History of Buffalo County
and Its People
by Samuel Clay Bassett
GIBBON--NAMED IN HONOR OF SEN. JOHN GIBBON, U. S. A.--WILSON AND STAATS THE FIRST SETTLERS--WILSON DROWNED IN THE PLATTE--FIRST DEEDS TO LOTS PROHIBITED THE SALE OF INTOXICATING LIQUORS--I. N. DAVIS DONATED TEN ACRES FOR TOWNSHIP PARK--LIST OF POSTMASTERS--LIST OF PHYSICIANS--FIRST NEWSPAPER, BUFFALO COUNTY BEACON--GIBBON REPORTER--RIVERSIDE CEMETERY--AN INCLINE GRAIN ELEVATOR--THE GIBBON CREAMERY--INCORPORATION OF THE VILLAGE--FIRST BOARD OF TRUSTEES--GIBBON COMMERCIAL CLUB--THE GIBBON CHAUTAUQUA--THE PUBLIC SCHOOL--THE FIRST WINTER TERM OF SCHOOL--WOMAN'S STUDY LEAGUE--GIBBON TOWNSHIP LIBRARY-- BANKS--CHURCHES--FRATERNAL AND BENEFICIARY LODGES.
In the construction of the Union Pacific Railroad a siding was built at this point in 1866 and named "Gibbon Switch." As the editor of this history understands, the name Gibbon was in honor of Gen. John Gibbon, a graduate of the United States Military Academy in 1847. He served in the war with Mexico. Subsequently he was in garrison and on frontier duty against hostile Indians until the outbreak of the Civil war in 1861. For gallant services in battle in the Civil war Captain Gibbon received successive brevet promotions from major to that of major general, U.S. A. Gibbon is located on section No. 13, all of which would have been railroad land had it not been that a man named Wilson "squatted" on what proved to be, when surveyed, the northeast quarter of section 13. From the heirs of Wilson, J. E. Kelsey purchased the squatter's right" and filed thereon a soldier's homestead claim. John Nutter relates the following incident connected with the first family who made settlement where now is the Village of Gibbon: In the year 1865 a man named Wilson "squatted" on a claim, now within the incorporated limits of Gibbon. Here he built a habitation, part dug-out, part logs, and then went to Dobytown, a hamlet two miles west of Fort Kearney, for his family. His family consisted of a wife and several children, some of sufficient age and experience to drive an ox team. He had an ox team, a covered (prairie schooner) wagon and also owned a mule. Loading his family and belongings into the wagon it was arranged that the two older boys should drive the oxen and the father follow, riding the mule. To celebrate their removal to their claim the father indulged in a few drinks and the start was made. The crossing of the Platte was opposite Fort Kearney. It was in the month of June, and, as the saying is, the Platte was running full banks at high water mark. The most difficult and dangerous part of the cross-
HISTORY OF BUFFALO COUNTY
ing was known as "ox channel," it having a deep, swift current and occasional quicksand holes.
Crossing this channel the boys had great difficulty in extricating their ox team from a quicksand hole and in the excitement incident thereto none of the family seem to have thought to look back for the father. When the family had reached land they looked for the father, but could see nothing of either him or the mule and neither of them were seen or heard of since. It is conjectured that the mule encountered a quicksand hole and was drowned and that Mr. Wilson, too drunk to help hemself [sic], drowned as he floated down stream in the turbid, swift flowing waters of the Platte. Jack Staats married Sophia, daughter of Mr. Wilson before mentioned, the families living together. It is related that in the days of the building of the Union Pacific, James E. Boyd claimed nearly everything in sight, there being a story current that he was paid $500 for the privilege of permitting the wood to be cut on Wood River, although he had no rights on any land other than his claim on section No. 14, known as Boyd's Ranch. When the Staats and Wilson families squatted on their claim Mr. Boyd rode down and ordered them to leave. When Staats refused, the story as related is, that Boyd started to draw his gun, but Staats being the quicker, shot Boyd through the hand and would have killed him had not Boyd immediately left.
The names of Staats and Wilson appear in the list of tax payers in the county in the year 1867.
The Village of Gibbon had its beginning in April, 1871, on the arrival of the soldier's free homestead colony, and in the history of the colony, elsewhere given, appears much of the early history of the village.
The records disclose that the original townsite of the Village of Gibbon--the southwest quarter of section 13, township 9, range 14 west--was purchased of the Union Pacific Raiload Company, consideration, $600.
The townsite was surveyed by C. Putnam. The owners of the townsite donated one block for a public school site, one block for a courthouse site and a site for a church building.
The first deed to a lot in the Village of Gibbon was given I. D. LaBarre and signed by John Thorp, George Gilmore, Jane Gilmore. In the deed given for this lot is the following condition:
"If the said I. D. LaBarre shall sell, keep, give away or permit to be sold, kept or given away any malt, spirituous or vinous liquors on the premises, or shall keep, sell or give away or allow to be kept, sold or given away any medicated liquors, styled bitters, to be used as a beverage, then this conveyance to be void; otherwise in full force and effect.
"Dated May 6, 1872."
As a matter of history it may be well to add that the foregoing provision in this deed and others of like nature were openly and notoriously violated by the sale of so called "bitters," which served every purpose of intoxicating liquors.
I. N. Davis donated to the Town of Gibbon ten acres of land within the incorporated limits of the village for a public park and which has been improved and is a source of great pleasure to the entire community.
In the early history of the village there was a story current that the junction of the Burlington Railway with the Union Pacific could have been secured at
HISTORY OF BUFFALO COUNTY
this point had the owners of the Gibbon townsite been willing to donate liberally of the lands of the townsite. Those who read of "The Founding of Kearney Junction" in this history will be convinced that the junction point of the two railroads was determined before members of the homestead colony had filed upon claims, before, in fact, there was any certainty that here would be a village. The original owners of the townsite of Gibbon, as well as a large majority of the members of the colony, were temperance people, opposed to the sale of intoxicating liquors, and deeds to the first lots sold in Gibbon contained provisions that no intoxicating liquors should ever be sold on the premises. It was nearly twenty years before a saloon license was issued in the village.
A postoffice was established soon after the arrival of the colony, L. D. George,postmaster, the salary $12 a year, the office being kept in the store of Mr. George. In the order named the postmasters who have served at Gibbon have been I. D. LaBarre, A. J. Price, S. C. Ayer, M. D. Marsh, H. H. Haven, C. Putnam, J. E. Kelsey, J. B. Ring, D. P. Ashburn, H. N. Miller, W. A. Rodgers, R. A. St. John, H. J. Dunkin. In 1914 the salary of the postmaster was $1,500; the revenue from the office, $3,600.
In the life of the village the following are the names of those physicians and surgeons who have in largest measure and for longest periods of time practiced their profession and ministered to the bodily ills of the people of the community: I. P. George, D. H. Hite, S. D. Steere, Josiah Slick, J. C. Carson, L. B. Hill, J. W. Miller, R. S. McLain.
A station agent, like a postmaster, is a most useful official in the life of a village, and in this respect Gibbon has been well served by efficient, public spirited men who took an active interest in the life and activities of the village. James Ogilvie served from the establishment of the station in 1871 to his death in February, 1881. Following Mr. Ogilvie came D. F. Ingles, who served until 1895. Our genial agent, E. S. Harte, has completed (1915) twenty years of service and the patrons of the office hope that twenty years hence he will still be selling tickets, checking baggage, receiving and forwarding freight and serving as a member of the school board.
In July, 1872, was issued the first copy of the Buffalo County Beacon, A. J. Price, editor. There was scant support for a local newspaper at that date and in March, 1873, the subscription list and good will were sold to Webster Eaton, proprietor of the Central Nebraska Press, published at Kearney. When the Nebraska Baptist College was established at Gibbon in 1882 Rev. J. M. Taggart established the Buffalo County Beacon of that date, the hand press and type being from a printing outfit brought into Nebraska Territory in the early '50's. Both Mr. Taggart and Rev. G. W. Read served as editors until 1884, when the plant was purchased by S. C. Bassett, who within the year sold to F. C. Hitchcock, and in a short time the Beacon became the property of W. H. Carson, a practical newspaper man. In 1890 the Gibbon Printing Company purchased the Beacon plant and the publication was continued until 1900, when the entire plant was sold to E. C. Krewson and removed to Elm Creek. In 1890 W. H. Carson began the publication of the Gibbon Reporter, which in 1901 was purchased by R. A. St. John, who has since been its editor and publisher.
In 1915 Eugene Wiggins was still connected with the Reporter. "Gene," as
HISTORY OF BUFFALO COUNTY
his friends (and everybody is his friend) lovingly call him, first began his newspaper career at Gibbon at some dim and distant date in the last century, when the Union Pacific was a one-track road, long before the telephone and motor cars came into use, long years before a postmaster who believed in the principles of the democratic party was permitted to read, the postal cards and distribute mail to the people of Gibbon and vicinity. Faithful "Gene;" when the next century shall be with us may you still be setting type, making up forms and writing the subscription list of the local newspaper.
In the year 1876 was organized the Riverside Cemetery Association, the first of its kind in the county. Those most active in its organization were D. P. Ashburn, James H. Davis, James Ogilvie, C. Putnam, A. Eddy, Henry Cook, D. B. Worley, J. J. W. Place.
The cemetery was located on the pre-emption farm of D. P. Ashburn, six acres being donated by Mr. Ashburn. The grounds were surveyed and platted, free of expense, by C. Putnam. About the year 1890 the cemetery was taken over by Gibbon Township, township trustees elected at the annual township meeting and a township tax levied for its support, this being the first township cemetery in the state and also one of the first to make provision whereby the township, for a consideration, contracted to perpetually care for a cemetery lot.
Riverside Cemetery, located on the banks of Wood River, a "city of the dead," is a beautiful spot, at all times well cared for.
In 1879 grain began to be shipped in considerable quantities, the first elevator being built and operated by D. P. Ashburn. In delivering grain at this elevator the wagon was drawn up an incline plane by means of a rope, pulley and team to the top of the elevator, where the loaded wagon was dumped. About 1881 a more modern elevator was erected on the site of the present (1915) Hoard Elevator. In 1915 Gibbon had two grain elevators with a capacity of about seventy thousand bushels.
In the year 1881 D. P. Ashburn built and operated the Gibbon Creamery. This creamery was one of the first established in Central Nebraska. It was operated on the "cream gathering" plan and was successful and profitable until other like creameries and a cheese factory were established, dividing the patronage, which extended over a considerable extent of territory, until all ceased operations for want of support.
Permission to incorporate the Village of Gibbon was granted by the county board of supervisors January 14, 1885. The members of the first board of trustees were D. M. Fulmer, D. Carson, F. C. Hitchcock, George E. Evans, H. H. Havens.
In 1907 the village installed a waterworks plant, bonds to the amount of $15,000 being voted.
In 1908 a private corporation installed an electric light plant, the capital stock of the corporation being $10,000, furnishing light for the village and also individual customers.
An event of more than ordinary interest in the life of the village was the erection, in the year 1892, of the Babcock (L. J. Babcock) Opera House and the J. W. Harrel building, the first brick buildings to be erected in the village. The formal opening of the opera house was on October 26, 1892. The program
HISTORY OF BUFFALO COUNTY
consisted of music, recitations and addresses. Those taking part were: Invocation, Rev. George VanWinkle; music, Mrs. H. F. Flint, Mrs. C. M. Beck, Mrs. R. E. Rogers, Messrs. Hayward, J. N. Ashburn, I. A. and J. C. Kirk; recitation, Misses Jennie Rodgers, Mary Brady, Rosa Ogilvie and Mrs. I. W. Perdue; addresses, D. P. Ashburn, F. S. Fulmer, Prof. U. S. Conn, A. M. Eastman, George E. Evans, C. Putnam, S. C. Bassett. The reception committee was composed of S. H. Robb, H. F. Flint, T. J. Mahoney, O. McConnaughey, D. F. Ingles, C. C. Holloway, W. H. Buck, C. M. Beck.
In the year 1909 was organized the Gibbon Commercial Club, its first president being O. K. Campbell and the secretary E. R. Mercer.
In 1909 the club arranged to have held a chautauqua, guaranteeing its financial success. A chautauqua has been held each year since with an average session attendance of about four hundred and fifty, the patronage paying all expenses. The Commercial Club took an active interest in the establishment of the public library, in securing the erection of a more modern depot building, and in the improvement of public roads. In 1915 the president was W. H. Buck and the secretary R. A. St. John.
In the year 1915 the trustees of the village board were Charles L. Wallace, W. H. Buck, B. F. Henline, J. G. DeWolf and George R. Little; W. S. Randall, village clerk; I. A. Kirk, village treasurer.
The people of Gibbon and vicinity have always taken marked interest in their public schools, mention of which efforts, in the earlier years of its history, is elsewhere made. About the year 1880 there was erected a four-room school building and a high school established. In the year 1886 was graduated the first class from the Gibbon High School, the graduates being Emma L. Davis, Nettie N. Morrow, Sue L. Morrow, Rosa E. Ogilvie. In the year 1908 the district erected a fine, up-to-date brick building at a cost of about twenty-five thousand dollars, school district bonds to the amount of $18,000 being issued for the purpose.
In the year 1915 ten teachers were employed and 260 pupils enrolled. The members of the school board were M. D. Marsh, I. A. Kirk, W. M. Ross, W. I. Randall, J. G. Walker, G. C. Lunger.
FIRST WINTER TERM OF SCHOOL IN DISTRICT NO. 2
In the fall of 1871 a schoolhouse was built in School District No. 2. This building was about 22 by 32 feet in size, set on blocks as a foundation, was not banked to keep out the cold of winter and neither lathed nor plastered. In this building a three months' term of school was held in the winter of 1871-72 with S. C. Bassett as teacher.
Blanket Indians of the Pawnee tribe, using bows and arrows, were trapping and hunting along the Platte and Wood rivers that winter and often came near the Village of Gibbon. These Indians often visited the school; that is, without warning some of these Indians would be seen in the school room, at first greatly frightening the children. Such visits seemed to be out of curiosity, the Indians remaining but a brief time, going as quickly and silently as they came.
HISTORY OF BUFFALO COUNTY
The names of the scholars attending that term of school are as follows: Perry, Edward, Nora and Delia, children of Thomas K. Wood; Joanna and Lena Rodig, step-daughters of R. E. L. Willard; Clara, daughter of Capt. J. H. Darby; Edith, daughter of A. D. George; Cora, daughter of I. D. LaBarre; Carrie and Edward, children of George Gilmore; John, son of Charles Walker, living at Fort Kearney Station (now Buda); Zara, son of L. Worthington; Frank and William, sons of A. S. Craig; Allison, son of Dr. I. P. George; Elmer E. and Flora, children of W. H. Sprague; Etta and Ella, daughters of Coe Killgore; John N., son of Wm. Nutter; Alice and Emma, daughters of Jeremiah McKinley; Cora, Flora and Ida, daughters of L. D. George.
(Note-For history of the organization of School District No. 2 see chapter 23.)
WOMAN'S STUDY LEAGUE.
In the year 1905, June 26, was organized the Woman's Study League of Gibbon, the charter members being Mesdames Hattie Ashburn, Lucia M. Bassett, Susie Beck, Flora Buck, Mabel Campbell, Maud Davis, Evalyn De Wolf, Ida Drury, Robbie Dunkin, Flora Fay, Mae Ferguson, Susan Flint, Grace Hershey, John Hershey, Clara Kirk, Rosa Linger, Mary Miller, Pearl Nicholson, Blanche Noble, Jennie Rodgers, Jessie Sargent, Louise Scott, Sybil Walker, Misses Mattie Pierce, Jessie Kean; Mrs. Grace Hershey, president; Mrs. Blanche Noble, vice president; Mrs. Jessie Sargent, recording secretary; Mrs. Jennie Rogers, corresponding secretary; Mrs. Maud Davis, treasurer. In the same year the league joined the State Federation of Woman's Clubs, Mrs. Jessie Sargent attending as delegate.
The league in addition to a course of study for mutual improvement, first agitated the subject of a modern school building, which was erected in 1908 at an expense of $25,000. The league secured the establishment of a public reading and rest room in the town hall and were largely instrumental in the establishment of a public library and the erection of a library building.
In 1915 the league had thirty-five members. The officers were, president, Mrs. Blanche Mickey; vice-president, Mrs. Lillian Webster; treasurer, Mrs. Grace Lunger; corresponding secretary, Miss Fern Leas; recording secretary, Mrs. Pauline Little.
Elsewhere in this history mention is made of the "first library" established in Gibbon. At the close of the Woman's Study League for the year 1909, Mrs. L. M. Beck, president, there remained on hand a surplus of $45, and the league set this sum aside as the beginning of a public library fund, each member of the league pledging to earn $1 during the ensuing year to be added to the fund. This and entertainments given by the league during the year brought their contributions to $245. The Good Samaritans contributed $37, and popular subscriptions by people of the community added $183, making a total of $465.
On May 10, 1910, was organized the Gibbon Public Library Association, the officers and directors being: S. C. Bassett, president; Miss Mattie Pierce, secre-
HISTORY OF BUFFALO COUNTY
tary; Miss Jessie Kean, treasurer; Mrs. J. G. Walker, L. A. Wight, W. M. Ross and W. C. Ogilvie. The Township of Gibbon donated the use of a room in the town hall where the library was installed with Miss Mattie Davis as librarian. In the year 1912, at the annual township meeting, the library was taken over by Gibbon Township and a two-mill levy voted for its support. The first trustees named were W. C. Ogilvie, R. A. Francis, L. A. Wight, Mrs. J. G. Walker, Ray R. Cook, Mrs. J. G. Walker, president. From funds ($6,000) donated by Andrew Carnegie a beautiful library building was erected in 1913 on a site donated by the Village of Gibbon. This was one of the first two township libraries established in the state and the first township library building erected in the state.
The annual report for the year ending June l, 1915, as furnished by Miss Mattie Pierce, librarian, shows:
Number volumes in library .............1,541 Number volumes issued-juvenile .............2,103 Number volumes issued-adults .............3,402 Number readers ............... 690
GIBBON TOWNSHIP LIBRARY
By L. A. Wight
In no institution in our midst do the people of Gibbon seem to take a greater pride than in their Carnegie Public Library. It is housed in one of the finest buildings in the town, practically fireproof. More than 700 readers comprise its list of patrons. Over 1,500 volumes make up its stock of books. On its reading tables may be found a choice selection of the leading periodicals, and besides these there are innumerable pamphlets and Government bulletins. There is also a fine collection of curios and historical relics. The Gibbon library spirit, long standing and determined, far antedates this well-nurtured forerunner of our present tax-supported township library, having come, apparently, with the first settlers of our community, surviving in spite of every adversity and thriving under any show of prosperity until now it takes its full measure of pride in a firmly established and thoroughly prosperous public library. In the early days, soon after the coming of the "colony" in 1871, in spite of adversity and the abounding cares incident upon the conversion of the wilderness into a suitable abiding place for the new community, an unquenchable love of books made itself distinctly manifest, and, in 1872, under the auspices of the Gibbon Library Association, we find a collection of standard books installed in the depot, under the care of Station Agent James Ogilvie. Several of these comparatively ancient volumes may yet be found doing yeomanlike book service beside the best sellers of the present day, and after having passed through the hands of the various educational institutions occupying the old courthouse, they have come finally to an ideal bookhouse in the township library. Inside their covers, modestly hiding behind the book pockets of our present library, may be found the printed rules of this first Gibbon library of 1872.
But these patriarchs of the book shelf are by no means anything like lonely
HISTORY OF BUFFALO COUNTY
"last leaves" on account of their longevity. Crowding around them are hundreds of the newest and the best in literature and the stock is being constantly replenished.
The Gibbon Public Library caters to the needs of the public schools in the township, assisting students in their research work, becoming more and more a fixed department in our public school system.
The love of good books has certainly here a vigorous stimulant, and the Gibbon Public Library has undoubtedly opened upon an exceptionally useful career.
The success and the great measure of usefulness already attained by the Gibbon Public Library is due in large measure to its efficient, progressive and enthusiastic librarian, Miss Mattie Pierce.
In the year 1885 James H. Davis and Horace F. Flint engaged in the banking business with a paid in capital of $20,000, the firm name being James H. Davis & Company. In the year --- [sic] the bank was reorganized as First National Bank with a paid in capital of $50,000. The stockholders were: James H. Davis, Horace F. Flint, L. J. Babcock, Thomas Kirk, S. C. Bassett, John Reddy, W. A. Rodgers. James H. Davis, president; H. F. Flint, cashier. In the year 1892 the bank was reorganized and chartered as a state bank and named Exchange Bank, with a capital stock of $10,000.
In 1915 the bank had a capital stock of $16,000; surplus, $4,000; deposits, $155,000. Officers, H. F. Flint, president; I. A. Kirk, cashier; W. C. Ogilvie, assistant cashier.
In the year 1884, Frank C. Hitchcock, John Silvernail and John P. Hartman established a bank, The Bank of Gibbon, a private affair with F. C. Hitchcock as manager of the business.
In the year 1885 the bank was reorganized with a paid in capital of $5,000; the principal shareholders, Ira Holloway, H. F. Flint, J. P. Hartman, J. H. Silvernail.
The bank was chartered as a state bank under the name, Commercial Bank; for a few months H. F. Flint served as cashier but as finally reorganized the officers were C. M. Beck, president and C. C. Holloway, cashier. In the year 1915 the bank had as capital stock, $5,000; surplus, $3,800; deposits, $97,000. The officers: I. F. Henline, president; B. F. Henline, cashier; C. A. Torrance, vice president; Roscoe Lunger, assistant cashier.
ORGANIZATION OF FIRST BAPTIST CHURCH AT GIBBON
On Tuesday evening, January 16, 1872, Rev. J. N. Webb, general missionary of the American Baptist Home Missionary Society, preached a sermon in the schoolhouse at Gibbon, after which the following named persons organized
HISTORY OF BUFFALO COUNTY
themselves into a church to be known as the First Regular Baptist Church of Gibbon, Buffalo County, Nebraska, adopting as their church government and articles of faith and practice those drawn by J. Newton Brown and published by the American Baptist Publication Society. Ira P. George, Mrs. Ira P. George, Jacob Booth, Mrs. Jacob Booth, C. Putnam, John P. Putnam, W. H. Sprague, Mrs. W. H. Sprague, Henry Winklebeck, George H. Silvernail, Amos D. George and Mrs. Amos D. George. At this meeting Dr. Ira P. George was chosen deacon and C. Putnam, clerk.
On Sunday, February 11, 1872, after a sermon by Rev. J. Gunderman, the church granted a license to exercise his gifts in preaching the gospel, to Jacob Booth. On February 25, 1872, the church extended a call as pastor to Rev. J. J. W. Place, which was accepted. Mr. Place served the church, as pastor, until March 8, 1874. After that date the following named served as pastors: Rev. O. A. Buzzell from June 6, 1874, to March 7, 1875; Rev. J. J. W. Place from April 14, 1875 to September 2, 1876; Rev. J. R. Shanafelt from February 1877 to September 2, 1877; Rev. G. W. Read from September 8, 1880 to October 6, 1883; Rev. L. F. Compton from January 1, 1884 to November 8, 1885; Rev. G. W. Willis from November 15, 1885 to December 18, 1887. When the Nebraska Baptist College, which had been established at Gibbon in 1882, was removed to Grand Island, several members of the Baptist Church moved from Gibbon and those members who remained became discouraged because it seemed well nigh impossible to longer carry on the church work. On July 21, 1888, at a meeting held in the Presbyterian Church in Gibbon it was decided to reorganize and form a new church to be named the Baptist Church of Gibbon, Neb. The following named persons wishing to join the new organization, permission was obtained from the original first church by letter: Mr. and Mrs. Applegate, Mr. and Mrs. J. D. Taylor, Rev. and Mrs. G. T. Willis, Rev. and Mrs. D. G. Sturtevant, Rev. A. E. Carson, Mrs. Laura Carson, M. M. Carson, Mrs. S. E. Carson, W. B. Southwell, F. C. Overton, Mrs. A. M. Blue, Miss Lena Carson; on Christian experience, Mrs. M. M. Ingham; from the First Baptist Church, Ottawa, Kan., A. B. Carson; by letter from the First Baptist Church of Kearney, Neb., Mr. and Mrs. O. McConnaughey, Misses Thena and Hattie McConnaughey, Mr. and Mrs. D. Carson, H. F. .Carson, Miss Nettie Carson. The church voted to call as pastor Rev. Joseph Smith, who served as pastor one year. During this period work was begun on a brick church in size 35 by 46 feet; this church was completed at a cost of $4,500, and dedicated, free of debt on June 20, 1890. Following the pastorate of Rev. Joseph Smith the following pastors have served the church: J. H. Veder, George Vansickle, A. E. Carson, A. T. Norwood, C. P. Kirby, J. W. Graves, F. D. Kennedy and in 1910, U. G. Miller; R. Richards and M. C. Powers, 1912.
ORGANIZATION OF THE FIRST PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH IN BUFFALO COUNTY
The organization of the Presbyterian Church of Gibbon as appears from the church records was as follows:
"Church organization at Gibbon, Neb.
"This place was visited by Rev. George R. Carroll, district missionary of the
HISTORY OF BUFFALO COUNTY
Presbyterian Board of Home Missions for Western Iowa and Nebraska, January 22, 1872. Some families were visited during the day and brief services were held at the schoolhouse (Gibbon) in the evening. On the following day after visiting and consultation with friends interested, it was thought best to proceed at once to the organization of a church. Accordingly at 4 o'clock P. M., January 23, 1872, the people came together and after reading the scripture with remarks appropriate to the occasion and prayer for the Divine blessing the following paper with names attached was read."
The paper referred to was a statement in favor of organizing a Presbyterian Church in this place (Gibbon) to be in connection with the general assembly of the Presbyterian Church of the United States of America.
The charter members signing this paper were D. P. Crable, Mrs. M. J. Crable, F. A. Schweinsbury, Mrs. C. Willard, Mrs. Mary Brady, D. B. Worley, Simon V. Seeley, Mrs. Martha O. Seeley, Henry Fairchild, Mrs. Emma Fairchild, and Miss Joana Rodig. D. B. Worley and Simon V. Seeley were duly elected and ordained as elders and the following resolution adopted:
"Resolved: That this church be called the Presbyterian Church of Gibbon, and that we request the presbytery of Missouri River to receive us as a church under its care."
As appears from the records the following persons became members of this church during the years 1873 and 1874: James E. Judd, Mary A. Judd, T. Dwight Thatcher, Flora M. Thatcher, Harriett M. Brown, Mary E. Marvin, Miss Adelia A. Putnam, James Ogilvie and Margaret Ogilvie, and on January 25, 1874, James Ogilvie and Henry Fairchild were elected and ordained elders. In 1873 was erected the first church building in Buffalo County. This church was erected by contributions from members of the church, citizens of Gibbon and vicinity and with funds furnished by the board of church extension of the Presbyterian Church.
The building was a wooden frame veneered with brick, and was built by H. B. Dexter who also was the builder of the first courthouse in the county. Rev. Charles S. Marvin, a Presbyterian missionary, who was pastor of the church for some years, beginning in January, 1873, was largely instrumental in securing the erection of the building, spending much time and effort and contributing liberally of his limited means. The first service held in this church was on March 23, 1873, conducted by Rev. Charles S. Marvin. This building was also used by the Methodist and Baptist Church organizations. The district missionaries and pastors in charge of this church are as follows, the date given being that of the beginning of their respective terms of service: Rev. George R. Carroll, June, 1872; Rev. C. S. Marvin, January, 1873; Rev. J. H. Rainard, April, 1878; Rev. Thomas Blayne, March, 1879; Rev. Arthur Folsom, November, 1882; Rev. C. G. A. Hullhorst, March, 1885; Rev. Julian Hatch, January, 1894; Rev. C. F. Graves, 1896; Rev. Fred C. Phelps, 1897; Rev. J. L. Atkinson, 1898; Rev. F. A. Mitchell, April, 1898; Rev. John Steele, June, 1903; Rev. M. O. Reynolds, March, 1904; Rev. R. L. Purdy, 1909; Rev. E. F. Hammond, 1913.
It is related in the early history of the Presbyterian Church at Gibbon, owing to removal of members and from other causes the membership became small and but little interest manifested, that the presbytery had in mind to abandon
HISTORY OF BUFFALO COUNTY
the church organization, there being at the time no resident pastor. The tradition is that Mrs. Margaret Ogilvie, Mrs. Mary Traut and Mrs. N. I. Morrow, all widows, attended the session of the presbytery and urged that the church organization be not abandoned; their petition and prayer was granted and from that date the church organization seemed to take on new life and enter upon a larger sphere of usefulness. The membership increased and in the year 1909 the original "First Church in the county" was razed to the ground and a beautiful and commodious building, one of the finest in the county erected at a cost of approximately twelve thousand dollars.
GIBBON METHODIST EPISCOPAL CHURCH
A history of the Methodist Church at Gibbon quite properly begins with mention of Rev. J. Marsh who may appropriately be called the "Father" of the church both at Gibbon and the surrounding community. Mr. Marsh and family came to Nebraska from Erie County, Pa., in 1873 and took as a homestead claim on section No. 4 in Gibbon Township.
He at once entered into both the spirit and the work of organizing and building up the Methodist Church, consecrating his life and all his energies in the cause; in this cause he labored for years far beyond his strength and received but little in the way of financial remuneration. On horseback he rode the prairies in all directions, in summer's heat and winter's cold, having, one sole object in view, his Master's work and the building up of the Methodist Church.
It appears that under Rev. Wm. Morse's administration no church or class records were kept and to Rev. J. Marsh is due the credit of the brief written history of the organization of the Methodist Episcopal Church at Gibbon and of the classes organized in the vicinity.
From the church records of the Methodist Episcopal Church at Gibbon, is copied the following history of the organization of the church as written by Rev. J. Marsh: "This church record was secured by Rev. A. G. White (presiding elder of Kearney district), for Gibbon charge in 1874.
"Gibbon the previous years with Kearney Junction but this year (1874) Gibbon circuit was formed with the following appointments: Gibbon, Erie, Wood River and Prairie Creek with J. Marsh as pastor, transferred Erie (Pa.) to the Nebraska conference the same year.
"The Gibbon and Erie classes were formed by Rev. Wm. Morse of Wisconsin Conference in 1872. Wood River and Prairie Creek classes were regularly organized in 1873 by J. Marsh then a supernumerary of Erie (Pa.) Conference, though there had been a class temporarily formed by Brother Fairchild, but no record being found, the class was organized as above.
"At the foundation of Gibbon charge the entire membership numbered about eighty." "Signed, J. MARSH."
The writer is of the opinion that in the above statement, "At the foundation of Gibbon charge the entire membership numbered about eighty," that this included the members of classes at Erie, and Prairie Creek as well as at Gibbon. The records disclose that Rev. J. Marsh was returned to the Gibbon charge for 1875-76, and that there were about fifty conversions. Rev. Charles Riley was
HISTORY OF BUFFALO COUNTY
pastor in charge for the year 1876-77, Rev. J. Marsh being returned to the charge for the year 1877-78.
Rev. A. H. Summers was pastor in charge for the years 1879-80, and during this period it seems steps were taken to build a church building at Shelton, which up to that time seems to have been a part of the Gibbon charge. The Shelton church was completed in the year 1880.
It appears that Rev. J. Marsh was returned to the Gibbon charge in September, 1880, and continued until September, 1882. It was during this period that the church at Shelton was completed. It appears that during his last pastorate at Gibbon Rev. J. Marsh preached at Gibbon, at Buckeye Valley, Box Elder Valley and had regular appointments at three other schoolhouses. Rev. C. A. Mastin came to the Gibbon charge in September, 1882, and remained until September, 1885. It was during the pastorate of Rev. C. A. Mastin that the Methodist Church erected their first church building in Gibbon. This church was dedicated March 4, 1883, by Presiding Elder T. B. Lemon. At the dedication a subscription of $1,200 was raised to pay off all indebtedness. For the building of this church great credit is due Samuel B. Lowell and wife for financial assistance. It was during Mr. Mastin's pastorate that Charles E. Fulmer was licensed to preach and assigned to the Sharon charge, which had been a part of the Gibbon charge. The church building, erected in 1883, was struck by lightning in 1899. It is related that no great effort was made to put out the fire, the pastor in charge saying in substance, "Let it burn; we need a new church anyway." Another church building was erected on the same lots in 1900.
As no charter membership list is available, there is herewith given the list of members of classes at Gibbon, Erie and schoolhouse or School District No. 5, as appear in the class records prepared by Rev. J. Marsh. No date is given in the record, but it is assumed it was for the year 1874:
Class No. 1, Gibbon, Helim Thompson, Leader.--Helim Thompson, Julia Thompson, Aaron Ward, Mrs. Sarah Ward, Elizabeth Cherry, Charles E. Brayton, Mrs. Charles E. Brayton, Lemuel S. Hough, W. H. Wheeler, Jane Wheeler, Mrs. S. A. Jackson, Jerusha Marsh, Milton D. Marsh, J. Eugene Marsh, R. Luvern Marsh, Henry H. Haven, Mrs. Henry H. Haven, Mrs. Ann Glanville, J. B. Wheeler, George Gilmore, Jane Gilmore, Cora LaBarre, Pauline Wheeler, Monroe D. Breed, Rhoda Breed, Mrs. Mary Day, Mary E. Fee, Minerva Rice, Isaac D. LaBarre, Mrs. Mary LaBarre, Alva G. H. White, Henry J. Dunkin, Thomas J. Mahoney, Mrs. Laura Mahoney.
Class No. 2, Erie Schoolhouse, John K. Lux, Leader.--Samuel B. Lowell, Samuel R. Traut, Caroline Barrett, Clark Washburn, James H. Mills, Julia A. Washburn, John K. Lux, Valentine Armbus, Albert Washburn, John Smith, Nancy Fox, Mrs. Caroline C. Lowell, Mrs. S. R. Traut, Jane Barrett, Benjamin Whittaker, Susan M. Mills, Samuel T. Walker, Mrs. C. M. Lux, Olive Armbus, Sarah J. Washburn, Sarah T. Smith, Nancy Rollston, Abram Barrett, Sarah J. Barrett, Libbie Lowell, Mary Whittaker, Lois N. Ayer, Martha Walker.
Class No. 1, No. 5 Schoolhouse, Sydney A. Barrett, Leader.--Sydney A. Barrett, Margaret Graham, Eugenia R. Silvernail, John Lucas, Stephen L. Lucas, Nora M. Graham, Cora J. George, Truman J. Hubbard, Cora Hubbard, Delia A. Barrett, C. T. Silvernail, Fred Silvernail, Matilda Lucas, Wesley G. Walker,
HISTORY OF BUFFALO COUNTY
H. M. Chamberlain, Ida George, Jeanett Hubbard, Dorah Hubbard, Edward Graham, Abigal Silvernail, William Roach, Caroline Roach, John H. Graham, Flora A. George, George H. Silvernail, Marcia Silvernail, Hannah T. Walker
Class No. 2, No. 5 Schoolhouse, Nelson W. Short, Leader.--Nelson W. Short, Martha J. Davis, Terry E. Davis, Emory D. Hubbard, Jeanett Losee, Martin Oard, Lucy A. Rosseter, Nancy M. Short, Lora E. Davis, William C. Wheeler, Frank Hubbard, Robert H. Hick, Hannah Oard, Walter George, Perce T. Davis, Esther Davis, Wilson J. Marsh, Warren A. Losee, Neta Hick, Shelburn Rosseter.
Pastors Methodist Episcopal Church, Gibbon.--William Morse, 1872-73; J. Marsh, 1874-76; Charles Riley, 1876-77; J. Marsh, 1877-78; A. H. Summers, 1879-80; J. Marsh, 1880-82; C. A. Mastin, 1882-85; M. G. Vessels, 1885-86; O. R. Beebe, 1886-89; Price A. Crow, 1889-91 ; James Leonard, 1891-92; Erastus Smith, 1892-94; A. B. Chapin, 1894-95; A. W. Coffman, 1895-98; G. F. Cook, 1898-1901; George H. Jones, 1901-02; T. M. Ransom, 1902-05; A. J. Clifton, 1905-08; R. H. Link, 1908-09; A. Gilson, 1909-13; W. E. Henry, October, 1913- November, 1913; O. E. Johnson, 1914-
St. Agnes' Chapel (Episcopal) was organized by Reverend Doctor Oliver about the year 1890, with twelve charter members, among whom can be recalled Mrs. M. H. Noble, Mrs. R. J. S. McCallum, Mrs. G. W. Cherrington, Mrs. Doctor Dalrymple, Emma Masters.
It is related that a friend of the Episcopal Church, living in an eastern state, gave to the diocese a block of. lots in the Village of Gibbon. These lots, with the exception of one on which the present (1915) church building stands, were sold and the proceeds used by Bishop Graves in the erection of a church building, the people of Gibbon and vicinity contributing towards the expense, Bishop Graves himself contributing liberally. The church building was erected about the year 1892.
The church has had no resident pastor, being supplied from pastors residing at Kearney and Grand Island.
In 1915 the church had a membership of nine.
The St. Agnes' Guild was organized July 21, 1909, with a charter membership of nine. The first officers were: Mrs. Roy Smith, president; Mrs. R. Carson, vice president; Mrs. H. E. Hershey, secretary; Mrs. E. Tunks, treasurer. 1915 the guild had a membership of seventeen. The officers: Mrs. R. Carson, president; Mrs. I. A. Kirk, vice president; Mrs. D. Dwiggins, secretary; Mrs. E. R. Mercer, treasurer.
WOMAN'S CHRISTIAN TEMPERANCE UNION
A local organization of the Woman's Christian Temperance Union was instituted at Gibbon July 2, 1905, with eighteen charter members. The first officers were: Mrs. Ada Codner, president; Miss Ella Codner, secretary; Mrs. H. J. Dunkin, treasurer.
HISTORY OF BUFFALO COUNTY
In 1915 the officers were: Mrs. G. W. DeWolf, president; Mrs. Delia Cory, vice president; Mrs. Minnie Henson, secretary; Miss Mattie Davis, treasurer.
GIBBON LODGE NO. 37, I. O. O. F.
Of the fraternal orders one of the first, if not the first, to be instituted in the county was Gibbon Lodge No. 37, I. O. O. F., on May 30, 1873. The instituting officer was Grand Secretary John J. Evans, and the place of meeting the audience room in the newly completed courthouse. The date first fixed to organize the lodge was April 15th, but when that date arrived the memorable and historic blizzard of April, 1873, was raging, making it impossible to hold meetings of any kind, and a later date was taken. The charter members were: John W. Wiggins, Robert Haines, Sergt. Michael Coady, Vernon T. Mercer, Henry L. Newell and Henry C. Green. The first applications for membership: A. J. Oviatt, H. D. Mercer, D. P. Crable, S. Rosseter, O. E. Thompson, R. E. Barney, I. D. Evans, G. S. Fox, Joseph Owen and I. D. Labarre.
The first officers: N. G., John W. Wiggins; V. G., Vernon T. Mercer; K. S., Henry C. Green; P. S., Robert Haines; T., Michael Coady.
During the grasshopper raids in 1875-76 this lodge received and distributed $1,000 among those of its members needing financial assistance.
In 1915 the lodge had a membership of eighty-five. Its chief officers: N. G., John Bauer; V. G., H. G. Silvernail; Sec., Earl G. Tunks.
The first Masonic lodge organized in the county was at Gibbon in the year 1873. The meeting was held in the newly finished courthouse. The name of the lodge was Robert Morris No. 46, C. Putnam being W. M.
In the year 1875 this lodge was relocated at Kearney, where it still is in existence.
On February 14, 1889, was instituted Granite Lodge No. 189, with a charter membership of twenty-three and the following officers: Joseph C. Carson, W. M. ; James H. Davis, S. W.; Sherman D. Frederick, J. W.; J. E. Williams, secretary. In 1915 the membership was fifty-five. The officers: J. N. Ashburn, W. M.; C. P. Miller, S. W.; C. A. Gordon, J. W.; I. A. Kirk, secretary.
GIBBON CAMP NO. 708, M. W. A.
Gibbon Camp No. 708, M. W. A., was organized August 31, 1888, with twenty-one charter members. The officers: R. S. Woolley, V. C.; M. H. Noble, W. A.; W. H. Buck, clerk; W. C. Drury, escort; G. W. Cherrington, watchman; M. DeWyant, sentry; Thomas Kirk, H. P. Smith, J. H.Murnen, managers; M. D. Marsh, banker; Dr. E. Henderson, S. C. Bassett, delegates.
In 1915 the camp had a membership of 102. The officers: T. B. George, V. C.; E. F. Wiggins, W. A.; C. L. Wallace, clerk; W. C. Ogilvie, banker.
WILD ROSE CAMP NO. 38, ROYAL NEIGHBORS OF AMERICA
Wild Rose Camp No. 38, Royal Neighbors of America, was organized at Gibbon, August 16, 1893, with twenty-six charter members. Its officers: Carrie
HISTORY OF BUFFALO COUNTY
M. Marsh, oracle; Martha Woolley, vice oracle; Mattie Pierce, recorder; Frank V. Avery, treasurer. In 1915 the camp had a membership of forty-one. Its officers: Flora Weller, past oracle; Anna George, oracle; Tillie Thomas, vice oracle; Pauline Little, chancellor; Carrie M. Marsh, recorder; Eliza B. Huett, receiver.
G. K. WARREN POST NO. 113, G. A. R.
G. K. Warren Post No. 113, Grand Army of the Republic, was organized August 12, 1882, with the following as charter members: M. V. B. Chapman, H. H. Haven, James H. Davis, U. A. Day, S. A. Berry, S. C. Bassett, D. Tague, T. J. Mahoney, Simon Uhrig, A. Watenpaugh, Dr. Josiah Slick, James Mills, Nelson Schooley, Col. W. T. Beatty, Wm. H. Kelly, Stephen Jones, W. B. Southwell, John Stern, Abram Thompson. Commander of post, M. V. B. Chapman; adjutant, S. C. Bassett.
During the life of the post the membership reached fifty. The post owns a burial lot in Riverside Cemetery. In the year 1915 the membership of the post was five. Sixty-nine soldiers are buried in Riverside Cemetery, each grave marked with a headstone and each grave cared for at the expense of the Town of Gibbon.
Officers, 1915: S. C. Bassett, commander; Chester Holloway, adjutant.
G. K. WARREN W. R. C. NO. 159
G. K. Warren W. R. C. No. 159 was instituted August 13, 1892, with a charter membership of twenty-eight. Officers: President, Mary E. Mahoney; S. V, Lucia M. Bassett; J. V., Kate Blanchard; secretary, Frances Sturdevant; treasurer, Mary Robb.
In the year 1915 the corps had a membership of eighty. Officers: President, Blanche McConnaughey; S. V., Louise Gibson; J. V., Lizzie Foxworthy; secretary, Jennie Rodgers; treasurer, June Bassett.
The corps under the leadership of its first president, Mary E. Mahoney and later under the presidency of Mrs. Ellen Holloway was largely instrumental in having erected, during the years 1894-96, at an expense of approximate $1,500, a soldiers' granite monument in Riverside Cemetery.
GIBBON LODGE NO. 35, A. O. U. W.
Gibbon Lodge No. 35, A. O. U. W., was organized March 28, 1884. Charter members: D. P. Ashburn, L. J. Babcock, S. C. Bassett, H. H. Clark, H. J. Dunkin, George E. Evans, H. F. Flint, J. O. Filer, J. W. Harrel, H. H. Haven, L. B. Hill, D. F. Ingles, Stephen Jones, M. D. Marsh, A. F. Ring, M. W. Winchester, A. Watenpaugh. Officers: P. M. W., S. C. Bassett; M. W., D. P. Ashburn; recorder, M. D. Marsh; financier, L. J. Babcock.
In the year 1915 the membership is 132. Officers: E. E. Thompson, M. W; R. S. Woolley, recorder; M. D. Marsh, financier.
HISTORY OF BUFFALO COUNTY
MARY TATE LODGE NO. 52, D. OF H.
Mary Tate Lodge No. 52, Degree of Honor, was instituted March 28, 1893, with a charter membership of eighty-seven. Officers: P. C. of H., Minnie Smith; C. of H., Lucia M. Bassett; L. of H., Metella Dean; C. of C, Emily Ashburn; Rec., Mattie Davis; Fin., Emma Ring; Treas., Mary Reddy.
In 1915 the lodge had a membership of ninety-two, and insurance certificates in force amounting to $90,000. Officers: P. C., Metella Dean; C. of H., Blanche McConnaughey; L. of H, Love Winchester; C. of C., Pauline Little; Rec., Flora Fay; Fin., Jessie McComb; Treas., Robbie Dunkin.
EXCALIBUR LODGE NO. 138, K. OF P.
Excalibur Lodge No. 138, Knights of Pythias, was Organized at Gibbon, March 24, 1892. The charter members and first officers were: S. D. Frederick, C. C.; G. W. Cherrington, V. C.; Dr. E. L. Robinson, prelate; E. M. Prouty, M. of A.; B. E Vesey, M. of E.; James A. Brady, M. of F.; C. C. Holloway, K. of R.; C. S. Steere, I. G.; A. Bigelow, O.G.; C. W. Preston, C. W. McMullen, B. E. Seaver, W. L. Fox, Fred H. Cosgrove, J. D. Drury, H. W. Brayton.
In 1915 the lodge had a membership of fifty, its officers being: E. S. Harte, C. C.; George Hibberd, V. C.; C. S. Grow, P.; C. A. Webster, M. A.; L. C. Holloway, M. of E.; R. H. Webster, M. of R.; J. D. Drury, K. of R.; Frank Leonard, I. G.; Roscoe Lunger, O. G.
FAITHFUL REBEKAH LODGE NO. 89, I. O. O. F.
Faithful Rebekah Lodge No. 89, I. O. O. F., was instituted July 20, 1893, with a charter membership of twenty-seven. The first officers were: Mary E. Mahoney, N. G.; Phoebe Wiggins, V. G.; Franke Avery, Cor. Sec.; Blanche McConnaughey, Rec. Sec.; Mary Robinson, Treas. In the year 1915 the lodge had a membership of fifty-four. The officers were: Emma Taylor, N. G.; Lilian Jones, V. G.; Lyllian Webster, Sec.; Mae Strong, Treas.; Olive Miller, Past N. G.