THE LURE OF THE PRAIRIES
BY LUCY L. CORRELL
The memories of the long hot days of August, 1874, are burned into the seared recollection of the pioneers of Nebraska. For weeks the gun had poured its relentless rays upon the hopeful, patient people, until the very atmosphere seemed vibrant with the pulsing heat waves.
One day a young attorney of Hebron was called to Nuckolls county to "try a case" before a justice of the peace, near a postoffice known as Henrietta. Having a light spring wagon and two ponies he invited his wife and little baby to accompany him for the drive of twenty-five miles. Anything was better than the monotony of staying at home, and the boundless freedom of the prairies was always enticing. An hour's drive and the heat of the sun became oppressively intense. The barren distance far ahead was unbroken by tree, or house, or field. There was no sound but the steady patter of the ponies' feet over the prairie grass; no moving object but an occasional flying hawk; no road but a trail through the rich prairie grass, and one seemed lost in a wilderness of unvarying green. The heatwaves seemed to rise from the ground and quiver in the air. Soon a wind, soft at first, came from the southwest, but ere long became a hot blast, and reminded one of the heated air from an opened oven door. Added to other inconveniences came the intense thirst produced from the sun and dry atmosphere - and one might have cried "My kingdom for a drink!" - but there was no "kingdom."
After riding about nine miles there came into view the homestead of Teddy McGovern -the only evidence of life seen on that long day's drive. Here was a deep well of cold water. Cheery words of greeting and hearty handclasps evidenced that all were neighbors in those days. Again turning westward a corner of the homestead was passed where were several little graves among young growing trees -"Heartache corner" it272
THE LURE OF THE PRAIRIES
might have been called. The sun shone as relentless there as upon all Nebraska, that scorching summer.
As the afternoon wore on, looking across the prairies the heatwaves seemed to pulse and beckon us on; the lure of the prairies was upon us, and had we chosen we could not but have obeyed. Only the pioneers knew how to endure, to close their eyes to exclude the burning light, and close the lips to the withering heat.
At last our destination was reached at the homestead of the justice of the peace. We were gladly seated to a good supper with the host and family of growing boys. After the meal the "Justice Court" was held out of doors in the shade of the east side of the house, there being more room and "more air" outside. The constable, the offender, the witness and attorney and a few neighbors constituted the prairie court, and doubtless the decisions were as legal and as lasting as those of more imposing surroundings of later days.
But the joy of the day had only just begun, for as the sun went down, so did even the hot wind, leaving the air so heavy and motionless and oppressive one felt his lungs closing up. The boys of the family sought sleep out of doors, the others under the low roof of a two-roomed log house. Sleep was impossible, rest unknown until about midnight, when mighty peals of thunder and brilliant lightning majestically announced the oncoming Nebraska storm. No lights were needed, as nature's electricity was illuminatingly sufficient. The very logs quivered with the thunder's reverberations, and soon a terrific wind loaded with hail beat against the little house until one wondered whether it were better to be roasted alive by nature's consuming heat, or torn asunder by the warring elements. But the storm beat out its fury, and with daylight Old Sol peeped over the prairies with a drenched but smiling face.
Adieus were made and the party started homeward. After a few miles' travel the unusual number of grasshoppers was commented upon, and soon the air was filled with their white bodies and beating wings; then the alarming fact dawned upon the travelers that this was a grasshopper raid. The pioneers had lived through the terrors of Indian raids, but this assault from an enemy outside of the human realm was a new experience. The ponies were urged eastward, but the hoppers cheerfully kept pace and were seen to be outdistancing the travelers. They
NEBRASKA PIONEER REMINISCENCES
filled the air and sky and obliterated even the horizon. Heat, thirst, distance were all submerged in the appalling dread of what awaited.
As the sun went down the myriads of grasshoppers "went to roost." Every vegetable, every weed and blade of grass bore its burden. On the clothes-line the hoppers were seated two and three deep; and upon the windlass rope which drew the bucket from the well they clung and entwined their bodies.
The following morning the hungry millions raised in the air, saluted the barren landscape and proceeded to set an emulating pace for even the busy bee. They flew and beat about, impudently slapping their wings against the upturned, anxious faces, and weary eyes, trying to penetrate through the apparent snowstorm - the air filled with the white bodies of the ravenous hordes. This appalling sight furnished diversion sufficient to the inhabitants of the little community for that day.
People moved quietly about, in subdued tones wondering what the outcome would be. How long would the hoppers remain? Would they deposit their eggs to hatch the following spring and thus perpetuate their species? Would the old progenitors return?
But, true to the old Persian proverb, "this too, passed away." The unwelcome intruders departed leaving us with an occasional old boot-leg, or leather strap, or dried rubber, from which the cormorants had sucked the "juice."
The opening of the next spring was cold and rainy. Not many of the grasshopper eggs hatched. Beautiful Nebraska was herself again and "blossomed as the rose."
SUFFRAGE IN NEBRASKA
Statement by Mrs. Gertrude M. McDowell
When I was requested to write a short article in regard to woman's suffrage in Nebraska I thought it would be an easy task. As the days passed and my thoughts became confusedly spread over the whole question from its incipiency, it proved to be not an easy task but a most difficult one. There was so much of interest that one hardly knew where to begin and what to leave unsaid.
This question has been of life-long interest to me and I have always been in full sympathy with the movement. When the legislature in 1882 submitted the suffrage amendment to the people of the state of Nebraska for their decision, we were exceedingly anxious concerning the outcome.
A state suffrage association was formed. Mrs. Brooks of Omaha was elected president; Mrs. Bittenbender of Lincoln, recording secretary; Gertrude M. McDowell of Fairbury, corresponding secretary.
There were many enthusiastic workers throughout the state. Among them, I remember Mrs. Clara Bewick Colby, of Beatrice, whom we considered our general; Mrs. Lucinda Russell and Mrs. Mary Holmes of Tecumseh, Mrs. Annie M. Steele of Fairbury, Mrs. A. J. Sawyer, Mrs. A. J. Caldwell, and Mrs. Deborah King of Lincoln, Mrs. E. M. Correll of Hebron and many more that I do not now recall.
There were many enthusiastic men over the state who gave the cause ardent support. Senator E. M. Correll of Hebron was ever on the alert to aid in convention work and to speak a word which might carry conviction to some unbeliever.
Some years previous to our campaign, Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Lucy Stone on one of their lecture tours in the West were so impressed with the enthusiasm and good work of Hon. E. M. Correll that they elected him president of the National Suffrage Association, for one year. I also recall Judge Ben S. Baker, now of Omaha, and C. F. Steele of Fairbury, as staunch sup-275
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porters of the measure. During the campaign, many national workers were sent into the state, among them Susan B. Anthony, Phoebe Couzens, Elizabeth Saxon of New Orleans, and others. They directed and did valiant work in the cause. We failed to carry the measure in the state, but we are glad to note that it carried in our own town of Fairbury.
Thanks to the indomitable personality of our Nebraska women, they began immediately to plan for another campaign. In 1914, our legislature again submitted an amendment and it was again defeated. Since then I have been more than ever in favor of making the amendment a national one, President Wilson to the contrary notwithstanding - not because we think the educational work is being entirely lost, but because so much time and money are being wasted on account of our foreign population and their attitude towards reform. It is a grave and a great question. One thing we are assured of, viz: that we will never give up our belief in the final triumph of our great cause.
It is a far cry from the first woman's suffrage convention in 1850, brought about by the women who were excluded from acting as delegates at the anti-slavery convention in London in 1840.
Thus a missionary work was begun then and there for the emancipation of women in "the land of the free and the home of the brave." We can never be grateful enough to Lucretia Mott, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Susan B. Anthony, and other noble, self-sacrificing women who did so much pioneer work in order to bring about better laws for women and in order to change the moth-eaten thought of the world.
Many felt somewhat discouraged when the election returns from New Jersey, Massachusetts, and New York announced the defeat of the measure, but really when we remember the long list of states that have equal suffrage we have reason to rejoice and to take new courage. We now have Wyoming, Kansas, Utah, Idaho, Colorado, California, Oregon, Washington, Nevada, Montana, Arizona, New Mexico, Alaska, and Illinois, besides the countries of Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Iceland, Finland, New Zealand, Australia, Nova Scotia, and some parts of England.
In the future when the cobwebs have all been swept from the mind of the world and everyone is enjoying the new atmosphere of equal rights only a very few will realize the struggle these
SUFFRAGE IN NEBRASKA
brave women endured in order to bring about better conditions for the world.
Statement by Lucy L. Correll
Hebron, Thayer county, Nebraska, was the cradle of the Nebraska woman suffrage movement, as this was the first community in the state to organize a permanent woman's suffrage association.
Previous to this organization the subject had been agitated through editorials in the Hebron Journal, and by a band of progressive, thinking women. Upon their request the editor of the Journal, E. M. Correll, prepared an address upon "Woman and Citizenship." Enthusiasm was aroused, and a column of the Journal was devoted to the interests of women, and was ably edited by the coterie of ladies having the advancement of the legal status of women at heart.
Through the efforts of Mr. Correll, Susan B. Anthony was induced to come to Hebron and give her lecture on "Bread versus the Ballot," on October 30, 1877. Previous to this time many self-satisfied women believed they had all the "rights" they wanted, but they were soon awakened to a new consciousness of their true status wherein they discovered their "rights" were only "privileges."
On April 15, 1879, Mrs. Elizabeth Cady Stanton, upon invitation, lectured in Hebron and organized the Thayer County Woman's Suffrage Association. This society grew from fifteen, the number at organization, to about seventy-five, many leading business men becoming members.
Other organizations in the state followed, and at the convening of the Nebraska legislature of 1881, a joint resolution providing for the submission to the electors of this state an amendment to section 1, article VII, of the constitution, was presented by Representative E. M. Correll, and mainly through his efforts passed the house by the necessary three-fifths majority, and the senate by twenty-two to eight, but was defeated at the polls.
During that memorable campaign of 1881-82, Lucy Stone Blackwell, and many other talented women of note, from the eastern states, lectured in Nebraska for the advancement of women, leaving the impress of the nobility of their characters upon the women of the middle West.
NEBRASKA PIONEER REMINISCENCES
The Thayer County Woman's Suffrage Association was highly honored, as several of its members held positions of trust in the state association, and one of its members, Hon. E. M. Correll, who was publishing the Woman's Journal, at Lincoln, at the time of the annual conference of the American Woman's Suffrage Association, at Louisville, Kentucky, in October, 1881, was elected to the important position of president of that national organization, in recognition of the work he had performed for the advancement of the cause of "Equality before the Law."
This association served its time and purpose and after many years was instrumental in organizing the Hebron Library Association.
The constitution and by-laws of this first woman's suffrage association of the state axe still well preserved. The first officers were: Susan E. Ferguson, president; Harriet G. Huse, vice president; Barbara J. Thompson, secretary; Lucy L. Correll, treasurer; A. Martha Vermillion, corresponding secretary. Of these first officers only one is now living.
AN INDIAN RAID
By ERNEST E. CORRELL
In 1869, Fayette Kingsley and family resided on the Haney homestead at the southeast corner of Hebron, where Mr. Haney had been brutally murdered in the presence of his three daughters in 1867, the daughters escaping and eventually reaching their home, "back east."
On May 26, 1869, "Old Daddy" Marks, accompanied by a young man for protection, drove over from Rose creek to warn Kingsley's that the Indians were on a raid. While they were talking, Mr. Kingsley heard the pit-pat of the Indian horses on the wet prairie. From the west were riding thirty-six Indians, led by a white man, whose hat and fine boots attracted attention in contrast to the bareheaded Indians wearing moccasins.
In the house were enough guns and revolvers to shoot sixty rounds without loading. When Mrs. Kingsley saw the Indians approaching she scattered the arms and ammunition on the table where the men could get them. There were two Spencer carbines, a double-barreled shotgun, and two navy revolvers, besides other firearms.
Mr. Kingsley and Charlie Miller (a young man from the East who was boarding with them) went into the house, got the guns, and leveled them on the Indians, who had come within 250 yards of the log-house, but who veered off on seeing the guns. One of the party at the house exclaimed, "The Indians are going past and turning off!" Mr. Marks then said, "Then for God's sake, don't shoot!"
The Indians went on down the river and drove away eleven of King Fisher's horses. Two of Fisher's boys lay concealed in the grass and saw the white leader of the Indians remove his hat, showing his close-cut hair. He talked the Indian language and ordered the redskins to drive up a pony, which proved to be lame and was not taken. The Indians continued their raid nearly to Meridian.
Meanwhile at Kingsley's preparations were made for a hurried flight. Mr. Marks said he must go home to protect his own family on Rose creek, but the young man accompanying him insisted that he cross the river and return by way of Alexander's279
NEBRASKA PIONEER REMINISCENCES
ranch on the Big Sandy, as otherwise they would be following the Indians. Mr. Kingsley, with his wife and three children, went with them to Alexander's ranch, staying there two weeks until Governor Butler formed a company of militia composed of the settlers, to protect the frontier. A company of the Second U. S. Cavalry was sent here and stationed west of Hackney, later that summer. The Indians killed a man and his son, and took their horses, less than two miles from the soldiers' camp.
On returning to the homestead, two cows and two yoke of oxen were found all right. Before the flight, Mr. Kingsley had torn down the pen, letting out a calf and a pig. Sixty days later, on recovering the pig, Mr. Kingsley noticed a sore spot on its back, and he pulled out an arrow point about three inches long.
The Indians had taken all the bedding and eatables, even taking fresh baked bread out of the oven. They tore open the feather-bed and scattered the contents about - whether for amusement or in search of hidden treasures is not known. They found a good pair of boots, and cut out the fine leather tops (perhaps for moccasins) but left the heavy soles. From a new harness they also took all the fine straps and left the tugs and heavy leather. They had such a load that at the woodpile they discarded Mr. Kingsley's double-barreled shotgun, which had been loaded with buckshot for them.
Captain Wilson, a lawyer who boarded with Mr. Kingsley, had gone to warn King Fisher, leaving several greenbacks inside a copy of the Nebraska statutes. These the Indians found and appropriated - perhaps their white leader was a renegade lawyer accustomed to getting money out of the statutes.
In 1877 Mr. Kingsley's family had a narrow escape from death in a peculiar manner. After a heavy rain the walls of his basement caved in. His children occupied two beds standing end to end and filling the end of the basement. When the rocks from the wall caved in, both beds were crushed to the floor and a little pet dog on one of the beds was killed, but the children had no bones broken. Presumably the bedding protected them and the breaking of the bedsteads broke the jar of the rocks on their bodies.
Mr. Kingsley has a deeply religious nature, and believes that Divine protection has been with him through life.
BY MRS. E. A. RUSSELL
In September, 1884, Rev. E. A. Russell was transferred by the American Baptist Publication Society from his work in the East to Nebraska, and settled on an eighty-acre ranch near Ord. Mr. Russell had held pastorates for twenty-six years in New Hampshire, New York, and Indiana, but desired to come west for improvement in health. He was accompanied by his family of seven. Western life was strange and exciting with always the possibility of an Indian raid, and dangerous prairie fires. It was the custom to plow a wide furrow around the home buildings as a precaution against the latter.
The first year in Nebraska, our oldest daughter, Alice M. Russell, was principal of the Ord school, and Edith taught in the primary grade.
On the fifth of August, 1885, late in the afternoon, a terrific hail-storm swept over the country. All crops were destroyed; even the grass was beaten into the earth, so there was little left as pasture for cattle. Pigs and poultry were killed by dozens and the plea of a tender-hearted girl, that a poor calf, beaten down by hailstones, might be brought "right into the kitchen," was long remembered. Not a window in our house remained unbroken. The floor was covered with rain and broken glass and ice; and our new, white, hard-finished walls and ceilings were bespattered and disfigured.
This hail-storm was a general calamity. The whole country suffered and many families returned, disheartened, to friends in the East.
The Baptist church was so shattered that, for its few members, it was no easy task to repair it. But they soon put it in good condition, only to see it utterly wrecked by a small cyclone the following October.
The income that year from a forty-acre cornfield was one small "nubbin" less than three inches in length.
All these things served to emphasize the heart-rending stories281
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we had heard of sufferings of early pioneers. The nervous shock sustained by the writer was so great that a year elapsed before she was able to see clearly, or to read. As she was engaged on the four years' post-graduate course of the Chautauqua Literary and Scientific Circle, her eldest son read aloud to her during that year and her work was completed at the same time as he and his younger sister graduated with the class of 1887.
Some time later the writer organized a Chautauqua Circle, Ord's first literary society. Its president was a Mr. King and its secretary E. J. Clements, now of Lincoln, Nebraska.
During our second winter in Nebraska the writer did not see a woman to speak to after her daughters went to their schools in Lincoln, where one was teaching and the other a University pupil.
Of the "Minnie Freeman Storm" in January, 1888, all our readers have doubtless heard. Our two youngest boys were at school a mile away; but fortunately we lived south of town and they reached home in safety.
In 1881 Fort Hartsuff, twelve miles away, had been abandoned. The building of this fort had been the salvation of pioneers, giving them work and wages after the terrible scourge of locusts in 1874. It was still the pride of those who had been enabled to remain in the desolated country and we heard much about it. So, when a brother came from New England to visit an only sister on the "Great American Desert," we took an early start one morning and visited "The Fort." The buildings, at that time, were in fairly good condition. Officers' quarters, barracks, commissary buildings, stables, and other structures were of concrete, so arranged as to form a hollow square; and, near by on a hill, was a circular stockade, which was said to be connected with the fort by an underground passage.
A prominent figure in Ord in 1884 was an attractive young lady who later married Dr. F. D. Haldeman. In 1904 Mrs. Haldeman organized Coronado chapter, Daughters of the American Revolution. Her sister, Dr. Minerva Newbecker, has practiced medicine in Ord for many years. Another sister, Clara Newbecker, has long been a teacher in the public schools of Chicago. These three sisters, who descended from Lieutenant Philip Newbecker, of Revolutionary fame, and Mrs. Nellie Coombs, are the only living charter members of Coronado chapter. The
chapter was named in honor of that governor of New Galicia, in Mexico who is supposed to have passed through some portion of our territory in 1540 when he fitted out an expedition to seek and christianize the people of that wonderful region where "golden bells and dishes of solid gold" hung thick upon the trees.
About all that is definitely known is that he set up a cross at the big river, with the inscription: "Thus far came Francisco de Coronado, General of an expedition."
And now, in 1915, the family of seven, by one marriage after another, has dwindled to a lonely - two.
The head of our household, with recovered health, served his denomination twenty years in this great field, comprising Nebraska, Upper Colorado, and Wyoming. He retired in 1904 to the sanctuary of a quiet home.
REMINISCENCES OF FORT CALHOUN
BY W. H. ALLEN
I reached Fort Calhoun in May, 1856, with my friends, Mr. and Mrs. John Allen; coming with team and wagon from Edgar county, Illinois. I was then eleven years old. Fort Calhoun had no soldiers, but some of the Fort Atkinson buildings were still standing. I remember the liberty pole, the magazine, the old brick-yard, at which places we children played and picked up trinkets. There was one general store then, kept by Pink Allen and Jascoby, and but few settlers. Among those I remember were, my uncle, Thomas Allen; E. H. Clark, a land agent; Col. Geo. Stevens and family, who started a hotel in 1856, and Orrin Rhoades, whose family lived on a claim five miles west of town. That summer my father took a claim near Rhoades', building a log house and barn at the edge of the woods. We moved there in the fall, and laid in a good supply of wood for the huge fireplace, used for cooking as well as heating. Our rations were scanty, consisting of wild game for meat, corn bread, potatoes and beans purchased at Fort Calhoun. The next spring we cleared some small patches for garden and corn, which we planted and tended with a hoe. There were no houses between ours and Fort Calhoun, nor any bridges. Rhoades' house and ours were the only ones between Fontenelle and Fort Calhoun. Members of the Quincy colony at Fontenelle went to Council Bluffs for flour and used our place as a half-way house, stopping each way over night. How we children did enjoy their company, and stories of the Indians. We were never molested by the red men, only that they would come begging food occasionally.
I had no schooling until 1860 when I worked for my board in Fort Cahoun at E. H. Clark's and attended public school a few months. The next two years I did likewise, boarding at Alex. Reed's.
From 1866 to 1869 inclusive I cut cord-wood and railroad ties which I hauled to Omaha for use in the building of the Union284
REMINISCENCES OF FT. CALHOUN
Pacific railroad. I received from $8.00 to $15.00 per cord for my wood, and $1.00 each for ties.
Deer were plentiful and once when returning from Omaha I saw an old deer and fawn. Unhitching my team I jumped on one horse and chased the young one down, caught and tamed it. I put a bell on its neck and let it run about at will. It came to its sleeping place every night until the next spring when it left, never to be seen by us again.
In the fall of 1864 1 was engaged by Edward Creighton to freight with a wagon train to Denver, carrying flour and telegraph supplies. The cattle were corralled and broke at Cole's creek, west of Omaha known then as "Robber's Roost," and I thought it great fun to yoke and break those wild cattle. We started in October with forty wagons, seven yoke of oxen to each wagon. I went as far as Fort Cottonwood, one hundred miles beyond Fort Kearny, reaching there about November 20. There about a dozen of us grew tired of the trip and turned back with a wagon and one ox team. On our return, at Plum creek, thirty-fives miles west of Fort Kearny we saw where a train had been attacked by Indians, oxen killed, wagons robbed and abandoned. We waded the rivers, Loup Fork and Platte, which was a cold bath at that time of year.
I lived at this same place in the woods until I took a homestead three miles farther west in 1868.
My father's home was famous at that time, also years afterward, as a beautiful spot, in which to hold Fourth of July celebrations, school picnics, etc., and the hospitality and good cooking of my mother, "Aunt Polly Allen" as she was familiarly called, was known to all the early settlers in this section of the country.
REMINISCENCES OF WASHINGTON COUNTY
BY MRS. EMILY BOTTORFF ALLEN
I came to Washington county, Nebraska, with my parents in the fall of 1865, by ox team from Indiana. We stopped at Rockport, where father and brothers got work at wood chopping. They built a house by digging into a hill and using logs to finish the front. The weather was delightful, and autumn's golden tints in the foliage were beautiful.
We gathered hazel nuts and wild grapes, often searing a deer from the underbrush. Our neighbors were the Shipleys, who were very hospitable, and shared their garden products with us.
During the winter father bought John Frazier's homestead, but our home was still in a dugout, in which we were comfortable. We obtained all needed supplies from Fort Calhoun or Omaha.
In the spring Amasa Warrick, from Cuming City, came to our home in search of a teacher and offered me the position, which I accepted. Elam Clark of Fort Calhoun endorsed my teacher's certificate. I soon commenced teaching at Cuming City, and pupils came for miles around. I boarded at George A. Brigham's. Mr. Brigham was county surveyor, postmaster, music teacher, as well as land agent, and a very fine man.
One day, while busy with my classes, the door opened and three large Indians stole in, seating themselves near the stove. I was greatly alarmed and whispered to one of my pupils to hasten to the nearest neighbor for assistance. As soon as the lad left, one Indian went to the window and asked "Where boy go?" I said, "I don't know." The three Indians chattered together a moment, and then the spokesman said, "I kill you sure," but seeing a man coming in the distance with a gun, they all hurried out and ran over the hill.
I taught at Cuming City until the school fund was exhausted, and by that time the small schoolhouse on Long creek was completed. Allen Craig and Thomas McDonald were directors. I boarded at home and taught the first school in this district, with286
fourteen pupils enrolled. At this time Judge Bowen of Omaha was county superintendent, and I went there to have my certificate renewed.
When all the public money in the Long Creek district was used up, I went back to Cuming City to teach. The population of this district had increased to such an extent that I needed an assistant, and I was authorized to appoint one of my best pupils to the position. I selected Vienna Cooper, daughter of Dr. P. J. Cooper. I boarded at the Lippincott home, known as the "Halfway House" on the stage line between Omaha and Decatur. It was a stage station where horses were changed and drivers and passengers stopped over night.
At the close of our summer term we held a picnic and entertainment on the Methodist church grounds, using the lumber for the new church for our platform and seats. This entertainment was pronounced the grandest affair ever held in the West.
The school funds of the Cuming City district being again exhausted, I returned to Long Creek district in the fall of 1867, and taught as long as there was any money in the treasury. By that time the village of Blair had sprung up, absorbing Cuming City and Do Soto, and I was employed to teach in their new log schoolhouse. T. M. Carter was director of the Blair district. Orrin Colby of Bell Creek, was county superintendent, and he visited the schools of the county, making the rounds on foot. I taught at Blair until April, 1869, when I was married to William Henry Allen, a pioneer of Fort Calhoun. Our license was issued by Judge Stilts of Fort Calhoun, where we were married by Dr. Andrews. We raised our family in the Long Creek district, and still reside where we settled in those pioneer days.
REMINISCENCES OF PIONEER LIFE AT FORT CALHOUN
BY MRS. N. J. FRAZIER BROOKS
I came to Nebraska in the spring of 1857 from Edgar county, Illinois, with my husband, Thomas Frazier, and small daughter, Mary. We traveled in a wagon drawn by oxen, took a claim one and one-half miles south of Fort Calhoun and thought we were settling near what would be Nebraska's metropolis. My husband purchased slabs at the saw mill, at Calhoun and built our shanty of one room with a deck roof. For our two yoke of oxen he made a shed of poles and grass and we all were comfortable and happy in our new home. In the spring Mr. Frazier broke prairie, put in the most extensive crops hereabouts, for my husband was young and ambitious. We had brought enough money with us to buy everything obtainable in this new country, but he would often say, "I'd hate to have the home folks see how you and Mary have to live." Deer were a common sight and we ate much venison; wild turkeys were also plentiful. They could be heard every morning and my husband would often go in our woods and get one for our meat.
In 1859 he went to Boone county, Iowa, and bought a cow, hauling her home in a wagon. She soon had a heifer calf and we felt that our herd was well started. The following winter was so severe that during one storm we brought the cow in our house to save her. The spring of 1860 opened up fine and as we had prospered and were now making money from our crops we built us a frame house, bought a driving team, cows, built fences, etc. I still own this first claim, and although my visions of Fort Calhoun were never realized I know of no better place in which to live and ray old neighbors, some few of whom are still here, proved to be everlasting friends.288
REMINISCENCES OF DE SOTO IN 1855
BY OLIVER BOUVIER
Mother Bouvier, a kind old soul, who settled in De Soto in the summer of 1855, had many hardships. Just above her log house, on the ridge, was the regular Indian trail and the Indians made it a point to stop at our house regularly, as they went to Fort Calhoun or to Omaha. She befriended them many times and they always treated her kindly. "Omaha Mary," who was often a caller at our house was always at the head of her band. She was educated and could talk French well to us. What she said was law with all the Indians. Our creek was thick with beavers and as a small boy I could not trap them, but she could, and had her traps there and collected many skins from our place. I wanted her to show me the trick of it, but she would never allow me to follow her. At one time I sneaked along and she caught me in the act and grabbed me by the collar and with a switch in her hand, gave me a severe warming. This same squaw was an expert with bow and arrow, and I have seen her speedily cross the Missouri river in a canoe with but one oar. Our wall was always black and greasy by the Indians sitting against it while they ate the plates of mush and sorghum my mother served them. I have caught many buffalo calves out on the prairies, and one I brought to our De Soto home and tamed it. My sister Adeline, and myself tried to break it to drive with an ox hitched to a sled, but never succeeded to any great extent. One day Joseph La Flesche came along and offered us $50.00 for it and we sold it to him but he found he could not separate it from our herd, so bought a heifer, which it would follow and Mr. Joseph Boucha and myself took them up to the reservation for him. He entertained us warmly at his Indian quarters for two or three days. I have cured many buffalo steak (by the Indian method) and we used the meat on our table.289
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