JOHN WESLEY BRAY

                           SEPTEMBER 7, 1849


                           DECEMBER 30, 1916

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                  TABLE ROCK, NEBRASKA, SEPTEMBER 8, 1902

     The object of my writing a history of my life is not for any
money consideration but to comply with a request of my beloved
daughter, Bertha.
     I here pause to remark to my beloved wife who sits near me
sewing by the light of the lamp that this history of myself may
live after I am gone, and she said if I was a great man it would.
My answer to her is that I am a great man as I am the largest man
in this county, 5 feet, 11 inches tall, 245 pounds, and I measure
just four feet around my waist. Almost everybody in these parts
thinks that is great but her, but then she is like Samantha
Allen's Josiah, "sometimes queer."
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                        LIFE OF JOHN W. BRAY
     I was born, so I am told, on September 7, 1849 near Palmyra,
Wayne County, State of New York.
     My parents were both, I think, born in the County adjoining,
Ontario, not far from the village of Canandaigua, and near the
lake of the same name. I have heard my father say that his people
sometime in the past, came from Holland, but could not tell what
one of his ancestors so it must have been in the very early
settlement of this United States.
     They were a very hardy race of people and very hard workers
and money getters and I never knew one of the old stock but what
were honest, industrious, sober, and moral.
     My mother's people came from Connecticut to Ontario when the
country was very new and went through the discomforts of a
pioneer life. My grandfather fought in the war with Great Britain
in 1812, and his name was David Davis. He also was a Methodist
exhorter and a very devout and Godly man, and I have seen his
name in the history of that county as a pioneer in Methodism, and
my parents both joined the Methodists in their early life and
named me after the founder of Methodism, that is, John Wesley
Bray. And though at present not agreeing with the Methodist in
their religious views, I never have been ashamed of my name for I
think if the great man lived now and taught the same doctrine
that he taught then the Methodists of today would discard him and
call him a Campbellite or something else beside a Methodist. Thus
will a people retrograde when they change the ordinances of the
Church and follow after the doctrines and traditions of men.
     My parents owned 40 acres of land in Wayne County near where
Joseph Smith claimed to find the Golden Bible and were
comfortably situated, but my father was of a roaming disposition
and when I was three years old, sold his farm and started for
Erie County, Pennsylvania. To reach there we took the Erie Canal
to Buffalo, thence by lake steamer to Erie, about
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20 miles from our destination which was one mile from Cherry
Hill, which consisted of a store and blacksmith shop.
     While on the Canal Boat a new straw hat I had on my head
blew off in the Canal and mother had to catch me and hold me as I
was determined to jump off and get it. The captain, with the aid
of a long pole, secured it for me, much to my satisfaction, but
my trouble did not end there. After we got in the steamboat at
Buffalo there came up a fierce storm and tossed our boat about as
if it was a feather, and when we got to the Erie harbor we soon
found out we could not enter without being dashed to pieces so we
turned about and crossed the lake to the Canada side and run
behind a point of land called Long Point and had to stay there
three days as the sea was so rough we dare not venture out.
     In the meantime the food was all eaten up and we nearly
starved and some of the cargo was broken open to find food. After
staying being Long Point three days the wind subsided and we
again crossed the lake and entered the Erie harbor in safety from
whence we went overland by wagon to Cherry Hill and moved into a
new log house called the Coburn house.
     Soon after our arrival my father bought a pony which I
learned to ride and drive as it was very kind and gentle and a
great favorite of the whole family. After living in the Coburn
house a few months, my father bought a farm of fifty acres and we
moved in with a neighbor by the name of McIntyre so as to be near
our land while we built us a nice frame house. This made me feel
as if we were much better off than our neighbors as they most of
them lived in log houses, some of them were huts. This road that
we lived on went by the name of Porkey Street so-called because,
it was said, some of the inhabitants used to catch porcupines and
eat them, and my mother always hated the place on account of its
     Some of the people were of the rougher class and she used to
often scold because we had left such a good country and came
there where she disliked it so much. However the land
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was good and my father who was a great worker soon transformed it
into a beautiful place by cleaning up the land and setting out a
beautiful orchard which with our new house made it the nicest
place around. Besides we had a large sugar bush as it was called
where we used to make all the maple sugar we needed for the whole
year and sometimes some to sell. This sugar making time was the
greatest pleasure of my boyhood and I look back on to that
occupation with the greatest delight. Although the work was hard
and we often had to boil the sap until into the night and
sometimes all night and my father used to get the sap together
and cut up plenty of wood and leave me to boil all day when I was
a small boy but large enough to keep up the fire.
     It was while living here I attended school for the first
time when perhaps only four years old but I did not learn much at
that early age and I remember how tired I used to get sitting all
day in the school room and wishing I could get out and run and
play. The school house stood on my father's farm so I did not
have to go far and the teacher used to board with us.
     We lived on Porkey Street until I was seven years old when
my father thought he could better his condition, especially on
the choice of neighbors (as many of them were drinking people and
had no regard for the Lord's day and no church in the
neighborhood). So he sold his farm and moved to the eastern part
of the county in the township of Amity about three miles from
Wattsburg and five from Union City where he bought another farm
of fifty acres with good improvements, better than we left and a
much more refined and a much better class of people and a better
improved country.
     Myself and two older sisters were soon started going to
Bible school or as they called it Sunday or Sabbath School to
Hatch Hollow where there was a Methodist church. We also attended
week-day school at the same place.
     The next winter there was a great revival two miles west of
where we lived at Baldwin's Flats carried on by the United
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Brethren, where lived a settlement of those people who were very
zealous in their religion and somewhat fanatic and they used to
gather together for weeks at a time at early candle-light and
pray and sing and exhort sinners to come to Christ and there were
many that came forward to be prayed for and claimed that they had
experienced or got religion as they expressed it. Of course there
was much good done and many turned from their evil ways and lived
good Christian lives, but many turned back not learning the Bible
way and some went away claiming they had not got religion and
could  not get it. Some got so wrought up and frenzied and
claimed that the Holy Ghost had fallen upon them that they fell
unconscious and laid so for so long a time in a stupor and had to
be carried out in the air in order to revive them. This was the
result of not calmly studying the word of God and learning
exactly what to do in order to be saved and become Christians and
there did not seem to be anybody there that was capable of giving
them the proper instructions.
     The Brethren had also an organization at Amity Hill two
miles east of where we lived and were often carried away in their
religious frenzy the same as they were at the Flats. I have heard
them all get to praying at once and heard them at my home two
miles away. They seemed to pray and sing until they were
exhausted. These meetings had a deep impression on my mind and I
longed to become a Christian at a camp meeting which the
Methodists held in a pine woods near Hatch Hollow. There were a
great number came forward to be prayed for and a great many "got
     After they had held these meetings a long time in the woods
and the nights become colder they adjourned to the church at the
Hollow where they continued these meetings. I got deeply
interested in those meetings and one night I, along with several
others, went forward to the mourner's bench to be prayed for and
to "get religion," which I firmly believed I would get if I went
there, but alas, what a bitter disappointment awaited me. The
preacher came along while we were
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kneeling in prayer and asked me if the Lord for Christ's sake had
forgiven my sins. I answered decidedly, "No Sir." I was told to
pray on and I finally would feel that my sins were forgiven or
words to that effect. but after we had gone forward several
nights, the preacher said he would have to discontinue the
meetings but did not see why those boys did not get religion.
What a mockery in the face of the plain declaration of the
Savior's words, the last ones he said before leaving the earth.
"He that believeth and is baptised shall be saved," and also many
other passages such as "Repent and be baptised every one of you
in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins and ye
shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost." Why did they not give
us a little Bible on the great and momentous question of what we
should do to be saved. The only answer that I can give is that
they knew no better and were acting in a manner as best they knew
how and they depended upon some kind of a miraculous revelation
in the place of taking the plain and explicit teachings of Jesus
and His disciples. The result with me was that I gave up trying
to be a Christian in despair that by some cause I could not get
it and so I lost interest in religion until the next protracted
meeting when I tried it again with the same result. Afterwards I
began to think sometimes that there was nothing in it so I lived
for several years bordering on infidelity but still not wholly
disbelieving in the Christian religion.
     We lived on this farm in Amity Township for six years and I
and my father improved it greatly by clearing up more land and
building an addition to the house and setting out a large orchard
which came into bearing before we again sold out, which we did,
as my folks got uneasy again and they thought they could do
better and we went one mile north and bought a farm of 62 1/2
acres all cleared up except for a sugar bush of 12 acres. This
was a good farm with fair improvements and two good orchards and
a peach orchard and lots of other fruit. The country was very
prolific in bearing lots of wild fruits as well as tame fruit
such as raspberries, strawberries,
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blackberries, etc. The woods and pastures were full of them and
of the most delicious varieties. I have never seen anything like
it anywhere since and the consequence was we were never without
fruits. We had apples the year around as we had some that lasted
until they grew again the next year and we were prosperous as we
were never without money.
     Although we lived economical we had everything we needed to
eat and wear and a great many of the luxuries of life, much more
than we had since we came west and we deserved them as we all
worked hard and never spent any money foolishly. We used to raise
sheep and cattle and horses and always had something to sell. Our
accumulations were slow but sure as they were before the days of
Bonanza farming.
     I used to attend school at the Hollow summers and winters
until I became big enough to work summers. After that I only got
to go in the winter. The school kept three months in the summer,
May, June, and July and the winter term was December, January,
and February. At the age of 16 or 17 I had gone through
Stoddard's Arithmetic and most of the other branches taught in
those days I had a pretty fair knowledge of. I was proficient in
spelling especially and I remember that we had a spelling match
between the schools around there and the one at the Hollow and
the house which was a large one was crowded. I spelled them all
down and there was nine school teachers among them. How we did
crow over them for coming down there to clean us out. I think I
was 13 years old at that time.
     My mother was a good scholar but my father was left an
orphan when very young. The people that brought him did not give
him much education and he knew how to appreciate one. He was very
careful to give us children all the schooling he could for which
I have always been truly grateful to him for as there is nothing
so beneficial to a person in and through all business affairs as
a good education.
     I remember one morning when I went to school in the summer
when I was about 9 years old of taking my dinner out of
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my pail and putting it in my pocket and catching a great number
of bumble bees, which were very plentiful on the thistle
blossoms, in my pail. Then I carried them to school and placed
under my desk and after school was called and everything was
quiet I stealthily took off the cover when out they came and
filled the room which made a great commotion especially among the
girls as they went about dodging and fighting them until they got
the doors and windows open and got them out of doors. I was
somewhat scared for fear the teacher would find it out and I
would be punished but I sat with one or two other boys and
enjoyed the fun and it was certainly ridiculous to see the
teacher and girls hop around the room and hear the great bees
hum. So you see I was not always the best of boys but was
sometimes bent on mischief.
     I well remember my first Fourth of July celebration. When I
was seven my folks said I could go to Union to the celebration. I
had got hold of eight cents and I determined on having a great
time with that vast sum. On the morning of the eventful day I
started bright and early with the cannon's boom in the town which
put inspiration in me and I went along at a rapid rate which I
was capable of doing as I was not encumbered with any superfluous
clothing such as coat or shoes. On arriving in town I encountered
the greatest crowd of people I ever saw and there was the
liveliest of music and a great amount of powder being burnt in
various ways, making such a din as I had never heard before.
During this great excitement I met a comrade, Pat Conners, and
glad I was to see a familiar face. Now Pat had not been as lucky
as I had in my past life and had not been able to lay by in store
such an enormous sum of money as I had. He either had been a
spendthrift or had struck hard luck or perhaps "prosperity" had
not struck him as it had me but as it was before the formation of
the great trusts and also before the Crime of `73 or the repeal
of the Sherman Law or before the Anthracite Coal Strike it is
something which I can't comprehend why he should
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have been strapped on that memorable day. But such was the case
and as I made known to him that I was possessor of the sum of
eight cents his face became radiant with joy and his friendship
for me was unfathomable and he exclaimed while he fairly leaped
in the air, "O! that's enough to buy a whole bunch of fire
crackers with." This was good news to me and so we repaired to
one of the nearby stands that was selling crackers and got our
whold [sp?] bunch and Pat and I were soon making as much noise as
the rest of the boys.
                                        January 2, 1907
     I resume my story after a lapse of three years and a half. I
wrote the foregoing while my wife was visiting her parents in
Colorado Springs (or at least a greater part of it). Bertha was
visiting her sister in Grand Island, Nebraska in June 1903.
     I used to attend meetings with my parents at Baldwin's Flats
and also at Amity Hill conducted by the United Brethren, also at
Hatch Hollow. I attended Methodist Sunday School and Church and
at Hatch Hollow they had a camp meeting in the pine woods and
hundreds of people from far and near attended. They had a great
number of tents and a number of high stands made of limbs of
trees and small logs with dirt on top of them on which they used
to build great fires which lighted the whole grounds. I remember
of bothering with the other boys the man which had charge of them
by bringing branches and piling them on the fires thus making a
huge bonfire. He evidently did not appreciate our efforts as he
nearly scared us to death by turning on us with an uplifted club
and shouting at us, "If you touch those fires again I'll knock
you down with this club." A few minutes later he was shouting
"Praise the Lord" which struck me as not exactly corresponding
with his angry flourishes and voice in which he addressed us. The
meeting continued a long time in the woods in which then [there]
were a great number, perhaps hundreds professed conversion or
"got religion" as
(This is in part a repetition as I had not looked closely at what
I had written before)
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they expressed it. I was having too much fun with the boys
running in the woods and went to the church about a mile away and
we youngsters had to keep quiet and I began to listen to what was
said. For the first time I saw that I was a lost sinner and when
the minister called for converts I with a goodly number of my
companions went forward to be prayed for and to pray for
ourselves. As we did not "get religion" that night we went other
nights but still a lot of us could not feel that we were
converted but we were told to keep praying and we would get it.
By and by the preacher said they had conducted the meetings so
long that he thought it best to close but he said he did not see
why those boys did not "get religion." Those were his words and
thus we were left in the greatest of trouble and uncertainty. How
different from the teachings of the great Apostle Peter in the
second chapter of Acts where there were three thousand converted
in one day. He did not tell them to pray on until they felt they
were saved. There was nothing uncertain about what they were to
do. Thus it is when we forsake God's ways and follow after the
doctrines and traditions of men. This happened when I was perhaps
12 years old.
     I continued working on our farm, making maple sugar each
spring and helping make the hay in the summer and going to school
until I was 15 years. Sometimes I helped the neighbors pick up
stone on the meadows.
     My mother and younger brother David and myself went to
Ontario County, N.Y. to visit relatives. My grandfather was 82
years old and my mother wished to see him before he died. I did
chores for an uncle of my father's, James Bray, who lived on the
shore of Honeoy Lake, for my board and went to school. We used to
have great fun skating and fishing through the ice that winter.
In the spring a cousin who lived in Livingston County came with
two horses and said his folks wanted me to ride on the horses
home with him and live with them all summer.
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     My uncle James Bray was away from home and I packed my grip
and went. My Uncle Charles and Lucretia Miner were glad to see
me. I stayed and worked for them for $10.00 per month until the
next August when my mother wrote for me to come home as she did
not want me to work for such small wages which were very low for
the work I done. It was war-time and a man got $40.00 and I done
about as much as a man and a great deal more running and waiting
on people. My aunt got the first letter my mother wrote to me to
come home but sister Emma who taught school at Frost Hollow about
5 miles from Uncle Charles got the second one so I packed up and
went home.
     Mother was very much displeased over the way Aunt treated me
but Aunt was truly a good woman and I did not mind it as
everybody has their faults. I had worked so hard that summer that
I was quite run-down in health so my folks let me go to a select
school at Hatch Hollow and I also continued to go during the
winter. Late in the winter I hired out to man in Union about six
miles south of where we lived and went to work for the man by the
name of Thompson hauling express trunks and anything that came
along in that line. My business was to meet every passenger train
that came in and haul their baggage from one depot to the other
or to any part of town and as it was a lively place and a good
deal of a rush most of the time I enjoyed it but used to have a
lively time with the Irish boys as the town was about 1/2 Irish
Catholics. They did not like me and used to make my life
miserable whenever possible. However, I used to hold my own
pretty well.
     I worked there about seven months and found out that I was
working for a poor paymaster but managed to get even with him by
trading it out.
     I then went to a place called North East about 16 miles from
home and worked until October, then went home and attended school
at the White School house near Wattsburg as my father had sold
his farm and bought out my brother-in-law, Robert Green, about
one and one-quarter miles from Wattsburg.
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     Next spring worked for an old man on a farm who they called
Turkey Reed. Next went to work for George Lockwood on Amity Hill.
Soon quit and worked for a Dr. Avery at North East delivering and
selling Nursery Stock. In August after the nursery business was
over went on the road with him as he was a shrewd man in some
respects. He had a spring wagon-load consisting of a manakin
[mannequin], a large skeleton and about twenty human lungs
preserved in different ways. Physiology of the human system was
not taught in the schools at that time as it was thought the
doctors only needed it and we gave a very interesting exhibition
and lecture on the human system consisting of seven lectures on
as many different evenings. We traveled through the coal region
of Pennsylvania and back through southern New York to the
doctor's place of residence at Conneaut, Ohio. We put up our
teams for the winter and took the railroad with all our apparatus
and went to the schools and colleges of the cities and gave our
lectures and exhibited our bones. The doctor made a good deal of
money as he used to practice medicine also.
     Once when out with the teams back in Potter County, Pa. at a
place called Ulyssus we thought it best to make a big drove
[drive] toward home at Conneaut, Ohio. We drove a day or two, or
until we reached Randolph, N.Y. and as it was a very nice town
the doctor thought he could do well to give a course of lectures.
So we stopped at one of the hotels and unloaded our baggage,
stayed all night and gave out word we would lecture there, hired
a hall, and got ready to circulate our bills when upon
investigation we had left all but or dozen or two at Ulyssus,
nearly one hundred miles away and sixteen miles from the
railroad. There was nothing else but for me to take the first
train and go get them, which I did. Arrived at Wellsville in the
night, could not find a conveyance to Ulyssus but found a man who
got off the train was going to walk to Beanville, a place about
half-way to Ulyssus. It was quite dark but we started. When we
got to Beanville I was quite tired. The country was new, the
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bad but we parted company and I took the road he directed but
soon got so tired and sleepy I went into a barn which stood close
by the road and lay down and slept. Soon waked up a shivering and
took to the road. I had to put in every spare moment I could so
as to get back in time to bill the town the afternoon before we
were to have our lecture. Well, I got to the place where we left
our bills, eat [ate] a bite, slept an hour and left at four
o'clock, walked to Wellsville, caught the train and got back in
time to distribute our bills and have our lecture.
     When through at Randolph we drove toward home, came to a
little town and stopped and billed for a lecture that evening.
Then I went and built the fire and fixed up the scenery and
things, got my stand and lamps at the inner door all ready when
came a band of roughs and took possession of the hall and began
to sing and dance. Pretty soon the doctor came and took in the
situation and we packed up and the leader wanted to know if we
were not going to show, he told him we were not. He expressed
himself that they would like to have us after finding out our
politics, which were Republican. The sequel was that politics
were hot as it was the fall that Grant run against Seymour and
the Democrats and Republicans were bitter against each other. It
was only about three years after the war and we had put up at the
Democrat hotel not knowing the situation.
     Next morning we pulled up as we did not care to stay where
there was so much contention. We drove west and in the afternoon
we came into view of grand old Lake Erie which made the doctor
nearly shout for joy. He said it was the best country along its
shore we had been into, which was a fact. The shore is very
productive for several miles back from the lake and raises all
kinds of fruits and especially grapes. The soil and the climate
seem different from the interior owing to the influence of the
lake. I have driven the whole length of it or nearly so from
Sandusky, Ohio to Rochester, N.Y.
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     We drove to the doctor's home at Conneaut where we rested a
few days and put the horses out to winter. We took the train with
all our apparatus to Rochester, N.Y. where we gave lectures to
the ward schools and colleges of that city. Then we went to
Buffalo and went through the schools in the same way.
     In the meantime, I took the train back and got the team and
drove them through from Conneaut to Rochester, than back to
Buffalo where we sold the large horse. It was then in March and
we had got through the two cities.
     The doctor took the train home and I started with the one
horse for Conneaut. About 30 miles below Buffalo I came to an
Indian reservation, the roads were bad as the Indians would not
keep them in repair and the whites had no right to. I got into a
great hole in the road and broke my wagon axle-tree. I got a rail
and put under and let the end drag and finally got to a white
town. Had to stay all day to get it fixed but got through in due
time to Conneaut where we rested a few days and helped the
doctor's wife make garden.
     Then we took the team and started up the lake shore. We
stopped at the towns and gave lectures, one course at the female
collage at Painesville, Ohio, a very large school. On to
Cleveland where we gave some lectures.
     After awhile we got on board a steamboat with one team and
shipped for Detroit. After staying there awhile I left the doctor
and went to Arcadia, Trempealeau County, Wisconsin, I went aboard
the War Eagle, which was lying at the dock on the Mississippi
River and being sleepy, as it was night, I laid right down beside
the big boiler and was soon fast asleep. I was awakened by a
fellow who was saying to me, "I want to cut some wood here and
you will be in the way." So I got up and we were soon at
Trempealeau where I got off and went on foot 20 miles to Arcadia
where my sister Fanny lived.
     They had taken a government homestead of 160 acres and were
living on it as it was then April first and they were dragging
and putting in wheat and I soon went to work at good wages.
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     I sound found where there was some homestead land and Robert
Green and I went to Galesville, the county seat where he
predicated one-quarter section for my father in his name. I went
to work on it, building a shanty and breaking some of it up. Thus
we kept it until father came the next spring when he homesteaded
it. My mother came in the fall before and she and Dave and I
lived in my log shanty by a slick fireplace all winter. My father
came in the spring and in accord with the roving disposition I
had formed and perhaps inherited to some extent I soon grew
uneasy and wanted a change.
     About the first of April I bid adieu to my parents and waked
to LaCrosse, Wisconsin, about forty miles south west of Arcadia.
About twenty miles went all right but I came to Black River and
found it a raging torrent, fully three miles wide. I hunted up a
man who took me over in a row boat for $1.00. This was rather
risky as it was very swift and full of floating logs which was
liable to upset us or crunch our boat.
     On arrival at LaCrosse I took the boat, Minneapolis, to
Burlington, Iowa, thence across the state of Iowa by rail to a
small town called Eastport opposite Nebraska City. Here I ferried
across the Missouri River to the city. Here I fell in with a
farmer who let me ride with him about eight miles out. Here I
stayed all night and in the morning started west.
     There were no railroads then except the Union Pacific in
Nebraska and everything was very new, no fences and miles and
miles without an inhabitant. I traveled on about ten miles then
met a man with a team and wagon who stopped and wanted to know if
I did not want to hire out to work for him on his farm near
Nursery Hill five or six miles west of where we were. I told him
I had an uncle living five miles west of Nursery Hill and was
going to see him first and would perhaps work for him after
seeing my uncle. "What is your uncle's name?" he asked. "Jerry
Davis," I answered. "What is your name?" "Bray." "Are you Mc.
Bray's son?" "Yes, sir." "well, my name is Charles Bray and your
father is my own cousin." So that is the way I first came across
Charles Bray in Nebraska and our friendship was for life and I
stayed with him most of the time during that year. Charles told
me my sister, Emma and George Provost, her husband, had arrived
only a few days before. This was unexpected by me. I went and
soon came to Nat Bray's home, a brother of Charles. They were all
away from home up to Uncle Jerry's. I rested and then went on to
Uncle's where they were all having a good visit. To say that Emma
and George were surprised to see me would be putting it mild as I
had visited them in January before in New York State. They had no
thought of faraway Nebraska and I had not the remotest idea of
their being anywhere else but in New York State until told by
Charles Bray.
     Well, George and I made up our minds to put in some wheat
and barley so as to have some crops in fall. This we put in on
shares on rented land. Then we bought us each a yoke of oxen, a
breaking plow, a big freight wagon and started west for
homesteads. We came to Beatrice where the government land office
was located and contained about two hundred people. We got
plates, a pocket compass and some provisions, etc. and started
     We continued west, crossing both big and little Blue Rivers,
big and little sandy creeks, all streams had no bridges west of
Beatrice and not many settlers. A little place called Meridian
had a store and a few settlers about in dugouts and sod houses,
was also bare of supplies. The soldiers were there and at another
front up the little Blue called Kiawak.
     Still we went west thinking of getting into Republican River
country, as we had heard that it was a better country but was
uninhabited wholly except by a party who had Indian defenses and
forts. One day as we were camped on a small creek to cook our
dinner I said to George, "I am going upon the hill west side of
creek to see if I can't kill an antelope."
Page 18

As I got on top of the hill I saw seven or eight men on foot
going at a rapid pace south. I was very anxious to meet them as
we were so far beyond civilization and I thought they might be a
help in giving us information in regard to the country. What
seemed queer to me was that they were afoot instead of [on]
horseback or with teams, so I hallowed them and shouted but they
did not stop. So thinking perhaps they did not hear me I fired my
gun and waved my hat but they seemed to go all the faster.
Determined to catch them, I lit out on the run, and on coming up
over a rise, there they were standing in line each with a gun. I
stopped when I saw them and thought, "Well, there is a lot of
Indians, but if I run they will fire and kill me," so I went
straight down to where they were without a doubt but what I was
an Indian captive, but thought it best for me to put on a bold
front and fight it out if I had to. On near approach one of them
said, "What are you doing out here all alone?" "I am not alone as
I have a brother-in-law up the creek two or three miles." He said
something to the effect that my brother-in-law and I had better
get out of there as soon as possible but seemed very doubtful
that we would ever get away alive. He said, "Did you not hear us
shooting up there? We have just got away from about forty Indians
and have lost our horses and nearly all of our ammunition. One of
us badly wounded." I said, "Come with me up to my brother-in-law
and we have two teams and a big wagon, and we will strike [for a]
settlement," but he said they had just come from up that way and
did not want any more of it, besides, he said, "There is a Dane
family down below and we want to see whether they are all right."
     So they went south and told me to keep out of sight going
back to our camp, as, if I showed my head out there alone, I was
a goner. I kept under the bank of the creek, and after following
the bends of the creek, it seemed to me, for several miles I came
to our camp but was greatly disappointed to find George was not
there, but the oxen and wagon were still there.
     While I was looking around and wondering what best to do
Page 19

George came inquiring why I had been gone so long. Said he had
been upon the top of the hill to see what had become of me. I
told him about the soldiers and their encounter with the Indians
and proposed that we better go back into the settlements and go
with a larger force of men as we were liable to be govvled [sp?]
any moment which he consented to. So we hitched up our teams and
started east. On going a mile or two we saw to the south of us a
small company and as the soldiers said to me that if we got off
alive, and they did also after looking after the Dane family,
they would start east and would be on the lookout to join us. So
we directed our course toward them and ere long we had the eight
soldiers and two Dane women in our big freight wagon. They
expressed their satisfaction, especially the wounded man and the
women and were very thankful at having got in with us.
     Still we went east and soon came to some surveyors with a
horse team and the soldiers told them about their encounter and
they thought best to go back, so we felt that we had enough men
to withstand quite a company.
     We soon saw the Red men emerge from a draw and come upon a
divide and they stopped and looked at us but they seemed to sink
in to the earth and we expected them to attack us at any ravine
or any place they could hide. We traveled all the afternoon at a
fast gait and just at dusk came near the little Blue River where
we stopped at a dugout where a man lived by the name of
Hendershot where the soldiers left us and went to their camp a
short distance up the river. And the Hendershots got their
neighbors to come to their house and we all stayed all night and
kept a guard out all night. This place where we stopped was just
across the river from where Hebron, Nebr. stands but it did not
have a single house on the town-side [town-site] then.
     In the morning just at dawn we discovered a large party of
horsemen coming towards us and we all got out with our guns
expecting to have a fight with Indians. As they approached us we
discovered that they were soldiers. The company we brought
Page 20

in had other companions and they immediately started out to hunt
the Indians but the wily scamps left us as they don't like a
square fight but wait until people are unprepared and surprise
them as we heard they did a few days later, killed one man and
stole eighteen horses from that neighborhood.

                                   St. Paul, January 3, 1910,
                                   1038 Lexington Avenue
     Well, to resume my story. We went the same day to look at
some government land not far from where we stopped at
Hendershots. A man by the name of Bobst showed the land to us. He
had a claim adjoining. We liked the land and started soon for
Beatrice, Nebraska, the United States Land Office, to take it.
But on our arrival there we found it had already been taken. So
we gave a man five dollars to tell us where  we could get new
claims. He seemed to be an honest man so we trusted him. Soon
George had homestead papers on the south west quarter section
3276R2, West Fillmore County, Nebraska.
     We soon started for our new home. We were joined by a party
of Dutchmen, all right from the old country, except one who had
been in the U.S. a short time and could speak a little broken
English. Their outfit consisted of a spring wagon, loaded with
provisions, furniture, etc., with our horse hitched on to it, a
yoke of oxen hitched ahead of the whole push and with two raw
Dutchmen trying to drive them and six following on foot. Our
outfit of two yokes of Cherokee or Texas cattle, with horns about
three feet long, ugly and muscular, required a scientific driver
to do so successfully and thus we traveled for days having to
make detours to obtain water for ourselves and stock.
     It was almost wholly inhabited, no bridges, with only a
trail a part of the way. One day we were walking along when up
jumped a skunk, one of the Dutchmen nearest to it took after it,
never having seen one before. He caught up with it, and planted
his foot squarely upon its head, killing it, then was one
surprised Dutchman. The others made a great to-do and would
Page 21

not let Anton sleep in the tent that night. Soon we came to
within eight miles of our claims where there was a settler who
gave us instructions in regard to our locality. There were small
mounds at each section corner. I paced one mile over the level
prairie while George drove the team and also kept me straight by
the compass which we had with us. Also we had a chart of the
country. At the end of each 1600 paces we looked for the mound
and thus we went for eight miles then we knew we were upon our
     They were fine, level and good soil. We immediately went to
building a dugout on mine which I had a squatter's right to, not
being of age, [so] could not homestead.
     I broke the prairie with the oxen while George worked at the
dugout. One night the mosquitoes began to come about sunset and I
never saw them so thick before or since. I never could account
for their being such a cloud of them. They covered us and the
cattle until they were unendurable. We soon saw we could not live
and breathe unless something was done. We smoked and drove them
out of our covered wagon and shut ourselves in that, but the poor
cattle we could not help. We heard the poor creatures running the
length of their lariats until they all broke loose and went, we
know not where. We lay awake nearly all night wondering what
would become of us and them. But I fell asleep after awhile and
awoke early dawn, but George had beat me and had gone after them.
I could see his track by the dew so I took my gun and started to
hunt them.
     On coming out of a small draw I beheld three as nice
antelope as I ever saw. I got down in the grass behind a buffalo
wallow and stuck my hat on my ramrod just above the grass. When
they saw it, they looked, and then began to cautiously come a
little nearer each time. Just as I got ready to shoot George came
driving the oxen at a distance and they went, fleet as the wind.
There were lots of them but I never cared to hunt very well.
Page 22

Thus we lived cooking our pancakes, bacon and coffee by campfire
made of weeds and buffalo chips.
     One morning we hitched up our cattle to go to the timber
about ten miles away to get some poles to construct our buildings
when up rode a young fellow and says, "Dad's going to pull out of
here there are so many Indians it is not safe to stay here any
longer; we went up to the creek yesterday and there is camped
there a whole lot of them and we're going to leave and I'm going
to join the Regulars."
     Well, this was not good news as they were our nearest
neighbors but we thought we would risk it, so we started for the
creek. We just got where we could look down on the creek when
sure enough there the Indians were.
     As soon as they saw us they immediately started toward us
hanging on the opposite of their ponies so we could not reach
them with our guns. Well, we turned our oxen the other way but
for some reason they did not follow us. George thought that they
took us for a decoy to lead them into ambush. Well, we went to
camp, got our dinner and immediately got homesick so we packed up
and started for Otoe County where sister Emma lived and all our
relation that lived in Nebraska.
     As we had six months to get our families on our claims we
expected to go back in the fall. The settlers on the border we
found many of them about ready to go back East like we were doing
on account of so many raids of the Indians. Chief Red Cloud and
his warriors seemed always ready to steal the horses and kill the
inhabitants where he thought it was policy and not to get caught.
     There were many on the borders in Kansas and Nebraska that
gave up their lives during the year we were there which have
never been known in history and are forgotten now.
     We passed in sight of Lincoln, the capital on Salt Creek,
which seemed only a small village then.
     On arriving at Uncle Jerry Davis we found them all well. I
took the oxen and began breaking prairie at $4.00 an acre.
Charlie Davis was with me on the first job and we camped and
Page 23

slept in our big covered wagon and cooked by a camp fire.
     Then when that job was done Levi Kime, my cousin Mary's
husband, went down north east about ten miles and broke another
twenty acres, then broke some more for C. W. Bray.
     In the fall George got homesick for to see his parents in
New York State and so they went back and I hired [out] to C. W.
Bray to stay until spring, put my oxen in C. W.'s herd along with
some young cattle we had bought and I herded them a great deal
until spring.
     My folks who were getting old kept writing for me to come
back to Wisconsin, so I traded my cattle to Charles Bray for
forty acres of land in southern Michigan. The cattle we valued at
three hundred dollars and I made a trade unseen but did not do
bad as I sold the land in less than a year for four hundred.
     I arrived at Trempealeau, the landing on the Mississippi, on
April 1, 1871. I remember the date [on] account of trying to pick
up a silver coin on the sidewalk which had a string attached and
when anybody went to pick it up a merry girl jerked it inside
from a window in a basement and gave a loud laugh.
     I took the train in a station across from Nebraska City in
Iowa as the railroad had not crossed into Nebraska yet. Only one
in the state and that at Omaha and went to Quincy and then took a
boat named Minneapolis for Trempealeau. Of all the ways of
traveling this was the most delightful. We stopped at every town
of importance and took on passengers and had the finest of beds
and board all the way with splendid music and in the evening
there was dancing. I always made it a point to take a river boat
whenever I could as there was so much to see and so much
enjoyment, more than on the railroad in the small stuffy cars.
     On arrival at Arcadia twenty miles from Trempealeau I found
the folks well and the people seemed like old friends as they
were a very friendly sociable people and seemed to enjoy life
more than in Nebraska. With the long winters they
Page 24

had time to visit each other as they do not further south. These
winters are long and cold but steady with not so much variation
and were preferable to the Nebraska winters in my estimation. I
had to wear more clothing in Nebraska that winter than I ever did
before and felt the cold much worse. The Nebraska winter was much
shorter as I had plowed twelve acres for corn and had put in or
helped to put in forty acres of spring wheat in February and
March before I started for Wisconsin.
     I worked on my father's land that summer. He had bought two
other farms near there and next winter put in my time cutting and
hauling wood and working in a Tamarack Swamp and went to school
at the district school,  not so much to study books, but there
was another attraction. There was a little seventeen-year old
girl by the name of Adella Rockwell which I had caught a glimpse
of on a Fourth of July picnic in my brother-in-law's grove. I
used to go to see her Sunday evenings and go to parties week-day
evenings and before the winter was over we made up our minds that
we would get married, then we could be together days as well as
     So on the 19th day of May, 1872, we were united in marriage
by Elder Stamford, a Methodist preacher, at the home of her
parents in Newcombe Valley, town of Arcadia, Wisconsin. We went
to keeping house soon in Uncle Lucius Griswold's  house abut one-
half mile from my parents. I worked putting in crops on my
father's lands and on some that they had promised me when I came
back from Nebraska.
     I had quite a piece of Marsh hay to put up and I worked so
hard in the cold spring water that I got Malaria fever and was
sick through harvest. A great deal of my grain got spoiled
because I could not get it harvested in time. As I  had
contracted some debt for a horse, etc., was unable to pay up but
they awaited another year when I squared everything.
     The next winter I lived in one part of my father's house and
got logs, lumber, etc., so in the spring I put up a good
Page 25

log house on my own land and thus was independent. I raised a
good crop and got out of debt.
     August 20 our first child was born and Adella was sick about
three months and the baby girl died when it was twenty-eight days
old. I fixed up everything so it was very comfortable that winter
and we lived cosy as kittens and had good crops the next season.

                                        January 15, 1910
     One day in early spring the snow had melted, I started a
fire to burn the prairie grass from around my stable and got it
so I thought it was safe and the fire about all out, only a small
patch that was about burned out. I went into the house and began
to read when on looking out I saw the stable was on fire. I
rushed out and jerked the halters from my horses and drove them
out, went back and got one-half bushel of seed wheat that I had
saved for seed, emptied it and started back when Adella grabbed
me and said, "Don't go in there again, you will get burned up."
So we lost all our wheat and many other things which we missed
very much and were too poor to buy more. Most of all our stable
was gone and I had to build another one right away.
     Well, I took it easy and went to election that afternoon
thinking everything burned that was in the stable, but my father
and mother who lived only a quarter mile away came over and raked
the fire away from the wheat and got out some that was half-
burned and spoiled except for poor feed. They gave me a scolding
for leaving my wheat and going away which, perhaps, I deserved.
     Well, we lived and worked hard until the fall of 1875 when I
was sick again with fever, contracted from working on the hay
marshes. I got up too quick from the sick bed and the fever
settled in my left leg so it swelled up and pained dreadfully.
Adella put hot fomentations on it and eased it but it always has
bothered me since and it is two to four inches longer than the
other limb. I was sick about two months.
Page 26

     In December we had another dear little girl baby. We called
her Ida Belle. Our first baby we called Charlie. Ida sickened and
died when about four and a half months old and Adella was sick so
she did not walk for seven months. These were troublesome times
for us.
     Adella's folks moved to Minnesota about eighty miles from
Arcadia and as I had a longing for the prairies, they were so
easy to till, and a body could make a farm so much easier from
the prairie than timber, and we got discouraged trying to get
ahead much with so much sickness, so I traded my 120 acres of
land for 160 acres in Jewell County, Kansas. I kept 40 acres that
had the improvements on and sold it to my wife's uncle for
$500.00, but I never [could] get him to pay me so lost it. I only
had his note which we all thought to be perfectly good. He died
so I lost it, all except a gold watch I got from him in May 1876.
     I took most of my household goods and put them in my wagon
and made a soft bed for Adella, put a cover on the wagon and put
her in and started for Kansas six hundred miles away. We got to
the Mississippi River and had to take a steam boat ferry about
eight miles as the river was very high.
     We had a fine shepard [shepherd] dog named Major. He failed
to get on the boat and after we got out in the stream we saw him
running up and down the bank of the river howling and crying as
if he was broken-hearted. I gave the boatman 50> to take me in a
row boat and go and get him. He was the most knowing animal.
Seemed to understand every word a body said to him. He would
stand on his hind legs and put his fore paws on the latch which
lifted it and opened the door. Then he would walk in, turn
around, push it shut, come in and seat himself in a chair very
composedly and nobody say a word to him.
     When we got to Winona in Minnesota, we stopped over night
with Ed Wallas [Wallace], Lucius' wife's brother, and had a good
visit. Went to Rushford the next day, stayed over night at
Adella's Aunt Samantha Hall's. Went on the next day to Adella's
parents who lived near Whalen, Minnesota. Here we
Page 27

stayed nearly two weeks and I worked ten days for Mr. Whalen,
also sold Major for $3.00 to them. So we had about enough
provisions in our wagon and $10.00 in money to proceed on our
     While at Whalen, one of our horses got sick, a young horse,
so I traded him for an old horse that could go on but was not
worth near as much as if my young one had been well.
     So we started again for Kansas with $10.00 ahead and as
Adella was gradually getting better, I felt that we were all
right. We soon came onto the big prairies of Iowa and it seemed
as if the wind would blow us away. We camped one night in a grove
of trees, on the morning our horses were gone. I was afraid they
were stolen but I looked around until nearly 10 o'clock when I
found them hid away in the brush.
     We traveled for three weeks and arrived at my cousin's,
Charlie Bray, in Otoe County, Nebraska. Here I stopped and
visited a day or two then went to Cousin Bryon Davis' seven miles
west, stayed there a day or two, then went to our uncle Samuel
Rockwell's ten miles west. When we got there there were eighty
guests assembled, it being the family reunion of Aunt Mariah's
relatives. Uncle Jerry died while I was in Wisconsin.
     I left Adella at her uncle's and went on to Jewell County,
Kansas where my land was, about 150 miles southwest. On arriving
there I was very much pleased with my land as it was quite level
and seemed to be very rich soil, the grass growing four or five
feet high on it.
     When I got back to Otoe County Adella was able to walk
around and was very much better. I went to work for Charles Bray,
worked there until fall, then went to work for Levi Kime, cousin
Mary's husband. He gave me hauling to do for the highways as he
was county commissioner.
     I bought three cows and stayed with Byron Davis through the
winter, helping him care for his stock. I worked in a blizzard.
In December I was taken with pneumonia and was very sick for
about six weeks and came near dying and my left
Page 28

lung has been affected ever since.
     My mother wrote me that brother David was very sick and
wanted me to come and help her, so on the second day of March we
started back, got to Charlie Bray's, he persuaded us to stay with
him a day or two, then we started on, got to the Missouri River,
had to wait a day or two on account of floating ice. We could not
cross. Got into Iowa and it was so muddy I stopped and worked a
few days until it got better. Went on as far as Winterset and it
was nice and warm in the evening but turned cold in the night and
one of our horses got loose and got behind somebody's haystack.
     Next morning it was froze and rough roads, but we went on.
When we got into northern Iowa one evening it rained very hard
and I went into a house to see if I could get my team in their
barn. They proved to be the most hospitable people I ever saw,
insisting on our coming right in and gave us our supper and
breakfast and bed and some food to take along and would take
nothing in payment. They had a violin and organ and they kept me
playing the violin most of the evening. The boys had the mumps
but I did not take them, but had them ten years later.
     We stayed with wife's cousin, Sim Pierce, Aunt Samantha's
girl. We arrived at our home at Arcadia, Wisconsin about April 1,
1877, after nearly 500 miles of the worst roads I ever saw, snow
drifts and mud all the way.
     David was sick a long time after we got there and I worked
during the summer. Then Adella's parents sold their farm and
Mother sold hers and I thought if I took them all along we could
stay in Kansas.
     We started with three covered wagons and a spring wagon once
more for the South. On October 6, 1877, when we got to Viliska,
Iowa, about fifty miles from the Nebraska line, we had a big rain
storm which made the roads very bad. Dell's folks got discouraged
and stopped and rented a house and moved in for the winter. I
went on, got to Unadilla, Nebraska where I rented and stayed
until spring. Husked corn on shares and thus got a living.
Page 29
     In the spring I took my three cows and three horses, Dave,
Mother, George Green, myself and wife and went to Kansas on my
own farm. Mother and Dave took homesteads nearby and I made them
a sod house. Also made one for myself, broke up twelve acres and
put it to corn and had a good crop, worked out and got plenty of
provisions to last us that year. With our cows, chickens and pigs
we got along fine.
     Our sod house had no door during the summer, only a curtain.
I used to go teaming and Adella used to stay alone in the sod
house. (Everybody had sod houses.) One night a calf pushed the
blanket clean up to her bed. She was scared not knowing what it
was until it gave a bleat.
     One time I came home and she had a rattlesnake, full six
feet long, that she killed with an axe.
     In the spring of 1880 I built me a good frame house and
small barn, fenced up my farm, was out of debt. Good horses and
cows and the best farm in the neighborhood and was prosperous but
one thing lacked, that was good water. I tried in vain all over
the farm to get it but could not, therefore stock raising to any
extent was out of the question.
     The winter of 1883 I got hold of some literature on the
resources of Michigan. I sold off my cattle and horses, took
Della up to Holmwood, 20 miles north, to let her stay with her
folks who had come on the next fall after we left them. They
persuaded us to put five hundred dollars in with them in their
country store they were keeping. Thus we gave up Michigan until
in the summer.
     I went up there and thought it a rather hard proposition as
it was mostly cut-over land and very hard to clear. I got to Reed
City, Michigan. Uncle Samuel lived twenty miles from there but
they told me they had the smallpox and the train did not stop at
Leroy so I went back home but stopped at Winona, Minnesota and
Arcadia, Wisconsin on my way.
     Got to Holmwood and found there was dissatisfaction in the
store business so we dissolved partnership and moved back
Page 30

to our farm at Jewell City, Kansas. We had rented the farm but
stayed in an old store  house until I built a new  house in the
town which we moved into. In the fall Frank Green moved in with
us through the winter. He is my nephew.
     During the winter there was a revival meeting at the
Evangelical Church about two blocks from where we lived,
conducted by Brother Kiplinger, a very Godly man though in error
in some things. He took a great interest in his work. They had a
great many people at the altar every night crying and praying and
shouting and some got religion and some did not, so they
expressed it. It was the same reenactment I had seen at Baldwin's
Flats and Amity Hill and Hatch Hollow in my boyhood days. One
evening Kiplinger came to me and asked if I had got religion. I
said "No," he said "Don't you want it?" I said, "Certainly."
"Then why don't you get it?" I said, "I have tried in vain to get
the experience that  you people say you have, but have not got
it." His advice was for me to keep trying and praying. I told I
would and asked him if it was necessary for me to go to the
altar. He said "No," but said he thought I would be saved if I
died in that state as the Bible said, "Blessed are they that
mourn for they shall be comforted," and I was a mourner. He did
not point me to the scripture like Acts 2:38 or to the last
commission of our Saviour. "He that believeth and is baptised
shall be saved." But I have a great deal to thank him for as he
gave me such instructions as he thought best and was truly a very
devoted, good man.
     My wife attended the Baptist Church and came home one
evening and was elated over the sermon that Elder Norton preached
and wished me to go hear him which I done. My wife joined the
Baptists and I did the same a short time after.
     In the spring we sold our home in town and moved on the farm
and commenced farming again. We raised good crops but prices were
very low so it was hard to make very much but we got ahead a
little anyway.
Page 31

     We took a great interest in the Baptist Church and I was
elected Deacon which is a very responsible office in the Baptist
     On account of the scarcity of water it was impossible to
keep much; that was the great drawback to our farm. The water,
what there was, was so full of alkali that it was almost
impossible to use it. In the spring of 1889 I sold my farm
(Bertha was born June 18, 1888 on this farm) and moved to
Randall. We got two houses and lots and a farm near Randall for
about one-half what we got for the Jewell farm so we had about
$2,000.00 in money. With this we went into Pawnee County,
Nebraska and bought a nice improved farm for $1,600.00, and moved
on to it about the first of June, 1889.

                                   Fairview Farm, Rock County,
                                   January 19, 1910
     Well, it has been one year since I have written but will try
it again.
     In the year 1873 we farmed our land and cleared more and had
fair luck and sold our wheat and paid our debts. We had to draw
our grain to Winona twenty miles away or to Fountain City or
Trempealeau. These were river towns and the steamboats carried it
to the cities to market. Consequently, wheat, the principal crop,
was always very cheap being so far from market and although we
raised good crops people could not get ahead much on account of
the low price. Wife and I went to Winona about December 15, 1872
with a load. Got to the Mississippi River about sundown. The town
was on the other side. It was real cold but the river, which was
about a mile wide, looked as if it was not very safe to cross on
the ice. There was no bridge. There was no hotel on that side and
we were cold and hungry after a twenty-mile ride so we ventured
on as there were some tracks of a sleigh that had gone before us.
We got nearly to the middle of the stream and come to a  place
where the water was running over the ice. I told Adella to get
off the load so it would lighten it and walk aways behind and if
I got in she would not get in too but the ice began to crack.
Page 32

I could not make the horses go ahead so I got off and led them
and went ahead and went way below where the ice was free from the
water and it seemed safer so we both got on and rode to within a
short distance of the shore, when down in went the horses. I put
the whip on them and they plunged ahead and the sleigh floated
but the water was only about four or five feet deep. They
struggled and finally made the shore. The water had wet the
bottom of my sacks of wheat but I drove it into Riverside Hotel
yards and put up for the night as it was then dark.
     We ate our supper and went into the sitting room where we
got warmed good after our day’s cold ride. By and by Adella says,
if that isn’t Alwilda Wallace it is some lady that looks just
like her, so she went and spoke to her and sure enough it was the
same Alwilda she had known when she was a small girl and they had
a great visit. Alwilda said they were going to have a spiritual
seance and she and the proprietress of the hotel were
spiritualists. Well, I thought I would see some of their
demonstrations but after staying up late and seeing them all
sitting around a table with their hands spread upon it, looking
very foolish and seeing no Spirits or not even hearing any
knocking around as they were reported to do, we went to bed.
     Next morning I went to the hotel yards before daylight and
there were several buyers for the many loads of wheat there which
was such good luck, I thought, after the wetting it had got in
the river. But the fellow who bought it said nothing about that,
which I thought very queer at the time, but when we emptied [it]
out of the sacks, I found out why. All the wet was frozen to the
sacks, so the wheat did not get wet at all.
     After selling out we started to do our shopping as that was
the reason Adella went along. Winona was the nearest large town
and was a large city for those times in the country, had about
five thousand and was a very busy place. Adella bought her a
shawl, woolen, and hat and various other things.
Page 33

     As the river ice had frozen very hard during the night we
crossed in safety. I never think of this trip without a shudder
at our taking such chances on that river. There was always loss
of life and a great many teams every winter and I must think it
an overruling Providence that we did not go under and lose our
lives, but I guess the Lord saved us for some purpose. I did not
fear as I knew Adella was safe several rods behind if I did go
     The season of 1874 my sister, Emma, came to visit us and in
the fall George W. Provost, her husband, came.
     My father was taken sick about October 15 and died in
November and was buried in Arcadia cemetery on the same lot with
our baby boy.
     My straw barn got burned with my seed grain and other goods
and I had to buy more which was quite a drawback.
     The season of 1875 I worked so hard on the hay marsh that I
again got malaria fever and was laid up all the latter part of
the season. It settled in my left limb which never got entirely
well but bothers me to this day. I got so as to be around about
December 1 and our baby girl, Ida Belle, was born December 11,
1875. My wife went to the town where her father and mother lived
as they wanted her to and she had a backset and was sick for
seven months. She could not walk a step and the baby died about
     When my wife got a little better I went to Neilsville Clark
Company and worked in the logging camps as we needed the money
bad, my having been sick and such an expense.
     Finally I got a telegram to come home as Adella and the baby
was worse so I left my team and did  not get back to work any
more, but went up in the spring and got my team. I began to think
Adella would never be able to walk again, so in the spring of
1876 I traded my land which was a very rough piece to a Richard
Proctor for a 160-acre tract in Jewell County, Kansas. Now this
was a very careless piece of business as I traded without seeing
it, but wrote down to an editor and he reported it number one
land so I risked it and it
Page 34

proved to be all right.
     I forgot to relate my religious experience in the spring of
‘74. A Baptist preacher preached in our school house and there
were a number of converts and I among the rest. I asked him how a
person knew when he became a Christian and he said, “Believe on
the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved.” He said you know
whether you believe or not. I told him I did believe. I thought
that was quite a difference between the way the Methodist taught
but I found the Bible said so, so I thought it must be so, but I
learned later in life that the Bible taught more than just
believe. Well, when the meetings closed there was a goodly number
to be baptized and I and others were baptized in a creek that ran
through my father’s farm.
     After disposing of my land I made preparations to drive down
and go on it, but no money to speak of. I traded a lot with a
building I had commenced to build on it for a new wagon and fixed
a good soft bed for Adella, disposed of what little stuff I had
and about May first started for Kansas with about two or three
dollars in my pocket, nothing doubting but what I would come out
all right. In my older days I would not have thought of such a
thing without a pocket full of money, but I was young and full of
life and feared nothing.
     We stayed all night with Edwin Wallace, brother of Alwilda,
who married my wife’s brother, Lucius. He was a very jolly fellow
and bade us welcome. Next morning we drove to Rushford, Minnesota
where wife’s Aunt Samantha lived and stayed all night with her.
Next day we arrived at my wife’s parents who had moved there two
or three months prior to that and I got a job for a few days and
earned about ten dollars.
     When we crossed the Mississippi at Winona on the ferry we
had a fine sheppard [shepherd] dog called Major. He neglected to
get on the boat and when we pulled away he set up such piteous
wails Adella could not bear to leave him and the boatman said if
we would give him 50¢ he would go back and get him, so he lowered
a small boat and I got in with him and we soon had him
Page 35

aboard the big steamer. It was pretty hard to give the half-
dollar, poor as we were, but I sold him for three dollars to a
man at Whalen near Adella’s folks. We  hated to part with him as
he was such a knowing dog, knew every word it seemed, and come in
and turn and shut the door just as well as a person without our
saying a word to him. We needed the money so bad we let him go
but always felt almost as if one of the family was gone.
     After visiting and working a few days, we were going on but
one of the horses was sick and a man came along and I traded it
for a well one, much older, but a very good horse.
     So bidding farewell to the folks [we] proceeded on our
journeys, staying the first night at Adella’s cousin, Sim Pierce.
Now Sim was a jolly good fellow and wanted us to stay longer but
we were in a hurry to be on our journey.
     When we got into Iowa on the hay prairies it seemed the wind
blew fearfully every day. Adella thought it remarkable as she had
never lived in a country where it blew so much. One of the horses
got lame when about 250 miles from home but by careful usage we
could go a short distance each day. One night they both got away
and in the morning they weren’t anywhere and I looked almost a
half day, but finally found them in some bushes about two miles
on the back trail.
     We had to go slowly as it tired wife so badly and the roads
were pretty rough in some places as Iowa was quite new, but we
think it one of the best agricultural states in the Union. After
twenty-one days we arrived at my father’s cousin Charles W. Bray,
stayed there a few days, then went to my cousin Byron Davis about
seven miles west, then to my wife’s Uncle Samuel Rockwell about
ten miles west, also her Aunt, Mrs. Miller, lived near.
     I left about June 24 for Kansas to see my farm, leaving wife
with the relation as she was very tired and I wanted to see the
place before moving there to see if I could make a living. It was
about 150 miles southwest. When I had got
Page 36

about fifteen miles of it, I inquired of an Irishman if he knew
about it and the way he said he knew all about it and “ye’el not
be sorry ye own it either when ye see it” and the nearer I got to
it the better I liked the country. Jewell City was as pretty
situated a town as I ever saw, in the forks of Buffalo Creek and
a very beautiful country. I just got onto one corner of my place
when it was so dark I could not go any farther so camped for the
night. The grass was about four feet tall and in the morning I
was up as early as it was light and viewed the land which was
better than I expected to see. Went to a neighbor’s, William
Shoemaker, about one mile away. He came up and showed me the
lines. I plowed up a small tract, prospected and found water, but
it was very poor and after staying a few days started back for
Otoe County, Nebraska.
     On arriving there to my great joy I found wife walking
about. I worked for Charles Bray through harvest and then went up
and worked for Byron Davis and Levi Kime who married a cousin of
mine. Byron wanted me to stay with him through the winter. I had
earned enough so I bought me three cows.
     About December 5th I was stricken with pneumonia and was
very sick. I got so I could not raise my head from pillow and I
would surely [have] died if my good wife had not taken such good
care of me. Sometime in February I got about a little and herded
cattle and done some light work.
     My mother wrote that David, my brother, was very sick with
Spinal Meningitis. Wife and [I] got homesick to see our folks so
we hitched up the second of March and started home for Wisconsin
as it was very fine weather.
     When we got to Syracuse Charles Bray, hearing we had gone
through the town, came on horseback, caught up with us and
insisted we should go back and make him a visit. He urged so hard
we went back and stayed two or three days, then started on our
450 mile drive. Got to Nebraska City, found the ice was running
so much in the Missouri River the ferry could not run so we found
a house and moved in temporary and stayed several days. When the
river got clear we crossed and proceeded
Page 37

through the mud. When we got about seventy or a hundred miles the
mud got so bad we stopped with a good family and worked several
days until it got a little better. Wife forgot and left her flat
irons there.
     When we got to Winterset, Iowa, we camped as usual, a very
warm, nice evening. After going to bed in the wagon there came up
a furious blizzard and one horse got loose, but it was too dark
and stormy for me to find him, so tying the other one out of the
storm and blanketing him as well as we could we went back to bed,
got up as soon as any light, found the loose horse had got behind
a haystack and was all right.
     I immediately hitched up as the storm had quit and drove
over a very rough frozen road until nearly noon. Adella was very
comfortable in the wagon as we always were, never got cold in
there as we had a stove and comfortable bed and some people often
insisted for us to come into their houses to sleep and we done so
sometimes to gratify the good people, but nearly always slept
cold, but never in the wagon.
     The roads were always very bad and once when not far from
the Iowa line, the north one, it rained very hard and it was a
real flood. The water ran in torrents. I went into a fine house
to see if I could get my team into the barn for the night. They
not only let me put up  my team but would not let us stay in the
wagon, but we had to go in and they got us a fine supper and in
the evening they had an organ and violin and when they learned
that I could play the violin they kept me at it most of the
evening. They were a very fine family. The old gent laughed and
joked continually about Kansas and what a poor place it was, said
he had a son-in-law and daughter almost starved to death there,
said it was no good as the grasshoppers took everything.
     Always I forgot to tell about the hoppers while plowing for
Kime in August. I noticed everything looked foggy and the sun
looked dim like a partial eclipse. I could not make out just what
had happened until I saw the air full of what looked like large
snow flakes, soon they began to drop all around me
Page 38

and I saw they were grasshoppers, millions of them. They began
eating the corn fields and by night everything in the way of
crops were nearly stripped of foliage. The ears of corn were so
nearly ripe that they could not eat them, only the soft ones not
yet matured, so they did hurt the corn much, but [did] eat about
all the garden; tomatoes, cabbage, etc. They laid the ground full
of eggs and they would hatch in the spring ready to eat
everything planted as soon as it appeared. That was the principal
reason we went back to Wisconsin as everybody was discouraged so
there was no work and nothing doing in any line, everybody would
have to leave if the crops kept going as they in 1874 and other
years with the hoppers.
     We stopped again at Sim Pierce in Lenona [Winona?], got
home, I think, April 1, 1877, found David still in bed very sick,
but he soon began to recover under wife’s care and treatment. I
worked through the season at various jobs and corresponding,
found out the hoppers were nearly all killed by the hard winter
and wet spring so they had a good crop of everything. Mother sold
her place and Della’s father sold out and the 6th of October we
all started overland for Kansas. It was a long trip. We enjoyed
it as most of the weather was fine but when we got to southwest
Iowa we began to meet teams from Kansas with discouraging reports
which made an impression on Mr. Rockwell and he thought I was
leading them off to an unknown barren region. In spite of all I
could say he stopped at Siola, Iowa and rented for the winter.
     I went on and got to Nebraska City where I found the same
house empty we occupied when we went home so we went into it and
stayed a few days but there was no work there so I went on to
Unadilla and my cousin Milo Davis wanted me to move into part of
his house until spring so we went back to the city. Then we
camped at Dunbar or near there and we had only a spring wagon,
bed and food as we left our large covered wagon at the city. We
made our bed on the ground and slept soundly. In the morning the
first thing greeted me on
Page 39

uncovering my head was a lump of snow in my face and our bed was
covered with several inches in snow.
     We moved from Nebraska City into Milo’s house, or part of
it. My nephew, George Green, was with me and we husked corn most
of the winter. My Uncle Nelson also stayed with me most of the
     In the winter we heard Elder Barlow speak at Unadilla. Wife
heard him first and came home and told me she had heard the
finest preacher she ever heard, said he stood up without any
gestures or excitement and preached the Bible. I went once and
found it to be as she represented. I thought I should even belong
to the sect everywhere spoken against.
     In April we started with our teams and three cows for
Kansas, arriving on the 7th day of May, 1878. The grass was about
four inches high, the wheat was beginning to head and everything
looked lovely. We soon had a stone house for Mother and David to
live in while wife and I built a sod house on the south side of
our place. We let Mother and David have forty acres where the
stone house was as I owed her for a horse and some other things
she had let me have.
     We broke up the land and put in crops so we had some in the
fall and I worked in harvest and got all the wheat we used during
the year. Our cows and chickens furnished us in about all we used
and soon we began to get ahead on the rich soil we had. Mother
and brother both took government claims in the hills nearby and I
built them houses. Mother went back to Wisconsin in 1880 and I
moved up on her claims while she made sister Fanny a visit.
     We moved back home when she got back and I built me a nice
frame house and barn and painted them up nice, fenced all my
place, and had the nicest place around.
     Cora was born on July 1, 1881, and in January, 1884, we got
our debts paid and about $800.00 ahead.
     Father Rockwell had in the fall of ‘78 came on where we were
and was delighted with the country and took him a claim about
twenty miles north of Holmwood township. He traded the
Page 40

claim for a small store and post office in Holmwood and did well
at the business, but, in January ‘84, persuaded us to put our
money in and get a larger stock, which we did. We only run it
until the next July as we found partnership is a poor ship to
sail in and we dropped a good share of what we had put in while
in the store.
     I went to Michigan and looked at the country. I had an
advertisement of Michigan and its resources but found it very new
up there and concluded Kansas was much better. In July I stopped
at Winona and rested at Ed Wallas [Wallace], also Alwilda, she
was a widow with two little girls, Lucius died in 1880 at Arcadia
on the Fourth of July.
     I came home and moved into Mother’s stone house as I had
rented [out] my farm for a year. Then I bought two lots in Jewell
City and built  me a house on them which we occupied that winter.
     This winter was a turning point in my life and I never think
of it without thinking the Lord was leading me. There was a
church about one block from where we lived called the Evangelical
Church. Their minister’s name was Kiplinger. They started
protracted meetings and there I found the same scenes that I had
seen in my boyhood days, such shouting, praying and pleading.
After the meeting as I was leaving, the preacher, Kiplinger,
stopped me and said, “Are you a Christian?” I said, “No,” as I
had been living a worldly life not making any profession for
several years. He said, “Don’t you want to be a Christian.” I
said, “Certainly.” He said, “Why don’t you be one them?” and I
said, “I have been to the altar several times but never could get
religion as you people seem to.” He said, “You can have it,” and
I made known to him that I surely wanted it. Then the next day he
came over and had prayer at our house and I attended every night,
also the day prayer meetings and done as he advised me, to keep
on praying and pleading with God and I got about discouraged
again like I did before when a boy. Soon wife went to the Baptist
Church when they, too, started a protracted meeting. She came
home and said to
Page 41

me, “You ought to go hear that man at the Baptist Church. He says
the Lord don’t require a person to pray at the altar so long or
loud or have such demonstrations.” So I went over and heard him
and he came and saw me and said, “All we need to do is believe”
and as I could get no relief from the Methodists, I went to his
church. Some of the old Deacons wanted me to join the Baptist
Church so I got up in their meeting and related my experiences,
as their manner of doing is (which is unscriptural) which seemed
to be all right to them, and it was voted on, and I and wife was
accepted (another unscriptural act).
     In the spring we moved back on our farm and traded my house
and lot for Mother’s forty so we had the whole quarter again. We
kept on attending the Baptist Church regularly and I tried to
live right. One day Kiplinger came along and advised me to keep
on praying and by and by I would get the great blessing. He was a
very good man and I have much to thank him for in leading me in
the way he thought was right. He seemed to be so honest and
     Elder Norton of the Baptist Church had a large family and
had no cow so I led one up to house place and made him a present
of it. After awhile he came down and built him a house on one
corner of my land and lived there through the winter. In the
spring he took him a claim and bought his house.
     When Norton went we Baptists hired another preacher by the
name of Robert Smith who stayed about a year and then moved to
Iowa. We hired a minister by the name of Stewart. In the fall we
hired Elder Hurlbut of Geneva, Ohio to hold us meetings, one of
the greatest evangelists in the Baptist sect, and hired the rink
in Jewell City and had one hundred converts, among them, Molly
Triffer. When her father found it out he turned her out of doors.
She came up to our house and stayed. Triffer sent word to me to
turn her away. I sent word back she could stay as long as she
pleased. He came to church and [with] his wife, to see about it
and they both
Page 42

[got] conversion and were baptized, but he seemed never to get
over that I would keep Molly and done me a great deal of dirt by
his talk.
     I traded with John Gish’s timber claim seven miles west and
rented him my farm toward it, and moved on to it, then traded it
to Will Green for his place, then traded that to Gish so got back
my old farm again and was glad to get there. The Baptists
selected me Deacon of  the Church, which is the most responsible
office in the Baptist Church, also had a Deacon Sweeney.
     We had several dry years, particularly ‘87 and ‘88, and the
water was very bad on our place, could not possibly get good
water and that with the dry seasons I got discontented and sold
my farm for $3500.00 (Bertha was born on this farm June 18,1888),
bought another near Randall, Kansas for about $1200.00, not
intending to stay, but because it was cheap. Also traded horses,
etc. for two houses and lots in Randall, so we had $2200.00 in
money, a good farm and two residences in town, and if we had
stayed there would have made good money, I think.
     But wanted to leave Kansas so, after staying on our place in
Randall until warm weather, and on the 11th of May 1889, we bade
farewell to Kansas and started east, expecting to go either to
Missouri or Iowa where it was not so dry seasons. We got about
six miles north of Pawnee City, Nebraska and it rained
continually and Bertha, who was most two years old, got sick so
we were obliged to stop. We stopped with Charles Gould who made
us welcome. We had to stay there a week until Bertha got better.
     I thought perhaps as it was a good country and plenty of
fruits of all kinds I would look around. Went to Table Rock and
soon found a farm for sale one-half mile from the village of
Table Rock, Nebraska for $1600.00, eighty acres. We soon made a
deal and went the next day to Pawnee City and got all the papers
made. He was to have possession for two weeks but the next day,
Bertha, being now quite smart, wanted
Page 43

to see it, so we all drove down and camped on the place. He soon
let us have the upstairs to sleep in and he moved away in a few
     I farmed this place and had a fine crop and in July I drove
up to see my relatives, forty miles north in Otoe County. They
were all glad to see us and the country had changed and improved
wonderfully. I took a lot of his horses and wintered them and
bought several swarms of bees from him. Farmed the next season,
1890, and in the fall my leg that I had fever settled in got so
bad I had to quit walking on it so much.
     Traded my stock and the rent of my place for a house and lot
in Table Rock with Doff. We moved into it in the fall. I traveled
on the road for an occupation that winter, selling different
articles, canvassing, etc. Once I came across an agent getting
pictures. He told me where he got them and how much he made on
them and I found he was making ten times as much as I so I wrote
in and got the agency. I followed this business for several years
and made good money, sometimes $200.00 per month.
     I traded some of the Randall property for two houses and
lots in Syracuse, Nebraska, also a five-acre tract for which we
received $16.00 per month.
     In March, 1891, I came in Saturday evening from my trip and
found wife’s brother, Rudolph and family there and some of them
were sick. Also my brother David was there sick, soon the whole
family were very sick. I congratulated myself that I was so well
to take care of them, but about the second evening I took very
sick and laid on a lounge and knew nothing for several days. We
were in bad shape, [with] only Lizzie, Dolph’s wife, able to be
around. Dick Grane’s, a neighbor, helped us and was a very good
neighbor to us. The rest of the family finally got around but I
did not get out for nearly a month.
     When the warm weather came in May I thought I would go and
see Mother and sister Fanny and her family so we covered our
spring wagon and started. Got to George Green’s about June 1st,
stayed a day or two, then proceed to Willow Springs.
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     The roads were very rough and stony but the country was not
much good only for fruit. Found the folks all well and I was very
tired of riding over such stony roads so I traded for eight
acres. My rig, I traded that to my mother. It was only one mile
from Burnham and a very good piece of land for that country. Had
a good house and some plowed land. We visited Joshua Miller’s
wife’s cousins and when we got through visiting took the train
for home.
     We had rented our house to Al Mitchell, so, as we had a lot
built us a new one and lived in it until March, 1892.
     Meanwhile, I canvassed for the picture house. Mr. Gould came
down in March and urged us to move up in the country about seven
miles away and as I thought it did not make much difference where
we lived, as I was on the road, and I could get good rent for the
new house, so he came down and loaded our stuff on his rack and
we moved up and stayed until fall. Delia Bray visited us through
the summer and, as it was very thickly settled, Adella had plenty
of company. There was a very large patch of blackberries on the
place that were delicious.
     In June we thought to make our Jewell County friends a
visit. Stayed with Lillian, wife’s sister, and visited in Jewell
and had a very good visit. When we got home I traveled on the
road again and made good money. Moved back to Table Rock in the
fall, or rather on the farm and rented the land and occupied the
     The season of 1893 there was a bad drought and the panic of
that year made hard times and it was hard to do business of any
kind, but I kept on the road most of the time and made what I
could, which was little enough in comparison to what I had been
     I joined the Odd Fellows which I enjoyed very much the
weekly meetings. Moved to town and in September Mr. Peck, George
and myself went to the World’s Fair which I enjoyed nearly a
Page 45

     Thence, I went to Buffalo, New York to visit my sister, Emma
Provost and family. Peck and George Green went on to Scranton,
Pennsylvania to their old home. I stayed there about a week and
enjoyed their visit and the sights which I think are fine. Then
went to Jamestown, New York and visited the picture house which I
had patronized so long. Thence, went to Union, Pennsylvania and
stopped off one night. This was near where I lived when a boy,
saw some of my old chums but my ticket was limited so had to go
on without making much of a stop. I arrived home in October and
built an addition to my house in town, also on the farm, then
went at my old job again.
     The winter of 1894 and 1895 the churches of Table Rock all
held protracted meetings. We were members of the Baptist Church
at Pawnee City, there being no Baptists in Table Rock. We had
attended the Methodist Church and went regularly to their
services and Cora had went forward to one of their meetings but
we objected to their sprinkling her and calling it Baptism, but
they had taken her on probation as they called it.
     We used to enjoy particularly the Bible Class of adults [on]
Sunday afternoon conducted by Elder Johnson who was a good smart
man. First the Presbyterians had their meeting and I attended
nearly every night. His main object seemed to make the Bible and
his creed agree as he thought supported it, mainly the idea of
predestination. He had no success in getting converts to speak
of, don’t know just how  many, if any. Willard Purcell and his
wife acknowledged they wanted to be Christians is all I remember
and they went over to the Christian Church and were baptized and
went into it.
     After the meetings were about closed the preacher, Mr.
Wilson, asked me what I thought about it. I told him I could not
make man’s free agency and the way he taught predestination
harmonize. He seemed to be greatly surprised. He was somewhat of
a fanatic, I think, said the Lord spoke to him
Page 46

just as audible as a person.
     Soon the Methodists commenced their meetings and had quite a
number of converts, but I could not help but notice the
difference in doctrine. The Presbyterians seemed to teach that it
mostly depended on God for salvation. The Methodists seemed to
think it mostly depended on man’s actions, the difference was in
their creeds, as it ever will be, when a person follows a man-
made creed. Let us take the Bible alone for our guide and Christ
our creed and speak where the Bible speaks and be silent where
the Bible is silent.
     I will go back to the fall of 1889, I think. It was my
wife’s folks that had moved to Juaqua, Colorado and kept writing
for us to come, so we went down to look at the country but found
it a very desolate, sandy region and very new. It was thirty
miles from St. Francis, the end of the railroad. I came across a
man going within three miles from where my father-in-law lived
and rode out with him. When we got to his house he met a man and
went and talked alone with him several minutes before he would
tell  me the road and it was getting quite dark and I was in a
hurry to get there before it was so late. Finally  he told  me
the way but when I got half way I came to a fork in the road and,
seeing a cabin nearby, went down and knocked, no reply, but I
could see a light shining through the cracks of the door. I
knocked again and finally asked the road when a weak voice said
the man of the house was out and did not know where he was. As I
could not find out I risked taking the left-hand fork, when to my
astonishment, “crack” went a revolver close beside me. I had no
arms so took to my heels as fast as I could go which was not very
slow. Then came another “crack” but it was so dark I got off into
the gloom and did not hear any more.
     When I got to Rockwell’s house they were very glad to see me
and when I told them about the shooting they thought maybe he
thought someone was trying to jump  his claim. The old lady
looked  my clothes over and found two holes in my overcoat which
she said were bullet holes. My version is
Page 47

that the ones I rode out with thought I had some money and
thought they would get it but their aim was bad in the darkness
and as I was lean and fleetfooted I got away pretty fast and the
fellow I came out with was fat and not so young.
     In February in the winter of 1894 we received a telegram
that wife’s folks were sick so she went right away on the train
and found them sick with Lagrippe, the same disease we all had
when Dolph was with us in Table Rock. She doctored them up and
brought the old lady home with her and the old gent drove
through, getting there in the spring, having stopped in Jewell
for some time.
     Johnny Provost  made us a visit, came in February and went
home in May. Dell’s folks lived on my five acres at Syracuse.
During the summer the old gent got hurt, a team ran away and hurt
him, and was sick for some time. My wife went up and took care of
him. Merritt and his family came also and they all went to
Colorado Springs in the fall.
     To return to February 1895, the Christians soon began a
meeting and I went over to see what kind of doctrine they had as
I knew the Baptist well, also the Methodist and some of the
Presbyterian, enough so I did not believe all of it. About the
first statement that made an impression on my mind was by Brother
Evans that if there were thousands of ministers preaching for the
denominations and if they should give the same address as the
inspired Peter did on the day of Pentecost to an inquiring sinner
off would go his clerical head and he could not preach. I
reasoned on it and came to the conclusion that he told the truth.
Brother Williamson held the meeting and I am indebted to him for
more real Bible knowledge than any man living.
     I had always heard that the Campbellites, as their enemies
called them, did not believe in the Holy Ghost, which I found to
be false, and I also found they had been misrepresented in many
other ways. I dearly loved the Baptists and it took lots of Bible
study to convert me to the Bible way. I realized they were right
in the mode as
Page 48

well as the object of Baptism and in taking the Bible for their
guide without any man-made creeds, but preachers I will not name
told me to stay away from them as they preached water salvation
and no heart-felt religion, and we had taken Cora out of their
Sunday School once and placed her in the Methodist Sunday School
on account of what we had heard against them!
     There was quite a number to be baptized and as we were going
to the water about two miles away, Cora, who was about fourteen,
said she would like to be baptized. I said she might be if we had
a change of clothes. It was a very cold, freezing day, the ice
perhaps more than a foot thick in the mill pond. The baptizing
was to be below the dam where the water was so swift it did not
freeze. My wife says, “Oh The Lord don’t let people catch cold
being baptized, nobody ever heard of such a thing.” So Elder
Evans took her confession on the river bank and baptized her. The
clothing froze almost immediately on her body and she rode home
and did not get cold or take a bit of cold. So much for obeying,
some people threatened prosecution, others complained about going
into the water [in] such cold weather, but the Lord will take
care of His own and from that day it seemed most everybody turned
against  my children and slighted them, I mean the Methodist
children mostly. How different it would have been if they gone
into the popular church, the Methodist. I can ascribe it to no
other reason, not only my children, but other children of the
Church of Christ were treated just as bad.
     Elder Johnson came to me indignant, said I should have
consulted him as Cora was on probation in his church. Some of the
older Methodists were so sorry that we were gone off in such an
ungodly company. They had been trying a long time to get us to
join the Methodists. The preacher had spoken to me many times
about it, said that was where we properly belonged and as I used
to give freely to the church I belonged to, they thought we would
be a help which
Page 49

we would undoubtedly would, but I don’t think I could ever
conscientiously have joined the Methodist Church.
     It seemed to me we lost a good many friends and the sect we
belonged to was everywhere spoken against but we consoled
ourselves that it was always so and we could not expect to
escape. Denominationalism always has to be on the alert to
maintain itself. It is necessary to its existence to not let
other denominations get any if possible, but join us, we are
popular and you will have a better time and get into better
society than with those poor people.
     Well, it came time for the Disciples to close their meetings
and wife said if the Church of Christ is good enough for Cora, it
is good enough for me, so in giving the hand of fellowship, Cora
and wife went up and I reluctantly followed. It was a very hard
thing for me to do. I was convinced that they were right but the
Baptist Church had done so much for us it was hard to give it up.
I finally did and felt better afterwards and have always felt
thankful that I had learned the way of the Lord more perfectly
and had identified myself with the same church that was organized
on the day of Pentecost, Peter giving them the first Gospel
sermon. I found the members, some of them, had fault but the
teaching being entirely from the Bible is as near right as it is
possible for man to get, especially as a church they don’t bring
anything contrary to the Scripture.
     They elected me one of the Deacons and soon after the
Eldership. Elder Williamson preached that summer. I met with an
accident, stepped on a nail and thought nothing of it at the time
but soon my leg began to swell up in great bunches. I got so sick
I could not get out of bed and I  had a great swelling on my limb
which gathered and broke, then I got better. The doctor called it
Erysipelas. My wife took good care of me or, perhaps, I should
not have been writing this. The Odd Fellows came often to see me
and I drew six weeks benefits, $24.00, then I got well enough to
sit up.
     Wife and I joined the Knights and Ladies of Security,
Page 50

an insurance order. It used to meet regularly which was quite a
pleasure for both of us.
     Our neighbor, Mr. Deck’s wife, died the fall or forepart of
winter and his baby, two months old, we took to live with us.
That was in ‘96, I believe. That year Mr. W. J. Bryan was running
on the Democratic ticket. I had been a Republican but I heard him
speak at the Table Rock Chautauqua and concluded he was right so
voted for him and worked for his election. There were only about
a half a dozen Democrats in the town and I one of them. Lane, an
old settler who had lots of relation living there, said to me, “A
person has to be a Republican or a Methodist to be popular in
Table Rock,” and I think he told the truth, but I would not yield
the truth for popularity. The truth is most always unpopular.
     Well, my Bryan was defeated to my astonishment, as I could
not see why people could not see he was right. The money question
being the paramount issue, he advocating the free coinage of
silver and I never have doubted from that that day to this that
his financial policy was right. I never have found anybody that
could give a satisfactory answer as to why it was better to
delegate to banks the power to issue and control our money than
it was to coin the people’s silver for money in these days of
trusts and combines. I think it a matter of all trusts, for
whoever can rule the money can control about everything else, and
if the money trust was destroyed the other trusts would soon be
destroyed also.
     In the following spring I was nominated for one of the
Aldermen on the Temperance ticket but was defeated, as I was
told, because I was a Democrat and the Republicans, most of them,
seemed to have an undying hatred for a Democrat. There were many
old soldiers living in the town and they thought, as well as many
others, that all Democrats was some way to blame for the war of
the ‘60s.
     Wife and I went to Colorado Springs and made her folks a
visit and her sister Lillian made us a visit. One time
Page 51

wife and Lillian (Lilly) thought they would go out on the farm so
I hitched up our young horses on a spring cart I had. They got in
and my wife, in starting, hit the horse with a whip. That scared
it so bad it started off on the run and she could not hold it, in
turning the corner the cart tipped over and threw them out and
hurt Lilly but did not hurt wife much. I helped Lillian to the
house and somebody caught the horse. Lilly got all right except
bruises. While in Colorado Cora and I started to go upon Pike’s
Peak but got only as far as the saddle house, about half way. I
got so I could hardly breathe so went down again. I did not dare
go up on the Cog Railroad as I had heart trouble and saw some
people that it made deathly sick. When we were coming down I met
a Mr. Myers who lived about seven miles from me in Table Rock. We
arrived home after seeing the sights of the mountains, had a very
nice vacation.
     I canvassed for a nursery stock the following winter and in
the spring had a very large delivery and made good money. Along
in the summer wife got paralysis in her shoulder and arm, owing,
as she thought, to taking care of Mack nights who was badly
afflicted with his head, his ear running badly and he was nervous
and fretful and needed a great deal of care. She got so bad I
sent her to Colorado Springs again to be treated and the climate
was so helpful I thought she would get better. After she had
[been] gone a few days John Abbott and family came and made me a
visit which I enjoyed very much.
     In August I took the train and followed my wife. We kept
house in a tent for about a month and I got a good deal on a lot
and I built us a small house where we lived until February. My
business needed my attention at Table Rock and as wife was better
we took the train home.
     There was a terrible blizzard on about the time we got there
and we visited a day and two nights with our friend, Ephi
Stanford, also Captain Jennings and others. Finally, when the
storm was over, we set up keeping house in our house.
Page 52

Captain Wolf lived in it and had paid no rent for several months
and he had burned up some of the outbuildings and was very
dishonest with me. I had a hard time getting him out. In a few
days Mrs. Skinner came to see  me, wanted me to buy them out. I
traded them the house and lot in Colorado City and gave them a
hundred dollars to boot and we moved in there in a few days.
     While I was at Colorado City I greatly enjoyed the church
which was held in a tent. They had a good preacher by the name of
Sambulse and had a good Sunday School.
     I canvassed for nursery stock again and had a good delivery
in the spring. We built an addition to our house and as Cora was
getting large enough to attend college I moved to Bethany,
Nebraska where there was a Christian college. I rented a house
and she started soon. We bought a house two miles from the
college thinking she could drive our horse and buggy to school.
She tried it and it was quite burdensome and as we lived near the
street cars I sent her to the State University. I have always
wished that I had kept her in the Bethany College. She took a
business course and proved to be the finest stenographer in the
school, very adept at shorthand.
     I sold out and bought in the city of Lincoln, 888 North 27th
Street, where we lived during the second winter, a large store
building with large living rooms. We attended the East Lincoln
Church of Christ and a very fine lot of people they were. I kept
a small stock of flour, feed and hay, etc., but did not do much
business as there was so much competition.
     Lilly and Belva visited us two months and as she had never
been in a city before, she seemed to enjoy seeing the sights, and
once we went to the state prison to church which was a great
sight for her.
     John Abbott and wife, also Mary Kime, cousins of mine from
Unadilla, also visited us. We had rented our farm to Elder who
had been preaching at Table Rock for a number of years, he held a
protracted meeting in ‘97, I think, had a
Page 53

goodly number of converts, among them our daughter, Bertha, whom
he baptized. His time being out in the spring we moved back to
Table Rock, sold our store building, all but an addition on
another lot which we kept and fitted up for Cora and another lady
who roomed there and attended college. We rented [out] all of the
farm, reserving the house and buildings where we lived during the
years of 1900, 1901, 1902, 1903.
     Wife’s health was very poor, she was confined to the house
most of the time unable to walk. I think the location was
unhealthy as Bertha was very poor in health and I had very bad
     Wife’s folks visited us in the summer of 1902. He had a
spell and when he got well went back to Colorado, and in the
spring of 1903 wife visited them.
     In July Cora and I started for Butternut, Wisconsin. My
sister Fanny lived there and Cora, when she got to St. Paul,
wanted to stay and work her trade, stenography, as a Mr. Benner
would give her good wages. I went and got her a good boarding
place thinking she would stay while I visited at least a week or
two as she was anxious to stay.
     I forgot to tell of the visit Cora and I had made to Cripple
Creek, Colorado the summer before which was surely a great sight,
the most romantic scenery I ever saw. Cora wanted to go down in
the gold coin mine, but it looked too forbidding for me. We
enjoyed the day hugely and took the evening train for Colorado
Springs where we stayed with Merritt’s folks for a day or two and
went home. While in Denver I felt sick and went to a drug store
and got some medicine and when I got home was very sick for a
week or more.
     Well, I visited with sister Fanny and got to feeling so well
in that northern climate thought it would be best for us all to
go up there. It was certainly a most invigorating climate beside
of southern Nebraska, especially Table Rock.
     When I got home wife was still sick, scarcely able to walk
around and I had another one of my sick spells. I thought we
ought to change climate and try to get well and I
Page 54

had traded for forty acres of land in Michigan, had never seen
it, so we thought of going to Wisconsin via Michigan. If we did
not like it we would cross the lake and get to Wisconsin. We took
the cars to Chicago and the boat to Muskegon, Michigan. Adella
and the children enjoyed the lake trip ever so much as they had
never been on a water voyage before. We took the train for Hart,
Michigan where I had corresponded with a land agent, J. D. S.
Hanson, who wrote me he would have a house for me to live in.
     Arrived in Hart, no house to live in, went to Pentwater and
found a large house to rent. We stayed four weeks and liked it so
well and got so much better in health I bought a house and one
acre of ground which we moved into. I worked sorting apples,
husking corn, etc., something I had not done for years before and
we got so we had quite good health. It certainly is a fine place
to live by the Great Lake, plenty of fish and the finest fruit
country I ever saw, also for farming.
     We sold our farm in Nebraska and bought two up there; also
bought two houses and lots and went into the land agency business
and done a good business from the start.
     We lived three years in Pentwater and we all enjoyed the
country fruits, fish and, best of all, good health. We made some
money besides, though not as much as we could make in Nebraska.
     One day I saw a letter written by Mrs. Greening, describing
Newport, Nebraska and the country about. I and Bertha had seen
everything about here, and made sister Emma visit in Buffalo,
visited the falls of Niagara, rode from Detroit down the river
and the length of Lake Erie on the steamer “Western States.”
     Cora came down from the St. Paul in October, 1903, and in
the spring, Ben Hoyt came and got her for his wife and took her
back to St. Paul. They were married April 7, 1904. Wife went up
to visit her in 1905 and they had little Elizabeth, our first
grandchild. Cora came and visited us the summer of
Page 55

1906 and I went back with her and went to the soldiers’ National
Reunion at Minneapolis.
     I guess we wanted something new. I was not contented long
anywhere as my roaming disposition had not left me. I answered
Mrs. Greening’s letter and I proposed to trade one of our places
for one of theirs. I went across Lake Michigan and on the second
of October took the train from Milwaukee and arrived in Newport
October third at 5:00 o’clock. Greening was there to meet me and
I went home with him.
     Next morning we looked over the farm and it consisted of low
meadow lands and upland pasture. It was very different from
anything I had ever seen before anywhere, but, I concluded, it
would be a good property so told him to go down and see my place,
and, if he liked it, would trade outright. The next morning he
said he guessed he would not go, his wife said she would take my
word, she did not think I would misrepresent it. So we hitched up
and went to Bassett and made papers. I wrote my wife and told her
she could do as she pleased, I would come live there, or she
could come to Nebraska. I traded stock, tools, household goods,
and everything and wife and family came on the 18th of October
and Greenings left on the 21st.
     Bertha got a school to teach and I had plenty to do taking
care of the stock, husking corn, etc. We lived there three years.
We attended the Methodist Sunday School and I was superintendent
most of the time.
     The winters were very hard. The spring of 1909 Cora kept
writing for us to come up there. I hated to break up again but
wife thought the climate did not agree with her. She had awful
headaches so we made an auction and sold everything. I had put
$1900.00 in the place and sold for $3800.00 so we did not lose
     Bertha was married to Fred Eaton the first part of April
[April 25], 1909. We lived in St. Paul that summer and winter. I
canvassed for nursery stock in the Twin Cities and done fairly
Page 56

     In February [1910] Bertha’s first baby was born and she was
very sick for three months about and her baby died at three weeks
old. Cora’s little boy died in September [1908]. He was over a
year old and I used to take a great deal of care of him. He was a
very lovable child.
     I went to Binghamton, New York to look at a farm to buy but
the land proved to be so sterile I did not invest. The engine
broke down near Corning, New York and there came near being a bif
smash up.
     I stopped at Richmond and visited sister Emma and family,
also Roy Provost. Also stopped at Pentwater on the way home.
     In April we went back to Nebraska and I took a Kinkard
Homestead* where we are now located. Bertha, who got well after
coming back, lives one and one-half miles from us.
     This brings the narrative up to date as of January 27, 1911
and the Lord only knows what is in store for us. I have not told
nearly all that has happened but the principal events.
     We are enjoying fairly good health, wife staying at Bertha’s
taking care of her and little, I don’t know what is his name
[Cecil Fred Eaton], who was born on January 16, 1911.
     I expect to live on the claim until I prove up if the Lord
spares my life, and maybe all my life as I am tired of roaming
like I have done all my life. I can see where I might of made

*Note: "Kinkaid Homestead" defined (transcribed "Kinkard" in
error). URL: - "The
Kinkaid Act of 1904 allowed 640 acres of non-irrigatable land for
a homestead in 37 of Nebraska's northwest counties. The filing
fee was $14.00. The patent could be secured with five years of
residence and proof that $1.25 per acre value in improvement had
been made." URL: - "Even on maps
ignorant of topography, Nebraska's Sandhills show themselves just
as black holes do: their gravity bends and skews the
surroundings. Their evidence is a mapscape bald of highways and
towns out west of the 100th Meridian, north of the Platte River
and south of the Niobrara." Maps show that Rock Co., NE is in the
extreme eastern portion of the Nebraska Sandhills area. Location
of the Bray Kinkaid homestead was apparently the locale of Fred
and Bertha (Bray) Eaton's marriage. In the BLM - ES, GLO files is 
recorded this homestead patent. Patentee: John W. Bray; 
Accession/Serial #: 376651; 80 acres, Rock Co., NE, issued 1/12/1914 
at the Valentine, NE Land Office,  Document #04591 (Authority: May 
20, 1862, Homestead Entry). Legal land description: North half of the 
North West quarter, Sec. 17, Twp. 32 North, 6th Principal Meridian, 
Range 17 West, Rock Co., NE, 80 acres.

John Wesley Bray Memoir (JWB-MEM)

p. 20: Legal description “West Filinon County…” should be “South
West Quarter Section 3276, Range Two West, Fillmore County.”
p. 52: Armadilla not found in Nebraska maps. It probably is
p. 56: "Kinkaid Homestead" transcribed "Kinkard" in error.
p. 57: No. 4, Andrew Bray…This section is WRONG. When this
genealogy was prepared, the researcher believed Andrew Bray was
married three times: 1) to Elizabeth Brittain, 2) to Elizabeth’s
sister Mary “Polly” Brittain, 3) to Mary Yawger. Later research
(already reported) proves that Andrew m1) Elizabeth Brittain and
2) Mary Yawger. The missing names (children by Elizabeth) were:
John, Mary, Nathaniel, Asa, Catherine, Cornelius, Elizabeth. We
are descended from the oldest son John.
p. 57: No. 6, Maxwell Bray … he was born in New York.

- Charles and Nat (Nathaniel) Bray (brothers, p. 17) are sons of
Cornelius and Mary (Candall) Bray. Cornelius = younger brother of
John. This fits with Charles W. Bray claiming to be Maxwell
Bray’s cousin (p. 16).
- Delia Bray (1892, p. 44): She was Cordelia (Bray) Davis, dau.
of Cornelius Bray and Mary Crandall (and a sister of Charles W.
Bray above). She m. before 1865 in NY to William Davis, parentage
unknown;* the couple were in the 1865 census for Ontario Co., NY,
not there in 1870. “Delia Bray” visited the JWB family in 1892,
at their Table Rock, Pawnee Co., Nebraska residence. It’s
interesting that John refers to her maiden, not her married name.
*William Davis is the right age to be the son of Asa and Matilda
Davis (Asa = brother of Jeremiah Davis, father of Dolly Orressa
Davis). The Asa Davis family lived in Ontario Co., NY (1850-60
census) and moved away before 1865.
- Samantha Hall, aunt (of JWB? of Adella?) (1876, p. 26): In
September 2002, by comparing notes with Fred Griswold, I
discovered she was Lydia Samantha (Griswold) Hall, a niece of
Adella’s graandfather Elind G. Griswold. Lydia married Thomas
Gibb Hall. Lydia was old enough to be Adella’s aunt, but actually
they were first cousins once removed.
- Sim Pierce, cousin of Adella (1876-77, p. 28, 35, 39): In
September 2002, by comparing notes with Fred Griswold, I
discovered he was Adam Simmons “Sim” Pierce, husband of Ann C.
Hall, oldest child of Lydia Samantha (Griswold) Hall and Thomas
Gibb Hall.

p. 12: Livingston Co., NY: in 1865 John W. Bray worked for his
aunt Lucretia Miner. She was Lucretia L. (Davis) Miner, dau. of
David and Dolly Davis (and sister of Dolly Orressa Davis), and
wife of Charles Miner. Charles and Lucretia Miner, in the 1860
census for Lima, Livingston Co., NY, had a son Charles Miner age
p. 16: Nebraska: In 1870 John W. Bray was traveling through these
Nebraska counties: Otoe, Gage, Fillmore, Thayer. George Provost
accompanied him; it appears the Bray and Provost families
headquartered in Otoe Co.
p. 23: Rushford, Fillmore Co., MN: In 1876, John and Adella
visited Aunt Samantha Hall. She was Lydia Samantha (Griswold)
Hall, sister of Adella’s grandfather Elind G. Griswold.
p. 23: Nebraska: In 1876, John W. Bray visited “Levi Kime, my
cousin Mary’s husband.” Levi Kime, b. 1830 in NY, m. 1867 in
Nebraska City, Otoe Co., NY to Mary M. Davis, dau. of Jeremiah
Davis and Eliza Martin. Jeremiah Davis was a brother of Dolly
Orressa (Davis) Rockwell and Lucretia L. (Davis) Miner.
p. 43: Willow Springs (where?) In 1891, John W. Bray mentioned
the towns of Willow Springs and
p. 44: Burnham (where?) Burnham while on a trip to visit his
sister Fanny and his mother Dolly. A look at an atlas shows one
county in the U.S. as the location for those two towns: Howell
Co., MO. Nowhere in his memoir did John W. Bray mention that his
sister Fanny (Bray) Green married there in 1899 to Horrace
Rockwell, uncle of Adella (Rockwell) Bray.
p. 53: Butternut, Ashland Co., WI: Fanny living there, 1902.
p. 56: Richmond (MI? NY?): In 1910, John W. Bray visited his
sister Emma (Mrs. George Provost) and family. The Provosts were
listed in the 1900 census for Richmond, Ontario Co., NY. The
location was NY.

John Wesley Bray Memoir (JWB-MEM) INDEX (a partial listing of
names and relationships)

ABBOTT, John (his wife = cousin of JWB) p. 52 (1897
BRAY, Adella (wife of JWB)-maiden name = Adella Matilda ROCKWELL
     Bertha (dau. of JWB) p. 42 (1888); 55 (1906); 55 (1909)-see
     Charles W. (cousin of Maxwell BRAY) p. 16, 23 (1870); 36
     Charles (infant son of JWB) p. 25, 26 (1873)
     Cora (dau. of JWB) p. 39 (1881); 48 (1898); 52 (1898)-see
     David (brother of JWB) pp. 28, 36, 38 (1877); 39 (1880); 43
     Delia (3rd cousin once removed of JWB) p. 44 (1892)-Cordelia
(Bray) DAVIS
Dolly (mother of JWB) p. 39 (1880); 43-44 (1891)-Dolly Orressa   
(Bray) DAVIS
     Emma (sister of JWB) p. 12 (1865); 17 (1870)-see PROVOST
     Fanny (sister of JWB) p. 39 (1880); 43 (1891)-see GREEN
Ida Belle (infant dau. of JWB) p. 26 (1875-6)
James (uncle of Maxwell BRAY) p. 11 (1865)
John Wesley (author) married Adella Matilda ROCKWELL p. 24 (1872)
“Mc” = Maxwell (father of JWB) p. 16 (1870); death p. 33 (1874)
Nat = Nathaniel (brother, Charles W. BRAY) p. 17 (1870)
DAVIS, Byron (cousin of JWB) pp. 27, 35 (1876)
     Charles (cousin of JWB) p. 22 (1870)
David (father-in-law of JWB) p. 11 (1865)
Jerry = Jeremiah (uncle of JWB) pp. 16, 22 (1870); p. 27 (1872-6)
Milo (cousin of JWB) p. 36 (1877)
DECK, William McKinley (foster son of JWB)
EATON, Fred (son-in-law of JWB) p. 55 (1909)-married Bertha
Matilda BRAY
     Infant son (John Reginald) p. 56 (1910)
     Infant son (Cecil Fred) p. 56 (1911)
GREEN, Fanny (sister of JWB)-married Robert GREEN p. 53 (1902);
p. 58
     Frank (nephew of JWB) p. 30 (1883-4)
     Fred (son of Robert and Fanny GREEN) p. 58
     George (son of Robert and Fanny GREEN) p. 39 (1878), 58
     John (son of Robert and Fanny GREEN) p. 58
     Robert (husband of Fanny BRAY, bro-in-law of JWB) p. 16
Will (son of Robert and Fanny GREEN) p. 42 (1885), p. 58
GRISWOLD, Lucius (uncle of Adella ROCKWELL) p. 26 (1875)
HALL, Samantha (wife of Thomas Gibb Hall and cousin once removed
of Adella) p. 26 (1875)
KIME, Levi (his wife = Mary DAVIS, cousin of JWB) p. 23; 37
(1876); 52 (1897)
MILLER, Philo H., husband of Martha A. Rockwell, youngest daughter 
of Horrace Rockwell Sr. and Hannah Chase. In the summer of 1876, 
J. W. Bray mentioned his visit with his wife's aunt "Mrs. Miller" 
while in the Otoe Co., Nebraska area. Philo and Martha, with their 
family, were counted in both the 1870-1880 census for Palmyra, 
Otoe Co., NE.
MINER, Charles (his wife = aunt of JWB) pp. 23; 37 (1876); 52
Lucretia (aunt of JWB, wife of Charles) p. 12 (1865)
PIERCE, Sim (married to Ann C. Hall, d/o Lydia Samantha
(Griswold) and Thomas G. Hall and a cousin of Adella) p. 35
PROVOST, Emma (sister of JWB)-wife of George PROVOST p. 58
Fred (son of George and Emma PROVOST) p. 58
George (son of George and Emma PROVOST) p. 17 (1870)
John/Johnny (son of George and Emma PROVOST) p. 58
ROCKWELL, Adella Matilda (wife of JWB, dau. of Alonzo & Matilda)
- marriage, p. 24 (1872)
     Alonzo/Matilda pp. 26, 34 (1876); 39 (1880)
     “Doff”/”Dolph” = Rudolph (brother of Adella, son of Alonzo &
Matilda) p. 43 (1891)
     Lizzie (wife of Rudolph) p. 43 (1891)
     Lucius (brother of Adella, son of Alonzo & Matilda) p. 34
     Merritt (brother of Adella, son of Alonzo & Matilda) p. 53
     Samuel (uncle of Adella) p. 29 (1883); 35 (1876)
WALLAS (WALLACE), Alwilda Ann (wife of Lucius ROCKWELL) p. 26
(1876); p. 32 (1872)
Ed (Edwin Oscar Wallace, brother of Alwilda Ann) p. 26 (1876), p.
40 (1885)