BY THOMAS M. CARTER
In the spring of 1855, with my brother, Alex Carter, E. P. and D. D. Stout, I left the beautiful hills and valleys of Ohio, to seek a home in the west. After four weeks of travel by steamboat and stage, horseback and afoot, we reached the town of Omaha, then only a small village. It took us fourteen days to make the trip from St. Louis to Omaha.
While waiting at Kanesville or Council Bluffs as it is now called, we ascended the hills back of the town and gazed across to the Nebraska side. I thought of Daniel Boone as he wandered westward on the Kentucky hills looking into Ohio. "Fair was the scene that lay before the little band, that paused upon its toilsome way, to view the new found land."
At St. Mary we met Peter A. Sarpy. He greeted us all warmly and invited all to get out of the stage and have a drink at his expense. As an inducement to settle in Omaha, we were each offered a lot anywhere on the townsite, if we would build on it, but we had started for De Soto, Washington county, and no ordinary offer could induce us to change our purpose.
We thought that with such an excellent steamboat landing and quantities of timber in the vicinity, De Soto had as good a chance as Omaha to become the metropolis. We reached De Soto May 14, 1855, and found one log house finished and another under way. Zaremba Jackson, a newspaper man, and Dr. Finney occupied the log cabin and we boarded with them until we had located a claim and built a cabin upon the land we subsequently entered and upon which the city of Blair is now built.
After I had built my cabin of peeled willow poles the Cuming City Claim Club warned me by writing on the willow poles of my cabin that if I did not abandon that claim before June 15, 1855, 1 would be treated to a free bath in Fish creek and free, transportation across the Missouri river. This however proved to be merely a bluff. I organized and was superintendent of the first Sunday school in Washington county in the spring of 1856.290
The first board of trustees of the Methodist church in the county was appointed by Rev. A. G. White, on June 1, 1866, and consisted of the following members, Alex Carter, L. D. Cameron, James Van Horn, M. B. Wilds, and myself. The board met and resolved itself into a building committee and appointed me as chairman. We then proceeded to devise means to provide for a church building at Cuming City, by each member of the board subscribing fifty dollars. At the second meeting it was discovered that this was inadequate and it was deemed necessary for this subscription to be doubled. The church was built, the members of the committee hewing logs of elm, walnut, and oak for sills and hauling with ox teams. The church was not completely finished but was used for a place of worship. This building was moved under the supervision of Rev. Jacob Adriance and by his financial support from Cuming City to Blair in 1870. Later it was sold to the Christian church, moved off and remodeled and is still doing service as a church building in Blair.
Jacob Adriance was the first regular Methodist pastor to be assigned to the mission extending from De Soto to Decatur. His first service was held at De Soto on May 3, 1857, at the home of my brother, Jacob Carter, a Baptist. The congregation consisted of Jacob Carter, his family of five, Alex Carter, myself and wife.
The winter before Rev. Adriance came Isaac Collins was conducting protracted meetings in De Soto and so much interest was being aroused that some of the ruffians decided to break up the meetings. One night they threw a dead dog through a window hitting the minister in the back, knocking over the candles and leaving us in darkness. The minister straightened up and declared, "The devil isn't dead in De Soto yet."
I was present at the Calhoun claim fight at which Mr. Goss was killed and Purple and Smith were wounded.
The first little log school was erected on the townsite of Blair, the patrons cutting and hauling the lumber. I was the first director and Mrs. William Allen nee Emily Bottorff, first teacher.
I served as worthy patriarch of the First Sons of Temperance organization in the county and lived in De Soto long enough to see the last of the whiskey traffic banished from that township.
I have served many years in Washington county as school director, justice of the peace, and member of the county board.
NEBRASKA PIONEER REMINISCENCES
In October, 1862, I joined the Second Nebraska cavalry for service on the frontier. Our regiment lost a few scalps and buried a number of Indians. We bivouacked on the plains, wrapped in our blankets, while the skies smiled propitiously over us and we dreamed of home and the girls we left behind us, until reveille called to find the drapery of our couch during the night had been reinforced by winding sheets of drifting snow.
FORT CALHOUN IN THE LATER FIFTIES
BY MRS. E. H. CLARK
E. H. Clark came from Indiana in March, 1855, with Judge James Bradley, and was clerk of the district court in Nebraska under him. He became interested in Fort Calhoun, then the county-seat of Washington county. The town company employed him to survey it into town lots, plat the same, and advertise it. New settlers landed here that spring and lots were readily sold. In June, 1855, Mr. Clark contracted with the proprietors to put up a building on the townsite for a hotel; said building to be 24x48 feet, two stories high, with a wing of the same dimensions; the structure to be of hewn logs and put up in good style. For this he was to receive one-ninth interest in the town. Immediately he commenced getting out timber, boarding in the meantime with Major Arnold's family, and laboring under many disadvantages for want of skilled labor and teams, there being but one span of horses and seven yoke of cattle in the entire precinct at this time. What lumber was necessary for the building had to be obtained from Omaha at sixty dollars per thousand and hauled a circuitous route by the old Mormon trail. As an additional incident to his trials, one morning at breakfast Mr. Clark was told by Mrs. Arnold that the last mouthful was on the table. Major Arnold was absent for supplies and delayed, supposedly for lack of conveyance; whereupon Mr. Clark procured two yoke of oxen and started at once for Omaha for provisions and lumber. Never having driven oxen before he met with many mishaps. By traveling all night through rain and mud he reached sight of home next day at sunrise, when the oxen ran away upsetting the lumber and scattering groceries all over the prairies. Little was recovered except some bacon and a barrel of flour.
Finally the hotel was ready for occupancy and Col. George Stevens with his family took up their residence there. It was the best hostelry in the west. Mr. Stevens was appointed postmaster and gave up one room to the office. The Stevens family were very popular everywhere.
Mr. and Mrs. John B. Kuony were married at the Douglas house, Omaha, about 1855 and came to the new hotel as cooks; but soon afterward started a small store which in due time made293
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them a fortune. This couple were also popular in business, as well as socially.
In March, 1856, my husband sent to Indiana for me. I went to St. Louis by train, then by boat to Omaha. I was three weeks on the boat, and had my gold watch and chain stolen from my cabin enroute. I brought a set of china dishes which were a family heirloom, clothes and bedding. The boxes containing these things we afterward used for table and lounge. My husband had a small log cabin ready on my arrival.
I was met at Omaha by Thomas J. Allen with a wagon and ox team. He hauled building material and provisions and I sat on a nail keg all the way out. He drove through prairie grass as high as the oxen's back. I asked him how he ever learned the road. When a boat would come up the river every one would rush to buy furniture and provisions; I got a rocking chair in 1857, the first one in the town. It was loaned out to sick folks and proved a treasure. In 1858 we bought a clock of John Bauman of Omaha, paying $45.00 for it, and it is still a perfect time piece.
My father, Dr. J. P. Andrews, came in the spring of 1857 and was a practicing physician, also a minister for many years here. He was the first Sunday school superintendent here and held that office continually until 1880 when he moved to Blair.
In 1858 the Vanier brothers started a steam grist mill which was a great convenience for early settlers. In 1861 Elam Clark took it on a mortgage and ran it for many years. Mr. Clark also carried on a large fur trade with the Indians, and they would go east to the bottoms to hunt and camp for two or three weeks.
At one time I had planned a dinner party and invited all my lady friends. I prepared the best meal possible for those days, with my china set all in place and was very proud to see it all spread, and when just ready to invite my guests to the table, a big Indian appeared in the doorway and said, "hungry" in broken accents. I said, "Yes I get you some" and started to the stove but he said, "No," and pointed to the table. I brought a generous helping in a plate but he walked out doors, gave a shrill yell which brought several others of his tribe and they at once sat down, ate everything in sight, while the guests looked on in fear and trembling; having finished they left in great glee.
SOME ITEMS FROM WASHINGTON COUNTY
BY MRS. MAY ALLEN LAZURE
Alfred D. Jones, the first postmaster of Omaha, tells in the Pioneer Record of the first Fourth of July celebration in Nebraska.
"On July 4, 1854, I was employed in the work of surveying the townsite of Omaha. At this time there were only two cabins on the townsite, my postoffice building and the company claim house. The latter was used as our boarding house. Inasmuch as the Fourth would be a holiday, I concluded it would be a novelty to hold a celebration on Nebraska soil. I therefore announced that we would hold a celebration and invited the people of Council Bluffs, by inserting a notice in the Council Bluffs paper, and requested that those who would participate should prepare a lunch for the occasion.
"We got forked stakes and poles along the river, borrowed bolts of sheeting from the store of James A. Jackson; and thus equipped we erected an awning to shelter from the sun those who attended. Anvils were procured, powder purchased and placed in charge of cautious gunners, to make a noise for the crowd. The celebration was held on the present high school grounds.
"The picnickers came with their baskets, and the gunner discharged his duty nobly. A stranger, in our midst, was introduced as Mr. Sawyer, an ex-congressman from Ohio."
I had a life-long acquaintance with one of those early picnickers, Mrs. Rhoda Craig, a daughter of Thomas Allen, who built the first house in Omaha. Mrs. Craig was the first white girl to live on the site of Omaha. She often told the story of that Fourth of July in Omaha. Their fear of the Indians was so great that as soon as dinner was over, they hurried to their boats and rowed across to Council Bluffs for safety.
Another pioneer woman was Aimee Taggart Kenny, who came to Fontenelle with her parents when a small child. Her father was a Baptist missionary in Nebraska, and his earliest work was295
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with the Quincy colony. I have heard her tell the following experience:
"On several occasions we were warned that the Indians were about to attack us. In great fear, we gathered in the schoolhouse and watched all night, the men all well armed. But we were never molested. Another time mother was alone with us children. Seeing the Indians approaching we locked the doom went into the attic by means of an outside ladder and looked out through a crack. We saw the red men try the door, peep in at the windows, and then busy themselves chewing up mother's home-made hop-yeast, which had been spread out to dry. They made it into balls and tossed it all away."
John T. Bell of Newberg, Oregon, contributed the following:
"I have a pleasant recollection of your grandfather Allen. My father's and mother's people were all southerners and there was a kindliness about Mr. and Mrs. Allen that reminded me of our own folks back in Illinois. I often stopped to see them when going to and from the Calhoun mill.
"I was also well acquainted with Mrs. E. H. Clark, and Rev. Mr. Taggart and his family were among the most highly esteemed residents of our little settlement of Fontenelle. Mr. Taggart was a man of fine humor. It was the custom in those early days for the entire community to get together on New Year's day and have a dinner at 'The College.' There would be speechmaking, and I remember that on one of these occasions Mr. Taggart said that no doubt the time would come when we would all know each others' real names and why we left the states.
"The experiences of the Bell family in the early Nebraska days were ones of privation. We came to Nebraska in 1856 quite well equipped with stock, four good horses, and four young cows which we had driven behind the wagon from western Illinois. The previous winter had been very mild and none of the settlers were prepared for the dreadful snow storm which came on the last day of November and continued for three days and nights. Our horses and cows were in a stable made by squaring up the head of a small gulch and covering the structure with slough grass. At the end of the storm when father could get out to look after the stock there was no sign of the stable. The low ground it occupied was levelled (sic) off by many feet of snow. He
ITEMS FROM WASHINGTON COUNTY
finally located the roof and found the stock alive and that was about all. The animals suffered greatly that winter and when spring came we had left only one horse and no cows. That lone horse was picking the early grass when he was bitten in the nose by a rattlesnake and died from the effects. One of those horses, 'Old Fox,' was a noble character. We had owned him as long as I could remember, and when he died we children all cried. I have since owned a good many horses but not one equalled (sic) Old Fox in the qualities that go to make up a perfect creature.
"After the civil war my brother Will and I were the only members of our family left in Nebraska. We served with Grant and Sherman and then went back to Fontenelle, soon afterward beginning the improvement of our farm on Bell creek in the western part of the county. By that time conditions had so improved in Nebraska that hardships were not so common. I was interested in tree planting even as a boy and one of the distinct recollections of our first summer in Nebraska was getting so severely poisoned in the woods on the Elkhorn when digging up young sprouts, that I was entirely blind. A colored man living in Fontenelle told father that white paint would cure me and so I was painted wherever there was a breaking out, with satisfactory results.
"Later the planting of cottonwood, box elder, maple, and other trees became a general industry in Nebraska and I am confident that I planted twenty thousand trees, chiefly cottonwood. To J. Sterling Morton, one of Nebraska's earliest and most useful citizens, Nebraska owes a debt of gratitude. He was persistent in advocating the planting of trees. In his office hung a picture of an oak tree; on his personal cards was a picture of an oak tree with the legend 'Plant Trees'; on his letterheads, on his envelopes was borne the same injunction and the picture of an oak tree. On the marble doorstep of his home was cut a picture of an oak tree and the words 'Plant Trees'; on the ground-glass of the entrance door was the same emblem. I went to a theater he had built and on the drop curtain was a picture of an oak tree and the words 'Plant Trees.' Today the body of this useful citizen lies buried under the trees he planted in Wyuka cemetery, near Nebraska City."
COUNTY SEAT OF WASHINGTON COUNTY
BY FRANK MCNEELY
In 1855 an act was passed by the territorial legislature reorganizing Washington county and designating Fort Calhoun as the county-seat.
De Soto, a small village five miles north of Fort Calhoun, wished the county-seat to be moved there. In the winter of 1858 a crowd of De Soto citizens organized and with arms went to Fort Calhoun to take the county-seat by force. Fort Calhoun citizens barricaded themselves in the log courthouse and held off the De Soto band until the afternoon of the second day, when by compromise, the county-seat was turned over to De Soto. One man was killed in this contest, in which I was a participant.
The county-seat remained in De Soto until an election in the fall of 1866 when the vote of the people relocated it at Fort Calhoun, where it remained until 1869. An election in the latter year made Blair the county seat.
A courthouse was built in Blair, the present county-seat of Washington county, in 1889, at a cost of $50,000.
NOTE - In the early days every new town, and they were all new, was ambitious to become the county- seat and many of them hopefully sought the honor of becoming the capital of the territory. Washington county had its full share of aspiring towns and most of them really got beyond the paper stage. There were De Soto, Fort Calhoun, Rockport, Cuming City, and last but not least - Fontenelle, then in Washington county, now a "deserted village" in Dodge county. Of these only Fort Calhoun remains more than a memory. De Soto, was founded by Potter C. Sullivan and others in 1854, and in 1857 had about five hundred population. It began to go down in 1859, and when the city of Blair was started its decline was rapid. Rockport, which was in the vicinity of the fur trading establishments of early days, was a steamboat landing of some importance and had at one time a population of half a hundred or more. Now only the beautiful landscape remains. Cuming City, like De Soto, received its death blow when Blair was founded, and now the townsite is given over to agricultural purposes.298
THE STORY OF THE TOWN OF FONTENELLE
BY MRS. EDA MEAD
When Nebraska was first organized as a territory, a party of people in Quincy, Illinois, conceived the idea of starting a city in the new territory and thus making their fortune. They accordingly sent out a party of men to select a site.
These men reached Omaha in 1854. There they met Logan Fontenelle, chief of the Omahas, who held the land along the Platte and Elkhorn rivers. He agreed to direct them to a place favorable for a town. Upon reaching the spot, where the present village is now situated, they were so pleased that they did not look farther, but paid the chief one hundred dollars for the right to claim and locate twenty square miles of land. This consisted of land adjoining the Elkhorn river, then ascending a high bluff, a tableland ideal for the location of the town.
These men thought the Elkhorn was navigable and that they could ship their goods from Quincy by way of the Missouri, Platte, and Elkhorn rivers.
Early in the spring of 1855 a number of the colonists, bringing their household goods, left Quincy on a small boat, the "Mary Cole," expecting to reach Fontenelle by way of the Elkhorn; and then use the boat as a packet to points on the Platte and Elkhorn rivers. But the boat struck a snag in the Missouri and, with a part of the cargo, was lost. The colonists then took what was saved overland to Fontenelle.
By the first of May, 1855, there were sufficient colonists on the site to hold the claims. Then each of the fifty members drew by lot for the eighteen lots each one was to hold. The first choice fell to W. H. Davis. He chose the land along the river, fully convinced of its superior situation as a steamboat landing.
The, colonists then built houses of cottonwood timber, and a store and hotel were started. Thus the little town of about two hundred inhabitants was started with great hopes of soon be coming a large city.299
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Land on the edge of the bluff had been set aside for a college building. This was called Collegeview. Here a building was begun in 1856 and completed in 1859. This was the first advanced educational institution to be chartered west of the Missouri river.
In 1865 this building was burned. Another building was immediately erected, but after a few years' struggle for patronage, they found it was doomed to die, so negotiated with the People of Crete, Nebraska, and the Congregational organizations (for it was built by the Congregationalists) in Nebraska. It therefore became the nucleus of what is now Doane College.
The bell of the old building is still in use in the little village.
The first religious services were held by the Congregationalists. The church was first organized by Rev. Reuben Gaylord, who also organized the First Congregational church in Omaha.
In Fontenelle the Congregationalists did not have a building but worshiped in the college. This church has long since ceased to exist, but strange as it may seem after so many years, the last regular pastor was the same man, Rev. Reuben Gaylord, who organized it.
There was a little band of fifteen Methodists; this was called the Fontenelle Mission. In 1857 an evangelist, Jerome Spillman, was sent to take charge of this little mission. He soon had a membership of about three score people. A church was organized and a building and parsonage completed. This prospered with the town, but as the village began to lose ground the church was doomed to die. The building stood vacant for a number of years but was finally moved to Arlington.
The settlers found the first winter of 1855-56 mild and agreeable. They thought that this was a sample of the regular winter climate; so when the cold, blizzardy, deep-snow winter of 1856-57 came it found the majority ill prepared. Many were living in log cabins which had been built only for temporary use. The roofs were full of holes and just the dirt for floors.
On awaking in the morning after the first blizzard many found their homes drifted full of snow; even the beds were covered. The snow lay four or five feet deep on the level and the temperature was far below zero.
Most of the settlers lost all of their stock. Food was scarce, but wild game was plentiful. Mr. Sam Francis would take his
STORY OF THE TOWN OF FONTENELLE
horse and gun and hunt along the river. The settlers say he might be seen many times that winter coming into the village with two deer tied to his horse's tail trailing in the snow. By this means, he saved many of the colonists from starvation.
Provisions were very high priced. Potatoes brought four and five dollars a bushel; bacon and pork could not be had at any price. One settler is said to have sold a small hog for forty-five dollars; with this he bought eighty acres of land, which is today worth almost one hundred eighty dollars an acre.
A sack of flour cost from ten to fifteen dollars.
At this time many who had come just for speculation left, thus only the homebuilders or those who had spent their all and could not return, remained.
Then came trouble with the Indians. In the year 1859 the Pawnees were not paid by the government, for some reason. They became desperate and began stealing cattle from the settlers along the Elkhorn around Fontenelle. The settlers of Fontenelle formed a company known as the "Fontenelle Mounted Rangers," and together with a company sent out by Governor Black from Omaha with one piece of light artillery, started after the Pawnees who were traveling west and north.
They captured six prisoners and held them bound. While they were camped for rest, a squaw in some way gave a knife to one of the prisoners. He pretended to kill himself by cutting his breast and mouth so that he bled freely. He then dropped as if dead. Amidst the confusion the other five, whose ropes had been cut, supposedly by this same squaw, escaped.
As the settlers were breaking camp to still pursue the fleeing tribe, they wondered what to do with the dead Indian. Someone expressed doubt as to his really being dead. Then one of the settlers raised his gun and said he would soon make sure. No sooner had the gun been aimed than the Indian jumped to his feet and said, "Whoof! Me no sick!" They then journeyed on to attack the main tribe. When near their camp the settlers formed a semi-circle on a hill, with the artillery in the center.
As soon as the Indians saw the settlers, they came riding as swiftly as possible to make an attack, but when within a short distance and before the leader of the settlers could call "Fire!" they retreated. They advanced and retreated in this way three times. The settlers were at a loss to understand just what the
NEBRASKA PIONEER REMINISCENCES
Indians intended to do; but decided that they did not know of the artillery until near enough to see it, then were afraid to make the attack, so tried to scare the settlers, but failing to do this they finally advanced with a white rag tied to a stick.
The Indians agreed to be peaceable and stop the thieving if the settlers would pay for a pony which had been accidentally killed, and give them medicine for the sick and wounded.
Some of the men who took part in this fight say that if the leader had ordered the settlers to fire on the first advance of the Indians every settler would have been killed. There were twice as many Indians in the first place and the settlers afterwards found that not more than one-third of their guns would work; and after they had fired once, while they were reloading, the Indians with their bows and arrows would have exterminated them. They consider it was the one piece of light artillery that saved them, as the Indians were very much afraid of a cannon. This ended any serious Indian trouble, but the housewives had to be ever on the alert for many years.
Each spring either the Omahas or Pawnees passed through the village on their way to visit some other tribe, and then returned in the fall. Then through the winter stray bands would appear who had been hunting or fishing along the river.
As they were seen approaching everything that could be was put under lock, and the doors of the houses were securely fastened. The Indians would wash and comb their hair at the water troughs, then gather everything about the yard that took their fancy. If by any chance they got into a house they would help themselves to eatables and if they could not find enough they would demand more. They made a queer procession as they passed along the street. The bucks on the horses or ponies led the way, then would follow the pack ponies, with long poles fastened to each side and trailing along behind loaded with the baggage, then came the squaws, with their babies fastened to their backs, trudging along behind.
One early settler tells of her first experience with the Indians. She had just come from the far East, and was all alone in the house, when the door opened and three Indians entered, a buck and two squaws. They closed the door and placed their guns behind it, to show her that they would not harm her. They then went to the stove and seated themselves, making signs to her that
STORY OF THE TOWN OF FONTENELLE
they wanted more fire. She made a very hot fire in the cook stove.
The old fellow examined the stove until he found the oven door; this he opened and took three frozen fish from under his blanket and placed them upon the grate. While the fish were cooking, he made signs for something to eat. The lady said she only had bread and sorghum in the house. This she gave them, but the Indian was not satisfied; he made a fuss until she finally found that he wanted butter on his bread. She had to show him that the sorghum was all she had. They then took up the fish and went out of doors by the side of the house to eat it. After they were gone she went out to see what they had left. She said they must have eaten every bit of the fish except the hard bone in the head, that was all that was left and that was picked clean.
Among the first settlers who came in 1855 was a young German who was an orphan and had had a hard life in America up to this time.
He took a claim and worked hard for a few years. He then went back to Quincy and persuaded a number of his own countrymen to come out to this new place and take claims, he helping them out, but they were to pay him back as they could.
Years passed; they each and all became very prosperous. But this first pioneer prospered perhaps to the greatest degree. The early settlers moved away one by one; as they left he would buy their homes.
The houses were torn down or moved away, the trees and shrubs were uprooted, until now this one man, or his heirs - for he has gone to his reward - owns almost the whole of the once prosperous little village, and vast fields of grain have taken the place of the homes and streets.
It is hard to stand in the streets of the little village which now has about one hundred fifty inhabitants and believe that at one time it was the county seat of Dodge county, and that it lacked only one vote of becoming the capital of the state. There are left only two or three of the first buildings. A short distance south of this village on a high bluff overlooking the river valley, and covered with oaks and evergreens, these early pioneers started a city which has grown for many years, and which will continue to grow for years to come. In this city of the dead we
NEBRASKA PIONEER REMINISCENCES
find many of the people who did much for the little village which failed, but who have taken up their abode in this beautiful spot, there to remain until the end of time.
This story of Fontenelle has been gathered from my early recollections of the place and what I have learned through grandparents, parents, and other relatives and friends.
My mother was raised in Fontenelle, coming there with her parents in 1856. She received her education in that first college.
My father was the son of one of the first Congregational missionaries to be sent there. I received my first schooling in the little village school.
MRS. WARREN PERRY
Eleventh State Regent, Nebraska Society, Daughters of the American Revolution.1913-1914
THOMAS WILKINSON AND FAMILY
Mr. and Mrs. Thomas Wilkinson, early Nebraska settlers, were of English birth, and came to America when very young. They met in Illinois and were married in 1859 at Barrington. They moved to Louisiana, remaining there until the outbreak of the civil war, when they returned to Illinois for a short time, and then emigrated to the West, traveling in a covered wagon and crossing the Missouri river on the ferry. They passed through Omaha, and arrived at Elk City, Nebraska, July 27, 1864, with their two children, Ida and Emma, who at the present time are married and live in Omaha.
Soon after arriving in Elk City, Mr. Wilkinson lost one of his horses, which at that time was a great misfortune. He purchased another from the United States government, which they called "Sam" and which remained in the family for many years.
At one time provisions were so high Mr. Wilkinson traded his watch for a bushel of potatoes.
At that time land was very cheap and could be bought for from two to five dollars per acre. The same land is now being held at two hundred dollars per acre. Labor was scarce, with the exception of that which could be obtained from the Indians. There were a large number of Indians in that part of the country, and the settlers often hired the squaws to shuck corn and cut firewood.
Mrs. Wilkinson has often told of the Indians coming to her door and demanding corn meal or beef. They always wanted beef and would not accept pork. They would come at night, look in at the windows, and call for firewater, tobacco, and provisions. Their visits were so frequent that Mrs. Wilkinson soon mastered much of their language and was able to talk to them in their own tongue.
Mr. and Mrs. Wilkinson first settled about twenty-five miles from Omaha on the old military road. During the early days of their life there, Mrs. Wilkinson made large quantities of butter305
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for regular customers in Omaha. They often arose at three o'clock, hitched up the lumber wagon, and started for town, there to dispose of her butter and eggs and return with a supply of provisions.
As a rule the winters were extremely severe and Mrs. Wilkinson has often told of the terrible snow storms which would fill the chimneys so full of snow it would be impossible to start a fire, and she would have to bundle the children up in the bedclothes and take them to the nearest house to keep from freezing.
During their second year in Nebraska they went farther west and located at "Timberville," which is now known as Ames. There they kept a "ranch house" and often one hundred teams arrived at one time to remain over night. They would turn their wagons into an immense corral, build their camp fires, and rest their stock. These were the "freighters" of the early days, and generally got their own meals.
During their residence at Elk City, two more children were born, Nettie and Will.
They continued to live on the farm until the year 1887, when they moved to Blair, Nebraska, there to rest in their old age.
Mr. Wilkinson died July 18, 1912. He is survived by his wife, Mrs. Lucy Wilkinson, a son, Wm. W. Wilkinson, and two daughters, Mrs. J. Fred Smith and Mrs. Herman Shields. Mrs. George B. Dyball, another daughter, died May 13, 1914.
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