Merrick County's 100th Year: 1858-1958

Emil Becker, of Clarks, who was 90 years old on July 13, 1958, has resided in Merrick County for eighty-six years. Mr. Becker tells the following story of the early days.

PhotographIn 1871, Emil's father, Herman Becker, who had been born at Portland, Wisconsin, came to Merrick County and filed for a homestead in Section 8, Township 12, Range 8, located five miles west of Chapman and five miles south of Worms. The next year, on October 1, 1872, Mr. and Mrs. Herman Becker and three children arrived at Lone Tree by covered wagon. A Mr. Traver, who was in the hardware business, had built a home which was unoccupied and allowed the Becker family to live in it while Mr. Becker took one of his horses and rode on to find his homestead.

At that time the first court house was being built in Lone Tree. The upper floor was laid and the pioneers took advantage of it for dancing.

When Mr. Becker came to his homestead, he found that a young couple, Mr. and Mrs. Fred Rembolt, had settled on adjoining land. Mr. Rembolt was in Grand Island that day, but Mrs. Rembolt, who was only sixteen years old, was very happy at the prospect of having neighbors and she made hot coffee for Mr. Becker.

Mr. Becker returned to Lone Tree, loaded his wagon with lumber and drove with his family to his homestead. They camped in their wagon while Mr. Becker built a 16 by 18 foot house with shingle roof and a 20 foot lean-to one end which extended 6 feet beyond the width of the house. For his two horses and one cow he built as sod barn with roof made of poles from Wood River and covered with slough grass.

The next spring the weather was nice, until Easter Sunday, April 14, when a bad blizzard struck and lasted three days. The pioneers, being unprepared, suffered much discomfort and loss. The terrific gale made it impossible to go outside and care for stock. Mr. Becker's horses became so hungry they ate the grass roof off the barn, leaving it open to the storm. The horses were brought into the lean-to at the house, but the cow wandered off and was found later in Warm Slough three miles south. She had survived the blizzard. A sow and five pigs were buried in the snow.. The Beckers brought the five pigs into the cellar.

PhotographOther settlers in that part of the country were the Beckmans and the Frauns. Beckman had forty head of cattle, and they all tried to crowd into a small shed to escape the blizzard and all smothered except the bull. A Mr. Davis went out to feed cattle and died in a snow drift.

In June, following the blizzard, the Baumeister family settled near the Beckers.

The three Becker children attended school and grew up in the Chapman vicinity. Emil attended college in Iowa. His first wife died shortly after they were married. Later he was married to Katie Kasparie, sister to the late John Kasparie of Palmer.

As the years went by, Emil Becker became prominent in community life and known to many throughout the county.

After being elected as County Clerk in 1896, he moved with his family, to Central City. He served for four years. In 1905, he bought a half section farm one-half mile north of Clarks and moved on it with his wife and six children. Mr. Becker was very successful as a farmer and insurance salesman. Six more children were born after the family moved to Clarks.

Of the twelve children, Harvey died in infancy, Arney was killed in World War II, Helen Nelson, Alice Merihew and Erma Halleck are now living in Washington; Herman, Lillian Wells, Emil, Jr., and Earl live in California; Marie Kadlecek resides in Omaha and George lives with his father in Clarks. Mrs. Becker died in March, 1955. Mr. Becker, now in his 91st year, is in good health and retains a keen interest in life.

Compliments of GLANTZ FARM SERVICE Central City


Table of ContentsPhotos & Illustrations, Index of Names

NEGenweb Project / Merrick County / On Line Resources

Site Updated: 03 December 2015