1905 Plat Book of Cass County, Nebraska;
Cass County Reminiscences
BY HENRY HUBBARD
I came to Cass county in the spring of 1859, stopping with
William Reed at what was then called the Weeping Water Falls.
There were at that time three log houses on the present site
of the city of Weeping Water, P. Cranny living in one, on the
site of the residence of the late F.M. Wolcott. William Reed
lived in another near the house now owned by Miss C.M. Paine
on I street, west of Commercial. A man named Turner lived in
one a little south of the coal chutes of the Missouri Pacific
railroad. There was another log house on the west end of the
lot now occupied by R.S. Wilkinson and used as a school
There were a few settlers on the Weeping Water above and
below the falls, and toward the mouth of the creek the
settlers were more numerous.
Mr. William Reed was then building a grist mill on the
creek near the present swimming hole. There was another mill
on the creek near the present town of Union and run by a Mr.
Folden. Being a miller by trade, I worked for Mr. Reed for
about three years, helping him build the mill and get it
started, then ran the mill for him until I enlisted in the 2d
Nebraska in 1863.
In those days all the supplies had to be brought from
Plattsmouth, Rock Bluffs and Nebraska City, and as the years
of '59, '60 and '61 were dry and but few settlers, living was
sometimes pretty rough. We had no meat except what game we
could kill, and that was but very little. In the fall of 1860
Mr. Reed traded for a hog with John Gilmore, a settler on the
north branch of the Weeping Water in Center precinct, a
regular razor-back. Poland Chinas were not in Nebraska in
those days. For months we had the finest meat to cook with
beans you ever saw. One piece would do for several lots.
Several progressive young men located here at that time, Gene
Reed, Philander Beardsley, Joseph Beardsley, Otis Wait,
Charles Spohm, Orlando Tefft, Willis Horton, Amandus Beach
and several others. There was one way the young men used to
work it to get a few good meals, and that was to get
acquainted with a settler who had a good looking daughter or
two, make a Sunday call and thereby secure at least one or
two good meals, and a good social time, as well.
BY HENRY HUBBARD; cont.
Like the other parts of Nebraska, we had our Indian
scares. One in particular, where it was reported that the
Indians had raided the settlers on the Big Blue, and at the
Salt basins near the present city of Lincoln. At once the
young men on the Weeping Water formed a company to drive off
and rout the savages. Orlando Tefft, Gene Reed, Joe and
Philander Beardsley were among the leaders. They went to the
Salt basins and then as far as the Blue, where they found
everything quiet and no signs of Indians, so they returned.
The writer did not go, as the women in the settlement
declared that some one should stay and defend them.
This settlement was usually very patriotic and always
celebrated the Fourth of July. Among the first celebrations
was one well remembered, which was held in a grove on the old
trail to Nebraska City, about half way between the Cascade
and Hall's Crossing on the south branch near the "old stone
wall," in 1860. Orlando Tefft was the speaker of the day and
a rousing speech he made. The people were all very poor in
those days. Aristocratic ways and good clothes were things
not yet introduced in these parts. The writer well remembers
how the speaker looked as he stood before the crowd dressed
in a long linen coat and high-wafer pants. There was a good
crowd, good weather and the celebration wound up with a good
dance. All retuned home feeling they had had a good time.
The Weeping Water settlement done its share in furnishing
its quota of men for the civel war, nearly every young man on
the creek enlisting for longer or shorter periods. After the
close of the war the settlers came in, in great numbers and
have assisted in makeing this the grandest state of the
Union; Cass county one of the grandest counties in the state,
and the little City of Weeping Water on of the brightest
spots in the county, and the pioneer feels proud of the part
he played in this grand result.
BEGINNINGS OF CASS COUNTY
BY L.G. TODD
As you have requested me to write a reminiscence of the
beginning of settlement in Cass county, I might as well start
at my beginning.
I was born in a snow storm in the State of New York March
22, 1829. I was one of a family of sixteen children raised
principally on pink-eye and Irish potatoes. I left home at 21
and the first six months worked out by the month, averaging
about 16 hours per day. Earned $84 and saved every cent, and
then started west. I went to Pittsburg, took a steamer to
Fort Madison, walked across the State of Iowa, and while en
route worked one week mowing grass at $1.00 per ton and
earned $3.00 per day, living on corn dodgers and stewed
plums. I arrived in Glenwood, Iowa, sometime in August 1853.
On Sunday I walked to the Missouri river and met a band of
Otoe Indians in the bluffs. One Indian presented a paper,
stating that he was a "good Indian" and wanted money. I had
often heard that if you would do an Indian a favor he would
always remember it, so I gladly gave him a quarter and found
the saying true, for he kept continually calling for more. On
my arrival at the Missouri river, I saw a large hewed log
house on the opposite bank. I stood there and hallooing like
a loon, and attracted the attention of the occupant, Samuel
Martin, who came after me in a skiff. I then turned in and
helped him chink, daub and finish his house, which was to be
occupied as a dwelling and store room and Indian trading
When I left the Iowa bank I left the last white
settlement. I got a horse at what is now Plattsmouth and rode
to Four Mile creek. On my return I came over what is now
known as the fair grounds.
There I concluded to make my claim as soon as the
government would permit. That fall I returned to Indian
Creek, Iowa, and taught school, procuring a certificate
without much of an examination. And during the term I taught
my pupils all I knew and a little more. This was in a Mormon
settlement, and many good times were had during the winter,
dancing on puncheon floors.
In the spring I returned to Plattsmouth and got a contract
from the Indian agent to break 50 acres for the Indians. I
bought five yoke of wild steers and hired a "good Indian" to
help drive them. I completed my contract, receiving $3.50 per
acre. I made good money, but had lots of experience breaking
Indians as well as steers. Think of an Indian driving a green
Yankee steer and only able to say in English "Roha; and Ha
bill!" This made a combination hard to manage.
In June, 1854, I commenced breaking on my claim. Also,
laid a foundation for a cabin. About this time there was
something doing. A party from Glenwood, Iowa, claimed he had
staked my claim about eight months before the treaty was made
with the Indians. We had a Claim Club trial and I won; but it
was not satisfactory to the Iowa party. A few random shots
were fired. I was chased through the tall weeds and grass on
the Missouri bottom, and finally through the friendly advice
of Judge Bennet, a compromise was made. I paying them
In passing from Glenwood to Plattsmouth in 1854, I met a
party coming from Cass county, who had been on a tour of
inspection. They had their guns with them, a companion a
pioneer considered essential. I inquired of them how they
liked the country. One man in answering pointed to the clouds
and said he would as lief have a deed to a space in the open
sky. Varied were the opinions of the early comers and goers
as to the final outcome of this western country, but to-day
the lands over which they traveled could not be purchased for
less than $80 per acre.
In the spring of 1855 settlers commenced coming in pretty
lively, G.I.Caldwell being among the arrivals that spring. In
1856 Samuel Maxwell, James K. Porter, Wallace Porter and
others made their appearance.
"OVER THE RIVER."
BY L.G. TODD; cont.
In 1866 an event occurred much to be regretted. Certain
parties from Mills county, Iowa, known as the Johnson gang,
consisting of the old man Johnson, his son and a man named
Kelley, and a man named Massey. These parties had been very
boisterous, threatening the Claim Club. During one of their
visits they succedcded in arousing the settlement to a white
heat. They were finally arrested and tried, but were not
convicted of the charge brought against them. They were still
held in custody, however, with a number of Johnson's friends.
During the night the young men were piloted safely across the
river, but the four older men were placed beyond human reach
or aid, and so far as known have never been seen since. The
Iowa parties seemed not to regret the loss, and especially
two of them, who were almost strangers. Their only crime was
selling whisky and the company they kept. This wholesale
killing was not approved of when a sober thought was taken of
it, and has ever since been much regretted; but on the
frontier and in the heat of excitement many things are done
About 1860 William Gilmore of Rock Bluffs, Thomas
Jefferson Todd and L.G. Todd organized the Republican party
in Cass county. About this time General Thayer made a speach,
declaring himself a Democrat, and many a side glance was cast
In territorial days each candidate was obliged to fight
his own battles. No nominations were made. It was a free for
all fight, and in one of these go-as-you-please races I was
successful and was in the territorial legislature of
I will close by saying that I have experienced pioneer
life in the true sense; have crossed the Missouri river on
horseback amid floating ice. Came out on top, but the ordeal
was rather hard on the old horse.
BY MRS. SARAH (SHRYDER) YOUNG.
My parents with their family, of which I was a member,
came to Cass County, Nebraska, in 1856, and vast has been the
change in the state since that date. Instead of the tall
waving grass and the beautiful flowers which then covered the
prairie over, it has been transformed to fields of tall
waving grain, fine orchards and beautiful homes. We have
witnessed this transformation with pride and
My husband, L.H. Young, came to Cass County with his
parents in 1867 and married the writer in 1873. We have
resided in Mount Pleasant precinct since 1874. Twenty -nine
years have made a vast change in this section of Cass County.
Then could be seen large herds of cattle being cared for by
the young herders, one of whom, L.C. Todd, is still a
resident and a large land owner. Though then but a lad of 11
years, he was left with John Gilmore to assist in caring for
the stock. Two years later he took charge of his father's
herd alone. The herders shanty was 8x12, without floor, and
but for the constant visits of the prairie squirrel, rats and
mice that made daily and nightly raids on the commissary
department, he might have fared much better than he did.
After one of these raids he well remembers that as his horse
had also broken loose and gone home, he dieted for 48 hours
on watermelon and then walked home after night nine miles to
replenish his stores and secure the animal. At times the
cattle would break out of their corrall and perhaps during a
drenching rain, at which time the herder must put in the
night rounding them up, the howls of the prairie wolf adding
in making night hideous.
The advantages of present times will never be fully
appreciated by the present generation. There was a dearth of
schools and churches in those days. The nearest railway
station 15 miles distant. The pioneer, however, can fully
appreciate the advantages he now enjoys. Schools and churches
dotting the country over, railway stations within an hour's
drive and the United States mail delivered daily at his door.
Mount Pleasant precinct has kept abreast of times and we are
proud of our location.
BY W.D. HILL
On the 15th day of October, 1856, I left Cedar Rapids,
Iowa, with a two-horse team and wagon loaded with flour,
bound for Nebraska territory. On my third day out I stopped
over night with a farmer. There I met a man from Connecticut,
who had been to Minnesota looking for a home. Not liking that
country, he was going across Iowa to Kansas on foot. As we
were both traveling in the same direction he asked me to haul
his carpet-bag for him. As I was glad to have his company I
consented, and to haul him also where the roads were good;
provided he would walk up hill. I soon learned that his name
was T.W. Fountain. He seemed to enjoy my company so well that
he changed his mind and accompanied me to Nebraska. We became
the first settlers of South Bend, and are still neighbors at
We arrived on the bank of the Missouri river opposite
Plattsmouth October 26, late in the afternoon, and crossed on
the old flatboat run by Wheat Mickelwait. At Plattsmouth I
sold my flour to Tom Hanna of Foote & Hanna. By this time it
was getting late, and it was necessary to look for a place to
stay all night. There was no hotel, but by pleading with Will
Hyatt, he promised to let us stay with him if Mr. Fountain
would paper his shanty, which was 12 feet square, made of
green conttonwood lumber, the building having just been
The next day being Sunday, we concluded to stay over, as
Mr. Hyatt seemed glad to accommodate us with the best he had.
On Wednesday we started west up the Platte river to find a
location. The first stop was at Andy Slain's on what is now
the Wiles place, where I procured some feed for my horses.
The next place was at Andy Taylors, on Four Mile Creek. T.T.
Thomas was keeping hotel in a shanty 12x24 feet. We passed on
the Cedar Creek, where we found the Tosier boys building the
first sawmill in Cass County. Their step-father, Mr. Sales,
lived at the place now called Cedar Creek. We next stopped at
Mr. Thompson's, where Captain J.T.A. Hoover now lives. Here
we stayed all night and employed Wilbe Eddy as a guide, for
we had come to the end of the road. We passed where Uncle
Billy Urwin, Mr. Connell, Mr. Burger and William Herald
(French Bill) were building on their claims. At last we came
to a creek we could not cross, which was afterward called
Fountain Creek, named after my partner. Here we stopped and
staked off our claims.
About the worst trouble I experienced after locating my
claim was finding a girl that would become my wife. After
searching in vain for twelve years I found one from Missouri,
Miss N.J. Welborn, who said "yes", and we are still living on
my first claim, and have therefore watched the growth of Cass
County from its infancy.