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Charles McGowan b. 1822 and Mary Grant Mc Gowan b. 1832 traveled to Nebraska with other Civil War veterans in a wagon train in 1870.  Their first child born in Nebraska was Barbara A. b.1871.  They established themselves in the town of Orleans in Harlan county where they and others scouted the land and collected enough supplies and what equipment they could afford.  They worked odd jobs and saved what they could to take with them when they made their move to their homestead.  Another daughter  Amanda E. was born in Orleans in 1873. 

It was probably between 1874 and 1876 that they made the final move to Frontier Co.As Mary received her papers for the homestead in 1878 I am guessing they were living on the place at least by 76.  Their land was just north of where the town of Cambridge would later be built an is described as SE1/4 -S10-5n-R25W.  The south west corner of the land just touches the creek and I'm sure that it was considered a choice spot then for that reason, as water was very important then. 

They also had three older children, two boys and a girl.  The oral history passed to by my father who was their grandson states that they experienced the terrible locust storms and had their first crops eaten into the ground.  The story Mary told my father mentions an old women who helped in the area with child birthing and some men who were buffalo hunters and Sioux wives. 

Shortly after they settled they were visited by some men who warned them that it would dangerous to stay there as some a group of horse stealers used the draws near the to occasionally.  Charles having been in the army and still having his rifle would not be bluffed though and they determined to stay. 

Late that fall after the first snow a couple of men stopped by and invited Charles to go on an Elk hunt saying the knew where they could get some nice meat.  This sounded like a good way to get some excellent meat for the family so he accepted their invitation and went north with them.  Unfortunately for Mary and the family he never returned.  She reported the disappearance to the local sheriff, but she new there was little chance of any help.  His body was found in the spring with bullet holes in the back. 

Mary decided to stick it out as she was a tough Irish girl from New York an d had that stubborn Irish fortitude.  She was not going to give up something they had sacrificed so much for. 

These same men would come on to the place more than once and shoot at the chickens and stampede the live stock but Mary stood her ground.  She guessed they didn't have the stomach for killing women.  They were known through out the area and pretty much had their way, what with the law being so weak in those days. Their names will remain unsaid as there are people of that name still in the area today and it would do no good to state them now. The local people know who they were and their descendants probably know too. 

Mary and her family survived and she is buried in a cemetery near her home. The children were Charles S  b. 1863, Adelia, b.1865, Martin F, b.1868, Barbara A. b.1871 and Amanda E, b.1873. They struggled as a family and survived.  They were helped by the Mennonites who lived just east in the next county and at the time of my grandmother Amanda's  death in  April of 1925 she claimed that as her religion.  Mary Mc Gowan died 1931.  

My great grandfather Isaiah Lilly also migrated to Frontier  Co. around 1885 from Missouri and lived at Earl, a post office in the north eastern  part of the county which only existed a short time.

The family migrated north to the Nebraska pan handle and I eventually graduated from Alliance High school in 1958.

Bob Lilly, 27 Feb 2006


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