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Merrick County
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The Nonpareil - May 19, 1898


History of Merrick County

• From "the beginning" until the year 1895.




(Concluded from last week)

   Less than one year after the establishment of the News, political complications (the usual cause) produced a second aspirant for journalistic honors, in the "Lone Tree Sentinel,"* with Col. W. H. Webster and George A. Percival as editors. From a previously, published letter of Mr. Percival's we gain the following information concerning the new enterprise:

   The Sentinel was started as a "railroad paper," to advocate the carrying of the Midland Pacific Railroad bonds, and in opposition to the News, which, after advocating the bonds for a time, suddenly flopped to the other side.

   Newspaper changes were as frequent, however, in those early days as in these latter years, and after five months' occupation of the editorial chair Messrs. Webster & Percival yielded it to Mr. L. Waters, who managed to stay in it for about a month, making way then for Mr. Ira Prouty. The latter got out one issue, and then, concluding that it had done enough for the world, let it die a peaceful death the following week, after a little over six months' existence.

   In the early part of 1874 Geo. A. Percival and L. Waters bought out the Merrick County News, and on the 9th day of April, 1874, issued the first number of the Lone Tree Courier. But by August a new management, Hutchings & Bowerman (M. C. Hutchings and S. R. Bowerman), had stepped in, with Hon. Ed Parker as editor. The next change, whereby "Dick" Steele came into possession of Mr. Hutchings' interest, brings us into the history of Central City. So we will leave the subject for the present, and speak of the further changes in their proper places.

1An interesting evidence of the trials of early newspaper life in our county is found in the following note, which appears just after the delinquent tax-list in the Sentinal of August 13, 1873:
   Our figures have given out. In the above tax list (fi) stands for the figure 5, and (f) for the figure 4.1
   This made such queer-looking combinations as these: $2.60 (for $2.50), ( for $4.40), and $f.fifi (for $4.55).

   NOTE.--That the younger generation may know what names rightfully belong to the "Pioneer" list, we reprint the roll of legal voters of Lone Tree Precinct

in 1872:

Adams, Jos.

Crook, F. D.

Fisher, J. J.

Jouls, L. L.

Armstrong, J. R.

Clark, Geo.

Foreman, Alex

Kombrink, R.

Anderson, Anders

Carrier, C. N.

Fouts, Silas

Kelley, Thomas

Bockes, Ephriam

Cummings H. D.

Varner, Wilson

King, Asaph O.

Brown, Win.

Comstock, Wm. C.

Frazier, S. D.

Keyes, John

Burroughs, W. W.

Comstock, D. B.

Fitzgerald, C. R.

Kirkpatrick, D. C.

Brewer, Jas. G.

Compbell, Robt.

Good, Thomas

Kelsey, Henry

Brewer, Wells

Clark, Duncan

Gardner, G. G.

Kirkham, R. N. B.

Bullock" Sidney

Clark, D. V.

Gunderman, Jno.

Kull, Geo. H.

Berryman, Jas. H.

Clark, Benj.

Garret, J. M.

Lisk, B. F.

Biggs, J. T.

Carrol, James

Howe, Win.

Lisk, Henry

Biggs, Wm.

Clary, R. B.

Hilton, Eugene

Learne, Joseph

Barnes, Nelson

Clark, W. N.

Howe, Orrin P.

Lemaster, J. C.

Bryant, H. N.

Dunnivan, Jas.

Hilliard, Jno.

Lehmer, Jacob

Brackett, W. A.

Doolittle, L. L.

Huff, John G.

Long, Benjamin

Bacon, B. R. H.

Duffin, Michael

Hopkins, Daniel

Lehmer, Ira

Brinkerhoff, D. W.

Dayton, E. F.

Huff, Jer.

Lemaster, J.

Burk, W. K.

Davis, W. H.

Henshaw, Samuel

Marsh, W. E.

Bener, John

Eatough, Richard

Huxford, A. J.

McCarn, Henry

Burnett, E. R.

Eatough, Chas.

Hiscock, A. P.

Moore, G. W.

Barnes, Chas.

Edwards, Earl

Heaton, Henry

May, James M.

Buckley, Henry

Eastman, Leander

Hards, E.

May, Lorin

Barge, Robert

Ellithorp, Eugene

Hollowood, T. L.

Martin, H. C.

Bacon, Jesse

Ewing, Albert

Hugett, Chas. C.

Mills, R. S.

Bruno, Alex

Pitch, C. N.

Irwin, Samuel

May, Thomas

Bruno, Henry A.

Fitch, J. R.

Irwin, Jno. H.

Matthews, Thomas

Brown, Chas, E.

Pails, Atwood

Jewell, Frank

Mead, Chas. H.

Baird, Robert G.

Foulkes, Jno.

Johnson, Thos. A.

Miller, Henry A. A.

Berryman, Bell E.

Pails, Zach

Jeffers, Ira S.

McKendry, E.

Crooks, H. D.

Foreman, Wm.

Jones, G. W.

Martin, Samuel

Mears, R. A.

Powell, Wm. A.

Stearns, O. A.

Toppin, W. R.

Miller, Hudson

Perry, G. P.

Sparks, John W.

Taylor, Robt.

Miller, Albert

Purvis, Edward

Smedley, J.

Taylor, John F.

May, Win.

Porter, J. A.

Scott', M. V.

Vail, John W.

McClelland, Geo.

Persons, V. D.

Sparks, T. J.

Watters, Robt.

Martin, W. L.

Parkhurst, R. N.

Stevens, Orlando

Whitney, L. L.

McEndree, Win.

Persinger, J., M.

Shaffer, Christ.

Wilkins, W. E.

Nay, Erasmus

Peters, Ezra

Schmelzer, J.

Wright, M. L.

Nunemaker, N.

Page, Adolphus

Sliter, Henry

Woodsides, J. H.

Nay, J. N.

Porter, W. A.

Snyder, Carlton

Willoughby, L. B.

Nay, C. C.

Persinger, N. R.

Tilsley, Henry

Wilson, C. B.

Osterhout, H. C.

Reynolds, John

Traver, Isaac

Withrow, N.

Parks, Alpheus

Root, D. T.

Thomas, David

Wilson, B. F.

Parker, Jason

Rose, Daniel

Townley, W. D.

Walker, W. G.

Parker, T. F.

Ratcliff, James

Taggart, F.

White, D. F.

Parker, Ed

Rand, B. F.

Tilsley, James

Weed, J. A.

Prouty, Ira

Rieves, Halsey

Tilsley, Wm.

Wells, Henry C.

Patton, W. N.

Shaver, S. H.

Tunks, Albert

Ward, B. F.

Phelps, Win. 13.

Sweet., Amos

Thompson, John

Whittaker, J. B.

Phelps, Joseph

Sullivan, James

Tillinghast, R. E.

Webster, W. H.

Patterson, Wm.

Sellers, W. A.

Tullis, B. F.

Wood, J. J.

Percival, James

Story, Walter

Traver, Charles

Persons, Harry V.

Palmer, John

Tracy, A. E.

   NOTE.--From the Merrick County News we extract the following evidence that the way of the politican even in the early days was not one of luxurious ease. The matter occupied about one-third of a single column and was heavily displayed:
to be

Every vote cast against, Mr. Ed Parker,
the regular Republican nominee for


will operate as so much aid in helping
to elect an enemy of


Don't allow yourselves to be humbugged by
any of the new dodges now being practiced.

Beware of


in sheep's clothing.

Section break



Letteroing backward now a little, for the sake of connectedness, we discover that the first religious services in Merrick County are associated with the name of good old "Father Lemon," as he was lovingly called by his disciples. Tall of stature, strong of voice, kindly of countenance, and yet with a gentle dignity which told of the honesty of his own life, Father Lemon was a fit herald for the pioneer days of his western circuit. The first religious society in the county was organized by him at the home of J. G. Brewer, on Sunday, June 24, 1866. The organization was followed by a five days' "revival," of which the outcome was a "class" of the faithful which met regularly with their leader, Jacob Rice.
   The first church organization effected in, the county was the Methodist, in the year 1871. The first regular pastor was Rev. J. S. Donaldson. He was succeeded by Rev. J. M. Dressler, with whose pastorate we pass into the year of Central City's organization. For some time the Baptists and Methodists worshipped together, in the church of the former on the north side, but in 1876 the Methodists erected a home of their own on the south side and worshipped there for about ten years.
   The Baptist society was formed in January, 1872, and the first pastor was Rev. John Gunderman, who remained until 1880. Their church was erected in 1872, and was the first religious edifice in Lone Tree.
   In 1872 the Presbyterians organized under the direction of Rev. George W. Newell, who retained the pastorate until 1878. The Episcopalians effected an organization in 1874--a year before the town's change of name--under the supervision of Rev. U. C. Shaw, of Silver Creek. Its earlier services, for lack of a church, were held in the court house.
   The Congregationalists in 1872 organized under the pastorate of Rev. L. H. Jones, but though meeting regularly had no house of worship. They finally, however, merged with the Presbyterians.
   The Catholics, during the days of Lone Tree, had held missionary services there, but no organization' was effected until after the town's change of name.
   Like the frontier life of all organizations, the church work in the earlier Merrick County days was not without its humorous side. As an illustration, true to life, we reprint by permission of Editor Wells the following account of the first revival services held in our county. The original article appeared in the Democrat of August 4, 1893:

    In the fall of 1869 Rev. David Marquette, afterwards president of Nebraska Central College, called at Mr. Berryman's store and consulted him about holding a protracted meeting. Berryman's store was the only building to be had and was freely offered for the purpose. Nowadays Methodist preachers would hesitate a little while before holding a revival meeting in a saloon, but at that time Bro. Marquette was mighty glad to get even a saloon. The great question then arose as to whether the saloon attachment was to be closed during the meetings. Mr. Berryman would have been willing to close up the store during the evening meetings, as he wanted a vacation, but he did not dare to do so without consulting his customers. He called a mass meeting of the prominent citizens to discuss the great question. The meeting resolved by a unanimous vote that they would all attend the meeting and assist in conducting the services, provided the saloon remained open, but if the saloon was closed they would not attend the meeting themselves nor would the married men permit their wives to attend. It will be noticed that the women were more obedient then than now. In these days the women would go to the meeting without the consent of their husbands and they would commence the devotional exercises by smashing every bottle and emptying every jug in the establishment.

    The next important question to be decided was in reference to the song service during the meetings. There were some good voices among the early settlers but not much musical culture. The boys could sing a drinking song but were not conversant with songs of praise, but they were willing to practice on psalms and hymns and faithfully promised to do the best they could. They immediately organized the first Methodist choir in Merrick County. Sid Bullock, of whom, perhaps, some of our readers may have heard, was chosen by acclamation as leader of the choir. The only church members in the neighborhood at that time were Elnathan Phelps, father-in-law of H. C. Martin, and Mrs. Adams, mother of Joe and Charley Adams, and both were Methodists.
   The night designated for the first meeting arrived, and the people arrived also. It was by no means a dress parade, for the early settlers did not go to meeting to show their clothes. The preacher took his stand at the open door connecting the store with the hotel dining room, the ladies of the congregation being assembled in the dining room and the men in the store. The services commenced, the first hymn was given out and the congregation sang with spirit and with understanding, led by the sweet and melodious voices of the extemporized choir. Right here we will give you the names of the members of the choir, for it is possible that our readers may have heard of some of them, and we wish to transmit their names to posterity anyhow. Here they are: Sid Bullock, Hank Martin, Jim Berryman, George Moore, Lo May, Snapp May, Isaac Traver, Ed Parker, Ira Prouty, Wallace Burroughs, Trim Biggs, Frank Parker and Ezra Lisk. And now the names of these illustrious vocalists will be handed down to coming ages as the first Methodist choir of Merrick County.

(Chapter XV concluded next week)


© 2000, 2001 by Ted & Carole Miller