Tekamah and Vicinity, Noteworthy Men of
THE early settlers of Nebraska labored under the inconvenience of strange soil, strange climate, no markets, no mills, no lumber except what was shipped over from Iowa. Unprepared for the cold winter of 1855 and 1856 and that terrible winter of 1856 and 1857 with a snow fall of over four feet on the level. Great drifts of snow blocked up all travel and starvation seemed imminent for a time and perhaps nothing but the great abundance of wild game prevented actual want for food.
The public lands were not opened to pre-emption and many, who had some money when they first came to the Territory, used it up before the lands were brought into the market.
Another thing that injured the early settlers and retarded the development of the agricultural interest, was the universal and ungovernable desire for Town speculation. The wildest schemes were set on foot; innumerable towns were laid out; expensive surveys, lithographed plats and certificates, soon drained the fortune hunter of his ready cash. The result was what the prudent should have foreseen but did not. After the first excitement was over everybody had town lots to sell but no one to buy. Times were getting hard. Everything to buy and nothing to sell in the
*NOTE--This sketch was taken from a diary kept by the late Peter C. Peterson and now in the hands of his son Edward W. Peterson of San Diego, California.
way of provisions. Then it was that the settlers began to see where they had missed it not opening farms instead of Town speculation.
Again the Indian massacre at Fontenelle in July, 1856, produced such fear of the Indians that settlers dared not go out on their claims to live without being in mortal dread of every Indian that passed, consequently the majority lived in small villages for several years and thus the developement (sic) of the resources of the country were neglected for four or five years.
After the lands were brought into market the first settlers' money was gone and they were compelled to borrow money on land warrants at from 40 to 60 per cent per annum. Consequently many became involved in debt and others compromised by giving up one half of their lands and generally the best part of it. Such it seems was the fate of the pioneers of Nebraska. And yet they were not discouraged, they possessed an indominitable (sic) will. The healthful climate of the country induced hardy and vigorous constitutions enabling them to endure greater hardships and privations than they could in the eastern states.
Nebraska was opened to the white man for settlement and occupancy in the latter part of the year of 1863. The famous Kansas-Nebraska Squatter Sovereignty Bill which was one of the inciting causes of the Civil War, was also the means of advertising the western country in an effectual manner and all classes of people directed their attention westward.
On the 18th day of September, 1864, B. R. Folsom started from Attica, New York, for the Territory of Nebraska and arrived at Council Bluffs, Iowa, on the 29th of the same month. Next morning he crossed the Missouri river and found the townsite of Omaha partly staked out and platted, two or three rude log houses had been erected, but no one was living there. A treaty with the Omaha Indians had been concluded but the Indians had not given entire possession of the country.