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History of Ezra F. Simmonsby Ezra F. Simmons
My fathers people were of Welsh and Holland descent. They came to America on the "Mayflower" & settled in Dutchess County New York -- My Grandfather Smiton Simmons married Sarah White & went to Canada & settled north of Lake Ontario (Colborne) & raised a family of seven viz: - Stephen who married Mary Wait - Elizabeth married John Dudley - John married (Peggy) Margaret Frasier - Sarah Ann married Osgood Strong - James married Mary Frasier - Mary married Alvin Dudley & Harriet married John Thompson.
Mothers people were Highland Scotch - mothers grandfather William Frasier - married Mary Chisholm & their second son Daniel Frasier married Catharine Munn the only daughter of Jestus Munn and Esther Merriman - Jestus Munn being an officer in the army settled 640 acres where the City of Cleveland now stands. Later Daniel & wife migrated to Canada & settled near where Frankford Ont. now is & raised a family of seven viz:- John who married Amerilla Smith - William married Adeline Faulkner - Oliver married Chloea Curtis - Mary married James Simmons - Alexander married Nancy Osterhout - Margaret married John R. Simmons - Catherine married Almond Wait. - The heirs of Jestus Munn now being gone to Canada - his property after his death was never looked after for a number of years & when they did owing to the mushroom growth of the new city & absorption & changes of title, etc it after considerable litigation became a very valuable loss to the Heirs that they did not recover or never will.
I was born on a farm on lot five of the fourth concession of the Township of Murray county of Northumberland - Upper Canada (now Ont.) on Wednesday April 3rd. 1850 - we lived in a large two story brick house with a large stone addition for a kitchen - then a long frame store room & woodshed attached. - I went to Mt. Zion public school one mile till I was fifteen - at the age of thirteen I was converted & joined the M.E. Church [Methodist Episcopal] at Frankford the church building my father had largely helped build & my brothers had made the brick. - I was induced to take this step by a son of Rev. Nathan Howard the Pastor at that time & have tried to lead a useful & valuable life through all the years since.
At the age of sixteen I went to Albert College Belleville Ont. an M.E. school for three years. The College was named after Albert Carman the President who afterwards became General Superintendent of the United Church of Canada with his headquarters at Toronto Ont. On account of inflation & eyestrain I had to give up my University course & life's plans & turn to something else. I first tried "bokagency" & made enough so in the fall of 70 I attended Ontario Commercial College Belleville Ont. & learned Telegraphy & more of Bookkeeping
In Jan 71 I went to Mich. for a job on the Port Huron & Lake Mich. R.R. but missed the chance by only a few days - so being rather short of finance I decided to try the lumber woods - but first I went north of Imlay City a few miles to visit Ronald Frasier & family (cousins). He helped me obtain employment at the lumber camp of Van Wagner Bro's who set me to falling pine - four men at a tree - after a few days my hands swelled so they changed me to helping the ox teamster load the hauling sleds - that I stood pretty well as it was more action than physical force. Finally one snappy cold morning when we were away out in the woods I only have on tight french calf fine boots & light overshoes & in spite of all that I could do froze one big toe badly - so then I got a job hauling logs to the landing which I thought would be just the thing - but they gave me an old discarded team that others refused to drive - namely a large old sorrel horse & a big lazy mule said to be 75 years old & I never disputed the fact. And my what a team & experiences I did have whooping at those old fellows - but they didn't scare worth a cent - still the boys said I worked them longer & made them pull better than any driver they ever had. But I did not like to sleep in the third bunk up next the roof & count stars all night through the cracks so as soon as I earned money enough to take me out I resigned. Before leaving those parts however I concluded to go over to North Branch & visit cousin Esther (Ashley) Caniff who with her husband Henry had come west - leaving a mail route job to make their fortune in the pine woods. My but it was a lonely trip as the great forest fire of the year before had burned the soil so the timber all blown over & I saw thousands of acres with only a tree standing now & then. On my way I came to a settler & went in to rest & chat, & in the course of conversation found out I had come upon another cousin - Becca Ann Hait a daughter of Uncle Alex. Frasier - her husband was a sort of pioneer preacher who did not get much out of that profession to live on & so she took to knitting by hand for the trade, double, streaked woolen mittens & became so expert she could knit five of them per day - my but didn't those needles rattle. Well found the folks at the Branch O.K. - only he was working at a lumber camp & she was dressmaking quite a comedown for well-to-do people - guess they didn't get rich for they soon went back to Canada. I also worked here for a while & on returning to Ronald Frasier's found his wife had a little baby girl & was in a very critical condition & I did not stay long & she died within a few days. I headed for brother Chas. Simmons place N.W. of London Canada - got off the train at Komoka & climbed snowdrifts on an unbroken road to Lobo - where I met a mail carrier & rode north with him to brothers place - here I stayed & worked on his farm as he needed two men, he being away most of the time looking after 300 head of steer that he was feeding at the distillery at Windsor Ont. opposite to Detroit Mich. -- That tract of country north of Lake Erie is very fertile & wealthy.
I left here July 1st in time to take the steamer at Brighton Ont. with a 4th of July excursion for Rochester N.Y. -- nearly all on board were seasick but me. Took a turn down to Pitsford to see a family of Whites, cousins of my father - got a job through harvest at $40 per mo. of a Mr. Smith who lived about ten miles S.E. of Rochester - he was a cripple & used two hired men - the other fellow was younger than myself, & he put us at binding wheat that was well saturated with Canada thistles - running stations after a self-rake reaper with three German women (remember this is N.Y.) who came near killing both of us poor fellows - I never used so much muscle before in my life - then to cap the climax we had to get up before daylight & milk a lot of cows - a thing I had never done & put in good long days, often not getting to bed till nine or ten o'clock - but it was all a good training & helped to fit me for the great future that I did not know was coming.
After my month was up I went back home & did odd jobs & agency work (as father had the farm rented) till the fall of 72 when Father rented me the old farm furnishing everything & a home & board with the family & gave me one third of the crop & I helped look after the stock, etc. - my youngest sister Thressa was still at home the housekeeper.
I set about breaking up some worn out old meadow land & showed the neighbor boys what I had learned about turning sod & farming up about London among the Highland Scotch. - cleaned the big stone of several fields & fixed things up in ship shape for a reaper that father agreed to furnish. Well had fair crops & cleaned up $300. After filling the woodshed & yard with logs for the next years firewood I packed up my belongings & with $500 father gave me I started for Nebraska U.S.A. Nov. 25th 1873.
Father had intended I should have the south one hundred acres of the old home place & live with them but I did not think it best for two families together that way & offered to stay if he would deed my five acres of hill land that was cut off from the rest but we could not agree so I went leaving my sister to take charge. On the way I stopped at Cobourg our county seat to get my money exchanged &but a R.R. ticket - so the Booker gave me a copy of the "Antiquary" to read o the way out. - also stopped Chicago to get a land explorers ticket. Arrived in Harvard Nebr. about 8 P.M. Nov. 28th. 1873.
Here I met some new cousins - Anna Moore & Emily Gallup whom I had never seen before - daughters of my mothers sister Catharine Wait - here I visited a few days then went N.E. near Orville City the county seat of Hamilton county to the homestead of another cousin Peter E. Frasier with whom I had been corresponding - he is the youngest son of my mothers brother John Frasier. Here I bought the relinquishment of John Champeon eighty acres joining the city on the south for $100 cash - declared my intention to become an American citizen before J.D. Westcott the county clerk & filed of a draw on the S.E. corner - put a shingle roof & a board floor (rather a rare thing in those days) and commencedfor Homestead on the S2 SE4 22-9-6. made a "Dugout" 12 X 14 ft. in the ban "batching" Feb.14th 1874.
Soon after I bought 160 acres of BVM R.R. land joining me on the south on ten years time at $6.00 per acre a premium to be given if I broke out eight acres within two years - which I did. Soon I was elected Treasurer of the City school district - also precinct road supervisor - this comprised six miles square - so I now began in earnest to help develop the country. It was not very hard to pay off school marms when there was money - but to stop "old trails" & educate the people to travel on the section lines was quite a different proposition. There were curves to be straightened & the banks of draws to be dug down & bridges, etc. Some strenuously objected to my methods of constructing roads - but my experience in the Canadian hills helped me at this time so I gained my points - & they all seemed to be well satisfied afterwards.
After the City moved away the polling place for elections was at my shanty for a number of years. During these homesteading days we experienced some awful storms & "blizzards" that blockaded me into the dugout for three days at a time - when I would have to shovel out.
Dirt floors in dwellings were common in those days - & sod houses were roofed with ridge poles on crotches & poles from the timber along the streams - then covered with willows & hay then sod & gumbo. They would shed the rain very well as it came down in such dashing showers like the whole heavens had broken loose. It was several years before a mild shower or a sprinkle was ever seen - nearly all sunshine - not a cloud to be seen. Had grasshoppers galore that ate up everything - not sparing even the hoe, rake, & plow handles - they had voracious appetites. I was up on the hill hoeing in the garden one morning (by the way I always raised lots of garden stuff & potatoes to help out) when I perceived a very peculiar looking cloud in the north west just above the horizon - I hoed away for a while when looking up again I observed things looked hazy & the sun seemed darkened - upon closer inspection I found the whole heavens was full of moving objects that looked much like snowflakes - after viewing the situation for some time - as grand a sight as one ever the wind changed & down came the insects like hail literally covering the whole surface of the ground - R. in fact drifting up in rough places so one could pile them up with a scoop shovel. It sure was something awful as in only a few hours the cornfields that were then in fair roasting ears were bare stubs only a foot or two long - wheat fields beheaded & even the grass & all other herbage trimmed so closely the ground was almost entirely bare, a great desolation - that was very discouraging & disheartening - & made dreadful hard times & caused considerable suffering among the poor pioneers - but with the application of a good deal of perseverance & grit we pulled through on bacon, flapjacks and flour gravy & were optimistic in those days & tried to be happy. - for recreation had private house dances where we met & sang & got acquainted with our neighbors. - Then for intellectual improvement we organized in our community the Orville Literary Society (of which yours truly was secretary for several years) held its sessions at the home of Jesse Evans & the Van Worner school house alternately each week during the winter season. - the principal debaters were Rev. Charles L. Smith, Jesse Evans, Geo. Cain, Genl. Delevin Bates, & Mesdames O.W. Cass, E. Field - later J.B. Cain, Ham Pratt, & others too numerous too mention. - we also published a paper - "The Bageater" (of which I still retain a copy.) & had for its motto "you scratch my back & I'll scratch yours" - this was not only entertaining but profitable & opened a way to a better civilization. - we also organized teachers institutes, fourth of July celebrations, singing, writing & Sunday schools - had preaching at various points by Rev. C.L. Smith Methodist & Rev. H.M. Giltner a Presbyterian - this was for our moral & spiritual good which we very much needed.
The first year 1874 I rented the H.W. Hickox place just west of mine - he furnished all & board & I the labor & got one third of the crop each paying their share of the threshing bill. This would have been very good as the crop was good - but after the stacking was all done there came a terrible rain & windstorm that tore up the stacks & damaged the grain so much that the venture did not turn out very profitable as I had to sell some of the wheat for 20¢ per bush & was very glad to get rid of it at that - though I had worked very hard - I harvested with J.M. Campe, he cut my grain &. I helped cut his. - We were assisted by L.C. Pridmore & Tim Gray who had horses so the other three change steams on the Harvester & I stood on it all the whold & bound my half - We tried ourselves one day & cut eighteen acres of thirty bushel wheat from sunup to sundown - I thought that pretty fair for an unaclimated Canuck.
This year 1874 I hired five acres broke on the north side of my homestead - also got a Soldiers additional eighty acre right on the S21 SE4 34-9-6 & traded it to John Yurann to do forty acres of breaking on the south side of my R.R. land - but owing to his losing a horse he only broke fifteen acres - but finished the forty the next year.
In 1875 I bought a pair of shorthorn steers of Peter - full brothers - three & four years old for $100.00 cash - got ten sacks of ear corn at $1 per sack & by judicious feeding & careful handling - I put the fifteen acres into wheat, broke out forty five more & planted the five acres on the homestead to trees in rows eight feet apart & four feet in the rows (I was one of the first three planters here) cultivated & budded them with gloves on for 4 years till they made a thrifty and beautiful grove - hired the wheat cut which I stacked up by my building place so before I threshed I built a stable for two teams by digging into he bank of the draw on the other side by digging into the bank of the draw on the other side from the shanty - putting up crotches & ridgepoles, then poles &.brush from the Blue river that was only one mile away - then rim the while stack of straw over it right from the threshing machine - it was sure warm & comfortable.
April 7th, 1875 also Jarvel Chaffee, Peter & I hitched our three teams of oxen on a large government wagon - loaded it at Harvard Nebr. With bacon flower & baking powder & camping outfit & strapped on our guns & started for the Black Hills gold region for a time - had some great experiences. - The first one was just west of Lowell Nebr. about four oclock in the afternoon as a terrible "blizzard" was coming up - we dropped one hind wheel into a gumbo hole up to the axle - so we unhitched & prepared to camp for the night - fortunately there was the walls of an unfinished claim shanty near & the other two boys with all the oxen got inside & our sheet iron stove & plenty of buffalo chips for fuel while I held the fort in the wagon all night - the storm raged fearfully all night till morning & we learned afterwards that about 300 ponies perished up on the plains near Minden - but we all came through without a scratch -- the morning was bright so we pried up the wagon hitched on & started again -but about noon as we came to old Ft. Kearney we came to quite a pond of water which proved to be another "gumbo hole" as in going through we went down all fours to the wagon box - what do you know about that? here we were in a little lake - so we had to unload everything, take off the wagon box, uncouple the gears - & then it took two of the best teams of our oxen to pull out two wheels together - that was a job I'm here to say. - but we got all loaded up again before dark so moved a little & camped in the grove of trees for protection - oh boy we were tired. Started on the next morning but as the travel all seemed to be going up the north side we crossed the river - we were soon joined by other outfits hunting for gold. We had lots more experience & fun going up the Platte bottom as it was a merry crowd. At last arriving at North Platte we were met by lots of other outfits coming back who reported that the Indians had Buffalo Gap & Red Canyon blockaded so that no one could get into the Hills - so we with the rest stopped. The trip now being spoiled we traded the load & two yokes of oxen for ponies to Keith & Barton, big Ranchers who seemed to nearly own the town at that time - Hotel & all. I retained my oxen & the wagon as I did not yet have any desire for Broncos. We camped here for several days & the boys hired a Mexican to help them break their ponies - as soon as they could ride two & lead the others we hitched up & trailing sane behind the wagon we started down the old California trail on the south side of the river headed homeward - the road was about four rods wide, one and one half feet deep below the surface of the plains & as smooth as a floor most of the way - we passed Ft. McPherson & on down to Plumb Creek without any mishaps - here Peter drank too heavily out of the crock & came near dying with Alkali Poisoning - we gave him some & bathed him freely with Alcohol & he soon got better - we carried a three gallon jug of this remedy for snake bite or any other emergency that might occur.
Here I ran upon my first rattlesnake & it nearly scared me out of a years growth - I will never forget that Buzz. Now the boys left me taking their ponies & pulled out for home - I traveled the next fours days alone & never saw an Indian or Anything else much worse than myself. -- though the Antelope used to come close every morning to greet me. I never got any venison to take home as the front sight on my rifle had got jarred out of line & I was all the time shooting wild - I thought "buck fever" - & never knew what was the matter till I got within a days drive of hone - when a jackrabbit sat up just across a big canyon against the bank & I said here is where I get some fresh meat - but plunk the bullet went into the bank about three feet to one side - I thought internally but it was no use -- the jack had gone. - Well when I got back to Lowell I turned north east down the river till I got opposite of what I thought was our south county line then I struck straight east & made a bee line over the bluffs & plains for the forks of the Blue - got caught in an awful wind & rainstorm here the first night & had to lariat down my wagon - got hone O.K.
This winter 75 & 6 I wintered with Mr. Hickox doing chores, hauling firewood from the river & other odd jobs for my board as I was not very well having been threatened with Erysipelas but I came out all right in the spring fat & sassy.
In 1876 I put in forty acres of wheat - twenty of corn & twenty five of Oats - had a dandy crop - got a second hand Buckeye combined reaper & mower with Johnson table rack - fixed lines on the oxen - & cut, bound &shacked that forty of wheat all alone. - Say if you think it is a soft snap to "Batch" & run a farm just try it once & see. But finding this way of doing too much of a good thing I arranged with Henry Fish to cut the oats & I bound on his harvester for $2.00 per day - fifty cents more than going wages. Shortly after stacking there came a big tornado that scattered that forty acres of wheat all over the river bottom till I only picked up half a load of pieces of bundles - that was rather discouraging but the "prescription" said take it & so I did - might as well succumb willingly to the inevitable - no kick. -About this time news came of the death of my mother & the marriage of my youngest sister - the only one left of the family & the old home all broken up - Father alone - but he got my oldest brother & wife to move in & take charge of the farm.
Now I traded the oxen to Jas. Cameron for a team of horses - one a six year old brown - a very fine chunk only he was born very crooked in front - could stand lots of work but made quite a fantastic appearance. The other a large sorrel U.S. cavalry horse they were a very good team & did me lots of good. The next three years I harvested with Mr. Fish his wife's sister Mary Ryne driving the big mules & he & I binding till five o'clock supper -after which we would shock up our days curring. He also cut my grain & we averaged putting up eight acres per day.
This fall I began teaching school ten miles northwest in the Star district where I held forth for five years. - Also taught at Stockham, Eldorado - the Huling & Soward districts, east Boag, Giltner, & Broad Valley - covering a period of about twelve years in all. The first year at Star I boarded with the Chas. Bush family at $2.00 per week & got $25.00 per month - the next year boarded with S.H. Fry's & slept over the way with their son Aaron - they voluntarily raised my wages to $30.00 & one day free for Institute. That was encouraging as it showed their appreciation of my work. - the next tree years I got $33-1/3 per month & boarded with S.E. Evans & wife - young married folks near the schoolhouse. About this time Alvin & Bert Shorey came from Canada & settled near Eldorado in Clay county. I bought a fine large Holstein cow of Mr. Bush for $25.00 & let Bert Shorey (my cousins) family have her to take care of for me as they needed the milk.
In 1877 I rented most of the farm to Frank Stokesbury - me to have one third of the crop & pay my share of the threshing bill - I always reserved a place for my personal property & a home with the renter as a safety measure for my homestead - boarded at home - traded the horses to Jerome & Riley Pratt for a pair of Cherokee stags & a little different - & they were sure a tough team in more ways than one. Frequently at about eleven o'clock they would conclude it was about time to turn out for dinner & in spite of all that I could do - though I put rings in their noses & rope lines on they would drag me plow & all to the shanty. I would cuss some but had to do it internally & inaudibly as otherwise it would do more harm than good - still we broke about fifty five acres more on the homestead - tended the trees & raised lots of potatoes and garden stuff. - had very good crops. - then traded the brutes off for a good cow & fifty dollars & said farewell to oxen.
I bought another scrub team of horses & wagon from Geo. Hafer for $125. In 1878, I rented part of the place to my neighbor L.C. Pridmore - farmed & batched some - had very good crops. - Traded the Holstein cow to Jas. Rollo for a very good saddle pony that was also broke to drive single - I had learned to ride some by this time - this was better than making fifteen & twenty mile trips on foot as I had been doing (hunting a wife, you know) & although he was a little snouty he never dumped me & as we became acquainted we got along first rate - but a fellow needs to keep at least one eye open around Indians & Broncos - thought I never met but two Indians in all these years & they were running off with a team of stolen horses - but the sheriff got them the next day.
This fall I enlarged the "dugout" to 14 X 20 ft. - had a 12 m. well bored down 75 ft. deep with eleven ft of water - this made things more comfortable & saved running to the neighbors for water. Also sold the team & wagon for $150.
In 1879 I rented the whole place to E.R. Clark just from Michigan - he was a good farmer & we had big crops. In the summer I went with two of his sons west of Grand Island & north of Shelton & found them homesteads where they moved that winter. Ten days after we had all the threshing done - the section boss on the B. & M. east of Harvard let a fire get away from him which swept over a great territory. We were all away from home at the time. It burned my stable & a lot of furniture I had stored there, roasted my two dozen hens & seven brood cows -- ruined that nice grove of trees so that most of them broke over at the ground the next year but sprouted up again from three to five from each root what a mess it did make - only now a windbreak - roasted one hundred bushels of potatoes I had buried in pits & burned the grain bins & injured the grain so I only sold one load of the best wheat as it was so colored & swelled so bad - And all that it left was the "dugout" & contents it being somewhat protected. The neighbors had a mass meeting at my place & selected H.W. Hickox, Israel Gibbons & myself as a committee to present our claims to the B. & M. R.R. Co. all agreeing to hold together & not to settle individually - but through the committee. Soon two adjusters of the company appeared on the scene & they were slick tongued fellows I can assure you - they maneuvered around for several days & finally induced Mr. Gibbons who had a family to support & was at this time financially embarrassed - to settle for a nominal amount - paid him at once - & got his receipt in full - this broke up the compact. Then as they went around & showed what had been done - one by one settled as best they could. I received $125, a fair case of highway robbery I called it rather than stand a lawsuit - but what better could one do under the circumstances. This was an awful backset - like the grasshoppers - but the prescription said take it - so we did. Then I had to hustle around & rebuild the stable & fix things up as best I could before going back to my school.
In 1880 I rented to Ben. Slater & hired him to break out thirty five acres more - this made 175 acres under cultivation - Again we had very good crops & this fall before going to my school I took a trip over to see the Clarks & found them all well & doing fine. While there I traded the saddler for a fancy nice little driver & got $5 to boot - then I got a buggy & could step out with the coming generations in proper style - which you can rest assured I did. - You see I had struck a "trail of promise" at the teachers Institute. This year I also completed my naturalization - proved up on my homestead & became a fully-fledged American Citizen. This gave me more liberty to be away from my home.
In 1881 I rented to Jess Stokesbury & had a very good crop - only the sunflowers were very bad - but he fixed an arrangement in front of his header & left the big ones standing all over the fields which made it pretty bad for the next fellow. That summer I was following up that "attraction" so harvested with the Powell Bro's in the Soward district where I was teaching & had the contract for the next year - but hearing of some dissatisfaction I would not teach there again & got another school.
In 1882 I rented to Douglas Carbaugh - a son-in-law of John Woods of Illinois - he was a very good farmer & raised a good crop. -- This summer I traded the little driver for a very good work horse & 20.00. - then afterwards sold him for $80.00. Then I bought a splendid large driver of W.F. Peck the county clerk for $90.00 & traveled Merrick county for the German Insurance Co. of Freeport Illinois - bought seven stands of Italian honey bees for $35 & D.D. Snider cared for them & went in partnership with me in the bee business which did not prove very successful. At that time as there was not enough honey producing flowers raised in this country yet.
In 1883 I had a short term of school which was out about the middle of February, so I took over the farm - bought a large work horse of Dave High for $90.00 - a very good harness & wagon from Peter Frasier for$35.00. Also some other necessary implements. - hauled lumber from Aurora & built a frame house 16 X 20 & on March 18th married at the residence of the brides parents by the Rev. W.K. Rearn of the M.E. Church who was at this time county Judge - Hattie L. Washburn of Wisconsin, a teacher who I had met at the Institute in Aurora three years before & after very cautious maneuvering I had enticed to form a life partnership - oh my! what a relief! - & with her came a cow, a pig, some hens & other useful articles too numerous to mention. -Also: - One hundred & sixty pounds of genuine girl. No Kid match you see. As she was twenty four years old and I was thirty three.
So I burst forth poetically: --
Let friendships chains bind us together
While tossed upon lifes raging billows
Live not for self, but for each other
Care for our own then next our fellows.
And such is life in the far west.
After the wedding ceremony &. dinner - at which only Mr. & Mrs. S. S. Hayden of Aurora & wife's immediate relatives were present - we drove about fifteen miles to Harvard Nebr & stayed that night at the home of Mrs. S.M. W. Likens, wife's aunt who soon after moved to Denver Colorado & was Police Matron of that city for twelve years. The next day we came back around by our homestead - scattering cigars along the way among friends & Hattie had her first look at her future home. - & lo! she found some of my biscuit that I frequently heard mention of in the future. When we got back - intentionally late in the evening of course - we found the house filled with guests the folks had invited in for a time - so as to avoid a "charivari". Springs work was now fast coming on so we immediately moved to our own home & commenced farming properly. We -- don't that sound funny - put in 120 acres of corn, 30 of wheat, & 10 of oats - I did most of the farm work myself except wife drove the wagon for sowing the grain while I scattered it with both hands out of the back end. - she also drove the planter for the first twenty acres but finding our combined weight too much for the team we discarded that idea & I planted the other 100 acres alone - driving with one hand & working the planter lever with the other. Had a real good crop & harvested with E.E. Bird a half a mile east. - then in the fall sold out (reserving the crop) to J.B. Gough for $122 per acre - cash - & gave immediate possession &. went three miles north & ten west & bought 120 acres of unimproved U.P.R.R. land of John E. Soward partly on time on the east side of 1-9-8- about a mile from wife's folks & moved up with her people for the winter while we built -- Hattie taught the Mt. Hope school just across the road while I hauled lumber from Harvard fourteen miles - fenced the place & built a house 16 X 20 with shed kitchen 8 X 8. A barn 16 X 24 with a shed addition the same size. The barn had room below for four horses & a granary & a nice hay mow above - the shed was divided by a feed way the long way with stalls for ten cows on one side & room for calves & colts on the other. - put down a well & wind mill & by spring was ready for building up a new home again (see photo). Coming home with a load one hot thawy spring day I drove too fast for the big horse's gait & that night he got sick & died - so I had to trade the little horse on a team of large mules & pay $125 difference - rented some ground from Father Washburn to crop -- broke out fifty acres & harvester with the folks - driving a headerbox. In the fall I bought a matched team of two year old black Morgan mares for $200 that proved to be a very fine team as I broke them myself. But in the spring while breaking them I unexpectedly observed they were going to raise me colts - which they did & a great many more after wards. In the fall I traded the mules to A.H. Soward for a pair of pony stallions & his note for $100 which I never got as he left the country broke.
The next year 1885 I traded the little stallions to John Frost for a fine Norman mare & $25 cash. Now I had three good mares - so I raised lots of colts & mules. Four years later I traded the first pair of colts (they being rather small) to John Shafer for a big young horse, a cow, & fifty bushels of oats. - two years afterwards the big horse died suddenly of spasmodic Colic. So you see I had to learn how to feed & care for horses by dear experience.
The first ten years in this new country - spring wheat was the principal crop - though I always tried to diversify some - we did most of the seeding then in February - it was generally so dry & nice then. -- later as the rainfall changed - corn became the principal crop as one was not at so great expense for harvesting & threshing - besides the help problem became quite an important item. The prairie sod at first was buffalo grass & not very thick at that --I n about five years bluestem began to come in & we soon cut lots of hay in the draws. Later we planted sorghum & millet for feed & by 1900 winter wheat became the crop. At first corn was planted with a two row planter & cultivated with a one row team cultivator. - later listing in corn with a sort of double moldboard plow became popular & the cultivating was done with two row disc weeders & four horses. - throwing out the first time then harrowing or floating down then throwing into the corn the second time & calling it done - but some went through a third time with a one row cultivator which I think was better farming. One man can handle a large acreage of this land in this way all by himself the harvesting & all without much expense.
Oh yes I must tell you about when I was a boy ten years old & my brother older thirteen - father grew an immense field ten acres of yellow yankey corn (they seldom raised over one or two acres) corn like we raise here will not mature there in Canada. In the fall he went for a week to Toronto to the Provincial Fair & left us boys to husk that corn & this is the way we did it. - took a team & wagon & drove out by the side of the field & unhitched & tied the team to the rail fence - then took a big round splint basket - went to the end of the rows & husked toward the wagon till we got the basket full - then carried it to the wagon to empty - we unloaded with the same basket by picking it up full & then carrying it into the crib & we didn't know any better or easier way to do things. Everything was vastly different when I was a boy. I have seen as many as nine men following each other going across our meadow fields with mowing scythes cutting hay. - then when it was dry a man would go along one side of the field with a wooden hand rake & rake in as far as he could at one stroke - then a boy would pitch in as far as he could with a two tined fork (the best we had then) then followed another man or two with rakes to close up the windrow - then the same operation on the other side - then the hay was ready to be cocked or hauled to the barn or stack. We also cut our grain with cradles -- not a baby cradle but a grain cradle. - I have also seen them cut with sickles. By the time I was fifteen we got our first Mower - quite an affair only the seat was a flat board fastened on four standards that would swing forward or backward as you wished to balance for cutting or traveling - if you didn't slip off - it would nearly jar the liver out of you over that rough stony ground - but it was a great improvement & more expeditious. Then our first horse hay rake had steel teeth somewhat like they are to-day only shorter - on a frame with shafts for one horse to drag along on the ground & handles so a man walked behind & raised it up when it got full of hay. That was a dandy & I have raked acres with it - but then soon came out a better one with shafts & two high wheels & long wooden teeth that were raised by the driver who stood on a movable platform that he pushed down with his foot - say that was going some - & you could ride.
I have threshed many a day with a flail & on the threshing floor with horses & then winnowed it out with a farming mill. Our first threshing machines, more like a big box having a revolving cylinder in it covered with spikes - & the grain went through "caboosh" & a man raked away the straw at the other end. This was propelled with a horsepower out on the ground & a belt that came to the cylinder - later they put a riddle on to carry away the straw & let the grain drop through. But when they got a large machine with a fan mill in it they thought they had the world by the heel. We also had one of the first kitchen cookstoves - before that they baked bread in a "Dutch oven" which was buried up in the hot ashes & coals in the fireplace - & cooked other foods in pots & kettles hung over the fire from a crane. Say we had two fireplaces in our old home on in the kitchen & the other in the parlor but a big boxstove in the dining room during my early life. Yes & a shoemaker came around every year to make boots and shoes for the whole family - but I will not tell anymore now as I think I hear you yawning -so adieu.
In July 1885 we lost our first baby boy - & nearly lost his mother also. - You see our physician Dr. C.E. Brown was very much under the influence of whiskey. Oh what a terrible state of affairs. - but she being a vigorous healthful young woman soon recuperated.
Oct. 15th we started for Canada from Grand Island, to visit my people & settle up the old home estate that Father had willed me one fourth interest in. Going by the way of Niagara Falls we took in one of the grandest sights on the continent. We had a great visit for six weeks with relatives, & old neighbors & school boy friends - we both enjoyed it very much except so much rain - that we had not been accustomed to. Returning by the G.T. RR we had to stop in Toronto over night then on the next day to London Ont. the nicest town we had seen on our trip - where we visited a week with my brother Charles & family - then on to Chicago Ill. where we ate Thanksgiving dinner. We had purposed going from here up to Wisconsin to visit with wife's people & her old home - but as we were both so tired, concluded to go on homeward & stopped at Cedar Rapids Iowa & visited wife's aunt Emeline Emmonds & children for a week & rested a little. Here I got Hattie an Elgin gold watch which I still carry. Next we pulled for Harvard Nebr. but not getting in on time we had to stay in Omaha most all day. As we got off the train at Harvard I met George Beach a young fellow just in from New York state who was looking for a job so just took him right out to husk corn. We also took out a new cookstove & some other necessary articles & was very glad to get back to our little western home again.
In 1886 the B & M surveyed & built a new cut off road from Aurora to Kearney, establishing the new town of Huntington, Broomfield Giltner on the SE4 6-9-7 about three fourths of a mile in front of our house so we could see nearly everything that was going on in town - that was very nice - I hauled some of the first lumber from Phillips with my little black team to start the new town.
On August 29th 1886 our second child Ralph M. was born - Dr Brown again officiating (there being no other near) but he sober this time & all went well. - we soon had him baptized by the Rev. C.E. Rowe of the M.E. Church of which we were now active members, having been reestablished the year before at a Holiness Camp Meeting held on the farm of M.F. Huffman three miles north. This fall we had a Photo of our little farm taken as we were making hay.
Jess Huff moved his store building up from Seaton & became the first in the new town. - Green Pruit started a Peanut stand, C.R. Polen built a Restaurant & thus the town began to grow - Dr Myers & Bill Glover of Aurora built a double two story block in which Guy Myers ran the Drugstore & W.H. Leinburger the dry Good store of Glover & Co.
Wm. Glover & W.F. Wheeler opened a Bank & Wheeler Bro's a Hardware & Furniture store - Henry Ehlebracht a Harness shop - John Petrea a Saloon - F.C. & Frank Mathew Hardware - A.V.B Peck Post Office, Israel Carriker Hotel - Chas. Harrod a Butcher Shop - John Gallentine & W.L. Chapman Agricultural Implements, C.N. Dietz Lumber - Sam. Gibbons Dray, J.W. Farrand Blacksmith - Geo. Broom & W.H. Ferguson Grain dealers -A.H. Brown & Van Gordan Livery stable. L.C. Genoway & Dave Duff carpenters, Dr. C.E. Brown Physician - Jno. A. Brock Justice of the Peace & so the good work went on. I broke out thirty acres more on my little farm, making eighty acres in all.
In 1887 I planted out two acres of orchard & surrounded it with a double row of gray willow for windbreak. Also put out five acres each of Timothy, Clover, & Timothy & Clover mixed - but in a few years it all died out. This year the village school was instituted & I was asked to organize & teach the new district - which I did beginning in October after being out of the business for four years - but laid the foundation for a very prosperous school. During this winter on Jan. 12th 1888 there came a very violent & unexpected blizzard in the afternoon but only lasted over night in which a great many teachers & schoolchildren perished in the attempt to get home particularly in the newer settlements out farther west. I held my pupils till their parents came for them - then just before dark when the storm had abated a little I borrowed a large shawl to cover my head & succeeded with great risk, gaining home, wife & baby. - Found things in fair shape except the stock which were outside which I soon got into their cozy stalls & by morning the storm was over but it did lots of damage.
The spring of 1881 lost the first joint of my left hand little finger with a Felon - cut it off with my razor & still have the bone in a bottle to show. This spring also my brother Stephen & family came out from Canada & rented the Wm. Lee farm S.E. of town where the Lerton Post Office used to be. - This summer there came three days of hot wind that cooked the corn that was just in silk so although I cut up twenty acres with a sledcutter & also bought a forty acre cornfield of L.S. Jones the stuff had but little nourishment in it & blew away mostly so that by spring I had to buy bailed prairie hay that was shipped in at $20 per ton & carry my stock through. This made dreadful hard times. - I had picked up two years before eight extra good heifer calves from neighbors at $7 per head & before this summer was over I was obliged to sell them at $11 per head & had hard work to get rid of them at that price. This fall I moved our house off the farm over to town & put a larger one on - one & one half stories high & rented it to Stephen, my brother. Then I went into partnership with O.E. Peck in Flour & Feed, Real Estate, Insurance & Loan business. I left brother my horses, cows and implements & all to do with to help him out.
In 1889 finding my partner unsatisfactory I bought him out -- closed out the business & found myself short about $3,500 plus experience. Then I got a job in the Lumberyard of C.N. Dietz with Chas. Allen Mgr. In the meantime I had rented the upper room of the school house for church purposes at $25 per yr. for two years. This summer we built the M.E. Church the Rev. Francis Deal Pastor solicited the finds & as I was on the board of trustees was selected by them to take charge of its construction. We hired several carpenters, Dave Duff being the chief. - then there was also lots of work donated - so I had to check over all the lumber & keep accounts of all the work & report to the trustees from time to time - this kept me pretty busy.
In Jan. 1890 times becoming very hard here & work scarce I went to Denver to see if I could not better conditions - but found all eastern Colo. starved out & into the city, for employment - the city fed(?)about 3,000 men most of that winter. My wife's Aunt the Police Matron failing to land me a job. I tried several kinds of agency till I came across my old friend Ben Slater who was hauling for E.L. Fox wholesale & retail dealer in Coal, Feed, & Kindling at 1533-5 on 15th St. just north of the Platte river who told me that Fox's bookkeeper was soon going into business for himself - so I secured that position. Unfortunately again I only held this place till after the spring election. Fox ran again for Alderman & in order to secure the election had to promise my job for the south Denver constituency. Here I was out again but Mr. Fox was very nice about it - wrote me a good recommend & secured me a Conductors position on the Broadway & 15th St. power house on 15th & Broadway down to South Broadway union depot then back again & as far north as Gallup Ave. in North Denver - but. this did not last long as the suction through the cars & this high altitude threatened me with pneumonia all the time till Dr. Bonesteel said I would have to give it up - so then I went out two miles south of University Park to the Elite Ranch where my old friend George Beach gave me work through Alfalfa cutting till in July when I was stricken with Typhoid Fever & pulled out for home & Giltner Nebr. Was in bed about three weeks then went back to the old job in the lumber yard - but being weak I overworked & had to go back to bed for three weeks more -- was very sick & came near dying. - after recovering I went back to the yard again but was more cautious this time & worked there till the spring of 1892.
In 1891 the village of Hunting Bromfield afterwards Giltner was incorporated & W.H. Leinberger, Charles Allen, L.P. Wheeler, W.L. Chapman, & Henry Ehlebracht were appointed "City Dads" & E.F. Simmons village clerk. I was also on the school board & helped all I could to build up our little town.
In March 1892 we moved back to the farm but times were so very hard &weather conditions so bad that I had hard work to make ends meet for a few years as I had been to so much expense & lost so heavily. Still we did not loose any more ground. During this time I had been offered $30 per acre for the place but did not want to sell as I had a nice little home well located. But finally to straighten things up a little I sold the roughest forty for $30 per acre & still owed a $700 mortgage on the home & it seemed as though I could hardly raise the interest to say nothing of clearing off the mortgage & so I began to get discouraged & to make matters worse was seriously injured by the kick of a four year old colt I was breaking which finally resulted in a hernia that incapacitated me for very much hard work for a whole year. I wore a steel hoop truss for thirty one years afterward but at last cured myself with Joint Ease.
About this time, I traded a colt for some more nursery stock and in the spring of 1893 I double rowed the orchard with several kinds of small fruit and berries, about $45 worth in all, but this summer there came a terrible hail storm only about thirty rods wide and two miles long but it caught our orchard and demolished it, leaving only three hardy apple trees, some muckleberries and a little of the willow windbrake. That was awful as it injured the roofs of our buildings also. By this time I was into Pure bred Poland China Hogs quite extensively. Our hot log had been north of the house and partly in the big draw that ran through our place. The hot cholera was brought down with the flood water and the first year of the scourge I lost about $500 worth and the next year $400 more. Another setback. This set me to thinking so I fenced the orchard with hog wire and moved the hogs but to no avail. I sold nine month old boars at from $8 to $10 per head and cleaned up as best I could but the cholera still lurked -- people did not know how to handle it then. The next few years we had uphill business to make things pan out.
Feb. 9th, 1897 a daughter came to us -- that her aunt named Nellie Marguerite. She was a delicate little creature at first, but Ralph thought her the best ever and so she grew. During this time I had raised some very fine mules -- sold one team for $250, a yearling for $75, and a pair of two year olds for $200, then traded an extra fine matched pair full brothers one three and the other four to I.N. Kirby for a big pair of Norman mares in foal and $20 cash. The next year they raised me a very fine pair of colts, one a male.
In 1901 not getting ahead as I would like and being short of pasturage for my stock -- having only twenty acres, I concluded to pull out so went west and bought 640 acres just west of Champion in Chase County for $2,500 part on time -- thirty acres in wheat and alfalfa and 20 acres in millet, making 50 acres all under the irrigation ditch. I was to get one third of this crop as it was rented by the Kelley Bros. The rest was grazing land and no improvements except the shell of a small house. That year I had changed my tactics and put out forty acres of fall wheat on our farm. Before this for several years I had been raising mostly corn and cane as I thought harvesting and threshing too expensive, and changing work to thresh kept the small farmer away from his place too much when he ought to be fall plowing. I was one of the first cane raisers in the country to take the place of hay. After that 40 of wheat was up and looking good I sold out to my neighbor E.D. Snider for $30 per acre cash, he assuming the mortgage, and I made him a present of the wheat which turned out so well that it half paid for the place. Oh! Oh! What mistakes we mortals make sometimes. Soon after, I loaded the hayrack on the wagon put the wagon box with cover on inside then loaded implements and sheaf oats around the outside -- camping outfit, bed, some shelled corn, tools, etc. inside -- hitched on the big Normans and on Oct. 26th, 1901 I started for Champion, Neb., where I thought I had one of the best locations ever. It was a heavy load but we got there just the same, making twenty-five miles per day. Had an awful pull over the Mascott Hills between Holdridge and Oxford. Arriving at the place I went back to Imperial for posts and wire to enclose a pasture. Had quite a time working at it all alone as I could not get help. Neither could I procure a carpenter till late in the winter when J.R. Hoke took compassion on me and came to my relief. Got the Kelley Bros. to come with their house-moving outfit, who pulled the old house around to a new location for building on to, then bored a well, built a stable for four horses close by the north side of the ditch, and a cattle barn and corral south of the ditch. This took considerable time as I did most of it alone. I also helped Mr. Jordan put up ice down at the mill, on shares -- so we had plenty of that commodity for summer. We finished the house with Compo Board as it was too cold to plaster and barely got done in time to go back to Giltner and move March 1st, 1902. During the winter I boarded at Mr. Wordigs just across the road north at first then afterwards with G.H. Getzendauer about half a mile east. Traded my wagon cover, which by the way was an extra good one, to Mrs. Worsig who moved to Longmont, Colo. for cook stove, a bedstead and springs, and a bureau, the latter I still have. Ralph traded his Stevens 22 rifle to the boy for 25 Guineas.
March 3rd, 1902 our good neighbors and the "Woodman" loaded our R.R. car with our household goods, farm implements, three cows, some B.P. Rock hens, another Norman mare and the young stallion all ready to go. Got back to Imperial March 5th where C.O. Mead, G.H. Getzendauer, Kelley Bros, Mr. Heady, and Mr. Jordan met us and took all out bodily to our new home -- a very pleasant reception I shall never forget.
This summer the Kilpatric Bros. of Beatrice who had recently bought a large tract of land around here including the Ditch that was first built and owned by Mr. Worsig -- enlarged the capacity of the ditch which we thought helped to accelerate a scourge of typhoid fever that raged along the Frenchman River this summer, resulting in the death of Hugh (boy) Kelley, and causing our little girl Marguerite and Jessie Shotwell to lie at the point of death for some time -- besides several others who were very seriously ill -- at least the seepage from the ditch contaminated our well water so that it became necessary for us to either sell out or change our building location which would be another big expense -- so we concluded to sell. Fortunately just at this time W.S. Pryor of Iowa was looking for a location, so we sold to him for $3,000 possession to be given in thirty days. About the worse move I ever made as I had just the location that suited me and the prospect for the future was very great as it proved to be -- for within fifteen years the three back quarters sold for $40 per acre and the front one at $60. If a man's foresight was only as good as his hindsight how one could forge ahead.
We rented for the winter the old McFarland place two miles southwest of Imperial and straightway moved over there. It was a hard pull through the sand ridge as I helped lay out and made the first track on the new angle road.
In 1903 I rented the 800 acre well equipped place of Wm. Witte five miles NW of Imperial for $75 cash and moved over there. In the meantime Ralph attended and graduated from the Imperial High School, having previously had eleven grades at Giltner. I bought several head of cattle, some hay and corn and binder at the Witte sale and with what stock I already had commenced again to lay the foundation for Ranching, which was our ambition.
in 1904 I rented this place again for $100 cash. During the summer Mr. Witte who was now established in Oregon and wanting more funds with which to expand offered to sell me the place for $3,500 -- $1,500 down and the balance in two years -- my, what an offer to turn down, but I had different plans as M.L. Hughes from West Virginia and I had already been down about thirty-five miles southwest and got us Kinkaid Homesteads where there was plenty of range for stock. But lo! the next year the Witte place was sold by agents to John Molzahn, a newcomer in the country for $4,600 cash -- what do you know about that. The last year on this place we got badly hailed so our crop was only about half of what it should have been.
This fall I went down and enclosed a large building sight and built a substantial sod house 16 X 32 inside that took 120 four horse loads of sod, half of which we hauled three miles from J.V. Deselms, Broad Valley, the night we finished. I being very sweaty and not having my coat along, caught a severe cold driving back the three miles and was laid up three weeks with Neuralgia. Dr. Stewart made two trips to attend me and lanced a large swelling under one arm, but while I was in that condition Ralph got some help and put up the frame of a barn 32 X 32 which we covered with hay. He also bored a well fifty feet deep with forty feet of water -- they cased it with three sets of casing and I finally had to bring some gravel from the Frenchman River and throw into it to form a bottom so the magnesia and the quicksand would not work up. Later we built a board cattle barn joining the other 32 X 32, a sod hen house 14 X 18 with board roof, a board milk house 10 X 12 and a large cave cellar. Also made a reservoir 30 X 50 and covered the bottom with four inches of gumbo and tramped it with the horses, put up a windmill, watering tanks, corrals and toilet and was ready to move again. Wife's brothers George and Fred also took land joining mine, which we fenced so that made plenty of range.
March 1905 we moved down and commenced Ranching properly five miles from Lamont Post office. Put out 30 acres of corn and fifteen of cane on some old cultivated land and broke out 35 acres more. The Peterson and Palmer stock ate up most of our crop, but we cut hay to feed and had to buy corn.
The next year we put out more crops and broke out more land but the good neighbors' stock bothered us so, and occasionally one of ours would disappear till Ralph became dissatisfied and left for McCook to work on the Railroad.
While I was up to Imperial one time after a load Peterson's cattle got into that 30 acre piece of our corn when it was about waist high and ate it down to the roots. We found them as they had finished and drove them about three miles over to their farthest watering place and the next day when I was away again two of the boys rode up to our house and abused Ralph and wife shamefully and said they would eat us out so we would have to go out on foot. But what seemed to worry them most they would have to roll up our wire fences and get them out of the way. This raised my Scotch but I kept quiet. The next animal that disappeared was a fat cow while Ralph was off duty a half hour in for dinner -- we nearly ran down four saddle horses chasing and came near capturing the rustlers but only found out who they were.
In 1907 Fred Washburn (wife's brother) came out from McCook quitting the R.R. where he had worked for twenty years -- got a bunch of cattle of Frank McClain of Imperial -- lived in part of my house which was supposed to be across the section line but was not even on any of our land as we found out afterwards. We ran our stock together, cut and made hay and feed together only each owned his stock separately. After a couple of years of this things proved unsatisfactory to Fred and his boys so he built and moved over on his own land and we divided the pasture and each went it alone.
In the fall of 1910 as I went to Haigler for a load of supplies Bill Palmer deliberately turned 250 head of cattle on my forty acre field of corn that would have made twenty bushels per acre because I had cut two shock rows through and estimated it. So the next afternoon as I came home I found them there and drove them down and fastened them into his corral. By this time I was up to fever heat and the next day I went out on the range and found the gentleman looking for his stock. We had some plain words and he intimidate and bluff me off, but I politely informed him I was no tender-foot being an older settler in the state than he and that I came down here to live and proposed to defend my rights with my life if need be (fortunately neither of us had on a gun) and I further stated if a similar occurrence happened again I would make a line fence out of his cattle and pile him on top if necessary -- and I had the tools in the house to do it with. I was not bothered from that corner anymore but kept a diligent vigil -- sleeping with one eye open. Another time two yearling steers were missing and through a friend I found out where they were over on the B.I.B. Ranch -- so I got John Peterson to go with me and help bring them back -- which he did -- but he acted very peculiar about it -- that was not my worry. I got a government brand so our place was known as the E.Z. Ranch -- too easy I thought sometimes for the other fellow.
This same fall E.A. Hestor's family wanted to go to California so he came over and offered us to take our stock and come over and take charge of his Ranch (the U) the bar you pasture, feed and everything furnished for the whole outfit of us and give us $25 per mo. and let Marguerite go to school, which we did. This gave Marguerite a six months chance at school, which she very much needed -- so we shut up the house, leaving beds and tools and everything as they were only taking our clothing -- and yet nothing was molested all that winter except one spool of barbed wire that I located afterwards. It seemed almost miraculous.
In 1911 Ralph married at McCook Winifred Brown, the oldest daughter of conductor W.H. Brown. And that summer Marguerite and I put up forty five tons of hay all alone, hauling it three miles from the Palmer flat and was unmolested except had the dogs taken out of one mower wheel -- which was soon repaired. About this time Nellie Hayes my wife's only sister died at Imperial, which was a very great shock to her.
In 1912 father Washburn died at the home of his son W.L. at Republican, Nebr. -- another heavy blow to Hattie, whose health was failing. So Mother wanted us to come and take care of her in her own home in Giltner -- wife being her only daughter left now. We thought it our duty to do so -- and we did.
At this time I had an offer to trade the Ranch for land in central Missouri so we had a sale and sold everything, buildings and all except the land at quite a sacrifice and went to see the Mo. land and to visit cousin Peter, who was now living in northern Arkansas -- but did not trade. So E.A. Hester wanted us to come and take charge of his Ranch again for the winter as his family had moved to Benkelman and we did and let Marguerite go to High school at Benkelman. Oh, yes, another occurrence about this time. Fred Washburn lost a fine standardbred two year old stallion -- that disappeared one very foggy day -- and could not be found anywhere, but he recovered him three years afterwards by being told by one of the "gang" who had been mistreated by the others -- who had taken the colt and where he could be found. Oh! Oh!! All these things were straining on a man of my age but I have learned that one can adapt himself to almost any circumstances when it becomes strictly necessary.
Other occurrences: I have found almost always more or less good mixed in with the bad viz: There was quite a nice neighborhood of Kinkaders just over the right from us so we soon had regular Rev. R. Lambert of the Christian Church and Frank Harman and others occasionally -- organized a union Sunday school which we kept going the year around. Had children's day and picnics in the Herman grove, at which we always invited several other Sunday schools to participate, and had very pleasant and profitable times. Hattie and I mostly always taught classes and once just after we got home my whole Bible class came with well filled baskets and spent an enjoyable afternoon -- before leaving they presented me with a fine woolen shirt, the remains of which I still keep as a souvenir of the good old days gone by. Another time a lot of the neighbors came in on our wedding anniversary and spent a pleasant evening and left us a set of silver knives and forks which are kept in loving remembrance of the donors. Wife and I used in her last days to sit and talk of those times and say they were nearly the happiest of our lives after all.
While Ranching we raised several good Norman colts and some mules that sold readily on the market. The three original mares died of old age, and a fine two year old died suddenly and mysteriously one day while I was gone to Imperial. Two other two year old colts got very seriously cut on the barbed wire fence in a very peculiar manner (look out there!).
The first winter at Hesters besides caring for 200 cattle and 250 hogs and all the work horses and stable, he took in 125 head of young mules to winter for C.R. and Fred. Walker of Benkelman. Forty good ones were put into a small corral and fitted for spring work. I hauled them a load of corn fodder each day -- ground ear corn and fed them three times daily -- this was quite a dangerous job going around among them with a bushel basket full of feed, but never got hurt except when we roached the brutes.
The second winter at the U Ranch I stacked during Jan. about 100 acres of cane hay that had lain bunched for some time and all drifted full of sand. We made several fifty foot stacks twenty feet high with the double harpoon hay fork -- every time the work would drop a bunch on the stack the sand would gush out into my eyes till it nearly set me crazy (that is more so than usual), effecting the old eye strain I had received at college. So that summer I was obliged to make two trips to Omaha to see Dr. Gifford the great eye specialist and was treated locally under his instructions by Dr. J.S. Wainwright at Giltner a year and a half -- using dope and several different pairs of spectacles and lenses and have worn several other kinds since with but little relief -- cold water seemed to be the best.
March 10th 1913 there was a bad blizzard through here that caused me lots of extra work, and I got a serious fall breaking three bones in my left shoulder, almost incapacitating me for work for a time, but I had it to do -- came through the storm, without any loss of stock except one 150 pound shoat that we dug out afterwards in about three weeks that had been buried under an overturned stack of cane. Much emaciated but able to walk, and soon recovered -- he had lived by chewing cane. At this time Ralph was flagging on the fast passenger. He said there had been five trains blockaded in the drifts between Wray and Akron Colo. He was out most of the night and was on thirty feet of drifted snow in the morning. Four weeks after this Ted. Hink and I packed up and loaded two four horse wagons with our big boxes of goods -- drove to Benkelman and loaded them into a box car for shipment to Giltner Nebr. to care for Mother. Hattie went around by Republican for her Mother while I went to McCook and stopped overnight at Ralph's. In the morning I went to the Dr. Reid Hospital to find out just what shape I was in. He said I was too old and it had been done so long it would be almost impossible to do any permanent good, but gave me a liniment for relief, stating I would be a cripple for the rest of my life. So I went out to Giltner, bought a heating stove, a table and some chairs of the Hotel that was selling out -- arranged them in Mother's house set up some beds and was ready for the folks when they arrived the next day. Also got a new perfection four burner oil stove and was ready for housekeeping once more.
Before leaving the Ranch Ax. Peterson had offered me $900 for the land all fenced 560 acres deeded -- in three payments. I refused (what an insulting proposition), yet within three years he paid the man to whom I had traded it $10.00 per acre for one of the quarters so his land would join his Father's (oh consistency thou art a jewel).
At Giltner I did not find much to do till at harvest, then I stacked bundle grain five days each for P.E. White, Elliot Snider and C.P. Moore for $3.00 per day -- it was pretty hard on my broken shoulder but got through with it in pretty fair shape. During this time Marguerite got her high school work exchanged and came to Giltner. The rest of the time we lived there I got a job of L.A. Wilson driving his Shores Medicine wagon (as he went into the Restaurant and grocery business) at $1.50 per day -- he to furnish outfit and my board and expenses. That was more pleasant and I enjoyed it very much because came in contact with so many old friends and young people who had been my pupils at school years before.
In Nov. 1914 Mother Washburn passed peacefully away (another great shock to Hattie's failing nervous system) and her little estate was quietly divided equally between her four remaining children viz: Hattie L. Geo. F. Fred W. and W.L. and all was well.
In the spring of 1915 I traded our 650 acre Kinkaid Ranch valued at $10.00 per acre for a well improved 120 acre place in Howell county southern Missouri valued at $50.00 per acre through A.V. Garrison an old Sand Hill neighbor who had moved down there two years before. I trusted to his judgment and did not go to see the place and got badly stung in the deal as that county is fast going to the dogs so I put the price in the deed at $3,500 -- it would have been difficult to sell at $15 per acre even if one should have been so fortunate as to find a buyer at all. As soon as school was out we packed up again and moved south in the Ozarks where the big red apples grow. We all worked very hard picking and selling berries as there was an acre of Early Harvest Blackberries on the place -- raised a large garden that did well -- canned up lots of peaches, pears, and apples, etc., and cleaned up the place generally as it was in a bad state of repair and made things look more homelike. Then I helped all the neighbors I could to thresh so I could more thoroughly acquaint myself with the real condition of the country -- and finally I cut up and shocked twenty acres of corn by hand with a dandy little southern sickle about the only decent implement I saw there as they are away behind the times in farming. I have not been able to do much heavy work since.
Well at the very last minute we found that the school officials would not give Marguerite proper credits as promised so we sent her back to Giltner to finish her High School work. After she left her mother almost completely collapsed -- so unknown to me she wrote to E.A. Hester for the old job and he replied come at once, so within thirty days I got a loan of $500 on the place (all I could get) rented it to a neighbor H.S. Blankley and pulled for Lamont Nebr. again. Arrived at Benkelman Oct. 28th, went out to the U Ranch the next day.
The spring of 1916 Marguerite graduated so we went down to Giltner to the exercises -- then she came back with us and stayed to help her mother. She taught at the school there seven months that winter for $50 per month and the next winter for $55. In the meantime the girl got to going with J.D. Keyser an orphan and a full-blood German right from Oldenburg -- and for a Christmas trip he took us up with his sister Ella in his Ford down to McCook to visit Ralph's family. Previous to this in the summer Winnie our daughter-in-law and children had been out to the Ranch to visit us (see snaps), as did also P.E. Frasier of Bergman Ark. and his sister Laura Shorey of Los Angeles Calif.
Wife's health still failing I advertised to sell or trade our Mo. place -- and after being offered several trades Mr. Hester took me in his Studebaker and we went through eastern Colo. via Holyoke, Stirling, Putz, Akron, Hugo, Stratton, Burlington, Idalia and Wray but did not find anything that suited, and got back through a big snowstorm -- wiser on trades -- so settled down.
On July 10th 1918 Marguerite and J.D. Keyser were married by our old Pastor Rev. Riley Lambert of the Christian Church at his Homestead about ten miles southwest after which they rented a farm of Wm. Endsley east of Rollwitz where they lived for two years. In Oct. 1918 Ralph died -- one of the first victims of the Flu that scourged the country so -- leaving a little home a wife and four small children -- another great shock to Hattie so we went to stay the winter with Marguerite and Dick and take a much needed rest. Mr. Hester turned over the Ranch to his son Elmer (Boon) on shares, which proved a bad deal.
In March 1919 I got a job of M.M. Brumley of Stratton and worked in the Store and Garage and Hattie did the cooking for us four, but he wanted a fellow to work almost for nothing so after a great deal of filibustering, we went over to the Hotel of Mrs. Daisy Kellog and washed dishes and had a nice home like place and not much work till.
July 10th 1920 Andy Grams came to town and wanted us to come out and take care of his Ranch while they took a trip -- fortunately Hesters came home that afternoon so we went right out with these folks -- where we stayed about three months. During this time we procured a little two room house moved it over on Dick's new place he had bought of Grams -- fixed it up and moved in. Hattie gradually failing all the time so that now she could not even control her mind enough to take charge of anything (oh it was awful for us all) so we boarded with Marguerite.
The next spring 1921 as I was going down into the cave cellar a whirlwind caught the heavy door and slammed it down on me and mashed my other shoulder so both are in bad shape now. During this time we had consulted with seven of the best doctors in the country to no avail. She gradually grew worse until finally she lost complete control of her mind -- was delirious for three weeks -- had a stroke in the left side for ten days -- then totally paralyzed for thirty hours -- then passed peacefully away on March 27th 1922. During all this time she did not seem to suffer but little only complained at times of a dull ache in her abdomen. I called Dr. Lewis' attention to it and he made an examination (but she was then too far gone), thought it might be some unusual intestinal growth -- had her embalmed -- and accompanied by her brother W.L. Washburn of Laird Colo., we went to Giltner -- had the funeral service in our old home M.E. Church by Rev. I.G. Hopkins and the interment was in our family lot #11 in Lerton Cemetery by the side of her Mother as she had often requested. The pallbearers were G.O. Soward, E.D. Snider, Harry Dodson, W.F. Bobst, A.L. Dawson, and Jas. A. Marvel. Pianist - Mamie Wilson. Choir: Ocie, Roy & Percy Dawson, Mr. and Mrs. Geo. Hilliard, Mrs. Ella Brock, Carl Feldman and Mrs. Harry Hanger.
For about three years of Hattie's decline I had to look after her almost as one would a two year old child -- and during the last six months was up with her six or eight times every night (Cyslitis) and the last three weeks when delirious she would walk the floor, screech and scream until exhausted then collapse on the floor and I would have to pick her up and get her on the bed all alone as help could not be had (Marguerite just had a baby) and in doing this I seriously injured my rupture so for six months thought I would go under completely -- so I began writing to various firms and investigating and at last found a solidified liniment (Joint Ease) that cured me after thirty one years of suffering.
But oh! the excessive loneliness after the departure of one's life's partner. No one knows only those who have had the same experience. To go alone to one's little house and look around and think! and think! Oh the misery. But am so thankful I was able to employ the time in reading and writing -- a great blessing. But it is far more lonely than "batching" in the pioneer days.
To help relieve my worry I traded the Mo. place on a 320 acres of wild land in southwest Kan. Wichita Co. -- E2 28-20-38 and gave it to Marguerite who was trying to make her home as pleasant as possible for me.
Oh yes while east I arranged for and had a nice little Monument erected on our lot in the Lerton Cemetery. Also took a trip up the P.R.R. to Kearney to see old neighbors Jess Morris & wife, W.E. Lett & wife & Geo. See -- then on to Lexington to visit cousin Clark See & wife -- then on to Cozad to see W.J. Foster and family -- then on to Gothenburg to see David D. Snider and son, Chas. Wagner & cousin Clifford Frasier and family. Had a very pleasant time and went back to Giltner again to settle up our Life Insurance in the Modern Woodman & Royal Highlanders.
July 4th 1922 while I was still in very bad condition I went to Imperial to see and consult the doctors and visited the G.L. Spotts, Hoffmeister, Boardman, and other families. Then to Champion to Hokes, Kelleys, Bartels, Getzendauers, Meads, etc. until the 9th when Pine Mead took me back home.
Aug. 3rd 1922 I got another serious fall that nearly fractured my spine and shook me up generally -- from which it took all the next year to recover.
During 1922-3 I took considerable medicine of Dr. H.P. Clearwater of Hallowell Maine and cured myself of Rupture, Rheumatism and greatly relieved my kidney trouble and fixed up my system generally so that I took another trip to Imperial -- went to the Holiness Camp Meeting at Champion -- saw and visited with a great many old neighbors and friends -- went out to Al. Days, Headys, Arda Jones', Sheldons and Hughes -- sold some medicine and had a very nice visit. Walter Sheldon brought me home. Got so strong that I stacked some hay for Dick -- helped build fence and even spaded quite a little without any bad effects.
Feb. 25th 1924 was a very fine day so I scraped up into piles the shelled corn left on the ground by the shellers. I worked a little too hard got sweaty and caught cold and was laid up with Bronchitis and Pneumonia -- spit red blood for ten days -- was given up by Dr. Stewart -- then got Dr. Lewis who thought my case very doubtful but I finally pulled through -- partly due I think to the prayers of friends.
Aug. 10th 1924 I went to Camp Meeting at Champion again then on to Arda Jones', Howard Sheldons, Mrs. Sheldons, M.L. Hughes, Victor Hughes and J.V. Deselnis, then home with Dick who was out selling Oil.
Sept. 13th 1924 went to Benkelman and visited W.M. Frasier and wife -- had two teeth pulled -- then on to Stratton one day -- then out to Cushings and C.E. Pierce's -- then to Tom D. Rife's two days. They gave me a lot of plums and crabapples and brought me back to Benkelman Fair. Sold some medicine and had a good visit all around.
During the last year while writing up our Genealogy I found out where my youngest sister's family were located and have been corresponding with some of them, also quite a number of others of our folks viz:
All this gives me pleasant things to think about and helps to pass away the lonely hours.
The winter of 1924-5 was a very bad one -- very severe cold and lots of snow that blockaded the roads and everything so it was very difficult to get around. The jack-rabbits were driven into the cornfields in great numbers. They were unusually numerous as there had been two open winters previous and ammunitions were so high that but few had been killed. They ate bushels of corn and left the fields literally strewn with cobs. People became alarmed and formed drives and slaughtered them by the thousands after most of the damage was done. I was not off the place for seven months.
March 29th 1925 Marguerite had a baby boy and named him Eldon LeRoy -- he was "Measmatic" and cried most of the time for four months. They had a great time finding food that did agree with him. He would sob and moan just like one starving to death, but he is a fine strong boy now.
April 20th 1925 I came down with an attack of Intestinal Flu and for ten days thought I would surely die -- lingered along for six weeks but slowly recovered under the skillful treatment of Dr. Lewis. As I am getting older have not felt very good since but with the remedies I have managed to keep going and looking better.
Sept. 27th 1925 went down to Stratton again and visited with C.E. Pierce and wife, U.L. Cushing and family, Mr. & Mrs. Tom D. Rife, Mr. & Mrs. Jesse Rife, Mrs. Davis, Brumleys and a lot of other friends -- then on to McCook to see Winnie and the children and also to take in the "Rodeo" -- came back by way of Imperial with Con. Billy Brown -- sold about $10 worth of Mdcn. Saw W.M. Frasier, Jr. of Wanneta on the way back. Had a good time and got home again Sat. night.
Jan. 5th 1926 I went down to Benkelman to W.M. Frasier's and had my first real experience with a "radio" -- had two teeth pulled. This has been an unusual open winter with lots of sickness and deaths -- particularly among the older people.
March 18th went to Benkelman and had four bad teeth pulled -- now I am about half out of grinders but still able to chew. I have been quite busy all winter rewriting my Autobiography & Genealogy of our people in a permanent Record and while so doing I have found a number of relatives I had never seen or heard of for over fifty years viz: Thressa, Ella, and Jennie -- daughters of Levi Simmons of Castleton, Ont.., Mary & Jennie Smale of Sparta, Ont., Chelsea Frasier and Fred W.H. VanHorn of Saginaw, Mich., and a lot of others and received some very interesting letters. Also renewed the acquaintance of Hettie, Wm. and Beatrice children of cousin Louisa (Frasier) Guffin of Halloway Ont. with whom I used to visit.
June 2nd 1926 I drove three miles over to the mailbox with the gentle team and little buggy and came back around through the pasture to count the cattle and see how the new mill was supplying water -- as we were jogging along through the pasture suddenly one side of the neckyoke came down which greatly excited old Lad so he reared and plunged like he expected to be killed till the other side came down and the tongue ran into the ground and elevated me into the air. Oh boy! Talk about bronco busting -- I sure made a dent in the ground. Well after my thinker got to working again I got up, picked up my coat and the four packages of mail I had, then walked half a mile to the water works where I washed, drank and refreshed myself, then hung my coat up for a shade and crawled under for a rest. In about two hours the folks thought I ought to be coming back so took the telescope and saw one of my team going along the fence and trying to get home -- so they took the Ford and came after me. Oh that agonizing two mile ride over rough ground. They phoned for Dr. Stewart of Imperial who came at once and pronounced no new bones broken but the old crippled shoulders and body badly jammed up -- and also stated I had shaking enough for one day and flatly refused to take me to the Hospital. Doped and left me some liniment and remarked as he left that I could be better or worse in a few days depending on whether or not complications should set in -- presently the patient seemed to be resting as comfortably as could be expected under the circumstances. I was almost helpless for about two weeks -- at which time I managed with great effort to dress myself without much help. Such a jolt is sure tough on old folks and it is doubtful if I ever fully recover this time.
June 27th four Autos drove into our yard containing sixteen of our cousins -- with well filled baskets. They came to express their sympathy with me in my affliction and to show their appreciation and thankfulness for my returning health. At noon the table was loaded with all kinds of good things to eat -- and cafeteria was the order all the afternoon. It did me lots of good the medicine did not do, and makes one feel as though life was still worth living.
Sep. 10th 1926 Marguerite and Dick went down to Stratton to visit Lena and Tom Rife and asked me to go along, so I did and visited there and at U.L. and Harry Cushings and Chas. Pierces and while down got a job of caring for Jesse Rife's place while he and wife went back to N.Y. City to see their son Raleigh. I "batched" and had two cows to milk and fourteen hogs and 700 chickens to look after and feed and five henhouses to clean out. It kept me pretty busy and was all I was able to do, but got along first rate and went back to Benkelman for a week and got home Oct. 30th a little the worse for wear and tear.
Nov. 17th I was stricken with the Flu. Had hiccough for six days, went to Dr. Stewart at Imperial and got straightened up. Had him give me a thorough examination. He said my heart and lungs were in good condition, and saw no reason why I might not stand it ten or more years yet. Have got along very well since.
March 18th 1927 we all had a siege of the Flu and I had it for five days but took care of myself and that is more than any of the rest of the family did -- but I don't feel very good -- am very short of breath and have very severe spells sometimes of coughing and sneezing. Cut off my mustache so look as though I was failing. During this time there was a very bad blizzard. I think the worst since 1913 -- and it drifted so bad that the roads were almost impassable for two weeks -- something unusual.
April 10th 1927 I was at Benkelman and attended the dedication of the new M.E. Church. I went down on the 4th and returned on the 15th -- visited at Murts, Wards, Elis, etc. Had a very nice time. Also met Laura & Irvin Bricker and Mattie Pribeno who were up from Sharon Springs, Kansas visiting. Called on Dr. Lewis and am getting some better.
June 10th Marguerite's health being so very bad (a nervous wreck) and a baby expected soon, things became unpleasant for me, so as soon as it got warm and settled weather, I pulled out to take care of myself. Went to Stratton, Nebr., got a job on the big Ranch of Lt. Tom D. Rife as chore boy. They gave me lots to do and I worked pretty hard but stood up to the racket for two months -- then got a job of W.M. Pennington of Wauneka, Nebr. as chief gardener of a four acre tract just in the south part of town -- all piped for irrigation -- they have a larger two story cement block modern house 30 X 36 with full basement electric lights, water, toilets, etc., and a very fine Christian family -- a nice home.
Aug. 22nd 1927 I began working there. The weather was extremely hot and dry, and the weeds had gotten the start of the three girls and they failed to be able to keep other men help -- so at first I worked rather hard, but they would say now don't work too hard but go and lie down and rest a while and don't hurt yourself, which gave me great encouragement, so I got along fine and cleaned up the whole garden in time and gathered all the vegetables and fruit and got everything all straightened up before winter. Also had such good S.S. and Church privileges that I enjoyed this home very much.
Before going to Stratton in June I made an application for admission into the Crowell Memorial Home for old Methodists at Blair, Nebr., but as that Institution was full I am still on the waiting list and don't know when I will be admitted.
Dec. 29th 1927 I was notified at Wauneta to come to Crowell home -- so I started the next day. Called at McCook on the way to see my grandchildren, and arrived at the Home in Blair, Nebr. 2 PM Dec. 31th 1927 and was more than pleased with the appearances and reception I received -- was met at the Depot by the Supt. of the Home Rev. W.H. Underwood, taken up in his car, introduced to his wife the Matron, and then the Guests came forward and introduced themselves so happy that it made me feel as one of them right from the start. A Home indeed.
Jan. 8th 1928 I changed my Church membership by letter from Giltner Nebr. to Blair Nebr. and was cordially received by the Pastor Rev. Carl Bader and the whole congregation standing -- now I feel at Home again -- and believe the Lord is here with us all. During the first three weeks I have taken several snaps of the Home and grounds and distributed them among friends. And have also finished copying this Record. Caught cold and had Bronchitis and Flu and had to go to the doctor's twice per week for six weeks before I got straightened up. Am some weak but getting along very good and enjoying this Home and companionship immensely.
April 3rd on account of the Hydrocile and inflamed Prostate Gland my urine became obstructed and had to call in Dr. Bell who with the inadequate instruments he could obtain here failed to give me relief and I was rushed off to the M.E. Hospital at Omaha in an ambulance. Arrived there Apr. 4th 8 AM and within 15 minutes got relief, but two days later they operated and took the Hydrocile, the Prostate Gland, and piped my bladder and penis, and later operated on my stomach three times and scrotum various times, making 17 operations in all. Say, it is not so bad to be operated on, but the harness and fixtures, etc. to patch one up afterwards is something fierce, and I don't want anymore -- although better. Was there three months and had to suffer all kinds of torture but they bathed me twice a day and made me drink a gallon of water and four glasses of sweet fruit juices and gave me all kinds of nice things to eat till I could not help but get well again.
Nov. 1929: Now I am doing pretty good all things considered. I never will forget those nurse girls who were so very kind and smiled at me so nicely.
Inscription in front of autobiography and genealogy: