Howard County | Natural Features and Products | First Settlements|
Organization | Early History
Howard County in 1874 | Gov. Brisbin's Statistics|
Progress of the County | The Flood of 1881
The Murder of Lubin Paxton | Present Condition of the County
St. Paul: Early History | Improvements | A Frightful Tragedy|
Newspapers | Societies | Churches | Other Matters of Interest
St. Paul : Biographical Sketches (cont.)|
Dannebrog | St. Libory
List of Illustrations in Howard County Chapter
Howard County Names Index
HOWARD County is situated in the fertile Loup Valley, in the 42nd degree of latitude north, near the geographical center of the State. Its extent is twenty-four miles square, and it contains 368,640 acres. The county is bounded on the north by Greeley County, on the east by Nance and Merrick, on the south by Hall, and on the west by Sherman.
At the assessment of 1881, there were 181,269 acres deeded and taxable. Of this acreage, 60,021 acres were assessed as improved lands. The Burlington and Missouri Railroad Company originally owned 90,000 acres, but a large amount of this has been sold to actual settlers. The Union Pacific Railroad Company originally owned 92,000 acres, but of this they now retain but a small portion, having disposed of the most of it to actual settlers at prices ranging from $2 to $6 per acre. Government lands may be still found in the county, though these tracts are small, and scattered over the county, and most of them are of an inferior quality.
The county is traversed by three large streams which converge into one before leaving the county. The South and Middle Loup Rivers form a fork in the southwestern part of the county, from which point the South Loup flows in a northeasterly direction until a few miles past the center of the county, where it unites with the North Fork and forms the Main or Great Loup River. The North Loup enters the county near the northwest corner, and flows in a southeasterly direction until it unites with the South Loup at the point above mentioned. These streams are all large, broad, swift flowing, with sandy beds and shifting channels. In themselves they will form an important source of wealth as soon as they are utilized for manufacturing purposes.
There are a large number of smaller streams, tributary to the above mentioned rivers. Deer, Oak, and Turkey Creeks flow into the South Loup; Munson, Augur, Moffat, Fish, Cedar and Cady Creeks into the North Loup; and Spring and Rock Creeks into the Main Loup. Though most of these streams could be utilized for water power purposes, there are mills only on Oak and Spring Creeks. The Dannebrog mills at Dannebrog, and the Kelso mills at Kelso are on Oak Creek, and the Spring Creek mills on Spring Creek. The above are all flouring mills.
The valleys of the Loup Rivers and their tributaries are all broad and level. In some places these valleys are fertile, and in others somewhat sandy; but in a general description of them, the soil of the valleys of the larger streams may be said to consist of a sandy loam, gradually growing richer as it ascends from the bottom to the table lands. The bottom lands along the rivers, though composed largely of sand, retain moisture and furnish nourishment to plants to an extent that is remarkable, and a fine growth of grass is natural to them, yielding well when planted to crops. Vegetables and root crops are produced in enormous quantities on these sandy bottoms. The greater portion of the table lands is of the best quality of soil, consisting of rich loam with but little sand. In the south part of the county, however, is a quite large extent of country that forms a part of what is known as the "sand hills" of Nebraska. This is a region of a few miles in width and covered with hills of sand.
These hills succeed one another, the one beginning where the other leaves off, and vary in size from mounds of sand, only a few feet across at the base, to large hills. They are circular in form, and rise to a sharp point, cone shaped, at the top, and consist of light white sand. These mounds and hills present the appearance of having been formed by the heavy winds that often sweep over these prairies, tossing, drifting and whirling the light dry sand about in eddies which started little hills that grew larger during every hard wind. These sand hills are valueless for farming purposes, but are covered with a growth of wild grass of the blue stem variety, which though standing thin on the ground, grows to a remarkable height, and is very nutritious in quality. Therefore these hills afford the most excellent of pasturage and are of untold value to the stock raiser.
There is but little timber in the county, yet nearly all the streams are skirted in places with trees, such varieties as the following predominating, namely: cottonwood, white ash, willows, hackberry, oak, box elder, elm and cedar. All kinds of trees grow very readily, and were it not that prairie fires had swept over the prairies annually for ages, there is no doubt that the county would have been covered with timber. There have been many groves planted by the settlers, and the trees generally do well. The variety most commonly planted is cottonwood, on account of the rapid growth and the ease with which the small trees or "cuttings" are obtained. The assessor's returns in 1881, showed that there were then 317,810 forest trees growing in the county, which had been planted. This number has been largely increased during the past year.
The larger fruits have not yet been raised to any extent. Small fruits grow naturally in this soil. In the cañons are found in a wild state, strawberries, currants and gooseberries; wild plums and wild cherries. Where they have been planted and cultivated, all kinds of small fruit have thriven and yielded abundantly. Many young orchards have been planted, and where the trees have been properly cared for, they seem to be in a thriving condition, and there is no doubt that orchards can be grown successfully.
Though not of the best quality for building purposes, stone is in many places cropping from the bluffs, particularly on the North Loup. Wherever this stone has been used it has given good satisfaction.
The only railroad is a branch of the Omaha and Republican Valley Railroad, from Grand Island, on the main line of the Union Pacific Railroad to St. Paul, and now in progress up the North Loup Valley.
The circumstance that first led to the idea of forming a settlement in this county was as follows: James N. Paul, who had been engaged in surveying lands in Nebraska for several years, in company with Major Frank North, the famous chief of the Pawnee scouts, came up the Loup Valley on a hunting expedition. Stopping for a moment to rest, about at the point where the town of St. Paul now is, Paul, struck with the beauty of the location, remarked to the Major, that this would be a favorable location for a town, with which observation North coincided. Nothing more was said on the subject, however, at that time. This was early in 1870. Paul, after thinking the matter over for some time, talked the matter over with his brother, Nicholas J. Paul, with whom he had been associated, in their surveying expeditions in Nebraska and Kansas. After repeated conversations on the subject, these brothers determined to start a colony, settle in the Loup Valley and form a separate county. At that time, all this part of the Loup Valley was a portion of Hall County.
In December, 1870, Nicholas J. Paul, accompanied by Mr. Moeller, vice consul from Denmark to Milwaukee, again visited the Loup Valley, to make observations preparatory to forming settlements. On the evening of December 22, they camped in the brush on Section 27, Town 13, Range 11 west, on the right bank of the South Loup Fork, and not, very far from where Dannebrog now is. It was a bitterly cold night, and it was with the greatest difficulty that they kept from perishing.
During this trip the South Loup was explored to Sweet Creek, tributary to South Branch or Carey's Fork, after which they returned to the settlements, and plans were arranged to settle the valley as soon as possible. But a point had not yet been selected, and on the ninth day of January, 1871, a party started out for the purpose. This party consisted of J. N. Paul, Major Frank North, Ira Mullen, A. J. Hoge, Joseph Tiffany, J. E. North, Luther H. North, Charles Morse, Gus Cox, S. W. Smith, and Enos Johnson, who, after meeting at Pawnee Village, on the Pawnee Indian reservation,--now Nance County,--proceeded up the river exploring the North and South Loup, and their tributaries. They were well satisfied, and all, except Frank and J. E. North, concluded to settle here. The point selected was at the junction of and between the North and South Loup rivers, some distance above the forks and in the vicinity of the present town of St. Paul.
Having concluded to make a settlement here, and to form a county, arrangements were soon made for a county organization. The State Legislature being in session, Nicholas J. Paul was sent to Lincoln to consult with Judge Beals, the representative from Hall County, to induce him to introduce a bill in the Legislature for the organization of a new county from this part of Hall. This, Beals refused to do unless the consent of his constituents should first be obtained. Therefore, Paul returned to Grand Island, and a petition for division of the county was prepared and circulated; and was signed by the principal men of that town, on the condition that if this territory was detached, all that portion of Adams County in towns 9 and 10, should be added to Hall County. Adams at that time extended as far north as the Platte River.
But the above was not the only settlement made in the county at this time. Early in the year 1871, as a result of the trip of Mr. Moeller, some time before, a company called "The Danish Land and Homestead Colony," was organized in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and a locating committee, consisting of Lars Hannibal, John Seehusen, L. M. Petersen, and Paul Hansen, were sent out. Arriving at Grand Island, they were met by James N. Paul, who was to assist them in selecting a location for their colony. Preparations were at once made to start out in the Loup country. The Indian fighter and scout, known as "Pony Hunter," who was killed by Indians in the Black Hills in 1876, was employed as a teamster on account of his knowledge of the country. The party started out and reached the South Loup, some time in February, at a point near the present site of the Dannebrog bridge. Here they constructed a boat and crossed the river. After remaining about twelve days making examination, the committee selected lands on Oak Creek. Besides the government land, there was each alternate section belonging to the Union Pacific Railroad Company, who gave this colony very favorable terms. This party having made their location, returned to Wisconsin to perfect the organization of the Danish Colony, so soon to arrive.
Pending the action of the Legislature in regard to the organization of Howard County, a circular was prepared, setting forth the advantages of the proposed new county, and inviting those who contemplated settlement in the west to unite in settling in the Loup Valley, the nucleus of the settlement to be about twenty miles from Grand Island on a proposed new line of railroad. The circular called attention to the cheapness of the railroad lands, and the fact that one half of the county was open to homestead and pre-emption claims. These circulars were sent in immense numbers to nearly all the Eastern States, but more particularly to Ohio and Wisconsin, from which States most of the original settlers had first come.
March 1, 1871, a special act, entitled: "An act to define the boundaries of certain counties, passed the Legislature, and this provided: that all of that extent of country embraced by townships thirteen, fourteen, fifteen, and sixteen, north; and ranges nine, ten, eleven, and twelve, west, should thereafter be known as Howard County. Again, on the twenty-eighth of March, an other special act was passed by the Legislature entitled: "An act to provide for the speedy organization of Howard and Boone Counties," and the Probate Judge of Platte County was ordered to appoint three commissioners for the county of Howard, who should take the oath of office and perform all their duties as such, until their successors should be elected and qualified; and should locate a temporary county seat in the county, and appoint judges and clerks of election.
The first homestead claim taken in Howard County was by J. E. Cady, and located on the North Loup. Date of entry March 11, 1871.
The first homestead between the Forks was entered March 30, 1871, and was taken by James Eddy.
The first preemption claim was taken March 13, by Luther H. North, and was located on the North Loup.
The first settlement was made in the county on the 31st day of March, 1871, when James N. Paul arrived on the Loup with thirty-one persons who wished to locate claims. Among these and those who entered claims and became residents of the county, were: T. M. McNabb, D. Aleshire, A. G. Metcalf, J. Peters, J. C. Lewis, N. Z. Woodruff, H. M. Copeland, F. M. Crowell, R. E. Wells, W. Little, E. Andrews, R. Cockerel, F. Godfrey, N. Baxter, and A. Robinson.
Upon their arrival, this party went into a temporary camp in a cottonwood grove, a few rods from where Lawrence Fleming afterward built his residence. This was on the south side of the river, and on Section 28, Town 14, Range 10 west. The next day a party crossed the river and examined the lands on Turkey Creek. On their return to the camp an amusing incident took place, as they were crossing the river. J. C. Lewis, E. Andrews, A. G. Metcalf, R. E. Wells, and others were crossing in a boat. When near the shore one of the party grasped a bush, and the current being strong the boat was upset and all thrown into the water. From the breadth of the river, and the swiftness of the current they believed the water to be deep, and all struck out at once to swim to the shore. But after paddling away for some time their surprise can be imagined when they found the water not to be more than two feet deep where they then were. By the accident, a needle compass had been lost, and they yet supposed there was deep water where the boat overturned, and F. M. Crowell who was a good swimmer volunteered to try to recover it. Accordingly the boat was righted up, and on again reaching the spot Crowell plunged in, expecting to have to dive deep, but the water was not knee deep, and he only succeeded in plunging his head in the sand. All were treated to a cold bath, and instead of their supposed narrow escape from drowning they found they had only been performing the ridiculous feat of trying to swim in icy cold water, that was in no place knee deep.
On the 4th day of April, Lawrence Fleming brought the first load of lumber into the county, to use in building his residence, a few rods from the camp.
While the party were still in camp, on Sunday, April 9, a heavy snow storm commenced that lasted for three days. At the old camp were A. G. Metcalf, Jacob Peters, D. Richardson, T. C. Martin, Lawrence Fleming and son, and J. P. Johnson. The snow fell fast and the wind blew with raging fury, so that it was impossible to leave the camp. A shanty was hastily formed of loose boards and blankets, but even then it was impossible to keep from severe suffering from the effects of the storm. Added to this was a lack of food. All they had was a little bread and bologna sausage. For three days the storm kept up with unceasing fury, but on the fourth it began to abate. For these four days each man had but one very light meal each day, and all were beginning to suffer terribly from the effects of cold and hunger. On the evening of the fourth day, however, S. Hazletine and C. P. Simpson arrived, and gave them part of an antelope they had killed. This was made into soup upon which the half famished settlers regaled themselves. The weather now clearing off pleasantly, they were all soon comfortable again.
In accordance with the provisions of the act of the Legislature of March 28, I. N. Taylor, Judge of Platte County, on the 17th day of April, 1871, appointed Nicholas J. Paul, J. C. Lewis and Luther H. North, County Commissioners for Howard County.
Much trouble was experienced by these early settlers in crossing the Loup River, which was broad and in many places deep, flowing over a bed of sand with its channel ever changing. The best farming lands were on the north side of the South Loup, but this was almost inaccessible, and much danger and trouble was experienced in crossing this stream, therefore the settlers set to work at once to try to devise some means to get a bridge across the river. On account of the great breadth of this stream, the expense was too great for the few settlers to undertake. Therefore J. N. Paul, was in April sent to Grand Island to solicit subscriptions to aid in constructing a bridge. Six hundred and fifty dollars were subscribed, of which $392 were paid at the time. A contract was soon entered into with J. P. Handy, of Grand Island, and on the 26th day of April, J. B. Beebe was sent out to make an examination and select a favorable location. On the next day, a location was selected on Section 21, Town 14, Range 10. A few days later, pile drivers and machinery were hauled to this point, a camp was formed, a large number started at the work, and on the 4th day of May, Beebe arrived and work was begun. Robert Harvey waded to the island in the center of the stream and cut the first pile. It was not very long until the bridge was completed.
The first white woman to locate in the county was the wife of J. Eddy, who arrived on his claim on Turkey Creek, April 20, 1871.
About this time preparations were made to start a town, and the settlers met for the purpose of selecting a name for it. After some talk on the subject, they proceeded to choose a name by ballot. N. J. Paul suggested the name of Athens, which was finally decided upon. A petition was then sent to the post office department at Washington, asking that a post office, to be called Athens, should be established here. The postal department promptly returned the reply that there was another office of that name in the State of Nebraska, and requested another name. The matter was at last referred to Phineas W. Hitchcock, United States Senator for Nebraska, who suggested "St. Paul," from the name of its founders. Accordingly the town was thus named.
On the 9th day of May, 1871, the county commissioners of Howard County held their first meeting on the site of the proposed town of St. Paul, and issued a proclamation, according to the power vested in them by the Legislature, locating the county seat at St. Paul, on Section 3, Town 14, Range 10, west. Besides this the board of commissioners transacted such other business as naturally came before it.
On the 28th day of April, 1871, there was a case of wife beating in the county that attracted attention from these early settlers. An inhuman wretch named Frank Crate, with his wife, was camping with the family of A. Ward, on Turkey Creek. On that day the brute got drunk and unmercifully beat his wife. For this he was taken by George Blattenburg and his brother Frank, and Robert Cockerell, who .proposed to throw him into the river, but they at last consented to remain until Ward came, when they referred the matter to him, and he in turn to Mrs. Crate. The poor woman begged so hard that they spare her husband from any punishment, that they finally released him.
The first birth in the county was in the latter part of May, 1871, and was that of Julia Mangold, daughter of John and Julia Mangold. This child died November 7, 1873.
The second birth was that of Clifford Lewis, son of J. C. and Mattie A. Lewis. He was born October 3, 1871, and died in January, 1875.
The first residence in the county was that of Lawrence Fleming, built in the early part of May, 1871.
At the time these first settlers reached the county there were fears of attack by the Sioux Indians. The Pawnee reservation joined Howard County on the east, and as these two tribes of Indians were inveterate enemies, attacks and surprises upon each other were frequent. Here was a hitherto unsettled country, and the settlement was in the course that the Sioux would naturally take to make an attack upon the Pawnees, therefore the settlers regarded themselves unsafe, and measures were taken to protect their homes. General Augur then commanded the Military Department of the Platte, and through the influence of the Paul brothers, he was induced to station a company of regular soldiers in the county. Company C, Ninth Infantry, under command of Captain S. Munson, was also ordered to duty in the Loup Valley. This company arrived where the Loup bridge was building, on May 12, 1871, and remained here and assisted with the bridge until it was completed on June 10, when they removed to the North Loup, some distance above St. Paul, and went into camp there. Here they remained for a long time, and the relations formed between the soldiers and the settlers were of the most pleasant and friendly nature, and even to this day the early settlers remember with pleasure their early associations here with the officers and soldiers of this company.
The settlement in the vicinity of St. Paul was made by the Occidental Union Colony, but this colony only existed for the mutual good of all, with no fees to be paid, and no one dependent on the others, only as neighbors, and the common ties that naturally bind the first settlers of a country one to another.
It will be remembered that early in the year, the Danish Colony had made a location on the South Loup and Oak Creek. During the month of May, the first settlers of this colony arrived and began work on their claims, building houses, and breaking the prairie. Among these first settlers from Wisconsin were, Lars Hannibal, John Seehausen, Jens Wilhelsen, Fred Ohlsen, Neil Nelsen, Paul Andersen, and Loren Erichsen, who settled on Oak Creek
The first herd of cattle was brought to the county early in May by Lewis Guggamoss. A few days later, Kendall brothers brought a herd of cattle, and during the same month A. G. Gillespie, Lars Hannibal, John Seehausen, Jens Wilhelsen, and Fred Ohlsen each brought in a small herd of cattle.
During May many accessions were made to the settlements, and by June 1, 115 claims had been taken.
Sometime in June, C. C. Ridell brought a portable sawmill to the county, which did a good business, and rendered native lumber cheap.
In the latter part of June, Jacob Peters was commissioned Postmaster at St. Paul, and Robert Harvey was appointed his deputy. The latter attended to most of the duties of the office.
During June and July, eighty acres of the town site of St. Paul was surveyed into lots.
In August, S. Hazeltine began the erection of a town hall in St. Paul. This was the first building erected in the town.
In July the county was visited by General Augur, his daughter, and Miss Cotes, a friend of hers. They were the guests of Captain Munson, and Miss Coates, on account of her pleasant manner and kindness to all, won many friends, and the precinct where the old garrison was, has since been called Cotesfield in her honor. The post office in the precinct bears the same name.
During the summer, settlers continued to come in, improvements were rapidly going on, and the new settlements were in a prosperous condition.
On the 7th day of October, 1871, the citizens of the county met in mass convention, in the town hall at St. Paul, for the purpose of nominating county officers. H. M. Copland was made Chairman, and Charles Jones and N. J. Paul, Secretaries. The following ticket was placed in nomination: J. B. Beebe, J. N. Paul, and George Kendall, Commissioners; N. J. Paul, Judge; John C. Lewis, Clerk; H. M. Copland, Treasurer; S. Hazeltine, Sheriff; Robert Harvey, Surveyor. As there was only one precinct in the county, the following were also nominated at this convention: W. H. Balliman, assessor; C. P. Simpson, Road Supervisor; Thomas McNabb, Justice of the Peace, and B. F. Adams, Constable.
On the morning of the 10th day of October the commissioners again met and appointed T. McNabb, T. C. Merton, and Robert Harvey, judges of election, and H. M. Copland and C. R. Simpson, clerks. The polls then opened and the entire ticket nominated a few days before was elected. The number of votes cast at this first election was fifty-four.
On election day, October 10th, E. S. Chadwick opened the first store in the county, at St. Paul.
The first death in the county occurred on the 17th day of October of the same year. A. McDougall, one of the most respected of the early settlers died on this day, and a sadness and gloom were cast over the entire community.
There had been many additions to the Danish settlement on Oak Creek. In the fall of 1871, C. O. Schlytern, of this colony, bought several sections of land from the Union Pacific Railroad Company, near where Dannebrog now is, and preparations were made to start a town.
November 17, 1871, the winter set in with a terrible snow storm. Previous to this time the weather had been warm and comfortable and the sudden and severe cold, at this time, took the settlers by surprise. They were, however, so nearly prepared for winter, that they were able to get their arrangements finished without delay, and there was very little suffering during the cold, hard winter that followed.
On the 18th day of December, 1871, the new board of county commissioners met at the town hall in St. Paul and approved the bonds of the county officers who were elected the previous October.
Although a post office had been established for some months, there was no regular postal route until the 1st of January, 1872. In December the Post office Department ordered a regular postal route from St. Paul to Grand Island to begin January 1, 1872. Frank Crowell was the first carrier, and made his trips at first in a heavy freight wagon drawn by four mules. The first mail contained seventeen letters.
During the winter there were but few additions to the settlements. The winter passed with no events of particular importance.
On the 2d of March, 1872, the citizens of the county voted $15,000 bonds for the building of bridges across the Loup, which was carried by a vote of forty-six to twenty-five.
The first sermon in the county was preached at St. Paul, March 3, 1872, by Rev. G. De La Matyr.
In the early part of the spring H. P. Handy contracted to build bridges across the North and South Loup Rivers, and commenced work in due time.
The first school district in the county was organized April 29, 1872. This was the St. Paul District and school was taught here during the summer by Miss Lizzie Cooper.
On the 13th day of April, Thomas McNabb was appointed superintendent of schools.
The next settlement was made by the Canadian Colony in the spring of 1872. This colony was organized in Detroit, Mich., and was made up principally by Canadians. The date of this organization was March, 6, 1872. The colony numbered about forty persons, and C. Crow was its president. This colony arrived in Howard County, March 22, and selected a location on the high lands between Turkey Creek and the Loup, where they at once made a settlement. This colony brought in a fine stock of Canadian horses. The first blacksmith shop in the county was established here. The place where this location was made has since been known as Canada Hill, and these citizens have ever been among the most prosperous in the county. There are now about two hundred and fifty persons living in this settlement.
The first marriage in the county was that of B. F. Johnson and Miss Mary Thomas, both of Cotesfield. The ceremony was performed by John C. Lewis, the County Clerk.
The first taxes levied by the County Commissioners were on July 2, 1872. The valuation of the property in the county was placed at $6,683.65.
October 1, 1872, the board of County Commissioners divided the county into voting precincts.
At the election in October, 1872, Wm. Freeman was elected County Commissioner and T. McNabb Superintendent of Schools. Freeman, however, did not qualify, and on the 18th day of the following January, the commissioners appointed S. Holman in his place.
The first threshing machine to be operated in the county was owned by Crow & Ward, of the Canadian Hill settlement, and the first wheat threshed in the county was on the farm of W. H. Balliman, in September, 1872.
During the year 1872, the county had settled rapidly and a very large acreage had been added to its cultivated lands. The crops planted this year had yielded abundantly and the settlers were generally prosperous and well satisfied with the fruits of their labors.
The winter was quite pleasant and passed in making ready for the next years' work, in farming and improving the land. Some time in the winter, early in 1873, the old bridge across the Loup was condemned as unsafe and the supervisor ordered to remove it. This was done, and as most of the material was in a good condition, it was used in the construction of small bridges and culverts.
As the spring opened, there was again a large influx of settlers into the county. They generally located in the vicinity of settlements already formed, and at once began opening up their farms.
The early part of the spring the weather was warm and pleasant but on Easter Sunday, about the middle of April, a cold rain storm, attended with a hard wind, set in. Soon the rain changed to snow, and one of the most terrific snow storms that ever swept over the western prairie, followed, lasting for four days. Houses were almost or entirely buried in the drifts. Horse stables and cattle corrals were covered with the whirling snow, and there the cattle and horses were obliged to remain without food, for so blinding was the rapidly falling snow, driven by the violent winds, that it was impossible that any human being could go to them to care for them. It was almost sure death for any one to venture out even for a short distance from the house. During the storm nearly one-half the cattle in the county perished.
Among the settlers, a great deal of suffering was experienced. Several perished during the storm, the details of whose death is truly sad.
One of those who died was Miss Lizzie Cooper, who had taught the St. Paul school the previous year. Mr. Cooper was absent, in Grand Island on business. The only son was also away. Mrs. Cooper and her two daughters, Lizzie and Emma, were left alone. Lacking fuel, on April 16th, the girls determined to go to a neighbors for relief. After carefully wrapping Mrs. Cooper in blankets and covering her in bed they started out. The cold was so intense and the snow so blinding they very soon lost their way. Still they struggled bravely on, hoping against hope, that they might reach some habitation and procure relief for their aged mother. Soon they began to be so exhausted that it was almost impossible for them to move. Seeing that there was now no hope of reaching the homes of any of their neighbors, they now tried to reach an abandoned dug-out, in a cañon, which they thought they could find. Pressing on, sometimes stumbling, through the rough lands just off from the Cotesfield road, Lizzie soon dropped down from sheer exhaustion and could go no further. This was partially under the bank of a cañon. Emma did all she could to urge her sister on, but it was impossible for her to move. Lizzie was soon dead. The devoted Emma remained with the dead body of her sister all that day and all night. Being partially protected by the bank above, the snow soon drifted over her, and this saved her life. By continual struggling she managed to keep from smothering. In the morning she left her dead sister to try to find some habitation. Half dead and nearly crazy from the effects of hunger, cold, and grief, she rushed madly on, hardly knowing what she did. The storm had now abated, but the snow, driven by the heavy winds, made it almost impossible to find the way. As she passed the home of W. P. Wyman, on the farm of Capt. Munson, she was seen to be rushing wildly on, sometimes on hands and knees, and sometimes on her feet. So nearly unconscious was she that she passed only a few rods from the house without seeing it. She was stopped, taken in, and cared for. As soon as the poor girl could speak, she managed to let them know what had befallen her sister, and that her mother was left alone the day before. A party soon organized to go to the relief of Mrs. Cooper. When they arrived at the house they found she was gone. Looking for her on the road they frequently found pieces of clothing, and all the indications that the woman had pushed on, frequently falling from exhaustion, and then recovering her strength and again struggling on. In a short time, her dead body was found, partially covered with snow, and stark and stiff. It is supposed that on the day the girls started out, she became alarmed at their protracted absence and started to look for them, and soon perished. With a mother's guiding counsels and an older sister's love so suddenly withdrawn, Emma has since had a sad and lonely life.
But the above were not the only lives lost in this terrible and long-to-be remembered storm. Dillon Haworth and his family, consisting of his wife and two children, were living on a pleasant farm that they were just opening up on Spring Creek. Becoming frightened at the long continuance of the storm, they started, it is supposed, to find a neighbor's house. At all events the dead bodies of the entire family, except a babe, one and one-half years old, were found the next day after the storm, some distance apart. The babe was the only one found alive, and she was clasped to her mother's breast. This girl named Eva Haworth, is now living.
On the 10th day of May, 1873, bonds were voted to build a bridge across the Loup, near Dannebrog, as the Danish settlement is now called.
The first schoolhouse to be built in the county was in District No. 12. The building was raised on July 4, 1873, with appropriate ceremonies. A large party was assembled and the affair also partook of the nature of a Fourth of July celebration. This was selected as the most favorable time to erect the first schoolhouse in the county. This house was located on the south side of the river, about six miles from St. Paul.
The first church edifice was erected this summer by the Methodist Episcopal Church, near the present Warsaw post office, about six miles west from St. Paul.
The first practicing physician in the county was Dr. E. R. Fletcher, who located at St. Paul in the spring of 1873. About the same time Dr. J. M. Klinker located at Dannebrog and began practice.
The first attorney in the county was W. H. Mitchell, who located at Dannebrog in the summer of 1873.
The first newspaper to be published in the county was established at St. Paul on the 4th day of September, 1873, by Seth P. and Mrs. Maggie Mobley, editors of the Platte Valley Independent at Grand Island, who were induced to start a paper here in connection with their Grand Island paper. Leaving the Independent in charge of Mrs. Mobley, the Howard County Advocate was started here by Seth P Mobley.
August 30th, the bridge was completed across the river at Dannebrog, which event was celebrated with a big dance.
In September, 1873, the town site of St. Paul, consisting of 320 acres, was surveyed and platted by Robert Harvey.
In October, 1873, Dannebrog, which had been a post office for some time, was laid out as a town, and 80 acres were surveyed and platted by Frank M. Crowell.
Sometime during the fall of this year, a post office was established at Warsaw, with James McCracken, Postmaster.
The election of county officers in October 14, 1873, resulted as follows: Commissioner, First District, S. A. Pease; Commissioner, Second District, A. Ward; Judge, N. J. Paul; Clerk, A. G. Kendall; Treasurer, Charles Jackson; Sheriff, S. Hazeltine; Superintendent of Schools, H. N. Smith; Surveyor, Frank M. Crowell; and Coroner, N. Z. Woodruff.
During the summer of 1873, the population of the county had continued to steadily increase. Farms were opened up in almost every part. A large amount of land was broken up by the newcomers, and houses were erected. The settlers of the previous years now had their farms well under cultivation, and again their labors were rewarded by an abundant harvest.
The winter of 1873-74 passed with no events of importance, other than the usual ones in the life of the settler and farmer in a new country. The winter was thus pleasantly spent in making preparations for planting a large crop as soon as the spring opened.