History of Buffalo County
and Its People
by Samuel Clay Bassett
FIRST SETTLERS IN CEDAR TOWNSHIP -- MRS. JOHN DAVIS LOSES HER LIFE IN THE MEMORABLE STORM OF APRIL, 1873 -- GRASSHOPPER RAID IN 1874 -- ORGANIZATION OF SCHOOL DISTRICT NO. 20 -- MRS. E. W. CARPENTER FIRST TEACHER -- BUILT A SOD SCHOOLHOUSE IN 1875 -- FIRST PRECINCT ELECTION HELD IN 1874; THE ELEVEN VOTES CAST COST THE COUNTY $14, AND WERE WELL WORTH THE MONEY -- MAJORS POSTOFFICE ESTABLISHED IN 1879; NAMED IN HONOR OF COL. THOMAS J. MAJORS -- E. W. CARPENTER NAMED POSTMASTER AND SERVED TWENTY-EIGHT YEARS -- UNITED PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH ORGANIZED IN 1882 WITH FIVE CHARTER MEMBERS.
EARLY SETTLEMENT OF CEDAR TOWNSHIP
by Hon. James E. Miller
Cedar Township comprises all of town No. 11, range No. 15.
The first homestead selections were made by (E.) West and (S. J.) Houston, two soldiers of the Civil war, from the State of Ohio. After making selection of the east half of section No. 14, they returned to their homes in Ohio. They returned in the spring of 1873; made their filings on their homestead claims, and hired E. W. Carpenter to break five acres on each quarter, when they again started for Ohio, but were detained at Grand Island three days by the great storm of April 13-15; 1873, and were never heard from again.
The first actual settlement in the township was made in the spring of 1873 by John Davis on section No. 2, E. W. Carpenter and Joseph White on the west half of section No. 14, and Samuel Higgins on section No. 22. These settlers were located on their claims during the great storm in which Mrs. John Davis lost her life. On Sunday morning, April 13th, Mr. Davis started for Grand Island on foot, following the section lines east. The storm overtook him before he arrived at his destination. He left his wife in their dugout with the understanding that she would go to the home of E. W. Carpenter for the night, a mile or more to the south. The storm came so suddenly (at 4 o'clock Sunday afternoon) that it seems she did not dare to leave home. It appears that she undressed and went to bed, and that in the night the ridge pole broke with the heavy load of dirt (the dugout had a dirt roof). The rafters protected her so that she might have remained in the bed. The door was barred, and it appeared she forced her way through the window. She left with but little clothing and without her shoes. When the storm ceased (at sundown) on Tuesday, neighbors went to the Davis home, and not finding her, began a search, and found her body
HISTORY OF BUFFALO COUNTY
on a ridge about sixty rods southeast of her home. Mr. Davis arrived that evening. They buried her near the dugout. The place has changed owners several times and it is likely all traces of the grave is lost.
The same year (1873) M. A. Young and Joseph Clayton settled on the west half of section No. 10, Capt. J. M. Treichler on the southwest quarter of section No. 22, Maj. John Dance on the northwest quarter of section No. 25, and Mrs. S. Higgins filed on the northwest quarter of section No. 26 for her children by a former husband. In October, 1873, the writer with his family arrived at Kearney, and meeting John Davis, was persuaded to investigate his neighborhood, and after looking for a location in Platte and Boone counties concluded that the abandoned homesteads of West and Houston suited him. He with Henry Luce filed contests and secured homestead papers and made permanent settlement.
The foregoing constituted the settlement during the winter of 1873-74, which was a mild, dry winter. The summer of 1874 was very hot and dry, a little wheat was harvested, but no corn. About the middle of July the migrating grasshoppers completely covered the ground and devoured nearly every green thing. It looked as though we had struck the wrong country, but we all stayed except Major Dance.
In the spring of 1874 Robert Haines of Center Precinct called on us for the purpose of estimating the value of our personal property and securing the names of our children of school age so that his school district could get the state apportionment due school districts. We at once took the proper steps to head off this scheme by organizing our township and forming School District No. 20 by taking the north twelve miles from School Districts Nos. 11, 6 and 16. We drew our share of the state apportionment, and hired Mrs. E. W. Carpenter to teach our school.
She furnished the room and taught three months for $30.
So satisfactory was her work that we employed her the next summer to teach in the same room. However, by this time teachers' wages had advanced 100 per cent. (The records disclose that on February 17, 1874, on petition of J. E. Miller and other legal voters, County Superintendent J. J. W. Place created School District No. 20, and issued a formal notice to the legal voters in the new district to meet at the home of E. W. Carpenter on March 6, 1874, and perfect the organization of the district.)
Those were flush times in 1876, having had fair crops in 1875, settlers began to flock in, and we had to build a schoolhouse. The materials were "Made in Nebraska." The walls of the schoolhouse, two feet thick, were of sod and plastered with gypsum dug from a nearby bank. The joists and rafters were from cottonwood trees, and the roof was made from willows and sod. The materials for the floor, windows and the door had to be imported. The architects and the builders were home grown. This commodious edifice afforded ample room for school purposes, as well as a place for church, Sunday school and political meetings. It became a great seat of learning and many graduates from the school are holding positions of honor and trust.
Our first precinct election was held in 1874. Eleven votes were cast, which cost the county $14, and they were well worth the money. The year 1876 was a poor one for crops. It will be long remembered by early settlers as the last and
HISTORY OF BUFFALO COUNTY
greatest sweep of the migrating grasshoppers. These pests covered the cultivated portions of South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas and the western half of Iowa. The year 1877 was one of the most productive years in our history (as a county), and prices for grain ruled unusually high, especially for wheat. From this date for twelve successive years there was not a crop failure.
We first got our mail at Gibbon, then changed to Kearney. During the summer of 1879 we sent a petition to Washington for a mail route and a postoffice. We failed to send a name for the office, so the postoffice department named the office Majors, in honor of the blue-shirted statesman of Nemaha County, Col. Thomas J. Majors.
E. W. Carpenter was appointed postmaster, and William Grant of Kearney mail carrier. This star route was later extended to the home of Erastus Smith, where later Ravenna was located. Mr. Carpenter continued as postmaster until the office was discontinued in 1907, a period of twenty-eight years. His income from the office the first year was $9, and probably did not exceed $30 in any one year during the time he held the office. This was certainly a great sacrifice on the part of Mr. and Mrs. E. W. Carpenter in the interests of the neighborhood, and I am sure it was so considered by all patrons of the office.
Mrs. E. W. Carpenter taught two terms of school of three months each. She was a highly useful woman in our community. Her death occurred April 13,1907.
The first church organized was the United Presbyterian. It was organized in John McCool's sod house by Rev. David Inches of North Bend, Neb., on December 20, 1882. The charter members were: John McCool, Mrs. Rose Ann McCool, James E. Miller, Mrs. Ann J. Miller and George W. Duncan. The church had a scattering supply for a pastor until 1885, when Rev. Isaac A. Wilson was installed as pastor. The church increased rapidly until it about reached the one hundred mark, when some of the members moved to Poole, in Beaver Township, and started a church there. Others moved to other states, greatly weakening the congregation. In 1915 the church had a membership of about thirty. In 1915 the pastor for the two churches--Majors and Poole-- is Rev. E. C. Coleman.
The first settlers in town No. 10, range No. 15, in Buffalo County, were C. A. Borders, N. Turner, F. Chisler, F. J. Weldin, M. Conners, J. C. V. Kelley, B. J. Holmes, W. S. Hall, in 1873; and S. S. St. John, J. M. Smith, J. Gass, N. E. Coombs, Joel Miller, N. Fellers, J. Trumbull, W. J. Neely, J. E. Holloway, F. G. Hamer, B. Streigle, G. H. Cutting, W. G. Patterson, S. W. Thornton and E. Goodsell, in 1874.
When township organization was adopted in the county in 1883, the county board named the township "Thornton," in honor of Hon. S. W. Thornton, a soldier of the Civil war and one of its earliest settlers.
In the life of the township there was organized a Catholic Church, which erected a church building. The church organization is still in a flourishing condition.
HISTORY OF BUFFALO COUNTY
At an early date there was an organization of the Methodist Episcopal Church, their church building being known as Haven Chapel, which is still a religious center for a considerable extent of territory.
At an early date a postoffice was established and which was continued until the advent of free rural delivery, since which time people of the township have been served by a carrier from the Kearney office.
One of the first farmers' telephone companies in the county was organized largely through the efforts of people residing in this township, a history of which, kindly furnished by George Bischel, appears elsewhere in this volume.
Hopewell Camp' No. 4522, M. W. A., was instituted at Hopewell schoolhouse, school District No. 35, in Thornton Township, February 8, 1897. The first officers and charter members were: D. M. Arbuckle, V. C.; I. F. Henline, B.; J. C, Powers, A.; David R. Mathieson, clerk; L. N. Hollingsworth, P. W. Snook, George Bischel, J. N. Johnson, E. E. Thorn, J. H. Fester, J. S. Burton, William R. Fisher, F. S. Musil, William Oehlrich, Ed Gillming, David McCan, Louis J. Meyers, George H. Gillming, Ed A. Poole, A. J. Frederick, Peter J. Gillming, C. L. Greemhalge, George S. Hayes, Ed A. Rose, Nicholas Gass, Fred A. Rynese, A. E. Debrie.
George Bischel served as clerk of the camp for eight successive years.
In the year 1897 the camp erected a hall, 29 by 36 feet, on section No. 16, in Thornton Township. The membership so greatly increased that in the year 1901 the hall was enlarged by an addition of sixteen feet. In 1911 the membership of the camp was 105, and in 1915 the membership was seventy-six. The officers: J. M. Stiles, V. C.; Frank Stiles, A.; W. J. Turner, B.; Fred Sitz, clerk.
Prairie View Camp No. 2228, Royal Neighbors, M. W. A., was instituted in Thornton Township June 13, 1900. The officers and charter members were: Mrs. Hannah Smith, oracle; Mrs. Luella Rogers, recorder; Mesdames Mary Altmaier, Bessie Bischel, Maggie Baily, Gertrude Burton, Maude Clark, Edith Debrie, Jannette Cass, Jane Foster, Ethel Gillming, Alma Howe, Mary Hayes, Etta Richards, Flora E. Weller, Miss Lucretia Snider, George Bischel, A. E. Debrie, Luther McKee, George Richards.
This camp has the distinction of being the only Royal Neighbor camp in the state of Nebraska located in a rural neighborhood, its membership composed entirely of farmers, their wives and daughters. Mrs. George Bischel, who served eight years as recorder of the camp, writes that this organization meant much to its members, as it was the means of bringing them together in a social way when otherwise the members would probably never have all been known to each other. Of course there was always the faithful few who kept the camp alive.
In the year 1915 the camp had a membership of thirty. Its officers: Mrs. Mary Altmaier, oracle; Mrs. Minnie Mast, recorder.
Buckeye Valley is in Valley Township, and the first settlement in Buckeye Valley was by Col. W. T. Beatty and George Simpkins, in 1873; W. R. Wheeler, in 1874; J. B. Wheeler, George E. Fredericks, T. Q. George, O. Knepper, in 1878, and William Trivelpiece, in 1879.
HISTORY OF BUFFALO COUNTY
Col. Wm. T. Beatty was a native of Ohio and gave to the valley its name, "Buckeye Valley."
On March 5, 1879, County Superintendent John Swenson organized a school district, No. 49.
A schoolhouse was erected in which a Sabbath school was held, this about the year 1880. Rev. J. Marsh here organized a "class" of the Methodist Church, and Mr. Marsh also held regular preaching service in the schoolhouse. In the early '80s a Grange was organized, which flourished for many years, this being the last of the Grange organizations of that date in the county to surrender its charter.
A postoffice was established named "Butler," and which was continued until the establishment of rural delivery.
It is recalled that a very successful fair was held at Butler, with considerable exhibits of live stock and farm products.
Mr. George C. Lunger kindly furnishes the following history of the organization of the United Brethren Church at that point:
The first Sabbath school in Buckeye Valley was organized May 30, 1880, at schoolhouse No. 49, with Rev. O. Knepper as superintendent.
Rev. O. Knepper also preached each Sunday after Sunday school and occasionally in the evening, for a period of two years.
The Butler class of the United Brethren Church in Christ was organized under the pastorate of Rev. John Green in September, 1884, with the following charter members: O. Knepper, Mrs. Emma H. Knepper, Henry C. Fliegel, Mrs. Elizabeth Fliegel, Johnathan Stearns, Mrs. Mary Stearns, Mrs. N. Woodhull and several others.
At an expense of $915 a church building was erected and dedicated April 24, 1898, by Bishop J. S. Mills, the pastor at that date being Rev. A. L. Zimmerman, and the trustees George C. Lunger, Wm. Trivelpiece, O. Knepper, H. C. Fliegel and Peter Gillming.
The pastors serving this church from the beginning have been O. Knepper, John Green, H. S. Munger, J. M. Witters, J. Bremser, W. S. Fields, T. B. Cannon, Wm. Thompson, C. J. Bohart, A. L. Zimmerman, Wm. Tooley, A. Boyd, W. C. Miller, L. L. Epley, W. C. Arnold, Reverend Mr. Spahr, J. Mason, Walter Smith and C. E. Harrington.
This church disorganized in 1915, and the church building was sold to the Buckeye Valley Grange, and is now (1916) being used as a Grange hall.
A Methodist Church was organized at Butler and a church building erected, but a history of the church is not available for this history.
FIRST FLOURING MILL; ERECTED IN 1873 -- FIRST MILL IN STATE WEST OF HALL COUNTY -- SETTLERS CAME 100 MILES TO MILL.
THE FIRST FLOURING MILL
The first mill for the grinding of wheat and other grain, erected in Nebraska west of Hall County, was at Gibbon in 1873.
This mill was not only useful and beneficial to the early settlers of a large portion of Central and Western Nebraska and Northwest Kansas, but it was a most important factor in the early settlement of Buffalo County and of the country named. Its establishment encouraged the growing of wheat as it enabled the early settlers to have ground into flour and meal grain of their own raising thus saving the expense of shipping such grain to distant markets and paying freight on flour and meal manufactured at distant points. So important did the Union Pacific Railroad deem the erection of the flouring mill in the settlement of the new country that it transported, free of charge, two carloads, one of machinery, one of lumber, for the construction of the mill, this free transportation being for the same reason that free transportation was granted of material for building churches and schoolhouses.
In the early days settlers came, in some instances, distances of more than one hundred miles in order to get their grain ground into flour. Some of these settlers came with ox teams, bringing full loads, being a week on the way, at times waiting a week for their turn to have the grain ground and then a week on the road home. For many years the mill was run as a custom mill, each one receiving the flour from his own grain and awaiting his turn to have his grain ground.
The original mill was built in the summer and fall of 1873; the building was about twenty-four feet square and two stories; there were two runs of four-foot buhr stone, one for wheat, one for feed and a reel bolt. The capacity of the mill was about thirty barrels per day.
Power was furnished by Wood River, a stream of living water having a fall of about ten feet per mile; the dam erected was about ten feet high.
The mill dam has always been a source of great expense to maintain. About twelve feet below the surface is a layer of quicksand and muskrats working down into the quicksand caused great damage. It is estimated that in the thirty-seven years since its first construction from twenty thousand to twenty-five thouand dollars have been expended on this dam. While there has never been a complete washout, each year repairs have been necessary. In the year 1877 the
HISTORY OF BUFFALO COUNTY
mill was remodeled, another run of stone added for grinding midlings, thus increasing the yield of flour per bushel. In the year 1884 the roller process of grinding was introduced, increasing the capacity of the mill to sixty barrels. The Gibbon mill was one of the first in the state to introduce the roller process of grinding. In the year 1889 the mill was again remodeled, a swing sifter system installed, also a twenty-one horse power gasoline engine, thus increasing the capacity of the mill to eighty barrels. The Gibbon mill was one of the first in the state to install machinery necessary in the milling of turkey red winter wheat which practically took the place of spring wheat which before the advent of the turkey red had been altogether grown. The successful milling of turkey red winter wheat was of immense benefit, financially, in the development of the agricultural resources of Central Nebraska. In the year 1905 there was installed a fifty-horse power steam engine with all the latest and best improvements, making the capacity of the mill about one hundred and twenty barrels.
From the building of the mill in 1873 and the remodeling of the same from time to time, nothing but the latest and best improved machinery has been installed and from 1873 to date (1916) the manufactured product has always been recognized as first class, standard as to quality.
Also the management of the mill has always been in the hands of men with a well earned, well deserved reputation for honesty and integrity in all their business relations. The original builders of the mill were I. N. Davis & Company (I. N. Davis and James H. Davis), who conducted the business until 1885. From 1883 to 1897 I. N. Davis was owner; from 1897 to 1907, James H. Davis and son (Roy A. Davis); Roy A. Davis from 1907 to 1914; when J. N. Ashburn purchased a one-half interest. Roy A. Davis died in 1915 and the Gibbon mills for more than forty years in the Davis family passed into other hands.
The managers of the business have been James H. Davis, from 1873 to 1885; James S. Hopkins, 1885-88; C. Putnam, 1888-90; Bert Sprague, 1890-92; C. Putnam, 1892-97; Roy A. Davis, 1897-1914. The millers employed appear in the following order, beginning in 1873: Fritz Stark, Hans Voss, J. B. Ring, Fred Carter, James S. Hopkins, Bert Sprague, Bayard Seaver, Charles A. Putnam, J. D. Mickey, R. S. Winchester, Ralph Sprague and Homer J. Mickey in 1916.
About one hundred thousand bushels of wheat are milled into flour each year.
ORGANIZATION OF TELEPHONE COMPANIES IN BUFFALO COUNTY -- THE FARMERS' TELEPHONE COMPANY -- BUFFALO COUNTY TELEPHONE COMPANY -- UNION VALLEY TELEPHONE COMPANY -- THE FAIRVIEW TELEPHONE COMPANY -- THE MILLER INDEPENDENT TELEPHONE COMPANY.
THE TELEPHONE IN BUFFALO COUNTY
The progressive and enterprising spirit of the people of Buffalo County is no better illustrated than in the almost universal use made of the telephone, in the homes on the farm, as well as in the towns. The beginning of telephone systems in the county was through people living on farms, people of small means. The writer well recalls his first use of a telephone--a wire reaching from the house to the barn, the phones a tin can at either end of the wire.
At first a number of farmers co-operated in extending a wire into the nearest village, a friendly business man serving as "central." Often the wire was attached to fence posts and quite often a fence wire served also as a telephone wire.
Beginning with about the year 1902, farmers' co-operative telephone companies were organized in various parts of the county, and in a comparatively brief time the county became a network of telephone wires, with a telephone in every home.
No attempt is here made to compile an acurate [sic] and complete history of the beginning and development of the telephone in Buffalo County, but enough is here presented to record the date of the beginning, the methods used, the growth and development to date (1915).
THE FARMERS' TELEPHONE COMPANY
The Farmers' Telephone Company of Buffalo County was organized March 2, 1902. The incorporators were W. J. Smith, Albert Allen, Joseph Buck, Jr., JacobStearley and W. H. Maurer of Shelton Township. The first officers were: W. J. Smith, president; W. H. Maurer, vice president; George W. Barrett, treasurer; Joseph Buck, Jr., secretary. The authorized capital stock was $10,000 and the company had about one hundred shareholders. The territory first covered was confined to Shelton Township, and the company began business with approximately twenty-five phones.
In the year 1915 the company covered territory embraced in Shelton, Sharon, Gardner, Schneider, Platte, Gibbon, Valley, and Center townships, in Buffalo County, two townships in Hall County, and its lines extending into Kearney
HISTORY OF BUFFALO COUNTY
County and having in use 1,100 phones. The capital stock is $10,000, but instead of paying dividends the company has invested its earnings in the extension and improvement of its plant, which is estimated to be worth thirty thousand dollars.
The company now has about thirty-five shareholders. Its present officers are: George W. Barrett, president and secretary; C. M. Beck, vice president; H. J. Dugdale, treasurer.
(Note--The editor is indebted to Mr. C. M. Beck, vice president and manager of the Gibbon office, for data as to the history of the Farmers' Telephone Company.)
BUFFALO COUNTY TELEPHONE COMPANY
In the year 1903 several meetings of farmers residing in Thornton and adjoining townships resulted in the organization on April 1, 1903, of the Buffalo County Telephone Company, those signing the articles of incorporation being: George Bischel, Peter Wink, H. G. Rieter, J. D. Lowenstein and W. D. Stadleman. The officers elected being: Peter Wink, president; Joseph A. Waters, vice presidest; George Bischel, secretary; John L. Hopper, treasurer; W. J. Stadleman, manager. The board of directors was: George Bischel, Joseph A. Waters, John L. Hopper, P. F. H. Schars and Peter Wink. The lines of the company covering territory embraced in Center, Thornton, Valley, Schneider, Cedar, Beaver and Loup townships. At the close of the year 1906 the company had 225 miles of wire and 225 phones installed. By January, 1908, the company was out of debt and in September, 1908, a dividend of 15 per cent was declared. In January 1909, it was decided to divide the territory, those tributary to Pleasanton to go with the Pleasanton company and be called the Buffalo County Telephone Company and a new company to be formed to cover the territory tributary to Kearney.
In February, 1909, was organized the Union Valley Telephone Company, those signing the articles of incorporation being: Pat Fitzgerald, George Bischel, H. G. Reiter, R. F. Cruit, Dallas Henderson, N. B. Freeman, and C. H. Fleming. George Bischel was elected president and manager; W. D. Thornton, secretary, who with Dallas Henderson, C. L. Snider and C. H. Fleming constituted the board of directors.
It appears that the Union Valley Telephone Company began business with a capital stock of $5,000 and with ninety-five phones in operation. This company rebuilt its lines and in 1915 has 175 phones installed, rents its phones at Si1 per month, declares an annual dividend of 15 per cent and on payment of a 25 cent switching charge at the Kearney central office its patrons can talk to about twenty-one hundred phones.
The present officers are: W. D. Thornton, president; George Bischel, secretary and treasurer.
(Note--The data for the foregoing history of the Buffalo County and Union Valley Telephone companies was kindly furnished by George Bischel.)
BUFFALO COUNTY TELEPHONE COMPANY
The Buffalo County Telephone Company was organized by the people of Pleasanton and vicinity in the year 1903 and incorporated in 1910, with S. B.
HISTORY OF BUFFALO COUNTY
Carpenter, president; A. V. Valentine, vice president; P. S. Holtzinger, manager; M. S. Booher, secretary; F. L. Grammer, treasurer. The company having in operation 128 phones.
In the year 1915 the capital stock of the company was $6,500. Surplus, $2,000. Phones in operation, 324. Officers: A. H. Valentine, president; Adolph English, vice president; B. S. Wort, manager; M. S. Booher, secretary; F. L. Grammer, treasurer.
(Note--This history of the Buffalo County Telephone Company was kindly furnished by F. L. Grammer, of Pleasanton.)
FAIRVIEW TELEPHONE COMPANY
The Fairview Telephone Company was organized February 20, 1904) the incorporators being: W. C. Pettett, C. E. Gresham, E. E. McCartney, C. E. Holmes, E. A. Edgerton, J. D. McCartney, C. F. Bowie, W. T. Gould, A. E. Pettett, R. H. Clifford, C. H. Gale, H. H. Northrup.
The first officers were: W. C. Pettett, W. T. Gould, and E. E. McCartney.
The capital stock was $5,000. When the line first became established it had fifteen phones in operation and extended about ten miles north of Elm Creek.
In 1915 the company had as capital stock $10,000, with 225 phones in use and covered a territory of about one hundred and seventy-five miles, and also operated a thirty-mile toll line extending to Miller and Amherst.
This company has been in operation ten years. The dues are 40 cents per month.
The officers in 1915 were: Eber Richards, W. Chismore, C. Bowie, A. R. Balyot, G. Sheldon.
(Note--Data furnished by W. C. Pettett.)
THE MILLER INDEPENDENT TELEPHONE COMPANY
This company was organized in 1906 with a capital stock of $2,500. Its officers were: J. P. Norcross, president; L. W. Hall, manager; F. D. Brown, treasurer.
The names of those most active in promoting the company were: J. P. Norcross, L. W. Hall, F. D. Brown, L. P. Wells, N. Maddox, C. M. Huston, R.M. Pierce. The company began business with forty phones in use. In the year 1915 the company had as capital stock $4,500, and 150 phones in use. Its officers were: J. C. Power, president; P. W. Jacobson, vice president; L. W. Hall, manager; F. D. Brown, treasurer.
(Note--Information furnished by Ross Brown.)
EFFORTS TO VOTE COUNTY BONDS AS AID TO RAILROADS-EFFORTS NOT SUCCESSFUL -- VOTING COUNTY BONDS FOR COURTHOUSE AND PLATTE RIVER BRIDGES -- A PROTEST AGAINST VOTING RAILROAD BONDS SIGNED BY 204. TAXPAYERS -- A SUBSCRIPTION LIST IN CIRCULATION IN 1888 TO RAISE FUNDS TO ASSIST IN CARRYING AN ELECTION OF BONDS AS AID TO A PROPOSED RAILROAD.
That there are no railroad bonds outstanding against Buffalo County and that the bonded indebtedness against the county is comparatively small at this date (1915) is not because no effort has been made in the past to vote such bonds, but rather to the reason that the early settlers, so to speak, "burned their fingers" in the voting of county bonds and have fought shy on any such proposition since.
The early settlers, being comparatively young in years, and of little experience in public affairs, were easily induced to vote county bonds with which to build a courthouse at Gibbon and to bridge the Platte. Time and again boomers and promoters have since made efforts to have county bonds voted in aid of proposed railroads, but without avail.
County commissioners, under the spell of such boomers and promoters, were quite complaisant to their visionary schemes and called elections for such purpose, but the people of the county were quick to protest and prevent favorable action.
The county bonds voted to complete the courthouse at Kearney would not have been voted had not the taxpayers of the county been tricked in the matter of building a courthouse. The wish of the taxpayers was to levy a tax for a term of years with which to build the courthouse, and on estimates submitted and agreed to, voted the levy.
Tricksters and schemers so manipulated the matter that the levy so voted was expended in a foundation and side-walls and it was necessary to vote county bonds in the amount of $45,000 in order to complete and furnish the building. The foundation walls of the present courthouse were first laid in the fall and early winter, and when frozen appeared firm and solid. C. Putnam was at this time deputy county clerk, arid being of an inquiring turn of mind and a man of strictest integrity, he pried off a section of the foundation wall, carried it in the clerk's office beside the fire, and it soon crumbled to pieces. The result was Capt. Joseph Black, also a man of unquestioned integrity, was appointed to superintend the erection of the present county courthouse.
As a matter of history, to illustrate how complaisant the county commissioners were to assist in forwarding schemes to bond the county in aid of proposed
HISTORY OF BUFFALO COUNTY
railroads, and how wide awake the voters were to prevent such action, record is here made in one instance of the action of the commissioners and of the protest of the voters.
The editor has in his possession the original petitions, bearing signatures of the petitioners, which make plain the history of the case. Five of these petitions were circulated and signed by a total of 294 taxpayers. The forty-eight names first given are of persons residing in Kearney at the time.
The petition and signatures are as follows:
"To the Honorable Board of Commissioners of Buffalo County, State of Nebraska:
"Gentlemen--We, the undersigned, respectfully petition your honorable body to recall the proclamation made by you which provides a special election to be held on the 27th of November, 1875, for the purpose of voting on the proposition to issue the bonds of Buffalo county in the sum of $75,000 to aid in the construction of a proposed railroad from Kearney to Sioux City, and your petitioners further pray that you give notice in the county papers that the said proclamation is recalled and countermanded, and as reasons therefor we offer the following: That the petition upon which the said proclamation was granted was signed by less than one-fourth of the voters of Buffalo county. That the said petition was circulated only in Kearney and that it was not generally known that such a petition was in circulation. That a majority of the voters of Buffalo county are opposed to the said proposition and by recalling it the expense of an election will be saved, and to this end your petitioners do earnestly pray."
T. C. Roberts
F. L. Schmidt
C. L. Shiffes
D. H. Pagneer
W. S. Freeman
J. S. Harrington
A. I. Aitken
John N. Brown
A. B. Richardson
E. B. Carter
H. L. Faddis
B. F. Sammons
H. J. Allen
J. R. George
G, L. Thomas
D. W. Johnson
M. R. Wickwire
E. J. Bunk
John P. Smith
D. B. Allen
A. S. Craig
C. W. Dake
G. N. Cornell
A. M. Gay
E. B. Pickering
J. W. Chambers
S. M. Swely
H. M. Hanson
E. R. Griffin
A. L. Webb
J. A. Harron
H. W. Giddings
A. M. Way
O. C. Hancock
J. C. Stanley
A. D. Barnhart
J. T. Mullins
S. A. Thomas
W. A. Loosee
Geo. W. Eastman
J. G. Carson
W. F. Pickering
J. N. Mettler
HISTORY OF BUFFALO COUNTY
Ed J. Cook
J. N. Keller
H. E. Swan
R. M. Grimes
H. A. Lee
C. O. Childs
John E. Miller
T. F. Craig
F. E. Colby
L. D. Craven
V. T. Mercer
C. T. Dildine
A. F. Taylor
D. M. Puiser
R. W. Russell
I. W. Brown
E. T. Hulianiski
F. J. Switz
S. B. Lowell
J. N. Allen
J. M. Bayley
H. S. Colby
C. S. Bailey
B. A. Fox
James H. Fee
S. C. Ayer
J. H. Darby
J. P. Putnam
M. S. Cook
J. J. W. Place
S. C. Bassett
P. K. Drury
Wm. S. Hall
C. A. Borders
S. A. Barrett
N. W. Short
G. W. Simkins
Alva G. H. White
J. E. Kelsey
E. B. Dunkin
J. F. Broderick
S. M. Palmer
Wm. F. McClure
J. A. Danner
Wm. H. Kelly
A. F. Gibson
M. D. Marsh
S. F. Berry
W. H. Killgore
J. R. Rice
Geo. H. Bicknell
J. A. Waters
B. C. Bassett
R. G. Graham
J. S. Chamberlain
S. R. Traut
John W. Berry
James T. Hays
V. T. Broderick
I. P. George
W. R. Jackson
J. D. Drury
S. A. Marshall
A. J. Oviatt
Saml. T. Walker
O. E. Thompson
J. B. Wheeler
O. B. Washburn
G. R. Tracy
C. A. Smith
J. B. Thomas
H. M. Fisher
T. J. Hubbard
Geo. H. Silvernail
Wm. H. Bray
J. H. Davis
C. E. Brayton
J. E. Mowers
O. A. Buzzell
Will P. Trew
L. D. George
J. E. Miller
Wm. T. Beatty
F. F. Blanchard
T. S. Mitchell
HISTORY OF BUFFALO COUNTY
D. P. Ashburn
Geo. E. Norris
W. A. Huntley
L. S. Hough
W. E. Oakley
F. D. Boardman
P. T. Davis
T. F. Broderick
G. N. Smith
W. H. Sprague
I. D. LaBarre
L. J. Babcock
H. H. Haven
D. H. Hite
Amos D. George
R. E. L. Willard
W. N. Brown
E. W. Carpenter
E. D. Hubbard
C. W. Hatch
Robert H. Hick
C. H. Bishop
C. T. Silvernail
T. J. Mahoney
O. D. White
The following subscription list, bearing the signatures of seventy persons and pledging a total of $250, was found among the papers of S. S. St. John, a long time resident of Kearney, and turned over to the editor of this history by his son, L. N. St. John.
The heading of the subscription list reads as follows:
"We, the undersigned, agree to pay the amounts placed opposite our respective names to assist in carrying the election of bonds to aid the Nebraska Southern Railway company in constructing a line of railway from Red Cloud to Kearney, Nebraska; and, also, to pay expenses asked by Gov. Thayer for the encampment of the state militia here two weeks in September, 1888, 2,500 strong."