Franklin County, Nebraska
For Another Day
Franklin County Chronicle, June 12, 2001
Franklin county’s pioneers came from all over the country and Europe. For the next four weeks this column will be about a true story of a women’s strength and endurance. I have saved the best for last.
This story of Elizabeth Duncomb is one of the best I have read. This was a lady before her time. It’s not often that a lady born in 1833 could accomplish so much in a time when men made most of the decisions.
Born in County Wicklow, Ireland, she came to America in her infancy.
Elizabeth and her husband, Edward Duncomb, lived in the SE * 14-3-14 (Logan Township). This would be in the quarter straight south of where Dallas Volk now lives.
Mrs. Wayne Kile found the following notes in Elizabeth Duncomb’s house.
“On March 16, 1854, at Washington D. C., a council took place between the Omaha Indians and the ‘Great White Father.’ The result was the treaty and the secession of the land west of the Missouri River and south of a line due west of where the Iowa River leaves the bluffs.
The land north of the line was retained for a reservation. This marks the birth of the Nebraska Territory.
There were stirring and vital political events which marked the history of this period, but our interests will turn to a bit of the genuine, indispensable services rendered by our Nebraska pioneers who did not step to fame through opportunity, but never the less, are picturesque figures of the Nebraska frontier.
Half a century ago there were a number of settlers in the state, located largely along the eastern border and along streams of water. The central and western part were vast plains, where Sioux and Pawnee Indians, buffalo and many animals roamed the prairie; and this it how it was in Franklin County.
Picture Edward Duncomb, a brilliant young sea captain, who also had served as a captain in the Army during the Mexican War, with his frail wife and three small children leaving New York City to seek a home in the unknown ‘Golden West.’
This lady, Mrs. Elizabeth Duncomb seems to have always found a way to serve her country and fellow men. The only home she ever knew, besides the one in Upland, was New Orleans.
She was educated in the South, being a graduate of St Joseph Academy at Old Carondelet, Mississippi. She was a very capable nurse, cook, seamstress, schoolteacher, homemaker and loyal citizen.
Besides being one of the highly cherished Red Cross nurses of the Civil War, she was also a volunteer nurse in the
Indian uprising on the Rosebud Reservation and Spanish American War. Later, she was one of the first in our state to volunteer her services in the First World War. Even at her advanced age of 84 years, she has the much-deserved credit of knitting more garments for the Red Cross in the World War than any one else in her county. Hers was the first name in the Red Cross list in her town.
As a seamstress, she made the wedding dress for the grandmother of the Speaker of the House, Nicholas Longsworth. It was with the money, which she had earned teaching school in New York, that the family came to Nebraska in 1876 and took a homestead in Franklin County.
After reaching Omaha by rail, they secured a prairie schooner in which they came to their new home. For a while, they lived in the covered wagon, but soon found a place in a ravine, quite out of sight of passing Indians, and in their estimation, a suitable place for their dug out- here they began to realize their life’s dreams.
The country was beautiful, with the buffalo grass like a velvet carpet beneath your feet, attractive wild flowers everywhere and wild grass as high as their heads. The heads of antelope were pretty sight as they trailed the winding paths, but there was a constant fear to which the inhabitants were subjected. There were many animals, such as the yellow wolf, buffalo and many snakes. Tribes of Indians roamed the state, many times causing much distress to the scattered white families. The main tribes were the Sioux and Pawnee. The Sioux were friendly in the early years, welcoming and protecting their white emigrant brothers. They gave food and shelter and allowed the intruders to pile their goods in the open in the Sioux villages, where they were unharmed.
The world is not so bad a world as some would like to make it;
Though whether good, or whether bad, depends on how we take it.
Michael Wentworth Beck
Rena Donovan, For Another Day.
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