NEGenWeb Project
Resource Center
On-Line Library



home in North Dakota. In their family were six children, four sons and two daughters, of whom one son is now a resident of Fairmont, Fillmore county, but none of the others are living in the county with the exception of Mrs. Stines. Her maternal grandfather, Reuben Bly, a native of Wales, came to America at the age of sixteen years and settled in New York, but later in life removed to Grundy county, Iowa, where his death occurred in 1893. The children born to our subject and his wife are Clara R., Fletcher H., Hilda A., Ruth A. and Hal Jr., all still living. In his social relations Mr. Stines is a member of the Ancient Order of United Workmen, and in politics is a stalwart Republican, but has never sought nor desired political honors. In business affairs he has been very successful, and in all the relations of life his career has been such as to win for him the confidence and esteem of all with whom he has come in contact. 

Letter/label or barENJAMIN HUNKINS.--Nebraska may well count among her influential citizens the gentleman whose name heads these few paragraphs. He has been a man of untiring energy and since the early days has helped in upbuilding the better interests of the western states. He is now living in retirement in his home on section 6, M precinct, near Beaver Crossing. Mr. Hunkins' birthplace was Charleston, Vermont, and the date of his nativity, 1810. His grandfather, Robert Hunkins, was born in Connecticut in 1730. He settled at Newbury, Vermont, and during the Revolution formed a company of minute men and went with General Stark to join General Gates at Bennington. He was with Stark on the occasion of his memorable speech to his men: "There are the Red Coats. To-day we whip them or to-night Mollie Stark is a widow." Robert Hunkins died about 1820.

      He left six sons, of whom our subject's father, Robert H. Hunkins, was the third. He was born in Newbury, Orange county, Vermont, in 1774. He was a farmer and followed his occupation in his native state, afterward going to Hampstead, New Hampshire, where he married Hannah Emerson, a relative of Ralph Waldo Emerson. To this union were born five sons: Sargeant, Robert, Benjamin, James and Hazen.

     In 1840 our subject moved with his father's family to Wisconsin and settled in what is now Waukesha county. He was then thirty years of age and he took a farm in the heavily timbered country for himself and worked earnestly to clear it for cultivation. His intellectual abilities gained him an enviable reputation and he was twice called upon to serve in the territorial legislature of Wisconsin. He was also a member of the first constitutional convention of Wisconsin and served in the state legislature in 1860, with A. N. Randall, who was afterward governor of that state. Mr. Randall and Mr. Hunkins were personal friends. After settling in Nebraska, Mr. Hunkins closely identified himself with the growth and development of Seward county. He was active in directing the course of the Elkhorn railroad through this county, at the time of its projection, and in recognition of his service the town of Hunkins was named for him. It has since been changed to Cordova on account of the postoffice name. Mr. Hunkins, at the age of eighty-eight, retains his mental vigor and occupies a high place in the estimation of his large circle of friends in Seward county. 

Letter/label or bar. A. SWARTS, whose home is in West Blue township, is one of the most successful agriculturists of Fillmore county. Tireless energy, keen perception, honesty of purpose, genius for devising and executing the right thing at the right time, joined




to every-day common sense, guided by resistless will power, are the chief characteristics of the man and have been the means of bringing to him his prosperity.

      Mr. Swarts was born in Ontario, Brant county, Canada, May 3, 1851, and is a son of William and Lucretia (Crary) Swarts, the former born in Pennsylvania, of Pennsylvania-Dutch stock, the latter born in New York state. They were married in Canada, and there their children were born. Their father was reared in that country and there followed farming for many years, being called to his final rest in 1883. He had eight children, five sons and three daughters. The mother of our subject, who was his second wife, is still living in Canada.

      Our subject is indebted to the public schools of the Dominion for his educational advantages, and his business training was obtained upon the home farm. In 1868 he came to the United States and first settled in Livingston county, Illinois, near Chatsworth, where he worked as a farm hand for three years. He then rented land there and engaged in farming on his own account until the spring of 1878, when he came to Fairmont, Fillmore county, Nebraska. After renting land here for a year, he purchased a farm on section 5, West Blue township, for six dollars per acre. It was all under cultivation and the first year he raised two thousand dollars' worth of wheat, which more than paid for his farm, but the following year he was forced to spend in travel on account of his health, and at the end of that time had to begin again. He raised a good crop worth over two thousand dollars, and in 1882 purchased the farm where he now lives, it being at that time all wild and unimproved land, but he has since placed it under a high state of cultivation and erected good and substantial buildings thereon. He raised excellent crops up to 1890. That year he increased his farm by the purchase of two hundred and forty acres for six thousand dollars, and the following year raised ten thousand bushels of oats and ten thousand bushels of corn on two hundred acres devoted to each. In 1892 he planted one hundred and sixty acres of wheat and raised forty-five bushels to the acre, but the following year his crops were poor, and in 1894 and 1895 they were also light. In 1896, two hundred acres devoted to wheat yielded thirty-five bushels to the acre; the following year the same amount yielded thirty bushels; and in 1898 he harvested nearly eight thousand bushels from two hundred and fifty acres. He has also given considerable attention to stock-raising, making a specialty of cattle and hogs, and in 1883 sold three thousand seven hundred dollars worth of hogs. Although he has met with some losses, he has mainly prospered and now owns five hundred and sixty acres in his home farm, and has four hundred and fifty acres elsewhere in this state and in Colorado, all under a high state of cultivation.

      In Illinois, in December, 1875, was celebrated the marriage of Mr. Swarts and Miss Sarah A. Pearson, a native of Peoria county, Illinois, born in 1855, and a daughter of Hattie and Bennett Pearson, who came from England to this country in 1850 and settled in Illinois, where the father died. Our subject and his wife have a family of seven children as follows: Carrie L., Ernest, Nellie, Lillie, Carl, Roy and Jessie.

      Socially Mr. Swarts belongs to the Masonic fraternity, the Ancient Order of United Workmen and the Modern Woodmen of America; and politically he has been identified with the Republican party since casting his first vote, and assisted in organizing the party in Fillmore county, but has never sought office. His upright, honorable life commends him to the confidence and respect of the entire community in which he lives, and he is widely and favorably known throughout the county.



Letter/label or barICTOR E. VIFQUAIN, JR., one of the prosperous farmers of Seward county, Nebraska, who has added to his possessions by his hard work and honest dealings, was born in Saline county, Nebraska, October 21, 1859. His present home is near Crete, on section 31, of P precinct.

      Mr. Vifquain's father, Colonel Victor Vifquain, was a native of Brussels, and came to America at the age of eighteen years. He was married in Tipton, Missouri, in 1857, to Caroline Veulmans, a native of Louisana (sic). Mrs. Vifquain traces her ancestry to Belgium. In September, 1857, they settled near Camden, Nebraska, at the confluence of the Big Blue and the West Blue rivers. They were the first white settlers in that portion of the state, and during the early days of Nebraska's history Colonel Vifquain was one of the leaders and did much to further the interests of the state. At the outbreak of the Civil war he enlisted, and, having had previous military training, he rapidly rose in rank, gaining the title of colonel. He is again serving his adopted country, and is at present lieuteannt (sic)-colonel of the Third Regiment of Nebraska Volunteers.

      Victor E. Vifquain, Jr., is the oldest child, and has four brothers and one sister. The Nebraska frontier at the time of his early life afforded little opportunity for education, and he was nine years of age before any schooling was offered him. He had instruction under private tutors, and afterward entered the public school. His desire for further knowledge led him to select Doane College, and it was here he completed his education.

      Our subject was married in California, Missouri, to Jennie McFadden, a daughter of George McFadden. Four children have come to bless their home: George Victor, Charles Fordyke, Sylvester E. and William Jennings. They are an interesting group of boys, and with their parents form a pleasant family circle.

      Mr. Vifquain moved to his present home in 1885. He owns the one hundred and sixty acres on which the home is situated, and his surroundings indicate his thrift and the attention he is giving to his pursuits. 

Letter/label or barOBERT J. DOBSON, deceased, a pioneer of Seward county, Nebraska, and a gentleman who labored for the interests of his adopted land with more than usual zeal, was born in county Lathrom, Ireland, October 4, 1848.

      Mr. Dobson's parents, Parke and Ellen (Dobson) Dobson, were natives of Ireland and emigrated to the United States in 1861, settling in Rock Bluffs, Nebraska. They later moved to Ulysses, Nebraska, and engaged in farming. Their death occurred in the latter place. They were the parents of five sons and seven daughters. One son is now living at Ulysses, Nebraska; one at Thayer, Nebraska, and one in Cherry county, Nebraska.

      Our subject received his education in his native country and emigrated to the new world with his parents. He filled the position of fireman on the Union Pacific R. R. for three years and it was the wages thus earned which helped the family in their new western home. He was always ready to lend his influence toward the upbuilding of the western states. He assisted in driving the last spike in the great Union Pacific railroad system. He settled in Seward county, near the present village of Staplehurst, taking a preemption on the farm where he resided until his death and where the family are now living. Their first home on the claim was a dugout. In those early days when he began breaking the land, they were constantly on the watch for Indians and many times were forced to go into hiding to avoid them. During the first year ten acres were put under cultivation. Hard work doubled this the second year and thus the work was



started toward the three hundred and twenty acres which he was operating at the time of his death.

      Mr. Dobson's marriage to Miss Anna Dowers occurred March 9, 1872. Mrs. Dobson was a native of Vermilion county, Illinois, and a daughter of Jacob and Keszar Dowers. Her father was a native of Ohio and her mother of Indiana. Mr. and Mrs. Dobson were the parents of five children; Victor E.; Helena, now Mrs. Charles Feary; Robert L., Elmer and Ira.

      Mr. Dobson died October 2, 1897. He started life with limited resources, but hard work and honesty brought him rich reward. He had a pleasant home and many friends among the prominent citizens of the community. Although he never took an active part in politics Mr. Dobson cast his vote with the Republicans. 

Letter/label or barILLIAM FIELD. whose home is in section 34, precinct D, Seward county, belongs to that large and growing class of intelligent and enterprising farmers who have written their names deep on the face of the fertile soil of Nebraska. Their homes are centers of social and mental comfort and development, and their work in improving and redeeming the wilderness is a credit to themselves and to the community. His estate is adorned by a substantial residence, ample farm buildings and is thickest with trees and other adornments that make it a beautiful prairie home.

      Mr. Field was born in Scott county, Illinois, September 14, 1844, and is a son of John L. and Ellen (Nelson) Field. They were both of English origin, and were early settlers of Pike county. Later on they moved to Scott county, and still later to Logan county, where the husband and father died. The widow is still living, and is an inmate of the home of the subject of this article. She has reached her seventy-eighth year and is still active and interested in the world around her. She was the mother of two children, William and a daughter, Sophia Jane, the wife of J. J. Hubbell, of Glenwood, Iowa. William grew up in Illinois, and as his father died when he was quite young, there was but little opportunity for schooling. There was much work to be done, and he early bent his shoulders to the burden. He was reared a farmer, and when he was fourteen years old worked as a hired hand on an Illinois farm. When he was twenty he rented land, and managed a farm for himself. He was married September 3, 1865, to Miss Eliza Jackman, a daughter of William and Sarah (Wilson) Jackman, and settled in Illinois until locating on his present farm April 14, 1869. It was then all wild, and there were but a few settlers along Lincoln creek. The nearest railroad station was Nebraska City, and Seward was only a foreshadow of what it has since become. It had a store, a postoffice, and a blacksmith shop. Indians passed through the country freely, and it was open wilderness abounding in every sort of wild game ever found in the range. The Fields. lived in a log house with a dirt root, and shared in the delights and discomforts of pioneer life. Mr. Field broke eighty acres and put in a little over half of it the first year to sod corn. He had twenty-five bushels to the acre, and sold what he could spare at a dollar a bushel. The same year he put up a hewed-log house, 16x20, finished like a frame building. In 1870 he had a wheat harvest, but secured only seven bushels to the acres. He has lived on this place to the present time, and while he has known all the ups and downs of a settler's career, taking all things together he has made & steady progress. He brought two good teams with him and about seven hundred dollars in money, and to-day owns seven hundred and twenty acres, highly improved and fitted with all the modern ma-



Picture button




chinery for doing the best work at the least expense. He also owns two hundred acres in La Mar county, Texas, half of which is in cultivation, and the other half in timber. He regards farming as a profession, and devotes all his thought and energy to it. He has made all the improvements on his home farm, and takes a justifiable pride in its fine appearance.

      Mr. and Mrs. Field are the parents of five children, of whom the oldest, Sarah Ellen, is the wife of Albert Campbell, of Tamora, Nebraska, and is herself the mother of three children, Myrtle, Myron and George. Their second daughter, Annie E., Mrs. J. E. Larkin, lives at Long Branch, Washington, and is the mother of three children, William, Roscoe and Olive. A son, William T., was married to Miss Flora Miner, and lives in Gilroy, California. George N. and Charlie, the two younger sons, are still at home. Mr. Fields is not very actively interested in politics, taking mostly an independent position. He was treasurer of district 44 for seven years, and is a popular man at home. Portraits of Mr. and Mrs. Field will be found on another page of this work. 

Letter/label or barHARLES SMRHA, the present efficient postmaster of Milligan, Fillmore county, Nebraska, has been a resident of the county for the past sixteen years, having located in the village of Exeter immediately upon his arrival in this country.

      Mr. Smrha is a native of Bohemia, and was born November 19, 1849. His parents, Albert and Barbara (Vorisek) Smrha, were natives of Bohemia, as were also their twelve children, eight of whom are now living. The subject of this sketch is the only one of this family that ventured to the new world.

      Charles Smrha was reared and educated in his native land, where he learned the trade of harness making. He was united in the bonds of wedlock with Miss Catherine Stulik, in November, 1873. Mrs. Smrha is a Bohemian by birth, and to this marriage six children have been born, as follows: Paulina, Charles, Jr., Benjamin, Anna, Mary, and Albert. Paulina graduated from the Geneva high school and has since been teaching in the Milligan public school. Charles, Jr., attended the schools in Exeter and Geneva and also the Lincoln Normal. He taught school two terms, and in 1898 was appointed deputy of County judge, Skepton, which office he held three months; then enlisted in the First Nebraska Volunteer Infantry, now in Manila, where he is at the present time (April, 1899) working at the headquarters of General McArthur. Benjamin attended school in Exeter and Geneva and has taught school two terms. Anna graduated from the Milligan high school and has also taught two terms.. Mary has attended the Institute for the Deaf and Dumb at Omaha for eight years. Four children in this intelligent family are teachers by profession.

      When our subject first came to America in 1883, he located in Exeter, Nebraska,, and established an extensive harness, making business, which he conducted with profit. He succeeded in educating his children to a high degree, and placing them in position to provide for themselves should it be necessary at any time in life to rely upon it. Mr. Smrha has always taken a great interest in the advancement of higher education in his adopted county, and has always given his support by word and act to enterprises and undertakings of this nature.

      In 1899 he was appointed postmaster of Milligan, which position he fills with efficiency and satisfaction to the people. He is a member in good standing of the A. O. U. W. and Z. C. B. J., also a member of the order of Turners of Milligan. No man in



Fillmore county, is more highly respected, nor more deserving of the confidence and esteem of his fellow citizens. 

Letter/label or barAPTAIN FREDERICK C. BENNETT, a well-known and highly respected citizen of Fairmont, Fillmore county, Nebraska, was born in Windham county, Connecticut, May 23, 1832, a son of Ephraim and Artil M. (Morgan) Bennett, also natives of the Nutmeg state. The paternal grandfather, Stephen Bennett, a native of England, came to America about 1775 and located at Stonington, Connecticut. During the Revolutionary war he entered the Colonial army, and was in the service for seven years. He was with the troops during the memorable winter at Valley Forge, and participated in many of the important battles of the war, but fortunately escaped with only a slight flesh wound across the breast. He married Louisa Johnson, a native of Connecticut, and to them were born five sons, namely: Grafton, Stephen, John, Ephraim and Daniel, all of whom lived and died in Connecticut, and were agriculturists by occupation, as was also their father. Ephraim, the father of our subject, died in 1851, the mother in 1873. In their family were five children, three sons and two daughters.

      Frederick C. Bennett was reared and educated in his native state and for some years followed various occupations, principally manufacturing and farming. On leaving Connecticut in 1875, he came to Fillmore county, Nebraska, and bought a tract of railroad land in West Blue township, to the improvement and cultivation of which he devoted his energies for some years with marked success. Later he followed threshing throughout the county for some years.

      In Berkshire county, Massachusetts, Mr. Bennett was married, in 1852, to Miss Phebe A. Hadsell, a native of that state and a daughter of Moses and Elvira (Taft) Hadsell. Her father was born in Connecticut in 1801, her mother in Massachusetts in 1802, and their entire married life was passed as farming people in Massachusetts. To Mr. and Mrs. Bennett have been born eleven children, namely: Carrie A., wife of W. E. Smith; Moses H.; Frank J.; Fannie M., wife of E. Curtiss; Sarah A., wife of S. Stines; Frederick A.; Ella L., wife of J. H. Waring; Vira L., at home; May T., wife of E. L. Brewer; Robert L.; and Lottie E. All of the daughters have been teachers in the schools of this state, and were very successful. Mr. and Mrs. Bennett are earnest and faithful members of the Methodist Episcopal church, and socially he is a Mason. In politics he is independent, voting for the men whom he believes are best qualified to fill the office regardless of party ties. 

Letter/label or bar. C. KINGSLEY, deceased, who, during all of his residence in York county, contributed much to its financial interests, was born in Indiana in 1839, the son of a farmer. His parents settled in that state during the pioneer days, when agricultural success was attained only through struggles of which the present generation knows little. They made for themselves a comfortable home and remained in Indiana during their life.

      Mr. Kingsley was reared a farmer and while yet a young man moved to Illinois and engaged in that pursuit in Marshall county. He soon became prominent in his community and was elected clerk of the county. He successfully filled this office and was continued in the same capacity for nine successive years. From Marshall county he moved to Peoria, Illinois, and for a short time engaged in the marble trade. Having decided to again turn his attention to farming, he purchased a large tract of land in



York county, Nebraska, and in 1883 established his home. He became interested in the First National Bank of York and was its vice-president at the time of his death. He extended his financial interests and engaged to some extent in the real estate and loan business.

      At the outbreak of the Civil war Mr. Kingsley responded to his country's call and in 1861 enlisted in a company of Illinois Volunteers. He was in many battles during his four years' service and accompanied Sherman on his famous march to the sea. During his army life he received a sunstroke. Although he enlisted a private soldier his faithful attention to his military duties raised him in rank, and when mustered out of the service he was captain of his company.

      Mr. Kingsley was united in marriage in 1860, with Mary Bell, a resident of Illinois, To this union were born seven children, four of whom are now living.

      Mr. Kingsley's second marriage was in 1885 to Fannie Leavett, a daughter of Anthony Leavett, a native of Massachusetts. Mrs. Kingsley, at the time of her marriage, was a resident of Henry county, Illinois. One child was born to Mr. and Mrs. Kingsley, a daughter, upon whom they bestowed the name of Helen L.

      Mr. Kingsley was an honored member of the Masonic fraternity, also the Independent Order of Odd Fellows, and an exemplary member of the Presbyterian church. He was a prominent political worker and advocated Republican principles. His success was due to his energy, his natural ability and his integrity. 

Letter/label or barON. JOHN B. STEWARD, a citizen of York county, Nebraska, and one closely identified with the interests of his community from its early days, was born in York county, Pennsylvania, April 14, 1850. His present home is in Morton township, near Benedict.

      Mr. Steward's parents were Isaac and Hannah (Urey) Steward, natives of Pennsylvania. His grandfather Steward was English by birth. His grandfather Urey emigrated from Germany. Isaac Steward is a carpenter and cabinetmaker and followed this occupation in Pennsylvania until 1870, when he moved to Iowa. In 1873 he located in York county, Nebraska, and in 1896 removed to California, where, at the age of eighty-three, he follows his trade. He is an ex-soldier of the Civil war, enlisting in Pennsylvania in 1864. Hannah Steward, the mother, died in California.

      Our subject was one of five children and has one brother and two sisters still living. He received his education in Pennsylvania, and for a short time followed farming in that state. In 1869 he started west, intending to homestead land in Iowa, but upon reaching there was employed on a farm. In the spring of 1873 he again started westward, and, March 8, entered a homestead claim on section 2, Morton township, in York county, Nebraska. He went overland from Iowa to his new home, crossing the Missouri river on the ice. His first house was a sod house, which afterward burned and was replaced by a model frame dwelling. Mr. Steward followed general farming and stock raising and is now the owner of one hundred and eighty acres of highly improved land. He was awarded a medal at the Columbian Exposition for the best wheat raised in Nebraska, one of six medals awarded in the state. Our subject is a free-silver Republican and a prominent man in political circles. He represented his district in the general assembly of 1891 and was a member of the world's fair commission from Nebraska. He has been elected to several county offices and is at present town clerk. Mr. Steward is one of the public-spirited men of his adopted state



and has great faith in the future of Nebraska and York county.

      In 1869 our subject was married to Miss Mary Meads. Mrs. Steward died in 1877. She was the mother of three children: Eva, Clyde and Laura. The son is the only one now living. Mr. Steward's second marriage was in 1878, to Mrs. Maggie Call Babo, a resident of Iowa, although Indiana was her native home. Four children have blessed this union: Bertha E., now Mrs. Henry Segmore; Dora P.; Etta; and Morris E. They family are members of the United Brethren church.

      Mr. Steward is an honored member of the Masonic fraternity and also the Ancient Order of United Workmen. 

Letter/label or barILLIAM H. BOSSERMAN, the well-known and efficient postmaster of Grafton, and an honored veteran of the Civil war, has been an important factor in the business affairs of the place for several years and since 1886 has conducted a furniture store. He has made good use of his opportunities in life, has conducted all business matters carefully and systematically, and in all his acts displays an aptitude for successful management.

      Mr. Bosserman was born in Licking county, Ohio, November 19, 4842, a son of Samuel and Paulina (Ewing) Bosserman, the former a native of Pennsylvania, the latter of Ohio. The paternal grandfather, Michael Bosserman, a Pennsylvania Dunkard, removed to Ohio at an early day, and died in Perry county, that state. The father continued a resident of Ohio until 1852, when he removed to De Witt county, Illinois, and there spent the remainder of his life. He was a tanner by trade, and followed that occupation in connection with farming, and he also served as postmaster at De Witt, Illinois, for some time. In his family were eight children, four sons and four daughters, of whom our subject and one sister are living in Fillmore county, Nebraska. The father died in 18--, the mother in 1863, honored and respected by all who knew them.

      The education of our subject was mostly acquired in the public schools of Illinois, in which state he grew to manhood. He was about to enter the Normal University at Bloomington, Illinois, when the Civil war broke out, but feeling that his country needed his services he laid aside all personal interests and enlisted, August 45, 1862, in Company B, One Hundred and Seventh Illinois Volunteer Infantry, at Clinton, Dewitt county, Illinois. The first engagement in which he participated was with Morgan in Kentucky, and after some time spent in that state, crossed the line into Tennessee. After taking part in the siege of Knoxville, his command joined Sherman's army, and were later in the fights at Buzzard's Roost, Resaca, Burnt Hickory, Big Shanty, Kenesaw Mountain and Peach Tree Creek. Then followed a number of engagements around Atlanta, the siege of that city, and the battle of Jonesboro, after which the army returned to Tennessee and participated in the battles of Columbia, Franklin and Nashville, Tennessee. They were then sent via Cincinnati to Washington, District of Columbia, and on to Fort Fisher, North Carolina. They took part in the engagement at Fort Saunders, assisted in the capture of Wilmington, North Carolina, Kingston, and then marched across the state, meeting Sherman's army at Goldsboro, where the armies of Sherman and Schofield passed in review before General Grant. After almost three years of arduous service, Mr. Bosserman was mustered out at Salisbury, North Carolina, June 22, 1865, and returned to his home in De Witt county, Illinois, where he remained until 1868.

     That year Mr. Bosserman removed to McLean county, Illinois, where the follow-

Horz. bar

Prior page
TOC part 2
Next page

© 2002 for the NEGenWeb Project by Pam Rietsch, Ted & Carole Miller