© MJH for Buffalo County NEGenWeb Project, 2001

History of Buffalo County
and Its People

by Samuel Clay Bassett




    When the Union Pacific Railroad was completed across Buffalo County in the years 1866-67, a station was established and named Elm Creek and D. C. Bond appointed agent. Also at Elm Creek was located an eating house, Charles Davis proprietor, and the emigrant train, carrying passengers, was scheduled to stop twenty minutes for meals at this point. Mr. Davis also kept a saloon and in 1872 an advertisement of his dining hall and saloon appeared in the Buffalo County Beacon, published at Gibbon. Stations were few and far between on the railroad in the early days and travelers who indulged in strong drink embraced every opportunity offered to lay in a supply in bottles and jugs. The presence of liquors on the emigrant train made much trouble for the trainmen, and it is related that the following plan of lessening the evil was adopted at Elm Creek in co-operation between the trainmen and Mr. Davis the saloonkeeper.
    On the arrival of the emigrant train refusal was made to sell liquors in bottles and jugs on the plea that the trainmen objected, but the would be purchasers were informed that if they would quietly wait until the train was due to leave and the trainmen elsewhere employed, they could have all the bottles and jugs of liquors they desired.
    Hence it was at the last moment those who wished loaded up with wet goods. After the train had left for the West it was discovered that the wet goods consisted of cold tea and for a mile or more west of the station the roadside was lined with broken jugs and bottles.
    Among the first to take homestead claims in what is now Elm Creek Township were: A. F. Fraser, T. J. Holt, B. Foot and H. Ryan in 1871 and Fannie Nevius, James Tyler, W. Shreve, R. M. Holt, M. Stout, F. Ryan, D. McAlister, W. S. Leake, J. E. Anderson, P. Hansen, D. T. Hood, W. V. Hoge, J. McKee and J. W. Stevens in 1872.
    A postoffice was established at an early date, D. C. Bond serving as the first postmaster. Wm. Clark for a time handled mail at a location one mile west of the present village, where the first schoolhouse was built and at this point a store flourished for a time.


    John Churchill, who built and conducted the first store on the present village site served as postmaster. The others, as recalled, in their order were: D. I. Brown, Ed Potter, F. M. Barney, Charles Willis, Mark Jones, B. F. Saylor, and Ed Fitzgerald the present (1916) incumbent. The postoffice is of third class, the annual business for the year 1914, approximating three thousand dollars.


    Joseph Owen, an early settler and serving as deputy sheriff of the county in the year 1870, relates that he sold on execution, at Elm Creek, on the 10th of November, 1870, 460 cords of four-foot wood, at prices ranging from six to nine cents per cord.
    Mr. Owen states that the price at which the wood sold was just sufficient to satisfy the judgment and costs.
    A memorandum in Mr. Owen's possession discloses the names of parties purchasing and the price paid:

D. C. Bond, 70 cords at 9 cents ........
Charles Davis, 180 cords at 6 cents .......
B. I. Hinman, 210 cords at 6 cents .......

    The following is copied from correspondence relating to the sale:

                            "North Platte, October 26, 1870.
Mr. Sheriff:
    "Enclosed please find execution; directions for service will
be found in revised Statutes, pages 474-476, sections 485-490.
    "You will go to McLeans and Russells at Elm Creek and take 
possession of enough property to satisfy execution and if you do
not find partnership property take individual property.
    "They may talk large but go ahead and take the property and sell
and if they resist call out power of county.
    "And put up five notices of sale, two in precinct where you sell.
    "You had better take property to some place where you can rely on 
its not being run off. Notify me when and where the sale will be and I
will be down.
                          "Yours truly,
                               "(Signed) B. I. Hinman, attorney."

                      "Wood River Centre, Neb.
                        "September 17, 1870.
B. I. Hinman, Esq.:
    "Sir: Execution received. I have been up to Elm Creek and levied
upon our hundred and fifty cord of wood, being the only property 
belonging to McLean. I could not find out whether any one had any 
claims on the said wood. Therefore I could not see any reason why I
should not levy on the same; enclosed find copies of sheriff sale.
Hoping this will meet your approval, I remain,
                         "Yours truly,
                               "(Signed) Joseph Owen,
                                         "Deputy sheriff."
    "P. S. Don't fail to be down at Elm Creek on the 10th inst."



    "In consideration of sale of wood by John Oliver, sheriff, by 
his deputy Joseph Owen, to me, I hereby agree to indemnify them 
against all damages arising from said sale.
    "November 10, 1870. 
            "(Signed) B. I. Hinman, attorney, him to stamp the above
as no stamps could be procured.
                                 "(Signed) B. I. Hinman."

    Mr. Owen also has so-called "indemnifying bonds" signed by Charles Davis and D. C. Bond. It is noticeable that in each instance the signer of the "bond" "authorizes them to affix stamp as it can not be procured," but in no instance is the stamp affixed.
    It appears that the amount involved in the case was $8.30 as witnessed by the following receipt signed by the attorney for the plaintiffs in the case.

"Elm Creek received of John Oliver $8.30 on execution of Riddle Fuller
Company against McLean and Russell.
                       "(Signed) B. I. Hinman,
                             "Attorney for Riddle Fuller Company."

    The Village of Elm Creek was incorporated January 12, 1887, the members of the first village board being N. O. Calkins, H. D. Beecroft, E. O. Carpenter, H. Nantker, D. C. Bond.
    In the year 1907 the village put in a system of water works--a steel tank on an elevated tower 120 feet in height, capacity 40,000 barrels, supplied by five wells, thirty-five feet deep, the water pumped by a twenty-horse power gas engine; twenty-two blocks of water mains were laid the same year, with sixteen hydrants and about sixty-five private taps, in charge of the village marshal.
    On June 10, 1872, C. Putnam, county superintendent, made of record the following in his office:
    "Organized this day, School District No. 9, of Buffalo County, embracing all the townships in Range No. 18 of Buffalo County; sent notice to John P. Arenott (Arndt) directing first meeting to be held on Wednesday, June 19th, at the house of Charles Davis at 2 o'clock P. M."
    From records in the office of the county superintendent it appears that D. F. Hood was elected director on organization of the district and that in a report filed with the county superintendent, July 10, 1873, there were forty children of school age in the district.
    As recalled bonds were voted by the district with which to build a schoolhouse and it is stated in the Buffalo County Beacon, published in 1873, that the Union Pacific Railroad transported free from Omaha the lumber to build the school house. The schoolhouse was located about one mile west of the site of the present Village of Elm Creek.
    Josephus Moore, now deceased, was the first teacher employed.
    The records disclose that Josephus More (Moore) was issued a license as a teacher in 1873.
    Later this school building was moved into the village and when a larger


building was erected, the old one was purchased and used as an Episcopal Church. This church existed but a short period and the building is now (1916) owned A. Reeve and used as a chapel in his undertaking establishment. In the year 1913 the high school was raised from a ten-grade school to twelve grades, duly accredited and employing seven teachers.
    The present board of education is composed of C. T. Mastin, Dr. J. W. Laughlin moderator, D. J. W. Frank treasurer, C. G. Bliss, W. C. Keep and E. Trates.
    In the year 1910 John A. Nitchey built and equipped an electric light plant; the building is of concrete blocks, power is furnished by a fifty-horse power oil engine. Light is furnished for streets and for private homes and business houses.
    As recalled, R. N. Folk was the first newspaper man in Elm Creek, his paper the Elm Creek Sun, the first issue was dated June 2, 1886.
    About the year 1900 E. C. Krewson purchased the plant of the Buffalo County Beacon, being published at Gibbon, moved the plant to Elm Creek, and began publication under the name Elm Creek Beacon. At the present time (1916) E. C. Krewson is editor of the Beacon.
    Two grain elevators are located at Elm Creek with a storage capacity of approximately twenty thousand bushels each.
    The Elm Creek flouring mill was built about the year 1897 by Frank McCall, the town donating the site. It was rebuilt in 1903 by Stephen Dworak. In 1915 the mill was not in operation.
    Of physicians and surgeons who have ministered to the people of Elm Creek and vicinity the names of the following are recalled: Doctors Case, Tomlinson, Couch, Butterick, J. W. Frank, C. A. Yoder, J. W. Laughlin.
    A fire swept Elm Creek in the year 1906, July 1st, destroying fourteen buildings; a better Elm Creek, with larger and more durable buildings has risen in its place.
    In 1915 the village officers were: Trustees, O. J. Lloyd chairman, T. A. Cox, J. L. Daul, H. A. Wells, W. C. Rishel; J. O. Daul, treasurer; R. J. Mitchell, clerk.
    The Farmers and Merchants Bank of Elm Creek was organized in 1889 with a capital stock of $12,500, with B. H. Goodell, president.
    In the year 1915 the bank had a capital stock of $25,000; surplus, $3,500; deposits, $74,874; W. N. Garrison, president.
    The City Bank of Elm Creek was organized May 9, 1907, with a capital stock of $10,000. The officers were: John A. Miller, president; C. G. Bliss, vice president; S. A. Reasoner, cashier.
    This bank owns its own building erected in 1911.
    In 1915 the bank had a capital stock of $10,000; surplus, $3,500; deposits, $90,199.
    The officers of the bank: C. G. Bliss, president; H. A. Wells, vice president; E. E. Bliss, cashier; L. M. Bliss, assistant cashier.
    The Christian Church at Elm Creek was organized in February, 1910, with thirty-five charter members, the first pastor, Rev. Harry G. Knowles, who served the church until 1913. In the summer of 1910 a church building was completed at a cost of $5,000, and dedicated in July of that year.
    In 1915 the membership of the church was eighty.


    Succeeding Rev. Mr. Knowles, the following pastors have served the church: H. H. Utterbach, F. R. Wedge, G. P. Brammel.
    In the organization of a Methodist Church at Elm Creek, it is related that the first service was a funeral sermon for Mrs. Ryan, preached by Rev. Mr. Summers who had homesteaded north of Elm Creek. The funeral was on December 4, 1872. In February, 1873, Mr. Summers held a series of revival meetings and a church organization was effected. The charter members as near as can be recalled by Mrs. George Milbourn were: D. I. Brown, Mr. and Mrs. Thomas Holt, Mr. and Mrs. Richard Holt, Rev. and Mrs. Summers, Mrs. Shuffellbarger, Miss Mollie Shuffelbarger, Joseph McKee, John Badgely.
    Meetings were held in the schoolhouse until a church was built during the pastorate of Rev. T. H. Thurber in 1883, being located south of the tracks about the year --- [sic], during the pastorate of S. J. Medlin, the church building was moved north of the track, remodeled and improved. In 1915 the membership of the church was 136.
    The names of the pastors who have served the church, in their order are: Rev. Mr. Summers, Wm. Willard, J. H. Vincent, W. S. Norval, Rev. Mr. Dressler, Asbury Collins, T. H. Thurber, Joseph Gray, C. H. Savage, George H. McAdam, J. G. Hurlburt, L. W. Chandler, R. Randolph, Samuel Cates. J. A. Haggard, H. M. Pinckney, N. H. Miles, S. J. Medlin, R. H. Thompson, O. F. Chesebro, C. E. Woodson, W. C. Swartz, George Shuman, J. M. Haskins, H. S. French, F. A. Shawkey.
    Of the Catholic Church at Elm Creek, it is related that services were held in the railroad section house in 1871 or 1872, before there was any other meeting place in the village. That about 1878 the church had a membership of ten or twelve families and at that date a small church building was erected; this building was enlarged in 1889.
    Of the pastors who have served this people and church the names of the following are recalled: Father Walsh came once a month from Lexington, he is now located at Battle Creek (Nebraska) ; next Father Flood, now dead; Father Fitzpatrick from Kearney; Father McGovern from Kearney, now bishop of Wyoming; others, Fathers Delbo and Dailey; Rev. T. D. Sullivan is the first resident pastor, having been located here since 1907. The membership of the church at the present time (1915) is thirty-five families.
    Asher Chapter No. 252, O. E. S, was instituted at Elm Creek in March, 1913, with twenty-four charter members. The first officers were: Mrs. E. Ray, W. M.; Joseph Elliott, W. P.; Mrs. Mary Jones, A. M.; Miss Jessie Jones, Cond.; Mrs. A. Miller, A. Cond.; Mrs. John L. Daul, Treas.; Mrs. John Kemmerling, Sec'y; Mrs. George Milbourn, Chaplain.
    In 1915 the chapter had a membership of thirty-six. Its officers: Mrs. Mark Jones, W. M.; Joseph Elliott, W. P.; Mrs. E. Ray, Sec.; Mrs. John J. Daul, Treas.; Miss Bessie Lloyd, A. Cond.; Mrs. John Kemmerling, A. M.: Mrs, George Milbourn, Chaplain.
    Elm Creek Lodge No. 314. I. O. O. F., was instituted in March, 1906, with M. C. Brown as Noble Grand.
    The membership of the lodge in 1915 was thirty-three. Its officers: A. M. Brown, N. G.; H. E. Shafto, V. G.; John Richards, Secy.


    Elm Creek Lodge No. 133. A. F. and A. M. was instituted at Elm Creek, August 8, 1884, with ten charter members. Its officers: Daniel C. Bond, W. M.; O. Calkins, S. W.; Robert K. Potter, J. W.; Lewis B. Irvin, S. D.; Delbert G. Webster, J. D.; David I. Brown, Sec.; Charles J. Carper, Tyler.
    In the year 1915 the lodge had a membership of thirty-nine. Its officers: August Pierson, W. M.; John L. Daul, S. W.; William A. Clarke, J. W.; William T. Adams, S. D.; Bert Miller, J. D.; Frank J. Jones, Sec.; B. E. Elliott, Treas.; John H. Richards, Tyler.
    Elm Creek Lodge No. 108, A. O. U. W., was instituted January 12, 1887. Its first officers were: Frank McCall, P. M. W.; David McCall, M. W.; H. D. Becroft, For.; R. N. Volk, O.; J. H. Morris, Rec'r.; David McComb, Fin.; Wm. Barron, Recv.; G. G. Case, G.; R. M. Jones, I. W.; A. T. Geyer, O. W.
    In the year 1915 the lodge had a membership of seventy-two. Its officers: W. C. Pettett, P. M. W.; J. D. Hayes, M. W.; R. M. Jones, F.; Geo. Witmer, O.; C. E. Clark, Recdr.; M. J. Jones, Fin.; W. T. Gould, Recv.; W. J. Dow, G.; E. Gottwald, I. W.; S. L. Beaver, O. W.
    Purity Lodge No. 50, Degree of Honor, A. O. U. W, was instituted April 4, 1893. Its first officers: Hattie Scott, P. C. of H.; Frankie Lloyd, C. of H.; Carrie Brown, L. of H.; Zelia Rall, C. of C.; Fannie Haughton, Recdr.; Sarah Fisher, Fin.; Eunia Mace, Recv.; Lillie Snyder, Usher; May Brown, I. W.
    In the year 1915 the lodge had a membership of eighty-four. Its officers: Martha Milbourn, P. C. of H.; Mary Pettett, C. of H.; Annie Pettett, L. of H.; Rose Thompson, C. of C.; Sadie R. Gould, Recdr.; W. T. Gould, Recv.; Catherine Hurley, Fin.; Mary Shawkey, Usher; Susie Smith, A. Usher; Hannah Palmer, I. W.; Ethyl Soniville, O. W.
    Golden Rod Camp No. 470, Royal Neighbors, M. W. A., was instituted at Elm Creek, November 27, 1896, with twenty-one charter members. Its first officers: Mrs. Fannie Dermody, Mrs. Minnie Newcome, Mrs. Anna Dermody, Miss Addie Nantker, Mrs. M. Ellen Anderson, Mrs. L. May Arndt, Mrs. Evelyn Clark, Mrs. Matilda Nantker, Mrs. Amanda Tussing. The remaining charter members: Mesdames Etta Tucker, Sarah Morris, Catherine Milbourn, Anna Camfhie, Barbara Schiff, B. F. Tussing, S. J. W. Tucker, J. H. Morris, William Dermody, W. F. Milbourn, Mrs. D. E. Reve and Mrs. O. J. Lloyd.
    In the year 1903 the camp lost by fire, its charter, regalia and all its supplies, but nothing daunted were up and doing. In the year 1912 twenty-four new members were added.
    The Royal Neighbors of America is said to be the largest women's fraternal society in America.
    In 1915 Golden Rod Camp had seventy-one members. Its officers: Ragina Fitzgerald, Bessie Frates, Mary Neidigh, Mary C. Skawkey, Martha F. Frank, Louisa M. Roger, Luella Shafto, Jennie Bushee, Lucy Anderson, Addie Daul, M. Ellen Anderson, Nina Mitchell. Physicians: Doctors J. W. Frank, J. W. Laughlin, C. A. Yoder.
    Home Camp No. 1860, M. W. A., was instituted at Elm Creek, in 1891, with charter members as follows: F. W. Schiff, venerable counselor; Geo. C. Case, George Decker, Edward Fitzgerald, Samuel P. Flesher, J. M. Guisinger, Wm. C. Keep, Lawrence Kelly, Oliver J. Lloyd, Robert Mitchell, David McComb,


Adelbert Snyder, John Taylor, Charles D. Taylor, August J. Ulrich, Albert Younkin.
    The (1915) membership of the camp was eighty-two. Its officers: V. C., C. J. Lloyd; W. A., E. C. Krewson; Banker, J. A. Johnson; Clerk, T. A. Cox.
    The original records of the camp were burned, together with the charter and a new charter was issued July 12, 1906.


    What in 1915 is known as Odessa Township was in 1866-71 known as Stevenson's Siding and later Crowellton.
    The first to take homesteads in that locality were Dan A. Crowell and D. Allen Crowell, in 1871; R. D. Gould, J. Zerk, D. Brown, E. and C. Christianson, J. F. Suplee, S. Tolefsen, R. Vails, S. W. Homer, Flora Thomas, H. Brown, J. B. Vincent, H. F. Leonard, William C. T. Kurth, George W. Tovey, J. Ratliff, M. Homer, J. E. F. Vails, John D. Seamen, in 1872; C. S. Greenman, E. N. Lord, George D. Aspinwall, George Hall, R. F. Watters, Theadore Knox, James Sturrock, A. Ream, J. E. Chidester, J. Homer, Jr., in 1873; James Halliwell, D. Harpst, John T. Brown, Edward Keltner, William F. Reeves, J. M. Grant, Thomas Maloney, in 1874; George Jones, H. Ransom, Catherine Edwards, in 1876; F. W. Nichols, J. Vails, George A. Bailey, Susan C. Hurlburt, D. Hostetler, H. H. Achey, Susan Grant, L. C. Skelley and Adah Grant, in 1878.
    D. Allen Crowell and Dan A. Crowell were twins, D. Allen being an active, prominent minister in the Methodist Church, serving as pastor of the Methodist Church at Kearney in the early '70s, as recalled at the period when the first church building was erected in the city. Dan A. Crowell served as county superintendent, county commissioner and taught in the Kearney schools. John D. Seaman served as state senator. George D. Aspinwall was the first to be elected and serve as clerk, of the District Court, and J. E. Chidester served as county commissioner.
    It is recalled that Thomas Maloney was one of the first licensed teachers in the county. It is related that Mrs. Theadore Knox selected the name Odessa to take the place of Crowellton as the name of the township, or rather precinct. Mr. and Mrs. Theadore Knox settled at Gibbon in the winter of 1871-72, and kept boarders during the period in which the courthouse was being erected, and the editor moved the family to their homestead claim near Crowellton in March, 1873.
    Mrs. Susan Grant, who took a homestead claim in the precinct in 1878, was of pioneer stock. She was widely known and highly respected.
    Several members of her family settled in that vicinity in an early day, and many of her descendants still reside there. Three of her daughters are Mrs. J. D. Seaman, Mrs. E. R. Webb and Mrs. D. Harpst. Mrs. C. V. D. Basten of Kearney is a granddaughter.


    Susan Carr was of a family of Virginians who moved by wagon through mountains and forests and settled in the Western Reserve about the year Ohio


became a state, that is, in 1808. Benjamin Carr, her father, had sold his slaves. One of the slaves, the nurse, followed on foot in peril of lurking savages, and in greater danger of starvation. The poor creature lived on roots and berries, ravenously breaking eggs in a nest she found only to discover that they contained half-hatched serpents. She brought a silver spoon to the baby of the Carr family. It would be happiness to record that she gained her freedom. Alas, for the cruelty of slavery, she was promptly deported back to her new master. Susan Carr was born in Ohio 100 years ago, March 15, 1816. She always retained traces of Virginia and of the southern life in her speech, her manners and unbounded hospitality.
    She married Michael Grant in 1838 and had the usual large family of that period. Fated to the life of a pioneer, they left Ohio and its comforts to clear new land and open up a great new farm. She was indefatigable and efficient, and lived on a large scale in crude abundance. She attended to the huge Dutch oven, watched over the dryhouse, made maple sugar and tallow candles. She raised three orphan children at different times in Ohio. In Indiana she took an Irish family of three orphans into her home at once. Two of these orphans, the Maloneys, came to Nebraska with her. They settled at Crowellton, now Odessa, on the land now owned by E. R. Webb, who is her son-in-law.
    Susan Grant lived there, seeing to any changes in her family and neighborhood, for eighteen years. No longer young, she nevertheless, by her broad sympathy, brave cheer, good business ability and generosity, bettered the little frontier community.
    She was of helpful service to every life within reach of her beneficent influence. Such lives are not forgotten. She died December 3, 1891, at the age of seventy-five. It falls to the lot of few women to leave a memory more cherished in the hearts of her descendants.
    School District No. 12 was organized by C. Putnam, county superintendent, October 17, 1872. The district embraced all of range No. 17 in Buffalo County.
    Notification was sent (J.) Marsh Grant, a taxable inhabitant therein, as per form in the law provided.
    The records disclose that in July, 1873, this district had eighteen children of school age, and that J. Marsh Grant was serving as director of the district.

Mrs. C. V. D. Basten

    It was February 13, 1873, a little girl, traveling westward with her father and mother over the newly completed "B. & M. R. R. in Nebraska," as it was called then, was anxiously peering into the night as the train approached Kearney Junction. A gentleman, noticing her excitement and curiosity, talked to her about the new country--Indians, buffalo, prairie fires and prairie-dog towns, etc. He had been in the country five years as station agent at Elm Creek, Mr. D. C. Bond. He had seen buffalo shot from a cabin doorway as a herd of them stampeded through the little pioneer settlement. He transmitted, by telegraph, the account of the Sioux-Pawnee battle at Brady Island, transmitting and receiving on an


old-fashioned paper-ribbon telegraph instrument. He told how glad he was to see settlers come in. It was Mr. Bond's privilege, as the hard years came on, to stand by the settlers. In 1874 he brought out a car load of flour and let them have it to pay for when they could.
    The little girl's father took a pre-emption and bought an equal amount of railroad land at Crowellton, which was the first station east of Elm Creek. Mr. Bond thus became a neighbor and a highly esteemed friend through many years. Crowellton was only a place where mail was thrown off.
    If the conductor was complaisant he would let passengers off, but sometimes he would compel them to alight at Stevenson, three miles farther east. Stevenson had a section house, Crowellton had a postoffice, in the house of Mrs. Susan Grant, which was also the social center of the neighborhood. Her son, J. Marsh Grant, had a library of 300 volumes--high, serious in character--forcing borrowers to read Doctor Kane's "Arctic Explorations," Hugh Miller's "Red Sandstone" and Dryden's poems when they would have much preferred the current novels of the day. Jules Verne's "Around the World in Eighty Days" came out at that time. We much enjoyed the description of the highly improbable sail-sled ride between Plum Creek and Omaha. Besides the books the Grants had the only sewing machine, in the neighborhood, and they loaned it as freely as the books; it went from one house to another--was rarely at home and lasted two years.
    Almost the first thing erected was a schoolhouse, which the wind promptly blew away, leaving the floor. It was as promptly rebuilt, and Thomas Maloney resumed his school. Some of his pupils were Adah Grant, Estelle Grant, Maggie Maloney, Adah Seaman, Harry Seaman, Josephine Halliwell, Jessie Greenman, Lizzie Vail and her brother. The Vails were English, one brother, a bachelor, was a doctor. They had a comfortable sod house and a large family. The Sturrocks were related; James Sturrock, a nephew, by trade a plasterer. The young wife, a good looking young dressmaker, came direct from England to take land--lived in one room with a shed roof, in the bottoms. Mrs. Sturrock gave us a graphic account of how she trod on a skunk when we paid her our first call.
    The two families, Vails and Sturrocks, went almost immediately to California, though the Sturrocks lived a while in Kearney.
    Mr. Greenman and others started a Sunday school which met at the schoolhouse. It was attended by everybody in the neighborhood.
    Mr. Lord, a relative of the Goulds, and a theological student, preached there sometimes, and a homesteader by the name of J. B. Vincent wanted to; he was a religious fanatic, came to the meeting with a 12-pound clasped Bible. Mr. Lord happened to state that the Bible was not originally written in English; this Mr. Vincent indignantly denied. Another religious fanatic, a man by the name of Mitchell, boarded with Mrs. Catherine Edwards, mother of the Reeves boys, William, James and David. This Mitchell used to speak at meetings held during a revival by Reverend Mr. Summers (afterward pastor of the Methodist Episcopal Church in Kearney). He would become greatly excited--a soul under conviction. One day detectives came out from Illinois and arrested him for murder.
    Prof. D. B. Worley of Gibbon taught singing school at the schoolhouse in the


winter of 1874. He drove through to Overton, where he had some land. A literary society was started the same year in which budding oratory was encouraged. Amateur theatricals, attended by wagon loads of young people from Elm Creek, were the gala occasions. Dancing parties were not infrequent at the homes of the settlers in both communities, Odessa and Elm Creek.
    Almost the first to erect shacks and live at Crowellton were the Brown brothers. One of them, D. Brown, left his wife, an intrepid little woman, while he worked on the railroad. Wandering groups of Pawnees were always peering in at her windows and begging persistently. Entirely alone, she was not frightened, which is more than can be said for other women better protected. Mrs. Brown went miles after her cow, which drifted away in the big April storm of '73; herded the cow back and saved her. Henry Brown afterwards moved with his family to Kearney. The Christianson brothers built a house that was afterwards used as a schoolhouse in East Odessa. The Homer and Harpst families were related; came from Pennsylvania and returned there after a short stay, probably two or three years. The Clellands took up railroad land in 1874.
    George W. Tovey was an 1872 settler on the land afterwards occupied by Theadore Knox, later known as the John Neal farm. Mr. Tovey was large of frame--brown-eyed and slow of speech. He would never commit himself; would always qualify every statement he made, and was a favorite of the young people. He and his homesteading partner, whose name is forgotten, would have responded more often to social demands, but they were obliged to accept alternately, as they possessed but one white shirt between them.
    George D. Aspinwall was the second school teacher. He was a brother-in-law of J. E. Chidester. Other relatives by the name of Ransom came from Wisconsin and were well known citizens of the district and county for many years. Richard Waters lives on the homestead he settled on in 1873--probably the longest continuous residence in that neighborhood.
    James Halliwell, an Englishman from Altoona, Pa., attained a great age, in the nineties. His farm is occupied by Roy Knap. His son, Samuel Halliwell, lives in the neighborhood.
    J. M. Grant, Silas Grant and Thomas Maloney came to Odessa in 1872. By mistake they broke out R. D. Gould's land and wasted a year of hard work. Their land was a mile farther west. They built the house now occupied by E. R. Webb. J. M. Grant is now in Washington. Silas Grant went to Cabool, Mo., and died there July 17, 1908, one of the richest and best beloved citizens. His wife, Maggie Maloney, preceded him by ten years.
    Thomas Maloney left Odessa in the spring of 1877. He has lived in Washington and Arkansas, and is now superintendent of a Government reclamation project in Phoenix, Ariz.
    The Acheys and the Hostetlers were brothers-in-law, afterwards moving to Kearney; have relatives living in Kearney; the Lantz and Feathers' families being descendants. L. C. Skelley occupied two places; the first purchased of Thomas Maloney for $500, which they sold. They then lived for some years on what is now known as the Rall place; this they traded for a farm in Iowa. They are passing their declining years, having reared a family of six sons, all settled in Kansas City, Mo.


    Cordelia M. Waite came with her father and several brothers, and sisters, from Michigan. Cordelia, a quiet, refined girl, taught school on Wood River, northeast of Kearney, boarding in a sod house with a lean-to bedroom. This addition separated from the main building one night when she was sleeping. The ridge pole fell across her, killing her.
    The noise of the falling structure was not heard by the family. They discovered her in the morning with her cheek lying on her hand, just as she had slept.
    George Hall lived but a short time in Odessa, moving to Illinois. Mrs. Hall's brother shot a buffalo in the hills north of Odessa in 1873. A deer was killed about the same place in 1872, weighing 200 pounds dressed. In 1874 Silas Grant, with a companion, hunted 100 miles farther west, and brought home venison and buffalo and a large number of buffalo robes. The buffalo meat was dried and lasted all summer.
    John B. Neal settled on the Theadore Knox place in 1877, and lived there until 1903; had a family of eight children, five of whom are living. He was a successful farmer and a good citizen. He and his wife are living in Lents, a suburb of Portland, Ore. Two of his children, Sadie and Roy, live in Portland, Ben in Odessa, Henry in Kearney, Mentie in Wisconsin.


    Among the first settlers in Grant Township were John Groves, J. Atkinson, Jr., Richard Sell, J. J. Roberts, in 1872; Miles B. Hunt, W. White, E. S. Marsh, G. L. .Kough, A. M. Mudge, J. K. Sanford, W. H. Brown, G. F. Hesselgrave, T. E. Foster, William Brown, in 1873; William Grant, G. W. Coffman, A. Thompson, Lydia M. Mace, H. Coffman, J. H. Coffman, Rena Hollenbeck, in 1874.
    School District No. 13 in this township was organized by Dan A. Crowell, county superintendent, March 10, 1873. Notice of the organization of the district was sent Miles B. Hunt, a taxable inhabitant of the district, .and directed that the first meeting for the election of school district officers be held at the house of said Miles B. Hunt on Friday, the 28th day of March (1873), at 10 o'clock A. M. (It .will be noted the number of this school district is 13 and the first meeting held to elect officers met on Friday.)
    The records disclose that in July, 1873, this district is reported as having twelve children of school age, and E. S. Marsh was serving as school director.
    Mrs. C. V. D. Basten writes of the early history of Grant Township as follows:


    The first location of Huntsville, which, accurately speaking, was the schoolhouse, was picturesque; the building was white with green blinds. The river and its bridge and the overhanging trees on the banks made a peaceful, sylvan background. This was two miles east of the present Stanley. Huntsville was named after Miles B. Hunt; Crowellton after Dan A. Crowell. It is a pity the names had to be changed, at the request of the postoffice department, because easily confused with other names of postoffices in the state.


    In 1872-73 all the homes were dugouts. Coming upon them from the side or rear, one knew it was a dwelling because of the stovepipe sticking out.
    Few had floors. Mrs. William N. Brown put her good rag carpet directly upon the hard worn earth; had white curtains at the windows in front, one each side the door. The beds were curtained off in the rear corner of the single room. It was really attractive and comfortable.
    Miss Rena Hollenbeck, who was married after her term of school in 1875 to J. H. Coffman, had a very attractive sod house nicely furnished.
    The Hunts had several rooms in their dugout. They had a large family. Mr. Hunt was, in a sense, the dominating spirit in the neighborhood; an intelligent, forceful man. He was president of the school board. Gilbert Kough, Floyd Gargett and A. M. Mudge were directors in 1876. J. Marsh Grant taught there in 1873; Benjamin L. Grant in 1874. Benjamin L. Grant died November 11, 1877. His sister, Adah A. Grant, taught two months beginning January 1, 1877. Adah Seaman in the spring of 1876.
    Floyd Gargett lived west of Huntsville; his wife was a sister of H. C. McNew, for many years editor of the Shelton Clipper. G. F. Hesselgrave was a relative of Gargett. The Hamiltons lived west of the Gargetts and were the only members of the community originally from New England.
    John Groves, J. J. Roberts, W. White and G. L. Kough were all soldiers of the Civil war and past middle age. H. L. Seaman was also an old soldier, and there were probably others. Washington Petit lived east of Huntsville; his daughter, Carrie, attended school in 1876. So did children from the White, Mudge and Brown families, as also did Tabitha McNew, sister of Floyd Gargett.
    There was no social life in the community except church and prayer meeting. Politics and baseball interested some of the men. Rev. Ober Knepper used to preach there. At a Wednesday night prayer meeting all those gifted in prayer look turns praying for Washington Petit's bad temper. His wife was present; this was but a year or two before Petit was killed by one of his sons.
    The people in Huntsville had a very hard time during the winters of 1873, 1874 and 1875. It is doubtful if our forefathers were much nearer the borderline of hunger. Bread and gravy was the great staple. Coffee was made from wheat and corn browned, and then ground. One woman told of parching corn and cracking it with a nut-cracker to feed her children; women exchanged recipes for making gravy. It was a stout-hearted, brave but very narrow-minded community. The Hunts and Koughs went to Washington. Forest Hunt has been a successful follower of the sea and owns boats in the coast and Alaska trade. The Coffmans are also in Washington. Mr. Hunt and most of the older settlers are long since dead.
    H. L. Seaman died in California in November, 1915, aged seventy-four, the last of a family of five brothers.

Back Next

Table of Contents Names Images Home