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W. L. RANDALL. A young man in years but a comparatively old settler and one of the most progressive, enterprising and public spirited man of his locality, is W. L. Randall, the famous, one-price, cash merchant of the town of Gibbon, Buffalo county. Mr. Randall came to the county when about seventeen years of age; while therefore he is hardly "to the manor born" he is nevertheless almost a product of the soil, having grown up in the community where he resides and having been identified with the best interests of that community from his earliest days. He is a son of a former well known citizen and old settler of Gibbon township, now de-deceased, (sic) and before entering on the record of the subject of this notice it will be proper to refer to a few facts of his father's history.
John D. Randall was born in New York and was reared there to the age of seventeen, being brought thence to Ohio by his parents, who settled in Clermont county. There he grew up and married a neighbor girl, Jane Beatty, a daughter of John Beatty, one of the first settlers of that county, and settled down to the peaceful pursuits of agriculture. He was so engaged till the clouds of a civil war burst over his unhappy country. Then, with an alacrity born of the patriotism in him, he offered his services for the preservation of the Union, enlisting in September, 1861, in Company C, commanded by his brother, W. S. Randall, Second Ohio volunteer infantry, commanded by his brother-in-law, Col. William T. Beatty. His regiment was assigned to duty in the western department, and, beginning its services in Kentucky, it was in the engagements at Perryville, that state; Ivy mountain and Stone river, Tennessee; Chickamauga, Lookout mountain and Missionary ridge, and then, entering the Atlanta campaign, down to the taking of Atlanta. He entered as a private and was discharged as a sergeant, having served out the term of his enlistment Returning to Ohio he resumed farming and continued there so engaged till 1877, when with his family he moved to Nebraska and settled in Gibbon township, Buffalo county, four miles west of the town of Gibbon, where he lived till his death, which occured (sic) July 23, 1887, he having attained his seventieth year. He never had any aspirations for public life, but filled a number of local offices both in Ohio and this state with credit to himself and satisfaction to his fellow-citizens. He was a man of plain tastes, quiet habits and settled disposition, leading an active, industrious, useful life, and laying down his burden at the end of his journey with a consciousness of duty well done, and bearing with him to his grave the sincere regret of those whose friendship and esteem had had enjoyed while living. He was for many years a zealous member of the Methodist church and a liberal contributor to all charitable purposes. Being an old soldier, he took much interest in Grand Army matters, and no man had a warmer place in his bosom for an old comrade than he. He left surviving him a widow and six children, one having preceded him to the unknown world. His widow is still living at Gibbon, and his children are all married and are themselves the heads of families. These are Mrs. Jane Seeley, wife of C. G. Seeley of Goshen, Ohio; Mrs. Lida Osborn of Wilmington,
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Ohio, wife of I. H. Osborn, who moved to Gibbon, September 11, 1890; Mrs. Caroline Schooley, wife of N. Schooley, of Gibbon, Buffalo county, this state; Mrs. Kate Huffman, wife of Amos Huffman of Wilmington, Ohio; John B. of Buffalo county, and William L., the subject proper of this sketch, the one that died being Frank, the second child in point of age.
William L. Randall was born in Clermont county, Ohio, September 5, 1860. He was reared in that and Buffalo county, this state, growing up on his father's farm and receiving a fair common-school education. His earlier pursuits were of an agricultural nature. He quit the farm, however, in 1884, and after spending two years in the Gibbon creamery and running the Commercial hotel of that place, he went to Wood River, in Hall county, where he began the mercantile business. Returning to Gibbon in July, 1889, he opened his present inaugurating at that date the well remembered era of low prices for people of that vicinity. Having been brought up on the farm and having spent the greater part of his life among the farmers, he knows their wants perfectly, and is in entire sympathy with them, and is therefore prepared to furnish them what they need and do it at living prices to them. Mr. Randall has built up an immense trade for the time he has been in business and the volume of his business is constantly increasing. He is no respecter of persons or prices when they conflict with his sense of justice to his patronage. He reserves the right to buy where he can get the best for the least money and to sell at such figures as he sees fit to put on his goods. He is thoroughly independent, and is a man of good intelligence, shrewd and practical, attending strictly to his own affairs but discharging his duties as a citizen with promptness and fidelity. He has a family, having married April 19, 1882, the lady whom he selected for a wife being Miss Emma Wescoatt, daughter of Riley Wescoatt, a merchant of Wood River, Hall county, Nebr., and a native of Albia, Iowa, but reared mainly in Hall county, whither her parents moved in 1876. Mr. Randall has a pleasant home and a host of warm friends. He was elected member of the board of trustees in April, 1890, and took his seat as same the first Monday in May, 1890. He has enlarged his store to double its former capacity and now carries the largest and best assortment of general merchandise in the city. He also runs a large stock of general merchandise at Wood River, Hall county, he having bought his father-in-law's stock at that place.
M. H. NOBLE. The observation is frequently made that the second crop of settlers in a new country always reap the fruits of the labors of the pioneers. Strictly speaking this is not correct, but the general statement contains considerable truth. The qualities that make a good pioneer do not necessarily make a successful man of the world, and it is a fact that, as a new country becomes settled up, the old-timers, as a rule, move on to the more sparsely settled districts while the new-comers pick up the desirable locations and not unfrequently monopolize the most lucrative professions and absorb the best paying business enterprises. There is something
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In the free and easy way of living practiced by the old settlers that seems to unfit them for coping successfully with the aggressive forces that come with the better settlement of the country. On the other hand the more newly arrived settler, fresh from the over-crowded communities of the East and thoroughly practiced in all the approved methods of getting on in the world, feels freer for his change and sees opportunities where his discouraged neighbor can not, and not being slow to avail himself of the opportunities he soon forges to the front and begins to attract attention as a man who "has come in recently but is making it pay right along."
One of the citizens of Buffalo county who falls with the designation of "second crop of settlers" is M. H. Noble, a representative business man of the town of Gibbon. Mr. Noble came to Buffalo county July 31, 1879, more than eight years after the town was located and the county properly opened to settlement. He had friends who were residents of Gibbon and who were among the first settlers of the place, and it was from a knowledge of the country gained through them that he decided to make his home in Nebraska. On his arrival here Mr. Noble went to work in the Gibbon mills, where he learned the business of milling. He was in the employ of the Gibbon mills for three years and a half, the last year of which time he was first miller. From the mills he went on the ranch of I. N. Davis in Valley township, four miles north of Gibbon, and there remained two years and a half. He put up the buildings on this ranch, did a large part of the fencing and superintended the breaking out of a considerable portion of it. He raised three crops and was getting in a fair way to make of the place one of the best ranches in the county, when, on account of failure of health of wife, he was forced to give up. He moved into Gibbon and bought out the half interest of James A. Kelsey in the drug house of Kelsey & Murnen, entering into partnership with Mr. Murnen, the firm becoming Murnen & Noble. Later he bought out his partner's interest, since which time he has been alone. He has the best drug house in the town of Gibbon and one that would do credit to a town twice the size of Gibbon, carrying a clean, neat, well-selected stock and sufficiently large to meet all local demands. He drives a prosperous business and may be set down as one of the money-makers of his town.
Mr. Noble received exceptionally good training for the mercantile business in youth and doubtless his success is due, in no small measure, to the knowledge he so acquired and the methods he learned. For five years prior to coming to Nebraska he was in the mercantile establishment of William Bell & Co., of Cincinnati, Ohio, entering that establishment as cash boy and quitting it as cashier. During this time he had abundant opportunities to learn all the "ins and outs" of the mercantile business -- wholesale and retail -- city and country. He availed himself of these opportunities as a quick, active young fellow might be expected to, and he came away from Cincinnati with the foundation of a successful business career well laid.
Mr. Noble is a native of Clermont county, Ohio, and was born October 4, 1858. He is a son of Alfred and Susan
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(Longstreth) Noble, his father being a native of Virginia and his mother a native of Indiana. His father was a physician of excellent attainments, being thoroughly enamored of his profession and enjoying an extensive practice. Unfortunately for his family and for the community where he lived, he was cut off in the midst of an enviable professional career and in the prime of life. He died July 26, 1858, at the age of fifty-five.
Mr. Noble's mother was a daughter of William Longstreth, of Philadelphia, Pa., an old honored and useful citizen of that county. She is yet living, and is the second wife of Dr. Noble, he having been previously married and having by his former marriage two children, both of whom are now living. There are Alfred B. Noble, now of resident of Hamburg, Iowa, and Mrs. Addie Bell, wife of William H. Bell, of Knightstown, Ind. To Dr. Alfred and Susan (Longstreth) Noble were born a family of seven children. There were Julia, wife of L. C. Simpkins, of Cincinnati, Ohio; John, now a resident of Ft. Wayne, Ind., and an electrician of some note; William, a resident of Colorado; Adelia, wife of M. S. Cook, of Gibbon, Nebr.; Frank, of Rome, Ga., Charles, of Ft. Wayne, Ind., and Milton H., whose name is placed at the head of this article. The last two are twins.
Milton H. Noble was reared in his native county, and received an ordinary common-school education. What his career might have been had his father lived to superintend his training and counsel him in the selection of his life-work, can not now of course be told. So far as this is concerned, only the sad fact remains to be recorded that he never saw his father, and that what training he got in youth was such as fell to the average boy; all he has and all he is he owes to himself, aided, as he was in his earlier years, by a kind and faithful mother.
In his domestic life Mr. Noble's lines, like those of many others, have fallen partly in sunshine and partly in shadow. He was married, in September, 1882, to Miss Ida E. Day, of Alfred, Me. This lady died in January, 1883. He married again July 15, 1884, his second wife being Miss Blanch Seaver, a daughter of Parley Seaver, of Stockholm, St. Lawrence county, N. Y., in which city Mrs. Noble was also born.
Mr. Noble has never aspired to be more than a man of business. He has devoted himself strictly to the pursuit of his own personal affairs, to the discharge of his duties as a citizen and to those dependent on him. He is a liberal-minded man, ready to help any worthy enterprise or deserving person to the extent of his means in an honest purpose or endeavor; and this is not the opinion of a stranger to him, but it is the report given of him by his neighbors and acquaintances who have lived by him and have done business with him for years, and whose opinions are therefore entitled to consideration on this point.
V. T. Mercer. An old settler and highly esteemed citizen of Gibbon township, Buffalo county, is V. T. Mercer, the subject of this notice. Mr. Mercer is a native of Delaware county, Pa., and was born in July, 1828. He is
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next to the youngest of a family of eleven children born to Euclid and Mary (Watts) Mercer. His father was also a native of Pennsylvania, was reared and married there and moved from there to Ohio, settling in what was then Guernsey, now Noble county, from which, after a residence of some years, he moved to Fulton county, Ill., where he died with the cholera. He was an industrious farmer and an honored and useful citizen. Mr. Mercer's mother was a native of Maryland, moving with her parents when young to Pennsylvania, where she met and was married to Euclid Mercer. She survived her husband twenty-eight years, dying also in Fulton county, Ill. Of the eleven children born to them six were boys and five girls; all of them reached maturity, and, with the exception of three, are now living. Their christian names in the order of their ages are as follows: John, Elizabeth, Richard,Job, Chalkley, Hannah, Julia Ann, Sarah, Susan, Vernon T. and Hiram B.
Vernon T., the subject of this sketch, was reared mainly in Guernsey (afterwards Noble) county, Ohio. He was brought up on the farm and trained to the habits of industry and usefulness common to farm life, receiving during the winter months, according to the custom of those days, the rudiments of a common-school education by attendance at the country schools of the neighborhood. In 1860 he married Nancy Rebecca Waggoner, daughter of John and Elizabeth Waggoner, of Noble county, she being a native of that county and a young lady whom he had known from early childhood. He settled down to the pursuit of agriculture and was so engages when the Civil war came on. He entered the Union army in 1864, enlisting in Company F, One Hundred and Seventy-fourth Ohio volunteer infantry, his regiment being attached to the Army of the Cumberland, with which he served, being mustered out in May, 1865. Returning to Ohio he remained there, engaged in farming, till the spring of 1871, when he moved to Nebraska, settling in Gibbon township, Buffalo County, in June that year. He took a homestead in section 26, township 9, range 14 west, being 162.88 acres and embracing a fractional part of the old Fort Kearney military reservation. There he located and has since resided, having been steadily engaged in farming. He has one of the best places in Gibbon township. It lies only about two miles from the corporate limits of the town of Gibbon and is thus sufficiently near mills, markets, schools and churches. Every foot of it is susceptible of cultivation and it lies near enough to the Platte bottoms to place it in reach of an abundance of hay and grazing land. It has growing on it an excellent grove of trees, the result of Mr. Mercer's industry and foresight, and is supplied with all other needful conveniences. Mr. Mercer has never aspired to be more than a humble citizen of the community where he resides, being content to follow the even tenor of his way, finding therein his chief pleasure as well as his highest reward. He has reared up around himself an interesting family of children, all of whom are now grown and some of whom are married and are themselves the heads of families. His children are -- Charles Wilber, Mollie L. (now wife of H. P. Smith, a sketch of whom appears in this work), John B. and Flora K.
249 BIOGRAPHICAL SOUVENIR OF BUFFALO COUNTY
Photo of F. G. KEENS
F. G. KEENS came to Kearney in July, 1872, and is therefore, one of the earliest settlers. The town site was not surveyed until the September following, nor the town organized until January, 1873. But it is not this fact alone that entitles him to special mention in this volume. There are hundreds who settled in Kearney during the years of 1872 - 3, whose names will never find their way to honorable mention in this or any other collection of biographical sketches. It is a significant fact, that a majority of the heavy capitalists and representative business men of Kearney, to-day, were not among the first who cast their lots here. The "old timer" has either "moved on," like the red man and the buffalo, whose trail he has covered, or he has complacently settled down on his original lot, and has devoted his energies in his own way to the solution of the bread and butter question. All the more credit, therefore, is due to the old settler who has stuck it out and has risen to some eminence here and there among his comrades of former years, who has shown himself keenly alive to the advantages of his early opportunities, who has grown as the country has grown, and more especially, who has had the pluck, energy and practical wisdom to enable him to hold his own amidst the inrolling tide of brains and capital from the older states and countries of the East.
F. G. Keens is one of the pioneers of Buffalo county and of the city of Kearney, who has achieved marked success. Considering his advantages, none have excelled him. Measured by dollars and cents, he has outstripped by far any of his associates of former days, many of whom started in the race far ahead of him. There is a lesson in such a life, for it can be laid down as a fixed fact that such success could not have been achieved without the exercise of some of the best virtues of the race. Mr. Keens' has been a long and arduous struggle, beginning under the most discouraging circumstances, and pursued at each step, until late years, against obstacles that would have weakened any but the most dauntless spirit. He literally began his career afoot, and all that he is and all that he has he owes to his own unaided efforts. He was born in Exeter, England, November 7th, 1853; came to America in April, 1869, a lad, unaccompanied by friend or relative. He had no money or trade. He stopped in Hillsboro, Ill., and went to work in a woolen mill. Later, he picked up a knowledge of a trade, and started West, he took a steamboat from St. Louis to Omaha, and reached Lincoln, this state, in June 1870, riding into that town on a load of lumber, ahead of the railroad then building. After a sojourn there of two years, during which time he busily worked at his trade, he, in July, 1872, footed it into Kearney, coming in advance of the B. & M. R. R., which was then building into this place. Having accumulated some money, he put up a store building, which was the first erected on the townsite of Kearney, and began to sell goods. A year and a half later, the county seat having come to Kearney, he was appointed deputy county clerk, and later still, deputy county treasurer, serving in the two offices three years. He then started the insurance and loan business. His business in this line prospered, and he invested his surplus funds, as he accumulated from
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year to year, in land and town lots. He believed in the future of Kearney and Buffalo county, and he steadfastly held on to all he acquired in the way of realty. The lapse of years and the logic of events have demonstrated the correctness of his judgment, and he owes a portion of what he is worth to the rise in real estate values. He owns a large amount of town property, and owns and gives his attention to the management of thirty-five farms. His wealth in real estate alone runs up into the neighborhood of one hundred and fifty thousand dollars. He has a good loan business--real estate- operating largely on his own funds. His insurance agency has kept pace with the progress of the town, and has gradually grown to be one of the largest and strongest agencies in central Nebraska. It is composed of twelve of the leading companies of the world, representing a total capitalization of several million dollars and assets amounting to many millions more. He writes fire, life and accident, and has placed more risks in Kearney and Buffalo county than any other man in it. To this branch of his business, like all others, he gives his personal attention. In January, 1889, Mr. Keens, in connection with other representative men of Kearney, organized the City National Bank of Kearney, of which he was elected president, and now holds that position. The City National has a capital of $100,000.00. Among its stockholders are some of the best host business men of Kearney, and its board of directors is composed of men of recognized ability and integrity. Mr. Keens, as head of the institution, gives considerable attention to its affairs. And to his clear and discriminating judgment, wise and conservative council, is due much of the success it has so far attained. Mr. Keens is not a boomer. He is a grower, a developer, a constructor. His name is not, therefore, found among those of the professional "rustlers." He has but little faith in artificial surface development. He believes in natural growth, and for the natural, real, substantial growth and development of Kearney, he has always been ready to help, giving liberally of his time, money and own personal efforts. He was one of the originators of the Kearney Canal and Water Supply Company, to the success of which much of Kearney's recent prosperity is due, and to which it chiefly owes its name abroad. He was a director in and secretary of this company from the date of its organization till its sale and capitalization recently, and as such was actively identified with all its affairs. He was also grand secretary of the Independent Order of Good Templars from 187e to 1880, and chief secretary of the entire order from 1880 to 1884. Mr. Keens' career has been strictly a business one. He has never been afflicted with the itch for office, and even when taking part in movements of a semi-public nature, he has accepted positions of trust where he could be useful rather than where be could shine. He was formed by nature for a man of affairs, and his own self training has served to perfect his natural endowments. He possesses untiring industry, is as tenacious as a Scotch thistle, and is the embodiment of order and system. He is neat and prompt in his work, dispatching each day's business in the time allotted to it, doing a large portion of it himself and personally see-
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ing that what is assigned to others is done in the time and manner outlined by him. He sees clearly, thinks rapidly, and acts promptly. He is capable of doing any amount of work himself, being of that compact, closely-knit structure that will stand wear and tear for days and weeks without giving any perceptible sign of breaking down. The most striking thing about him to a stranger is the immense amount of reserve force which he seems to have. He looks like a bundle of physical and mental vigor. His seems to be one of those natures which hard work only serves to develop into greater robustness. The strong points of an Englishman and an American are admirably blended in him. To his thorough-going, sturdy, self reliant English make-up he has added the shrewdness, the practical sagacity and dispatch that characterizes his "smart" American associates. All in all, for a clever, level-headed, successful business man, Mr. Keens would be hard to equal. He is passionately fond of travel, having crossed the Atlantic five times besides traveling extensively in old Mexico, and in Alaska. In his domestic relations he has been happy. He married, in November, 1875, Miss Nellie Grant, of Romeo, Mich., and has one of the finest houses, lovliest (sic) grounds and most pleasant homes in the city of Kearney. He has three boys to whom he is devotedly attached, and in whose rearing and training he finds his chief pleasure. He is in every way a man eminently suited for the task; for he has led an exceptionally systematic, temperate, moral life, and can therefore, add to the strength of his teaching the force of a most wholesome example in his own person.
J. D. DRURY. One of the most industrious and most deserving citizens of the town of Gibbon, Buffalo county -- a town noted for its many industrious and deserving citizens -- is James DeLoss Drury, the subject of this sketch. Mr. Drury came to Buffalo county in October, 1871, since which time he has been a resident of the county, having passed through all the trials and hardships that the earlier settlers were called on to undergo, making his way, as most of them did, against great odds through many long years of patient toil and heroic endurance. Mr. Drury came to Nebraska direct from his native place, Erie county, Pa. His parents still reside in Erie county, his mother having been born and reared there and his father having passed all his maturer years there. His mother's maiden name was Mary Ann Sheppard, being daughter of Jacob Sheppard. His father, Peter Drury, was born in Wesleyville, N. Y., followed the business of a sailor on Lake Erie for some years, and afterwards settled in Erie county, Pa., where he married and has since resided. Only two children were born to these -- William C. and James DeLoss, both now residents of the town of Gibbon, Buffalo county.
James DeLoss Drury was born April 19, 1850. He was reared in his native place, growing up on his father's farm, receiving a good common school training and afterwards learning the trade of a barber. January 13, 1870, he married Miss Ida Ames, daughter of Alva Ames, of Eric county, Mrs. Drury being a native of that county and she and her husband having passed their younger days together as school mates. Of the five children born to Mr. and Mrs. Drury, three are still
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living, viz.--Mabel A., born September 25, 1873; Dollie F., born August 31, 1875, and Willie V., born March 80, 1880. The two deceased were Lillian G., born December 25, 1870, in Eric county, Pa, and died April 8, 1879, and Gertrude, born December 9, 1877, and died July 13, 1879.
October 26, 1871, Mr. Drury took a homestead in the northwestern part of the township, filing on the northeast quarter of section 8, township 9, range 14 west, and after spending the winter of 1871 - 2 in Gibbon, he moved out on to his claim the following spring and began active operations as a farmer.
What has been said in this volume of the trials and hardships of numbers of other old settlers is true in an even greater degree of Mr. Drury. The first few years of his residence in Buffalo county were filled with struggles, often of an apparently hopeless nature, and nothing but the pluck, energy and endurance which he brought to bear in the contest would have brought him through them. His crops were swept away year after year either by the grasshoppers, hail or drouths (sic). And then on top of these discouragements there came family sickness, extending through the long and wearisome months, ending at last with the visitation of the grim monster death, robbing him of two little ones, first pledges of his early married life. But Mr. Drury never gave up. He labored hard and trusted to the future. Oftentimes he would work all the week on the farm, turn his team out on Saturday afternoon, walk into Gibbon, six miles and work till midnight at his barber's chair, returning home in the early morning hours, frequently having to lie down by the wayside to rest, not reaching home till Sunday morning. Through such toils and hardships he labored for nearly ten years, slowly accumulating some means and reaching a position where he could in some degree become master of his circumstances. In the spring of 1882 he gave up his farm, bought property in Gibbon and went there to reside, his family following in August. His first step was to build, erecting at that date a building on the lot he had purchased, where he opened a barber shop and billiard room, since continuing at the same place and at the same business. He has improved his property, owning now one of the best businesses in the town, it being a two-story frame with a basement, located on Railroad street, opposite the Union Pacific depot. Mr. Drury has confined himself strictly to business, attending to his own personal affairs, and finding in so doing his greatest pleasure as well as his highest reward. He has many friends and is universally liked, being regarded as an energetic, progressive, hard-working man, who is deserving of the best that the future may have in store for him. He has a pleasant home-- the good wife who gave up the home and friends of her youth to share his fortunes in the rugged life of the West still abiding with him and bearing him the cherished companionship which he sought with her hand.
J. B. WHEELER. An old settler of Buffalo county and a man of good personal record, and one, therefore, deserving of recognition in this volume, is J. B. Wheeler, of the town of Gibbon. Mr. Wheeler came to Buffalo county in Oct.
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1873, and settled on the southeast quarter of section 28, township 10, range 14 west, lying in Valley township, on which quarter section he filed a soldier's homestead claim. He made his improvements, secured his patent and lived on his homestead, engaged in farming for a period of nine years, at the end of which time he sold his place and moved in September, 1882, into the town of Gibbon, where he has since resided. He has been variously engaged in recent years, among other things having held the office of constable of Gibbon township for six years, having been appointed to that office in 1884 to fill a vacancy and subsequently elected and reelected till the beginning of the present year. He has also been the auctioneer of the town and township for more than four years, in which capacity he has done a vast amount of work of an official and semi-official nature.
It is needless to rehearse the incidents attending Mr. Wheeler's settlement in Buffalo county at an early date, and the subsequent trials through which he passed in his efforts to make for himself and family a home in the West. It will be sufficient to say that since he cast his lot in the county he has been a resident there, and that he passed through the season of grasshoppers and dry years and the hard times which these brought, enduring as much of the hardships and privations as any, and fighting the battle as heroically to the end as did even the most courageous. Men are to be measured by their means and opportunities, and praise and blame are to be apportioned according to one's chances and endowments. So judged it may be recorded that the subject of this sketch has borne his part in the settlement of his adopted county, and, if he has not succeeded quite so well financially as others, he has the satisfaction of knowing that he has made the best of his opportunities for himself, and in so doing has well served the common good.
Mr. Wheeler is the only representative of his family in the county or even in the state; it will be well, therefore, to record some of the facts of his earlier personal career and his ancestral history for the benefit of those of his name who may have to resort to this volume in years to come as the only existing repository of these facts.
Jervis B. Wheeler is a New Englander by birth and a descendant of Puritan stock. His people have been natives of Massachusetts for several generations. His father, Avery B. Wheeler, was born and reared in Acton, Mass., and lived there most of his life. He was a mechanic and led an honest, industrious, useful life. He died at Dracut in his native state, in 1887, at the advanced age of eighty-four. Mr. Wheeler's mother bore the maiden name of Adeline Bates, and she was born and reared in Bellingham, Mass., of old Bay State stock; was a woman of great strength of character and kind christian impulses, being a life-long member of the Methodist church. She died in July, 1883, at the age of seventy-six. These were the parents of nine children, all of whom reached maturity, became the heads of families, and are now living. These are Avery Gilbert, Jervis B., Albert B., Cephas E., Adelaid and Adeline, twins; Darwin E., Sybil and Sarah. The second of these, Jervis B., with whom this sketch is especially concerned, was born in Mendon, Mass., November 14, 1833. He was
BIOGRAPHICAL SOUVENIR OF BUFFALO COUNTY
reared in Mendon, South Brookfield and Hopkinton, Mass., mainly, however, in the last-mentioned place, and subsequently lived at Framingham ant] Yarmouth, the same state, being a resident of Hopkinton in 1862, when he went into the army. Mr. Wheeler was only one of the many gallant men whom the patriotic old Bay State furnished for the defense of the Union, but inasmuch as the command in which he served has a record distinguished for gallant fighting and heroic endurance above the ordinary, which record be helped to make, it will be appropriate in this sketch to give the outlines of his military career somewhat in full. Mr. Wheeler enlisted in the service August 7, 1862, going into the First Massachusetts heavy artillery. The history of his regiment shows that it was recruited in Essex county as the Fourteenth infantry It left the state in August 1861, proceeding to Washington, where it was placed on garrison duty. It was changed to heavy artillery in January, 1862, receiving new recruits for each company of the original organization, and two new companies, of one of which Mr. Wheeler was a member. The first battalion was ordered on field service at Maryland Heights, but the regiment proper did not go to the front till May, 1864. It then served as an infantry command to Grant's Virginia campaign. It joined the Army of the Potomac, May 17, 1864. having been assigned to Tyler's division of heavy artillery, then serving as infantry. It was in the engagements at Spottsylvania, Cold Harbor and Petersburg, and intermediate smaller affairs, sustaining heavy losses in each. At Spottsylvania it suffered a loss of fifty killed, three hundred and twelve wounded and twenty-eight missing, and at Petersburg its loss in killed was thirty one, wounded two hundred and twenty two, and missing, one hundred and ninety-four. Mr. Wheeler's term of enlistment having expired in July, 1864, he did not serve after that date. But it may be added that his command, which thus gallantly began its duty in the field, continued to the close of the war gathering new honors for itself in each succeeding engagement. It was one of the nine heavy artillery regiments of the Union army that sustained a loss of over two hundred men actually killed in battle. It was one of the sixty regiments, out of the entire two thousand of the Union army, that sustained the greatest losses in con federate prisons, its loss by incarceration being one hundred and two men. Its total loss in killed, wounded, captured and missing was nine hundred and eighty-four men out of a total enrollment of two thousand five hundred and twenty-four. These figures are eloquent. They speak volumes for the living and for the dead of the gallant First Massachusetts heavy artillery.
At the close of his term of service, Mr. Wheeler returned to Massachusetts, where he lived engaged in various occupations till coming to Nebraska in 1873.
One more fact, without which this sketch would be incomplete, must now be recorded -- the fact of Mr. Wheeler's marriage. He was united in matrimony March 30, 1858, to Paulina Walker, of Wareham, Mass. Mrs. Wheeler was born at Plymouth, and is a daughter of Elijah and Hannah (Vaughn) Walker, her father being a native of Vermont and her mother a native of Massachusetts. Her father was a farmer in earlier years and worked
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