History of Buffalo County
and Its People
by Samuel Clay Bassett
THE PUBLIC SCHOOL--THE COLONISTS AND THE PUBLIC SCHOOL--COLONISTS LIVING IN THE CARS ORGANIZE A SCHOOL DISTRICT--COUNTY SUPERINTENDENT--STATEMENT OF C. PUTNAM MADE FOR RECORD--ORGANIZATION OF SCHOOL DISTRICTS--ERECTION OF SCHOOLHOUSES--REPORT OF COUNTY SUPERINTENDENT, JANUARY, 1872--LIST OF LICENSED TEACHERS, 1871-76.
THE COLONISTS AND THE PUBLIC SCHOOL
That the members of the colony, were home builders in all that the term implies is possibly best illustrated by the prompt action taken in the organization of school districts, the building of schoolhouses and the opening of public schools. The records of school district No. 2 (Gibbon) under date of April 15, 1871, read in part as follows:
"At a school meeting duly noticed, held by the inhabitants of Gibbon for the election of officers and the transaction of such other business as might be brought before the meeting, the proceedings were as follows:" The proceedings further set forth that "At a previous assemblage of said inhabitants for the purpose of attending to the school interests of Gibbon and vicinity, a committee consisting of C. Putnam, J. N. Allen and Aaron Ward had written the state superintendent of public instruction for a copy of the school law of the State of Nebraska and such other personal instruction as was necessary for the proper organization of a school district." It appears from the records that no reply had been received from the state superintendent and the meeting adjourned subject to call of the chairman.
Let it be understood that these proceedings had all taken place while members of the colony were living in the cars, when not one of the number was a legal voter, and not one of the number had, as yet, filed upon a homestead or pre-emption claim, and had not been in the state and county of Buffalo one week.
These records further disclose that on April 22, 1871, "At a school meeting duly held by the inhabitants of Gibbon and vicinity for the election of moderator, director and treasurer and other business as follows:" At this meeting (thirteen days after the arrival of the colony) C. Putnam was elected moderator, Aaron Ward, director and F. S. Trew, treasurer. It was voted that $1,000 be raised by public tax to build a schoolhouse and L. D. George, Aaron Ward and D. P. Ashburn were appointed a building committee.
In the 12 by 16 wing of the first dwelling house erected in the Village Gibbon, on the 26th day of June, 1871, a public school was opened, with Mr. Frank Chamberlain as teacher, wages $35 per month.
HISTORY OF BUFFALO COUNTY
The records disclose that the director furnished for use of this school, "One chair, one water bucket, and four seats." Five dollars per month rent was paid for use of the room for school purposes.
In December, 1871, a schoolhouse (22 by 32 in size) was built in this district and furnished with patent seats and a winter term of school held, although the schoolhouse rested on blocks for a foundation, was not banked, and was neither lathed nor plastered. Teachers wages paid, $50 per month.
COUNTY SUPERINTENDENT OF PUBLIC INSTRUCTION
Patrick Walsh had been appointed superintendent of public instruction for Buffalo County, but at a meeting of the county commissioners soon after the arrival of the colony (the meeting of the county commissioners was on April 24, 1871) Mr. Walsh resigned and C. Putnam, a member of the colony was appointed superintendent. At that date no record had been kept in the office of the county superintendent. As a matter of history in which the members of the colony had a direct part and interest, herewith is given a statement, made of record by Mr. Putnam on entering upon his duties as superintendent of public instruction in and for Buffalo County.
"Statement of C. Putnam made for Record.
"I received the appointment of superintendent of public instruction for Buffalo County at the meeting of the commissioners of said county in April (24th) 1871, vice, Patrick Walsh resigned. On being qualified no written record whatever was delivered to me. School district No. 1 was organized, had a schoolhouse (a board and sod shanty) and had had a school and made reports up to April 1, 1871. District No. 2 comprised all of Buffalo County, except the eastern range of townships, and all of Dawson County which county was not then organized.
Mr. Walsh had requested the colony which arrived April 7th to organize into a school district and said colony posted notices according to law, had school meetings at which they elected officers, voted to raise taxes to build schoolhouse, carry on school, etc. On assuming the duties of superintendent of public instruction I had nothing but Mr. Walsh's statement as to the condition of school matters, which was, that district No. 1 was legally organized and that district No. 2 was regularly reported to the superintendent of state of public instruction, and it rested with that district to complete the organization. That there was $205 in the county school fund besides the railroad tax for 1870, which was about $1,500."
ORGANIZATION OF SCHOOL DISTRICTS
In December, 1871, school district No. 1, completed a frame schoolhouse (which at this date, 1916, is still in use) and B. F. Sammons, a member of the colony, taught a term of winter school.
October 2, 1871, was organized school district No. 3. Notice of the call to organize was given D. P. Ashburn, who was elected director of the district. A schoolhouse was erected in this district early in 1872, with a cupola and a
HISTORY OF BUFFALO COUNTY
bell installed--the first school bell in the county--being known for years as the "bell" schoolhouse.
School district No. 4 was organized November 4, 1871, the written notice being delivered to W. H. Kenney. A substantial frame schoolhouse was built in this district early in 1872 and furnished with patent seats. W. H. Kenney was chosen director and taught the first term of school in the district in 1872. School district No. 5 was organized March 16, 1872, official notice being given George H. Silvernail and the first meeting being held at the house of Jacob Booth. R. E. L. Willard was chosen director and a substantial frame schoolhouse--22 by 32 feet in size--built during the summer of 1872. The first term of school was taught by George H. Silvernail, a member of the colony, in the winter of 1872-73.
School district No. 6 was organized March 16, 1872, official notice being given Mr. Smith (George N.), the meeting for organization being held at the house of Mr. Smith. A. H. Brundage was chosen director. A substantial frame schoolhouse was built in this district early in 1872, the first term of school being taught by Mrs. D. D. Smith.
School district No. 7 (Kearney) was organized March 23, 1872, the official notice being delivered to A. Collins and the first meeting held at what was known as "Hotel Collins." James Smith was chosen director. Miss Fannie Nevius taught the first term of school in rented rooms as no schoolhouse was erected until a later date.
School district No. 8 was organized March 27, 1872. Official notice was given George W. Brown and the first meeting held on the open prairie near the residence of Simon V. Seeley. Ezra M. Fargo was chosen director, and early in 1872 a frame schoolhouse, 22 by 32 feet in size with 14 feet studding, erected. The first term of school being taught by Simon V. Seeley.
Excluding district No. 7 (Kearney) these school districts embrace the territory upon which the colonists made settlement and in which they exercised control in the organization of the districts and the erection of the first schoolhouses.
During the years 1871 and 1872, schoolhouses were erected in districts Nos. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 and 8 at an expense of from $1,000 to $1,500 each, bonds for this purpose having been voted. These schoolhouses were furnished with patent seats (seats and desk combined), good stoves, unabridged dictionaries, and in some instances text books had been purchased by the district for the use of the pupils; these schoolhouses were painted, built in a substantial manner and most of them still in use in 1915. In districts Nos. 1, 2, 4, 6 and 8, Sunday school had been organized and held regularly and in these houses there were regular appointments for religious services.
HISTORY OF BUFFALO COUNTY REPORT OF COUNTY SUPERINTENDENT, JANUARY 11, 1872
District No. of children Directors 1 50 H. C. Green 2 29 A.D. George 3 18 D. P Ashburn 4 21 W. H. Kenney 5 23 R. E. L. Willard 6 11 A. H. Brundage 7 36 J. A. Smith 8 36 E. M. Fargo
School district No. 9 was organized June 19, 1872, official notice being sent to John P. Arndt, the first meeting being called at the home of Charles Davis (Elm Creek), D. F. Hood being chosen director.
School district No. 10 was organized July 6, 1872, official notice being served on Henry Fieldgrove and the first meeting held at the home of D. B. Allen. Martin L. Henry was chosen director.
School district No. 11 was organized October 1, 1872, official notice being given John Blanchard, and the first meeting held at the home of Mr. Blanchard. Lloyd D. Forehand was chosen director.
It will be seen that within eighteen months after the arrival of the colony, ten school districts had been organized by County Superintendent C. Putnam, in most of the district schoolhouses erected; also the report of the county superintendent of date January 11, 1872, shows 224 children in attendance at the public schools, in eight of the first organized school districts.
LIST OF LICENSED TEACHERS IN PUBLIC SCHOOLS
1869--Mary Smith-no certificate.
1870--John Fuller-no certificate.
1871--Clara Lew--first certificate, Mrs. Frank L. Chamberlain, Mrs. Wealthy A. Kelsey and B. F. Sammons.
1872--S. C. Bassett, Mrs. F. F. Blanchard, Mrs. E. A. Pember, C. W. Davenport, Miss Ida Troop, Mrs. D. D. Smith, Mrs. W. F. McClure, Miss Martha Davis and Miss Eugenia Silvernail.
1873--Fannie Nevius, S. V. Seeley, Geo. H. Silvernail, Thomas Maloney, B. Grant, I. More, Miss Lu Allison, Sadie Cook, Delia Putnam, Mrs. C. E. Kenney, B. W. Marsh, Lucy Rosseter, Lora Davis, Miss S. A. Washburn, Chas. W. Springer, Miss N. D. Brooks, Miss N. Rosseter, Miss F. Bunnell, J. J. Whittier, W. A. Cook, M. J. Grant, James Steven, W. R. Bacon, Josephus More and H. H. Haven.
1874--C. E. Hanson, John P. Hartman, Mrs. Mary A. Judd, Miss Jennie Giddings, Miss Carrie Giddings, Omer White, Joseph L. Hartman, Dan A. Crowell, J. G. Gossett, J. Jessup, A. P. Smith, Reta Hollenbeck, Miss C. R. Foster, Miss C. J. Brown, Minnie Richardson, Mrs. E. M. Carpenter, Mrs. H. L. Smith, Mrs. M. V. Willard, A. B. Whitney, Mrs. M. E. Bailey, John Hickey, Wm. A. Allen, John Swenson, Ada Bunnell, Mark G. Lee, Thomas Mahoney, Miss M. E. Waggoner and M. D. Marsh.
1875--James Ewing, H. S. Colby, Miss Louise Broderick, Miss Jennie Holmes, Mrs. R. H. Coffman, C. M. Hull, E. A. Hunt, Forest J. Hunt, Mary E. Peck, Mary J. Holmes, Clara E. Samuels, Miss H. C. Ewing, Miss E. M.
HISTORY OF BUFFALO COUNTY
McNew, A. H. Cleveland, J. S. Zerbee, H. B. Gilbert, Geo. D. Aspinwall, W. S. Campbell (first 1st grade certificate issued), B. L. Grant, Homer J. Allen and Miss L. Hall.
1876--H. C. Downer, Emma Morrison, Mrs. N. Humison, Miss Roderick, Miss Adah Seaman, S. B. Grant, Miss Hattie Cook, George Cook, Miss Mary Kraus, Miss Cora LaBarre, Miss Edith George, Geo. W. Hartman, R. H. Pember, Emmet Hunt, F. J. Hunt, Mrs. Arvilla Broderick, Mrs. Emma Treichler, Carrie L. Longstreet, Helim Thompson, Miss Jennie McLouth, Miss Maggie Meyers, G. A. Perego, Geo. Furguson, James A. Scott, Mrs. A. L. Austin, Mrs. H. H. Clark, Mrs. A. V. Marble and Jane Arnold.
INCIDENTS IN A WEDDING JOURNEY ACROSS THE PLATTE IN 1869--FORD THE PLATTE AT FORT KEARNEY--TWO PRAIRIE DOGS AND A BOX OF MEDICINE--THE WAGON UPSETS--RESCUE OF THE BRIDE--THE BRIDE'S MOTHER ENJOYS A SMOKE--ALL ENDS WELL.
INCIDENTS IN A WEDDING JOURNEY ACROSS THE PLATTE IN 1869
Mr. Samuel Stearley, a resident of Buffalo County in 1869, furnishes the following interesting account of the fording of the Platte River by a wedding party in 1869: "In the summer of 1869 John Martin and Miss Craig, who lived on the Blue River south and east of Grand Island, wished to get married and in order to do so had to come to Fort Kearney crossing of the Platte and thence east to Wood River Center, where lived Judge Patrick Walsh, who had authority to perform the marriage ceremony. The distance necessary to make this journey was about seventy-five miles. The Platte was very high at this time. Charles Walker, who lived at Kearney station, now Buda, had the contract to freight all Government supplies for Fort Kearney across the Platte and at the time mentioned was engaged in hauling fencing material to fence the Government cemetery near the fort. The wedding party arranged with Mr. Walker to take them across the Platte and about 4 o'clock in the evening John Martin, his sweetheart and intended wife, the girl's mother, Mrs. Craig, also an eighteen months old child belonging to Mrs. Craig, came to cross the river. It was our last trip for the day. I was with the freight outfit and my business was to keep the oxen on the lead team from swinging around the islands or toe heads as we called them. The water was warm and I enjoyed the fun and excitement of fording the Platte. In order to bring Martin and his party across it was necessary to put on a wagon box and crib up the box with fence pickets to set their trunk and roll of blankets on so they would not get wet. The party also had with them two prairie dogs in a box and a box of medicine and these two boxes were put in my charge. There were ten yoke of oxen hitched to the wagon and two horseback riders, one on each side the ox teams. The wedding party was all set, the bull whip cracked and the procession started. I was sitting on the side Of the wagon box with my feet inside and holding the prairie dogs and box of medicine in my lap. We went nicely for half a mile till we came to the deep channel. Then the water went over the wagon box. Our load was so light and the current so strong it turned the wagon, box and all upside down. The result was we were all in the water. When I came up I saw Martin catch his girl and pull for a wagon wheel; next I saw Mrs. Craig come up with her child in her arms, the mother struggling
HISTORY OF BUFFALO COUNTY
for dear life. It fell to me to save her and I held her till Martin could come and get her. The other two men were busy taking care of the oxen and holding them. The trunk and roll of blankets went down the river and one of the bull whackers and myself were detailed to go after them. I want to tell you that was lively work for awhile. When we got back with the trunk and blankets to the north bank of the river the wedding party had all got ashore and Mrs. Craig was sitting on the bank enjoying a, good smoke out of a borrowed pipe. She thanked me very kindly for saving her life, as she was going under the second time when I caught her. This delayed the wedding as everything in the trunk and blankets was wet and as the old lady's tobacco was wrapped up in tl wedding dress the dress was so stained it could not be used for a wedding occasion. Stores were not plenty in those days and the party had to go to Grand Island, twenty-five miles east of Wood River Center, to buy another dress and make it. Some days later Judge Walsh married the happy couple and they went on their way rejoicing.
"About three or four years later I met Mrs. Craig in Grand Island. She called her little boy in off the street and introduced him to me and then told her son that I was the young man who saved his and her life. She then said the only way she could repay me was to give me, for a wife, her last daughter, then about my own age and a very beautiful girl."
In this connection it might be well to state that the Platte opposite the Fort Kearney site is 1½ miles wide from the north to the south bank. This includes islands as well as the channels of the river. These channels have a total width of approximately four thousand three hundred and fifty-four feet, this being length length of the nearest bridge across this river at this point at the present time.
Mr. Dungan, who owns the farm on which the fort was located, states that the old Fort Kearney crossing, commencing on the south side of the Platte started at a point one-half mile west of the fort, taking a northeasterly course, striking the north bank about two miles east of the fort, making the crossing quite three miles in length. It is related that a ferry was operated at one time near this crossing, consisting of a large flat-bottomed scow drawn back and forth by several yoke of oxen.
PIONEER MERCHANDISING IN CENTRAL NEBRASKA--LOCATION AT LOWELL IN 1872 --SETTLEMENT OF SOUTHWEST NEBRASKA--EPIZOOTIC AMONG HORSES--MANY MERCHANTS FAIL--BUYING FURS OF TRAPPERS--FOUR TONS OF BUFFALO HAMS --STRYCHNINE AND STEEL TRAPS FOR TRAPPERS--A MILLION DOLLARS WORTH OF GOODS SOLD IN TWO YEARS.
(Note-This article, prepared by Joel Hull, of Minden, Kearney County, Nebraska, was read at the 1909 celebration of the Fort Kearney National Park Association, June 23-26, and is given place in this history as it truthfully and forcefully presents the experience of such pioneer merchants in Buffalo County as L. D. George and I. D. LaBarre at Gibbon; Oliver Brothers at Wood River Centre (now Shelton); R. R. Greer and James O'Kane at Kearney.--Editor.)
PIONEER MERCHANDISING IN CENTRAL NEBRASKA
By Joel Hull
Merchandising in the pioneer days of Kearney County was a calling requiring great care and alertness to fill the demands made by the torrents of immigrants rushing in to take homesteads, pre-emption and timber-culture claims and to buy railroad lands.
From the present conditions in 1909 of these lands, all fenced, ornamented with rows or groves of beautiful, thrifty trees, owned and occupied by prosperous farmers residing in finely appointed roomy residences of architectural beauty of design, surrounded by shapely, well-designed buildings for the comfort of thrifty domestic animals, one would think that such a rush of immigration would soon be over, and all these lands, of their present beauty and the value of $100 per acre, would be quickly taken. Incredible as it may seem to the present observers of the comfort, profit and happiness now in evidence in this Eldorado, such was not the fact.
In the year 1872, by reason of the location and mapping of the route of the line of railroad by the Burlington & Missouri River Railroad in Nebraska, there came a few venturesome spirits into this territory named Kearney County to the number of thirty-one voters, mostly single men, not one of whom had an inkling of an idea of the value of the lands herein embraced for agricultural purposes, nor of their value for homes and fortunes. These thirty-one voters had made the requisite motions for the county organization of this territory under the name given it by the Legislature, of Kearney County, and after filing their
HISTORY OF BUFFALO COUNTY
petition with the acting governor and their holding an election of a set of county officers, it was by the acting governor (William H. James who was also secretary of state) proclaimed to be a legally organized county, dating from the 20th day of June, 1872.
None of those thirty-one voters had at that date looked at any lands embraced within the limits of the boundaries of the new country south of the line of the sand hills running parallel with the Platte River. Nearly every one laid claims upon even numbered sections east and northeast of Lowell, its county seat, and a few claims on sections west of Fort Kearney Military Reservation adjacent to Kearney City, now commonly known as Doby Town. Not a claim of any kind had been made to any land south of the line of sand hills, and not a building of any kind was erected in the county but those in and about Lowell and Doby Town, except a composite sod and board shanty near the southwest corner of the county, named "Walker's Ranch" located upon the trail from Lowell to Republican City.
Your orator came upon the scene as just portrayed on the 30th day of June 1872, on the tenth day of the legal existence of the county, and found the thirty one voters who had performed the ceremonies of its organization, and besides these thirty-one there were seven women (three of whom were widows) and nine children, making a total population of forty-seven souls. He carefully looked over the prospectus; took into consideration that the Burlington and Missouri River Railroad Company was then building its road at the rate of about a mile a day, and that the great Republican Valley and the Frenchman and Red Willow and numerous other tributaries had been widely advertised in the East as far as Ohio, and that emigrants were then moving in caravans toward those named locations, which were represented as having rich valleys, the streams abounding with choice fish and pure water and whose banks were lined with large timber of various sorts; and that the route of travel was already changing to the old California trail; and that reasonably there would be a demand for their supplies from their nearest railroad station which would evidently be Lowell for a few years.
You have already clearly concluded that it would be nothing less than folly to commence merchandising with a list of customers numbering forty-seven souls, at a time when there were already two merchants, Thomas W. Vallentine and Albion A. Andrews. But there existed the outlook for the traffic with the Republican Valley settlers and I at once seized the opportunity. On the first day of July I bought the Andrews' stock of goods, and on the third day of July the Burlington & Missouri River arrived at Lowell, set off to the side of the track an old box car for a depot. On the fourth I ordered a fresh stock of supplies and the story of pioneer selling of goods commenced. I arranged with Lincoln, Omaha, Council Bluffs and St. Joseph dealers to supply me with goods, and with the Capital Mills at Lincoln to supply flour and meal. Before August 1st my sales averaged over $100 per day, and the demand was so great that in September, from Chicago, I laid in a stock of $33.000 worth of goods in eleven different departments, all bought on credit, having at times barely enough to pay the freight bills, and my trade increased to sales averaging from two hundred to
HISTORY OF BUFFALO COUNTY
three hundred dollars per day, much of which were flour and meal, taking two or three cars a week.
I was a very busy man with seven clerks, but not too busy to observe that this immense traffic had been also discovered by others so that in 1873 Lowell had three general merchandise stores, two drug stores, seven saloons, three hotels, three boarding houses, two doctors, four lawyers. "Old Bill Gaslin" was one of them.
There was a "hot time in the town tonight" every day and night, Sundays included. Money was easy and gamblers plenty. You must not mistake in thinking the merchants had an easy time. Many present remember the panic of 1873 and all have heard something of it. While the panic did not affect this new West in a serious degree, yet in some respects it was felt. In my trade I had occasion to handle commercial paper such as drafts, checks, etc., and at one time I had in my hands three drafts of $500 each drawn by eastern national banks upon their New York depositories all protested for want of funds, confusing my cash arrangements for the instant to such an extent that I had to ask the First National Bank of Lincoln to deposit to my credit, by telegraph, in First National Bank of Chicago, $1,000 to make good deficiencies on overdrafts arising from protested drafts just mentioned. While the panic was raging in the East making bankrupts by the thousands, the West was not seriously concerned.
In 1873 appeared a distemper among horses called "epizootic," which was a panic breeder over these plains. During a period of about two months only a few dozen teams of horses appeared in the lively market of Lowell, succeeding a year or more of the daily arrival of from fifty to one hundred teams from the settlements of the Republican, Solomon, the Smoky and their tributaries. Their horses in considerable numbers died and all were disabled that did not die. To such straits were they reduced that hundreds of teams of oxen were hastily caught up from herds and yoked and driven to market for supplies. Some of those wild steers never had their yokes taken off after starting until they returned home. They were thus enabled to haul about half loads or a little more. While it was hard on the settler it was harder on the merchants. The gamblers and saloonkeepers were horror stricken and left temporarily for greener pastures. Half the merchants failed or closed and the remainder did some tall hopping to make ends meet.
I had several experiences new to me during my two years' merchandising at Lowell. Lowell market had attracted the attention of trappers, many of whom along the upper tributaries of the streams to the southwest, west and northwest of Lowell came here to market their pelts and to lay in supplies. During the furnishing of my share of the customers I heard numerous complaints of the unfair dealing they were receiving at the hands of local dealers. I made it my business to investigate the facts and in so doing actually learned the names of the different pelts and watched the manner of inspection of the grades of the different kinds of furs. A load of pelts came in one day and was by the different dealers inspected and quoted, that is, bids were made for the load amounting to about six hundred dollars. I closely watched their proceedings and found what I believed to be a "ring"--that is a secret agreement among them that the load should be bought by one of them and after the hunters left divided. Just then I
HISTORY OF BUFFALO COUNTY
stepped in and over-bid the gang, first by going through the form of inspection and then making my figures $50 above the best bid so far made. I got the load and supplied their outfit, and was the cause of better prices and a better name for Lowell. I had never handled nor owned a fur pelt before but kept on buying, all of the other dealers wondering what market I was going to find for my furs. One day a gentleman from Buffalo stepped into my store inquiring who had a stock of furs. I showed him mine, made him a price, he bought the lot amounting to over twenty-three hundred dollars, at a profit to me of near two hundred and fifty dollars. It was my first and last venture in furs. I never again bought a pelt.
Other hunters in Kansas were busy in another line of profit. In the winter of 1873 large herds of buffalo appeared and the hunters turned out for a carnival of fun and a bushel of money. Thousands of buffalo were slain, the hams cut out with the skin on them and a load sent to Lowell. It was a new deal, none of the dealers would touch them at any price. I bid 3¼ cents per pound for the load, and upon a further contract to take other loads, I got it. The other loads came also until I had accumulated over four tons of ham. A notice of the fact in a Chicago daily that I could supply large or small orders brought me customers from Ohio, Indiana, Illinois and Iowa for one, two, three or four hams at 10 to 12½ cents a pound, by express C. O. D. and all were closed out at a profit.
In 1874 came a German settler who through agents in Europe contracted for the purchase of railroad lands in Frontier County south of Plum Creek, now called Lexington. He came to Lowell and brought his wealth in the shape of a draft of a Prussian bank upon a New York bank for $1,730 in gold. There was a bank at Lowell at that time but the bank nor any merchant in Lowell dare invest. They had never seen such a thing. He came to me and with the aid of my smattering knowledge of German, and the assistance of the "Mohawk Dutchman" I mastered the meaning of the document, and as the premium on gold was then declining, the day before having been quoted at 8 cents premium, I offered to take the paper at 6 per cent premium, give him all the goods he wanted to buy on it and $600 in cash, the balance on demand at any time after two weeks from date. He was rejoiced, took out about $300 trade and the cash I had on hand I sent the draft to the First National Bank of Chicago which refused to credit any specific amount but forwarded it to New York where it arrived on a day when gold was quoted at 16 per cent premium. My bank account was credited within a week of the date I had taken it for the face plus 16 per cent premium thus clearing 10 per cent on $1,730 besides my profits on the goods sold him. In about four weeks he again appeared, loaded up two wagons with farm implements, food and supplies and took the balance due him in cash, a happy man and came again and again.
I soon learned the kinds of guns mostly used by hunters and made it a point to keep a good supply of ammunition of all kinds used. I also made it a point to have on hand also a large supply of strychnine used largely by hunters. At one time received a supply from the manufacturer of 180 ounces in dram bottles; and steel traps by the dozen of the size mostly in demand by the trappers. I tried to make it an object for settlers, hunters, trappers and all others to come to the metropolis.
HISTORY OF BUFFALO COUNTY
When I came to Lowell there was no Kearney Junction. It had just been platted but not a building of any kind on the plat. Along in the fall the square house used by pre-emptors of section 2, town 8, range 16, was moved upon the street named Wyoming Avenue, now called Central Avenue. In a few days a board shanty was erected for a saloon, those were the first buildings in what is now known as Kearney City.
At the date of my arrival there was no such place as Hastings, but in 1873 the St. Joe & Denver Railroad changed its name and its terminal to St. Joe & Grand Island Railroad, and at its crossing of the Burlington & Missouri, a little town was started and named Hastings. Only an eighty acres was platted at first. The United States Land Office was moved in the spring of 1874 from Lowell to Bloomington. In September, 1874, a new bridge (across the Platte River) was erected at Kearney Junction and a few months later a bridge was completed at North Platte. Lowell was doomed. Your orator saw it. Hastings, Kearney Junction, North Platte, Grand Island were all bidders for the wonderful trade that Lowell had enjoyed in full sway for two years, and I withdrew to my farm and the founding of a new town to become the county seat of this finest county in the state. Kearney County lost its City of Lowell but gained by the founding of a new and larger and better City of Minden.
Buffalo County won the trade at the expense of a new bridge which it built at its own cost and has kept in repair for thirty-five years--whether a profitable deal will be explained by "Bob Greer" who took charge of the customers when I quit.
But 1874 is also an historical year in the fact that in that year and the two succeeding years the locusts came and played havoc with the crops of those new struggling settlers, which plague was finally ended by a fortunate May, 1877, rain, sleet and snow storm, closing with a freeze that utterly destroyed the "hoppers."
Recounting my first advent to this county I now find not one of those thirty-one organizers remaining, but find myself to be the oldest remaining settler of the county. All those who were here when I came are dead or moved away except two old ladies who were here prior to my advent, Mrs. Talbot and Mrs. Paul Peterson.
Upon recapitulation of my merchandising venture July '72 to July '74 I found that I had sold $1,300,000 worth of goods; that my ledger balance showed that I had made a clear profit of $13,000, or just 10 per cent on my sales; dividing that one-half to my father who was my partner, and living expenses of my family for two years, I had enough to erect buildings on my homestead, buy teams and implements and support my family during the grasshopper plague and be just even when the locusts quit.