Early Settlement | Organization | County Seat Troubles
Part 2: Investigation of Treasurer Van Sickle
The Agricultural Society | Progress of the County | Storms
Prosperity of the County | Schools | Public Buildings
Part 3: Kearney Junction: Troubles with Cowboys
The Murder of Milton M. Collins
Part 4: Kearney Junction (cont.): Criminal | Bank Failure
Religious | Lodges and Societies | The Press | Education
Business Interests | Buda (Kearney Station).
Part 5: Kearney (cont.): Biographical Sketches
Part 6: Kearney (cont.): Biographical Sketches (cont.)
Part 7: Kearney (cont.): Biographical Sketches (cont.)
Part 8: Gibbon: Biographical Sketches
Part 9: Shelton: Biographical Sketches
List of Illustrations in Buffalo County Chapter
In February, 1875, Mrs. Grabaugh was arrested for whipping her little step-daughter to death. At this time this created much excitement, but the feeling died out to a great extent before her trial, so that she only received sentence to serve a short time in the penitentiary.
Other than this and the troubles with the cowboys that have been described, the criminal record of the city of Kearney has been small. The offenses have been few, and these of a minor character. At the present, the city is quiet and peaceable. Order is preserved, and the laws strictly enforced.
At this time, the excitement over the discovery of gold in the Black Hills was so intense and the great rush of gold seekers and settlers for that country was so great, efforts were made to make Kearney the terminal railroad point for the travel from the East, and a route was established from Kearney directly to the Black Hills. A mail route was established by this line, and though by far the greater travel was from points farther west, there was at one time a great deal of travel from Kearney. The business men had contributed largely to open up this overland route, but the greater number of them reaped good rewards in the increased trade from these travelers and shippers.
Among the many events in the history of Kearney that caused great excitement was the failure of the Kearney Bank in May, 1879.
Until a short time before the bank suspended, it was regarded as one of the solid institutions of Kearney. C. W. Dake, the President of the bank, was one of the most public-spirited men of the county, and was universally loved and respected. Depositors, and the citizens in general, had unlimited confidence in his business integrity. For some weeks there had been a rumor that the affairs of the bank were in an unsafe condition; yet the confidence of the depositors was so great that but few gave these rumors credence. A very few, however, withdrew their deposits. About this time the investigation of County Treasurer Van Sickle was attracting public attention, and but few suspected the real condition of the bank, and when, one morning, the bank was declared closed, the depositors were taken completely by surprise. Some few, however, took the precaution to at once have their deposits secured. A great number of the depositors were workingmen, whose little all was deposited here, and which represented the savings of many years. When it became public that the bank was closed, the citizens of Kearney were at first dumbfounded with surprise. Then there was a general panic, the citizens nearly crazy with excitement. Besides immediate losses, all branches of business suffered as the result of this failure. A feeling of distrust, and a general lack of confidence, pervaded the entire business community, and as a result of this the business of the town was seriously retarded for some time. Many poor people who had deposited here lost their all. At first there was a general feeling of indignation manifested toward Mr. Dake, many believing that he had enriched himself from their deposits, though this was hardly true, as he too lost all his property. Though many of his actions were inexcusable, and though there had been general mismanagement of the affairs of the bank, the failure was misfortune rather than intentional dishonesty. Mr. Dake had always been foremost in every public enterprise for the purpose of benefiting the city or county. This very public spiritedness caused him to embark in venturesome enterprises and speculations, that caused not only his own ruin, but that of many of the depositors. Among the enterprises in which he was engaged were the Black Hills Stage Route, of which he was the proprietor, and the school section additions to the city of Kearney. Besides this, he was careless in his business affairs. He loaned money recklessly to parties without taking proper security, trusting to their honesty alone, and, as a natural result, lost heavily. Some of the men to whom he had loaned money failed, and were unable to pay to the bank any of their indebtedness; while many others could not or would not meet their obligations when due, thus making its suspension absolutely necessary.
The day previous to the closing of the bank Mr. Dake made an assignment of all his property, both real and personal, to E. C. Calkins and Nathan Campbell, for the benefit of his creditors. The liabilities of the bank were great and the assets small, with a great deal of the property in such a condition that the money could not be realized at once; therefore, a proposition was made to the creditors that they allow a new bank to be started from the assets of the Kearney Bank, the creditors to take one-half of the money due them in capital stock in the new bank, and the remainder in certificates of deposit, which were to be paid in twelve monthly installments. This proposition, however, was not accepted, and only a small percentage of the money due the depositors has ever yet been paid.
C. W. Dake, having put all of his property in the hands of the assignees, and finding that no arrangements could be made by which he could again go into business and pay his debts from his earnings, left the city, penniless, and the last known of him by his Kearney friends he was keeping a boarding-house in Colorado.
Methodist Episcopal Church.--The first church in Kearney was the Methodist Episcopal Church, organized October 20, 1871, by Presiding Elder Rev. A. G. White, and Rev. A. Collins, at the residence of the latter, with a membership of five. In 1873, a large and commodious church edifice was built south of the railroad track, not far from the court house; but in 1878, it was removed to the north side of the railroad to its present location, and refitted, and furnaces put in. This church has a large membership, with Rev. A. H. Summers as its present pastor.
The Presbyterian Church was organized in 1872, by Rev. N. Gould, who was familiarly known as Father Gould, and who continued to have charge of the church until 1875, when, on account of old age, he retired, and Rev. Mr. Patterson, from Colorado, took charge of the church. McIntosh's saloon was bought and used as a chapel for worship, and for church services in general, until their church building was erected in 1881. This is a large and magnificent brick structure, which cost nearly S4,000. George T. Cressman is now the pastor.
The Congregational Church was organized in 1872, in a hotel, the Murphy House, now the Harrold House, by Rev. L. B. Fifield. After the organization of the church, services were held at Walworth Hall until 1877, when their church was erected. L. B. Fifield retired soon after to engage in the publication of Literary Notes, and the church is now in charge of Rev. Thomas Ayars, the pastor.
The Baptists have a good organization. Their church was built in 1878. It is well built, and of sufficient size. The society is in a flourishing condition.
The Christian Church was built in 1879. This denomination is in a thriving, condition.
The Episcopalians have a society organization, and a church building erected in 1882.
The Roman Catholic organization here is quite a strong one. They have a good church building erected in 1875.
The Swedish Lutheran Church has a good organization, but no house of worship.
The Swedish Methodists also have a church society, but have no church building.
Robert Morris Lodge, No., 45, A., F. & A. M., was organized in l875, with E B. Carter, Worshipful Master, and S. S. St. John, Secretary. It has now a very large membership.
The Royal Chapter of Masons was organized during February, 1882, with the following officers: H. J. Mack, High Priest; G. W. Collins, Secretary; A L. Webb, King; H. L. Strong, Scribe.
The Commandery of Masons was organized under dispensation in February, 1882, with Henry Gibbons, Eminent Commander, and S. S. St. John, Captain General.
The Independent Order of Odd Fellows are well represented in Buffalo Lodge, No. 38, which was organized in 1873, with A. T. Cannon, Noble Grand. The I. O. O. F. Encampment was organized in September, 1881, with C. D. Ayres, Chief Patriarch and A T. Cannon, Scribe.
The Grand Army of the Republic has a large organization. The order was organized first in July, 1874, but was disbanded, but re-organized again in December, 1879, with E. C. Calkins, Post Commander; R. M. Grimes, Senior Vice; S. S. St. John, Adjutant; James Jenkins, Quartermaster. This order has now about one hundred members, and is called Sedgwick Post, l. J. W. Wilson is now Commander, and John Hoghe, Adjutant.
The Knights of Honor have a large organization, and are in a flourishing condition. This society was organized December 1, 1879, with A. T. Cannon, Dictator, and John Barnd, Secretary.
The Independent Order of Good Templars was organized in December, 1873, with F. G. Keens, Worthy Chief Templar. This society is in a flourishing condition, and has a large membership. Among its members, F. G. Keens is Worthy Secretary of the Good Templars of the entire world.
The Women's Christian Temperance Union was first organized here in 1873, by Mrs. Louisa Collins, Vice President of the State organization. Though at one time the institution became weak, it is now a powerful organization. It has a large and working membership. There is a temperance school here in connection with this society. Also a public reading room, and a large and well-selected library of good books, under the auspices of the society. This public reading room and library is open both day and evening, and is patronized by the young people more especially, and is thus accomplishing untold good in providing a place where young men or women may pass an evening or a leisure hour in storing the mind with useful knowledge, rather than spending the time in idleness, and being led into vice and intemperance, as is the legitimate result of idle moments spent in the streets. The W. C. T. U. is in a flourishing condition.
The press of Kearney is moral, enterprising and of superior excellence. Not a newspaper but in the mechanical work presents a neat clear and beautiful appearance. Each and every paper lays aside all personal and political differences, and works in harmony on any scheme that tends to the upbuilding of the city and its interests. The tone of the press is moral and elevating to the extreme. Where good schools are supported, there are always found good newspapers, and the press is well supported. In Kearney this is specially the case. The citizens of the city, as well as of the surrounding country, are made up of reading people. Every man regards his local newspaper as necessary as his food, and, as a natural consequence, the press of the city is in a flourishing condition, able and well supported.
The Central Nebraska Press is one of the oldest newspapers in the county. This paper is Republican in politics and owned by J. P. Johnson, and edited by William C. Holden. It is a large folio sheet, on which four persons are engaged on the mechanical work. The Press was established as a daily and weekly newspaper, February 3, 1873, by Webster Eaton. In November, 1873, Rice Eaton came to Kearney and purchased a one-half interest in the paper, and, for the greater part of the time after this, was general manager and editor. The publication of the daily was somewhat irregular, but was kept up most of the time until the paper was sold to William A.. Holden, March 18, 1879.
William C. Holden came to Nebraska in April, 1873, and located at Orleans, where he, in connection with Webster Eaton, started the Republican Valley Sentinel, the first paper published in Harlan County. After publishing this paper one year, he sold it and removed to Melrose, about two miles distant, and, having purchased a new press and material, he established the Republican Valley Tribune at that place. He soon bought the Melrose Advertiser and consolidated it with the Tribune. This paper he continued to publish until in the fall of 1875, he sold it out. He remained here, however, until the fall of 1877, when he was appointed United States Mail Clerk on the Union Pacific Railroad, where he remained about one year, when he was transferred to the Burlington & Missouri Railroad, where he was until he bought the Press, March 18, 1879. He was born at Frankfort, Clinton Co., Ind., November 15, 1842, on a farm, where he remained with his parents until he was fifteen years old, when he started out to learn the printer's trade in the Banner office, at Shelbyville, Ind. After remaining in this office three years, he removed to Ottumwa, Iowa, where he worked at his trade until in 1861 he enlisted as a private in Company K, Second Iowa Cavalry, in which he served until the close of the war. He participated in the battles of Ft. Donelson, Shiloh, Corinth, Iuka and in the Atlanta campaign, and with Gen. Sherman in his march to the sea. The last battle in which he participated was Bentonville, N. C. He was mustered out of the service at Davenport, Iowa, in August, 1865. He then went to Ottumwa and purchased an interest in the Weekly Courier, which he retained for four years, when he sold out and engaged in the insurance business there for about one year, when he removed to Red Oak, Iowa, and still engaged in insurance, until he removed to Nebraska, in the spring of 1873. He was married, November 18, 1865, at Ottumwa, to Miss Louisa S. Ross, who was born near Burlington, Iowa. Seven children are the result of this marriage--Cora S., Harry, Edward M., Catherine, Nellie, Arthur and Wesley.
The Buffalo County Journal is a Republican newspaper, published weekly, by L. B. Cunningham. The Journal is an outgrowth of the Kearney Times, which was established the 12th of October, 1872, by Clapp & Cunningham, who continued its publication until the fall of 1874, when the firm name was changed to Cunningham Bros., E. M. Cunningham having purchased Clapp's interest. The Times was published daily from May, 1874, until the summer of 1876. In 1877, the office was leased to A. C. Edwards, who changed the name of the paper to the Gazette, and published a Democratic weekly. In December, 1878, he leased it for the remainder of its three years' term to Berger & Julian, who changed its name to the Nonpareil, and it was again Republican in politics. In October, 1880, the lease having expired, L. B. Cunningham again took possession of the office and began the publication of the Journal as a weekly Republican newspaper, and has continued it ever since. There are five men employed in the office.
Lyman B. Cunningham came to Kearney in August, 1872, and at once began the publication of the Times, and, until he leased the office and material, in October, 1877, he continued its editor. From this time until the fall of 1878, he was engaged in farming. He then removed to Kearney and went into the livery and sale stable business. In October, 1880, he again took charge of the newspaper office and began the publication of the Journal, but did not sell his stable interest until February, 1882. Mr. Cunningham was born in Giles County, Tennessee, September 3, 1844; was born and raised on a farm. In April, 1853, he removed with his parents to Davis County, Iowa, where he remained on a farm with them until, in 1863, he enlisted in Company A, Iowa Cavalry, as a private; he served until he was discharged, August 16, 1865, at Davenport, Iowa. After remaining at home a short time, he entered Iowa Western University, at Mt. Pleasant, Iowa, from which he graduated in June, 1870. He then taught school until he came to Nebraska, in the summer of 1872. He was married, in the year 1874, to Mary E. Clapp, of Fairfield, Iowa. From this marriage a son was born--Carl S., born April 22, 1875.
The Kearney Weekly Nonpareil is a seven-column quarto weekly newspaper, Republican in politics. It is a first-class weekly newspaper and was established December 14, 1878, by Berger & Julian, who continued to publish it until March 29, 1879, when C. C. Berger sold his interest; after this it was published under the firm name of Julian Bros., until January, 1880, when B. H. Goulding purchased a one-half interest, and, in January, 188l, bought the entire paper, which he has continued to edit and publish ever since. Three persons are employed on the mechanical work, besides the press work. The paper is published on a power press.
Byron H. Goulding, editor and publisher of the Nonpareil, came to Nebraska early in the year 1875 and located in Kearney and went into business as a dealer in agricultural implements. He continued in this business until he bought an interest in the Nonpareil, in January, 1880. He was born in Falmouth, Ky., July 14, 1849. Here he spent his boyhood days and attended the Center College at Danville, going through a scientific course of study and graduated there in June, 1862. In August, 1862, he enlisted in Company K, Seventh Kentucky Cavalry, as a private. He was at the siege of Knoxville, Lost Mountain, on McCook's raid, at Nashville and in many other skirmishes and raids; was mustered out in April, 1865, at Louisville, Ky. He was Deputy County Clerk of Pendleton County, Ky., from May, 1865, until April, 1866, when he went to Cincinnati and engaged as clerk in a commission house until June, from which time he occupied the position of traveling salesman for a commercial house until May, 1867, when he commenced attendance at the Cincinnati Law School, from which he graduated in August, 1868. He then took a tour through the South in search of a location, but returned to Crown Point, Ind., and engaged in the practice of law, but soon removed to Texas where he operated a saw-mill until February, 1870, when he was appointed Chief of Police for Northern Texas, in which position he served until November, 1871, when he returned to Crown Point, Ind., and engaged in the grocery business, in which he continued until coming to Kearney, in 1875. He was married, at Crown Point, April 30, 1873, to Miss Mattie Foster. This couple have two sons--George R., born February 12, 1874, and Howard M., born April 11, 1880. He is a member of the Knights of Honor, A., F. & A. M., I. O. O. F. and G. A. R.
The Western New Era was founded August 6, 1880, by Dr. J. J. Saville. It is a large, well-edited paper, Republican in politics. Though the youngest of the journals here, it is fully equal to any paper published here, and fully up to the others in the numbers on the subscription books. It is a paper for the farm and the work-shop. Four men are employed in the printing office.
John J. Saville, editor and proprietor of the Western New Era, first came to Nebraska from Sioux City, Iowa, as Indian agent at the Red Cloud agency, in July, 1873, which position he retained until December, 1876, when he resigned and came to Kearney, where he concluded to make his home. In March, 1877, he entered a tract of land near the city, on the old Fort Kearney Military Reservation, which had just come into the market. Here he engaged in farming and stock-raising for three years, when he again resumed his profession as a physician, practicing in the city of Kearney. He continued in practice but a short time, until he concluded to establish a newspaper here. Hence he established the Western New Era, August 6, 1880. Of this paper, he is still editor and proprietor. He was born in Wayne County, Ind. When very young, he learned the printer's trade. At the age of twenty-two years, he entered the Medical Department of the Michigan University. After completing his course of study here, he went to La Fayette, Ind., where he practiced until the spring of 1856, when he removed to Sioux City and again practiced medicine until the spring of 1859, when he removed to Denver, Colo., and remained until some time in the year 1861, when he began attendance at the Pennsylvania University, from which he graduated in the spring of 1862. After graduating, he enlisted in the Second Regiment Colorado Infantry, as Surgeon. He was stationed at Fort Union New Mexico, until November, 1862; at Fort Lyon, Colo., until June, 1863; was Medical Director of the district of the border, under Gen. Ewing, until September, 1863, he was ordered to join his regiment, at Fort Smith, and went with them to St. Louis, Mo.; here he resigned and took the position of Government Contract Surgeon, at New Orleans, which position he retained until 1869. Four years of this time, from 1864 to 1868, he was Visiting Surgeon to Charity Hospital at that place. In 1869, he went to Kokomo, Ind., practiced medicine until 1870, and then removed to Sioux City, Iowa, where he remained until appointed Indian Agent, at Red Cloud Agency, in 1873. He was married, August 10, 1871, to Clara McBride, of Cleveland, Ohio; they have two sons--Alfred W., born April 29, 1873, and John A., born November 2, 1877.
The National Soldier, J. W. Wilson and A. H. Boltin, editors and proprietors, of a twenty-four-column, four-page paper, and the only one in the West devoted exclusively to the interests of the soldiers and sailors who served in the Union army in the late war of the rebellion. This paper was established January 1, 1882, and is published semi-monthly. In each issue are stories and sketches of the late war of the rebellion, that are of interest, not only to the participants, but to the reading public in general. This paper is the firm friend of those who periled their lives in defense of the Union, and advocates such matters as are calculated to secure to them the just consideration which is their due. It advocates the equalization of bounties, as a measure of justice, regarding which there can be no dispute. All news regarding the Grand Army of the Republic is given careful attention and promptly published. This is an ably-edited paper, already well patronized and ought to receive the patronage of every ex-soldier or sailor in the entire West.
In but few towns so young and yet so small are educational interests encouraged as they are here. The population is made up of the most intelligent class of people from more eastern localities, and one of the first things attended to on the foundation of the town was the establishment and keeping up of the public school. Under the fostering care of the citizens, the educational interests progressed rapidly until they have now reached a state not excelled, if equaled, in Central or Western Nebraska. The schools have been described, and not only in these do the citizens show their progressives and enterprise, but in the providing, for and attending lectures, as well as all else that serves to the educational interests of the community, do they manifest their characteristic enterprise and liberality.
There has just been erected a large and magnificent schoolhouse, the plan of which, with its grounds, is located about as follows. It is situated in the western part of the city. The grounds comprise six and one-third acres which will be planted with shade trees. The building is of brick and its dimensions eighty-three feet by seventy-nine feet. The basement is of rock-faced work, and has four rooms for the primary schools, and the furnace room, which is supplied with two Richard & Boynton double furnaces. The first story above the basement has four rooms, each thirty-two by thirty-three feet in dimensions, and designed for the intermediate departments. The upper story has in one end two rooms, each thirty-two by thirty-three feet, designed for the grammar school and the high school rooms, the main room of which is thirty-two feet by fifty, to which a pleasant recitation room and the Principal's office are attached. The school is well furnished with the most approved apparatus. This schoolhouse cost $27,000.
South of the railroad track is another schoolhouse, a frame structure, used as a primary school.
In the entire school there is an attendance of about 750 pupils. Ten teachers are employed, among whom is Miss Fanny Nevius, who taught the first school in the town, in 1872, in the building now occupied as the Buffalo County Journal printing office. There is perfect harmony among the teachers, and the schools are making remarkable progress.
There is no mill or manufactory, other than a steam flouring-mill, with four run of buhrs, which turns out a large quantity of the finest flour extant.
There is now being built a canal, to pass from the Platte River, west of the city, to Wood River, near Gibbon, which, when built, will add materially to the wealth of the city. It is proposed to start this canal some two or three miles west of the city, pass near the reform school building and through the north part of the city and east to Wood River. This canal, from the natural advantages, will be comparatively inexpensive. The flow of water will be sufficient to run innumerable manufactories and to irrigate the low and level lands, thus making it one of the best gardening points in the West.
Early in 1882, a stock company was formed to build this canal. The subscription to the stock was $67,000, all, except $1,000, taken by the citizens of Kearney; 25 per cent of the stock is already paid in. The Board of Directors, seven in number, are R. L. Downing, Sam L. Savidge, J. H. Roe, J. Fred Wiley, R. E. Barney, F. G. Keens and Nathan Campbell. Nathan Campbell is President; R. L. Downing, Treasurer; F. G. Keens, Secretary.
[BUFFALO COUNTY BANK--WILEY BROS., PROPRIETORS.]
The banking institutions of Kearney are three in number. The oldest bank is that of L. R. More, which was established in 1873, and is a sound institution. The Buffalo County Bank was established in 1879, and took the place of the Kearney Bank that failed that year. Wiley Bros. are the proprietors, and are doing a large banking business.
Robertson Bros. opened a bank in the spring of 1882. They are young men of experience and have a large capital at their command. They have already established a good business. Their bank building, completed in the spring of 1882, is one of the neatest and most artistic of the business houses in Kearney.
The hotels of the city are well kept and well patronized. The three leading hotels are the Aitken House; the Grand Central, J. H. Irvin, proprietor, and the Commercial House, F. W. Wilms, proprietor. Besides there are a large number of hotels and boarding-houses combined.
This is a station on the Union Pacific Railroad, located about five miles east of Kearney Junction. A town was laid out here on the completion of the railroad, in 1866, and called Kearney Station. Fort Kearney, on the opposite side of the Platte River, was then a military post, and this was the point for the receipt of supplies. When the town was first laid out considerable effort was made to build up a town of importance. It is said that the town had at one time a population of nearly 600. This population, however, was of a temporary character, if, indeed, there ever were so many residents. The town site was located on the old Fort Kearney Military Reservation, a tract of land ten miles square, a small portion only of which was in Buffalo County. This fact soon tended to its nearly complete abandonment, as a town, as no title to the land could be procured, and they were liable at any time to be compelled by the United States Government to vacate the land. Some years after, however, in 1877, this reservation was opened up to actual settlers and is now covered with well improved farms.
After its first rapid growth and decline, Kearney Station, or Buda, as it is now called, cannot be said to have been but a little more than a mere supply station for the fort. At the time of the founding of the towns of Gibbon and Kearney Junction, in the years 1871, and l872, respectively, this, though the only town in the county, was but small.
Kearney Station, the oldest, and, for many years, the only town in the county, and once the county seat, has now entirely disappeared, and the old railroad depot alone remains to mark the place that was, in the early history of the county, a town of considerable importance. Several years ago the name of the station was changed to Shelby, and afterward to Buda, by which name it is now known.