This is a Saunders County NEGenWeb Project web page


   Bill's brother, Alex, resided in Chester precinct of Saunders County. Alexander Dawson was born in the 1840's in Canada. He married Margaret (last name not known) in the late 1860's. Their son John was born in 1869. They came to the U.S. in the late 1870's.

   In 1882 Alex purchased land from Elizabeth and John Wilcox. He also purchased more land in the 1880's. A patent record for Alex Dawson was filed on July 10, 1889.

   Margaret Dawson died on January 29, 1889, at the age of 38 years, 9 months. She was buried in Willow Creek Cemetery of Chester precinct.

   In the 1890 School District #63 school census were the names of other Dawson children, namely: Stella -- age 18, Jennie -- age 17, and Tommie -- age 7.

   In the early 1900's Alex moved to the west coast with the Armes family who had lived in Saunders County. Last known place of residence was Portland, Oregon, in the year of 1913. Details as to date of death or burial place are not known. Submitted by Marlene McDonald


   Ira D. Dean was the eldest child born to Dennis Dean and his second wife, Drusilla Evaline Spearbeck. He was born in Mills Co., Iowa, Oct. 2, 1857. His family moved to Ashland in 1864. Ira grew up in Ashland. He graduated from school in Ashland and started working in his father's flour mill.

   Ira married Esther Hoornbeek April 27, 1882 at her parent's home in Warren Co. Ill. Esther was the eldest child born to Elizabeth Bruyn and Jeremiah Hoornbeek. Ira was already established in the lumber business in Weeping Water, Nebr. at the time of their marriage. Their first two children were born there, Ralph Sidney and Homer Hoornbeek. After their place of business burned down, the family moved to Morrilton, Arkansas with Dennis Dean and some other members of the family.

   In Arkansas, they purchased 1000 acres of timber land and cut trees and made lumber.

   Their son, Homer, died while they were in Arkansas and another son, Allen Clifton, was born.

   They shipped some of the lumber to Ashland. Part of it was sold and part was used to build houses for different members of the family. Around 1888 or 1890, they moved to Ashland and built their house on the east side at the corner of Birch and 7th Streets, where they lived until the death of Esther on April 14, 1913. Shortly after that and until his death May 13, 1925, Ira made his home with his son Ralph and family.

   Ira established a business in Ashland grinding grains for feed and selling feed and coal. Ralph went into business with Ira and the name of the firm became Ira D. Dean & Son. They bought and sold junk iron, ground and sold feed, harvested and sold ice, and coal, had the John Deere dealership, selling machinery and repairs.

   Esther served the families in the neighborhood as mid-wife. She was instrumental in organizing the East Ashland Woman's Club. They raised a nephew, Stuart Hoornbeek, who had lost his mother. At different times they kept other children who needed a home. Mrs. Lyle W. Bailey


   Ralph Sidney Dean was born April 27, 1883 in Weeping Water, Nebraska to Ira D. Dean and Esther Hoornbeek. Ada Mary Keller was born in South Bend Precinct, Cass County, Nebraska to George M. Keller and Ellen Richards, June 16, 1887. They were married Nov. 14, 1911 in Ashland, Nebraska.

   Ralph and his parents went to Morrilton, Arkansas around 1885 and moved to Ashland in 1888 or 1890. He finished the 10th grade in the Ashland Public School, then took Draftmanship and Bookkeeping by correspondence. He homesteaded a place near Sidney, Nebraska, and worked for a photographer at Scottsbluff. When in Ashland, he worked at the Rose Elevator, and also kept the boiler running at night for the electric generator for Ashland's electric system.

   He went into business with his father. The firm was called Ira D. Dean & Son. Their place of business was on the east side on the S.W. side of 7th and Birch Streets.

   During World War I, they bought and sold scrap iron, bought and/or raised grain and ground it for feed, sold feed, coal, and other related things.

   They moved their business to the south side of 7th and Silver Streets. A spring-fed creek was dammed up and ice harvested and sold. They acquired the John Deere dealership and sold machinery and repairs.

   Ira died in 1925, and the firm became Ralph Dean-Coal-Ice-Feed & Implements. Ralph moved his business west on Silver St. to 13th St. Custom baling and the grinding of hay for cattle feeders became a part of the operation.

   In 1936, Ralph's brother, A.C. Dean, returned to Ashland to help with the manufacturing and installation of insulation. After a year or two, Clifton left the firm and moved to California.

   As gas lines were installed in Ashland and electric refrigerators became common, the coal and ice business became extinct. The insulation business grew and Ralph gave up the John Deere Dealership. His son, Vernon, became a part of the firm and it was called Dean Insulation Co. Since they were on the road, selling and installing, or at Vernon's residence manufacturing the insulation, they gave up the place of business on Silver St., and operated from Ralph's home.

   About 1955, Ralph retired because of poor health and turned the business over to Vernon.

   Ralph and Ada Dean had four children. All were born in Ashland: Lillian Lucille, Vernon Keller, Esther Lucy and Margaret Ellen. Their first home was built in 1912 at 305 So. 7th St. They lived there until Sept. of 1925 when they moved to 1618 Boyd St., and, in 1928, to 1825 Adams. Some years, later, they moved to 1326 Dawes St.

   Mrs. Dean died on April 4, 1958. Ralph continued to make his home there for a while. Then he purchased a mobile home which he had moved to the property where his son, Vernon, lived. At the time of his death, he was at the Ashland Nursing Home.

   Ralph served Ashland as a city councilman. He was an elder in the First Christian Church from 1927 until his health no longer permitted him to serve. He was the General Superintendent of Sunday School, and served in other offices in the church.

   Mrs. Dean enjoyed the Royal Neighbors, the East Ashland Women's Club, her church, her home and her family. By Mrs. Lyle W. Bailey


   Cleon Dech was born in Saunders County, June 2, 1886. His parents were pioneer settlers near Ithaca, Nebraska. His father, William H. Dech, was born in Pennsylvania. He came to Nebraska after being wounded in the Civil War in 1867. Cleon's grandfather came here shortly after this. William H. Dech married Mary Doraty who came from Keokuck, Iowa.

Cleon and Edna Dech
Cleon and Edna Dech

   Cleon was the youngest of 7 sons. His brothers were Claude, Edward, Harry, Robert, Lloyd, and Holmes. Cleon grew up on a farm adjoining Ithaca and attended the Ithaca School. Cleon married Edna M. Robb, also a Saunders County resident, on March 31, 1909.

   Cleon was a street car conductor in Omaha for a short time. He returned to Ithaca where he was foreman of the railroad crews and the family lived in a little red section house at Ithaca. He became manager of an elevator and lumber yard at Ithaca. In 1926, the family moved to Fremont where he sold life insurance. This was the first time the family had the pleasure of living in a home with lights, water and a bathroom. The stay was brief. Due to the health of his aging mother they moved to the Dech family farm.

   Because his family was growing he went back to managing a Farmers Elevator in Silver Creek, Nebraska in 1929. Cleon and Edna had four daughters, Norma, Nita, Naomi, and Faith. The daughters were given much encouragement with their musical talents. They formed a family group that sang and played at many functions in eastern Nebraska in the 1930's. The fondest memories of this home were the hours spent with their music. After leaving home they returned on many Sundays to play their piano, violin, cello and trombone. The parents also enjoyed the singing that the girls did.

   Cleon's four daughters were all school teachers. Norma taught in the Wahoo school many years. Nita and Naomi taught in the Lincoln Public Schools. Norma graduated from Wayne State Teachers' College. Nita and Naomi have Master's Degrees from the University of Nebraska. Faith attended Midland and the University of Nebraska, and is now the librarian in the Wahoo Public Library.

   Cleon managed an elevator in Waverly. He came back to Saunders County in 1939 and managed the Memphis, Nebraska elevator. He retired to Ashland. He served as Saunders County Commissioner and built a home in Ashland. After suffering a heart attack he moved to Wahoo to be near his daughters, Norma and Faith. He died at age 79. Edna continued living alone for several years. She died at age 90 in 1975. Cleon was a member of the IOOF Lodge. He was a longtime member of Ak-sar-ben.

   Cleon's daughters are all living. Norma married Luis West. After his death she married John H. Smith. She lives in Wahoo. Nita married Clarence Schwartz and they live in Lincoln. Naomi married Byron Bevans. When he retired as a railroad engineer, they moved to Moscow, Idaho. Faith married Leo H. Smith and lives in Wahoo.

   There are four grandsons. Ronald Dech Bevans is head of the architecture department at the Moscow, Idaho University. Alan Leo Smith is a florist in Springfield, Missouri. Kenneth John Smith is a Saunders County Supervisor, and Steven Cleon Smith is a broker in Lincoln. There are three great-grandsons; Wesley Bevans, Stephen Bevans, and Heath Smith, who is a sixth generation Saunders County resident. Faith Dech Smith


   Wilma LaDonna Semenec Decker, daughter of Frank Semenec and Jennie Wilgus Semenec, was born on a farm 5 miles northwest of Memphis, Nebraska on April 11, 1916.

Mr. and Mrs. Andrew Decker
Mr. and Mrs. Andrew Decker

page 224

   In 1942, when the Nebraska Ordnance Plant came in, my family moved to an acreage 2½ miles northwest of Ceresco, owned by August Brodd, for one year. On February 7, 1943, we moved to our present location on a farm 1½ miles north of Memphis, Nebraska. Wilma attended school in Dist. 47, Wahoo High School, and graduated from Wesleyan University in 1967. She taught school for 19 years from 1939-1978 when she retired.

   On June 26, 1982, she was united in marriage to Andrew Decker, son of Jacob Decker and Mary Williams Decker, who was born on a farm 1 mile southeast of Wann, Nebraska on April 28, 1905. He attended school at Wann, Nebraska.

   On February 14, 1952, he was united in marriage to Laura Holmes, Lincoln, Nebraska who was deceased August 30, 1980.

   Andrew serviced the roads in Saunders County for 22 years before he retired. Presently he is active in his ministry. Submitted by Mr. and Mrs. Andrew Decker


   Charles and Shirley Divis (nee Shirley Diffey) were married on August 13, 1960. They had three children: Mark, born on December 9, 1961, Gregory, born on January 3, 1963 and Ann, born on June 27, 1966. All three children attended the Wahoo Public Schools. At this writing Mark and Greg are attending the University of Nebraska. Ann is attending Wahoo High School.

   Charles was born in 1927 in Colon, Nebraska. His parents were Karel and Anna Divis. He attended grade and high school in Wahoo. He was in the army for two years. He graduated from Creighton University with a Bachelor's Degree and from the University of Nebraska with a Master's Degree. He taught in Wahoo and later became principal of the Wahoo Elementary School.

   Shirley was born in Fremont, Nebraska in 1930. Her parents were Harold and Lillian Diffey of North Bend, Nebraska. Shirley attended grade and high school in North Bend. She graduated from the University of Nebraska with a major in music. She taught in the Wahoo Public Schools from 1954 to 1961. In 1974, she began working in the office of Dr. E.A. Schneider, an optometrist.


   Francis Joseph Divis was born at Colon, Nebraska on March 7, 1923, the sixth child and second son of Karel Nicolas and Anna (Mach) Divis. He was baptized and confirmed in the Catholic faith at St. Wenceslaus Catholic Church in Wahoo, Nebraska. Francis attended rural school District No. 53 as well as St. Wenceslaus grade and high school. He resided and worked on the farm with his parents located two and one-half miles north of Wahoo. On February 18, 1952, he was joined in marriage to Rita Mary Lettellier at St. Francis Catholic Church, rural David City, Nebraska. Rita, the daughter of Anthony C. and Mary L. (DeWispelare) Lettellier had been baptized and confirmed in the Catholic faith at St. Francis. She had received her formal education at rural District No. 18 and David City Public High School both in Butler County Nebraska.

Francis and Rita Divis
Francis and Rita Divis, 30th Wedding Anniversary, Feb 18, 1982

   Upon their marriage, the couple moved to a farm located three and one-half miles north of Wahoo. Francis served as president of District No. 53 school board from 1952 till March 1, 1956, when Francis and Rita along with their two small children; Mary Ann born April 22, 1954, and James Francis born May 28, 1955, moved to a farm located from the junction of highways 92-30A and 109 (the present site of the truck weight scale), two miles north and one mile east. A third child, John Anthony was born on December 24, 1959. All three children received their elementary education in rural school district No. 23. Mary attended and graduated from Bishop Neumann High School where-as Jim and John both received their secondary education at Wahoo Public High School.

   All three children were reared in the Catholic faith and attended St. Wenceslaus Catholic Church of which Francis and Rita are still members. Francis serves as an usher. Rita is a past president of the P.C.C.W. and past secretary of the Wahoo D.C.C.W. All three children were active in 4-H. Both Mary and Jim received the God, Home and Country Award, an achievement based on activities in church, school and youth groups. John's love of high school wrestling won him a position at the state contest several times.

   In March 1973, faced with having to move and no longer desiring to rent the couple purchased the former Joseph and Frances (Vybiral) Havelka farm and moved one mile south. This is where they still reside.

   Love of children and a desire toward quality education keep Francis and Rita involved in school activities. Francis is president of District No. 23 school board, a position he has held since 1962. Rita has been the board secretary since 1978. Rita is the current president of the Saunders County School Re-organization Committee. Francis is president, and a member of the executive board of the Saunders County Class One School Boards Association.

   Rita is starting her twentieth year as a 4-H leader. Francis is a member of the Fremont Chapter, Izaak Walton League of America and has served on the Board of Directors. He is also a member of the Knights of Columbus and is presently serving as the Grand Knight of Wahoo Council 1833. Submitted by Rita M. Divis


   On May 10, 1975 Mary Ann Divis and Russell Allen Keller (son of Kenneth and Harriet (Smith) Keller) were united in matrimony at St. Wenceslaus Catholic Church; Wahoo, Nebraska. Since their marriage they have always resided in a farm home located two and one-half miles southeast of Cedar Bluffs, Nebraska.

   The couple belong to St. Mary's Catholic Church, Cedar Bluffs where Mary was a past president of the P C.C.W.

   Russ farms both for himself and with his uncle, Lynn Keller. Russ enjoys sports and was outstanding in football and as a wrestler during his high school years at Wahoo High School; Wahoo, Nebraska.

   At the time they were married, Mary was employed at A.C. Nielsen in Lincoln. In late December of 1975 she went to work for Phil-Gill in Fremont. She is presently their office manager. Mary attends many night classes working toward a degree. She enjoys taking voice lessons and occasionally sings for weddings.

   St. Charles Catholic Church at North Bend, Nebraska was the site of the October 15, 1977 wedding of James Francis Divis and Linda Marie Ford (daughter of Walter Ford and Ella (Nun) (Ford) Watt). Their first home was made on a farmstead two and one-half miles north of Malmo. Linda continued her work at Weldons in North Bend and Jim was farming.

   In December of 1979 the young couple purchased a parcel of land located one-half mile west and three-fourths mile south of Colon. The site had no buildings and so they purchased a trailer house and moved the few buildings they had accumulated in two years and made it their home.

   They have two daughters, Lisa Marie born March 29, 1980 and Tammie Lee born October 20, 1981 and are expecting a third child in June 1983. The family attends St. Joseph's Catholic Church in Colon, Nebraska and take an active part in parish activities. Jim is a member of the Colon Volunteer Fire Department.

   Jim's first love in agriculture is raising hogs so that most grain raised on this small farm is consumed by his animals. In addition to the farming operation he has, in the past, worked for Les Hilgenkamp and is presently employed at Wahoo & Farm Supply; Wahoo, Nebraska.

   John Anthony Divis and Katherine Jean Banghart (daughter of Robert and Verdelle (Jensen) Banghart) were married in St. Joseph's Catholic Church; Colon, Nebraska on December 2, 1978. They resided for a short time in Colon and then moved to a farm place one-half mile west and one mile south of Colon, where they are presently living.

   The couple have two sons, Christopher John born May 7, 1979 and Timothy Michael born March 22, 1981 and are expecting a third child in June 1983.

   The family attends St. Joseph's Catholic Church in Colon where Kathy plays guitar. John is, also, a member of the Colon Volunteer Fire Department.

   Kathy has been employed at Haven House, Fairview Cafe and Mariechen's Haus of Gifts in Wahoo, Nebraska. John works at Valmont; Valley, Nebraska and farms. He is an avid sportsman and enjoys deer hunting and fishing. Several of his hunting trophies are displayed in their home.


   Karel and Anna Mach Divis lived and farmed near Wahoo. Their eleven children, as shown in the accompanying photo are, Back Row, Left to Right: Theodore, Francis, Charles, Anthony, and Ernest Divis; Front Row, Left to Right: Jennie Simodynes, Josie, Sr. Camilla de N.D., Julie Connelly, Anastasia Sousek, and Sr. Ann, Marian Sisters. The picture was taken in the summer of 1980. (Note: found on next page - see page 226 below)


   Ted was born to Karel and Anna (Mach) Divis who moved to Wahoo from Prague, Nebraska. Karel was a carpenter. Eleven children were born to them: Jennie, a former teacher; Josie, who cared for her mother until her death; Sister Camilla, de N.D.; Julia, a nurse; Ann (Mrs. Joseph Sousek); Sister Ann, Marian Sisters; Francis; Charles, West Ward Principal; Anthony, and Ernie, a retired army officer.

Rose and Ted Divis, Connie and Carol
Rose and Ted Divis, Connie and Carol

   Ted served in World War II for three and one-half years. He sang with the Saunders County Czech

page 225

The Children of Karel and Anna Divis
The Children of Karel and Anna Divis
(names are listed on previous page - see Karel and Anna Divis above)

Singers for a few years. He is a member of the VFW Firing Squad and the Knights of Columbus.

   I was born Rose Hanus, the daughter of Louis J. and Emma (Chalupnik) Hanus in Brainard, Nebraska. I had four brothers: Robert, Alois, Lad and Val. My sister is Mrs. Ellie Burrows of Omaha. My brothers were all called into the service during World War II. The youngest, Val, received a medical discharge after 6 months in the service and died suddenly four years later at the age of 23. This shock to our family is something I will always carry in my memory.

   My father sang for many years in the Brainard choir. I have memories of his tenor voice and his dedication to choir practice. Mom was wonderful and would sit downstairs in church on Sundays without complaint. The nuns had charge of choirs in those days and everyone was to be present. Sometimes he would walk the three miles from the farm. One Christmas Eve, he walked in a near snow storm to Midnight Mass. This was an inspiration to me. I learned early in life how important choir singing was as I attended the Brainard Catholic School and sang since the fifth grade. My husband, Ted, has also sung in choir for many years. Now our two daughters enjoy it also.

   I was graduated from Brainard High School during World War II. Since so many were going into defense work, we went to work at the Western Union Telegraph Co., my sis and I. After teletype school, we worked in many departments in the old Woodmen of the World Building and branch offices throughout the city.

   Four years later, my sister married and stayed in Omaha, and I wanted to get back to the wide open spaces. My dad was working for the telephony company and was transferred to David City, so I went home and obtained a position as office cashier at the J.C. Penney Co. Two years later, I got a job as Deputy County Assessor of Butler County.

   I had worked for 9½ years and was now ready to settle down. I met Ted at a dance, and 1½ years later we got married and moved to a farm north of Wahoo. We have two daughters; Carol is working at the Wahoo Bakery, and Connie is a freshman at the College of St. Mary in Omaha. By Mrs. Ted Divis

Divis, Divis, Keller Families
Divis, Divis, Keller Families, Febr. 21, 1982


   It is 1982 and the Wahoo State Bank is celebrating its 50th year of serving the people of this community. This event brings back many memories of my father, Albert Havel, who served as one of the bank's first directors. Moving to Wahoo from Prague, Nebraska, where my father had been the station agent for the Chicago, Burlington & Quincy Railroad, was an exciting experience for a fifteen year old girl. I graduated from the Wahoo Public High School in May, 1937, and from the Lincoln Beauty Academy a year later.

William Divis Family
Standing, L. to R.: Gerard, Robert and William A. Divis; Seated, L. to R.: Susan, Helen, Bill, Marcia Divis Jardee.

   I was operating the Abalon Beauty Shop in Wahoo (named the Abalon Shop so that it would be the first beauty shop to be listed in the phone book) when I met William E. Divis, my future husband. He was born in Loma, Nebraska and graduated from Dwight Assumption High School in 1936. He had just completed four years of service in the United States Navy when we met.

   We were married on May 6th, 1941, in Schuyler, Nebraska. Jobs were scarce in this area, so, on the strength of his Navy background, he applied for, and was granted, a government job in the Naval Ordnance Plant in Washington, D.C. Our first child, William Albert Divis, was born there on September 26th, 1942.

   We returned to Nebraska in 1946 and settled in Cedar Bluffs, Nebraska where we purchased the former Bowman Meat Market and began building a meat locker plant. Meat rationing and failure of the contractor to meet a completion date forced us to eventually sell the business. Our second son, Robert James Divis, was born on Dec. 5th, 1946, in the big old house near North Ward that served as a hospital at that time. He is the only child to be born in Nebraska.

   In 1948, husband Bill was re-instated in his government job in Washington, D.C., and asked to be transferred to the Ordnance Plant in Forest Park, Illinois, a suburb of Chicago. We lived in Northlake, Illinois for nearly 25 years -- during which time we had three more children: Susan Marie Divis, born on April 10, 1951; Marcella Katherine Divis, born on Jan. 18, 1955; and Gerard Allen Divis, born on Dec. 15, 1957.

   President Nixon's closing of several ordnance plants in 1970 forced Mr. Divis to take an early retirement. He then learned how to bake doughnuts and was employed as night baker for a store chain called "Dunkin' Donuts" for two years.

   Upon retiring in 1972, he and son, Gerard, moved to Nebraska. I and daughter, Marcia, joined them some months later. Since August, 1973, I have been employed at the Saunders County Courthouse, in the County Treasurer's office.

   Daughter Susan accepted a position in administration with the Lincoln Telephone Company and moved to Wahoo in 1979. Son Robert and his wife,

page 226

Back Family Index Contents Next

Return to
The Saunders County NEGenWeb Project

© 2002 - designed by Connie Snyder for The NEGenWeb Project.