He was born in Ireland in 1859, a son of Patrick and Catherine (Carmody) Hayes, likewise natives of that country. When he was six years of age his father came to America and after working in a dye factory at Lowell, Massachusetts, for a year went to Lewistown, Pennsylvania, where he learned the ax-making trade, which he followed for three years. At the end of that time he provided a comfortable home there for his wife and children, who joined him. Three years later a removal was made to Onarga, Illinois, where the father worked on a railroad for six years, after which he engaged in farming for a similar period. In 1880 he removed to Cass county, Nebraska, where he became the owner of two hundred acres of good land. He devoted his time and attention to the cultivation of his place until 1901, when he retired from active life. He resided among his children from that time until his demise, which occurred in March, 1915, when he was eighty-four years of age. His wife passed away in 1899. To them were born thirteen children, of whom five are still living, namely: J. D.; Mrs. Catherine Murphy, a resident of Greeley, Nebraska; Louisa, the widow of Thomas Bourk; Ellen Augusta, who married John Murphy, of Cass county; and William, of Plainville, Kansas.
J. D. Hayes spent his boyhood largely in Pennsylvania and Illinois and received a common school education. When eighteen years of age he left home and began working as a farm hand. He was so engaged for several years and the low scale of wages which then prevailed is indicated by the fact that he never received more than sixteen dollars per month for his work. In February, 1886, he went to Cheyenne county, Kansas, having determined to engage in farming on his own account. He homesteaded one hundred and sixty acres and also took up a similar tract as a tree claim. He lived there for seven years, during which time he made many improvements upon the place but at the expiration of that period he removed to Cass county, Nebraska. Later he spent five years in Cuming county, this state, and in 1905 he came to Buffalo county and purchased an improved farm of two hundred and forty acres in Elm Creek township. After living there for five years he removed to an unimproved farm of eighty acres in the same township, where he has since lived. He has erected a good residence and barns and made other improvements upon the place, which is now in a high state of development. He owns in all four hundred acres of excellent land in Elm Creek township and devotes his attention chiefly to stock raising, finding that more profitable than the raising of grain. He has worked hard and untiringly since boyhood, and the financial independence which he has gained is due to his industry and good management rather than to fortunate circumstances. He still holds title to the three hundred and twenty acres in Kansas and is one of the men of wealth of his community.
Mr. Hayes was married in 1882 to Margaret J. Kennedy, a native of Canada and a daughter of Michael and Jane (Tighe) Kennedy. Her father is deceased but her mother is still living and resides with her son, W. J. Kennedy. To Mr. and Mrs. Hayes eleven children have been born, of whom four died in infancy. Those living are: Joseph, who is married and is living in Elm Creek; James P., who is attending a veterinary college at Kansas City; John E., who is operating one of his father's farms; Jane, the wife of Judson Lloyd, of Elm Creek; Margaret Ellen, a senior in the Elm Creek high school; and Martin and William, both at home.
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Mr. Hayes gives his political allegiance to the democratic party but has been too much occupied with his farm work to take an active part in politics. In early life he determined that if enterprise and sound judgment could win success that he would gain prosperity and he never lost sight of his goal. His persistency and energy have been rewarded and he has gained a most gratifying measure of wealth. All who know him recognize his ability and the force of his personality.
WILLIAM F. CROSSLEY.
William F. Crossley is one of the oldest and most prominent contractors of Kearney and the excellence of his workmanship and the reliability of his business methods have resulted in securing for him an extensive patronage so that he has handled a large amount of business, and there today stand many monuments to his skill and ability in the fine homes and substantial structures of the city. He justly deserves to be called a self-made man, for he started out in life empty handed and as the architect of hi own fortunes has builded wisely and well. He was born in Hancock county, Indiana, on the 7th of April, 1857, and was there reared and educated. His father was a carpenter and during his youth William F. Crossley assisted him and gained a practical working knowledge of the trade. He also devoted a portion of his time to farming and was equally thorough in his work along that line. On the 23d of December, 1879, he arrived in Kearney and took up & homestead in Odessa township. He rented his land during the first year and remained in Kearney, where he worked at carpentering in order to secure the money that would enable him to continue his farm work. He proved up on the homestead in 1885 and after about five years' residence in the county he took up contract work. When he first came to Nebraska he was employed for about five years by Aaron Scott. At the end of that turn his tool chest was destroyed by fire and he said that he would never buy another. He therefore began contracting and during the period of the boom he did an extensive business and has always been accorded a liberal share of the public patronage. Thoroughness and reliability have ever characterized the work which he has done personally and that which he has supervised. He has believed that satisfied patrons are the best advertisement and it has been in that way that he has increased his business. In the years in which he has been identified with contracting in Kearney he has erected many buildings and the improvement and adornment of the city along architectural lines is largely due to him. During the first, year he built twenty-two thousand dollars worth of residences, also the Methodist Episcopal and the Episcopal churches and two wings of the State Normal School. He has also erected the high school building, the Ten Cent Store building and the Masonic Temple, is completing Keens block and also building an auditorium for the State Normal School, which when completed in September, 1916, will seat fifteen hundred people. He has also done work at Grand Island and at Holdridge [sic] but now devotes his time chiefly to home building. As the years have passed he has utilized his opportunities for judicious investment and has become the owner of considerable valuable property in
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Kearney. His property includes a good business block in Kearney which he rents and desirable residence property.
On the 23d of March, 1885, Mr. Crossley was married to Miss Mary Calhoun, a native of Ohio, who in 1872 came to Buffalo county with her parents, her father securing a homestead near Riverdale. He was Peter Calhoun, one of the veterans of the Civil war, and he became one of the worthy pioneer settlers of the west. Mrs. Crossley was reared in this county and by her marriage became the mother of two daughters, one of whom died at the age of three years. Wilma R. is attending the Chicago University. She is a graduate of the high school of Kearney and also of the State University of Nebraska, and for three years was a teacher of German in the city schools of Kearney. While in the State University she went to Germany as a student. Mr. and Mrs. Crossley are members of the Methodist Episcopal church, in the work of which they are actively and helpfully interested, and for several years Mr. Crossley has been one of the church trustees. In Masonry he has passed up through the various branches until he has become a Knight Templar, and he has filled all of the chairs of the lodge. He deserves great credit for what he has accomplished as the years have gone by, for his enterprise and indefatigable energy have brought to him his prosperity. He has ever enjoyed an unassailable reputation for fair dealing and the reliability of his methods has featured as a strong element in his growing prosperity.
A. L. RANDALL, M. D.
Dr. A. L. Randall, who since his graduation from the Northwestern University at Chicago in the class of 1903 has been engaged in the practice of medicine and surgery, located at Pleasanton in 1904, where he has since remained, and during this period his practice has grown steadily, as the public has recognized his ability and his devotion to the highest ethical standards of the profession. He was born in Shelby county, Iowa, November 20, 1878, a son of A. J. and Elizabeth (Springstead) Randall, who were natives of New York and Canada respectively. The father, who was a farmer by occupation, removed to Shelby county, Iowa, at an early period in the development of that district, there purchased land and operated his farm throughout his remaining days, his death occurring in 1895. His widow survives and now makes her home with a son in Kansas.
Dr. Randall was reared and educated in Denison, Iowa, and was graduated from the high school with the class of 1895. He also attended the normal school there for two years and afterward entered the Northwestern University at Chicago, where he pursued the medical course, winning his professional degree with the class of 1903. It was his desire to qualify himself most thoroughly and he gave close attention to the branches of study which constitute the medical curriculum. He then returned to Denison, where he remained in active practice for a year but in 1904 removed to Pleasanton, where he has since remained, continuously engaging in practice during this time. His ability has brought him prominently to the front and his practice is now extensive, covering a wide territory. He is also the owner of a half section of land in Beaver township
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and is engaged extensively in the cattle business, handling thoroughbred Aberdeen Angus cattle, having at the present time ninety head upon his place. He also owns a quarter section of land near Sartoria, Nebraska.
On the 25th of August, 1908, Mr. Randall was united in marriage to Miss Edith West, by whom he has a son, Reginald C., whose birth occurred July 30, 1915. In his political views Dr. Randall is a republican and keeps thoroughly informed concerning the questions and issues of the day. For four years he has served on the town board, taking an active interest in furthering the welfare of the community in which he resides. Fraternally he is connected with the Masons and in his life exemplifies the beneficent spirit of the craft, which is based upon a recognition of the brotherhood of man. Those who know him, and he has a wide acquaintance, esteem him highly because of his professional skill, his devotion to duty and his sterling personal worth. He is always courteous and obliging and his efforts have been attended with substantial success.
THEODORE W. OLSON.
Theodore W. Olson has been established in business in Sweetwater longer than any other merchant of the town and also has the largest patronage, having kept in touch with the advancement in merchandising methods and retained the prestige which he gained at the start. His birth occurred in Chicago, Illinois, on the 28th of March, 1872, and his parents were Annon and Mary Olson, natives of Norway. The father emigrated to America in young manhood and located in Chicago when that city gave little promise of becoming the great trade center that it is today and for twenty-six years he was a sailor on the great lakes. In 1881 he removed westward to Sherman county, Nebraska, where he purchased land, to the operation of which he devoted the remainder of his life. He passed away in 1911, when eighty-one years of age, and his wife died in 1877.
Theodore W. Olson was reared and educated in Chicago and in Sherman county, Nebraska, and remained with his parents until he reached the age of twenty-six years. He began farming on his own account but after a year decided to devote his energies to merchandising and, coming to Sweetwater, Buffalo county, purchased a stock of general merchandise and also bought the building in which his store is located. He has since conducted that establishment and has been in business here longer than any other merchant of the town. His patronage has grown steadily and he has anticipated the demands of his customers, adding to the line of goods carried from time to time with the result that he has the most complete stock in Sweetwater. He also owns eighty acres of fine land on section 9, Beaver township, from which he derives a gratifying addition to his income.
On the 11th of September, 1912, Mr. Olson was united in marriage to Miss Frances E. Hetrick. Her parents, Amos and Sarah Hetrick, were natives of Buffalo county but after farming here for some time removed to Sherman county, whence they went to Valley county, where the father is still engaged
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in agricultural pursuits. Mr. and Mrs. Olson have two children, namely: Helen, whose birth occurred on the 16th of July, 1913; and Ida, born March 17, 1915.
Mr. Olson supports the republican party and was for five years postmaster of Sweetwater, making an excellent record in that connection. He is identified with the Independent Order of Odd Fellows, and his religious faith is indicated by the fact that he holds membership in the Lutheran church. His life has been characterized by enterprise and also by sound judgment--a combination of qualities which never fails to win success.
W. R. SCRIBNER
W. R. Scribner, the efficient vice president of the Pleasanton State Bank, has been identified with this institution since 1912 and has contributed in substantial measure to its upbuilding and success. He was born in Seward county, Nebraska, September 21, 1881, a son of C. L. and Emma (White) Scribner, the former a native of Maine and the latter of Illinois. Removing to the west, the father conducted a hotel at Staplehurst, in Seward county, from 1884 until 1910. He had previously come to Nebraska in 1871 and has since here resided with the exception of two years spent in California. He is now living retired at David City, in Butler county, enjoying a rest which he has truly earned and richly deserves. His wife also survives.
W. R. Scribner was largely reared and educated in Staplehurst and was a member of the second graduating class completing the course in the high school there, the date of his graduation being 1897. He then began his independent career and was employed as a farm hand for two years. Subsequently he worked in a lumberyard for two years and in 1904 he came to Pleasanton, Buffalo county, where he accepted the position of manager for the Gilcrest Lumber Company, with which he continued until August 23, 1912. He then became assistant cashier of the Pleasanton State Bank and held that position until December, 1915, when he purchased the interest of E. W. Noyes in the bank and became its vice president, which executive position he now fills with A. H. Grammer as the president and F. L. Grammer as cashier.
On the 10th of April, 1907. Mr. Scribner was united in marriage to Miss Anna Thiessen, a daughter of Henry and Alvina Thiessen, who are natives of Germany and on emigrating to the new world took up their abode in Hall county, Nebraska. The father was long and actively identified with general agricultural pursuits but is now living retired with his wife in the home of Mr. and Mrs. Scribner. Our subject and his wife have three children, namely: A. Lucille, who was born February 12, 1908; Blanche B., whose birth occurred October 31, 1910; and Florence E., whose natal day was February 2, 1913.
Mr. Scribner has been called to several local offices by the vote of his fellow townsmen, who recognize his fidelity to the best interests of the community. He has served as township clerk here for six years and as village clerk for six years and has also been a member of the town board. His political allegiance is given to the democratic party, for he is a firm believer in its principles. He is interested in the cause of education and has served as school director of Pleasan-
HISTORY OF BUFFALO COUNTY
ton for three years. He belongs to the Masonic fraternity, the Modern Woodmen of America and to the United Brethren church and in these associations are found the rules which govern his conduct and shape his course in his relations with his fellowmen. Those who know him esteem him most highly and he has a large circle of warm friends in Pleasanton and throughout the county. He possesses the enterprising spirit which has characterized and dominated the west with its development and upbuilding, for he is a native son of Nebraska, having spent his entire life within its borders.
J. D. McCARTNEY.
J. D. McCartney, a well-to-do retired farmer residing at Elm Creek, is entitled to honor as a veteran of the Civil war, having served for a considerable period in an Iowa regiment. At the time the war broke out he was in the south and was compelled to serve in the Confederate army but at length escaped and made his way to the Union lines. He was born in Lawrence county, Ohio, on the 26th of September, 1839, of the marriage of William and Elizabeth (Davidson) McCartney, natives of Virginia and Kentucky, respectively. The father, who was a farmer by occupation, eventually removed from Ohio to Wisconsin and there his demise occurred but our subject took the body back to Ohio for burial. The mother died in Ohio in 1862.
J. D. McCartney was reared in the Buckeye state and received a limited education there. As his parents were poor he had to begin earning his living at an early age and when nineteen began his independent career. After working for a time as a farm hand he was employed on a steamboat on the Ohio river running to Cincinnati. He gained a thorough knowledge of steamboating but in the fall of 1859 decided to try his hand at other work and went to Arkansas, spending the winter chopping wood on the White river in Monroe county. He was still there when the Civil war broke out and when the Confederates began scouting for recruits he was noticed and would have been compelled to join the Confederate army then had not a man from Mississippi who was at that time living in Arkansas befriended him. This man had a son whom he did not wish to see enter the army and, having persuaded our subject to go home with him, he told his son and Mr. McCartney to hide in the swamps, saying that he would smuggle food to them until the war was over if it lasted a thousand years. During the daytime they hid in the swamps and at night they crept into the house. One night as there was company at the house they were late in getting in and at daylight were awakened by the barking of dogs. They found themselves in the hands of Confederates, who compelled them to join the army although, as there was no one to administer the oath, they did not formally enlist. Their division marched against an expected attack from gunboats that were supposed to come up the river in an attempt to join General Curtis' troops from the north. On reaching the White river, however, the gunboats had returned down the stream. On learning this the Confederates started for Little Rock but on the way our subject and his friend invented an excuse for falling behind and finally dropped out of the march. They intended to hide their horses
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in the woods until the army should pass but the animals were restive and made so much noise that they finally decided to turn them loose. After hiding their saddles in a cane patch they let the horses go and then started for the Union army, which they thought would go to Helena, Arkansas, fifty miles distant. Our subject's companion led the way until Mr. McCartney was convinced that they were traveling in a circle and he then took the lead and succeeded in reaching the Union lines at Helena. He knew that moss always grows the heaviest on the north side of a tree and this knowledge was of great advantage to them in finding their way across the country. One night they built a smudge and he and his companion each marked a tree in what each believed to be the east. In the morning it was found that Mr. McCartney was right, while, according to his friend, the sun rose in the west. Mr. McCartney told his story to General Curtis, of the Fourth Iowa Cavalry, at Helena and enlisted in Company G of that regiment on the 1st of August, 1862. He continued with that command until he was mustered out on the 15th of August, 1865, at Atlanta, Georgia, and four days later he was honorably discharged at Davenport, Iowa. Although he had many interesting adventures before he succeeded in enlisting in the Union army he was thereafter fortunate, escaping being wounded or taken prisoner or being confined in a hospital by sickness.
Following the war Mr. McCartney returned to Gallia, Ohio, where he remained for several years. He then resided for ten years in Wisconsin, after which he spent a summer in Sioux county, Iowa, but in 1882 he drove by wagon to Buffalo county, Nebraska, bringing with him three cows. He homesteaded one hundred and sixty acres of prairie and took up a timber claim of one hundred and sixty acres and for seven years lived in a sod house. At length, however, he built a commodious frame residence and he became in time one of the large landowners of Logan township, he and his son holding title to eight hundred acres. He engaged in farming until 1909, in which year he retired and took up his residence in Elm Creek, where he owns a comfortable home and where he has since lived. He still has two hundred and forty acres of land in Logan township, from which he derives a gratifying income.
Mr. McCartney was married in Gallia county, Ohio, in 1867, to Miss Louisa Dowdy, who was born in that county on the 11th of February, i843, and is a daughter of David and Celia (Cheatwood) Dowdy, natives respectively of Virginia and Kentucky, both of whom passed away in Ohio. Mr. and Mrs. McCartney have four children. E. E., a farmer of Logan township, has eight children. Susan N. married R. M. Walker, who died in 1903, and she afterward became the wife of Charles Wilbur. She passed away five years ago, leaving three children, who are now living in Morrill county, Nebraska. Nina Belle is the wife of S. C. Cheney, of Morrill county, and they have four children. Lillie married J. C. Leemaster, also of Morrill county, and their children are three in number. Mr. and Mrs. McCartney have eighteen grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.
Mr. McCartney supported the republican party for many years but in 1912 voted for Woodrow Wilson for president. He was a member of the Hatton Grand Army Post at Elm Creek until that organization was disbanded and he found much satisfaction in associating with others who went to the defense of the Union in its time of need. He at one time belonged to the Baptist church
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and subsequently joined the Christian church but for several years has not attended any church. Although he is seventy-six years of age he is still hale and hearty and is active, as indolence is foreign to his nature. The success which he has won is the direct result of his untiring industry and his good management, and all who know him respect him highly.
John Wilson, police magistrate and justice of the peace of Kearney, was born in Allegheny county, Pennsylvania, about ten miles from Pittsburgh on the 21st of February, 1849, and was there reared upon a farm until he reached the age of sixteen years. His parents, Samuel and Mary (Owens) Wilson, were natives of the north of Ireland and were Scotch Presbyterians in their religious belief. John Wilson, the father of Samuel Wilson, and in whose honor the subject of this review was named, came with his wife and children to America about the year 1825 and settled in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, at which time Samuel Wilson was a youth of eight years. He was there reared and married, his wife's people coming to America from the same locality in Ireland as did the Wilson family. In March, 1865, he removed with his wife and children to Illinois and settled near Geneseo, in Henry county, where he remained to the time of his death, which occurred in 1906. He and his wife were the parents of six sons and three daughters.
John Wilson, the eldest of this family, spent his boyhood days under the parental roof, aiding in the work of the home farm and attending the district schools of the neighborhood. Farming continued to be his occupation until 1876, when he was appointed to the office of deputy sheriff of Henry county, Illinois, serving in that capacity for ten years. In 1883 he resigned and in October of that year removed to Kearney, Nebraska, where he turned his attention to the livery business in partnership with his brother, Samuel Wilson. He continued in the livery business and in buying horses until 1888, when he was elected sheriff of Buffalo county and in that position served for two terms, or for four years in all. His second election, which occurred in 1890, was won by a majority of seventeen hundred, the largest ever given any candidate up to that time and possibly the largest ever given in the county. Still higher official honors awaited him, however, for in 1892 he was elected to the lower house of the state legislature, being one of the few that escaped the populistic landslide of that year. In 1895 he was appointed deputy collector of internal revenue under J. E. Houtz, his territory comprising all of Nebraska west of Grand Island, in which city he made his headquarters, and extending as far north as Ord and south to the Platte river. Until 1913 he was in the leasing and sales department of the Union Pacific Railroad in Kearney and in 1914 was elected police magistrate and justice of the peace in Kearney and has since occupied that position. He was chief of the Kearney fire department for fifteen years, from 1884 to 1899.
Judge Wilson was married May 25, 1881, to Miss Rosa M. Beecher, of Galva, Illinois, and to this Union five children have been born: Pearl, who died at the
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age of two years; John Howard; Archie, who passed away in infancy; Ella M.; and Richard B.
Judge Wilson is a prominent Mason and is present eminent commander of Mount Hebron Commandery at Kearney. He also belongs to Tangier Temple, A. A. O. N. M. S., and is connected with the Knights of Pythias as well. In politics he is a stalwart republican and has long been recognized as one of the leaders of his party in this section of the state, his opinions carrying weight in its councils. He possesses a genial nature and a social disposition, which go far toward winning him personal popularity, but his ability has kept him in office and places him at the front as one of the leaders of public thought and action.
CHARLES W. WALLACE.
Charles W. Wallace gained a substantial competence through his well directed activities as a stock raiser and is now living retired in Ravenna. He was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, on the 22d of February, 1859. His father served in the navy during the Civil war and was killed at New Orleans and his mother died shortly after his birth, so that our subject knows practically nothing of his parents. He was bound out to a farmer and remained with him until 1876. In the spring of the following year he removed to Belle Plaine, Iowa, and for three years was employed as a farm hand in that locality but at the end of that time he came still farther west. He made the journey to Buffalo county, Nebraska, in a covered wagon and purchased one hundred and sixty acres of railroad land on section 25, Schneider township. His previous experience in farm work well qualified him to carry on agricultural pursuits on his own account and as the years passed his resources increased. He gave the greater part of his attention to stock-raising, specializing in pure blooded Percheron and Shire horses. He was recognized as one of the most successful horse breeders of the county and for some time was secretary and treasurer of the Schneider Township Imported Horse Company, composed of horse breeders. He also raised high grade hogs and cattle and seldom failed to sell his stock to good advantage. In 1912 he retired from active life and removed to Ravenna, where he purchased a good residence in the northern part of the town, where he has since lived. He is a stockholder and director of the Bell Telephone Company and is independent financially.
In December, 1879, Mr. Wallace was united in marriage to Miss Martha Shafer, a daughter of Frederick and Mary (Meisner) Shafer. Her parents were both born in Germany but became pioneer settlers of Tama county, Iowa, where the father owned and operated a good farm. He also held title to four hundred and eighty acres in Gardner township, Buffalo county, Nebraska, which he purchased for his son. He served throughout the entire Civil war for a period of four and a half years with an Iowa regiment and was taken prisoner and held for fourteen months in a prison at Tyler, Texas. He was also wounded but in spite of the hardships and suffering which he underwent his loyalty to his adopted country never wavered. He passed away in October, 1911, and his wife died in 1899. Mr. and Mrs. Wallace have become the parents of five children,
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namely: John C., a resident of Ravenna; Viola M., the wife of James Vogt, who is operating our subject's farm; Frederick S, who is assistant superintendent of the Industrial School at Kearney; Charles R., who is farming in Schneider township, this county; and Anna K., the wife of Wayne McWhinney, a farmer of Sherman county.
Mr. Wallace supports the democratic party at the polls and has held a number of public offices. For years he was justice of the peace of Schneider township, for two years was a member of the board of county supervisors, for twenty years he served on the school board and is at present assessor of Ravenna. Fraternally he is affiliated with the Modern Woodmen of America. He takes a commendable interest in everything relating to the public welfare and is one of the most highly esteemed citizens of Ravenna.
Frank Fiala, who is living practically retired upon a valuable farm adjoining the townsite of Ravenna, is one of the most widely known and most highly esteemed residents of this section of the state. He is almost seventy-three years of age but is still straight as an arrow, active and vigorous, and is interested in all of the affairs of the day. His has been an eventful life and in its course he has experienced the rigors of hard military campaigns, has known what it means to come to a strange country without capital and to gain prosperity only to lose all that he has won by hard labor, but his courage has never faltered and his determination and energy have enabled him to gain a substantial competence which is sufficient to provide him with all of the comforts of life.
Frank Fiala was born in the village of Horelice, nine miles from Prague, the capital of Bohemia, and his natal day was the 28th of April, 1843. His parents, James and Veronica Fiala, were likewise born in that country. The father engaged in the coal business, hauling coal to the city of Prague, and in the winter of 1846 was frozen while making the trip. His widow married Joseph Horak and in 1864 they came to America and located in Washington county, Iowa, where Mr. Horak purchased land, which he operated until his demise in 1908. He had survived his wife for a year, her death occurring in 1907. Frank Fiala started to school in his native village when he was six years of age and when twelve years old was sent to Prague, where he lived with a relative and attended school, taking up, among other things, the study of German. In 1859 war broke out between Austria and Italy and patriotic feeling ran high among the students in the University of Prague, over eight hundred of whom, including Mr. Fiala, enlisted in the Austrian army. He was a member of a company of sharpshooters and for eight months was almost constantly on the skirmish line. He received six cents per day and rations, which consisted of a daily allowance of two and a half pounds of black bread. The principal engagement in which he fought was the storming of the fortress of Verona, Italy. He was only sixteen years of age when he enlisted but he made a highly creditable record as a soldier and met with many thrilling experiences unusual to a boy of his years. At the close, of the war he was discharged and returned to Horelice,
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where he held the position of accountant and timekeeper in an iron mine until he was twenty-one years of age. In the meantime he had formed the acquaintance of Vojte Naprstek, who in after years became one of the leaders of the Bohemian people throughout the world. Mr. Naprstek convinced Mr. Fiala that the advantages afforded in America were superior to those offered by his country under Austrian rule and he at once began to agitate the question of emigration among the people of Horelice. Many of his friends and neighbors emigrated, as did his mother and stepfather, and he himself was making preparations to leave when the government called upon him to enter upon the required eight years of military duty. He accordingly entered the army and was attached to the Seventh Regiment of Cuirassiers, in which he later became a lieutenant. His regiment was stationed for a considerable period at Vienna and was transferred to various places in Hungary. At that time Maximilian, archduke of Austria, was attempting to establish an empire in Mexico and Mr. Fiala applied for a transfer to his army, believing that he could thus find an opportunity to carry out his plan of emigrating to America. However, his request was refused, as the authorities learned that he intended to become a resident of the United States after the expiration of his term of service. While in the Austrian army the Austro-Prussian war occurred and he was in a great deal of the hardest fighting. Among other engagements he participated in the bloody three days' battle of Kenig-Krac and during that engagement was wounded twice, had two horses killed under him and the third horse was wounded by a stroke of a saber directed at Mr. Fiala's person.
At the end of five of his eight years' service Mr. Fiala asked for a furlough of thirty days and, taking advantage of his opportunity, took ship for America and landed at New York city in February, 1860. He did not have a dollar but succeeded in borrowing twenty dollars from friends and started for Chicago with a party of immigrants. After a very disagreeable trip which lasted ten days he reached that city and found work as a runner, for an immigrant hotel, thus securing enough money to pay his fare to Iowa, where his mother, stepfather and other relatives were located. He was employed as a hired man near Richmond, Iowa, for a time and while there met a Bohemian girl who had recently removed from New York with her parents. They were married after an acquaintance of one day, although at that time Mr. Fiala did not have enough money to pay for the license. He began farming on his own account, but at the end of a year found that his profit was but seventy dollars and determined to turn his attention to other pursuits. His wife was an expert cigar maker, having learned the trade in New York and they concluded to return to that city and there secured work almost immediately. Mr. Fiala also learned the cigar maker's trade and was the first president of the Cigar Makers Union of New York city. The panic of 1873 affected the cigar industry as seriously as it did other commercial enterprises and Mr. and Mrs. Fiala determined to again try their fortune in the west. They had saved some capital and established a cigar factory in Iowa City, which they conducted successfully for about five years, but in 1878 the factory and stock were destroyed by fire, involving a loss of twenty thousand dollars.
Mr. Fiala again found himself penniless and was compelled to start life anew. While living in Iowa City he had made the acquaintance of Edward
HISTORY OF BUFFALO COUNTY
Rosewater, the editor of the Omaha Bee, and also John Rositzky, the publisher of an influential Bohemian paper, Pokrok Zapadn, and they told him of the opportunities offered energetic, ambitious men in Nebraska. He went to Kearney in April, 1878, and after investigating conditions in the state decided in favor of Sherman county. He removed his family there, taking up a homestead of one hundred and sixty acres three miles north of Ravenna. He also took up a one hundred and sixty acre timber claim on section 28, township 13, range 14, and at once began the improvement of his land. He found conditions even more satisfactory than he had thought and as the years passed his resources constantly increased. After farming successfully for seventeen years he sold his land in this state and went to Florida, investing his capital in timber lands. He took several cars of cattle and horses with him but within a year his stock sickened and died and he also lost heavily in his land investments. In addition to this misfortune he and nearly all of his family were taken sick and one son died there. For the third time he was without capital, but he secured funds from loyal friends and started to return to Nebraska with his family. His money was gone by the time he reached Missouri and he remained there for a year.
In the fall of 1896 he and his family took up their residence in Grand Island, and his wife and one of his daughters found employment in a Grand Island cigar factory, while he obtained a position with a Bohemian newspaper, which he represented throughout the state for a year. During that time he also represented a cigar house on the road, and he was also a representative of the Union Fire Insurance Company. At the end of five years the combined efforts of the family had accumulated sufficient capital to purchase a farm of one hundred and sixty acres in Sherman county two miles from Ravenna.
Mr. Fiala again concentrated his energies upon agricultural pursuits and again his labors were rewarded by prosperity. A few years later he purchased a valuable tract of eighty acres adjoining the townsite of Ravenna on the north and this is now the family home, the quarter section having been sold in 1911 at a substantial advance over the cost price. Part of the eighty acres has also been disposed of as a subdivision of Ravenna. The family are now in very comfortable circumstances and Mr. Fiala is living practically retired, enjoying a leisure which is richly deserved and leaving the operation of the home farm to his son. In 1885 he organized the Union Fire Insurance Company of Nebraska, of which he became vice president and a director, but at the time of his removal to Florida he resigned those offices. However, since returning to Nebraska he has again become connected with that concern and is now serving as its agent.
Mr. Fiala was married on the 19th of April, 1870, to Miss Anna Bratnsovsky, a daughter of Frank and Josephine Bratnsovsky, natives of Bohemia, who emigrated to America in 1864. After living for a short time in New York city they continued their way westward and settled in Washington county, Iowa, where they purchased land. The father devoted the remainder of his life to farming and met with gratifying success in that occupation. He died in 1898 at Des Moines, and the mother passed away in that city in 1883.
Mr. and Mrs. Fiala have become the parents of fourteen children, as follows: Toney, who was born in New York city in May, 1871; Anna, whose