Farmer's Valley Cemetery
Hamilton Co., Nebraska


Entrance road
    
Historical Marker


The following newspaper article about Farmer's Valley Cemetery was published in the Sunday Journal and Star, Lincoln, Nebraska, Sunday July 15, 1934. Submitted by Jackie Rudnick. Jackie has also sent in photos of some of the tombstones and the cemetery.



Sunday Journal and Star
Lincoln, Nebraska, Sunday July 15, 1934

Nature's Serenity Adorns Old Burying Ground

By Sibyl B. Jarrett

It is an old burying-ground, this little, country cemetery, sheltered by the greenery of trees, resting as it were in the friendly arms of the Blue River, for the river surrounds it on three sides. It is a historic burying-ground, Farmer's Valley cemetery, for many of the men and women now resting there have helped to make the early history of Hamilton county.

A winding road, in and out along the "Blue" under a luxurious canopy of green, takes you to this time-worn country cemetery. You pass a school-house just an arm's throw from the old burying ground, which happen to be the original site of the old, log school-house built in 1870, the first school established in Hamilton county, the ground being a gift from James Waddle, a prominent and one of the very earliest settlers of Farmer's Valley.

Just beyond the school house the road dips into a little hollow, turns gently and you enter the old Farmer's Valley burying-ground: a strangely silent, shadowed place, intermittent with sunshine. A quiet holiness, a feeling almost of restfulness comes over you while lines from the great Elegy steal into your heart.

An acreage of the dead closed in on three sides by the dense foliage of the "Blue." --a wilderness of sumac in which the bittersweet inter-twines with the wild grape and upheld as it were here and there by age-worn woodbine which forms a wall on three sides of the old burying-ground.

Pines Stand Sentinel
Magnificent cinnamon pines, veterans in years, stand as sentinels guarding the dead, while the white-birch, maple and the ever-green, all of lesser years, yet have kindly sheltered many an early grave, where the old, yellow, moss-grown stone is hardly decipherable.

Nature pays her tribute to the dead. In wild roses blooming in profusion in and out around the old graves.

The word "old" must be used very often in the mind's eye of Farmer's Valley cemetery. For everything about it is old.-- the old river, the old trees, the old worn moss-covered stones.-- it is true there are a few graves of later years sloping toward the east of the four acreage of the dead, but you forget them in the hushed stillness of the place and see only the old stones where often it is necessary to stoop very, very low to read the curious, old style biographical epitaph.

Pioneers At Rest
There are men and women resting in this old burying-ground on the river that made the first settlement in Hamilton county, Farmer's Valley on the "Blue", and it is fitting that they should be laid to rest beside the river.

This first settlement was made by a group of eastern people, largely from Wisconsin. Some of them were college-bred, who had come into the middle west as early as 1866 for the purpose of establishing farm homes. They settled on the Blue river and organized the first settlement of Hamilton county, known as Farmer's Valley. Jarvis Chaffee and George Hichs made the first entry on the river. Mr. Chaffee built a "dug-out" which was the first abode constructed in Hamilton county, its size being 10 by 12 feet.

Next came James Waddle and John Brown, leaders of the Scottish colony in 1867. They built the first "log house" in Hamilton county. John Brown gave to the new settlement four acres of land for the purpose of a burying ground and which is the present Farmer's Valley cemetery. Mr. Waddle became an extensive landowner and in one year alone set out over 6,000 catalpa trees, enclosing his ground. The original homestead is known today as the "old Waddle place".

The Complete Life
Many of these first settlers, who were truly pioneers in every sense of the word, were laid to rest in this old burying ground. They were quite free from our complex modern life and while their days held work, hard work, hardship and even danger, yet they loved the fields and the wild flowers, the stars, the soft warm earth, and they lived much with them alone and who knows after all if it does not lead to the all- around, complete life.

The death of Mrs. Cordelia Westcott, wife of J.D. Westcott, brought the first burial in Farmer's Valley cemetery. Age has not entirely dimmed the inscription on the old, moss eaten stone on the very bank of the river. It reads "In memory of Cordelia Westcott, age 50 years, 3 mo, 23 days. Died August 28th 1867".

Mrs. C.M. Bray, daughter of Mrs. Westcott, in speaking of her mother's death in a letter many years ago, said, "We thought we would have to take a wagon box to make a coffin for my mother, but E.D. Copsey had come here and taken a claim and brought some lumber to make a door and some window frames. He let us have that and Mr. Henderson made the coffin and my father and I lined it."

This was the first casket that was lowered in Farmer's Valley cemetery. There are two little graves beside Mrs. Westcott's, her children who died in 1878, victims of a diphtheria epidemic that brought terror and grief to the early settlers.

"Remember Friend"
An old, yellow, moss-eaten double stone of mother and child held an unusual pathos with the inscription. "Remember friend, as you pass by, as you are now, so once was I. As I now am, so you shall be, prepare for death, and follow me."

Mary F. Kaily, 23, and her little son Otto S., age 4, lost their lives in the great Easter snow storm, April 13, 1873. It was a storm that raged with great fury over the plains for three days and nights.

The air was filled with a blinding cloud of snow, which was so dense as to render objects at a few yards distance entirely invisible. The Kaileys had come to the settlement on the "Blue" a year before from the east. Their log house while comfortable enough in ordinary weather proved unfit for the onslaught of the blizzard. Mrs. Kaily with the little boy in her arms left the house to go to her brother-in-law. The fury of the storm over-powered her.

Victim of Indians
The grave of Marion Littlefield Is poignant in historic significance. The wording on the old stone reads as follows:

Marion F. Littlefield
Died
January 20 1874
aged
23 years 2 months
Was killed at Pebble Creek while in an engagement with the Sioux Indians.

The story of Marion Littlefield's death is as follows: The settlers were in grave danger from the raids of the Indians who came down from the northern part of the state. In 1874 the settlements had extended to Burwell, and in January, the Indian troubles there broke loose when a marauding band visited a log-house occupied by several trappers, and in the absence of the owners, cleaned out the place.

Sixteen men, under the command of Charley White (Buckskin Charley) volunteered to pursue the Indians. One of the party was a young fellow, Marion Littlefield, 23 years old, who no doubt looked upon it as a bit of adventure. They made their way to Peble Creek (across the river from Burwell). Just at dawn they were within 300 yards of the big tepee. Cautioning the men to keep silent, White entered the camp and demanded the return of the property. He found the Indians breakfasting on the remains of their last night's feast and in no humor to compromise.

Finds Indian Defiant
White, who knew a little Sioux jargon, talked with the chief who emerged from the tepee, took a cartridge from his belt and held it over his head, summoned his followers and standing in their midst in the gray light of the early morning, uttered the Sioux war chief's battle cry. White rejoined his little command and ordered them to seek shelter under the bank of the Loup river.

The Indians opened fire as they reached the bank. It was promptly returned and for ten minutes the roar of musketry was like that of other days experienced at Rosebud Creek. The lonely bluffs of the Loup echoed the sharp crack of the rifles of white men and red engaged in a mortal combat.

It was soon discovered that owing to the extreme cold the shells were sticking to the guns of the white men, retarding their fire. The Indians divided, half of them crawling along to the rear, protected by a little ridge running parallel to the river. They say that the white men had the advantage of a perfect protection from their bullets. While they were under the bank they could return the fire without exposing themselves. It was to get a better range at the white men that the Indians divided.

Shot in Head
At this junction, young Littlefield arose to fire. He exposed his head to the enemy and just as he pressed the trigger of his needle-gun, there was an answering report and he fell dead on the bank of the river. The shot that killed this young man was almost the last of the fight. The Indians withdrew.

The next day a sad little party passed down the valley--the friends of Marion Littlefield taking his body back to the home of his parents. He was a promising young fellow, a favorite with all his friends. His death was a fearful blow to his family and cast a gloom over the entire settlement. Marion Littlefield is resting today in the old, historic burying ground of Farmer's Valley where he was buried 60 years ago.

**Note from Kathie Harrison: Marion Littlefield's sister married Buckskin Charley White, who's daughter married into my OWEN family**

Lieutenant Alexander Jackson, Civil War veteran, Co. K, 18th Wisconsin Infantry, one of five other G.A.R. soldiers, was laid to rest in the old cemetery on the river, but the only one of the group whose grave is marked with a government stone. Lieutenant Jackson's father, known as "Father Jackson", was the oldest member of Farmer's Valley settlement. He was their religious leader and organized the first Sunday school.

John Brown's Life
Another old grave of unusual interest is that of John Brown, one of the earliest settlers, and truly a great man in his day. He was born in Glasgow, Scotland December 28 1808, and died July 30 1878, in Farmer's Valley on the Blue, was laid to rest in the old burying ground, land which he gave to the settlement for the dead.

John Brown was a sailor, had served in the navy for many, many years and had seen extensive travel all over the world. He served in the Crimean war, a war that has almost passed from memory as a war of yesterday. Once while on the Mediterranean sea his ship encountered serious danger, it was only by presence of mind and great bravery that a catastrophe was avoided. The people on board showed their gratitude to John Brown by presenting him with a very handsome watch and chain.

The descendants of Brown still have sections of the watch chain in their possession, a gift bestowed sometime along 1850. John Brown was a man of great strength, a man who had seen life in many places under various conditions and who is resting today on the bank of the Blue river, under a magnificent cinnamon pine, in old Farmer's Valley burying ground.

Built First Frame House
Frederick H. Clark, another early pioneer, came from Vermont in 1870. He erected the first frame house in Hamilton county, the lumber being hauled from Grand Island. He and his wife rest side by side on the bank of the river.

It was not always "old age" found on the worn, yellow, moss-eaten stones in this old burying ground. Many a child's grave, a slab here and one there, showing an early date, bore mute testimony as to time, in some cases the little one's name was barely decipherable and the rest of the inscription lost. One infant grave was particularly appealing, a time worn slab with the words

"Our Little Singer"
Johnnie
Son of Jas. and Mary Pearse
age 2 years
Died___1874

Another was a quaint, child's stone adorned with a little lamb,

Jimmie
Son of A.N. and N.S. Stephens
age 5 years
Died ___1885

Two other early graves, Elijah Jackson and his wife Mary Ann who died in 1872 and were the parents of Daisy and Anny Jackson, well known in the teaching profession. They taught in the early days in Hamilton county, later they found responsible positions in Japan and the Hawaiian Islands. The Jacksons were part of the first settlement in Hamilton County.

Decoration Day Rites
It has long been a custom of District No. 1, the little school house just an arm's throw from the old burying ground, to decorate the graves on the morning of Decoration Day. The children march from the school to the cemetery, two by two, their arms filled with garden flowers, and the graves, all graves, receive a beautiful tribute from childish hands.

The little child buried 60 years ago would be a white-haired man or woman now, but in the eyes of the school children, time is forgotten, and the "Little Singer" Johnnie is still looked upon as 2 years old. A lovely thought to know that the old graves are not forgotten. Little children lying side by side with many an old settler who was prominently identified with the early history of Hamilton county, have passed over the river in the late seventies or early eighties and settled in that country, "from whose bourne no traveler ever returns".






Cornelia M. Bray
1845-1933
In Memory of Mother
Tombstone
John Brown
Dec. 28, 1808
July ??, 18??
Tombstone
Close-up
F.H. Clark
May 21, 1843 - Dec. 17, 1906
(Frederick)

Lucy A. Clark
His Wife
Jan. 29, 1842 - Mar. 5, 1907
Tombstone
Lieut. Alex. Jackson
Co. K, 18th Wisc. Inf.
Tombstone
Close-up
Elijah Jackson
Born Sept. 2, 1805
Died Jan. 23, 1880
Tombstone
Mary Ann Jackson
Born June 19, 1807
Died March 20, 1889
Tombstone
Mary F. Kaily
Wife of F. Kaily
Died Apr. 17, 1873
Aged 23 years

Otto E. Kaily
Son of F. & M.F. Kaily
Died Apr. 17, 1873
Aged 4 years
Tombstone
Marion J. Littlefield
Died Jan. 20, 1874
Aged 23yrs 2mos
Tombstone
Johnnie M. Pearse
Son of Jas. M. & Mary S. Pearse
Died Apr. 28, 1877
Aged 2yrs 8mos
Tombstone
Close-up
Jimmie Stephens
Son of A.R. & N.S. Stephens
Died Dec. 2, 1885
Aged 5yrs 9mos
Tombstone
Cordelia Wescott
died Aug. 28, 1862
Tombstone
Close-up
J.D. Westcott
1813-1896

Julia Westcott
1841-1913
Tombstone
Ella M. White
Wife of Chas. White
Died Oct. 25, 1894
Aged 41Yrs. 2Mo 9Da
Tombstone



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