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Intro. to 1905 Plat Book

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1905 Plat Book of Cass County, Nebraska; continued

Cass County Reminiscences


March 4, 1855, William Young and family crossed the Missouri river in a flat boat, landing at Kenosha, Nebraska. The town at that time contained one log building used as a store, occupied by a man named White; besides this there was a small shanty made of rough boards and occupied by George Winters and family, who kindly gave us shelter for the night. Although somewhat crowded, we were comfortable.

March 5 the settlers near here who were our neighbors in Iowa came to help us move to our claim about six miles northwest of Kenosha, where my father had located in November, 1854. Those settlers who came to help us move lived from two to three miles northwest of Kenosha; they were Rev. Abraham Towner and three sons, Harvey McGowan, William and Peter Ashley. When the wagons were loaded we took our way across the prairie. Myself, then a lad of fourteen years, and Peter Ashley and Mr. Towner's boys of my age drove the cattle and sheep. We passed but one house on our way, a hewed log house south of Rock Creek occupied by William Davis and family. As we came in sight of the house, the family all came out, waving their hats and handkerchiefs and hallooed "hurrah for Nebraska." About two p.m. we arrived at our future home. Having no house built we unloaded in the woods and stretched a tent and cooked and ate dinner, after which our friends, with hearty handshakes and many good wishes for our welfare and prosperity, departed for their homes. From that time on the longest period my father was away from that place at one time until he died, April 25, 1899, was fourteen days. Part of his original claim at that time is my home now, June, 1904. As soon as possible we went to cutting logs and soon had enough cut to build a small house, but did not get it ready to move into until about April first. During the time we were living in the tent we had a snowfall of six inches, which soon went away. There were three families living within three-quarters of a mile of us in houses built of round logs with split chunks driven in the cracks and then daubed with mud to keep the cold out. They were John Clemmons, Abel Crabtree and Joseph Tousignont. Two miles to the south were two more families, and at the mouth of Rock Creek lived Benedict Spiers and son Gus and son-in-law , William Frans. Just north of them lived three families of Murrays. As spring came on the work of making a new farm began. My father made that year what is called a sod and ditch fence around fifty-six acres and got all the prairie inside broke out and raised a fair crop of sod corn. Some time in April of that year about 500 Indians, I think they were Otoes, camped on the creek half a mile south of us, but as they were friendly no one was harmed. The only Indian scare we ever had was one Sunday when their dog killed a hog for Mr. Clemmons. He shot the dog, and it came near getting him into trouble with them.

(F.M. Young, Jr., cont.)

About the middle of March occurred the first wedding in the neighborhood and said to be the first in the county. The contracting parties were Vincent Faught and Christina Clemmons. When they took their seats Levi Churchill and Rebecca Clemmons rose and told the preacher to marry them, which he did. The ceremony was performed by Rev. Abraham Towner of the Methodist church.

(F.M. Young, Jr., cont.)

Two days after this wedding, John Clemmons, Sr., who lived with his son John, died. Thus the first wedding and the first death in the neighborhood occurred at the same house within two days.

As spring opened other families came and settled, among them the widow Young, a mile and a quarter away; Lewis Young, two and a half miles; John Carroll, three miles, W.R. Ellington, three and a half miles. As the summer of 1855 passed away, every few days a new settler would locate within a few miles of us. Considerable prairie was broken that year and nearly all raised corn enough to winter their stock.

In January and February, 1856, my father cut logs for a double log house, and in March hewed them. In April the neighbors were invited and the building erected in one day. This was the first hewed log house in the neighborhood. Owing to the busy season, however, it was not completed until fall. We then hauled stone and built a double fireplace and moved into the house November 30, 1856.

The next day, December 1, it began to snow and continued snowing and blowing for three days. This has proved to be the greatest snow storm in the history of Nebraska up to the present date. It was nothing unusual to see a drift twenty feet deep in the hollows, where it blew off the higher ground. On this a crust was formed and teams could travel on top of the snow the country over.

During the summer of 1856 considerable trouble was caused by some lawless men coming in and jumping claims held by the settlers. This caused the organization of a "Claim Club" to settle disputes and protect the actual settler. One Lewis Johnson and his two sons and a few of his kind that were a terror to the neighborhood in March, 1857, with old man Kelly and his son Tom, were arrested by the committee and for some cause were held as prisoners.At night they were escorted over the river, and were never seen again. It has been a mystery to the majority of the people ever since as to what became of them, but it was generally supposed they were heavily weighted and put in the river. After that times were quiet in regard to claim jumping. In the summer of 1857 Miss Mary Stocking taught a subscription school in one room of my father's house.

In 1856 the government survey of this county was made; then came the entry of the land. Money was scarce and a great many were obliged to borrow money to make the entry. Interest became very high, some paying 40 and some as high as 60 per cent interest. The result was that a great many were never able to pay out on their land, and it went into the hands of the money lender.

Some time before this the town site of Plattsmouth had been laid out and the county seat located there, it being quite a trading point. Also the town of Rock Bluffs, three miles and a half southeast of us, was quite a lively town.

(F.M. Young, Jr., cont.)

In the fall of 1857 the first county fair was held at Rock Bluffs, and the people of those days thought it a grand success.

In the summer of 1858 William Young and Sam Buster bought the first reaper that was in the neighborhood, a stiff bar hand rake McCormick. We could cut about twelve acres per day, and I did the most of the raking off. Then the old cradle was laid away and people came for miles around to see it work.

In 1860 there was quite an emigration to the gold fields of Colorado, also a great deal of freight hauled there on wagons, and we all know what happened in 1861.

Thus I have given, to the best of my memory, the most important events from 1855 to 1861.


Early one morning about the middle of April, 1859, John Hess, now of Wabash, Cass County, came to our claim house, hammered on the door and said: "Yump right avay quick! Dem d--n Pawnees stole mine mooles!"

By the time the sun was up, it found a party consisting of John Hess, Henry Cook, Theobald Vallery, John Drauth and myself in the saddle, with our blankets and arms, and on the trail. We struck the track quite plain near Squire Thompson's place on Cedar Creek (now the Captain Hoover farm). When we struck Pawnee Creek it was running bank full of ice and water. We went nearly to the head, and then struck for Salt Creek ford, arriving about 4 o'clock p.m., and finding the few settlers flocked in their[sic] expecting an attack from the Pawnees. We stopped at Old Wiggins' house, on the east side of the creek, just where Dennis Dean now lives. He was very much excited, as the Indians had killed one of his oxen (he had only two); but what he worried about most was that they had stolen the only ax he had, and another could not be got nearer than Plattsmouth, which meant a trip of two or three days, and he had nothing to cut wood with in the meantime.

While we were there a laughable incident occurred. Henry Cook and I rode down to the ford to water our horses, and right at the edge of the creek stood a squaw loaded down with plunder which she had taken from some house below. She had the complete end of a cottage bedstead strappped onto her and fastened around her waist with thongs of buffalo hide. The upper part of this bedstead-end slanted back from her body, being secured by a band which went around her forehead; and in the space between her body and the boards she had a lot of clothes, a feather bedtick, about two bushels of corn and sundry other articles. She had taken off one moccasion, and while she was stooping over in the act of taking off the gear from her other foot and leg, I rode down on my horse right close to her and before she knew I was there I took my hunting knife and slashed the thongs, letting the whole load drop. She gave one scream and plunged right into the creek, with the bedstead still hanging to her, and by the time she got to the west bank the water was up to her nose. She caught on some willows, finally dropped her trail, and started for the west on a run.

We got our supper, consisting of one small piece of bacon, plenty of cornbread made with salt and water only, and parched corn coffee. We had had nothing from the time we ate our breakfast until this meal. Well it beat no meal at all. The next morning our breakfast was the same excepting that we had no bacon. We put out a guard; two of our men, Vallery and Krauth, taking this duty. The next morning they were missing - no sign of them. We felt concerned about them and thought the Pawnees had got away with them; but later in the day William Hill came in and reported that they had skedaddled for home, where we found them a week later. We asked them what made them leave, and Krauth said, "You tink we vanted to been scalped by dem d--n Pawnees? No, sir!"

We stayed all this day at the ford waiting for re-enforcements, and thinking we would have a little fun with the Pawnees, and when night came part of us moved up to Samuel Stambough's bridge over the Wahoo creek, northwest of Ashland. We took some of the planks from the bridge and put out a guard. The rest of us got into a haystack for shelter, as it was quite cold. Everything was quiet until just as it began to get light in the norming. Then we heard our guard make a challenge, and we jumped out and ran to the bridge, about fifty yards away, where we found that our guard, William D. Hill and John Aughe, had a buck Indian corralled on the fridge. He had stolen a pony belonging to one of the settlers (Totten), and had a sack and a blanket filled with corn. Hill and Aughe were armed with shotguns. We held the pony, but thought it best to let the Indian go, as he was only a boy about eighteen or twenty years old. We escorted him over the bridge, pionted to the west and yelled, "Puck-a-chee T-wis-cat!" ("Go! Go quick!") He ran like a deer. The boys shot over him to frighten him, and when he looked back and saw the guns thrown down on him, he began jumping, zig-zag, running faster than two deers. The last we saw of him he was still going. We never saw anything more of him afterwards, but it is probable that he has run himself down ere this.

That Winter and spring most of the Pawnees were camped on the banks and islands of the Platte River. An incident leading to the troubles with the Indians was this: Two men had been left in charge of some shanties located on the east bank of Salt Creek, a short distance below where the B.&M. railroad depot now stands. There was a sawmill there and they moved it over into Iowa. These men that were left in charge ran off with twenty head of ponies and mules belonging to the Pawnees, about ten days before, and two Indians, who followed the trail, were supposed to have been killed, as they were never seen again. When the Pawnees robbed the houses, they took everything they could carry and destroyed the rest. In ripping a feather bed open, they found two fresh Indian scalps, which set them wild. This occurred the first day we got to Salt Creek ford. We sent a courier for the old interpreter, Allis, who came up the second day and went to the Pawnee camp alone. He would not let any of us go, for fear we would make trouble.

We stayed there for several days, but fortunately got into no difficulty. We did not get our mules. At present I remember William D. Hill, Charles S. Wortman of South Bend, John, James and Jacob Aughe, Lee Warbritton, John Curtis and Nelson Sheffer of Ashland, and our Plattsmouth boys, who took part in this affair, which for a few days looked as though we might have lots of trouble, though it came out all right.

(H.C. M'MAKEN, cont.)

First settler was Samuel Martin, 1853. He was the original owner and located the town of Plattsmouth. Built the first house, a two-story log, on the grounds now used as the B.&M. park on the corner of Main and First streets. It was used as a trading post with the Indians. The noted Indian trader, Peter A. Sarpy, , was interested in this post. Samuel Martin died in 1854. Wheatley Mickelwait, Jacob Vallery and James O'Neal succeeded Martin as owners of the townsite; they platted and laid out and named the town. It was incorporated March 15, 1855, as a city, and in the fall of 1856 elected the first mayor, Wheatley Mickelwait; first treasurer, John D. Simpson; first clerk, William E. Donelan, first city council, William D. Slaughter, Enos Williams and Jacob Vallery. The first doctor was Edward Donelan. The first white child born was Fred Mickelwait, son of Wheatley Mickelwait and wife.

(H.C. M'MAKEN, cont.)

First mill built was a large overshot wheel run by water and located on a small spring branch, south of the city, and now known as the Everett Branch. It was built by Conrad Heisel for James Cardwell in the spring of 1856. This mill had one pair of small stones or burrs and ground corn only. We would shell a sack of corn and pack it to the mill and wait for it to be ground. It took about two hours to grind two bushels, if they had plenty of water. This mill consisted of four posts set in the ground and some cotten-wood boards for a roof and open sides. While this was the first mill built it did not grind any corn till late that fall.

The first grist and sawmill was built by Conrad Heisel and Henry Boeck for George Griffith; in August, 1856. This mill had two runs of small burrs and ground wheat and corn. It was sold the same fall to Louden Mullen. This mill was located on the lots now owned by Fred Kroehler on the corner of Tenth (10th) street and Washington avenue. It was purchased by Conrad Heisel and John Krauth in the summer of 1857 and moved to its present location on the corner of Eleventh and Elm streets and has been rebuilt and improved and is now one of the best mills in Cass county - 1904.

The first brick residence was built by Alfred L. Sprague in 1857 and 1858, now owned by Henry Herold. The Herold brothers, William, August and Herman, built quite a number of houses in 1857 and 1858. Built the first brick store (two stories) on the lots just south of the B.&M. freight depot, and run a general store; later built a two-story brick store where the B.& M. passenger depot now stands.

First brickyard was run by William and John Reed and Christian Mockenhoupt, Sr., on the lots now occupied by McMaken & Son's ice housed, Oak, between Eighth and Ninth streets.

(H.C. M'MAKEN, cont.)

The first school was taught by Miss Ward in the winter of 1856 and 1857 on "Gospel Hill" in the Court House on Marble Street, between Tenth and Eleventh streets, and about the same time Miss Mary Stocking opened a school in a log house just west of Maiden Lane where Oak street now is. These schools were small, with only six or seven scholars each. Some of the scholars were Thomas Wiles, Mrs. William Herold, John and Albert O'Neil. We might say the first regular school was taught by Mrs. J.P. Gorrelle, beginning in June 1857, in a small frame house, 12 by 24, owned by Joseph Harper, located on east side of Sixth street, between Main and Pearl streets. In the winter of 1857 (and summer and winter of 1858) Mr. and Mrs. J.P. Gorelle taught school in a frame house just west of the Methodist parsonage, between Seventh and Eighth streets. Called to mind as attendants of this school are Delia and James Mitchell, Elizabeth Pailing, William and Elizabeth Wells, Arthur Carmichael, Allie Parmele, Donelan, Wesley and Amelia Barr, Amelia Sage Duke and Charles K. and Henry C. McMaken.

The first blacksmiths, in 1857, were Frederick Stull and William Gullion, on the lots south of the Masonic Home, corner of Elm and Fourteenth streets.

The first wagon-maker was Harry Howland, in 1857, on corner of Sixth and Vine streets.

In 1856 George W. Fairfield, first surveyor and civil engineer, bought the claim of John A. Simpson, adjoining the city of Plattsmouth, on the west side; pre-empted the same in 1857; it was platted later in what is called Duke's addition to Plattsmouth.

The first large farm was broken by Joseph Harper in 1857 -200 acres- beginning on east line of the county poor farm running east, taking in what is now the cemeteries and the James Patterson 40-acre tract.

First Presbyterian Church, regular preacher, Daniel L. Hughes, 1857. There had been one or two missionaries that had preached here before this; one, Elder Gibbs and Abraham Towner, a Methodist exhorter. The first regular Methodist preacher was Rev. Hiram Burch, who organized the first church in 1857 with about a dozen members.

The first Catholic church was organized in 1858 by Rt. Rev. Emanuel Hatig, who held services at private houses.

The first district court was held in the summer of 1856 in a small cottonwood frame building erected by James O'Neal on Gospel Hill, on Marble street, between Eleventh and Twelfth streets. First judge was Edward Harding. First sheriff was William Ellington. Lawyers, Joseph H. Brown, Turner M. Marquette, Daniel H. Wheeler, Alfred H. Townsend and Samuel H. Elbert.

The grand jury held their deliberations under a big oak tree near the "Court House." Of this session of court there is no record as far as I know. Capt. Isaac Wiles and Luke Wiles were on this jury.

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Intro. to 1905 Plat Book | History
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