Early Settlers | Indian Troubles
Part 2: Organization | Schools | County Buildings
Railroads and Stages | Woman Suffrage | Calamities
Progress | Taxable Property
Part 3: Hebron: Early History | City Roster | Local Institutions
Mills | Educational | Schools | Religion | The Press
Societies | Progress
Part 4: Hebron (cont.): Biographical Sketches
Part 5: Alexandria: Churches | Societies | Biographical Sketches
Hubbell: Hubbell Lodge, No. 94, I. O. O. F.
Hubbell Lodge, A., F. & A. M. | Bank
Part 6: Carleton: Churches | Biographical Sketches
Belvidere: Biographical Sketches
Part 7: Davenport: Biographical Sketches
Chester: Biographical Sketches
Friedensan | Harbine
Up to the fall of 1871, all the official business of this county was performed by the officers of the then Jefferson County, is which county now are all the records previous to October, 1871, when the first election in Thayer County occurred, and from which date the records of the county commences.
No official roster has been kept, but from the records we find that the following persons have held the offices of trust since 1871: Officers, Commissioners, First District--W. P. Wilson, W. H. II Lamb, L. P. Lews, S. Oldfield and W. H. H. Lamb. Second District--G. D. Proctor, John Shover, H. Candy and Frank Decker. Third District--T. C. Pluss, John Hughes, C. E. Barton and P. F. Burruss.
County Clerks --Edward S. Past, two years; M. M. House, six years; Edward S. Past, two years; A. F. Clemons.
County Treasurers--J. B. Smith, Winfield Scott, C. B. Coon, W. D. Galbraith and H. C. Bigelow.
County Judges--Newton Clark, T. P. Skinner, B. F. Young, W. P. Wilson, W. W. Edwards, Thomas A. Box, W. H. Barger and George Lobingier.
County Superintendents of Schools--B. F. Young, T. S. Ward, W. H. Barger, Barzillai Price and James Dinsmore.
Sheriffs--Tracy E. Ross, C. B. Coon, W. D. Galbraith, J. F. McNee and M. C. Ferguson.
Surveyors--C. E. Barton, F. B. Tanner, S. O. Carman and W. G. Allen.
Representatives-- Hugh Ross, D. C. Jenkins, Silas Garber, F. J. Hendershot, W. W. Fitchpatrick, G. C. Bruce, E. M. Correll, Hendershot & Correll are from this county, and the latter was the author and champion of the bill, introduced in the legislature in 1871, to submit a Woman's Suffrage Amendment to the Constitution to the State. In November, 1882, it will be voted upon.
Senators--N. R. Griggs, D. Gilham, A. S. Wigton and C. B. Coon. The last is from Thayer County.
Ever since its organization, Thayer County has been Republican by a large majority, until 1881, when the county ticket went Alliance by a small majority. The State ticket was, however, as largely Republican as before. That it is Republican is due largely to the fact that there are over three hundred soldiers in the county, and it is rarely that you find one of those brave men who vote contrary to the way they fought.
The schools throughout the county are in a very fair condition. The houses, as a general thing, are good, large enough, warm and securely built. There are fifteen districts that furnish text books, and owing to the satisfaction given by this system, it is likely to be generally adopted.
There are four good graded schools in the county: Hebron, Alexandria, Carleton and Belvidere.
There are sixty-three districts, fifty-nine schoolhouses, value, including sites and furniture, $43,000; 2,019 persons of school age; males, 1,047; females, 972. Teachers employed, males, thirty-six; females, forty-two; wages, males, average $41; females, $29.
The court house is a two-story wood structure, costing about $6,000. The jail is a structure that they desire us not to mention, as they know it can only truthfully be done to their discredit. It is a cell under the court house with two port holes. It may be a terror to frighten evil doers away from contemplated crimes.
The poor farm consists of about 200 acres of excellent land. It has a good dwelling and barn, which, however, are only temporary, being sufficient to meet the present demand. It has proven thus far self-sustaining. Upon this farm is the famous cave where Bennett and Abernathy, two gallant frontiersmen, met their death at the hands of the Indians in 1867.
There are about forty-three miles of railroad in the county, the St. Joe & Western crossing the county east and west about the middle of the north half, and the Republican River Branch of the Baltimore & Missouri Railway, passes along the south boundary. The St. Joe & Western, built in 1872, has been the principal cause of the rapid growth of the county since that time. The central portion of the county is very much in need of a road, yet it is improving quite as fast as any other portion, the belief prevailing that ere long there will either be an east or west road through Hebron, the county seat.
There are five stage lines in the county. Three centering at Hebron, namely, from Belvidere, Chest and Nelson, county seat of Nuckolls. One from Belvidere to Geneva, county seat of Fillmore, and one from Alexandria to Wilber on the Baltimore and Missouri Railroad.
Thayer County Agricultural Association was organized in 1874, in which year the first fair in the county was held. The association is in a very prosperous condition, and the fairs have been good, considering the age of the county and the number of inhabitants. They did own their grounds which they sold and now are leasing. J. J. Malowney is President and Edward S. Past, Secretary.
Thayer County is the home of the woman suffrage movement in Nebraska, the banner county, as it was the first in the State to organize a permanent Woman Suffrage association.
Through the personal efforts of Hon. E. M. Correll, who previous to the organization had been agitating the subject of woman suffrage through editorials in his paper, the Hebron Journal, and an address prepared by himself on "Woman and Citizenship"--the lecture of Susan B. Anthony on "Bread versus the Ballot," was secured for October 30, 1877. He then aroused the community, and a majority of the leading citizens became converts to the doctrine of equal rights.
Previous to this time the women of this locality had been laboring under the delusion that they had all the rights they wanted, but they soon discovered that their rights were only privileges.
January 30, 1879, Mr. Correll proposed to devote a column of his paper to the interests of women if they would accept the control. The women promptly responded, and have ever since made good use of this department of the pioneer paper in equal rights. The seed thus sown was ripe for the reaper, when in April, 1879, Mrs. Elizabeth Cady Stanton lectured in Hebron, and at a private meeting with the ladies organized the Thayer County Woman's Suffrage Association, April 15, 1879, the first Association of the kind in the State. Since this first step the association has been diligent in promulgating its principles, and to this society is largely due the rapid progress made toward the securing of equal rights to women. The society has grown from fifteen, the number at organization, to about seventy-five.
Petitions numbering 294 names were sent to the Forty-fifth Congress of the United States then assembled, petitioning for a sixteenth amendment to the constitution of the United States, also individual petitions from the following-named women of Hebron; Sarah J. Church, Lucy S. Correll, Hannah G. Huse, Clara A. Thompson, Kate T. F. Cornell, Susan E. Ferguson and Barbara J. Thompson.
In January, 1881, memorials were sent to the United States Senators in Congress, from Nebraska (Paddock and Saunders), asking them to bring before Congress, then assembled, the fact, that Nebraska as a State, had disfranchised all of her women by inserting the word "male" in the constitution, thereby setting aside Article XIV, Section 1, of the Constitution of the United States.
They petition the Legislature of 1881 to amend the constitution by striking out the word "male". About the 1st of February, a joint resolution providing for the submission to the electors of this State an amendment to Section 1, Article VII, of the Constitution, was presented to the Legislature by Representative E. M. Correll, and through his efforts mainly the resolution passed the house by the necessary three-fifth majority, and the Senate by Twenty-two to eight.
The society now are working zealously for the amendment, and will materially aid the vote in its favor.
They have been highly honored as members from this association; have held positions of honor in the State Association, and one of its members, Hon. E. M. Correll, at the meeting at Louisville, Ky., in October, 1881, of the American Woman's Suffrage Association, was elected to the honorable position of President of that organization.
The present officers of the society are: Susan E. Furguson, President; Harriett G. Huse, Vice President; Barbara J. Thompson, Secretary; Lucy L. Correll, Treasurer. Since elected for 1882: Susan E. Ferguson, President; Matilda Hendershot, Vice President; Fannie Coon, Secretary; A. Martha Vermillion, Corresponding Secretary; Lucy L. Correll, Treasurer.
The Thayer County Stock Association is an enterprise of 1881. The first meeting took place in October of that year, and was pronounced as one of the best stock shows in the State.
The grasshopper scourge visited this part of the State in 1867, but owing to the sparseness of settlers its disastrous consequences were not so great. The great scourge of 1874 was here as terrible as anywhere in this State or Kansas, but having given a full account of this great calamity in the history of Jefferson County to save a repetition we will refer the reader to that county's history to obtain a full account of the appearance of these insects.
The two or three settlers remaining that were here in 1860 tell us that the drouth of that year was exceedingly severe. The prairies became so parched that they would burn even more readily than they do now in the spring.
The 21st of June, 1875, a storm passed over the eastern part of the county. The width of this storm was about four miles, and wherever it had an opportunity, did destructive work. Alexandria, then containing about six houses, was the only town it visited. Here they had just completed a $6,000 schoolhouse when the storm came, and it was leveled to the ground. Some have said because they were too ambitious in their school enterprise. The other buildings were more or less damaged. Hail accompanied this storm, and ruined the crops along its path.
A second hail storm visited the same section of country the 30th of June, 1877, but was not so destructive, owing to the fact that there was no wind. Had the wind blown as in 1875, it would have been the most destructive storm in the history of Nebraska. The hailstones would average nearly as large as the regulation base-ball. There was a perfect calm, and the hail on plowed ground buried itself from two to four inches in the ground. After the storm, which lasted only a few minutes, a number of persons gathered enough ice to freeze ice cream.
A tornado, the most destructive that ever visited the county, came on the evening of the 20th of June, 1881. June seems to be the month of wrath among the upper elements. The same locality was again visited, but with more fearful and fatal results.
On that evening, the sun sank to rest amid a heavy bank of clouds, which worked up from the northwest against a northeast wind. About 9 o'clock the rain began to fall, accompanied by a slight hail. Suddenly the wind sprang up with terrific fury, the rain falling in perfect torrents, mingled with an unprecedented fall of large and small hailstones. The wind became quite hot, and a heavy fog accompanied the storm. In less time than it takes to relate it the hail had smashed every window light and frame, filling the houses with water and hail to the depth of several inches. The wind moaned and wept like a lost child for its dead mother, and, amid the shrieks of women and children, the elements bore unrelentlessly on in their carnage of life and property. Strong, brave men, awe stricken, fear-benumbed, stood pale and trembling amid the falling wrecks, feeling the doom of death rushing without warning upon them. Many who before had laughed at fear looked with agony into their yawning graves, that fear pictured in visions of reality before their eyes. The fearful velocity of the animated air drove the hail through the roofs and siding of the houses, pelting the terror-stricken inmates, smashing dishes and furniture and ruining household goods generally. The poor, unprotected beasts, those that were not killed at once, ran wild, bellowing and fighting with the pain of pelting rock.
Again to Alexandria fell the greater destruction, although the cyclone spent its greatest fury a mile or so to the north, which indeed was fortunate, for her misfortune was extreme as it was.
A large, strongly-built, two-story dwelling occupied by Mr. Allen Vedder, an aged gentlemen, his wife and daughter, Mamie, was razed to the ground. Amid the wreck and ruin of their happy home, the aged forms of the father and mother were mangled and crushed, the daughter escaping only by the good fortune of being thrown into a corner, where a securely built chest prevented the massive timbers from settling down upon her fragile form, that otherwise must have perished as the insect that is trod upon. Mr. Vedder soon expired. His wife, the partner of his joys and sorrows for thirty years, soon followed her aged companion "to that country from storms and sorrows free."
Herman Vedder, a married son, had, a few days before, vacated another house belonging to the father, which was blown down. Fortunately, it was vacant, or else the storm fiend might have claimed more victims to his insatiable greed.
Every house was damaged from $25 upward. The trees were stripped of their foliage and bark, and the grass was mown, as with a mower, from the fields. Crops were driven into the ground or blown away so completely that it was difficult to tell the next morning that the fields had the day before possessed a sign of vegetation, whereas they were in their glow and glory, smiling with perfect prospect to the farmer of a bounteous harvest.
The Big Sand, that half an hour before ran scarcely two feet of water, was pouring down its valley a flood over twenty-two feet deep, carrying before it death and desolation. The southern part of Alexandria was inundated. The railroad bridges and the track was for miles swept away.
The course of the storm was southeast, and for thirty miles, with a path varying from three to six miles, it carried ruin and desolation in its wake.
The growth in wealth and population of Thayer has been remarkable. But twelve years ago the few settlers of the county had to carry arms to protect themselves from marauding Indians. The State had a company of militia, and the United States, a company of regulars, to insure the blessing of life to the brave pioneer who had forgone the pleasure of civilization, in secure and prosperous States, to plant the germ in the wilderness of the West, and bear the star of empire westward. Not a town in all the county had reared its head to break the relief of vision of the boundless swells of prairie.
To-day all is secure and serene. The Indian has taken his departure. He was not driven away, but had he chosen to remain, his enemy, the white man, would have welcomed him to the blessing of industry and civilization. But, no, his nature is wild and untamable. In the chase and cowardly warfare he courts the blessings and pleasures of this fleeting existence.
To-day eight smiling villages break the monotony of the scene, and with their stores and mills, and church steeples pointing to a better way and many happy homes, tell us that all is fair, that from the soil and air man is gathering more blessings than were ever before harvested from these prolific fields. The numerous homes of happy and prosperous farmers that deck these vast swells and valleys from center to the outer bounds, are so superior to the recent habitation of the wandering tribes that we are quite convinced that there is a providence in all this change. The former occupants, through idleness, had forfeited their claim to the fertile fields which now to the hand of industry pay abundant tribute.
Daily the iron steed is crossing and recrossing the broad expanse, breaking the stillness of the place by the hum of toil instead of the war cry, and bearing to less favored climes the grain and luxuries of the field.
From 400, the number of inhabitants at the time of organization in 1871, it has increased to a population of 7,000. From a value of $20,000 above that of the land, it has increased to over $1,000,000. The privileges of education reach every child, and the blessings of religion reach every home.
Thayer County has no bonded indebtedness, and the per cent of taxation has been comparatively small. There are localities where they are quite high, due to improvements and a heavy school tax, yet but little complaint is heard with reference to the latter. The total valuation of the county, including personal property and real estate, is over $6,000,000. There are 68,000 acres of land under cultivation; 20,000 in wheat, and about 29,000 in corn. Over 1,000,000 forest and 50,000 fruit trees are under cultivation. Horses, 3,113; cattle 6,056; mules, 330; hogs, 9,604; sheep, 8,264.