for James G Blaine (1830-1893), an American Statesman.
SUNBONNETS AND OVERALLS
Purdum is located in the northwest corner of Blaine County.
the grass grows long and green on the Buffalo Flats where once the
buffalo roamed. Cattle grow
sleek and fat on the range and crops overflow the bins at harvest time.
Comfortable homes, a small white church, a school, and business
thrives where nomadic Indians once placed there tee pees for the night
and later hardy folks grasped for a toe hold in a land that resisted
different our country must look today:
In order that we may learn of our ancestry we have asked their
sons and daughters of the first settlers to unlock their treasure house
of knowledge and help up record for ourselves, our children and
generations to come.
at times, these people do not agree on a specific event remember these
people may have lived several miles apart and in a separate community.
We consider Purdum and the surrounding ranches one community
today while in the 1890’s it was probably several.
year did you folks come to Buffalo Flats?
did they come?
boarded the train in Wabash County, which incidentally is near our
present home, and went to Chicago.
I can remember sleeping on the floor in the crowed railroad
station, waiting for our train to take us to St. Louis, the only R. R.
Bridge across the river. From
there we went to Grand Island. Father
had purchased a team of horses and a wagon and met us there.
It took a week to get to Grand Island from Wabash.
A cousin of my folks came along to help mother with the children,
as we were all under 10, but he found work near Grand Island, so father,
mother, a sister, Dessie, three brothers, Frank, Schuyler, Roy and I
stated driving old Kit and Dan and heading for what is now Purdum.
When dark came we would stop at homes and ask to stay all night.
People were very friendly. If
there were not enough beds, we children slept on the floor.
It took four days to get to Buffalo Flats. The first night we arrived, we stayed with Ed Oldhams who
lived in a sod house which was located where the house owned by Blanche
Baker now stands. Oldhams
knew we were coming up the river so they kept a light burning in the
window for us.
(Written by Sam White)
kind of buildings were the first houses?
of the homes were built from sod which was plentiful and dirt cheap.
In fact, it was the only native material here.
Most of the people said there were very few willows growing along
the rivers and no trees. George
Purdum, however, had a home made from adobe brick covered with siding.
did you do for water for use in the home?
first we hauled water from a spring on Mr. Jackson’s place.
He had sunk a barrel into the ground which would fill with water
and we used from it until we made a well near our own home. We had to dig a hole, deep enough to find water making a wall
with boards as we dug. The
soil was pulled to the top in a bucket on a rope.
It was about 20 feet to water.
Before we could afford a pump, we drew water up with a bucket on
well was dug by hand about 26 feet deep, a rod from the house.
It was curbed up with 4-12 inch boards nailed into a square with
2 sections forming the curbing. A
galvanized bucket, about the size of a stove pipe 3 foot long with a
pale in the bottom to let the water in, was lowered into the well with a
rope which ran through a pulley about six feet above the well curbing.
The bucket when full would be raised hand over hand and poured
into other pails or tubs for the livestock.
were the first crops and how were they harvested?
first crops were the usual corn, wheat, and oats grown mostly from seed
brought with them from Tecuseh. The
grain was mostly fed to the stock.
The crops were harvested with an old-fashioned binder, and were
shocked and threshed with a horse powered threshing machine.
This machine was furnished by either McCormicks or Turners from
mainly, potatoes, garden truck, and lots of watermelons.
These crops were harvested by hand.
A husking pig was used to husk corn.
Some pigs were made from a large spike and a piece of leather. The point of the spike was flattened and bent into a hook.
didn’t raise enough to be a big problem.
Most everything was fed to our livestock, or traded for supplies.
was your closest trading center? And railroad?
railroad was built through Halsey in 1887.
My father helped to build it leaving Mother and we children home
alone during the week. Mother
baked bread for several of the bachelors who lived in the neighborhood.
They would bring her a 100 lbs of flour and pay her $1 for it
after it was baked into loaves. They
would pick it up once a week.
In schools what subjects were studied?
teacher stayed with us and we had school in our home for five months
each year, as it was 5 miles to the sod school house east of Purdum.
I never attended a public school until I was in the 7th
grade. The teachers who
taught in our home were:
still have my common school diploma showing I had completed the
“course of Study” in the common branches required by law to be
taught in the public schools of the State of Nebraska”.
Namely, Orthography, Reading, Penmanship, Arithmetic, English
Grammar, Geography, United States History, Physiology, Civil Government,
I received a diploma I taught the home school for two terms.
Some of my first pupils were Lew Simonton, the Jackson girls and
|What kinds of food did you have?|
meats were usually put into large wooden barrels in strong salt brine,
or much of the beef was salted and dried.
Vegetables were kept in a dugout of some sort.
of the meat was dried and smoked. A
good many of our vegetables were dried.
In later years the tin can was used.
We had very few fruits and these were mostly wild fruits.
There were many wild plums, grapes, choke cherries, and sand
cherries. My mother dried
some of these.
ate a lot of cornbread as we would raise the corn in the summer and we
had a hand grinder to grind it into meal.
We could buy a dark grade of flour at Mr. Hoef’s Mill at
Johnstown. It was a rare treat to have white bread at first.
One year we raised a good crop of pumpkins and Mother made a
pumpkin butter spread to eat on our bread.
Sugar was, also, a rare treat and was rationed very sparely when
we could get it.
butchered our own hogs and sugar cured the hams and bacon.
We depended on the cured pork and chickens for our summer meat. During the winter beef could be kept frozen.
us about the clothing the pioneers wore?
clothing they brought with them was supplemented by hand made clothing.
It wasn’t too long though until some clothing needs could be
left Indiana for Nebraska we took a supply of clothing with us. We wore these as long as possible until they were patch upon
patch and then we still wore them as there was scarcely enough money for
food. Some people who had
money packed up and left the country, but we had to stay.
The ones who stayed were in the same financial circumstances so
nothing was thought about having to go looking shabby. The following ditty
grew out of this situation:
few clothes we had our Mother made. During
the lean years the community would receive barrels of clothing.
Nothing went to waste. Every
scrap was salvaged.
all wore warm clothing. My
mother knit each one of our family a pair of wool socks every year.
As soon as the weather was warm enough in the spring we went
did you use for fuel?
in the Sand Hills Country was cow chips, corn cobs, and we usually had
some corn to mix in. I
remember one winter when corn was so cheap and no sale, we burned some
|What did you do for a doctor?|
A. B. Cox and Dr. C. B. W. Cox (father and son) homesteaded.
Dr. C. B. W. Cox came in 1885.
C. B. W. Cox had a set of saddle pockets in which he carried his medical
instruments. For his services he took meat, butter, or whatever the
patient had to offer.
Cox had a brown Texas cowpony that he rode on his calls.
Once, after they had moved to Brewster, Dr. Cox was called to
Purdum and when he came home several days later he carried with him a
quarter of beef.
was the midwife?
we first came it was most any mother in the community.
Mrs. Dr. Cox always went along in a case of that kind and my mother
and Mrs. Ed Oldham were often called.
Sometimes there was no doctor present.
|Were there sand fleas when you came?|
this is really a question! Yes,
there were a great plenty of sand fleas at first but where did they go? The tiny black gnat that was so pesky in the early days seems
to have disappeared along with the pesky gray striped Rose or June bug.
(Written by John Keller)
first home was a Soddy. Our
floors were wood but there were many who had nothing but dirt floors.
We dug our own well by hand and carried water to the house in a
questions I have tried to answer as I remember them and I have enjoyed
doing it. It brings back many
the early day I can remember Old Dr. Pappie Cox, who was a doctor and
lived near Purdum. He was
related to Hubert Cox in Brewster territory.
Old Dr. Pappie Cox as every one called him is buried in the Purdum
cemetery. At a later date we had Dr. Erwin, who lived near Purdum, too.
In later years Dr. Erwin served our territory from both Brewster
and Dunning. Old Dr. Cox
lived at that time on the Roy White Place.
first lights were a twisted flannel rag in a pan of grease.
Later we used coal oil lamps.
had music, too. There were
fiddlers or violins. Mr. Jack
Robinault played for all the dances all over the country.
We organized a brass band in the community about 1890.
George Sheik was the Director.
That broke up and another was organized about 1897 and another
about 1911. Some who were in
the bands were Hollie and Homer Cox, Sam and Frank White, Sam and Ralph
Teaford, Les and Frank Coats, Wm. Cady, played the tuba and Jack Robinault,
the snare drums. (Written
by Sam White)
JOHN F. KELLER
first for beds people used just hay filled ticks laid on the clay floors
double and triple as there was little room in a two or more sod house.
HULDA NEUBAUER JOHNSTON
SUSY A. SCHLASMAN McMURTY
FLOSSIE EWING ANDREWS
EDNA BIVENS FINK
KATHERINE WALTERS CALDWELL
The early settlers
were hardy folks, resourceful and inventive for if one method didn’t
work another was resorted to. They
always got things done. They
made do with what
they had. Their life was
a real challenge that was met courageously.
One thing though never happened.
Grandfather Lotzien could not be induced to eat corn-he said it
was for horses.
The first couple to marry that I can recall were William Body and my mother’s sister Alvena. They were married in Broken Bow.
Another thing I might mention is what home remedies were used. This is a list of some of the items kept in our homes. A bottle of whiskey always. Arnice for bruises, camphor, turpentine for antiseptic and to take out soreness, nitre for fever, carbolic acid an antiseptic, paregoric for pain and to induce sleep, sassafras and chamomile for teas, Epson salts a purgative, caster oil, sweet oil for ear aches, mustard plaster and onion poultice for bad lung congestion, onion and sugar syrup for colds. Yes, and Castoria.
Later there seemed to be a plaster fad---to be stuck on the body for various aches. Aunt Lillie, Uncle Carl Lotziens wife kept skunk oil. She wouldn’t take any of this herself but the children had to down it or else.
(Written by Katherine Walters Caldwell)
L. L. SIMONTON
For bedding, mostly
home made quilts were used. They
were made with thick and heavy cotton batting.
Some people had blankets if they could get them.
Sheets were used
on top of the feather beds, and straw ticks under the feather beds.
No springs were available so just slats were used and one could
sure tell when the straw tick was about wore out.
Those slats sure shone through quite prominent.
S. H. Oldham had the first organ and the first piano. Then L. A. Cox got an organ. The third one was purchased for the school house. They were all bought from mail order houses.
The land east of Purdum was Buffalo Flats. The land to the west was British Valley, north of Thedford in the McCreath Louden District. South and west of that it was Antelope Valley. Prairie Chickens, Grouse, Ducks, and Geese were plentiful and we shot and sold on the market. They helped a lot of settlers financially and for home consumption.
(Written by L. L. Simonton)
Mae Giles for Bweta, and Junior
F. Cooper whose parents lived on the Dismal River south of Halsey to
teach the Purdum school in the fall of 1895.
It was not a nine month school as we know a term.
At Christmas time, the people made quilt blocks for her.
Each block had the name of a person in the community. One block has the name, Mrs. Teaford, 1805.
The school house was of sod.
Several of the pupils were nearly as old as the teacher.
Among the pupils were Sam White, Sam Teaford, and Roy White.
Miss Cooper boarded with the Sanford Oldham family.
I believe Mrs. Olham was the country superintendent of Blaine
her term was over, Miss Cooper, she had decided to marry the store
keeper and live in the Purdum community.
wedding date was May 12, 1896, the bride, Carrie F. Cooper, the groom,
Parker Giles. The place S. M. Cooper home on the Dismal.
When the couple came to Purdum the next day they came across
the hills from the Dismal to Halsey and on to Purdum.
The day was very hot and the bride arrived with a severe case
of sunburn. So
housekeeping was set up in a small sod house east of town in what is
now the White’s field. For
many years two or three trees marked the place.
1898, it was decided to start a store on the creek and Parker was to
manage it. That summer Parker built a sod building for the store, a sod
house, a sod barn, and a sod hen house on his homestead, which he had
filed January 2, 1886. When
November came, things were ready for the move.
Grandfather sold the Purdum store to the Holly Cox’s at that
time. In notes mother had
she mentioned moving the stock of goods.
looking for the wedding certificate of the folks so I learn how to
spell the Ministers’s name I found the certificate telling of the
appointment of Parkerson R. Giles as postmaster at Purdum, Nebraska.
It was dated May 6, 1897.
on that Quilt made from the blocks that the people gave Mother are:
Edith M. Cox, Frank Greenland, Samuel K. Teaford, Dec, 1895, Mrs. E.
S. White, Charlie Hammon, Mattie S. Teaford, Sadie B. Cox, Grace A.
Oldham, Jimmy Oldham, Dora Hickman, Gertrude L. Teaford, Ralph E.
Teaford, Mrs. Teaford, Dec 1895, Homer G. Cox, Haner W. Cox (Big),
Same White, Myrtle Hickman, Roy White, Dora Hickman, Parker R. Giles,
Frank White, Ray Hickman, Albert Greenland (This
article was written by Etta Mae Giles for Bweta, and Junior
BELLE J. DUNN
of these women deserving mention was a member of a family by name of
Harvey who lived in Loup County with the first settlers there.
One daughter, Della, married Mr. R. R. Greenland in the year
1883. Della Harvey knew
only the life of the pioneer so did not hesitate at age of sixteen
years to become the wife of a cowboy who wished to develop his own
homestead. Mr. Greenland had located his homestead on the bank of the
North Loup extending south to the amount of one hundred sixty acres.
He chose this spot for the sole reason of having found a large
spring near the bank of the river.
It was the only large one found for many miles around there.
He brought his wife to his new home in the summer.
“I came to what is now Blaine County in 1883.
We camped out the last night on Hawley Flats.
It being rather wild and desolate looking I had great fears
that something might creep upon us in the night.
Soon after retiring my husband was sleeping soundly, but not so
for me. I never closed my
eyes all night but kept watch by looking east and west and north and
south expecting any moment that something would attack us.
But morning came at last and we were still alive.
When I mentioned my fears to my husband he only laughed and
said “Why, I have been sleeping out on the prairie every summer for
seven years and nothing ever harmed me.”
most terrifying experiences with a blizzard happened in the spring of
1892, the thirteenth day of May.
We had been having a great deal of rainy weather.
My husband had been waiting for a fair day to go to the county
seat, some twenty-five miles distant.
April the twelfth was a fair day so he took the lumber wagon
and a team of work horses to make the trip.
It took at least two days in all.
We had not raised a crop for two years so had only hay for
fuel. Mr. Greenland had
left a large pile near the house before leaving.
in the evening clouds began to appear, it started to mist, then
changed to rain, which came down in torrents for hours.
As it became colder the rain turned to snow and we were in the
midst of a terrible blizzard.
next day, I burned the last spear of hay.
I must keep the babies warm.
The storm was so severe I could not step outside the door to
get any more hay. I
thought of the straw ticks on the beds so removed them and burned that
to the last piece.
in the afternoon I thought I must go to the barn to try to help the
stock. I took my eight
year old boy and fought my way out.
Each animal was covered with a coat of ice; long icicles hung
from their nostrils and their eyes were lumps of ice. What
could I do? The storm seemed
to increase in it fury and I despaired of ever getting home again.
But I must! I had
left our four month old baby asleep in her cradle.
As we stood waiting, there came a lull in the storm and some
way we got back to the house. Never in my life have I been more thankful than to receive
the shelter of that dear, old, sod house.
No sound has ever quickened my heart of beats like the crying
of my little, baby girl.
looking back over those years of hardships and privations, I realize
that they were the happiest years of our lives.
Then we were young, had health and strength, and all of the
future. Now we are
nearing the end of the journey, there is not much to work for, or any
one who needs us.
well I can remember the blizzard on January 12, 1888, when we lived at
Purdum, then called “Buffalo Flatts.”
The morning was so calm you could hear a rooster crow a mile
distant and about 10 o’clock, or perhaps a little later, after all
the children in the sparsely settled new country schools were
assembled at school a huge black cloud appeared across the northwest
and shortly after a terrific cold wind, accompanied by a wall of snow,
swept the country.
heroic efforts by a number of teachers over the plains area were
performed, many of whom perished in the storm, and a number who
survived lost their hands or feet, and some both, from freezing.
In the winter of 1900-01 I attended school with a young man who
had lost both feet and hands during that storm as his teacher had tied
all the pupils together with a rope, then tying the little band to a
dwelling not far from school. There were several children lost their hands or feet in the
band and the teacher almost lost her life.
County was organized as a county, less than two full years previous,
in 1886. E. H. Riggs was
the first County Clerk, acting for a man named Smith who could to
qualify. I have forgotten
who was the first County Treasurer, but do remember that Judge Aiken
was County Treasurer in the early days and during his tenure of office
was mortally wounded by some men while he had in his charge some men
accused of cattle stealing and that John J. Mandeville, now deceased,
was appointed Treasurer to fill out the term.
This tragedy took place, after dark, at an old sod stable about
one-half mile south of where Walter Hannah’s ranch buildings now
first Board of County Commissioners were composed of Russell O.
Dunning, T. C. Jackson and Taylor S. Northrup.
Jack Robbinault was the first Sheriff.
the mercy of Divine Providence I have been permitted to live in Blaine
County and to share in its days of depression and sorrow, in mirth and
prosperity, and as I look back over the years, I consider it a
privilege and pleasure to have spent so many years among some of the
best people in God’s Universe and still consider, all advantages and
disadvantages taken into consideration, Old Blaine County and its
people the best place on earth.
IRIS JACKSON IHMSEN with MARY JACKSON ARNOLD
father, T. C. Jackson, came to Buffalo Flats in 1883.
He filed on a timber claim where E. B. Arnold’s place is now
and on a homestead just east of it.
He lived in a dugout on the side of a bluff and got his water
from a spring down on the meadow.
He was born in 1856 at East Middlesex, PA.
His mother was Pennsylvania Dutch girl.
We have two quilts that she pieced for which she wove the
muslin. I have heard my father tell how they took their grist to the
mill to have it ground, how the local blacksmith built their stoves
and a shoemaker came around once a year or so to make their shoes.
mother died when he was about five years old and He and his sister
Mettie and brother Tunis were cared for by their father’s youngest
sister for a few years until their father remarried in 1863.
In 1867 they moved to Lincoln, Nebraska.
His father took a homestead just across the street from where
the Wm J. Bryan home is located.
After their father died in 1877 their stepmother remarried and
her new husband persuaded her to sell the homestead and use the money
to move to Oregon. The
title was never clear because it had been sold without the consent of
her stepchildren and the quarter section stood vacant for many years
after the city had grown up all around it.
father was one of the men who helped to organize Blaine County in 1886
and he was one of the first board of County Commissioners, the others
being T. S. Northup and R. O. Dunning.
He also taught the first school after district seven (7) was
organized in 1887. When
the big blizzard blew up in 1888 he sent the children home as rapidly
as possible as they had very little fuel on hand.
father’s sister and brother spent part of their summer with him on
his homestead, and my mother told about one time when she and Mettie
were invited to visit. I suppose it was at Mrs. Whites.
The boys, Frank and Sam came after them. My father loaned them his team of horses so the ride
wouldn’t take so long as with the ox team but the boys drove the
horses at the same gait as they were accustomed to with the ox team.
railroad came to Halsey in 1887 so my Mother came by train.
I don’t know if the Oldhams did or not.
They came to Halsey to meet her.
and Mrs. Oldham started a Methodist Sunday School as soon as they were
settled. It was never discontinued even for a short time.
It was held in the sod school house until the church was built
in 1908. The attendance
was quite large. I recall
that my mother’s Bible Class reached across the two back rows of
seats in the new church. There
were also quite sizeable young folk’s and primary classes.
The young people’s class included every one who wasn’t
married yet. Mrs. Oldham
taught it until 1910 or 11 when they moved to University Place and
after that Tom Simonton was the teacher for several years.
C. Jackson and Mary Skliba were married in the spring of 1889.
He had proved up on his homestead so they lived on hers until
1892 when she also got the title to hers.
He then built a two room sod house on his timber claim on the
site where the house now stands.
Later he added a kitchen on the west.
The well a square dug well just north of the kitchen.
The bucket was pulled up hand over hand on a rope that passed
over a pulley. About 1903
he hired Mrs. Trussell’s father, Mr. Graham, to drill a well for
him. This well was two or
three rods north of the house. It
was about one foot in diameter, cased with wood and operated by a
windlass. The drilling
rig was operated by horses.
Graham family was among the early settlers.
Their homestead was just north of my father’s timber claim.
They moved to Thedford soon after Susie married M. B. Turssell.
The first school house was on their place, just across the
trail road from our house. My
father and O. M. Walcott taught there. About 1890 the school house was moved to a site one-half mile
east of Greenland’s house on the north side of the road.
Two sod school houses were build on this site.
It was in the second of these that Mary and I started to school
in January 1900. Sam White was the teacher and our school mates were Frank, AB
and Ruth Greenland, Tom and Lew Simonton, Margaret Mc Kee, Bill
Murray, Morris Oldham and Roy White, who was a great trial to his
brother. We played “Fox and Goose” outside in the snow, and inside
in bad weather on a “Fox and Goose” board with corn for the geese.
Everyone walked to school except in very bad weather when we
might get a ride in the back of the lumber wagon on a bed of hay with
a comforter over our heads. This
school house was used until 1911 when the frame school house was built
which is still in use.
Loder was the carpenter who built the school house, also the Compton
School house, and the church. Mr.
and Mrs. Loder homesteaded in the hills north in what is now part of
Neubauer’s pasture. He was an excellent musician and gave generously of his
time and talents to his neighbors. He conducted a singing school and
supervised the music for Memorial Day, Christmas, Easter and other
tragedy occurred in the summer of 1904 when Ruth and Ruby Greenland
contracted diphtheria. Gertie
Cox had the responsibility of seeing that some one took dinner over
there every day for the family and the nurse they had.
One morning Kyle Cox arrived at our house all breathless-he was
then five years old. He
played with Kent all morning, at dinner time he began telling us how
his mother had waked him up that morning and told him he was to go
over to Jacksons. My
mother fixed him with her eye, “Kyle” she said, “Did your mother
send you here on an errand?” “No”
he said, we don’t have an errand, we have a bicycle but I didn’t
come on that, I ran all the way.
She proceeded to search him and found a note pinned to his
pocket telling her she was to furnish dinner that day, so she
scratched up what she could in a hurry and took it over.
Telephone Company had organized three or four years before this and
most every one except us had telephones.
My father thought he couldn’t afford one, which was the
reason for the note. The
little girls died after several days.
It was a terrible blow for Mr. and Mrs. Greenland.
They had already lost several children, and the loss of their
two little girls was almost more than they could bear.
about 1895 or 96 a company seems to have been organized in Boone,
Iowa, my mother’s old home town, for the purpose of building an
irrigation systems for this Sand Hills country.
An engineer named Bennett, who was some sort of connection by
marriage of my mother, came here to do the job.
He lived at our house as one of the family for several months
while he worked on it. He
built a wooden water wheel. It
was about twelve feet long and eight feet or so in diameter as I
recall it. He also built
a couple of pontoons or boats which were anchored on either bank of
the river, and the water wheel was suspended between them.
A standpipe some fifty or sixty feet high was also erected.
It was as high as the fields above the river where the water
was supposed to be used. When
every thing was in readiness the neighbors all gathered for the
demonstration. The wheel
pumped the water all right and it ran out of the top of the stand
pipe, but that was as far as it ever got.
I suppose the money was all gone by that time.
The old water wheel, or the skeleton of it, stood on the river
bank for many years. We
would climb over it when we went down to the river for fishing or
bathing or to pick the red lilies that grew all over the meadows then
and blossomed in July.
Purdum seems to have been an intelligent and public spirited man who
was held in great respect.
Greenland had been an early day cowboy and grazed cattle all over what
was than the open range. When
he decided to marry and settle down he took his homestead and timber
claim on the Buffalo Flats. Mr.
Greenland was an Athiest and so didn’t provide any support for the
Sunday School but was well educated and responsible member of the
community and a very good business man.
and Mrs. Levi Cox came to Purdum, Homer told me, in 1888 when he was
nine years old and Hollie a few years older.
Levi Cox is best remembered for his many years as Sunday School
could not have been a better one, kindly, dignified, with a gift of
home spun eloquence, he had a simplicity and sincerity that endeared
him to everyone. About
the year 1898 Hollie Cox purchased the Purdum Store from Parker Giles,
who then moved to Elsmere and started a store there.
He also got the Post Office established there and suggested the
name that was adopted. He
married Carrie Cooper about this time. She had been the Purdum School teacher before her marriage.
Purdum store was housed in a sod building when Hollie purchased it.
He replaced it with a frame building a couple of years later
and also built the big house now owned by Greta McCreath.
It had to be large enough to accommodate the traveling salesmen
of that era, who would come over on the mail stage one day and return
to Halsey the next day the same way.
Hollie and Gertie were both busy with the Store and Post Office
and Telephone Exchange and the cooking and house keeping at the Motel
were attended to by a capable series of pioneer girls, among whom were
Henrietta Haseberg, Anna Haumann, Katie Lowe, Edla Lilly and Verda
depended a good deal on wild fruit in the early days.
My father would take a couple of days off in September and go
to Halsey where he would fill the wagon box with wild plums.
If he could still find choke cherries he would pile the laden
branches on top of the plums. We
would sort over the plums and cook them as soon as they got mellow,
then they were pitted by hand, cooked with sugar and stored in big
stone jars. This plum
preserve, or “Numesa” as we usually called it in baby talk, was
our main stay with bread, butter and milk.
It was rich and strong but tasted pretty good especially if
stirred up with cream or mixed with the oatmeal porridge.
We had, as far back as I can remember, quite a patch of
gooseberries north of the house.
We canned large quantities and also sold them for $1 per
bushel. I remember one year a couple named Lee from Brownlee drove
down for a bushel of berries and spent the Fourth of July with us.
1897 my father entered into a contract with the Crete Nurseries for
the commercial raising of fruit.
Mr. Stephens furnished the trees, we furnished the ground and
labor, and the returns from fruit sold were to be divided 50-50.
It was quite a disastrous experiment for both of them as the
trees didn’t do very well here.
We did grow quite a lot of our cherries for several years, also
some apples, raspberries, strawberries, currants, dewberries,
mulberries, etc. We
earned our pin money in our early years by picking cherries at 1 cent
per quart box. And better yet we didn’t have to eat so many wild
interesting sight in early days were, the prairie dogs that were
always popping out of their holes and whistling.
They seem to have shared their burrows with the rattle snakes.
When the ground was plowed for the first time they used to wrap
the horses legs to protect them from the rattlesnakes. Finally came the time when all the ground was plowed and not
a prairie dog was left.
mother made all our clothes including my father’s shirts, and denim
pants. She had a sewing
machine as far back as I can remember.
I suppose most women did, however, Mrs. Greenland made all her
girls dresses by hand. I
don’t know if she did all the boys sewing or not.
My mother also knit all our winter stockings and mittens.
We had one good summer dress each which had to do for about
three years and while we were quite small we each had a “flannel
dress” for winter which was made from some donated hand-me-downs
from her family. We wore
this flannel dress every day under our pinafores and for dress up we
wore it without the pinafore over it.
our washing was done on a wash board until about 1902 when we bought a
wooden tub washing machine from Geo Sheik.
It had three long spokes sticking down from the lid which
agitated the clothes inside when a handle bar on the lid was pushed
back and forth. We also
acquired a hand wringer about this time.
After the clothes were out thru the machine they were boiled in
the wash boiler and rinsed in two waters.
All this water of course had to be carried in buckets from the
well and heated over a cob or cow chip fire.
kitchen floor was made of boards about eight inches wide that had to
be scrubbed with soap and brush every week.
The other floors were covered with woven rag carpet over a
cushion of hay. The
carpets were taken up every spring at house cleaning time, and thrown
across the clothes line to be pounded.
The hay which was only dust after a years use was swept out and
replaced with fresh hay before the carpet was tacked down again.
the Nebraska Public Library Commission was established about 1910 my
mother always sent for a couple of traveling libraries every winter.
There were about forty books in a library and we kept each for
about three months, and paid the transportation cost.
These Libraries meant a lot to us and the neighbors made pretty
good use of them too.
Fourth of July was the great day of the year for everyone.
We wore our very best clothes and some of the young ladies
brought a tent on at least one occasion and retired there for two
changes of costume during the day, the last time to dress for the
dance. A wooden platform
was built for the dance, but I was to young to attend so that’s all
I knew about it. Then of
course there was the store booth, with a big bundle of bananas for a
centerpiece. This was the
only time when we ever saw bananas.
There was also oranges, pop, candy, gum, trinkets and all kinds
of fire arms, fire works and fire crackers.
Every child tried hard to have at least 50 cents in spending
money for the Fourth. The
day before was spent in preparation.
There was the first frying chicken of the summer to be killed
and fried. Some hills of
potatoes were sacrificed to get the tiny little new potatoes to mix
with the first garden peas in a cream sauce. There were hard boiled eggs pickled in beet juice, and beets
of course. No potatoes so
no potato salad and no coffee. There
was lemonade in a barrel and free home made ice cream also.
There were lots of cakes and pies and one year Mrs. Lafe
Frizzell (Dora Bivens) brought the first Angle Food and Devil’s Food
that had ever been seen or heard of in these parts.
She was on a visit to home folks.
In the afternoon there was a ball game and all kinds of horse
races and foot races. For
the morning program there was always a patriotic address by a visiting
celebrity, if we could find one, patriotic songs, and recitations by
the school children.
mother always waked us in the morning with a bunch of fire crackers in
a dish pan. The lunch was packed in the wash boiler and stored under the
back seat of the spring wagon, for the trip to the grove. The first celebrations I remember were held in Greenlands
grove, later they were mostly held in Walter’s grove.
of old times and of old time Fourth of July celebrations may cause us
to ponder whether we aren’t losing sight of some of the virtues that
helped make American great. The
pride in our Country and her history that inspired their children, the
rugged self reliance and independence that tamed a wilderness, the
simple faith and trust that were a heritage from our Pilgrim
forefathers are perhaps needed more than every amid today’s confused
seekers after truth may be able to rediscover and revive them.
RICHARD R. GREENLAND
came from the anthracite coal regions of Pennsylvania to Omaha in the
summer of 1873. In the
spring a man named Simpson and I came to what is now Kent, Loup
County. The only
inhabitants at that time were the elk, deer, and the wolf.
The buffalo trails were plain but they were gone.
I prempted a claim here and more settlers came that spring.
sickness and loss of funds I had to abandon my claim.
I went back to Omaha where I became acquainted with Mr. Paxton
who had a big cattle ranch on the North Platte River, North of
Ogallala. I went to work
for him in the spring of 1877. He claimed thirty miles of the north side of the Platte.
He had a ranch at each end and three corrals, a horse ranch at
the east end on the south side where horses ranged during the winter.
They kept about 20 thousand head of cattle and branded about
four thousand calves a year.
cattle were range herded on the owners range during the summer.
In the fall and winter they would go where they pleased. They never crossed the river unless forced on account of the
width and depth of the river and quicksand.
At that time there were no ranches between the North Platte
River and the Niobrara River, west of the head of the Loup River.
The cattle would drift into this area and winter fine but they
became very wild as they saw no people.
worked for Paxton until 1880, then, I went to work for Pailerson and
Stearns. They had a ranch
on the Dismal. I helped
drive about three thousand head of cattle east of the Black Hills in
the Dakota Territory and they offered me winters work on the ranch
where I took the cattle. I
concluded to come back to Nebraska.
I road down horseback and got to where Blaine County is now,
sometime in November 1880. I
went on down the river to below Taylor and visited with Mr. B. J.
Harvey who was one of the first settlers in Loup County and who later
became my father-in-law.
in the winter of 1881 I came back up the river and went to work on the
Northrup ranch on Hawley Flats and for the Finch-Hattan ranch until
they sold their land and cattle.
Then I went to work for F. A. Lisk.
named five lakes besides Willow,
Enders Lake, I called Spring Lake, Clear Lake, I called Crystal
Lake, Willow Long, Twin, and Skull Lakes still go by the names I first
only name Lisk ever gave to anything was Calf Creek because there was
a creek farther west called Cow Creek.
worked for Lisk from 1881 until the spring of 1884 when I went to work
for Northrups again as foreman. After
the round-up was over about the first of July, I quit Northrups on
account of the sickness of my wife.
I had been married by this time to Mary Harvey of Loup County
and had a little patch of sand of my own on the Buffalo Flats.
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