Fairbury, Jefferson Co NE

Fairbury Nebr: Its called the Kesterson Depot and not many Fairbury residents remember it. The town of Kesterson no longer exists. But those responsible for saving the depot say it was an important part of transportation to and from Fairbury in the late 1800's and early 1900's.

Denise Anderson, curator of the Rock Island Depot Museum said the Jefferson County Historical Society recently acquired the Kesterson Depot from a defunct Railroad club in Washington Kan. The Jefferson County group saved the Rock Island several years ago and turned it into a museum. The addition of the Kesterson Depot to the Museum grounds was an unexpected treat she said.

"I really didn't know much about Kesterson until the Washington people asked us if we were interested in getting this Depot," Anderson said. "After a little research I said I thought we would take it". Her research found that Kesterson existed about the same length of time the Depot was in operation, 1882 - 1927. It was a rural depot on the Burlington Railroad and served the line that ran from Oxford Neb. to Wyoming Neb. The town was named for John C. Kesterson who operated an early day freighter business along the Oregon and California trails, which passed through Jefferson County.

Anderson said Fairbury residents who travelled on the Burlington used the Depot. They would arrive in Kesterson by train. A dray would pick them up and bring themt he four miles into Fairbury. Anderson said Kesterson never had much population - at most there were probably about 10 people in town. She obtained the depot because it would provide an accurate intreptation of what a "real rural depot looked like."

At one time after the depot closed it was owned by the Jefferson County Sheriff, Frank Kaocin who used it for hay storage. He then moved to Washington Kan. in 1997. Anderson said the Washington Railroad club restored parts of the depot Its members palmed the platform and repaired the floor for permanent display. The club decided to disband about a year ago and offered the depot to Fairbury. "Our reason for wanting it is that it gives us an opportunity to show how a small rural depot looked in comparison with the main line Rock Island we saved," Anderson said.

"Like many museum projects the historical society will conduct a fund drive to make the Kesterson Depot look as it would have at the turn of the century," Anderson said.

By James Denney, World Herald Correspondent - Omaha Nebr. May 2004
Article Contributed by Larry Miller

The Kesterson Depot/Town was named for John C. Kesterson who was born in 1847 in Ray Co MO, the son of James B. & Catherine (Yoacum) Kesterson. John died 23 December 1909 in Otoe Co NE. John Kesterson was married to Miss Susie Caroline Purdy in Jefferson Co NE around 1876. Mrs. Kesterson is a member of the Daughters of the American Revolution, and was the daughter of Benjamin L. & Susan (Meadows) Purdy. Benjamin Purdy died in Fairbury, Jefferson Co NE, July 16, 1905, his wife preceded him in 1897.

John and Susie were the parents of two children, Lon C. Kesterson born in 1881 in NE., and Marie C. Kesterson born in 1886 in NE. Lon C. Kesterson married a woman named Dollie from Iowa and they were the parents of Lavere Charles Kesterson born in 1905, who died in FL in 1995. Marie C Kesterson married William Claude Snyder and had two children; Louella in 1907 and Floyd in 1913. Marie and William were still living in Otoe Co NE in 1930.

Its not certain just when John C. Kesterson came to Jefferson Co MO, but sometime between 1870 and 1876 he located in Jefferson Co NE, where by 1876, he had married Susie Caroline Purdy. The Kesterson Depot was created out of necessity, and the little community of "Kesterson" just grew up around it for several years.

According to the 1890-91 Business Directory, Kesterson was a town of about 10 people. W.M.Copeland must have been the Station Agent/Master and it looks as though A.S. Daggett was the Postmaster. Kesterson was a staton on the B. & M.R.R. in the southern part of Jefferson county - 4 miles South of the town of Fairbury. Listed in the directory were Kesterson Bros. Clothing and Kesterson & Tolleth, horse breeders. It must be noted here that John's brother James H. Kesterson out of Nuckols Co NE was well known as a horse breeder/trader. He developed many speedy standard-bred horses of the Wilkes strain, took great pleasure in racing them, and became one of Nebraska's most prominent representatives in turf events of the various racing circuits. The people living in the town of Kesterson at this time were: A. Carson, N.E. Davis, H. Drisdell and Mary Drisdell, Henry Love, J.H.B. Roads, C. K. Roods, W.L. Taylor, O. Wheeler and W.W. Wright.

In 1899 the Jefferson County Directory lists the Kesterson Brothers as clothing merchants, they were David J. and William A Kesterson, brothers of John C. Kesterson. John himself is listed as a stock dealer. The 1904 City Directory of Jefferson Co tells us that John was a farmer residing at 907 4th St. His brother David J. was also living in Fairbury listed as residing 825 5th St. with a sister Mattie, as a housekeeper and brother William A. Kesterson, retired also living with him.

John C. Kesterson`s father was James B. Kesterson (1819 - 1885) who had migrated from Lancaster Co VA to Ray County MO by 1850. His brother William Kesterson made the trip with him and they settled in Caldwell Co MO. James B Kesterson remained in Ray Co MO for many years, but because of the hostilities of the Civil War, both James B. and his brother William re-located to Nebraska after William had been burned burned out of his Caldwell Co home by the Union Army. There are two theories as to the middle name of John. Some maintain it was John Channing and others believe it to be John Chowning (named for his grandmother Catherine Chowning Kesterson. Here is the lineage of John C. Kesterson back to his native land of Northumberland Co VA:

John C. Kesterson 1847 Ray Co MO - 1909 Otoe Co NE & Susie Caroline Purdy

James B. Kesterson 1819 Lancaster Co VA - 1885 Saline Co NE & Catherine Yoakum

James Kesterson 1774 Northumberland Co VA - 1820 Lancaster Co VA & Catherine Chowning

William Kesterson 1737 - 1791 Northumberland Co VA & Elizabeth Berry

George Kesterson 1710 - 1786 Northumberland Co VA & Elizabeth Kesterson

George Kesterson 1674 - 1733 Northumberland Co VA & Aquilla Fry

Thomas Kesterson 1648 - St Giles, Cripplegate England - 1720 Northumberland Co VA who arrived in the US around 1662 as an indentured servant in the service of William Wildey. Thomas earned his freedom in 1671 to become the Father of the Kesterson Family in the United States.

See Kesterson Journal Ray Co Mo

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