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Andreas' History of the State of Nebraska
Stanton County
Produced by Elva Ambrosek.


Stanton County | Natural Features | Early History
Organization | County Schools
Means of Communication | Statistics of Progress


Stanton:   Early History | The Town Site
Public School | The Press | Churches | Societies
Business | Biographical Sketches

List of Illustrations in Stanton County Chapter



In October, 1866, at the first election ever held in Stanton County, the county seat was located on the present town site, and was described as being on the northeast quarter of the southeast quarter of Section 20, Township 23 north, Range 2 east. Nothing was done by the county, however, to establish county buildings, and nothing was done on the new town until Densmore & Kendall moved their store from Clinton, which was about three miles east.


The first building in Stanton was a residence built by C. M. Densmore, and occupied by Cornelius Nye, who lived in the lower story, and used the garret for Clerk's office. The building was 16x24 feet, twelve feet in height. It was built by Charles Mason, a carpenter, who came from Washington County to do the job. During the same summer, the store building was erected, and was 18x32 feet in size. Kendall & Densmore opened their store as soon as it was completed. The building is now used by Mrs. Zahn for a millinery store. The first man who ever slept on the town site was Densmore, who sheltered himself under a lumber pile.

In the following spring (1870), Cornelius Nye opened a tin shop in the new town, and in the fall Lewis Ley left his dug-out store and opened a harness shop. Shortly after, Ley and Nye went into partnership, and erected a small building which they occupied. During this same season, John Wright opened a saloon. The year following their opening, Kendall & Densmore secured the Pleasant Run post office. It had been located about a mile and a half west of town, and Frederick Helmerick had been Postmaster. The early resident still laughs as he thinks of the odd doings of the old sea captain who mistook a floating log for a shark, and set forth to capture that ferocious animal which had dared to disturb the quiet Elkhorn by its presence. This is the same individual also who allowed his water-melons to rot, under the impression that they would get yellow when they were ripe. However, Mr. Helmerick soon became accustomed to the tricks of farming, and afterward became a Justice in the county.

The post office which they wanted was the Clinton office, but they were unable to secure it, though they offered Fred Biehle, the Postmaster, $10 for it. The actual fees of the office amounted to about $7 per year. William Kendall was the first Postmaster. John A. Ehrhardt next held the position, and, on December 5, 1881, the office passed to the hands of the present occupant, William T. McFarland.

In 1869, a schoolhouse was built about half a mile west of town. The first term was taught by Lew Taylor, who received $50 per month. The school was attended by thirty-five scholars. Dr. W. L. Bowman, of the United Brethren, preached the first sermon in the schoolhouse. In 1870, Rev. J. W. Kidder, of the Congregational Church, held services at Stanton.


The town site at first included forty acres, which was platted by L. C. Lehman, S. L. Holman and George Graves, in 1871. The records bears the date June 21. December 6, 1874, Graves' Addition to the town was recorded. September 17, 1879, Holman and Graves made another addition, and, in the same year, Lehman also added to the plat. This last addition was west of the original town site, and at present the business portion is largely located there. The change was caused by the location of the depot, which was placed a mile west of the old town. In September, 1882, the town was incorporated, and the following Board of Trustees was appointed by the commissioners:

C. L. Lamb, Chairman; F. McGiverin, Adam Pilger, Julius Poessnecker and J. L. Everson, Trustees. Karl Ley was appointed Clerk, and W. L. Kendall, Treasurer

The present population of the town is estimated at four hundred. For a place of its size, it is well provided with educational, religious, social and business facilities.


The first school in Stanton was opened in 1877 in a building owned by Mr. Murphy, which was taught by F. A. Frost. The school continued to be held in the Murphy building until 1880. In the fall of that year, the present building was erected by the district at an expense of $1,300. The number of children of school age in the town in 1882, was 105. The average attendance is seventy-five. The school is taught by W. T. Sharp and Rose McKenzie. There are three members of the Board of Directors--F. McGiverin, Treasurer; James McKenzie, Moderator; S. S. Canfield, Director.


In 1873, Lewis Ley started the Stanton Bugle, the first paper published in the county. It was a six-column folio sheet, devoted to the interests of the county and the Democratic party. The first issues were set up and printed in Omaha; then the printing was done at West Point, and finally at Madison.

The following extract gives an amusing anecdote connected with at the publication of the paper:

Mr. Ley went to Ohio on a visit, in the fall of 1874, and left the Bugle in charge of Capt. E. S. Butler and George B. Fletcher, the former to run the local page, and the latter, a sound Democrat, to edit the editorial columns. The publication day drew near, Cap had his local matter all ready, but Fletcher had failed to come to time with the political thunder. Cap reasoned that it would never do to issue the paper, the last one to come out before the close of the political fight then raging, and have it silent upon the all-absorbing topic, hence he made several very ineffectual attempts to get up a number of Democratic articles. But he was out of his element. He then concluded to run the paper in the interest of his own party, and he made an announcement to the effect that the Bugle would henceforth be blown for the Republican party. He gave the Republican candidates each a good puff, whooped it up to their opponents, and ordered two hundred additional copies. The paper came out, and, of course, created a sensation. The Republicans cheered Butler, and the Democrats cursed Lew, as they thought, at first, that he had purposely allowed this practical joke to be perpetrated on his friends. A day or two afterward Lew returned, and was completely dumb-founded. He bounced Butler from the editorial chair, and immediately got out another issue, a regular scorcher, which quelled all doubts of Lew's loyalty to his party. Cap did not like to withdraw so abruptly from the editorial field, and he came out with an opposition paper. It was called the Stanton County Echo, and it lived one week. The Bugle suspended in 1877, when F. H. Robertson started the Index. The Index, which followed the Bugle, was published by Mr. Robertson until 1879, when it, too, retired from the journalistic turf.

The Stanton Register.--This is the only paper published in the county. It was started in 1879, the first issue appearing October 8. It is issued weekly as a six-column folio. J. H. Slater, the editor, has had considerable experience in Western journalism, and furnishes the people with an interesting and valuable paper. It has constantly advertised the advantages of Stanton County as a location for settlers, and in every way labored for the best interests of the country. Although neutral in politics, it has decided opinions, which are expressed freely upon occasion. In addition to the general outfit, there is also a complete job office connected with the paper.


Salem Church of the Evangelical Association of North America was first established at Stanton as a mission in the West Point Circuit. Rev. Otto Rohl, of that place, preached here in 1870. The church was organized in September, 1873. The charter members were Mr. and Mrs. Frederick Freiberg, Mr. and Mrs. August Zillmer, Mr. and Mrs. John Boelder, Mrs. Bremer and Julius Bremer. At this time, the church became an independent organization. Rev. I. P. Pflaum was the first pastor, and remained until 1874. During the year following, Revs. W. Warfield and W. Jonas worked together. From 1875 to 1876, Rev. F. A. Frasa was pastor. He was succeeded by Revs. S. W. McKasson and M. Inhelder. From 1877 to 1880, Rev. F. Backenmeyer was pastor. In the latter year, he was succeeded by Rev. H. Althouse, who now holds the position. The church building, which is the only one in Stanton, is a neat looking wooden structure. It was built in 1878, at an expense of $1,450. The present value of church, parsonage and lots is $1,900. The membership of the circuit, which includes Spring Branch and Pierce stations is eighty-four. The number in town is forty-seven. A large Sunday school of fifty scholars and seven teachers is successfully maintained.

St. John's Church of the Evangelical Lutheran Society was organized in 1871. The first members were: Frederick Biehle, Carl Schwartz, Frederick Psawitz, Frederick Zanders, L. C. Lehman, Ludwig Belz, William Lipka and Claus Schuman. For two years after starting, Rev. W. A. Freese, who resided at Rock Creek, preached once in three weeks. After him, Rev. George Burger preached three years, and was followed by Rev. August Leuthauser, who remained until 1881. Since then there has been no regular preacher, but Rev. M. P. Bankow comes occasionally for Norfolk. In 1873, a church was built about a mile east of town, where services have been held. Effort is now being made to remove to the town site. The parsonage is located in town. The present membership of the church is seventy. In connection with this church is a German day school, which has been conducted by the pastors. It was opened by Rev. Burger, and has been continued every winter since. At present, Claus Schuman teaches the school, which is attended by twenty-five scholars, and is a very successful institution.

The Congregational Church.--One of the earliest sermons preached at Stanton was by Rev. J. W. Kidder, of this church, who was here in 1870. The church was organized here in 1878. The charter members were Mrs. Sarah Murphy, Mrs. Lucy E. Densmore, Mrs. Jennie Hopper, Miss Ella Murphy, John J. Hopper, Charles M. Densmore. At present, there is no regular preacher, but Rev. C. Spencer, of Norfolk, preaches here every second Sunday. Efforts are being made to erect a church building. The present membership is thirteen.

The Methodist Episcopal Church was a part of the Wisner Circuit until October, 1880, when it was attached to the Norfolk Circuit. Rev. S. H. Merritt began as pastor after the separation from Wisner, and preached one year. In 1881, Rev. C. F. Heywood succeeded him, and now preaches here every two weeks. An organization of six members exists.

The Union Sunday School meets every Sunday in the schoolhouse. Charles M. Densmore is the present Superintendant: W. Loney, Assistant Superintendent; Mrs. Dr. Lane, Treasurer; J. S. Robinson, Secretary. There are 150 names enrolled and a regular attendance of eighty. The school is under the charge of eight teachers and is a very prosperous organization.


Northern Light Lodge, No. 41, A., F. & A. M., was organized at Stanton June 18, 1873. The charter was granted to A. R. Pray, C. M. Densmore, L. F. Taylor, Lewis Ley, A., Nye, S. B. York, John Horsham, R. J. Kendall, R. O. Tripp and W. Runyan. The first officers were installed September 5 by Frank Welch, Grand Master; E. K. Valentine, Grand Marshal; and S. W. Hayes, Grand Chaplain. The present officers are: Charles Lamb, W. M.; Julius Poessnecker, S. W. ; Alec McFarland, J. W.; Samuel Canfield, S. D.; Carl Ley, J. D.; H. W. Clark, Tiler; John L. Avery, Secretary; F. McGiverin, Treasurer. The present membership is twenty. Meetings are held on the first Wednesday of each month.

Stanton Lodge No. 66, I. O. O. F., was organized October 1, 1877. The charter members were: A. C. Tomer, R. M. Lowry, John Eberly, W. S. McFarland, W. D. Lovett, A. W. McFarland, J. E. Ritchey, M. S. Adams, William Loney, William Kendall. The officers at present are: W. T. McFarland, N. G.; H. W. Clark, V. G.; J. Eberly, Secretary; F. McGiverin, Treasurer. The present membership is eleven. Meetings are held every Thursday.


The business of the town, amounting to $300,000 yearly, is carried on by twenty-nine firms, and is distributed as follows: Three general stores, two hardware stores, two drugs, three agricultural implements, two butcher shops, one milliner, store, one furniture store, two harness shops, one lumber yard, one coal yard, two grain and stock dealers, one bank, three saloons, one hotel, one tailor shop and one paper. There are also two lawyers and two doctors.

Stanton County Bank was opened September 20, 1879, by F. McGiverin. It is the only bank in the county and does a general banking and collecting business.

Ley Brothers' elevator was opened August, 1880. The capacity of the building is 3,000 bushels. In 1881, they shipped twenty-seven cars of grain. This firm is the only one which handles stock. Since August, they have shipped forty cars of hogs and six of cattle.

Arthur Graves' lumber yard was opened at Stanton May 26, 1879. His elevator was built at the same time. Lately he has not been shipping grain. He is the only lumber dealer in the place, and the business has become very important, owning to the demands of the rapidly settling country.

The Nebraska House is the only hotel in the city. It was built in 1871 by John Wight, who ran it about eight months. He then sold it to M. B. Sharp, who continued the business. S. S. Canfield then became proprietor. In 1873, Jacob Hoffman got control of the house and built the main part. In September, 1875, he sold it to S. S. Canfield, and August Wagner opened it and remained a year. M. S. Adams next ran it six months, and after him W. Loney a year. Job Vandusen then took the house, and was followed by Stiles Murphy. At this time, it was moved from the old town to its present position near the depot. Levi Brome then ran the house until January, 1882. At that time, J. L. Avery became proprietor, and now carries on the business. There are accommodations for twenty guests. In every respect, the house is first class, and the present management has been such as to make it deservedly popular.

The Cyclone.--Since 1879, much progress has been made. The prosperity of the place received a severe shock in the cyclone which passed over it September 28, 1881. About 2 o'clock in the morning, a rumbling sound warned the people of impending danger, and shortly afterward the storm struck the town, passing completely through it. Fortunately, no lives were lost, but the damage to property was great, being estimated at $15,000. Twenty-six buildings were demolished or seriously injured. A few scattered remnants yet linger, to furnish evidence of the work of demolition.


J. L. AVERY, agent S., C. & P. Railway, also proprietor of the Nebraska House, is a native of Sullivan County, N. Y. He enlisted in September, 1861, in Company I, Fifty-sixth New York Infantry; was appointed Hospital Steward and later Assistant Surgeon of the First South Carolina United States Colored Infantry; served to the end of the war; returned to New York November, 1865. He then entered Eastman's College at Poughkeepsie and took a course of commercial studies; then was employed as a clerk in a store about one year. The past thirteen years he has been engaged in the railroad business. October 6, 1880, he was appointed agent of this station, where he has since remained. In January 1, 1862, he took charge of the Nebraska House, the only hotel in Stanton.

DR. W. L. BOWMAN was born in Ross County, Ohio, September 11, 1824. His mother being left a widow while he was quite young, the family emigrated to Indiana in the year 1835, settling in Tippecanoe County, where he received a good English education. After following the business of school-teaching for several years, he commenced the study of medicine with Dr. J. M. Boyed, of Thorntown, Boone Co., Ind. He commenced the practice of medicine in the year 1853; was received into the Upper Wabash Conference as a minister of the United Brethren in Christ; moved to the State of Nebraska, and settled in Stanton County, in the year 1868, where he has resided ever since, practicing medicine and preaching the Gospel as a local minister. He organized the first church in Stanton and Madison Counties, preaching a great majority of the funerals of those who have died in the part of the county in which he resides; has taken an active part in the political affairs of the county as a Republican, being twice a candidate for the Legislature, and serving two years as County Judge.

S. S. CANFIELD, Sheriff, was born in Wayne County, Penn., and there raised. At the breaking-out of the rebellion, he enlisted in the three months' call. He again enlisted January 12, 1862, in Company E, One Hundred and Forty-first New York Infantry, and served till February, 1864. He then enlisted in the Fortieth New York Veteran Volunteers, and served to the end of the war. In the fall of 1866, he came to Grand Island, Neb., and worked there in an eating house. In 1868, he came to Cuming County and took a homestead of 160 acres, and engaged in farming. In 1870, he came to Stanton and opened a hotel. This business he carried on several years. This hotel he still owns. It is known as the Nebraska House. In the fall of 1871, he was elected Sheriff, and is now serving his fifth term. He is also largely engaged in bridge building and contracting.

J. EBERLY, County Clerk, was born in Stark County, Ohio, September, 1861. He enlisted in Company F, Nineteenth Ohio Infantry. January 1, 1864, he re-enlisted as a Veteran Volunteer in said regiment; winter of 1865, he was mustered out of service as regular Quartermaster Sergeant, in Texas. May, 1866, he graduated from Duff's Commercial College, at Pittsburgh, Penn. In 1870, he moved to Napoleon, Henry Co., Ohio, and engaged in the merchant tailoring and clothing business. September, 1872, he came to Stanton; his family came in the spring of 1873; he took a homestead and engaged in farming until 1879; was appointed Deputy County Clerk. In the spring of 1880 he was elected general traveling agent for the Elk Horn Valley Immigration Society, and soon thereafter was appointed County Clerk to fill a vacancy until next election, and then resigned the traveling agency of said society, and was then elected its Recording Secretary. Fall of 1880, was elected County Clerk for unexpired term; fall of 1881, was re-elected to his office for two years.

[Portrait of W. L. Kendall.]

W. L. KENDALL was born in Kane County, Ill., May 15, 1842, where his parents had settled at an early day, being one of two children, brother and sister. He was teaching school at the time the civil war broke out. Feeling a strong desire to take a part in the conflict then threatening the life of the Nation, he enlisted and went out with Company I, One Hundred and Twenty-seventh Illinois Infantry, in 1862, and continued with the regiment in active service to the close of the war; when, on his return home, he engaged in his former occupation, viz., teaching, this time in his own native town. Having, no doubt, been a great admirer of old Horace Greeley, he, too, saw the great advantage of going West and growing up with the country. Having carefully surveyed the great West, in his mind's eye, and settled upon Nebraska as the great State of the future, he accordingly started, in 1868, for Omaha, its capital. In the fall of 1869, he embarked in the mercantile business, himself and partner putting up the first store in Stanton, and filling it with a general stock. Since January, 1872, his business has been conducted under the firm name of W. L. Kendall. By giving it his entire attention, he has succeeded well and built up a flourishing business, second to none in the county.

DR. N. S. LANE, druggist and physician, is a native of New Jersey. At the age of twelve he came to Illinois with his parents; afterward removed to Green county, Wis. He commenced the study of medicine in 1873, and graduated at the Chicago Medical College in 1877. He then came to Iowa and there practiced till the fall of 1877, when he came to Stanton. He has since been actively engaged in the practice of his profession. In 1880, he opened a drug store, which he has since continued.

[Portrait of Lewis Ley.]

LEWIS LEY, of the firm of Ley Brothers, general merchandise, was born in Tuscarawas County, Ohio; there learned the harness trade; worked at this business for the Government at Pittsburgh and Cincinnati, also in Illinois. In 1869, he came to Stanton County and took a homestead of 160 acres, locating about one and a half miles from Stanton. In the spring of 1870, he opened a store in his sod dug-out on his farm. In the fall of this year he closed out his store, removed to town and opened a harness shop, buying a small stock of leather on credit. He also carried on a boot and shoe shop, employing a shoemaker to do the work. His business rapidly increased, requiring more commodious quarters. This building he afterward sold to W. T. McFarland. In 1871 he was elected a member of the Constitutional Convention. The same year he served as Deputy County Treasurer. He was also appointed a local immigration agent and conducted a real estate and insurance agency. During this time he was Justice of the Peace and practiced law. Being the first attorney in the county, he was employed by the county to go to Lincoln and consult the Auditor of State in regard to getting the lands in the county granted to the railroad, entered upon the tax list of the county. He was successful, and the county was benefited $16,000. He was also the first one to go before the County Commissioners and argue in favor of a reduction of the valuation of lands owned by non-residents. In 1873, he started the Stanton Bugle and continued the publication of the paper about four years. In the fall of 1875, he gave up the harness business and bought out W. L. Bowman's stock of drugs. The stock was valued at $125. He succeeded in raising $50 in cash and gave his note for the balance. His business rapidly increased, requiring more commodious quarters. He moved his stock into the store he now occupies. In 1877, he added a stock of dry goods and groceries. In the spring of 1878, he sold out his stock of drugs to C. L. Cady, and has since been extensively engaged in general merchandising, grain and live stock. In the fall of 1878, he was elected a member of the State Legislature. He was engaged in the banking business from 1877 to 1879. His brother, Karl, was admitted a member of this firm in 1879. He is largely engaged in the real estate business. He owns 1,070 acres of choice land in this county, the greater part being under cultivation.

ALLEN LOOMER, general merchandise, is a native of Nova Scotia. At the age of twelve he came to Walworth County, Wis., and engaged in farming, and later in merchandising. He held the office of Postmaster in Millard, Wis. May, 1878, he came to Pilger, where he remained about eight months. He then removed to Stanton and opened a general store, firm of Loomer, Matheson & Evans. This partnership continued about four months. The firm has undergone several changes. October, 1881, Mr. Loomer bought out his partners, and has since carried on this business alone.

TOBIAS MACK, County Treasurer, is a native of Wurtemberg, Germany. He came to America in 1867, and the following year came to Omaha and worked in a brewery. In 1869, he came to Stanton County and took a homestead of 160 acres, three miles south of Stanton, where he has since resided. In 1876, he was elected County Commissioner and served one term. In the fall of 1878, he was elected a member of the Legislature, representing Stanton, Pierce and Wayne. In the fall of 1879, he was elected County Treasurer, and is now serving his second term.

HENRY A. VAIL, agent for George Graves, lumber, coal and grain, was born in Canada in 1852, and came with his parents to Fremont, Dodge Co., Neb., in 1869; soon after removed to Stanton County; assisted on their farm until the fall of 1872, when he engaged in farming for himself until July, 1879. Since then he has been engaged in the lumber business, having full charge of this yard.


This town is the only one besides Stanton in the county. It is situated near the eastern limits of the county, eleven miles from Stanton, on the Sioux City & Pacific railroad. It was laid out in 1880, by the Elkhorn Valley Land and Town Lot Company. At present, it consists of a depot building, a general store, a hardware store, and a lumber yard and coal depot. In time, it will undoubtedly grow into a good trading town, as the country surrounding is well settled, and considerable wealth centers in this section of the county. In addition to the business houses, Pilger also has a schoolhouse, which formerly stood in the Humbug settlement.

J. H. Vail controls the lumber yard, and does a paying business.

M. S. Adams runs a general store, and J. G. Matheson a hardware store.

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