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Intro. to 1905 Plat Book

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1905 Plat Book of Cass County, Nebraska; continued

Cass County Reminiscences
part 3


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 house.

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.


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.


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 post.

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 $50.

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.

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 afterward regretted.

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 at us.

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 1863.

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.


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 satisfaction.

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.


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 that place.

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 erected.

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.

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