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Kansas Collection Books

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

Part 9


This pleasant little town is located on the right bank of the Wood River. The river forms the northern boundary of the village. To the north of this stream the valley extends back for a long distance, and forms a region at once beautiful to look upon and at the same time comprises the most fertile of Buffalo County land. South from Shelton is a broad and fertile valley, extending to the Platte River, about three miles distant.

The town is in the extreme eastern part of the county, and has many historical associations in the early history of the county. This was the very center of the Mormon settlement, made in 1858 and the identical spot where Joseph E. Johnson settled that year and started his ranche and gardening interests; the very place where he at that early day planted one of the largest and most magnificent flower gardens ever west of the Mississippi River. His log house was located where the residence of B. F. Sammons now stands, and here he started his newspaper, the Huntsman Echo, twenty-four years ago. In this log house was his place of business, from which he sold his newspapers and gardening products to the hundreds of emigrants and freighters who passed almost daily. The grove of large trees in the northeastern part of the town was planted by him. This was the very center of the settlement on Wood River, which has existed here for a quarter of a century. Here, also, was the original farm and residence of Patrick Walsh, one of the leading spirits in the organization of the county, as well as the proprietor of the town of Shelton, which, as a village, is but a few years old. Walsh, it will be remembered, at one time filled with credit to himself nearly all the most important offices of the county, having been elected to one of them and deputized or appointed to the others. Many amusing stories are told of him, among which is a narrative of the manner by which Shelton was so named. Soon after the first settlements here, a post office was established and called Wood River Center. After this a post office was established a few miles east of here, in Hall County and called Wood River. As a natural consequence, there was much annoyance and difficulty in the receipt of mail, as very frequently mail matter destined to one office was sent to the other through mistake, from the similarity of the names. Some time after the organization of Buffalo County, in addition to attending to his duties, managing the affairs of the county in the different offices he occupied, Walsh was Postmaster at Wood River Center, and, having been annoyed so much in receiving the Wood River mail through mistake, in a moment of honest Irish indignation, he wrote a brief and concise note to the Postmaster General, about in the following words: "To the Postmaster General: Sir--You are hereby notified that, as there is another post office in the State named Wood River, the name of Wood River Center is changed to Shelton, and you will please govern yourself accordingly," and signed his name officially as Postmaster. Upon receipt of this letter, the Post Office Department either charmed with the audacity of the Postmaster, or, seeing the similarity of the names, changed the name to Shelton without further correspondence.

Though a settlement of importance, previous to 1879, there was no railroad depot here and no town laid out. There was a side-track from the railroad here, but the trains did not stop, more than to slacken speed to throw off mail. In March of that year, however, the services of Simon Murphy were secured as surveyor, and Patrick Walsh laid out a town on his farm, where he had lived for seventeen years. This was the northwest quarter of Section 1, Town 9 and Range 13, west of the Sixth Principal Meridian. This is one-half a mile from the line of Hall County. Additions to this town site were soon laid out by the Union Pacific Railroad Company and Sergt. Michael Coady, of Fort Omaha. The latter owns about 200 acres of land adjoining the town on the east.

After the location of the town, a depot was built and Shelton made rapid progress, and it was only a short time until the lots were nearly all disposed of. The village is still small, but is pleasantly situated and an immense amount of business is done here. The population at the present time is about 500, and among this number are several that settled in this vicinity more than twenty years ago, among whom is Ed Oliver, who located about one mile west of here, July 4, 1860, and has been engaged in the mercantile business where Shelton now is since 1870.

Among the old landmarks of the early settlement along Wood River, is an old building in ruins, half log and half dug-out, and situated near the residence of Patrick Walsh, near Wood River in the northern part of the village. Another is the building now occupied as a drug store by Hostetler Bros., which is the first real business house ever erected here, and which was occupied by Ed Oliver as a business house for a long time. It is now owned by A. F. Bills.

There are now about twenty business houses here, all doing a heavy trade. Shelton, though small, is one of the best grain-shipping points between Grand Island and Kearney Junction.

The only flouring-mill is owned and operated by J. R. George. A fine quality of flour is made.

The hotels are two in number and well conducted. The Commercial House is kept by H. S. Colby. A. D. Burrow is proprietor of the Shelton Hotel.

The professions are represented by two physicians, one attorney, one editor and three ministers of the Gospel.

A bank was started in the spring of 1882, and is doing a good business.

The Methodist Episcopal Church have a large and strong organization. They have just completed a large and well furnished church edifice. Rev. J. Marsh is the pastor.

The Presbyterian Church has a good organization. Rev. J. G. Tate is pastor.

The Congregational Church is well represented in the village and vicinity. Rev. J. N. Allen is pastor.

There is a large and flourishing union Sunday school, with J. N. Allen, Superintendent.

The public school is in a flourishing condition. The greatest care has ever been exerted to procure good teachers. The school now comprises two departments.

A Masonic society, A., F. & A. M., has just been organized, and is in a flourishing condition. The lodge has erected during the present year a large and substantial building to be used as a Masonic hall.

The first newspaper established was the Shelton Clarion, the first number of which was issued in December, 1879, and was continued, having changed editors two or three times until October, 1880 when it was purchased by H. A. McNew, who changed its name to the Shelton Clipper, which he has continued to publish ever since that time. The Clipper is a six-column, quarto size paper, ably edited, published every Saturday; it has a good circulation, and is Republican in politics.

H. A. McNew, editor of the Clipper, was born in Rockcastle County, Ky., February 24, 1860. He came to Nebraska with his parents, in November of 1870, and lived with them and attended school until 1873. At this time, at the age of thirteen years, early in May, he entered the office of the Kearney Daily Press to learn the printer's trade. He remained here with the Eatons until they sold to W. C. Holden, in 1879. Here he gained the confidence of his employers to such an extent that he had charge of the office for some time. After leaving the Press office, he contemplated going into the cattle business, and spent his time prospecting until March, 1880, when he went into the Clarion office, and, in October of the same year, he purchased the paper and began the publication of the Clipper, which he has since continued.


THERON F. ALLEN, farmer, located on northwest quarter of Section 11, Township 9, Range 13, Shelton Township, in November, 1878. He also owns forty acres on Section 10 and eighty acres on Section 13. He engages largely in farming and raises some stock. He was born in Erie County, Penn., February 23, 1844; was raised on a farm. He went to Illinois and worked at farming in Boone and Ogle Counties four years; returned to Pennsylvania and farmed about eight years; then came to Nebraska. He was married, in Boone County, Ill., November 17, 1870, to Miss Ellen M. Stall, who was born in Norway March 15, 1848. Her parents came to America when she was six years of age, and settled in Illinois. They have three children--Albert, Frank and Edgar. He is a member of the School Board of his district and a member of the Buffalo County Agricultural Society.

HENRY S. COLBY, proprietor of the Commercial Hotel, which he erected in the fall of 1879, size of the same is 24x70 and two stories high, with a wing, of the same height, 26x50; contains thirty-five rooms and can accommodate seventy-five guests. He located five miles north of Shelton, on a homestead, February 7, 1872, where he followed farming until he began the erection of his hotel in Shelton. He was born in Monroe County, N. Y.. April 27, 1836. He lived in that vicinity until the rebellion broke out. He then enlisted in Company K, Twenty-seventh Regiment New York Volunteer Infantry, and participated in the following battles: First and Second Bull Run, Fredericksburg, Antietam, Chancellorsville, the seven days' fight in front of Richmond (Va.), Wilderness, Spottsylvania Court House, North Ann River and Cold Harbor, being wounded five times in the latter battle, three of which were very severe. He was kept in Washington Hospital from June 3, 1864, to February 6, 1865, when he received an honorable discharge. He went to Chicago, Ill., and remained a year, then became engaged in railroading on Michigan Southern; afterward engaged in lumber business three years on the line of the Michigan Central at Mattawan. He then returned to Chicago, and went into the employ of different lumber companies until he came to Shelton, Neb. He was married, in 1855, in Orleans County, N. Y., to Miss Helen M. Webb, of the latter county. They have two children--Frederick E. and Ida E., now both married and living in Michigan. He was again married, in 1871, to Miss Lucinda H. Smith; a native of Cattaraugus County, N. Y. They have one son--Frank V. Mr. C. is a member of. Joe Hooker Post, No. 28, G. A. R. He has filled several town offices, such as Justice of the Peace and Notary Public, etc.

JASON R. GEORGE, proprietor of the Shelton Flouring Mill. The original mill was erected by Mr. G. in the fall of 1873, the size of which was 24x36 and two and a half stories high. He has added a new building, 24x40, and three and a half stories high, containing four run of stone, with a capacity of seventy-five barrels in twenty-four hours and from twenty to forty bushels of feed per hour at the same time. Mr. G. also erected a mill, in the summer of 1881, on Beaver Creek, Buffalo County, 24x36 and two and a half stories high, with a capacity of fifty barrels in twenty-four hours. His Shelton mill cost $l7,000. The latter mill cost $5,500, including 176 acres of land. He came to Gibbon July 4, 1871, took a homestead and finally located in 1872. He was born in New Boston, N. H., December 16, 1843. He first learned the trade of shoe-cutting in Marlboro, Mass., where he worked four years. He enlisted, September 4, 1861, in Company B, Eleventh Regiment United States Infantry, and served four years and four months; participated in the battles of Yorktown, Williamsburg, Fair Oaks, seven days' battle at Richmond, second battle of Bull Run, where be was wounded and discharged. He enlisted, September 24, 1863, in Company F, Third Massachusetts Heavy Artillery. He was mustered out September 18, 1865. He was married, in Lowell, Mass., October 16, 1867, to Miss Mary F. Packard, of the latter city. They have seven children--Leon, Mamie F., Walter R., Albion O., Theron, Marshall and Ethel V. Mr. G. is a member of Jo Hooker Post, No. 28, and occupies the office of Senior Vice.

M. A. HOSTETLER, firm Hostetler Brothers, dealers in general line drugs and groceries, notions, etc., opened the business in March, 1879; carry at present $3,000 stock. There are four men employed in the business. He located in Lowell, Neb., in the spring of 1878, where he engaged in similar business as above noted about a year; then moved his stock to Shelton and opened the business. He was born in Green County, Wis., February 7, 1857; was raised on a farm. He was married, in Shelton, Neb.; September, 1880, to Miss Ella Doggett, of Hillsboro, Ohio.

E. O. HOSTETLER, firm of Hostetler Brothers, located in Lowell, Neb., in the spring of 1876 and engaged in the mercantile business, and remained a number of years; then moved to Shelton and opened business. He was born in Holmes County, Ohio, July 26, 1854; was raised on a farm, and followed that business until he came to Nebraska. He was married, in Waverly, Iowa, January 19, 1880, to Miss Laurene Harmon, of the latter place. They have one daughter--Arlie Mae, born December 13, 1881. The above brothers occupy a double store and carry on a fine business.

HARRISON A. LEE, farmer, came to Buffalo County, Neb., in April, 1873 and located on Section 15, Township 9, Range 13, Union Pacific Railway land, all of which he now owns and has well improved. He believes in raising a variety of crops, but makes corn the principal one, having in the present season about two hundred and twenty-five acres; has also a large herd of fine stock, in which he is quite a dealer. Section 15 is finely located in the Platte Valley, between the Platte and Wood Rivers, and is two and a half miles from Shelton Station, Union Pacific Railway. Mr. Lee was born in Farmington, Trumbull Co., Ohio, October 4, 1837; was raised and lived on a farm until December 7, 1861, on which day he enlisted in Company D, Sixth Regiment Ohio Cavalry, as Bugler. He served about a year. During that time, he was under Gen. Fremont, in Western Virginia; participated in the second battle of Bull Run and the battle at Centerville, Va. He re-enlisted, in 1864, in the One Hundred and Seventy-first Ohio Infantry and was commissioned First Lieutenant in Company H of that regiment. He participated in the battle of Keller's bridge, near Cynthiana, Ky., where he was taken prisoner, with his regiment, on the 11th day of June, 1864, by the rebel Gen. Morgan. Fortunately, Gen. Burbridge was close at hand, and compelled the rebel General to disgorge his prisoners, and they reached the Union lines at Augusta, on the Ohio River. He was married, in North Bloomfield, Trumbull Co., Ohio, December 19, 1865, to Miss Mary C. Snyder, who was born in Brookfield, Trumbull Co., Ohio, October 3, 1838. They have one daughter--Louisa, born January 2, 1872. He is a member of the Robert Morris Lodge of Masons at Kearney. He served three years as County Commissioner of Buffalo County. He is at present, and has been since its organization, President of the Buffalo County Agricultural Society. He was one of the committee that came out with Mr. John Thorp to select a location for the Soldiers' Homestead Colony from West Farmington, Ohio. They arrived at Gibbon February 27, 1871, and being favorably impressed with its location, as well as the appearance of the surrounding country, it was decided to come to Gibbon.

HENRY CLAY McNEW, publisher and proprietor of the Shelton Clipper. The office was opened and the first paper was published December 1, 1879, by A. C. Edwards, under the style of the Shelton Clarion, and continued until October 10, 1880, under that style. Mr. McNew became proprietor in May of the same year. His paper has a circulation of 625. The size is a six-column quarto, eight-page paper. The present proprietor first located in Columbus, Neb., in November, 1870, and engaged in various occupations until 1871, when he went to Kearney, Neb., and remained until the spring of 1873. He then began learning the printer's trade in the Press office, and continued until September, 1879, then went to the Nonpareil office, and in different locations until he became proprietor as above stated. He was born near Mt. Vernon, Rockcastle Co., Ky., February 27, 1860. He has taken an active part in politics in his county and State.

GEORGE MISNER, farmer, located on Section 24, Township 10, Range 13, in Shelton Precinct, Buffalo County, on a homestead of eighty acres, April 1, 1871, and began breaking the prairie and farming, turning over eighty acres of sod the first year, and the year following he broke up 240 acres, and has now 1,500 acres under cultivation, and employs four men. With the latter's help, and his assistance, they produced 8,000 bushels of wheat and 16,000 bushels of corn in 1875. He has not missed a crop since he has been in the State, and now owns 3,000 acres of fine land. He is now making stock-raising a specialty, and owns at present 500 head of cattle of all kinds, and will turn off 120 head of beeves in the spring of 1882. He was born in Germany March 19, 1843; came to America with his parents in 1847, and settled in Troy, N. Y.; moved to Tama County, Iowa, in 1855. He has always followed farming. He was married in Shelton, Neb., in October, 1877, to Miss Rachel Fieldgrove, of Pennsylvania. They have two daughters--Eldora and Elnora.

F. H. MORE, firm of More & Wood, dealers in general merchandise. Opened the business in June, 1879, under the firm name of More & Nethercut; continued until November, 1881, and changed to the present style. Their average stock equals about S6,000. They employ four men. He located in Shelton at the time of opening the above trade. He was born in Marathon, Cortland Co., N. Y., September 19, 1853, was raised on a farm until seventeen years of age; then taught school four years, after which he followed book-keeping until he came to Nebraska. He was married at Geneva Lake, Walworth Co., Wis., January, 1880, to Miss Nellie E. Barbour, of the latter city.

GEORGE MORTIMER, agent for the Union Pacific Railroad Company, Shelton, Neb., located in the above village in January, 1876, where he has since been agent. He was the first Justice of the Peace and one of the first Village Trustees. He located in Omaha in 1875, and was a night train dispatcher for the Union Pacific Company about a year. He was born in Murfield, Eng., December 22, 1845: came to America arriving in New York City August 22, 1863, and followed railroading fourteen years; learned operating in 1867. He was married in Cortland, N. Y., September 10, 1873, to Miss Rose Copeland, of the latter city. Her father, G. N. Copeland, is President of the First National Bank of Homer, N. Y. They have one son, George N. Mr. Mortimer is one of the foremost men in the State to breed and raise fine cattle. Owns and cultivates over 1,000 acres of choice land near town.

EDWARD OLIVER, dealer in general merchandise, coal, etc. Opened the business in the fall of 1872, and carries a stock to the value of $6,000. He first located in Wood River (now Shelton) July 4, 1860, and engaged in farming and stock-raising, chopping wood and hauling the same, trading with emigrants, and anything he could find to do to make a living until he engaged in his present business. He has consequently seen the country expand from a wild prairie where he has killed Buffalo and other wild game. He was born in Manchester, Eng., June 3, 1836, came to America, leaning Liverpool March 3, 1860, and arriving in New York City May 1, then coming almost directly to his present location. He was married at Wood River, December 31,1862, to Miss Sarah Owen, a native of Wales. Mr. Oliver has been County Commissioner of Buffalo County two terms; served one term as County Treasurer. He is a member of I. O. O. F. of Gibbon, and I. O. G. T. of Shelton.

GEORGE SMITH, farmer, located in Shelton Precinct in the fall of 1871. Moved his family in July, 1872, and located on Section 27, Union Pacific Railroad land. He now owns 480 acres, 210 of which is improved. He has twenty acres of fine growing cultivated timber. He is engaged quite largely in stock-raising. He was born in Lawrence County, Penn., April 4, 1833, was raised on a farm and followed farming until he came to Nebraska. He spent three or four years in California in mining, etc. He was married in Lawrence County, Penn., in 1859, to Miss Nancy Fisher, who was born in Lawrence County, Penn., October 25, 1835. They have five children--William J. (now married and farming in Buffalo County), Melvina (now married to Mr. George Barrett and farming in the latter county), Andrew E., Joseph and Ida Jane at home.

JOHN SMITH, of the firm of John Smith & Sons, dealers in all kinds of agricultural implements, wagons and buggies, opened the business in the fall of 1879. He located two and one-half miles northwest of Shelton, on a homestead of 160 acres, in April, 1870, and engaged in farming and stock-raising. He now owns 200 acres of fine agricultural land. He was born in Lawrence County, Penn., June 28, 1834; was brought up on a farm until eighteen years of age, when he began to learn the shoemaker's trade, which he followed until he enlisted, August 28, 1861, in Company F, One Hundredth Regiment Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry; participated in the battles of Hilton Head, James Island S. C., when he was taken prisoner June 8, 1862; was confined four months and paroled, and went to Annapolis, Md. He rejoined his regiment at Fredricksburg, Va., afterward participated in the battles of Vicksburg, Jackson, Miss., and Knoxville, Tenn. He then re-enlisted and came home on a furlough; afterward joined the army of the Potomac under Gen. U. S. Grant, and was in the battle of the Wilderness, Spottsylvania Court House, North Anna River, Cold Harbor and Petersburg, until the surrender of Gen. Robert E. Lee; was mustered out in Harrisburg, Penn., July 28, 1865. He then engaged in the boot and shoe trade in Lawrence County, Penn., which he followed until 1870. He was married in December, 1855, to Miss Sarah Fox, of Harmony, Butler Co., Penn. They have three children--Horatio K., James H., married and living on the homestead, and Albert, deceased. Mrs. Smith died in 1868. Mr. Smith was married again, in 1869, to Miss Sarah Fox Busby, of Lawrence County, Penn. Mr. Smith is a member of Jo Hooker Post, No. 28, G. A. R.; also a member of the Methodist Episcopal Church of Shelton. Residence and business in Block Number 1, Shelton, Neb.

SHELTON BANK opened in Shelton, Buffalo Co., Neb., April 3, 1882, and doing a regular banking business, with J. M. Coleman, President, and A. A. Leachey, Cashier. A. A. Leachey was born in Lancaster County, Penn., August 23, 1852; lived in his native country until 1874; attended the Millersville College two different years; went to Iowa City, Iowa, and entered the Law Department of the Iowa State University and graduated in June, 1875. His diploma is an admission to the bar in the latter State and all the courts of Nebraska. After graduating, he entered into copartnership with D. W. Bruckport, of Independence, Iowa, in the practice of law, until 1876; remained at home until the spring of 1877; then located in Vail, Crawford Co., Iowa, and practiced law until he came to Shelton Neb.

B. P. THOMPSON, dealer in agricultural implements of all kinds, opened the business in the spring of 1878, locating in Shelton in September of that year, building the first grain warehouse in the village, and was the first dealer in grain, lumber and coal, which business he followed until the fall of 1881. He was born in County Leeds, Canada West, August 15, 1837, and was raised on a farm. He moved to Belle Plaine, Iowa, in 1868, and engaged in grain buying and general produce, which business he followed until he sold out and came to Shelton, Neb. He was married in his native place, in 1862, to Miss Theresa C. Bradley, of the same place. They have two children--Addie C. and Edith L. Mr. Thompson is favorably known as a business man.

CHARLES H. WOOD, firm of More & Wood, dealers in general merchandise. He was born in Wheaton, Du Page Co., Ill., December 6, 1854; was raised on a farm. He went to Lake County, Cal., in October, 1875, and there engaged in the grocery business until March, 1880, when he came to Shelton, Neb., and became a partner in the above-named firm. They are energetic young men and deserve the patronage of the substantial public who are in want of any thing in the line of general merchandise.


This is a station on the Union Pacific Railroad, in the extreme western part of the county. There is one store and a post office here, also something of a market for farm products. This is one of the oldest established stations on this line of railroad, and for a long time a railroad eating house was located here.

One of the earliest settlers was Charles Davis, who was here previous to the organization of the county, and kept the railroad eating-house. He was for some time one of the county officers, the leading man of his time in the western part of the county, and was well known among the old settlers throughout the State. He died here in 1877.

The country surrounding Elm Creek is settled by a thrifty class of farmers, and will, from prospects, at no distant day, become one of the thriving towns of the county.

Stevenson and Odessa are merely railroad stopping places, with a side-track.

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County Index

Index of Illustrations in Buffalo County Chapter
  1. [View of Kearney]
  2. [Buffalo County Bank--Wiley Bros., Proprietors.]
  3. [Residence of Alphonso Gates.]
  4. [Residence of F. G. Keens.]
  5. [Residence of G. Kramer.]
  6. [Property of Col. John H. Roe.]
  7. [Portrait of John H. Roe.]
  8. [Portrait of F. G. Hamer.]
  9. [Residence of Samuel L. Savidge.]
  10. [Residences of Henry G. and H. Fred Wiley.]
  11. [Portrait of Geo. E. Smith]
  12. [Portrait of A. L. Webb.]