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Andreas' History of the State of Nebraska
Produced by LeRoy Eaton.

Part 8


This town is located about twelve miles east of Kearney Junction, and is pleasantly situated on the south side of Wood River, between that stream and the Platte, which is some two miles distant. The town is in the center of one of the most fertile sections of the county. Between Wood and Platte Rivers is an unbroken extent of fertile bottom lands, while to the north the Wood River Valley is broad and fertile. The town is small, having a population of only about 200. It is, however, one of the most thriving towns on the line of the Union Pacific Railway, in proportion to its size. All branches of business are well represented, and merchants are in a prosperous condition. It is one of those staid, quiet towns that remind one of the prosperous villages of the Eastern States. There are none of the spasmodical bursts of excitement and reckless, rushing spirit manifested, such as are common in many small towns, and which are but ephemeral in their nature. Instead of this everything goes on in an even and business-like manner, and the citizens are prosperous and happy. The town is in the center of a thickly settled community, surrounded by well-tilled farms. Some of the most prosperous farmers in the county are located in this vicinity. But they are not content with making money alone, but have spent much time and labor, and evinced much taste and skill in beautifying these farms and making for themselves pleasant and comfortable homes, surrounded by forest and fruit trees.

But this beautifying of homes is not confined to the adjacent farms. The citizens of the town, too, realized from the very first the importance of planting out trees and laying out their grounds in a neat and artistic manner; and as a result, Gibbon is now one of the coziest and most home-like little villages in the county.

The quietness and attractiveness of the village in outward appearance are not the only qualities that recommend it to the visitor. Its citizens are of an exceptionally moral and intelligent class. Churches and schools thrive in their midst. Gibbon may be said to be the natural home of religious and educational institutions.

Gibbon was laid out and settlement commenced in April, 1871, by a colony from Ohio. This colony was organized in that State during the preceding winter, for the purpose of seeking homes in the then young State of Nebraska, and was composed of families of an exceptionally high grade of morality and intelligence. The colony was called the "Soldiers' Free-Homestead Temperance Colony," and, as its name would indicate, was made up largely of ex-soldiers and their families, and was under the leadership of Col. John Thorpe.

At the time of the arrival of this colony here, there was a side-track on the railroad, but no station and no settlement or habitation, except a small section-house in the vicinity, and in fact, but comparatively few settlers in the county. In the early part of April, this colony arrived in the midst of one of the most terrific snow-storms ever known on the Western prairies. Having chartered cars to bring them to this point, upon reaching it, these cars were switched off on the above mentioned sidetrack, and their occupants left to provide for themselves the best they could on this lonely and then desolate prairie. This snow-storm continued for three days. The wind blew so violently and the storm was so cold and blinding that they dared not venture from the cars until both had subsided. After the storm ceased, the weather soon became warm and pleasant, but the party continued to live in these cars until they could erect temporary residences. The first telegraph station was established here, while they were still living in the cars, on a freight car on this side track; Charles Smith, who committed suicide in Omaha some years after, being sent here by the railroad company as the first telegraph operator and station agent. Smith disliked his position so much, however, that after three days he was relieved by James Ogilvie, who retained the position till March, 1881, when he died here. The car was not occupied as a station for many days, when the railroad company shipped in a small skeleton frame building, seven feet wide and nine feet long, which was used as a station for a short time, till a substantial depot was built. This band of pioneers of the colony, who first came, comprised eighty-five heads of families, many of whom were accompanied by their families at this time. Though termed a colony, they were bound together by no rules. There were no bonds between them other than their ties as old neighbors and friends, who had associated themselves together to found a home in Nebraska. After the storm had cleared away, they held a meeting on the prairie and unanimously agreed to stay here and work harmoniously together. This meeting was held on the spot where the office of D. P. Ashburne now stands, and every man who was the head of a family, or over twenty-one years of age, drew lots for a choice of claims. Eighty-five homestead claims were thus selected and duly entered in the Government Land Office. Though these homesteads were selected before they had examined the land closely and casting lots, there were no dissensions, but all were satisfied. Improvements on these homesteads were commenced at once. Houses were erected and breaking of the prairie sod was at once begun. During the summer of 1871, these farms were all opened up in good shape. Of course, no crops, to speak of, could be raised that year on the newly-broken prairie sod. There were, however, many acres of corn planted on the newly-turned sod, and the efforts of these settlers were rewarded by a fair yield of sod corn. During the first year, a number of accessions were made to this settlement; others of their old neighbors, in Ohio, coming out and locating lands.

Immediately after the selection of land for farms was made, a town was laid out and named Gibbon. The town was laid out by John Thorpe and George Gilman, on the southeast quarter of Section 13, Town 9, and Range 14 west of the Sixth Principal Meridian. An addition to this was laid out by F. S. True, on the southeast quarter of Section 12, of the same town and range. The first building on the town site, except those of a temporary character, was a large hotel by Gilman, Thorpe & True.

At this time, the entire county comprised one school district, and efforts were at once made to organize Gibbon as a separate district. These efforts were successful, and, late in the spring, District No. 2 was formed, and, during the summer, school was taught at the residence of Mr. Wood, by Mrs. Chamberlain. August 15 of this year, the County Commissioners loaned the district $1,000 of the county money, at 5 per cent interest, to be used in the building of a schoolhouse. The building was soon commenced, and early in 1872, the schoolhouse was completed. This is the house now known as the Gibbon Primary School building.

The first birth in Gibbon was that of Gibbon Thorpe George, born in May, 1871; he was the son of L. D. George.

The first marriage was that of Oliver E Thompson and Miss Clara E. Lou, during the fall of 1871, by Rev. J. N. Allen. Mr. Thompson and his wife still live near Gibbon.

The first death occurred during the summer of 1873. William Brady was accidentally killed while making brick for the Gibbon Court House.

The first store was opened in the spring of 1871, by L. D. George, in the building now owned and occupied by A. D. George.

The post office was established in the spring of 1871, and James Ogilvie was commissioned as the first Postmaster.

The first mill of any kind was the large flouring-mill of I. N. Davis & Co., built during the summer of 1872. It was located on Wood River, about one-fourth of a mile north of town, and is owned by I. N. Davis, of Milford, Mass., and J. H. Davis, of Gibbon. This mill is a very large one, with ample facilities for the manufacture of flour, and is kept running night and day, turning out immense quantities of the very best quality of flour. The mill has four run of buhrs.

In the spring of 1871, the county seat of Buffalo County was located at Gibbon, and the following year a large brick court house was erected, it being supposed that the location of the county seat at this point was for all time; but, in the fall of 1874, by a vote of the people, the county seat was removed to Kearney Junction. This court house was built at a cost of $22,000 and was some years after sold to the Gibbon School District, for $2,200

The first sermon preached at Gibbon was in the spring of 1871, soon after the settlement of the Ohio Colony here, by Rev. J. N. Allen, at the residence of Mr. Woods. From the foundation of the town, it has been noted for its moral and religious influences. There are now Presbyterian, Baptist, Methodist and Congregational Church organizations. The Presbyterians alone have a church edifice. This church was built in 1875, and is a pleasant and well arranged structure. These churches are all in a prosperous condition, each having a good membership.

The Nebraska Baptist Seminary, the only school of this denomination in the State, is located here. The citizens of Gibbon secured the location of the school here by donating property valued at $16,000 The seminary building is the old brick court house, remodeled and refurnished to make it suitable for school purposes, and was presented by the citizens of Gibbon. The school was opened the 8th day of November, 1880, with Rev. George W. Read, Principal. The present year, there are 120 students enrolled. The seminary course embraces a period of three years. The faculty is composed of Rev. George W. Read, Principal, teacher of Latin and history; Rev. George Sutherland, teacher of Greek, philosophy and civil government, and Miss Emma C. Bulkley, teacher of mathematics and English grammar. There is also a preparatory department, of which Miss Anna E. Ball is Principal. A literary society in connection with the institution is well conducted, and meets once each week. A young people's, prayer-meeting is held each Sunday evening before church service. Special efforts are made by the faculty to develop the moral as well as the mental faculties of the students.

The condition of society in this village is very superior. Rowdies are seldom, if ever, seen. There is no saloon in the town and never has been. Its quietness and morality remind one of the old Puritan villages of New England.

Though the business houses are but few, a great deal of business is transacted. There are two general merchandise stores, one hardware store, two drug stores, one millinery establishment, one blacksmith shop, a wagon shop, a lumber yard, a coal yard, two grain elevators and one good hotel. There are three physicians, two insurance agents, one real estate agent, but no lawyers. The only paper published here is the Nebraska Visitor, a religious and family newspaper, the organ of the Baptist denomination for the State of Nebraska. Its publication was commenced November 1, 1881, G. W. Read and George Sutherland are the editors. The Visitor is published monthly.

George W. Read, was born near Frankfort, Ky., January 16, 1843; was brought up on a farm; was a member of the Kentucky State Guards, in 1860 and 1861; enlisted in Company C, Fifty-fifth Regiment Indiana Volunteers, May 27, 1862; was wounded at Richmond, Ky., August 30, 1862; mustered out of service September 8, 1862; took part in the chase of Gen. John Morgan, through Indiana and Ohio, in July, 1863; re-enlisted, December 19, 1863, in Company H, Indiana Cavalry; mustered out September 8, 1865, health broken down; recuperated until December, 1866. United with the Baptist Church November 28, 1866; then entered the high school at Dupont, Ind.; entered Shurtleff College, Upper Alton, Ill., October 3, 1867; was ordained to the ministry at Kinmundy, Ill., June 11, 1871; entered the pastorate of Clayton Baptist Church January 26, 1872. He was married to Miss Mattie J. Torbet, of Dupont, Ind., April 30, 1872. Became pastor of Union Avenue Baptist Church, Litchfield, Ill., December, 1875. The loss of his two children and the broken health of his wife, caused resignation and removal to Peru, Neb., as missionary pastor of the Baptist Church, December, 1876. He founded the Nebraska Baptist Seminary, and removed to Gibbon October 1, 1880; Principal of the school and pastor of the Baptist Church since that time. Began the publication of the Nebraska Visitor November, 1881.


S. C. AYER, druggist and dealer in a general line of drugs, paints, oils, cigars and tobacco, opened the business in 1880, and carries a stock worth $2,000. He located in Gibbon April 7, 1871. He engaged in railroading in Illinois on the Chicago & Rock Island Railroad one year, then returned to Gibbon and engaged in farming a short time; clerked in a store some time, and was appointed Postmaster in the spring of 1874, keeping a small stock of groceries in the meantime until the fall of 1875. He was then elected County Clerk and Clerk of the District Court, and by re-election held the same until January, 1880. He then was engaged in the law office of S. L. Savidge, in Kearney, Neb., until September, 1880. He served one term in the Nebraska Legislature in 1881-82. He was born in Newbury, N. H., November 13, 1848. He was married in Newport, N. H., August 30, 1871, to Miss Alice J. Fletcher, of the latter city. They have four children--Frank A., Agnes G., Fred C., David A. (deceased) and Sadie L. He is a member of Rob Morris Lodge, No. 46, A., F. & A. M.

WILLIAM T. BEATTY, farmer, P. O. Gibbon; located in Gibbon, October, 1872; purchased a hotel, which he conducted about three years; during this time he took up a homestead five miles northwest of Gibbon. After leaving the hotel he moved on the farm and cultivated the same about three years. He then moved to his present location, purchasing the same, and erecting his dwelling in the fall of 1878, adjoining the village plat on the northeast. He owns a fine tract of eighty acres of land, one and one-half miles east of the village. He was born in Clermont County, Ohio, September 11, 1817; was brought up on a farm; made a trip over the great plains in 1852, to California, and remained in the latter State two years, engaged in mining; returned to Ohio in 1854, and engaged in farming until July, 1861, when he received a commission as Captain of Company C, Second Regiment Ohio Volunteer Infantry. He participated in the battles of Ivy Mountain in East Kentucky and Perryville, Ky., at which battle he received a ball through his right limb and seven balls through his clothes; was confined in the hospital three months, reported to his command in Murfreesboro, Tenn., with a commission as Major, and participated in the battle of Chickamauga, having command of the regiment, where he received three wounds, his horse being shot under him, and was left by Gen. Thomas as a forlorn hope, with orders to hold the position at all hazards. He held the same until he was surrounded and captured, and was held prisoner a year and seven days, being confined in Libby Prison and stockade, at Macon, Ga., and the jail in Charleston, N. C. He was exchanged at Atlanta, Ga. There was a commission awaiting him for Lieutenant Colonel, but he never served under it; was mustered out in Columbus Ohio, November 10, 1864. He returned home to Cincinnati, Ohio, sold out, and moved to Muncie, Delaware Co., Ind.; and farmed five years; sold out and came to Gibbon, Neb, in 1872. He was married in Clermont County, Ohio, June 28, 1838, to Miss Miriam Everson, of Cincinnati, Ohio. They have five children--Mary E., Benjamin E., Acenith A., John M. and George S. They are all married, and the two oldest are living in Ohio; the next two in North Platte, Neb., and the other one living in Gibbon.

BENJAMIN F. CRAIG, teacher in the State Reform School, Kearney, Neb., first located in Gibbon June l, 1871, and engaged in various occupations, making farming his principal business, settling there with his parents. He was born in Washington County, Ohio, June 27, 1856. His people moved to Pennsboro, W. Va, and lived there until 1871, after which they moved to Gibbon, Neb. The subject of this sketch began teaching at the age of twenty-one, and has always been identified with the successful teachers in his vicinity. He is a member of the I. O. O. F. of Gibbon, Neb.

J. H. DAVIS, of the firm of I. N. & J. H. Davis, proprietors of the Gibbon Flouring Mills. The above mills were erected in the summer of 1873, and began operating the same in November of the same year with a capacity of 75,000 bushels of wheat or 1,500 barrels of flour per year. The mill contains four run of stones; the building is 32x24, with an L 32x26 feet, twenty feet posts and two stories high, with a basement ten feet high. The water power has a head of eleven feet. Mr. Davis located in Gibbon in July, 1873, and began the erection of the above mills, and has been engaged in the milling business since. He was born in Whitingham, Vt., May 6, 1843; was raised on a farm until eighteen years of age, at which time he enlisted in Company B, Fifty-second Regiment Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry, served about a year. He re-enlisted in the Second Massachusetts Light Artillery, was transferred to the Sixth Light Artillery, and served until the close of the war, and was mustered out in New Orleans, La., June, 1865. During his service in infantry he was in the siege of Port Hudson, and defense of New Orleans in artillery. He engaged in contracting and building a year; worked in a grist-mill two years; was proprietor of a boot and shoe store a year, and a general store one and a half years; then worked for a boot and shoe box manufactory; was promoted to overseer, and held the same until he came to Nebraska. He was a member of the Nebraska State Legislature in 1879-80. He was married in Colerain, Mass., in 1864, to Miss Emily Avery, of the latter place. They have two children--Emma L. and Roy A. He is a member of Commandery and Chapter Lodges of Kearney A., F. & A. M.

DAVID M. FULMER, farmer, P. O. Gibbon, bought land in Gibbon in August, 1879, being there on a visit at that date. He soon returned to Syracuse, N. Y., and moved his family to the above place in February, 1880, and located. He now owns 400 acres of fine land adjoining the village site, 320 acres of which is under plow. He was born in Onondaga County, N. Y., February 4, 1831, and was raised on a farm. He owned and operated a farm in the East until ten years previous to settling in Nebraska. He then moved into Marcellus, N. Y., and followed mercantile business. He was married in Onondaga County, N. Y., April 21, 1858, to Miss Ellen E. Longstreet, of the latter county. Mrs. Fulmer was born September 10, 1838. They have five children--Charley E. and Henry E., both teachers of good standing, Clark A., Minnie L. and Nellie E. Mr. Fulmer and family are members of the Methodist Episcopal! Church.

AMOS D. GEORGE, dealer in general merchandise, opened the business in January, 1879, and carries about $7,000 worth of stock. He first located on a homestead, one mile east of Gibbon, in September, 1871, and still has his farm carried on, with 140 acres under cultivation. He was born in Sunapee, N. H., January 25, 1836; was raised on a farm until he was eighteen years old; then engaged in the mercantile business eighteen years in Boston, Mass. He came directly to Nebraska from Massachusetts. He was married in Marlboro, Mass., in November, 1859, to Miss Lucy M. Chipman, of the latter place. They had two children--M. Edith, now married to Mr. George E. Nathecut, now living in Texas. His wife died in 1868. He married again, November 25, 1869, Miss Abbie M. March, of Bangor, Me. They have four children--Hattie A., Earnest C, Arthur M. and Lucy M. He and his family are members of the Baptist Church. He is one of the Trustees of the Baptist State Seminary, located in a very fine large brick building in Gibbon.

DR. D. H. HITE, located in Columbus, Neb., in May, 1873, and practiced in company with Dr. T. A. Pinckney until October 3, 1873, when he moved to Gibbon and opened a drug store, and continued practice until January 1, 1882. He has now given up practice and keeps a general line of drugs. He was born in Bedford County, Penn., August 15, 1841. He attended school until the rebellion broke out, and enlisted June 1, 1863, in Company C, One Hundred and Forty-eighth Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry, and participated in the battles of Kelley's Ford and Mine Run campaign. Was mustered out in July, 1865. He then began the study of medicine with Dr. L. F. Butler, of East Freedom, Blair County, Penn., where he remained four and one-half years, and during the time attended two courses of lectures at the University of Philadelphia, Penn, graduating from the latter institution June 1, 1868, attending a course of lectures at the Michigan University in Ann Arbor, Mich., in the winter of 1869-70, then practiced medicine in Rainsburg, Penn., until June, 1873, then came to Nebraska. He was married in St. Clairsville, Bedford County, Penn., October, 1871, to Miss Nettie Ake, of the latter place. They have two daughters--Nellie and Maggie.

WILLIAM H. KELLEY, dealer in harness, trunks and saddles, opened the business June 6, 1873. Carries a stock worth about $400. He located on a farm near Gibbon April 7, 1871, and followed farming until he opened his present business. He still has his farm cultivated, of which there are about eighty acres improved. He was born on the Isle of Man in the Irish Sea, April 24, 1819. He served an apprenticeship at the harness trade in Liverpool, Eng. Came to America in 1845; first settled in Cleveland, Ohio, where he worked at his trade five years. He afterward worked as a journeyman in many localities: also followed the lakes as a sailor three years. Then followed his trade until 1861, then enlisted in Company G, Fourth Michigan Volunteer Infantry, and served in that company three years. Discharged June 30, 1864. He participated in the campaign from Yorktown to Harrison's Landing, on the James River, second battle of Bull Run, Antietam, Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville, Gettysburg, Wilderness and Petersburg. He enlisted in Company K, Sixty-seventh Ohio Volunteer Infantry; participated in the storming of Petersburg and Lee's surrender. Was mustered out November 14, 1865, in Richmond, Va. He afterward followed working at his trade, and finally opened business in Chardon, Ohio, in 1869, and continued until April, 1871, and came to Nebraska.

JAMES E. KELSEY, of Gibbon, dealer in lumber and grain, opened business in September, 1879. Does a good grain business. Carries stock of lumber worth $3,000, of all kinds. He first located in Gibbon in the fall of 1871 on a homestead, and has had his farm cultivated since. Has been Justice of the Peace, Notary Public and Assessor about five years, and County Coroner some time. He was born in Tunbridge, Orange Co., Vt. May 18, 1834, moved to St. Lawrence County, N. Y., in the spring of 1839 with his parents. He was raised on a farm until he was twenty-one years old; taught school in Sauk County, Wis., two winters. He then went to Owatonna, Minn., and farmed until the spring of 1860. He returned to St. Lawrence County, N. Y., and remained until September, 1861. Enlisted September 14, 1861, in Company K, Sixtieth New York Volunteer Infantry. Was promoted September 16, 1862, to Second Lieutenant, afterward to First Lieutenant, and held the same. Participated in the second battle of Bull Run, Antietam, Gettysburg and campaign to Atlanta, Ga. Discharged October 31, 1864, returned to St. Lawrence County and engaged in farming until the spring of 1871. He was married in the latter county, New York, in 1868, to Miss Welthia A. Kelsey, of the latter county, New York.

DR. JOSIAH SLICK, physician and surgeon, located in Albion, Neb., in March, 1878, where he practiced his profession until September 1, 1878, then practiced in Sidney, Neb., six months, when he received the appointment of special surgeon in Maj. C. Mauck's expedition to Indian Territory. He resigned and went back to Sidney, and remained from October, 1878, until February, 1879. Resumed practice until May 24, 1879, and went to Livermore, Larimer County, Colo., and remained until September 1, 1879, when he located at Gibbon, Neb., where he has since practiced his profession with the best of success. He was born in Bedford County, Penn., September 10, 1843. He began the study of medicine in Washington, D. C., while he was in the army. He enlisted July 4, 1861, in Company H, Fifty-fifth Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry. Was a non-commissioned officer of his company. He was a gallant soldier, participating in thirty-three battles and skirmishes. Was wounded three times. Was promoted to Second Lieutenant, and was transferred to Gen. B. F. Butler's staff as Acting Assistant Quartermaster, and was soon promoted to First Lieutenant, then to Regimental Quartermaster. He was then assigned to the One Hundred and Seventh United States Colored Troops, and was soon promoted to Captain and Assistant Quartermaster. He was then mustered out in Louisville, Ky., December 4, 1866. He then went to Washington, D. C., and entered the Quartermaster General's Office as clerk, and pursued his medical studies, in the mean time at the National Medical College of Washington, D. C., from which institution he graduated in March, 1869. He then practiced under the direction of the Board of Health as county physician and vaccinating surgeon until 1873. He then went to Swede Point, Iowa, and opened practice, and continued until March, 1874, then moved to Saylorsville, Iowa, and practiced until March, 1878. He was married in Wilmington, N. C., April 23, 1865, to Miss Agnes Sellers, of the latter city. His wife died February 8, 1865. He was married again September 10, 1866, to Miss Carrie Ferris, of Fairfax Court House. They have four children--Barnett B., James A. G., Bessie and Jessie, the latter two being twins of great promise. The Doctor is a member of Sumner Post, No. 7, G. A. R., of Sidney, Neb. The Doctor has a successful practice worth S3,500 per year.

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