NEGenWeb Project
Kansas Collection Books

Andreas' History of the State of Nebraska
Produced by Diana Busing.

Part 11

MILTON J. HULL, Postmaster, was born in Waterloo, Monroe Co., Ill., August 22, 1841, and was reared in Jersey County on a farm. Enlisted in the Fourteenth Illinois Infantry April 1, 1861, and served for four years, subsequently following teaching. In 1867, he attended Eastman's Commercial College in Chicago, where he graduated, after which he farmed in Jersey County until he came to Nebraska in the fall of 1871, at which time he homesteaded 160 acres in Logan Precinct, Clay County, and resided on the same for four years. He was appointed Deputy Clerk of Clay County in January, 1876, and removed to Sutton, where he resided, and engaged in that capacity until the following October. Was then appointed Postmaster of Edgar, since which time he has resided here. Since the spring of 1877, has also been engaged in conducting a book and stationery store, and, in 1879, established the Edgar Review, of which paper he is still the proprietor. Mr. Hull has always taken an active part in all enterprises for the improvement of the town and people. He is a prominent leader in the Masonic Lodge of the place. He was married at Whitehall, Ill., in October, 1870, to Martha C. Bingham, a native of Michigan.

JOSEPH R. KIDD, of the firm of Kidd & Dalton, general merchandise and agricultural implements, was born in Morgan County, Ohio, January 3, 1843, where he was reared on a farm. He enlisted November 10, 1863, in the Ninth Ohio Cavalry, and served until the close of the war, after which he came home and farmed until he came to Nebraska in February, 1874. He homesteaded 160 acres, and tree-claimed the same amount, in Sheridan Precinct, Clay County, and resided on the same five years, during which time he was principally engaged as a carpenter and builder. In January, 1878, he engaged in the implement business, and in August, 1880, he admitted Henry Dalton to a partnership, at which time they added general merchandise, and now do business as above. Mr. K. was married in 1867, at McConnellsville, Ohio, to Josephine Young, a native of that place. They have seven children--Annie B., Luella, Mattie, Albert, Loren, Frederick and Hattie.

SIMEON B. MONTGOMERY, of the firm of "Frees & Montgomery," lumber and coal, was born in Brown County, Ohio, August 11, 1842. He enlisted October 21, 1861, in the Seventieth Ohio Infantry, and served three years, after which he returned to his home in Ohio, and learned the trade of carpenter, which he followed for a livelihood. He came to Nebraska April 12, 1872, and homesteaded 160 acres in Sheridan Precinct, Clay County, residing on the same about two years, then in Sutton. Immediately on his arrival he began business as a contractor and builder, following it for about five years. He built the present schoolhouse at Sutton in 1876, and also one at Glenville. Mr. M. came to Edgar July 24, 1877, and entered the employ of J. C. Clarke & Co., lumber, etc., remaining in their employ eleven months, afterward with Day & Frees in the same business until January 1, 1882, when the firm changed to "Frees & Montgomery." They also have a branch house at Fairfield, this county. Mr. M. was married in Adams County, Ohio, November 28, 1867, to Jane Peterson, a native of that place. They have four children--Sallie B., William, George T., and Ollia M.

JOHN P. NELSON, insurance agent, came to Nebraska in October, 1878, located in Edgar, and at once established himself in this business, and is now the oldest exclusive insurance agent in the place. Mr. Nelson is assisted in this business by A. M. Murphy, who has had considerable experience in this line. Among the companies they represent, are the North American of Philadelphia; Hartford Fire and Marine; Springfield Fire and Marine of Springfield, Mass.; the Phoenix of Brooklyn, and many other leading companies.

N. B. OLSEENE, wagon-maker, blacksmith, etc.; born in Sweden in 1848, and learned this trade there with his father. He emigrated to America in 1867, and worked at his trade in Galesburg, Ill., and in Kansas and Missouri. In 1872, he went to Chicago, Ill., and worked for two years as a blacksmith, etc., afterward in the Moline Plow Works, Moline, Ill., until he came to Nebraska in the fall of 1877, and he carried on a blacksmith shop in Geneva, Fillmore County, for over four years. He came to Edgar January, 1882, and at once engaged in this business, which is the principal one in this line in the place. Mr. Olseene was married at Chicago in February, 1873, to Gustinia Anderson. They have two children--Herman and Robert.

JOHN G. PROSSER, agent for the Union Pacific Railroad Company, was born in Johnstown, Penn., March 21, 1836. He learned the trade of carpenter, and in October, 1854, entered the employ of the Chicago, Rock Island & Pacific Railroad Company, at Chicago, and was employed with them some three years as a brakesman; then with the Hannibal & St. Joe Railroad, as brakesman and conductor for five years; afterward Ticket Agent at St. Joe, Mo., for nearly five years; then Baggage-master on the St. Joe & Council Bluffs Railroad for two years; then in Nashville, Tenn., for a year. He came to Nebraska, April 20, 1872, and was employed in the construction department of the Union Pacific Railroad Company until August following; was then appointed agent, at Alexandria, and two months later, agent at Davenport, where he remained for thirteen months. He came to Edgar October 15, 1873, at which time he was appointed Station Agent at this place. Mr. Prosser has been a member of the Board of Trustees, of Edgar, off and on, for four years, and at present is Chairman of that body. He was married in Utica, Mo., January 1, 1861, to Mary E. Bruce, a native of Kentucky. They have nine children--William, John, Charles, Lily, Gertrude, Francis, Louis, Frederick and James.

S. ADDISON SEARLE, attorney at law, was born in Andover, Ashtabula Co., Ohio, August 4, 1854. He was educated at Grand River Institute, Austinburg, Ohio, graduating in the class of 1877; shortly afterward went to Cleveland, Ohio, where he read law with Messrs. De Wolf & Schwan, and was admitted to the bar September 3, 1879, and subsequently practiced his profession in that city until he came to Nebraska; in February, 1880, he was admitted to the Supreme Court, at Lincoln, on March 17, and for a few months practiced at Clay Center; came to Edgar in the fall of 1880, and at once opened a law office. Mr. Searle was admitted to practice in the United States Courts, at Omaha, on May 2, 1881. In connection with his practice, he is also engaged in farming and stock-raising.

JOHN V. STAYNER, proprietor of the Edgar Photograph Gallery, was born in Wayne County, Ohio, December 30, 1845. Ten years later, he accompanied his parents to Iowa; was for some years employed in farming, in Jones County, then at cabinet work at Monticello, Iowa, until he came to Nebraska, June 2, 1872. He homesteaded eighty acres in Edgar Precinct, and resided on the same for five years. In June, 1874, he engaged in furniture business, in company with his brother Cyrus. This gallery was also opened at the same time, and when the Stayner Brothers dissolved, in 1878, Cyrus took the furniture business and John V. the gallery, which he has conducted since; is versed in all branches of photography, viewing, etc., and has the leading gallery in the county. In connection with this he manufactures all his fancy frame work, and in this branch he has no competitor in the county.

GEORGE W. UPDIKE, of the firm of Stout, Updike & Voorhees, real estate, collection and loan agents, Edgar, was born in Pennington, N. J., in 1853. In 1872, he removed to Cedar Rapids, Iowa, and was for about a year or more employed in the insurance business. He came to Nebraska in the fall of 1876, locating in Hastings; was engaged in this business in company with his brother, F. D. Updike, under the style of Updike Brothers, until January, 1881. He then went to Washington Territory, where he remained for a few months. He came to Edgar in January, 1882, and joined H. W. Stout in this business, he (Mr. Stout) having established the business here in 1881. They have recently taken into their firm Mr. C. A. Voorhees, of Pennington, N. J. These gentlemen are active, enterprising men, popular, and do the leading business in their line in this place.

JOHN J. WALLEY, of the firm of Brown & Walley, dealers in agricultural implements, was born in Milford, Otsego Co., N. Y., December 26, 1840, and resided on a farm with his parents until he enlisted, August, 1862, in the One Hundred and Fifty-second New York Infantry, serving until August, 1865. After the war, he engaged in the mercantile business in Eaton County, Mich., following that business for a short time only. He went to McHenry County, Ill., and was engaged in farming until he came to Nebraska, in May, 1872. He homesteaded 160 acres in Edgar Precinct, Clay County, residing on the same until February, 1879, when he removed to Edgar. Mr. Walley engaged in the implement business in November, 1878, with Joseph R. Kidd, continuing in that line until he sold out to his partner in the September following. In November, 1879, he joined M. J. Hull in the book and stationery business, remaining in partnership with him until June, 1881, when he sold out and joined J. H. Brown in this business. He was elected Assessor of Edgar Precinct in the fall of 1875 and 1876.

CHARLES H. WARREN, dealer in grain and live stock, was born in Hector, Tompkins Co., N. Y., October 25, 1842. In the fall of 1862, he enlisted in the Eighth New York Cavalry, and participated in thirty-two engagements, serving four years and nine months, after which he farmed in Ontario County, N. Y. He came to Nebraska, March 31, 1872; homesteaded 160 acres in Linn Precinct, Clay County, and resided on it for five years. He came to Edgar in May, 1877, entering the employ of C. F. Shedd & Co., dealers in grain and live-stock, and remained with them as manager of their business, at this place, until the summer of 1882, when he engaged in the business for himself. He purchased an elevator, February 24, 1882, with a capacity of 10,000 bushels, and this, with his experience, places him among the leading dealers in this county. He is the owner of 360 acres of land in the county, and is also engaged in farming and stock-raising; has filled various local offices and been Treasurer of the School District for three years. Mr. Warren was married in Ontario County, N. Y., February 14, 1866, to Cornelia Hartsough, a native of New York. They have five children--Emelia B., May H., Arthur H., Herbert and Lucretia.

S. J. WHITTEN, dealer in lumber and coal, was born in Canada, May 12, 1846, and, after leaving school, was for several years employed in mercantile business; came to Nebraska in April, 1871. He pre-empted eighty acres in Seward County in January, 1872. He went to Crete, Saline County, where he was employed as a clerk in the mercantile business. He came to Edgar in April, 1874, and engaged in the lumber business in company with Marion Hart; a few months later, he bought out his partner's interest, and conducted the business alone until 1877, when he sold out, built an elevator and entered into the grain business, in which he remained some three years. He then bought back the original lumber business, and has given it his attention since. In the fall of 1881, he put in a lumber yard at Blue Hill, Neb. Mr. W. was married in Crete, Neb., March 30, 1875, to Annie M. Blair, a native of Canada. They have two children--Florella and Winifred.

REV. WILLIAM H. WILSON, pastor of the First Baptist Church, was born at London, Ontario, August 1, 1847, and educated at Toronto University, Toronto, Ontario, graduating there in 1868, after which he taught school for some years. In 1872, he renewed his studies for the ministry at the Baptist Union Theological Seminary, graduating from there in 1874, after which he had charge of the Baptist Church at Latham, Logan County, Ill., for three years, and at Effingham, Ill., for eighteen months. Subsequently was for a year in charge of the Latin and Greek Department in the Ewing College, Franklin County, Ill. He came to Edgar in April, 1881, and at once entered upon his present duties. Mr. W. was married in Brantford, Ontario, May 27, 1875, to Elizabeth Dimmock, a native of England. They have three children--Carl, Percy D. and Myrtle.

HARRY K. WOLFE, Principal of the Edgar High School, was born in Bloomington, Ill., November 10, 1858, and came with his parents to Nebraska in 1872, residing with them in Grant Precinct, Lancaster County, assisting on the farm until he reached the age of seventeen years, when he went to Lincoln and attended the State University, where he graduated in the classical course June 10, 1880. His first school was in District 39, Lancaster County. In January he took charge of the Ponca High School in Dixon County, Neb. He came to Edgar in September, 1881, and at once entered upon his present duties.


The town of Fairfield is situated in the southeastern part of Clay County, about six miles from the south line and about ten miles from the west line of the county. It is favorably located in a fine and fertile prairie country, well adapted to agriculture. The St. Joe & Western Railroad, on which the town is located, was completed to this point on July 2, 1872. Some time in 1871, Maximilian Reed took up the northeast quarter of Section 4, Town 5, Range 7. This claim he sold to A. B. Smith, H. J. Higgins, R. Bayly, Cornelius Dunn and others--twenty in all--and they projected a town upon it.

In June, 1872, the St. Joe & Denver City Railroad Company built a depot on land adjoining on the east of the little town started by the citizens. Near and around the depot, the Town Site Company of that road projected a town and invited the owners and business men of the old town to come over. The new town site being on railroad land, and they not being able to perfect the title to the same until a foreclosure suit against all the lands of that company was settled, the old town refused to move, even in the face of a threat from the company to remove their depot from the vicinity.

As soon as the title was perfected in the company, they at once began to lay off the town, and the survey began on the 11th of September, 1874, by A. R. Buttolph. The first lot was sold on the 18th of September to J. H. Epley, and five lots were sold on that day. The first settler in the town was John Clancy, who ran the boarding car while the track was building, and afterward, kept a sort of boarding establishment in the section-house.

In September, 1872, A. B. Smith and H. Spencer erected a room and opened a store, consisting of general merchandise, on the town site established by the citizens. J. H. Epley came from Crete, Saline Co., Neb., in May, 1873, and also started a general store, where Smith & Spencer were located. These parties remained on these quarters until the new town was surveyed, when they moved their stores into the town and were the first business establishments in the place.

The first building on the town plat following the depot and section-house was a lumber office belonging to D. Jaynes, and was built in the fall of 1872, but Jaynes closed out his lumber yard the next spring, and the office is now occupied by J. E. Broderick as a residence, and about the same time A. B. Chandler and R. M. Aikens put up a carpenter shop, which is the building now made use of by McPeak & Sons, with a stock of hardware.

Immediately after the title to the town site was obtained and the permanence of the location insured, the town began to build up. It was then that Smith & Spencer and Epley brought their stores into the town. During the month of September, considerable progress was made--J. C. Clark started a lumber yard; D. McDonald erected a blacksmith shop; J. W. Small opened a real estate and law office, and J. E. Hopper and J. H. Conrad started a drug store, and, by the end of the year, there were six business houses, a lumber yard and grain elevator, and the town had a population of about fifty people. It now has a population of about 600 people, and contains many substantial business houses of varied sorts.


The town of Fairfield was incorporated by the Commissioners of Clay County in June, 1878, and J. R. Maltby, J. H. Epley, L. Fryar, W. S. Prickett and D. Howe appointed a Board of Town Trustees. The board met and elected J. R. Maltby, Chairman; O. G. Maury, Clerk; C. F. Shedd, Treasurer; A. A. Kelsey, Marshal; W. S. Prickett, Attorney. On September 24, P. G. Hayes was appointed Marshal, to fill the vacancy caused by the retirement of Kelsey. The board passed the first ordinance on the 23d day of July, 1878.

The officers elected for the year 1879 were: Trustees, J. E. Hopper, G. E. Glass, C. Palmer, J. R. Madison and H. Spencer; Chairman, C. Palmer; Clerk, O. G. Maury; Treasurer, John Biddle.

1880--Trustees, J. E. Hopper, Charles Palmer, O. H. Judd, G. E. Glass and H. Spencer; Chairman, C. Palmer; Clerk, F. H. Willis.

1881--Trustees, J. R. Maltby, D. Howe, J. Tweed, D. Murdock and E. L. Brewer; Chairman, D. Murdock; Treasurer, J. H. Case; Clerk, J. C. Hedge.

1882--Trustees, W. S. Randall, T. J. Loomis, A. Broderick, C. F. Shedd and J. C. Hedge; Chairman, W. S. Randall; Clerk, D. Howe; Treasurer, Charles Lewis.


The first school was taught in the town of Fairfield in the winter of 1873-74, in a small frame building erected specially for school purposes, in the fall of 1873. The house is a one-story frame and at that time was the best school building in the county, being twenty-six feet wide by forty feet in length, and cost $1,440. This building continued in use for a schoolhouse until becoming inadequate for the accommodation of the school, a new school building was erected, in the summer of 1881. After the new house was completed, the occupancy of the old building for school purposes was discontinued, and it was sold to the Christian denomination in the fall of 1881, and is now used by that body for a church house, having undergone suitable reconstruction for that purpose.

The new school building, erected in the summer of 1881, is a fine large two-story frame structure, of tasteful architecture, being constructed with appropriate and proportioned projections, and contains four large classrooms, with recitation and principal's, cloak and ante-rooms, and all other necessary apartments. The schoolrooms are fitted out with the most improved furniture, patent seats and desks and all needful apparatus. The cost of the building when completed was $5,000. The building stands on an eminence back of the town, which slopes off in all directions, and from which a view is had over the surrounding landscape for a distance of more than twenty miles. The school was graded in the fall of 1881, being divided into the primary, intermediate and grammar school departments, under charge of A. A. Randall as Principal, and Miss Emma McKee and Mrs. Alice Cooper, as teachers.

The district in which the town is included embraces a territory three miles square, and, the town being located in the corner section of this territory, places the school beyond the convenient accommodation of those living in the remote section of the district. For the accommodation of such, a schoolhouse was erected to the southeast of the town, a distance of about two miles. At present, the schools in the town have an average attendance of about eighty pupils, the enrollment being about 100.


Fairfield contains four religious societies--the Methodist, Congregational, Christian and Catholic. The first of these established in the town was the Congregational. The congregation was organized by Rev. J. A. Jones, at the residence of H. J. Higgins, on Liberty Farm, on the Little Blue River, on the 1st of January, 1872. Preaching was held in residences for some time, and, in the fall of 1872, the place of meeting was at Fairfield, services being held in the depot, where they were continued until the approach of cold weather, and then went to Smith & Spencer's store, and, in the spring of the next year, in Epley's store, and again, in about a year from this, the congregation worshiped in the Brown Schoolhouse, now called Palmer Schoolhouse. During the summer of 1874, the place of meeting was changed to the school building in the town, in which they remained until the church was built, excepting a short time in the fall and winter of 1877, when they met in the Methodist Church on every other Sunday.

Work began upon the building of a church in 1878, and the house was not completed wholly until the early part of 1882, and was dedicated on March 5 of that year by Rev. Mr. Merrill, of Omaha, State Superintendent of Home Missions. The building is a one-story frame, 30x60 feet in size, and cost $2,800. The congregation, with a present membership of seventy, continued under the pastoral charge of Rev. J. A. Jones until November 1, 1872, when he was succeeded by the Rev. Thomas Pugh, who was followed by Rev. Mr. Abbott, on January 12, 1877, and was, in turn, succeeded by Rev. R. Williams, the present pastor.

The Methodists were the next to organize a church in the town, which was effected in August, 1873, in the depot, by Rev. F. A. Penny. Services were continued in the depot until the schoolhouse was completed, when they began the use of that building and occupied it until the church building was completed, in the summer of 1878. The church is constructed after the Gothic style of architecture, is 30x50 feet in dimensions, and is nicely finished with stained glass windows, etc., costing, when completed, $2,150. The congregation, numbering 120 members, is under the charge of Rev. C. A. Mastin.

A Sunday school was organized in the summer of 1878, with fifty scholars, and W. R. Stevens was elected Superintendent; the school, now numbering 120 members, is under the superintendence of W. S. Randall.

The Catholics organized themselves into a congregation in October, 1877, there being about seven families, and took place in J. R. Maltby's residence. Services were held monthly during that fall in Conrad's Hall by Rev. J. G. Glauber. The erection of a church began in the latter part of the year 1878, and was completed in the spring of 1879, so that services could be held in the house, but was not entirely finished until the spring of 1882. The building is a small frame, costing about $550. The congregation at present, numbering some twenty families, including those in the adjacent country districts, is under the ministration of Father Simeon, of Hastings.

On June 16, 1878, the Christians, under the leadership of W. T. Newcomb, organized themselves into a religious body, comprising twelve members, the meeting being held in the schoolhouse in which they worshiped until the fall of 1881, when the new school building was completed and the old one was purchased by the congregation, and, after undergoing suitable remodeling, has since been used by them as a church house. The early services were conducted by W. T. Newcomb, who officiated in that capacity as early as the spring of 1877. In November, 1878, Rev. George Lobengier took charge for one year, and was followed by the Rev. William Sumpter, who remained about two years, and since his resignation, the body has been without any regular pastor.

A parsonage was erected in the fall of 1879, costing about $900, the total value of the church property being $1,500. A Sunday school was started in the spring of 1879, with thirty-five scholars, and S. J. Anthony was chosen Superintendent. The school now numbers fifty members, with F. D. Smith, Superintendent.

A union Sunday school was begun in the spring of 1872, the first meeting being held at the residence of H. J. Higgins, at Liberty Farm, where it was kept during that year, until the approach of winter, at which time the school was dismissed for the winter, and, on the 9th of the following March, was started up again, and L. Brewer was elected Superintendent. With the beginning of the next winter, the school was disbanded again, and met March 7, 1874, in Brown's, now Palmer's, Schoolhouse, and elected W. R. Stevens Superintendent. Meetings continued to be held in the schoolhouse until the fall of 1877, when they were changed to the Methodist Church, remaining here about one year; were again held in the schoolhouse until the erection of the Congregational Church, in which the school has since been kept. Other congregations at times branched off, starting schools of their own, so that what remains of the union school originally started belongs almost exclusively to the Congregational Church, and has a membership of 100, under the supervision of Lyman Porter.

Top of Page   First Page   Back   Next

County Index