CUSTER COUNTY AUGUST 2, 1907
THE SARGENT LEADER
H. H. HIATT, editor and Publisher
THIS SUPPLEMENT WRITTEN AND PUBLISHED BY HAROLD O. COOLEY, ARCADIA, NEBRASKA
NOTE: All pictures have been omitted due to poor quality of original document.
A LITTLE EARLY HISTORY
It is not the intent or purpose of this work to give a long and detailed history of the Sargent country. It is more to our purpose to show what it is today than any incident of the past. Yet a brief chronicle of early events concerning the settling and early work of the people of this section will not be amiss.
The first settler in the immediate vicinity of the present site of Sargent was D. S. Groff, who came into the country in the late fall of 1874. He squatted on a piece of land four miles east and two north of where Sargent now is. His nearest neighbor was fifteen miles away, and Grand Island was the nearest railroad town. There was considerable timber in the locality at that time. He moved his family up from York county in the spring of 1875. That life in this section was not a very enjoyable thing can be imagined from the fact that not a dozen white families lived north of the present site of Arcadia, twenty miles below, in the valley of the Middle Loup. But even then the qualities of this country were making their excellencies felt, and in the next five years the settlers came pouring in until the country in the valley was nearly all taken up. A large number of these old settlers are still living in the city, and on this page we give an illustration of a group of these men who had faith in the future of this valley and who everlastingly stuck to it, sometimes in the face of such discouragements that weaker hearts might have given up in despair. But not they, and they have received the greatest reward in seeing this country prosper and advance until it now is in the very front rank of prosperity and progress.
The first postoffice of this section was established in 1880 by petition of the settlers, and Mrs. George Sherman, mother of Harry S. Sherman, is at the present time cashier of the First National Bank of Sargent, was appointed as the first postmaster. Mrs. Sherman named the postoffice “Sargent” in honor of some very near neighbors and friends of hers in Illinois, from whence she came. Mr. Sargent, for whom it was named is living at the present time in Chicago, where he is in the government mail service.
In the year 1882, the railroad was built into North Loop, which is only forty-five miles away from Sargent, less than half the distance to the former nearest railroad point of the people of this section. This was a decided advantage, and the country at once profited by it. The immigration at once increased in proportion and the business of the entire community took a stimulus.
The condition of living in this country prior to this time had been one of few pleasures, and what there were gathered at a cost of untold labor. Coal was almost unknown, the settlers depending for the most part on the timber for fuel. Mills were scattered so much that a trip to get flour was from three to five days' task. It was simply once more the story of the early life and development of every country. It is hard to realize as one looks upon the plenty and to spare of this section at the present time that only a short quarter of a century ago the inhabitants were holding down their claims, always in a race to make both ends meet. That they have overcome these difficulties so quickly and so thoroughly is the highest tribute to the splendid worth of the country, as well as the men. Gaze for a moment upon the picture as it was then. On all sides stretches but a vast expanse of unbroken prairie. The antelope, the ever present jack rabbit, and the coyote rule supreme. And then comes the first settler. Of course he is poor, for it is that fact more than anything else which leads him to change the state upon which he elects to cast his fortunes. He brings with him only a few crude tools, a breaking plow, a team of horses or oxen, and his family of mouths to feed. His capital is his energy and determination to succeed. He squats upon a piece of land a piece of land: he builds his humble hut of soil. He bravely goes to work to break up some of the land. We ask you in all earnestness, you, gentle reader, who are now perhaps in the very parts of the earth here described, but wherever you are in plenty, what would you have considered your chance for success? What would you consider your chance to even eke out an existence? What has he to hope for? All the pleasures of life are far removed from him. The only hope that he has is in the future of the country, and the chance that he has to bring the center of civilization nearer to him. And with loyal and strong hearts they went to work, for with that keen foresight that spells success they saw the coming future of this country, and on that foresight they staked their life, or at least a goodly portion of its best years.
And so they set to work to build up a society. They established a school by subscription, charging at the rate of $1.00 per month for each pupil. According to Butcher's Pioneer History of Custer county, Mrs. Wm. F. Sillivan was the first teacher. The school was held in a little sod house, 12x16 feet. Compare the condition of that School to the picture of the large and handsome schoolhouse of today in Sargent and you have something of an idea of what this section has accomplished in a short decade of time.
They established a Sunday School in 1878. Though they had less than twenty souls in attendance, there never was a more earnest service held. Look now upon the handsome churches that have been erected here, and once more contemplate upon what has been accomplished.
But the seed that had been planted in such ground was bound to grow, and the settlers began to find themselves in better circumstances, and with more prospect for a suitable compensation for their labors. In the year 1887 the Burlington railroad built into Arcadia, a town on the Loup about twenty- miles below Sargent. This brought them into much nearer and easier communication with the outside world. From that time on the growth of the town has been much more rapid and sure. Finally, with the coming of the railroad into the city in the fall of 1899, the town sprang into prominence in the affairs of this section of the state and is a recognized power in the shaping of the history of central Nebraska.
The first store was established at Sargent by J. K. Spacht in the year 1883, on the same site where the city now stands. On a succeeding page will be found a picture of the store of Mr. Spacht as it is today, being a substantial brick, another object lesson of the success of the people who have pinned their faith in the future of this country. Soon after the store was established, Mrs. Sherman relinquished the postoffice to Mr. Spacht with the provision that the name "Sargent" should be retained.
And about this nucleus the city- of Sargent has been builded. There are a number of institutions that were founded in the early day which have had a large influence on its future. One of the most important of these was the establishment of the first bank in Custer county, which event occurred in Sargent. The bank was called the Custer County Bank, and was organized by Joseph Thomas, who is at the present time connected with a bank in Omaha. This business house is still in operation, the present First National Bank being a direct outgrowth of this bank. Another fact that might be well noted of these early days is the number of men whose names were among the very first to come into the history of this community, and who are today leading factors in the history and life of the city and surrounding country. We mention a few of these; H. M. Sillivan, who is at the present time a prominent farmer and stock raiser. Simeon Perrin, who is at the present time postmaster of Sargent. James Hagerty, now conducting one of the large mercantile institutions of the city. H. A. Sherman, who is at the present time cashier of the First National Bank. Chas. Swanson, a dealer in agricultural implements, Wm. Sherman, city clerk and treasurer, Jasper Wallace, an extensive farmer and stock feeder. Stokes, another extensive farmer and stock feeder. O. S. Pulliam, a retired farmer and dealer in real estate. Jason Evans, another farmer who has acquired a comfortable competence by sticking to the country. C. W. Parks, a member of the firm, the Sargent Hardware and Furniture Co. where are still many more of them. T. H. Hohman, G. H. Seidles, J. K. Spacht, who was the first storekeeper, and whose business has grown and developed along with the country. W. A. Cosler, R. W. Fulton, E. Miller, M. I. Tobias, Wm. McGregory, A. Z. Perrin and many others who are in the country now actively working and as alert as ever in the last half of their work of the world. Does the fact that these then have been here a long time and that they have driven their business to success mean anything in regard to the country? It means simply that the same opportunities are there today for the man who is willing to develop them, with the largest portion of the hardships removed.
The past history of this country speaks no message in such stentorian tones as it does the one fact that, to the man who has the spirit to go ahead and do, there is not, and can not be such a word as "failure." The country that they have built up is a lasting tribute to the men who built it up, as well as an existing testimonial to the worth of the country itself.
For more than four hours the train had been steadily crawling up the valley of the Middle Loup. It had been going through that part of the country which it had been the habit in more eastern sections to say was fit only for habitation by coyotes and prairie dogs. But surely there is some mistake about this. This vision of growing crops and substantial looking homes, showing both comfort and prosperity on the part of their owners was not intended by the Creator to be utilized only as a refuge and home for wild animals. Let us follow the narrative further and see what hath been wrought in this land which only a few years ago had place on the map only as the "Great American Desert."
And here we are at Sargent. Since the Aurora-Sargent line of the C. B. & Q. R. R. has its northern terminal here, the most natural thing to do is to get off the train. And as one steps to the depot platform he can not but feel that he has arrived somewhere. His interest is at once claimed by the fact that active and energetic business is going on all around him. Bus drivers on either hand are busy calling the advantages of their hotels. The wide platform about the depot is alive with busy people, each one intent on his task. Piles of express and freight are on every hand. The trainmen are busy getting their duties finished. It is evening, and that grand central Nebraska air permeates everywhere and fills one with that desire to be up and doing something, a trick of old Nature which has worked a transformation in the history of central Nebraska, and has built up here a prosperous and happy community. We must investigate this, and in order to do it intelligently let us take up the matter in a systematic and thorough manner so that when we are through those who have never seen this wonderful part of the earth may have a comprehensive idea of what it is, and even those who live here may have an added appreciation of their own good fortune. For we fear that it is too often a failing of mankind that we fail to grasp the true value of those things which we have right at hand and go seeking after the rainbow which shines so alluringly on the hill just beyond. Let us not chase illusions, but honestly view our own advantages. The man who can do this has accomplished a thing which will add to his own comfort and peace of mind, as well as put himself in a fair way to add to his bank account.
The new Sargent, the Sargent of today, began with the advent of the railroad into the city in the summer of 1899. The resources which have made it spring into the prominence that it has now attained were here before that time, and all that was lacking was the proper agencies to develop them. The coming of the railroad supplied these means, and the city at once began to assume the importance which her surrounding territory warranted. New buildings began to spring up on every hand, but they were not the kind of buildings and improvements which one would expect as the outcome of a boom. The men who have made Sargent what it is dug deep down into their pockets and their credit, and put up the substantial and creditable appearing buildings which make Sargent the beautiful town that she is. These men well knew the future that lay before this country, they had studied into its resources and possibilities, the best part of their lives had been given to bring the country to this stage of her progress, and not for one moment did they falter in their determination when the chance had come to realize their hopes.
Sargent is now a city of about a thousand souls. Beautifully located on the north bank of the Middle Loup river, just where it takes a sharp bend from an easterly to a southeasterly direction. Her people are for the most part Americans, Irish, Germans, and progressive Bohemians, those sturdy stocks that in more than many sections of the earth have builded a church without a bishop, a nation without a king. Her site is laid out on the level ground of the river bottom, far enough away from the stream to give suitable drainage. The selection of her building spot was made with a commendable foresight which becomes more and more apparent as she grows and develops into the prominent part she is destined to play in the future history of the Loup country and central Nebraska.
We wish that the whole world might see the business street of Sargent as we saw it first. It was on Saturday afternoon in June of 1907. The picture here shown gives some idea of the scene, but the trouble with pictures is that they do not talk. They only show
Insert page 4
city, but will furnish an excellent reason for an added in and allegiance to their home city by all the citizens of the town and community. Such improvements as these in a city never fail to speak a recommendation in those silent tones with an emphasis which even the most ready tongue fails to give. With such evidences as these the future of Sargent is secure. The hands that have laid this foundation with such painstaking care will not fail at any test. One thing alone can work the undoing of such a people. That thing is expressed in the one word which came so near being the end of the hope of our country when Benedict Arnold betrayed the confidence of his fellow patriots — “Disloyalty.”
So long as the people of the country pull and work with the object in view of keeping their country in the front rank of progress, as it now is, and as the people are now working, so long will the value of property and the joy of living continue to increase. When the head of internal strife attempts to show itself above the horizon of coming events, smite as you would a serpent. Don't think for one moment that you are independent of the country around you. You grow and prosper as it grows and prospers. The value of your property and business increases in an exact proportion to the increase in the community as a whole. Stand up for your home town, for if you will consider it fairly you will see that that is the only place on earth that is standing up for you. Boost her institutions, for their success means an added compensation for yourself. Because Sargent does these things is what has made her the Queen city that she is. Because the will keep doing it is what will write her brightest pages of the future.
The money that a country accumulates is estimated by the increase in the value of the property there, and added to this the balance of trade in favor of the country. By balance of trade in favor is meant the excess of money which either moves to or from a place by virtue of goods bought or sold. For instance, a trainload of stock goes out of Sargent worth approximately $20,000. On the same day a trainload of machinery, merchandise, and manufactured goods arrives in Sargent valued at approximately $15,000. The balance of trade for that trade is $5,000 in favor of Sargent. One of the most important factors in keeping the balance of trade in favor of a locality is a good market for all the productions of the country. Sargent is unusually fortunate in this respect. The amount of live stock, grain and provisions, cream, butter and eggs which are produced here insures this. The fact that there is sharp and constant competition in the buying of these things brings the margin of profit in the buying to the closest possible figure. The live stock market is always active, and the little stock man who feeds only a few head at a time has the same opportunities that the man who has great yards full of fattening cattle and hogs enjoys. There are three buyers of live stock here: Gilbert Helgerson, an independent buyer; P. H. Leininger, who buys for C. W. Parks, who is also a Sargent man; and J. Conway, an extensive feeder and buyer, a cut of whose extensive feed yard appears in this work. Each of these men is recommended as being a good, square buyer, paying at all times what the market will afford, only asking the legitimate profit which should come to a man who gives his time and attention and invests his money in a business. That they handle a considerable amount of stock in the course of a year we would respectfully call your attention to the shipments of live stock which went out of the city the year 1906. This ought to be satisfactory evidence of the kind of live stock market that is found here, because no industries flourish where the market facilities are not good. And there can be no question as to whether the live stock industry flourishes here. The fact is that it is making the country grow rich and wax strong. The man who has not some idea about what raising live stock in central Nebraska is has a lesson to learn.
The grain market in Sargent has an especial advantage on account of the extensive cattle feeding interests that abound in and about the city. The men who do this feeding are always in the market for corn and hay. This makes such a sharp competition in the buying of these products that the farmer often realizes the Chicago market for his corn. To the farmer who raises the corn but does not feed cattle on his own account this means a great deal. Two elevators are on the ground all the time with a steady market for all kinds of grain. One of these is owned by J. H. Currie of Bradshaw, and has as resident manager C. A. Sininger, a young man who is very popular and makes a most agreeable man to transact business with. The other elevator is owned by the Jaques Grain Co., and has for its local manager J. E. Werber, a young man who is comparatively new to the city, but who has taken hold of the work in a manner that has already closely identified him with the interests of the city.
In the matter of the grain market the mill plays an important part. On another page of this work special reference is made to this splendid institution and its relations to the business of the community. For this phase of the question suffice it to say that it is always in the market for good grain at the very top figure. That a mill is a grand institution for any country is appreciated when one has good grain to sell.
And then comes cream, and for the profitable business of dairying there is no country that has the natural advantages that this part of the state enjoys. We will dwell more fully on this part of the question under the head of the territory of Sargent. There are three active cream buying agencies in the city: Pfrehm & Son, who buy for the Ravenna Creamery Co., Leininger & Cram, who buy for the Beatrice Creamery Co., and Swaynie, who buys for the Harding Cream Co. All of these creameries are large concerns with their factories located in the state of Nebraska, and they buy on a regular market based on the eastern market for butter. The fact that the production of cream in this part of the state has more than doubled itself three times in the past three years is something of an indicator as to the actual merits of production of cream in this part of the country.
The market for butter and eggs is taken care of by the several dealers in general merchandise, who are always prepared to give the highest price that the market will afford. They take care of this very important end of the market of a country in a manner so entirely satisfactory that no complaints are heard on the part of the producers of these essential factors in the successful career of the country. The butter and egg shipments will be found on another page of this work. They speak for themselves, all comments would be superfluous.
While speaking of markets we must not forget the matter of horses. No country on earth is now producing more good high-bred horses than is central Nebraska. From the half-pony breed of the pioneer days the class of horses of this section has gradually improved until at the present time the horses are the heavy draft breeds, and this section is furnishing more than its pro rata share of the heavy horses of the country which are finding so ready a market in the large cities of the East.
Thomas Owen is the local buyer of this class of stock, and he is the kind of a buyer that makes a steady market for the horse producers all the time. He pays a good figure at all times, and the eastern horse market is really brought near to the producer, but the horses of course would rather stay here in this garden.
The fact is that Sargent enjoys a market in all its departments far above the average in the country over. That this is an advantage which redounds to the credit and financial benefit of the country none will doubt.
If the history of any country were written a hundred years hence it would be found that to a very great extent the general success of the country sprang from one of two great causes. Either site was a country that produced the raw material for the jaws of commerce to feed upon, or else she was a great manufacturing country that supplied the product in shape for use. Either of these roads may lead to a successful issue. How much greater, then, would be the reward if a country had both the productive qualities and the manufacturing facilities. In nations that do these things the success they have met with is phenomenal. The reason is that she keeps all the money of both the raw material and manufactured product within her own boundaries. The money that is paid to convert the raw article into a commercial article is paid to her own people.
If this is good argument for a nation, it is in no less degree an argument for a community or for any unit of people. The same general terms will apply in proportion in either case. The difference in the cost of the raw material and the manufactured product never returns to help to build more improvements in the country from which it came, any more than do the profits in any business which leaves that neighborhood. The aim, then, of the men of any particular country should be to build up and encourage the turning of raw material into a salable material as near to home as possible.
Sargent is so comparatively new a city that her work in that line is just commencing. But she has made a start. Down near the depot she has a mill that is taking the wheat of the country and grinding it up into good flour. On another page of this work appears an illustration of this enterprise. Every day this institution is grinding away, and what money the wheels turn out is given back to the community in added improvements in the usual trade with the merchant, the butcher, the baker, and all the other channels that go to make up a city.
One of the leading features of the buildings of the next century is going to be cement building blocks. In the east edge of the city today and every day is a force of men turning out these cement blocks. The only thing that has to be shipped into the country for the purpose of making these blocks is the cement. Nowhere on earth can finer material for the making of these blocks be found than here. As you come to the city you see them working away there, and as each block is turned out of the machine another mite is added to the whole, which is surely and swiftly making this into one of the richest spots on the earth.
And then comes an industry that we will venture note one-half the people of the community knew was in existence — an ice cream factory. If you will step to the rear of the Hick’s Pharmacy you will at once hear the chug, chug of a gasoline engine. There in a building that has been prepared for the purpose you will find a man busily employed in the manufacture of ice cream, and mighty good ice cream, too. Already this factory has worked up a good trade in the towns of this territory. Not only are they freezing up about four hundred pounds of cream per day, but they are diverting profits that formerly went into the hands of Lincoln or Omaha in this direction.
These are the things that have already been accomplished in the way of manufacturing industries. There are a number of things that we believe would be easily procured, and would add to the home production list and decrease the amount of money that is sent away from our own fireside. First, judging from the amount of cream which is shipped each year to an outside churn, a creamery. There is plenty of cream shipped out of Sargent each year to keep the wheels of a butter factory busy right in your midst. Nearly all the producers of cream have separators. The investment is not very large, and in a country like this the returns are sure and certain. A bakery that would bake the home flour into home-baked bread and find a market in outside towns to eat Sargent flour, baked into bread in a Sargent oven. The investment is waiting for the man who sees the opportunity to come along and take hold of it. Each enterprise of the kind here mentioned adds its bit to the making of a glorious whole that makes all better and stronger and helps to make business, pleasure, and dollars for each. The time must come when the hum of industries will be on all sides, and prices of real estate will go to great heights.
THE BUSINESS TOWN
There is not a class of business common to cities of from one to two thousand population that is not represented in this city. The inhabitants of the territory adjacent can have their every want supplied right in their home city and see the home enterprises grow and branch out, realizing that their own money comes back to them, in part, in added improvements to the town and country, and as the surroundings become better and better the value of all the property advances together.
In the banking line, two banks, the First National and the State Bank, cover the territory nicely, and both of them are capable and reliable. In the mercantile field the ground is well covered, there being the general merchandise stores of James Hagerty, A. L. Conhiser, Ottun Bros., J. K. Spacht, and L. M. Swaynie, who take care of the trade. In the hardware line are C. A. Strahle, Sargent Hardware & Furniture Co., and C. L. Swanson. In the drug department The Hick's Pharmacy and the drug store of Dr. J. J. Warta look after the details. In the meat markets Pfrehm & Son and Leininger & Cram look to the furnishing of fresh and tender meat each day. In the furniture field The Sargent Hardware & Furniture Co. and J. W. Lundy see that the homes are made properly comfortable. In the harness trade G. H. Seidles, Ottun & Martin, and Walter Saunders see that no wants go unsupplied. Three restaurants cater to the hungry and serve soft drinks and ice cream to the thirsty, Anna Sturdevant, W. J. Saville, and Floyd Huddleson looking after this part of the daily program. In the clothing line Peter Lakeman and Isaac Pizer see that the community is well clothed. D. E. Armstrong looks after the pump and windmill part of the community. Two large lumber yards, the Dierks Lumber & Coal Co. and Koupal & Barstow, see that the country is kept in building material and coal. Geo. Poland at the Commercial hotel and E. U. Gillispie at the Brown House take care of the wandering stranger at the two hotels. Wm. McGregory and J. D. Clifton look to it that the horses are well shod and the plows of the community kept in a sharp condition in the two blacksmith shops. Hartley & Lundy and the Custer County Land & Loan Co. look after the real estate business of the city and the country and see that the price of land is kept at a proper figure. G. W. Raseh & Sons and Roy Dye see to it that the men of the country are always clean shaven and have their hair properly trimmed. Two doctors, C. C. Fenstermacher and J. J. Warta see to it that the health of the vicinity stays good. Two millinery stores, Mesdames Tobias and Bowen, look after the fashions of the ladies and keep the dressmaking of the city up to the highest standard. In the dental department are Drs. J. H. Graham and D. H. Bowen, ready to see to all affairs of a chewing nature. Two opera houses supply amusement for the public, the Hick’s Opera House and the Freeman Opera House that has been builded. Two saloons are here, those of L. A. Scriber and C. E. Freeman. Two livery barns, the Star barn conducted by Smith & Probst, and the Commercial barn run by Theo. Hohman; and no one need walk out of the city for want of livery. A modern pool hall conducted by Smith & Sturm is ready to help in the passing of an hour. The Sargent Leader, a weekly newspaper, edited and published by H. H. Hiatt, keeps the people of the vicinity well posted on the current events of the day. The postal affairs of the city are well looked after by S. L. Perrin and two rural routes supply the mail daily to a large territory adjacent to the city. The large building interests that are constantly going on in the city and country are safely lodged in the hands of Roy Beers and L. L. Wood and Robert Beers, three live carpenters and contractors. When the house is finished, David Shaw or Henry Guggenmous will plaster it for one, and E. M. Wood or Phillips Bros. will see that it is properly painted, papered, and decorated. When one gets into trouble H. H. Hiatt will plead your case before any court in the land. When you have draying to do, C. E, Roe or L. L. DeBusk will take your orders; and if you want to telephone, the Central Telephone Co. with John Crownover as manager, or the Independent, managed by Henry Pfrehm, will answer your call. And, finally, when one comes to die, J. W. Lundy will direct the funeral, embalm you if you wish it, see that you have a proper burial in every respect.
And day after day the business interests of the city receive a little growth. It is that sure and steady advance that is never stopped, and that always comes from an honest interest in a town on the part of its people. The business men of Sargent are a sober minded, steady and faithful set of men. Ever alert for the beat interests of the community as a whole, they lay aside all selfish interest in many cases each year and do for the good of the common whole. And when a people do this their future is sure and certain. The loyalty of the business men of Sargent deserves a reward in the way of an unswering loyalty on the part of the people of the community to them. Because it is largely due to their constant and consistent efforts that Sargent has been builded into the beautiful city that she is, and it will be their efforts that make her future. The encouragement that they receive from the people as a whole will pace their efforts and show whether the unrevealed pages of time are to stand out as the brightest that have been written. To the business men of Sargent we take off our hats. They have builded a city to be proud of, and its continued growth and prosperity is the only solution to the workings of such a group of men, and standing with bared heads, we express our belief that her beat days are yet to come.
CHURCHES, LODGES AND SOCIETIES
The social life of a city is one of its most important phases. When the social conditions are made wholesome, when the churches and societies are active agencies for the betterment and moral uplifting of a community, there is where we like to think of our children being reared. Sargent is singularly fortunate in this respect. Her churches are alive and working in all of their tributary branches. All of the numerous lodges of the city are prosperous and the members faithful in the keeping of their organizations in good running order. The city has an unusually large and handsome lodge hall over the large general merchandise store of James Hagerty, that is well fitted up for the purpose, and is well lighted and heated by the plant from the store. The churches all have buildings of their own and are in a flourishing condition.
The Congregational church of Sargent was organized on the 29th day of August, 1893. For a number of years the services of the body of faithful worshipers were held in the hall of the city, the present church building, a cut of which appears herewith, was erected in the fall of 1899, and since that time they have enjoyed its use. At the time of the organization it was coupled with that of Wescott for support. But since the building of their own home they have been independent, having two outstations, one at Somerford and one at Antelope, where the pastor preaches each alternate Sunday. Mrs. Rev. Bashford is superintendent of the Sunday School, and it is large and flourishing. The Christian Endeavor Society, with George Douglas as its president, is alive to every occasion, holding regular devotional and social meetings for the young folks. The Junior Department, bliss Carrie Hartley, superintendent, keeps a host of the young people interested and happy. The Ladies' Aid Society does a large share towards the material support of the church, and is an active agency in each good cause. Mrs. Andrew Phillips is president. Rev. Alfred E. Bashford is the present pastor.
The Methodist Episcopal Church of Sargent had its starting point as far back as 1879, when services were conducted in the vicinity as a branch of the organization at Taylor. This continued until the year 1884, when Sargent came into a class by herself, with outlying districts, all covered by the name "The Sargent Charge." This included organizations at Walworth, West Union, and Comstock. Sargent wanted and needed a resident pastor, and in the year 1885 they erected a parsonage and were assigned a pastor to occupy it. A few years later they erected their present church building, and since that time the growth and work of the church and its tributary organizations have been sure and certain. At the present time the church has a large membership roll of earnest and faithful workers and all the classes are in a flourishing condition. Sunday School is active under the leadership of Superintendent O. M. Scott, the attendance having more than doubled since January of this year. The Ladies' Aid Society having Mrs. C. A. Strahle as its president is active in good work. Darold Perrin is the president of the Epworth League and under his leadership the work of that society is earnest and active. Mrs. O. M. Scott has a Junior League that is large and enthusiastic and she spares no pains to keep them interested and busy. Harold H. Miles is the present pastor of the church.
The third church organization of the city is the Catholic church, which is the youngest, but they have already started a nice, new church building that is nearing completion. They have a large membership of earnest men and women, composing some of the best of the country, and they will add to the spiritual affairs of the city in a wholesome manner. A cut of their new place of worship appears in this work, and when it is completed it will be a handsome building. They hold regular services and expect soon to have a resident pastor.
The Odd Fellows is the oldest organization of any of the lodges of the city, having been organized in the year 1888. It is known as Sargent Lodge No. 162, and was launched principally through the efforts of Wm. Sherman, who was the first Noble Grand. Today they have eighty-five members in good standing. Alvin Shaw is the present Noble Grand, and Joseph Slegle, Secretary. There is also a thriving lodge of Rebekahs, who lend largely to the social interests of the city.
The G. A. R., those noble men who today keep the same spirit alive that caused them to bare their breasts in the momentous days of ‘61, have and keep an organization here. On another page of this work will be found a complete roster of these men. They are most of them men who came to the country at an early day, and so have a double importance in this work. The present officers of the Post are Edward Taylor, Commander; W. D. Hall, Adjutant; R. W. Fulton, Quartermaster.
The ladies of the city have a large and active Women's Christian Temperance Union at work all the time. Mrs. C. W. Parks is the president of this band, who are doing a good work.
Seven insurance societies have organizations here: The Modern Woodmen, the Royal Neighbors, the Ancient Order of United Workmen, the Royal Highlanders, the Degree of Honor, the Loyal Mystic Legion, and the Modern Brotherhood of America, each being represented by a live and working lodge. Each of these hold their meetings regularly, and all go to make up the pleasures of he life of the city, as well as doing a substantial good for their people.
The schools of a locality are one of the most important, if not the very most important of its institutions. When the first little school was started in the vicinity of the city away back in 1876, the settlers were in truth getting at the very foundation of the existence as a nation. The outgrowth of the start has been one that any people may well be proud of. Scattered all over the large territory of the Sargent of today one will see well-built and comfortable school houses. They are not the poor excuse of the frontier, with the historic bench and the half qualified instructor, whose principal credentials for being in his position are his ability to wield the time-worn rod. These schools are in fact what public school should be; institutions of learning with well-qualified teachers, whose ambition is the progress of their pupils. These country schools are not intended to give an advanced education, but they should and do give the elements of all the branches of common school work and fit their pupils for the graded schools of the towns that are always accessible. That there is no country on earth, we care not where you go, that excels the Sargent locality in this respect is not mere talk, but a fact that any one can ascertain for himself, if hee cares to investigate the matter at all.
The public school at Sargent of course is graded, and each year it is graduating a class of young people, who have either the rudiments on which to complete a course in college or else a good common school education that will stand them in good stead if they are unable to go further. That it is thoroughly and completely efficient is true. For a particular description of the advance and history of the school we give a write-up written by Otto Perrin, one of the young men who graduated from the school this year:
“Sargent has proper cause to be proud of her school, which ranks among the foremost of Custer county. The early history of our school dates back twenty three years, when our district, No. 84, was separated from district No. 8. Mrs. G. R. Humphrey, wife of our present county judge, was the first teacher, the school being held in what at that time was known as Woodbury's Hall.
A few years later a school house was built, occupying the site west of the present structure. At that time the average attendance was about twenty-five. By steady and continuous growth the school began to assume larger proportions until the fall of 1899, when it because necessary to employ another teacher and to rent a building on Main street for a class room. The teachers that year were Professor Taggert and Miss Mabel Hall, who taught a successful term of school. The railroad having now been extended into Sargent, the population increased to such a number that the board deemed it necessary to erect a new building. This structure was built in the year 1900 at a cost of $3,600. Prof. H. H. Hiatt, who was then principal, reorganized the school, adding a high school department, from which Misses Leila Austin and Mary Roth were graduated that year. The same year another teacher was employed, taking charge of the intermediate grades. Again in 1902 and in 1903 the high school department was enlarged and a new room added, which filled a long-felt want for a grammar room. During the past two years, under the supervision of Prof. E. E. Richards, assisted by an excellent staff of teachers, the school has grown to its present size of an enrolment of 215, with a daily average attendance of 185. A twelfth grade was added and one more teacher employed, also a two-room addition was built. A system of steam heating was installed two years ago which supplies sufficient warmth for the entire building The present structure is valued at $6,000, and is an ornament to the city.
“The school board at the present time consists of W. D. Hall, president, E. E. Miller, secretary, A. Z. Perrin, treasurer, Dr. D. H. Bowen, Henry Williams, and S. J. Penny. The following teachers have been elected for the ensuing year: E. E. Richards, principal; G. E. Livermore, grammar room; Miss Ora Frazer, second intermediate; Miss Bessie Miller, second intermediate; and Miss Percy Cass, primary. The school is one of the best in western Nebraska, and with the hearty cooperation of our citizens it will continue to grow.”
If a man could describe the territory of Sargent in a single word and do it justice, the word would be a coined one that was made especially for such an occasion as this. That the country is producing the greatest return for the investment and that too with a minimum amount of labor year in and year out, is a fact that is clearly known to those who are acquainted with its conditions. There is not one thing which is common to the climate of this section of the earth that the country in and about Sargent will not produce. There was a time when the man who said that he could produce fruit in all the hardy varieties in this part of Nebraska received only a laughing at for his argument and a wise shaking of the head when he showed a willingness to put his money back of his judgment and plant trees. But that time is past. Nobody laughs now, and the country is dotted with growing and bearing orchards. The fact that once more the country has vindicated the judgment of those who were willing to put their money and their time in to develop the resources makes one wonder if there is really anything that can not be done in this valley; for it has given one unending act of surprises from the beginning to the end. And even the people who are right in the country all the tine and have seen some of the things that they said could never happen in this country are always on the tip-toe of expectancy and wondering what the next rise of the curtain will bring forth.
The country immediately surrounding Sargent is level with a black sandy loam soil. Back of this at a distance of from one to two miles from the river on either side is a parallel range of hills. Immediately back of these hills stretches away the gently rolling land that produces anything, almost, for which seed is planted. There is just enough rough land with this to make pasturing land for the raising of the enormous quantities of live stock that are reared all over this, section. The country not only produces a most pleasing appearance to the eye, but has at habit of giving a most satisfied feeling in the vicinity of the pocketbook. We are going to give in detail a large number of the things that have actually been done in this section of the state, and in so doing we want the reader to bear in mind that not more than twenty-five years ago it was the common belief that beyond feeding about one head of live stock to each ten acres of land that the country was practically valueless. When one gazes upon the illustrations, taken from photographs, which appear in this work, and then recalls the fact that such pictures can not more than half do justice to such things, he is ready to acknowledge that there must have been a mistake in the estimation of some one. And there was, for when people said those things they were merely talking of some country of the long ago which no longer exists. They had not dug down into the heart of old Mother Earth at all or tried to find anything of the treasures that she held hidden there.
Alfalfa. That word only a few years ago did not mean much. Today it means that the ground on which it is is going to produce more toward putting a fat steer on to the market, is going to raise the figure on the cream check is going to make it possible for the man who sows to keep his stock in better shape at less cost and make the quality of the stock better, and at the same time employ a comparatively small piece of land, than anything that has ever come to light in the way of feed. Ask some men what the greatest thing of this country is and they tell you that it is alfalfa and cattle. Another will tell you that it is alfalfa and hogs. Another, that it is alfalfa and the milch cow. At least one will tell you that it alfalfa and mules. And we know that sheep are great feeders on alfalfa. So it strikes us that one of the very greatest things of the country is alfalfa. Think of a crop growing on a piece of land that you get at least three cuttings each year and at least half the years get four of them, with from three to five tons at each cutting. Then remember that all kinds of live stock thrive on this article of food. That it is the greatest feed ever given to a milch cow or to fattening cattle. Then remember that in and around Sargent, Nebraska, there are hundreds of acres of this great crop which will all go into the stock the coming fall
monotony, naming man after man who had tried this crop in this locality and found that it was indeed and in truth a gold mine. To ride through the country and see the fields themselves in all their glory, it is indeed a wooden man that does not get up an enthusiasm for the wonderful plant and the country that produces it sit plentifully and so well. We can not talk about alfalfa forever, but if we might impress the splendid virtues that it holds in store for stock-raising communities, if we might carry some message of its worth to those who have never gazed upon this country or build up an added appreciation on the part of the people who are right here of the possibilities that are before them, we would gladly show even more of the things that it has done.
The predominating interest of the country about which we write is the raising of live stock. No country on earth is naturally better adapted to this great feature of the business pursuits of the earth than is this. True, a large portion of the land lying in the immediate vicinity of the city of Sargent is too valuable for farming purposes to allow it to be used exclusively for the raising and grazing ground for cattle, hogs, and horses. But in order for a country to realize the greatest advantage from the industry of raising of stock, it is desirable to turn to market the finished product. This can only be done with grain, and hence the country that raises its own grain and its own cattle and hogs and mixes them together in their own feed lots allows none of the profits of the entire transaction to escape them. Thus the advantage of a country that produces both and all of the ingredients that go to make up the food of the earth are all realized in and around Sargent When a man produces fifty head of cattle and then places them on the market at the time they are in the condition to become useful either for feeding or for breeding he loses all the profit that is made on them after they leave his hands. If the cattle and hog question has always proven a profitable one to the people of this section, and it unquestionably has, it is largely because they are able to keep every process of their preparation within the hands of their own people.
There are dozens of men in the locality who have become rich in the production of live stock in connection with their farming who came into this neighborhood only a short time ago without a dollar. They have had the country to help them, and that was a great deal. They have planted the seed and tended the crop, and the grand soil and climate did the rest. They have started a small herd of cattle and produced a few hogs, they have tended them while small, and the air and the grass, the pure water, the freedom of the country, and alfalfa have accomplished the rest. And today the same process is going on over and over, and each turn of the wheel the wealth of the country increases, and the faith of the man who tills the soil and watches his herds grow is a little stronger than it was before.
We give a few of the names of the men who have done these things and are doing them still: M. E. Vandenberg, a raiser of fancy stock, some of which we have made the subject of an illustration in this issue; George Probart, living just north of the city; Jos. Kriss, a progressive Bohemian, living east of the city about three miles; John E. Grint and David Shaw, both well-to-do and thriving stockmen and farmers living east of the city; Carl Brim, a Bohemian who has been in the country a considerable time and owns more than a dozen good farms; James Krikac, Fred and Joseph Kanecky, three Bohemians, who have added to the wealth of the country while building up their own fortunes; W. W. Dye and M. H. Glassy, two men living southeast of the city, who have fine farms and continue to snake money on them A. D. Johnson, who purchased his land four years ago for $10 per acre and has made the cost out of it every year since that time; O. B. Scott, Fred Wittemyer, Ole Johnson, B. O. and Oscar Engelsgjerd, a quartet of men who have made their own competence and proven the worth of the country to the southeast of the city; Nelson Morris, James Percy and his four sons, who own farms near to each other; Charles Howland, Stephen Diffenbaugh, Tom Hartley, who have made the world easy for themselves in the northwest quarter from the city; David McGugin, George F. Christy, Frank Doty, Walter Metcalf, Jerry Phelps, Lee Leep, Finley Morris, Jasper Wallace, Alex Nelson, Wm. Cooney, and A. L. Carter, who have demonstrated the success of the country out in the vicinity of West Union; John Coltrain, E. W. Goodrich, Ad Gatliff Cart Cole, E. Morris, George Leibert, W. Tobias, J. Honeycutt, Roy Sweet, Henry Leibert, Louis Green, Ed and Tom Sillivan, all of whom have found a suitable reward for their efforts out in the country north of the city; Jason Evans, who has built up a comfortable income in the country to the east. Does a showing of this kind mean anything! If there is any surer way to point out the real worth of a country than to point out the things that the men who have been in field have actually accomplished in their line of work we do not know what it is. Go to the homes of any one of these and dozens more of them in the country whom we have been unable to specifically point out and you will find them living in comfortable and well appointed houses, surrounded, in most instances, with beautiful spade trees, with lawns and the comforts and conveniences of life about them and their families. Go to their barns and you will find the stock all well taken care of and every detail for its safe keeping looked alter. You will find them looking well after their schools and all the public enterprises that are a necessity to the country and make their children grow up in the way that one likes to think of their being reared. Go with them over their farms and you will see the reason these things have all been brought about in such a short, space of time. It is because back of these men and their constant efforts there were that richness of soil, that wealth of stored energy, that actual worth in the land itself which has made the rapid advance of this country possible.
What are its future possibilities? None can answer, for its the years come and go each one bears upon its flitting wings some new resource, some added interest which starts slowly, but which the country is sure to snake into an avenue of wealth and prosperity. You, who are acquainted with the country, ask yourselves these questions and see if they are not true.
But we are not through. Indeed we are not fairly started. When one tries to tell in mere words what the possibilities of such a country are he has undertaken a task that will tax the powers of the most competent. Who was it said that fruit could not be produced in the central or western portions of the state of Nebraska? Let him come with me for a few moments, and if he is not ready to admit before he has gone very far upon his way that he has been hugging an illusion I miss my guess. Let us go first out to the farm of Jasper Wallace, who was one of the early settlers of the country, and see what he thinks of it. When you come in sight of the place you must admit that either Mr. Wallace is of the opinion that fruit will grow and prosper here or else he is a fool. For here in a healthful and prosperous condition are more than fifteen acres of young fruit trees, some of them just beginning to bear. A half a carload of trees were set out on this place last year, less than half a dozen of them failed to live, and they are today tossing their young limbs toward heaven and thanking their lucky fates that sent them to this part of the country. Talk with Mr. Wallace about it and be careful about the fool part of this proposition, because he weighs something over two hundred pounds.
L. F. Rupple, living northwest of the city, has an orchard of ten acres on his farm that has been bearing for ten years and in that time he has averaged a little better than a thousand dollars in fruit each year. Ask Mr. Rupple what he thinks about it.
S. F. Garris, living in the northwest vicinity, has a five-acre orchard that is just commencing to bear, having been out for four years, and the trees are all doing finely. J. W. Lundy put out an orchard on the farm that he formerly owned north of the city, and it is now bearing nicely. Among these were a large number of grape vines that have been bearing for two years, and they are as fine as any one could wish, both in quality and in quantity.
Dan Meyers, living within one-half mile of the city, has an orchard of about forty acres, consisting of cherries, apples, and plums that are just beginning to bear. An illustration of this orchard is given in this work. and the reader can judge for himself whether it looks like a picture taken in a country that would not raise fruit.
But we must not talk about fruit all the time. Let who write of a country that will produce only one thing confine themselves to one subject. Here one can raise anything, and hence we must cover the entire history of vegetation common to temperate zones,
The farming, proclivities of this section are unexcelled. Corn of course is the king crop, the acreage of that article being larger than any other one production. Wheat and oats, speltz, and all kinds of grasses flourish and give off profitable productions. The ground is such that it is farmed with the least possible labor, as there is never any trouble about it being too hard. To follow out the line of demonstration that we have started we give a few- of the yields that have come to our notice of the principal crops — corn, wheat, and oats,
Peter Benhart, living two miles north of the city, last year raised 5,000 bushels of corn from a field of one hundred acres. He had sixty acres of wheat that averaged 36 bushels per acre; twenty acres of oats, from which he threshed 1,350 bushels.
L. P. Green last year had a field of twenty-four acres of corn that averaged 51 bushels per acre; thirty acres of oats that averaged 55 bushels per acre; forty acres of wheat that averaged 34 bushels per acre. And lest you forget let us once more mention the fact that only a few years ago there were people who held an honest belief that the country we are writing about was fit only for prairie dogs and sage hens.
Roy McMurtry, living one and one-half miles north of the city, last year had a thirty-acre field of oats that weighed out 72 bushels per acre. This field would probably have made a hole for at least a couple hundred prairie dogs, would it not?
Ben Sherrick last year had thirty-eight acres of wheat that averaged 35½ bushels per acre. He also had seventy-five acres of corn that averaged 48 bushels per acre. A whole flock of sage hens could have roosted on this field.
George Gibson, living north of the city, last year had a thirty-acre field of corn that weighed out 59 bushels per acre.
These are some of the good yields, but we might go out with hardly an end to the good ones. The average yield the country over, at a conservative estimate, is for wheat 30 to 35 bushels per acre, corn 35 to 50 bushels per acre, oats 40 to 70 bushels per acre.
Potatoes. If there is a country on the face of the earth that will produce potatoes in almost endless quantities this is it. There are fields of them there today growing green and beautiful that next fall will show for a summer of work done under the ground that a king might covet. In fact there is not one thing that this country will not produce in a farming line, and the resources of the soil have not as yet been thoroughly tested. That it is one of the grandest countries that ever laid out of doors for the purpose of consistently and regularly producing paying crops any one can convince themselves of at a very little trouble,
And thus we leave this country, with its hillsides dotted with cattle that are bringing wealth and influence to itself, with its beautiful valleys where the thousands of happy homes nestle and the groves that are being raised there to beautify the landscape. And as the sun sinks down into her golden bed in the western sky, and the sun-kissed hills cast a last resplendant shadow over the fields of growing and ripening grain and the lark drops his tired wing for the good-night song, as in fancy we see these things and hear the soft noises of the west, is it strange that we feel an enthusiasm growing and glowing within our breast for this country and its thriving people? Is it strange that the thrill that comes from one of the grandest displays of Old Nature's very breast is upon us? Long may she live and as long as she lives she is bound to prosper. And may her children's children's children rise up an call her blessed.