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NE History & Record of Pioneer Days
Vol VII, no 2 (part 2)    



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   On May 26, 1885, four families of Bohemian emigrants traveling in three covered wagons drawn by ox teams, camped in Richmond canyon about midway between Bartley and Cambridge at point where the D. L. D. highway now crosses. About 9 o'clock a wall of water came down the canyon and swept the entire camp away. Of the seventeen members of the party, men, women and children, three women and six children were drowned. To commemorate this incident in the early history of Red Willow county, a monument has been erected close to the place where these emigrants camped for the night and exercises were held there yesterday, participated in by fully twnty-five (sic) hundred persons, who gathered from all parts of southwestern Nebraska. The exercises consisted of music by the Cambridge band and addresses by Honorable C. E. Eldred, of McCook, Honorable B. F. Butler of Ca bridge, Honorable A. M. Keyes, of Holbrook and others.
   The ceremony was especially solemn and impressive because of the presence of two of the three living survivors John Osmera and Mary Osmera, his sister, of Brainard, Nebr. The only remaining living survivor of the disaster is Mary Vlostin of St. Paul, Nebr. The gathering included a large number of persons who were residents of the county thirty-nine years ago, when the water overwhelmed the campers and several were present who had searched for and found the bodies of the dead.
   Mr. Osmera's account of the disaster, which he could not give publicly, but which he told individual inquirers, was that he and his sister who had survived, were sleeping in one of the wagons. About that evening the water from a cloud burst somewhere north came down the canyon. His father was aroused and rescued himself and his sister, then went to the assistance of his mother and another brother and sister, who were in another wagon, but it was too late. They had been swept away. The party was on its way to homestead lands in Hayes county.
   The monument is a granite slab bearing the names of the women who were drowned, the date of the occurence (sic) and a brief statement the destination of the party. The project of placing the monument at the spot originated with D. F. Neiswanger of Cambridge. The expenses amounting to about $300.00 are to be paid by popular subscription. It is desired, if possible to limit these subscriptions to $1.00 each.



John F. Cordeal, of this place has consented to accept subscriptions from those in this vicinity who desire to contribute to the fund.

   After the dedication of the monument in Richmond canyon, a spring about two and a half miles east of Cambridge, which has been given the name of Sky Chief, the last chief of the Pawnees, was dedicated. The water has been piped from the side of the hill to the side of the road and a shelter erected. This will prove a source of comfort and convenience to travelers along the D. L. D. highway.
   The day was perfect for a celebration of the character of this and the crowd that gathered was in a reverential mood. -- Beaver City Tribune.

NOTE: See Czech's in Nebraska for article on this incident.

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   Editor of the Trenton Leader made a journey across the state from Trenton to Pineridge reservation in South Dakota in June for the purpose of securing a number of Indians to take part in the Massacre Cent Year celebration held at Trenton August 4, 5 and 6. He was successful in securing a number of Sioux who were engaged in the battle with the Pawnees at that time.

   Hugh McFadden, 84, died at Roseburg, Oregon, June 16, 1924, from an automobile accident. He was a soldier in company C of the 5th Cavalry, served for five years on the Nebraska frontier, part of the time at old Fort Sidney. After discharge from the army he married and conducted a hotel at Sidney for many years. He was a well known character, highly esteemed, who gave of his counsel and courage in both civil and military life toward the settlement and development of Nebraska and western frontier.



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(By H. Clyde Filley.)

A Paper Read Before the Nebraska Hall of Agricultural Achievement,
at Lincoln, Nebraska, January, 1924

   Elijah Filley was born in a log cabin in Jackson County, Michigan, November 28, 1839. He died at Beatrice, Nebraska, March 31, 1920.
   Eighty years is a long span of life, but length in years is not a true measure of either life or its living. What has a man seen? What has he learned? What has he accomplished? What have been his joys and his sorrows? What has he done for himself and for others? How much has a man appreciated the opportunity of living, of taking part in the movement of events, and how much better is the world because he lived? What was his contribution to the sum total of human happiness? These are the things that count rather than mere length of years.
   Certain it is that the octogenarians of no other country or period ever had the opportunity to witness such a development of natural resources, and such an advance in science and invention as those who lived in the United States from about 1840 to about 1920. In few places were the changes greater than in the great Middle West.
   In 1840 there were less than 3000 miles of railway in the United States and no road had as yet crossed the Mississippi. Morse did not build his first telegraph line until 1844, and Bell did not construct his first crude telephone until 1876.
   Science and invention have wrought a marvelous change in agriculture since 1840. When hardly more than a boy Elijah Filley cut grain with a cradle; as a young man he bound grain, following a Mc-



Cormick reaper and assisted in operating a Marsh harvester. He was one of the many farmers to rejoice over the invention of the Applebee binder and the many additions and improvements that have been made in harvesting machinery within the last half century. During his lifetime the threshing machine replaced the flail; the corn planted with check row attachment ended the planting of field corn with a hoe; the corn cultivator, the milking machine, the gasoline engine, the automobile and other inventions came to the aid of the farmer increasing his efficiency and lightening his labor.
   In 1840 Michigan was a pioneer state, Chicago was little more than a village, and the frontier had hardly crossed the Mississippi into Iowa. Nebraska was not even organized as a territory until 1854 and did not develop rapidly until after the close of the Civil War. We know the Nebraska of today, -- its cities, its schools and its agriculture. What part in all this development was taken by Elijah Filley?
   The boyhood of Elijah Filley was very similar to the boyhood of many other sons of pioneers in a timbered country. He attended school in winter and worked on the farm in summer. The cleared acreage gradually increased and the number of stumps and stones in the fields decreased, due in part to his efforts.
   In the spring of 1858 when he was eighteen years of age, he went to Joliet, Illinois. He worked on a farm that summer and helped saw wood with a horse power saw for the Rock Island Railroad the following winter.
   In 1859 he went to Livingston County, Illinois, where he worked on a farm for about a year. He was then hired by William Straun, who was one of the largest cattle feeders in Illinois. This employment was particularly fortunate because he not only earned wages, but had the opportunity of learning the cattle business. Mr. Straun needed a helper who could do more than carry out his daily routine and wish for quitting time. He was buying cattle over a wide area in a region where there were no railroads. These cattle must be driven to his feed yards, fattened and sold. He soon came to appreciate the initiative of the young man from Michigan, taught him as much about judging, buying, and feeding cattle as he could, and gradually increased his responsibilities. During a part of his term of employment with William Straun, Elijah Filley bought cattle of farmers, collected them into droves, and drove them to the feed yards, letting them graze along the route by day, and placing them in some farmer's corral by night. It was experience which fitted him well for his work in later years.
   On November 4, 1863, he was married to Emily J. Burd of Pleasant Ridge, Illinois. She proved a true helpmate, being not only a good home maker and mother, but taking an interest in livestock and other things in which her husband was so greatly interestel (sic).
   In 1867 Mr. Filley moved to Nebraska. He was accompanied not only by his wife and two small sons but also by his father, Ammi Filley. They traveled overland in covered wagons and reached their destination, which was later to be known as Cottage Hill Farm, on the 17th day of August. Theirs were the first two upland homesteads to be taken in Gage County. The few other early homesteaders had settled in the Blue River Valley and on the bottom land along the creeks.
   That was the day of the dug out, the sod house and the shanty. Few men were certain that it would be possible to live that far away from the Missouri River. They wanted to try out the country for a few years before building any permanent improvements.
   Mr. Filley was less interested in going "back east" than he was in having eastern comforts in Nebraska. He put up a tent and started to

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