NEGenWeb Project
Kansas Collection Books

Andreas' History of the State of Nebraska

Butler County
Produced by John McCoy.

Part 1:
Geographical and Physical Features | Early History
Part 2:

Organization | County Statistics | Official Roster
Schools | Railroads | Historical Incidents

Part 3:
David City: Schools | Religious | Societies | The Press
Part 4:
Biographical Sketches
Part 5:

Ulysses: Local Interests | Banks | Schools | Press | Societies | Religious | Biographical Sketches
Part 6:
Rising City: Biographical Sketches
Part 7:

Brainard: Biographical Sketches
Bellwood: Biographical Sketches
Miscellaneous Biographical Sketches

List of Illustrations in Butler County Chapter

Part 7


Brainard is situated upon the extreme eastern end of the table-land, on Section 17, Township 14, Range 4, at the point where the bluffs of the Oak Creek meet the high ground. The old Mormon trail passes through town, and to-day, instead of tile fast-disappearing traces of this broad and well-worn highway, we find an enterprising and busy little town. Brainard is a station of the O. & R. V. Branch of the Union Pacific Railroad, and is fast growing to be an important shipping-point. It is surrounded by a rich agricultural district, well settled with honest and industrious husbandmen.

The town was located and surveyed in 1878, after the Union Pacific Railroad completed its branch road through the county. Thomas Logan was the first to locate here, and opened the first store with a stock of general merchandise. All branches of business are represented, and the following statement of shipments, furnished by Mr. A. H. Ashald, station agent, will in a measure show the business done:

Freight forwarded--Corn, 54 cars; wheat, 33; hogs, 29; flax-seed, 4; oats, 1; total, 121 cars. Freight received Lumber, 8 cars; salt, 1; total, 9 cars.


ALBERT H. ASHALD, station agent and telegraph operator for the O. & R. V. R. R. Co., Brainard, came to Nebraska in 1875, first engaged with Union Pacific Railway Company at Schuyler, and remained there until December, 1875. He was moved by the company to Fort Steele W. T., where he took the position as night operator, and afterward station agent. Here he remained until April. 1879, then came out on the present line of road. He is, and was the pioneer operator while the road was being constructed through Polk County, and sent the first message from Polk County to Gov. Albinus Nance, from Hon. W. F. Kimmel, in June, 1879. On July 1, 1879, came to Brainard, took charge of the station where he now is. Was born in the city of Troy, N. Y., January 20, 1853. Was married, in 1875, to Miss Kittie McFarland. He is a member of A., F. & A. M., Fidelity Lodge, No. 51, David City. Mr. A. is also a member of the firm of Fox & Ashald, dealers in grain and live stock, at Brainard, said firm shipping for the last three months of 1881 over fifty cars of stock and grain from Brainard.

JAMES D. BROWN, farmer, Section 23, Town 14, Range 4 east, P. O. Brainard; came to Nebraska in 1865, and located on the place where be now lives May 20, and was the first settler in Oak Creek Precinct. Was also the first Postmaster, establishing the Urban Post Office; was also one of the original members of the Baptist Church society in that locality, and has been one of its most active workers since. When Mr. Brown settled on his place, his nearest point to a mill was at Ashland, Saunders County, a distance of forty miles, and also his blacksmithing done. Was born in Bedford County, Tenn., December 15,1822, his parents moving to Missouri in 1829, where be resided until he came to Nebraska. Was married, in 1841, to Miss Phoebe L. Crawley, who was born in Ray County, Mo., by whom he has thirteen children, ten of whom are now living.

CHARLES FLEDMAN, section foremen on O. & R. V. R. R. at Brainard; was born in Germany in 1835; emigrated to United States in 1865 and first located in La Salle County, Ill., where he worked by the month until October of the same year; then came to Nebraska, and located at Omaha, where he engaged with the U. P. R. R. Co. in constructing railroad on the main line, where he continued until 1868, then went out to Wyoming in employ of the same company as section boss, where he resided until 1879 and in the spring of 1880 came to Brainard and took charge of the section, where he now is, and is now one of the oldest employes of the company. Was married in Germany to Miss Caroline Martens, in 1863, by whom he has six children, four boys and two girls, the oldest, Emma, being born in Germany. He is a member of A., F. & A. M. Fidelity Lodge, No. 51, at David City.

JOHN R. FOX, dealer in grain and live stock, of the firm of Fox & Ashald, Brainard, came to Nebraska in 1868, and took up a homestead on Section 31, Town 13, Range 4 east, in Oak Creek Precinct, where he resided until 1872, then sold out, and has since been at different places, and engaged in various occupations until October, 1878, when he came back to Butler County, locating at Brainard, and engaged in his present business. Was born in Luzerne County, Penn., July 6, 1847. Was married, April 4, 1879, to Miss Elizabeth Jacobs, of Illinois. He is a member of I. O. O. F., Harmony Lodge, No. 31, at David City.

ALBERT M. FLEEK, hardware store, Brainard, came to Nebraska March, 1879; soon afterward opened a hardware store at the above place, which was the first hardware store in the town. He was born in Hampshire County, W. Va., August 7, 1847. Was married in Iowa to Miss Rebecca Earskin in 1877. Mr. F. is now Constable of Oak Creek Precinct.

JOHN GROVES, farmer, Section 22, Town 14, Range 4 east, came to Nebraska in May, 1859, locating at Plattsmouth, where he resided two years, working as a common day laborer. He then went out on the old Government trail at the place known as the Pawnee village, where he kept a ranch until 1865, when every person was driven out of that section by the Indians. He then returned to Saunders County, and located at Ashland, where he worked at the mason's trade, and built the first brick house in that town. Here he remained until 1874, when he took his steps westward again, and came to Butler County, and started farming, where he now lives. Was born in Ireland March 2, 1816; emigrated to America in 1820 with his parents, who settled in Canada. John was married in Canada to Miss Dorcas W. Hanson August 26, 1841. He was a soldier in the Canadian war in 1837-38.

WARREN E. JACOBS, grocery store, Brainard, came to Nebraska in 1870, and took up a homestead in Center Precinct, on Section 4, Town 14, Range 3 east. Here he resided improving his farm until May, 1879, then moved to Brainard, started keeping hotel, which he followed up to January, 1882, when he started in present business. Was born in Greene County, Penn., March 16, 1835. Was married in Douglas County, Ill., November 26, 1857, to Miss Eliza A. Kaincaid.

WILLIAM C. JONES, farmer, Section 20, Oak Creek Precinct, P. O. Brainard. The subject of this sketch came to Nebraska in 1856, and settled at Ponca City, Dakota County where he worked at his trade, which is carpentering. Here he remained until the spring of 1859, then moved down on Salt Creek, in Lancaster County, where he bought a farm of 120 acres. Here he resided that summer, then went to Mercer County, Mo., and started to work at his trade, which he followed there, and also in Madison County, Iowa, when he enlisted in the late war August, 1862, in Company H, Twenty-third Iowa Volunteer Infantry, and served until the close; then returned to Iowa, where he resided until 1867, when he came back to Nebraska and settled on his old farm again in Lancaster County, where he made his home until 1879, in the month of March, then bought this place, where he now lives. Was born in Hamilton County, Ind., March 9, 1833. Was married in Livingston County, Ill., to Miss Sarah A. Forney. He is a member of A., F. & A. M., is charter member of Lincoln Lodge, No. 19, at Lincoln.

THOMAS LOGAN, dealer in general merchandise, lumber and grain, and Postmaster at Brainard. Came to Nebraska in 1875 and opened a farm on Section 10, Township 14, Range 4 east, in Oak Creek Precinct, in the fall of that year, he opened a store on his place, which he ran in connection with his farm until August, 1877; then moved it to Brainard, and was the first store in the town, and also was the founder of the town. In December, 1877, he had the post office established there, he being the first Postmaster, and has held that office since. Mr. L. was born in Lancaster County, Penn., June 2, 1833. He served four years in the late war, enlisting at Jacksonville, Ill., August 1, 1861, in Company G, First Illinois Volunteer Cavalry, and was in all the principal engagements of his regiment. He was married in 1879, to Miss Emma Brown, of Nebraska. He is a member of Harmony Lodge, No. 31, I. O. O. F., of David City.

MATHEW B. MORGAN, dealer in general merchandise, Brainard; came to Nebraska in November, 1875, and located with his brother Thomas on his farm, where he resided till the fall of 1877, then engaged with his brother in the store until October, 1879; then started a store for himself, where he now is. He was born in Lackawanna County, Penn., August 2, 1853; was married to Miss Elmah Conarro, of Butler County, Neb., April 6, 1881. He started the third store at Brainard; is a member of Harmony Lodge, No. 31, I. O. O. F., at David City.

SAMUEL S. McELVAIN, farmer, Section 24, Center Precinct, P. O. Brainard, came to Nebraska in May, 1871, and took up a homestead where he now lives, and was one of the first settlers in that locality. He was born in Sangamon County, Ill., January 13, 1851; was married in October, 1878, to Miss Amanda J. Simpson, who was the first white child born in Butler County, the time of her birth being October 8, 1860, at Savannah; she is the daughter of Charles H. and Sibel Simpson. Mr. M. is a member of Harmony Lodge, No, 31, I. O. O. F., at David City.

BENJAMIN F. SHOWALTER, farmer, Section 18, Oak Creek Precinct, P. O. Brainard, came to Nebraska in 1869 and took up the place where be now lives as a homestead, and was one among the first settlers in Oak Creek Precinct, where he has remained since. Mr. S. was born in Wayne County, Ohio, October 26, 1844; was a soldier in the late war, enlisting at the age of eighteen years, which was in August 1862, at Washington, Iowa, in Company A, Twenty-fifth Iowa Volunteer Infantry, and served until the close of the war. He was married in Washington, Iowa, to Miss Caroline A. Carter, in 1867. Both are members of the Baptist Church, and were original members of that society in their precinct.



Bellwood is located upon Section 19, Town 16, Range 2 east, beautifully laid out, with broad streets and avenues intersecting each other at right angles. With the advent of the Burlington & Missouri River Railroad, it was made a station, and has constantly increased in population, and is fast becoming a favorite shipping-point for grain and stock. A large grain elevator, and one of the largest and most complete stores of general merchandise in the county, bespeak its enterprise, and, for so young a town, business is well represented. Just outside of the town is the sheep ranch of R. H. Henry, stocked with 3,200 sheep of a choice grade. This is the largest enterprise of the kind in the county. Messrs. J. A. Ayres & Son are the proprietors of a large sheep ranch, situated two and a half miles from David City. It contains 320 acres, well supplied with water, of which 180 acres are inclosed with fence. It is stocked with 600 head of fine, well-graded sheep, for which ample shelter is provided in the way of substantial, well-built sheds. These comprise the only interests of this class in Butler County.

The survey of the town site was commenced January 5, and finished January 8, 1880, by E. L. Dickinson. It was named Bellwood by Mrs. Mary B. Finch, partly in honor of its proprietor and patron, Mr. J. D. Bell, and from its location on Bell Section.

It has an excellent school building, recently erected. The school is in charge of Miss Mollie Terry, and numbers ninety-two pupils, with a good average attendance. The first school district organized in the precinct (No. 4) was in 1871, but the first officers and teachers the writer is unable to learn.

An organization of the Methodist Episcopal Church was effected in the winter of 1876, at the Geard Schoolhouse. The following are the members of the original class: John Wilson, Miss Emma Wilson, Mrs. Wilson, Phineas Dodge and wife, Mrs. M. E. Lilly, Mrs. Miles Warren, Charles W. Derby. The society owns a parsonage, but no church, the meetings being held in the schoolhouse.

Messrs. Hutchison & Taylor opened the first store with a stock of general merchandise in February, 1880.

The original post office of the precinct was established at Patron, but was removed to Bellwood August 2, 1880.

E. F. Hutchison is the present Postmaster.


JESSE D. BELL, farmer and dealer in general merchandise, Bellwood, with his family located here in 1880, had the town surveyed, and is the founder of the town of Bellwood, which is located in one of the finest farming sections of the State. Although still in its infancy, it bids fair to become a town of no small importance, as its citizens are energetic, enterprising men. He has laid out several beautiful parks, planted with evergreens and all kinds of shade trees; has over one hundred acres of timber, shade, evergreen and fruit trees on his farm. In the winter of 1881, he erected a fine, large store building, nicely furnished and finished. He is an active member of the M. E. Church. He is a native of New Albany, Ind., born October 22, 1835; he was married to Miss Hattie M. Derby, of Cambridge, Ill., Aug. 8, 1865, at Geneseo, Ill.

SAMUEL L. BROWN, M. D., physician and druggist, Bellwood, came to Nebraska in 1869, and took up a homestead on Section 18, Town 15, Range 3 east, Franklin Precinct; here he resided four years, and was one of the first settlers on what is known as the table lands, in Butler County; then in the years 1874-75-76, he went to Omaha, where he studied medicine in the medical college of that city; he had read medicine several years previous to this time with his father. In January, 1880, he came to Bellwood and started the drug store which was the first drug store in that town. He was born in Pennsylvania, October 7, 1848. He is now Coroner of Butler County, and Justice of the Peace for Savannah Precinct. Is a member of the K. of H. of David City.

CHARLES W. DERBY, farmer and foreman of R. H. Henry's sheep ranch, of Bellwood, in the winter of 1881-82. This ranch has on hand 3,200 sheep, it being the largest sheep ranch in Butler County. Charles W. came to Nebraska in 1872, bought the place where he now lives and opened the farm of J. D. Bell, which joined the present flourishing village of Bellwood. He was one of the original members of the M. E. Church society of the place, which consisted of a class of only seven or eight members. Mr. D. was born in Henry County, Ill., Oct. 27, 1851, was married to Miss Ida Warren, in Savannah Precinct, in 1876; she is a daughter of Miles Warren, an early settler of Butler County.

JOSEPH H. DERBY, foreman and manager of J. D. Bell & Co.'s general merchandise store, Bellwood, came to Nebraska in 1880; started at first a small store for himself, which he ran until he was induced by Mr. Bell to dispose of his stock and take charge of his store, which he did in the beginning of 1882. He was born in Cambridge, Henry Co., Ill., July 16, 1861.

JOHN E. KELLOGG, of the firm of Royce & Kellogg, dealers in grain, lumber, etc., at Bellwood. This gentleman is also one of the early settlers of Butler County, who came to Nebraska in 1869, and located in Butler County, on Section 18, Town 16, Range 2 east, where he took up a homestead in Savannah Precinct. Mr. Kellogg had crossed the State as early as 1860, en route for Pike's Peak. He resided on his homestead improving his farm up to 1880, when the village of Bellwood was started, then he moved there and started in his present business. He has served as Assessor and Justice of the Peace of his precinct, and is now Notary Public. He was born in Cortland County, N. Y., February 5, 1839. He was a soldier in the late war, enlisting in Company K, One Hundred and Twenty-third Volunteer Infantry, in 1862, but was discharged on account of failing health after a little over one year's service.

JOHN W. McDONALD, carpenter and farmer, at Bellwood, came to Nebraska in 1873, and first located at Columbus where he worked at his trade, afterward taking up a homestead in Butler County, on Section 28, Town 16, Range 1 east, in Alexis Precinct, which he started to im-improve, also working at his trade at various places, and also at David City, where he worked on the court house, which was the first building erected in the town. In 1880, he moved to Bellwood, and has been connected there in erecting most of the principal buildings in that town. He was born in Oswego County, N. Y., July 24, 1848.

CAPT. MILES WARREN, farmer and blacksmith at Bellwood. The subject of this sketch came to Nebraska in 1870, and homesteaded the place where he now lives, and has made his residence there since, and is generally known as Warren's Grove, the grounds where the first Soldiers' Re-union was held in the State of Nebraska. In October, 1880, at the time of the mining excitement at Leadville, Colo., Mr. Warren took a trip out in that country and started a feed store, which he ran for one year, but still retained his residence in Butler County. He enlisted at Branch County, Mich., August 24, 1861, in Company B, Eleventh Michigan Volunteer Infantry, of which he was commissioned as Second Lieutenant in November, 1862; and was afterward commissioned as Captain of Company B, Eighth Michigan Volunteer Cavalry. This position he held until September, 1864, when the regiment was discharged. He was one of the early members of Lincoln Post, No. 10, of G. A. R., at David City. He was also the originator of G. A. R. at Longmont, Boulder County, McPherson Post, No. 14; also Charles Russel Lowell Post, No. 83, at Bellwood, of which he is now commander. He is also one of the councilmen of administration of the State in G. A. R. He was born in Erie County, N. Y., July 27, 1828. He is also a member of the A., F. & A. M., and is a charter member of Rising Lodge, Nebraska.

WILLIAM L. WARREN, farmer, Section 30, Savannah Precinct, P. O. Bellwood, came to Nebraska in the fall of 1868, and took up land where he now lives, in the spring of 1869. He was on the first grand jury ever held in Butler County, after the county was organized. He has since served as Justice of the Peace; is a member of the Baptist Church, and was one of the first original members of that society in Butler County, and has always been an active worker in that cause since. He was born in Genesee County, N. Y., September 24, 1824; was married to his first wife in Michigan, 1846, to Miss Phoebe A. Hate, who died February 6, 1862, by whom he had seven children; was married to his present wife Melisa E. Scripter, by whom he has three children.


David R. Gardner made the first settlement at Savannah in 1859, and was the original proprietor of the town site. During the years 1869, 1870, 1871 and 1872, while the county seat was located here, it was a thriving village, containing a court house, hotel, two stores, blacksmith shop, and a dozen other buildings. Here the courts and councils for the above years were held, and many a thrilling episode of political, social or other nature transpired within the confines of this little prairie hamlet, ere its dismantlement and removal to its successor, David City. Goldsmith's "Deserted Village" is full of true poetic sentiment, and has had many greater or less exemplifications all over the earth. Born in hope, matured in faith and strangled in friendship while yet a lisping infant; green be her memory forever.

Among her residents in days of prosperity were Judge B. O. Perkins, Samuel Woodward, Hubbel Pepper, Capt. Samuel W. Roys, Capt. Andrew B. Roys, Dr. D. H. Dickinson, Dr. J. F. Gilbert, E. G. Paige, M. Porter and D. Bresee, the village blacksmith. Mr. Gardner, upon his arrival in Butler County, hired out to Mr. S. D. Shinn to assist him in running the ferry. On a particular day of this term of service, he remembers to have ferried 4,000 Pawnees who were crossing the Platte on a buffalo hunt. The entire party had no money to pay toll. It was divided into four bands, each having a chief, and with the four chiefs Mr. Gardner effected a settlement for the tribe, each chief giving his note for $10 without interest, as compensation for his band; all of these notes were afterward paid according to promise.


JAMES P. DUNLAP, proprietor of the Lone Star Nursery, and farmer Section 19, P. O. Lone Star, came to Nebraska in June, 1866; first settled in Saunders County, in Newman Precinct, where he resided until 1870, when he came to Butler County, located where he now lives; was among the first settlers in that locality. Here he has one of the finest nurseries in Butler or surrounding counties. It consists of over seven acres of ground and is well filled with all kinds of fruit trees best adapted to the climate of the State of Nebraska and other Western States. Mr. D. was married in Saunders County, Neb., March 23, 1870 to Miss Christina Campbell, who was a daughter of Peter Campbell (deceased), of Chapman Precinct, Saunders County, and the oldest one of this family of children that was captured at Kearney Junction by the Sioux Indians, which is a fact already recorded in this history of Nebraska. He is now Justice of the Peace in his precinct, and was the first Assessor in the four southwestern precincts in Saunders County. He was born in Gasconade County, Mo., March 5, 1845; is a son of Nelson and Mahala Dunlap, from Rockbridge County, W. Va., whose ancestors were early settlers of that country; is a brother of Dr. W. B. Dunlap, of Adams County, Ill. His mother was a sister of Lewis McFarland, of Camp Point, Adams Co., Ill., whose ancestors were early settlers of Miami County, Ohio, and are considerably connected with the history of that county. He is a member of A., F. & A. M., Fidelity Lodge. No. 51, David City. Their family consists of four children--Nelson C., Agnes, Christina and Patience.

DAVID R. GARDNER, farmer, Section 12, Township 16, Range 2 east, Savannah Precinct. He was born in Otsego County, N. Y., March 24, 1815; is a son of John and Sabra Gardner, whose ancestors were formerly settlers in Connecticut. Mr. G.'s father died when he was only four years of age, leaving a widow with five children, he being the only son, and was immediately taken by his uncle on his mother's side by the name of Hale, his mother being left in rather poor circumstances and could not support him. Here he lived, under the parentage of his uncle, in accordance with the old custom, until he was twenty-one years of age, when he was married to his first wife, Miss Laura Harris, in February, 1836, who died in August, 1836. This same year, Mr. G. left his native State, and made his first step westward; located in McHenry County, Ill., on Fox River; opened a farm there, which he continued to run until the spring of 1838; then moved to Boone County, Ill., near Belvidere. Here he engaged in farming pursuits; was married to his second wife, Miss Sarah Bruce, in September, 1841, who died in 1844, by whom he had two children--John and Lovina A. The former died at the age of two years; the latter is still living, now Mrs. B. F. Skinner, of Nebraska. Mr. G. was united to his third wife, Miss Rossetta Bruce, in 1845, at Belvidere, Ill., who died in 1847; in 1849, was married again to Miss Sarah Wakefield, his present wife, who has borne him two children--Laura A. and John L. The latter died in the fall of 1878; the former now being Mrs. John Bredwell, of David City. Mr. Gardner continued to reside here two years; then moved to what is now known as Savannah, and started a ranch, where he has continued to reside since, making him among the very first prominent settlers of Butler County. Upon the organization of the county in 1868, he had the county seat located at Savannah, and served as the first County Treasurer of the county, and served as such for two years. Mr. G. is a member of the I. O. O. F., and the first lodge of that society in Butler County was organized at his house. He also served as the first Postmaster of the county. He resided in Illinois until the spring of 1859, when he took his second step westward, with his family, with the intention of going to Pike's Peak, at the time of the mining excitement; and upon reaching Shinus Ferry, that crossed Platte River, Neb., he met about two hundred teams en route for the same point.. Here they also met a number of other teams, that were returning from the prospected golden land, who informed them that the whole thing was a failure, which caused the whole company to disband, some returning to their Eastern homes, others going to Dakota and Kansas and others of the party pulled on for the West; but then, Mr. G. says, "Well, boys, I shall not go either east, north, south or west but shall stay just where I am;" so he turned around and hired out to the parties that were running the ferry to work in helping to run the boat, and took up his residence on the island, which was at that time part of Butler County.

DAVID READ, farmer, Section 17, Town 13, Range 1 east, P. O. Cottonwood, Read Precinct. The subject of this sketch was born in Haram, Suffolk County, Eng., September 8, 1827; is a son of Stephen and Mary Read, who were of the old English stock, and his ancestors were always engaged in farming as far back as he has any knowledge. This occupation he followed until he came to America. He received a common-school education in his native country, such as the country afforded, and in the spring of 1855, emigrated from England and settled at Quebec, Can. Here he lived until the fall of 1858, still engaged at farming, then came to Nebraska. In this State he made his first settlement in Cass County, near Plattsmouth. After one year there, he sold his farm in that locality, and moved on Salt Creek, the same county, near Ashland, In 1860. he took a trip across the plains, and in the fall of 1861, he returned to Butler County, and started a ranch at the Junction of the old Government and Mormon trails, at the head of Skull, Plum and Bone Creeks, on Section 5, Oak Creek Precinct. This he continued to run until 1867; then came to the place where he now lives and took up his homestead. Mr. Read was one of the first County Commissioners of Butler County and served in that position for five years; was married, in England, to Miss Jane E. Baker, November 4, 1850, who was ever ready to aid in all trials and troubles of pioneer days and ever ready to extend a welcome hand to all new settlers on coming to make their future homes in the West. Mr. R. was the second settler in his precinct, of which he has the honor of naming. He was also the founder of the names of Coon Creek and various other streams in Butler and Seward Counties.

CLARK STERNS, farmer, Section 25, Skull Creek Precinct, P. O. Newton, Neb. The subject of this sketch came to Nebraska in 1871, with his parents, and located on the place where he now lives, and was among the first settlers of that precinct. He has held the offices of Justice of the Peace and School Director in his precinct a number of terms, but his attention has been mostly to farming; was born, September 12. 1845, in the Dominion of Canada; is a son of John and Lucinda Sterns who came from Canada and settled in Illinois in 1855; lived there until 1867; then moved to Iowa Black Hawk County, where they resided until they came to Nebraska. His father was horn in Canada, December 6, 1806, and his mother was born July 25,1810, who still live and enjoy good health, and are the oldest couple in Butler County.

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