NEGenWeb Project
Kansas Collection Books

Andreas' History of the State of Nebraska
Saline County
Produced by Alice Vosika.


Location and Physical Features | Primitive Occupants
The First Settler | Indian Depredations | Pioneer Events


County Seat Contest | Burning of the Jail | Court House
Legislative Representation | Statistical | The Press
Criminal | Schools | Railroads
Crete:   Early History | Doane College | Religious

Crete (cont.):   Schools | Crete Public Library | The Press
Secret Orders | Business Interests
Manufacturing Interests | Opera House
Crete (cont.):   Biographical Sketches
Crete (cont.):   Biographical Sketches [cont.]

Wilber:   Early History | Banks | Manufactories | Schools
Religious | Secret Societies | The Press
Biographical Sketches


Wilber:   Biographical Sketches [cont.]
South Fork Precinct. [Biographical Sketch]

DeWitt:   Local Matters | Biographical Sketches
PART 10:

Dorchester:   Early History | Local Matters
Biographical Sketches

PART 11:

Friend:   Early History | Banks -- Schools and Churches
Societies | Newspaper | Biographical Sketches
Pleasant Hill:   Biographical Sketches
Swan City | Western | Atlanta Precinct [Biographical Sketch]

List of Illustrations in Saline County Chapter




Wilber, the present seat of government for Saline County, is situated in the southeastern part of the county, in the valley of the Big Blue River. The town was laid out in 1872, by C. D. Wilber, in honor of whom it was named. The site belonged originally to Wilber and Jacob Mooney, each of whom gave a part of the land to the Burlington and Missouri River Railroad Company, upon the consideration that it should be selected as a town site on the line of that road.

The first building erected on the site, was a dwelling house built in 1873, by C. D. Wilber, who also built a frame hotel, the Wilber House, the same season.


Henry Clark was first to establish a business house. In 1873, Clark built a large storeroom and put in a stock of goods, comprising general merchandise, and also bought and sold grain.

Another business house was opened in the spring of 1874, with a general stock, by John Gordon, and in the same year George Neely and J. W. Berkley started a wagon shop and O. P. Norris started in business as a cabinet maker.

During the summer of 1875, Fred Alley opened a drug store, and S. J. Herman, Edward Beck and Wencil Shestak established the third general merchandising store.

Wilber became the county seat in 1878, from which cause it received a new impetus to its growth. The town was incorporated April 25, 1879, with a board of trustees composed of the following members: L. E. Goodell, S. J. Herman, Thomas Davidson, W. C. Henry and J. H. Hardy.

The present board of trustees is Henry Clark, president; W. G. Hastings, E. Ballard, Edward Beck and Carl Sagel.

The police power is reposed in the hands of a marshal. James Fike was the last marshal elected, but his term has expired, and the town, at present, is without a police officer. The town, at this date, has a population of 1,000, and contains three drug, four general merchandise, two hardware and two grocery stores, two banks, two grain elevators, two lumber and one coal yard, a large grist mill, five church societies, four secret orders, a good school, eight lawyers and four doctors.


The Saline County Bank of Wilber, became organized and incorporated March 13, 1878, by W. C. Henry, as a private banking institution. On September 11th, it was sold to John S. Edwards, J. L. Tidball, H. S. Fuller and Major Andrews. Originally, the institution had a capital of $10,000, which, after changing hands, was increased to $20,000, with a cash capital, paid up, of $10,000. The bank building was destroyed by fire February 24, 1880, which was replaced with a new frame building, costing about $500. The establishment has since become the sole property of J. S. Edwards.

The Blue Valley Bank was incorporated October 18, 1881. James Harvey, Henry Gund, E. McGintie, W. G. Hastings and E. Ballard being the charter members. The company organized by electing James Harvey, president and E. Ballard, cashier. The bank does business on a capital of $30,000. During the last winter the building used was burned, and upon the site of the ruins, in the following summer, a large two story brick business block was erected, in which the banking rooms are located. The building is a substantial brick, with sixteen inch walls.

Besides the bank rooms the block contains other large business rooms. In connection with the bank department, a large vault was securely constructed, proof against the destruction by fire.


Cigar Factory.--In August, 1878, Fred Warnicke and Charles Thayer began the manufacture of cigars at Wilber. At first they did all their own work, but the establishment has grown rapidly since, and at present they employ on an average, the year round, a force of five men, paying out about $200 a month for wages, and making about 200,000 cigars annually. The revenue tax on the manufacture of this article amounts to $90 to $100 per month, or about $1,140 per annum. The principal brands made are, the Favorite, Night-cap, Palace, Tra-la-lee, Golden Ball and Bijou.

Wilber Mills.--The chief manufacturing establishment in the place is the Wilber Mills. The mill was built in 1874, by C. D. Wilber and William H. Mann. About the time it was completed, Wilber disposed of his interest, James Harvey becoming the owner, the present firm being Harvey & Mann. The original cost of the mill was $19,000, but additional and improved machinery has since been added, and the value of the establishment increased to about $28,000. The building is forty by fifty feet in dimensions, three and one-half stories high, and contains five run of buhrs, with all the necessary mill machinery of the latest improved and best designs. The grinding capacity is 100 barrels of flour per day. During the year 1881, the grinding amounted to 15,000 barrels of flour, in which was consumed about 78,000 bushels of wheat. The power is a Brooks' turbine, sixty-one inches in diameter, of ninety-five horse power, with a ten foot head.


The first school taught in Wilber was in the fall and winter of 1874, by Miss Johnston. A handsome brick school building was erected in 1879, by Beeney, Whitney & Dicks, contractors. The house is a large, three story building, containing five large recitation rooms with the third story fitted out as a hall. The school, numbering a pupilage of nearly 300, is under the superintendence of Prof. George H. Royce, with Misses Belle Cooper, Ada Hughes and Mary Crowley, teachers; under whose charge and instruction the school is in a flourishing condition.


The Congregational Church was the first church organization in the town of Wilber, having been started in 1873 by the Rev. Fred Alley. A church house was built during the same season, at a cost of $2,100. Mr. Alley assuming all the responsibility for its erection, with the assistance of George W. Parker, George Tracy and a Mr. Ray. The congregation is, at present, under the pastorate of Rev. John Grawe.

Methodist Episcopal Church.--A church society of the Methodist Episcopal denomination was organized in 1878, with Rev. Deloss Wilson as pastor. A house was built during that year. The congregation at present numbers a membership of twenty-five, and is under the charge of the Rev. Mr. Luce.

The Christian denomination also effected an organization in 1876. The congregation is small in its membership and very weak financially. They have no regular church house, and at present are without a minister.

Latter Day Saints.--Wilber and vicinity numbers not a few of the disciples of the modified Mormon faith. An organization of its professors was made in 1878, and Rev. Mr. Anthony had charge of the flock. Dr. Levi Anthony, Robert White and Mr. Rider were the leaders in the faith at this place. The society numbers about seventy members, under the care of Rev. Mr. Elvin, of Nebraska City. They have no building of their own, and at present hold their meetings in the court room.

Baptist Church.--The Close-Communion Baptists, under the leadership of J. E. Edwards, organized into a congregation in 1879. The church has twenty members. As yet they are without a permanent place of worship, their services being held in the Methodist Church building.



The Blue Valley Lodge, No. 64, A., F. and A. M., was established at Wilber in 1877. The leaders in the movement were: E. J. Weaver, S. J. Herman, W. H. Mann, G. W. Ubal, George H. Ross, Stephen Kearns, Henry Clark, A. G. Wilber, Jacob Lawson, George W. Kempton, as charter members. The first officers elected were: E. J. Weaver, Worshipful Master; W. H. Mann, Senior Warden; Henry Clark, Junior Warden; James H. Paddock, Secretary; L. E. Godell, Treasurer; S. J. Herman, Senior Deacon; George W. Kempton, Junior Deacon; George W. Ubal, Tiler; Jacob Lawson and George H. Ross, Stewards. The lodge, at present, is under the official management of W. H. Mann, Worshipful Master; L. E. Goodell, Senior Warden; John H. Wehn, Junior Warden; Henry Clark, Treasurer; William G. Hastings, Secretary; Frank Jones, Senior Deacon; Frank Sagilek, Junior Deacon; John Ramsey, Tiler; H. H. Coonan and George W. Ubal, Stewards. The rooms occupied by the lodge were burned during the last winter, and the society meetings, at present, occupy the hall in the third story of the school building. The lodge has a membership of forty-five.

Harker Post, No. 51, Grand Army of the Republic, was started at Wilber, in September, 1880.

Those leading in the organization, and the first official members were: S. J. Herman, Commander; Frank McGill, Adjutant; James Ledwick, Officer of the Day; H. W. Cole, Officer of the Guard; H. E. Christy, Junior Vice-Commander, J. F. Early, Quartermaster; J. C. Tripp, Chaplain; Levi Anthony, Surgeon.

The present officers are: H. E. Christy, Commander; S. J. Herman, Senior Vice-Commander; J. S. Hunt, Junior Vice-Commander; Joseph Phebus, Officer of the Day; H. W. Cole, Officer of the Guard; J. F. Early, Quartermaster; Levi Anthony, Surgeon; W. P. Granthum, Chaplain. The society exists under a dispensation. Like the Masonic lodge, this society was also unfortunate in the loss of their lodge rooms, by fire, in the winter of 1881. Meetings are now held in the same rooms used by the Masonic fraternity. The lodge organized with forty of a membership, and which has since increased to fifty.

J. C. Tripp, a member of the order, died December 21, 1881, leaving his finances in bad shape, and his widow without much support. The case was taken up by the members, and by a subscription, raised funds sufficient to pay funeral expenses of $45; discharge a mortgage debt of $76; and the balance of $70.90 was given to the widow.

The Wilber Lodge, Knights of Honor, organized January 17, 1879. The charter members were: Thomas Bond, Edward Connell, E. W. Clancey, Horace Cole, Samuel D. Davis, J. H. Hardy, B. F. Jones, W. G. Hastings, Edward C. Kellogg, John Miller, D. H. Shearer, D. R. Tripp, Charles Thayer, William Waldorf, A. P. Thompson, John Mosher, D. W. Stanley, L. Whipple, C. W. Monson.

J. H. Hardy was first Dictator, after whom the office was held by S. D. Davis, and at present by D. H. Shearer, with W. G. Hastings as Secretary. The lodge shared in common with the other societies, in the loss of their rooms by fire.

Lodge Svojan No. 29, C. S. P. S., became established in 1878, by the resident Bohemian element. The object of the society is as a sort of life insurance, and benevolence among its members. The leaders in the work of organizing, were: S. J. Herman, Mike Hokuf and Anthon Shimonek. W. Shestak is President of the lodge, and J. F. Spirk, Secretary. The society meets every second Sunday in each month, in the Free Masons' Hall.



The history of the press in the town of Wilber is, so far, limited. But four attempts in the publication of journals, have been made, only one of which has proven successful. The first attempt was in the establishment of a paper called the Opposition. This sheet was first published at DeWitt, at which point it was continued up to March, 1877. At this date, it was removed to Wilber, by the editor, J. W. Wehn, Jr. In June, 1881, C. H. Munsell, of Ohio, purchased an interest in the journal, and became an associate editor. The original size of the paper was a four column quarto, and has since become a five column quarto.

The journal is Democratic in politics, and has a circulation of 750 copies.

Wilber Record.--This paper was started in October, 1870, by W. L. Chambers and T. C. McBreen, who ran it for about five weeks, and sold out to F. O. Mark, W. G. Purcell and E. H. Purcell, as Mark & Purcell Brothers. The firm then removed to Crete, and began its publication as the Saline County Standard.

Free Press.--W. H. Stout edited and published a paper at DeWitt, called the . In 1878, he removed to Wilber, and continued its issue for about eight months, when, owing to the transplanting in too dry a soil, it withered and died out.

Another attempt at journalism at Wilber, was made by Joseph Novinsky, in 1877, in the establishing of the Besada, a Bohemian sheet, but which survived only a few months.


S. S. ALLEY, Wilber, attorney-at-law and pension agent, was born in Franklin, Ind., March 5, 1840, and came to Nebraska in 1863, and located at Rock Bluff, where he was appointed principal of the Graded School. He read law in the office of H. C. Pardee, and was elected to the office of Justice of the Peace; was admitted to the bar in 1872. He was married in 1864 to Miss Josephine S. Berger, an associate teacher in the Rock Bluffs School. They have eight children--Mary B., Maud C., Fred, Bert, Josie, S. S. Jr., Edward, and Enos. Mr. Alley is a member of Blue Valley Lodge, No. 64, A., F. & A. M. and is Junior Warden. He is an old settler, having been a resident of the State for the past eighteen years. He settled in Wilber in 1870, and engaged in the practice of law; has been a Notary Public for seventeen years.

LEVI ANTHONY, M. D., Wilber, was born in Jackson County, Ohio, in 1825. He read medicine in 1843-44, and began practice in 1849; is of the eclectic school. He came to Nebraska in 1859, locating at Blue Springs in 1862. In 1866 he went to Beatrice, then to Wilber in 1870. He was married in 1846 to Miss Meriba Troth, of Cedar County, Mo. They have ten children. Mr. A. served in the war of the Rebellion, and is a member of the Harker Post, No. 51, G. A. R.

FRED S. BAKER, dealer in lumber and building material, Wilber, settled in Nebraska in 1875, locating at Crete, and was engaged in contracting and building, remaining there till December, 1878, when he went to Friendville. He came to Wilber in 1880, and took charge of the lumber yard for some parties who had established the business two years previous. In March, 1881, Mr. Baker and Mr. Edwards bought the business, and Mr. Baker has charge. They have about $8,000 invested, and their sales will amount to over $30,000 per annum. Mr. B. was born in Canada in 1848, where he remained up to 1875, when he went on the road for a time at Hadley, Minn. In 1877 he was married to Miss Margaret Morris. They have one daughter, born February 19, 1879. He belongs to the Masonic Order, and was one of the charter members of the Crete Chapter.

J. W. BEENEY, contractor and builder, settled in Nebraska in 1864, locating at Brownville, and engaged in contracting and building, and remained until 1872, when he moved to Saline County, settling on a farm five miles west of Wilber. While living on the farm Mr. B. met with one of those terrible catastrophies which occasionally occurred to a Nebraska pioneer--a prairie fire. In September, 1873, Mrs. Morey, mother-in-law of Mr. B., who was living near them with her family, saw a fire coming some five or six miles distant. Mounting a horse, she rode with all speed to the schoolhouse, some three-fourths of a mile distant, where her three children, and also those of Mr. B's., three in number, were attending school, in all eleven persons. Giving the alarm, they started ahead of the fire to seek a place of shelter, but before a mile was passed the fire overtook them. Taking refuge in a sod stable, the flames quickly surrounded them, the intense heat driving them out only to be caught in the flames on the outside. One, the oldest daughter of Mrs. Morey, was burned to death on the prairie. The rest managed to reach Mrs. Morey's house in a very badly burnt condition, where nine of them died from the effects of burns, Mr. B's two oldest sons being the only ones who recovered--one crippled for life, the other scarred for life. Mr. B. was born in Licking County, Ohio, in 1840. In 1855 he moved to Johnson County, Iowa. He came to Nebraska in 1864; settled in Wilber in 1874, and has since been engaged in contracting and building. He was married in 1866 in Johnson County, Iowa, to Miss Samantha Murray of that place. They have six children--Charles B., Alex, Della, Mattie, Lenna, and Richard, deceased.

TOBIAS CASTOR, merchant and right of way agent B. & M. R. R. Co., was born in Ashland County, Ohio, in 1840. In 1855 emigrated to Iowa, locating in Benton County, remaining there until the fall of 1862, when he moved to Nebraska, and located on Section 27, Town 6, Range 4, Saline County, and about two miles from the present town site of Wilber. In 1865, homesteaded the place he had settled. He remained there until 1877, when he moved to Wilber, and was agent for the town site company, and sold the lots for the parties who owned the land and the railroad company, who were given a share to make a town there. He had been in the Land department of the B. & M. R. R., as land examiner before the lands were put in the market. In 1879 was appointed right of way agent for the B. & M. R. R. Co., and in 1880, was given full control of that department. In 1879, bought out the general store in Wilber, and engaged in trade, his son taking charge of the business. In 1880, put in a flour and feed store at Indianola, and in 1881 put a stock of goods at Benkleman, on the B. & M. R. R. In 1868 was elected County Clerk of Saline County, and was County Surveyor of Saline County, holding the office about five years. Was also County Treasurer one term, by appointment, and has taken an active part in politics on questions of the county. Was obliged to hunt and trap for a living, a part of the time when he first came to the State and met with some reverses. In 1864 the Indians made a raid up the Little Blue River, and Mr. Castor lost the only team he had. Was married in 1858, in Iowa, to Miss Catherine M. Hunt. They have four children, Bernard L., born 1859, Bertha, 1864, Carrie, 1876, and George, 1878. Is a member of the K. of P.

HENRY CLARK, grain buyer and dealer in coal. Settled in Nebraska in 1871. Was engaged in railroad building for three years, locating in Wilber in 1873, and opened the first stock of goods opened in the place. Building a grain house; and was the first Postmaster at Wilber, the office being moved from Blue Island, two miles north of Wilber. In 1880, sold out his stock of goods to his brother and devoting his attention to the grain business. At the city organization he was made president of the Town Board. Is also a member of Blue Valley Lodge, No. 64, A., F. & A. M. Was born in Niagara County, New York, 1839. Going to Genesee County in 1844, where he remained until 1860, when he accepted a position as foreman of a gang of men on the Atlantic & Great Western R. R., remaining until 1868. Then went to Tonawanda in the mercantile business. In 1867 made a trip to California and the West. In 1869 went to Kansas. Was married in 1872, in Youngstown, N. Y., to Miss Alice Hill. They have three children, Henry E., Elmer L., and Etta L.

JOHN W. CLARK, lumber dealer, Wilber, was born in New Jersey, in Phillipsburgh, in 1858. In 1874 went to Chicago, and was employed as clerk in a lawyer's office, also attended school, taking a general course. Came to Nebraska in 1880, locating at Wilber, he bought a half interest in the lumber business of R. B. Clancy & Son. R. B. going out, the business has been carried on by Mr. Clark and the younger Clancy. E. W. Clancy was born in Jackson County, Iowa, in 1857. Going to Batavia, Ill., with his father, engaged in the lumber trade until 1878, when he settled at Wilber, Neb., and put in a stock of lumber. Messrs. Clancy & Clark have a trade of $20,000 per annum and handle about 125 cars of lumber, besides other building material.

H. W. COLE, butcher, Wilber, was born in Cuyahoga County, Ohio, in 1839, removing to Wisconsin with his parents. In 1844 went to Massachusetts, where he remained until 1854, from then to Iowa, where he engaged in the grain and stock business at Casey, Guthrie County, then went to Guthrie Centre, and opened a meat market remaining there until 1878, when he settled in Nebraska, locating at Wilber and ran a livery stable. Sold out, and in 1881 went into business with D. R. Tripp. Enlisted in 1862 at Guthrie Centre, Iowa, in the Twenty-ninth Iowa Infantry, and was in the army until August, 1865; was in the most of the engagements of his regiment. He was married in 1868, in Guthrie Centre, Iowa, to Miss Susan Starr. They have six children--Luther, Persey, Viola, Theodosia, Clyde and James.

ED. CONNELL, dealer in staple and fancy groceries, settled in Nebraska in 1873; located at Wilber, where he engaged in the meat business for three years; then sold out and went into the grocery business, which he has carried on since. He is the only exclusive grocer in the place and has a large trade; store 22x60, and is well filled with a choice line of groceries. He also carries a large stock of toys and stationery for the holiday trade. Has also handled some stock since he came to Wilber. Was born in Canada in 1840, and lived there up to 1873 with the exception of two years spent in Washington Territory. He is a member of the Wilber Lodge K. of H., No. 1652. Was married in 1872, to Miss Jennie Geggie, of Canada. They have two sons, Charley and Russell H.

H. H. COONEN, of the firm of Coonen & Simpson, dealers in clothing, boots and shoes. Business began in 1878 by Smith & Co.; Coonen & Simpson buying out Smith & Co. in May, 1881. Mr. Coonen was born near Milwaukee, Wis., in 1853. Going to Mendota in 1869, was engaged in the butchering business. Coming to this State in 1879, he located at Wilber, where he engaged in the same business in connection with Mr. Simpson. Sold out in 1881 to Frank Hon. Is a member of Blue Valley Lodge No. 64, A., F. & A. M. In 1879, at Mendota, Ill., he was married to Miss Ella B. Simpson.

J. K. COREY, Saline County Judge, Wilber, was born in Steuben County, N. Y., in 1826. In 1837 he went to Pennsylvania, where he remained until 1844; removing to Illinois, and from there removed to Dodge County, Wis., remaining there until 1872, and was admitted to the bar while there, and practiced law. Also owned a farm near the village of Mayville, where he lived. Taught school for several years while in Mayville; was also claim agent, having an office in Mayville. In 1872 he settled in Nebraska, locating at Crete, where he engaged in the mercantile business with his brother and brother-in-law, under the firm name of S. T. Corey & Co. They also handled a line of farm machinery. In 1876 they closed out their stock of merchandise and turned their attention to machinery. In 1879 he sold out to his brother, and was elected County Judge of Saline County. In 1856 he was married to Miss L. M. Littlefield. They have one child, Hattie. Is a member of the I. O. O. F., and has been a Grand Lodge member since 1860.

L. E. GOODELL, physician and surgeon, Wilber, Neb., was born in Medina County, Ohio, in 1836, and is a graduate of the College of Physicians and Surgeons, at Keokuk, Iowa, graduating in 1863. Went to Pilot Grove, Iowa, and practiced medicine. While there he married Miss Harriet Jones, of that place. They have three children. Moved to Saline County, Neb., in 1871, where he laid out the town of Western, and engaged in the practice of medicine and general merchandising. Moved to Wilber in 1876, and is now mostly engaged in stock-raising. Held the office of Justice of the Peace while at Western, and has been School Director for the past three years. Is Senior Warden of Blue Valley Lodge, No. 64. A., F. & A. M.

J. H. GRIMM, attorney-at-law, Wilber. Born in Licking County, Ohio, in 1848. Went to Iowa in 1855, and came to Nebraska, January 1, 1876, locating at Pleasant Hill, Saline County, then the county seat. In 1875 Mr. G. graduated from the law department of the Iowa State University. Was elected a member of the State Senate in 1879. Was married in 1873 to Miss Esther E. Hess, at Marion, Iowa. They have four children.

J. H. HARDY, right-of-way agent, B. & M. R. R. Settled in Nebraska and locating at Wilber, where he opened an office for the practice of law and followed the same up to 1877, when he was elected as County Judge, holding the office one term, when he was employed by the B. & M. R. R. Co. as right-of-way agent, and is still in their employ. Was born in Binghamton, N. Y., in 1836. Remained here and at Auburn until 1868, when he went to Chicago and attended the Chicago Law School, graduated and practiced law until he settled in Nebraska. In 1860, at Williamsport, Penn., was married to Miss Hannah Whipple, of Towanda, Penn. They have one daughter, Mary. Mr. H. is a member of the K. of H., Wilber Lodge 1,652. Mr. H. is a thorough business, public spirited man and has earned for himself an enviable position.

JAMES HARVEY, deceased, was of the firm of Mann & Harvey, proprietors of the Wilber Mills, was born in LaSalle County, Ill., and came to Nebraska in September, 1874, "grasshopper year," and purchased a half interest in the Wilber Mills, then but just completed, and in running order. Was a member of Mt. Moriah Commandery No. 4, Lincoln, Neb., also president of the Blue Valley Bank. Mr. Harvey was a practical miller, and it is due to his thorough knowledge of the business that the Wilber Mills have been a success. He died March 25, 1882.

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