NEGenWeb Project
Merrick County website
Central City Friends Meeting
Centennial Celebration, 1899-1999

PictureJoseph Ray and Bessie Amanda (Mesner) Barnes Family. Ray Barnes came to Nebraska Central College in 1910 to attend the Academy, graduating in 1913. He played football on the College team, which led to enrollment at Whittier College, California for two years prior to return to NCC for the 1916 football season. Ray began farming in Lone Tree Township in 1917, and was married to Bessie Mesner that fall. He continued fanning while completing his college work, graduating from NCC in 1924. He taught in schools at Seward, Gresham, Henderson, Creston, Republican City, and Naponee, all Nebraska towns, before moving in 1938 to Owyhee County, Idaho. He farmed there until retiring to nearby Homedale.

Taken from the Merrick County History written by Phil Barnes.


PictureRuth (Hull) Bennett was born in 1897, the daughter of a country doctor in Tobias, Nebraska. She died in Sandy Spring, Maryland at the age of 101 in 1938. She moved with her family to Central City, and became a member of Central City Friends Meeting in 1908. She remained a member for the rest of her life. She graduated from William Penn College in Iowa and received a medical degree from the University of Nebraska in 1925. In Picture1928, she went to India to become the first physician at a medical station in Chhatapur, in Madhye Pradesh state. In 1936 Ruth returned to Colorado and married Claude Bennett to whom she had been engaged for 20 years. Soon after the birth of her son, Claude Fraser, she returned to India to resume management of the hospital. She returned to the United States and for the next 25 years was a pro-typical farmer's wife. Eventually she began practicing medicine again filling in for doctors when they went on vacation. At age 70, Dr. Bennett retired from medical practice. Her husband died in 1975 and in 1979, Ruth moved to Sandy Spring to be close to her son and his family. While living there she became active with several Quaker volunteer enterprises. She also began participating in the Maryland Senior Olympics when she reached the age of 90. As a centurion, she did the one mile walk in 29 minutes. Ruth loved to travel and did so extensively.
     In the spring of 1996, Ruth was inducted into the Hall of Fame at William Penn College at Oskaloosa, Iowa. She was presented with the

Page 10Spacer

     Distinguished Career Award. It was for her 53 years of service to mankind and for her work for the Ohio Mission Board as a medical missionary in India for nine years, that William Penn College honored her with this award.
     Ruth was a good cook and a hospitable hostess. Several years she hosted Friends women from Central City on their way to Deer Trail, Colorado for a midyear meeting of USFW.


Merl and Lillian (Solt) Benton. Merl and Lillian were married at the Friends Church on June 1, 1930. Merl and his brother Ralph attended the Central City Meeting from 1926-1930, while they, and Lillian, attended Nebraska Central College. Lillian Solt Benton was a birthright member. Lillian was the first child born after the church was built and was named Lillian for Mrs. Mott, wife of the minister.

PictureMilo and Julia Crosbie. Milo Havilah and Lillie Cook Crosbie, was born in Henry County, Iowa December 19, 1885. After finishing rural school, he attended Whittier Academy at Salem, Iowa. In 1900 he moved with his parents and two brothers to Boyd County, Nebraska where his father served as pastor of a Friends Meeting. He entered Nebraska Central Academy in 1904, graduating in 1905. Four years later he received his Bachelor of Philosophy degree from Nebraska Central College in Central City, Nebraska. The first semester of the following year he attended William Penn College at Oskaloosa, Iowa.
     He returned to Nebraska Central College in 1914 as a teacher holding this position continuously until 1953, a period of thirty-eight years. During these years he served in various capacities other than teaching, having been at times Principal of the Academy, Y. M. C. A. advisor, librarian, alumni secretary and college registrar. He was deeply devoted to the college always.
     Milo married Oriela Mesner on December 27, 1916. On May 6, 1919 occurred the birth and death of their only child, a daughter Lois Marie. Oriela Mesner Crosbie passed away on June 23, 1923. On September 5, 1926 he and Julia M. Mesner were married.

Page 11Spacer

     Julia M. Mesner was born to Phillip and Nancy Emry Mesner in Pleasant Plain, Iowa April 15, 1883. She was a graduate of Nebraska Central Academy and Nebraska Central College and received her Master's degree from the University of Nebraska in Lincoln. In 1963 she was awarded a Doctorate of Humane Letters at William Penn College in Oskaloosa, Iowa. Julia taught English and Latin at Nebraska Central College for many years.
     Julia was a gracious and pleasant lady who in spite of a handicap accomplished many things. She was the fourth child of a family of twelve.
     Milo and Julia were both birthright members of the society of Friends. Throughout Milo's life he was a willing and earnest worker in all departments of church work. His interests were broad and varied. He loved his home and was devoted to the interests and welfare of those near to him; he was a lover of nature; he read widely; he kept abreast of and participated in civic matters; a favorite hobby was genealogical studies; and everywhere he went he made through his cheerful and winsome personality friends of those he met.

Taken from the Merrick County History

PictureDavid and Amanda (Talbert) Emry. Both David and Amanda came from early Quakers, whose families gradually migrated west. Their families were active members of Walnut Creek Friends Meeting in Iowa, and continued active membership with Friends throughout their lives.
     Nearly 40 years of their marriage were spent in farming near Pleasant Plain, Iowa. In 1893 they moved with three of the children to Knox County, NE, settling in the Kemma community near Creighton. Five years later they again moved to a farm in Dixon County in the Springbank Community. About 1900 they moved again, this time to Central City, spending their later years on a small acreage near Nebraska Central College.

Taken from the works of Delbert Mesner and Milo Crosbie

PictureBill and Clara (Wilder) Everett. Clara became a member of Central City Friends Meeting in 1903. Although Clara attended another church with her husband, she kept her membership with the Friends. Clara died at the age of 107. The Wilder family attended the Academy and the College. Clara graduated from the Academy in 1906, then completed the Business Course in 1907.
     Clara bought the Calumet Café in 1923 and renamed it the Wilder Café. She ran the Café for thirty-eight years, until the closing in 1962. Clara and Bill Everett were married in 1924.

Information taken from the Merrick County History.

Page 12Spacer

PictureJohn and Clara (Stokely) Ferguson. John and Clara Stokely Ferguson came to the Central City area about fifteen years after a Central City Friends Meeting was established. They settled in a house just north of the college and met many Quaker families. They liked them, and so started attending the Friends Meeting and became members. At that time they had Hazel and Dale. Opal was born in 1918. They quickly became absorbed in the life of the Meeting and were deeply committed to it for the rest of their lives. In the early '20s they moved into what was known as "the Joyce place", just east across the road from the college where they remained until John died in 1954. Clara sold the acreage in 1956 and moved away.
     John and Clara were both faithful workers for the Meeting. While Clara was the more vocal of the two, John was always steadfastly supportive. Clara was active in Picturemany aspects of church life. When she taught the pre-school Sunday School class, she made little caps and gowns for them to wear when they "graduated" to the primary classes. She was active in "The Friendly Class", which was the forerunner of USFW. She was a member of Ministry and Counsel. When the Meeting was so low on funds in the early 30s, she told me she was the one who suggested, "Well, we can cook, can't we?" Why not have chicken pie suppers to raise money!" She was a small, brisk, efficient lady! She and John made quite a contrast. At six feet two he was large for that era. He loved people and usually had a twinkle in his bright blue eyes. Whenever upkeep was needed on the Meeting House or parsonage, John Ferguson was there to help. He devoted many hours to the church over the years. When he took up house painting in later years, he also included the church and parsonage. Jean McMillan Nielsen tells the story that when she was a little girl in Sunday School, the children would make a bee-line for John Ferguson because he would read the "funnies" to them before Meeting for Worship started. Their children were all active in Sunday School, Christian Endeavor, choir and other church-related activities. Opal also served as choir director.
     Clara and John Ferguson opened their home to many people over the years. When they had been married only two weeks, two young cousins came to live with them for several years. They gave their elderly parents a home in their last years. Their big three-story house accommodated many college students for many years. In later years, they remodeled the second and third floors into two apartments for college faculty. They demonstrated every day of their lives what it is to be a Friend.

Prepared by Kay Roberts Mesner, granddaughter

Page 13Spacer


Nellie (Bales) Foley. Nellie Erma Bales attended the Nebraska Central Academy and Nebraska Central College. The photo is taken from the academy graduating class in 1916. Nellie was adopted by Francis "Frank" M. and (Arie) Emmaline Ellis Bales. They were living in Allen, Nebraska, when Nellie was adopted and were members of the Springbank Meeting. Both Frank and Emmaline are buried in the Springbank Cemetery. As her daughter remembers, the Bales family moved to a home on the College Section around 1912. It was probably made for the express purpose of Nellie's education. At the academy she could acquire a high school education and/or normal training. She taught school for a number of years.
     Nellie graduated from NCC in 1925 and took a teaching position in Gillette, Wyoming, where she met and married Charles Foley. They returned to Nebraska in 1929. Arlyn was born in Indiana, but Gerald Keith, Lola Mae and Ardys Ann, were born in Merrick County and were on the Cradle Roll at the Friends Meeting.

Sent by Ann (Foley) Johnston


Wilfred and Emma Gibson. Wilfred and Emma Murch Gibson came to Central City from Appleton, Wisconsin in 1902 so that Wilfred might join the Nebraska Central College faculty.
     Wilfred was born in North Collin, New York. He served in the Union Army in the Civil War and had been a teacher and superintendent of schools in Appleton prior to coming to Central City. His wife, Emma, was born in Appleton, was educated there and had been a teacher in the Appleton schools prior to her marriage. Wilfred's mother, Elizabeth Austin Gibson, accompanied them to Nebraska. She was a physician and had served as a nurse for the Union Army in the Civil War. The family purchased an acreage near the college and made their home there as long as they were able to care for it.


Raymond and Grace (Watkins) Gibson. Raymond was the only child of Wilfred and Emma Gibson. They moved to Central City when he was nine years old. His wife, Grace Watkins Gibson, came to Central City from Perkins County, Nebraska, to attend Nebraska Central Academy. She and Raymond both graduated from Nebraska Central Academy and Raymond attended Nebraska Central College. They were married in 1916. They spent the first four years homesteading in Colorado, then returned to Nebraska to live and soon after, Wilfred and Emma Gibson came to live in their home until their deaths.

Page 14Spacer

Prior page     Next page

© 2002 for NEGenWeb Project by Selma Mesner, Ted & Carole Miller