addition to his work in the class room he has been active in other lines of educational work. He is the author of a text on State and Local Civil Government in Nebraska that has been widely used in the schools. He has served as President of the North Nebraska Teachers' Association and also of the Northwest Nebraska Teachers' Association. He has been very active in Christian work, and has spoken many times in public on religious subjects.
   As a man, an educator and a citizen he is held in high regard by his fellow citizens.

    MICHAEL ELASS. -- Here is presented a biographical sketch of a man who was one of the pioneers of western Nebraska, who has lived here to see the prairies of the past become fertile farm lands dotted with thriving communities. When he started out in life he had but few advantages to assist him along the road to success, but his diligence and judicious management have brought him ample reward in return for his labors.
   Michael Elass is of German blood and like so many men of the fine German-Americans has the fine traits of his ancestors along with the progress and initiative of the native American. He is a native of the Buckeye state, born in Ohio in 1841m the son of George and Christiana Elass, both of whom were born in the German Empire. They were reared and educated in Europe but saw no chance there, to get ahead in the world and decided to start life anew in the United States. The father had learned the trade of stone mason in the old country which he followed after coming to America. Like so many of his countrymen his great desire was to become a landholder and when his capital permitted he purchased a farm and in time acquired a holding of three hundred acres where he engaged in agricultural pursuits all his life as he and his wife died at the age of sixty-five years. There were eight children in the family, of whom four are living: Sophia, the wife of George Vivivel, of Nebraska, now eighty-six years of age; Christiana, who married Henry Beerline; Caroline, who is the wife of Fred Cipp, lives in Omaha, and Michael.
   Michael Elass remained at home on his father's farm in Ohio during his youth and attended the schools of that section, at the same time he gave effective assistance on the home farm, early acquiring invaluable knowledge of agricultural methods that have proved of great use to him in later life. He remained in Ohio during his early manhood, as a farmer, but as he desired land of his own took advantage of the government land in Nebraska, and, in 1887, came to Cheyenne county with no other equipment than a wagon, team of horses and a cow. He drove overland to the new home and thus saw most of the country and when he located on his homestead knew just what he wanted and that he has been contented may be judged from the fact that he still resides on the original farm which he secured under government grant. Mr. Elass took up a home-



stead and pre-empted three hundred and twenty-four acres in section fourteen, King township, not far from the Platte river, as water was one of the important things in the early days for stock. His first home was a sod house but it was warm and more of a home than we of the present generation can conceive, for such houses were more comfortable during the terrible blizzards of the early days when frame houses were too cold for people to remain in them. Mr. Elass at once began improvements on his land, broke what he could the first year and put in a crop. He endured all the trials, hardships and privations incident to a new country with few railroads and towns far away, where provisions could be obtained and produce sold, but he weathered them all, and his faith and foresight in locating in the Panhandle have been justified, for by holding out and keeping his land when so many of the other settlers sold out and went back east he has won a comfortable fortune. He early determined to have thoroughbred stock and as soon as his capital permitted began to specialize in Belgian draft horses which have become the pride of this section of Nebraska. He has displayed his horses at the local fairs and won two prizes in Bridgeport, but Mr. Elass has not confined himself to one line of endeavor; in addition to his horses he raises a high grade of cattle and hogs, while his agricultural activities are given to diversified farm crops and forage. As he looks back across the years he can visualize each improvement which has been made on the home place, all placed there by his own hands, and all looks exceedingly good even in this day of modem mehods (sic) and advanced practices. From his first settlement in this section Mr. Elass has taken an acive (sic) and interested part in all civic and communal affairs, doing his full share for the development of the district in which he made his home. For more than twenty years he has been a member of the school board and when irrigation was introduced along the Platte became by unanimous choice a director of the irrigation company. He is progressive in his ideas, keeps abreast of all affairs whether local, state or national and is a worthy representative of his section. In politics he is bound by no party lines in either local or nation wide affairs, casting his influence ever on the side of the man who will be the most worthy and capable servant of the people and the nation.
   Over forty years ago Mr. Elass selected a worthy helpmate for the journey through life and, in 1876, married Miss Sarah Tunson, who was born in Wisconsin and died in 1913, after a long, worthy life. There were eight children in the family: George, who is interested in a saw mill in Montana; Charles, a farmer in that state; Hilda, the wife of Will McBride, on a farm near Sterling, Colorado; Philip, in the United States army as a member of the Fifty-sixth Regiment, saw service in France for six months; Fannie, the wife of Fred Noie, lives in Montana; Angie, who married Horace Weaver, lives in Morrill county; and Anna, the wife of Harvey Williams who runs a lumber yard in Oregon. Mr. Elass appreciated what an advantage a good practical education was for life work and saw that his children had all the advantages to be obtained in the home schools and now, looks with pride at the family he has reared to man and womanhood.

    JOHN T. McCOMSEY. -- Among the residents of the Panhandle who came here in pioneer days as a youth, and remained to assist in the development and progress that followed, a place of honor must be accorded John McComsey, who has established a record for industry, and good citizenship in the Hull district.
   Mr. McComsey was born in Stark county, Illinois, August 6, 1877, the son of Charles and Mary Elizabeth (Godfrey) McComsey, the former a native of Illinois, while the mother was born and reared in New Jersey. To them nine children were born, six of whom survive: Ida, a resident of Gering; Mattie, the wife of Cal Smith, lives in Torrington, Wyoming; Thomas, a resident of Eugene, Oregon; Bertha, who married George Benton, of Colorado, and John. Charles McComsey, in his youth learned the trade of brick layer and plasterer, a vocation which he followed in his native state, but he desired a farm of his own, and as land in Illinois, a thickly populated state, was high he came to Nebraska in 1886, one of the hardy pioneers of this section.
   John received his elementary education in Illinois, as he was a boy of nine years when his parents came to Nebraska, and after the family were settled here he attended the public schools, laying the foundation of a good practical education which has been of great value to him in his business life. When the school days were over he began general farming operations, but as this was the period when stock-raising was at its height, he naturally specialized in cattle and has continued in that line to the present day. At first he had only high bred short horns, a specially fine beef breed but, in 1919, crossed them with Here-



fords and expects to obtain an exceptionally good strain, obtaining the best qualities of both. From time to time, as money came in from his varied lines of industry, Mr. McComsey branched out, purchased other tracts of land near the home place, until today he is the owner of a landed estate of two full sections of land, where he has placed excellent and permanent improvements and has a modem home. Being an advocate of progress he has the most improved and modem equipment on the farm to lighten labor and increase production, being rated as one of the substantial men of the Hull district.
   In 1907, Mr. McComsey married Miss Sarah Schoemacher, a sketch of her family is to be found in this history. To Mr. and Mrs. McComsey one child has been born, Theresa Marie, at home.
   Mr. McComsey is a Republican in politics, is a Mason of high standing, having taken a Thirty-second degree, while his wife belongs to the Order of the Eastern Star. They have a wide acquaintance among the pioneers of the Platte valley and can relate many interesting reminiscences of the days when conditions were still crude and primitive and can look with pride upon the country which they have seen change from wild, unbroken prairie to a rich farming district, to the development of which they have contributed liberally in work as true American citizens.

    CHARLES E. ANDERSON. -- In section thirty-six, township twenty-three, range fifty-five, five miles distant from the city of Scottsbluff will be found the well improved farm that is the stage of the successful activities of Mr. Anderson, who came from his native Sweden to America when a young man and whose energy and good judgment (sic) have enabled him to win independence and prosperity through his connection with farm industry in the state of his adoption. He was born in Sweden in 1870, and is a son of John and Sarah Anderson, his father having been a farmer in Sweden and he himself having thus gained practical experience that has proved of great value to him in his operations as a farmer in Nebraska.
   Mr. Anderson was given the advantages of the schools of his native land and was an ambitious youth of about eighteen years when, in 1888, he came to the United States and prepared to win success through his own efforts. He came to Burt county, Nebraska, where he found employment. For five years he assisted in government surveying work in western Nebraska and, in 1904, he established his home in Scotts Bluff county and prepared to initiate independent operations as a farmer. He here took up a homestead of eighty acres and this constitutes an integral part of his present model farm property of three hundred and twenty acres, all of which has been supplied with effective irrigation, in the meantime he has made the best of improvements on the place. It should be stated that Mr. Anderson is a skilled civil engineer, as he continued his education after coming to America by completing a course in civil engineering at the University of Nebraska, where he was graduated as a member of the class of 1898. The ensuing five years he devoted to government surveying work, as previously intimated. He is a man of superabundant energy and progressiveness and his ability has been the force that has moved him forward to the goal of successful achievement in an important industrial field. In politics he is not moved by strict partisan dictates but supports men and measures meeting the approval of his judgment, irrespective of party affiliations.
   In 1914, was solemnized the marriage of Mr. Anderson to Miss Esther Nyquist, of Burt county, Nebraska, she likewise being of staunch Swedish ancestry. They have two children: Melvin and Leonard.

    CHRISTOPHER G. ABBOTT. -- There are residents in every progressive town and city in western Nebraska, living retired from active pursuits perhaps, but by no means to be considered aged, who can, from personal experience, depict an entirely different life from the quiet, orderly, law abiding commercial activities and social enterprises of today. Through such reminiscences come the realization of the marvelous changes that the passage of thirty years have brought about. A representative of the old-time period mentioned, now one of Crawford's substantial citizens, is found in Christopher G. Abbott.
   Christopher G. Abbott was born January 15, 1860, in Wabasha county, Minnesota. His parents were George and Ellen (Woods) Abbott, the former of whom was born in Ireland and the latter in England. They were married in the city of Chicago, Illinois, and in 1858, settled as farming people in Minnesota, journeying to that state by ox teams. The father bought land but had not progressed far in its development, when the Civil War came on. In 1862, he enlisted in Company K, Ninth Minnesota Volunteer Infantry, and in the same year, led by Captain Capound, the

Prior page
General index
Next page

   © 1999, 2000, 2001 for NEGenWeb Project by Pam Rietsch, Ted & Carole Miller