Burt County Old Settlers, 1903

AUGUST 21, 1903

Pioneer Association

At a meeting held in Tekamah, at the courthouse, on Saturday, Aug. 15th, 1903 at 4 o'clock p. m. pursuant to a call previously made, a number of pioneers and old settlers assembled and effected a temporary organization by selecting I. C. Jones as president and M. M. Warner as secretary and agreed to organize a permanent association for Burt county. It was agreed to hold the first annual reunion and picnic at Tekamah on Friday, September 21. The organization to be known as the Pioneers and Old Settlers Association of Burt county, Nebraska.

J. P. Latta, F. E. Lang, Isaac Gibson, Milton Reyman, Capt. S. T. Leaming, L. L.Yooung (sic), O. A. Farley, J. W. Patterson, Edward Schafer, P. S. Gibbs, C. Christenson, John P. Anderson, Geo. F. Smith, A. H. Smith, J. R. Sutherland and John Spielman were appointed an executive committee to act in conjunction with the president and secretary. The committee will meet at the courthouse in Tekamah at 1 o'clock P. M. on Saturday, Aug, 29, to make all the necessary arrangements for the "First Annual Reunion and Picnic" such as securing grounds, prepare a program and select the following committees: On membership, finance, attendance, register, transportation, invitations, grounds, speakers, music and reception. A constitution was adopted at the meeting and will be ratified at the first reunion.


(Editorial from the Oakland paper printed in the Tekamah paper)
Pioneer, - To go before and Prepare A Way For; To clear The Way; To Remove Obstacles.

At the preliminary meeting held in Tekamah two weeks ago, looking toward the permanent organization of an Old Settler's Association, it was suggested that anyone who had "Passed Through" Burt county in the Fifties should be classed as a "Pioneer." This, it was suggested, would do away with such misunderstandings as had occurred in Dakota County. The Republican wished to call attention to the dictionary definition of "Pioneer." It is, not only "to go before" but "to prepare a way. "remove obstacles" and "clear the way."

One who simply "passed through" in the 50s - seeking a home elsewhere - did little to smooth the way for those who came after and who, by very hard labor and the endurance of privations removed those obstacles passed by those going through and beyond. Let us give honor to whom honor is due. A little child, for instance, passing through Burt county in the 50s - carried in its mother's arms - enroute to another part of the state where it had been previously decided to "settle" and who residence in Burt county is insufficient to entitle to membership as an "old settler" - should not be allowed to take precedence now, as a pioneer, over the now bent a gray-haired man who came probably in 77, and finding the wild and desolate prairies of Burt county unpopulated, staked his claim, built his sod house and withstood the blizzards, fought prairie fires, tilled the ground and raised his crops, only to see them destroyed by grasshoppers - all this for the sake of making a home for himself and his family.

"All honor to the Pioneers"       "Brave men they were"!

Let us not prostitute the meaning of "Pioneer" so as to deprive it of its sense - Oakland Republican

The Republican is certainly correct in its premises. "Pioneer" means one who came and assisted in organizing a community by making roads, building bridges, school houses, churches and other necessities that exists in older localities. To our mind the proper date to fix the dividing line between the pioneer and the old settler for the purpose of this organization would be the date of Nebraska's admission as a state. Make all those who had acquired a residence in the county while Nebraska was a territory "Pioneers," which was March, 1867. The first settlement of the county was 1855, twelve years before Nebraska acquired statehood. There are eight persons who came here in 1855. They are as follows: F. E. Lang, Wellington Harrington, George Peterson, Mrs. James Askwig, Mrs. Aaron Wilson, Mrs. Peter Kunkle and James Olinger, and there are scores of those still residents of the county who were living here before Nebraska was admitted as a state. The county has about 2,000 population at that time. When we came here in 1869 we found this a well organized community, with all the necessary county officials, as we have today, with courts, schools and church services at regular intervals. Tekamah and Decatur then held a social status equal to that of today, only the make-up of the social fabric were less numerous. For one we would dislike to take any of the honor that exclusively belongs to those who came here between 1855 and 1867, when this was still a territory, and when their nearest trading points were Omaha and Council Bluffs and their postoffice was old Desota, and later Cuming City. At that time they ground their corn for bread in a neighborhood coffee mill. The advent of a sack of white flour in the county was a rare occurrence, and to the people belong the honor attached to the title of "Pioneer." We who came later only settled to the cognomen of Old Settler. We hope that none will attempt to crawl in under the canvas to acquire the honor of the title "Pioneer" unless they were a resident of the county prior to Nebraska's admission to statehood. Now as to date for the old settlers, it sees to us that the breaking away from the old and putting on new condition occurred in 1880, when the railroad went through this county. Before then we had no Craig. Oakland of today was a cornfield. A little to the south near the Askwig home there was a post office, store and mill. At the general election in 1879, the total vote of the county was 1,113, indicating a population of between five and six thousand. The year 1880 makes it twenty-five years after the first settlement of the county and thirteen years after being admitted as a state. This matter will be come up at the first meeting of the pioneers and old settlers to be held here the 25th of this month when the dates for pioneers and old settlers will be made a part of the constitution to be adopted.

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OCTOBER 2, 1903
Burt County Pioneers' and Old Settlers' Meet and Perfect Organization.

The Burt County Pioneers' and Old Settlers' Picnic held here last Friday was a pronounced success in every sense of the word. It was one of the most enjoyable gatherings ever held in the county. Its signals success was a great compliment to the few who were instrumental in its promotion. The favor with which it met by large attendance of early settlers is conclusive proof of its popularity and that nothing will create greater interest than the bringing together of all these early pioneers at least once a year to renew acquaintance and enjoy a day or two recounting the incidents of the past-which is the sole object of the organization. The weather was all that could be desired and the attendance was beyond all expectations, over one thousand people being present. The fine Art Hall on the fair grounds was arranged for a reception room and where luncheon was served by Tekamah ladies whom everybody was made welcome. It was a feature which added much to the occasion. The amphitheater, with platform in front for speakers and musicians, was filled before the dinner hour and much interest manifested in perfecting a permanent organization. The proceedings were as follows: Invocation by Rev. I. C. Jones, whom was also made temporary chairman. On motion the chairman appointed Judge Hopewell, O. A. Farley, A. H. Smith, M. M. Warner and J. R. Sutherland a committee to prepare and report a constitution which was later read and adopted and is published in this issue. After the public dinner a program was carried out interspersed with old time songs by a select choir and a solo, "Flow Gently Sweet Afton." by Miss Sutherland.

P. E. Taylor in a brief and appropriate private address welcomed the pioneers and complimented them on their achievements. In part he said: "The object of this organization was to bring those who participated in the early settlements closer together and perpetuate the history of the early struggles and privations, that they could now look with just pride on this beautiful, well tilled county that has no superior anywhere and say that we paved the way and made it possible for you who came later to enjoy the advantages and comforts of today. No doubt but your memory is carried back today beyond your pioneer life, back to the land from whence you came, to the home where you were nurtured, but the service you have rendered you have rendered the present and future generation by opening up the way to settle this beautiful, fertile county and dotting it all over with civilizing influences is certainly gratifying to you and proves that the pioneers were strong and sturdy men and women who have left their stamp upon the country and they are justly entitled to the credit of what Nebraska is today. It is one of the great states of the union and foremost in educational affairs; it has the best public school system and less illiteracy than any other state in the union."

Judge Hopewell responding in behalf of the old settlers said that this was an informal meeting for perfecting a permanent organization, something that should have been done many years ago; that this was one of the oldest and best counties in the state and in intelligence and wealth was surpassed by none. He expressed surprise at the large attendance, that this was a result of a few getting together and putting this move on foot. He gave a little history regarding his advent into the territory as a boy of twenty years, driving six yoke of cattle across the plains as far as Ft. Laramie. At that time there was no settlement along the trail he drove, but then Mr. Lange and a number of others were here in Burt county for six, eight or ten years, that they were old pioneers (pointing to Mr. Lange who had a seat on the platform as the oldest settler, coming here in May 1855,) that is was Mr. Lange and those who came after him in the fifties that endured privations. He said that he had been a resident of this county for a quarter of a century, but it was 1870 when he came. Those who preceded him were entitled to all the credit that belongs to the pioneer, that as an old settler he would do all he could to make the association a success and believed that their meeting would be the most enjoyable occasion of that year.

Judge J. R. Barnes, of the Supreme Court, and father of J. B. Barnes, Jr. superintendent of the Tekamah High school, was present and called on for a few remarks. After thanking the audience for the courtesy, he said, "It is an inspiring sight to look into the faces of hundreds of the men and women who laid the foundation of this great county who laid the foundation of this great county and state, that the gray hairs indicate that you have seen many winters. When you came here your cabins were far apart, but you have not forgot the friendship that existed - that the latchstring of one neighbor was always on the outside and waiting for the other neighbor to call, either to visit or ask for aid, they were always welcome. When you came there was nothing but the blue sky and broad prairie. Now Nebraska produces enough to feed a whole nation itself. You have left this younger generation a splendid inheritance which will remain as an everlasting monument to your memory. He told of his advent into the state in 1871, just out of law school in Ohio, which he entered after coming out of the army in 1965. He located at Ponca, the county seat of Dixon county, and was married in 1874 and raised three sons and all three are graduates of Nebraska University. He was proud of Nebraska and thought it was one of the grandest states in the union.

T. R. Ashley of Decatur, was then introduced and with good oratorical effect and a humorous vein entertained the large audience for a time. He said that he was put on the program to represent the Ashleys, that two by that name came here in the fifties and that they had increased so fast that now he could not tell how many there were. He came here in 1860 and was then five years old. He came through Omaha and located at the railroad town of Decatur, which had a brighter prospect at that time than Omaha. To prove the staying qualities of the Ashleys he said they were in Decatur yet. He complimented the promoters of the picnic and regretted that a move of this kind had not been held long ago; he hoped that picnics would be held each year in the future and promised that no business affair would prevent him from attending.

Colonel Harrington was introduced as an early pioneer coming here a half grown boy with his parents in 1855. He began by defining the word pioneers. That the treaty by the government with the Indians for the land now in Nebraska was only made the year before in 1854. His father's family came all the way from Wisconsin in prairie schooners and from Omaha up to Tekamah they built their own bridges. There were no railroads then west of the Mississippi. At Tekamah there was not a house built, two or three log cabins were in course of construction and these were the first in the county. As a pioneer he was proud of Nebraska, that in recent agricultural reports from Washington, Nebraska's percentage was first, better than Kansas, Iowa, Illinois or Missouri. He felt proud of the audience because they all came here, because he did, except for Mr. Lange, and he was here first. As to paving the way, he said that he had done his share. He had to go to Council Bluffs on foot to get mail for the few who were here. It was a long ways to mail a letter-fifty miles or better. He paid a glowing tribute to the women pioneers saying if it were not for their courage and bravery this country would not be settled yet.

W. B. Newton a resident since 1857 was the next speaker. He said it would take to long to detail his experience, but the principal drawback was the want of roads and market to sell what was produced. Omaha was the nearest, but no bridges except of poles and brush which went out with every shower. He was sorry that these meetings were not called before and was glad that an organization was perfected at this time, that this occasion afforded him much pleasure to meet and renew acquaintances of forty odd years, and hoped that it could be his privilege to be with often at gatherings of this kind.

Captain Leaming of Decatur, was next on the program and said that many of the eloquent and appropriate remarks by those who preceded him that it was difficult for him to entertain the audience, but much had been said concerning the hardships endured by the pioneer and nothing about the pleasures. He came to the county in 1856, and did not consider those days of hardships, and told of the social features and the good times had and thought that the first ten years spent were the happiest days of is life.

John W. Freeman, one of Burt's most sturdy and prosperous farmers, told about when he was a boy in Michigan. He read Bayard Taylor's description of his trip across Nebraska which impressed him favorably and he came with his young wife and took a homestead seven miles west of Tekamah and planted a grove. Later when the west side of the county was being settled his house was the last house for nine miles, and he often sat up and kept the fire until 12 o'clock so that these early homesteaders who were hauling wood from the Missouri could get warmed at his place before they started across the bleak prairie. He came to the picnic on purpose to meet the old acquaintances hoped to meet them again, if not here, in the great beyond.

Oscar Samson, one of the pioneers of the Logan Valley, came as a boy in 1868, worked by the month on a farm the first year, was not old enough to take a homestead, but took one later. He was proud that he cast his lot in Burt county, and said that Commodore Beckman and himself were instrumental in locating about two hundred families in the west side of the county and today and a more prosperous community would be hard to find.

F. E. Lange, the earliest of pioneers, gave a very interesting sketch of early days in this county and told of privations and inconveniences met with in a new country. He was followed by Captain Hall who came here in 1866, when he got his discharge from the army. Judge Gibson was a resident since 1857; he told an amusing story of the first Fourth of July Celebration which was 1857

J. P. Latta was then introduced and said that he was not a pioneer in the strict sense of the word, that he came in 1863, and was in his teens. He thought that to much credit could not be given the mothers who came here with their children, away from schools and church influences, in those early days. But they braved all hardships and endured the privations incident to pioneer life. He told of a letter he had received from Miss Alice G. Dunn of Chicago, at one time a pioneer resident of this county, that she had read the notice calling this meeting in the Tekamah Herald and expressed regret at not being able to be present but requested Mr. Latta to read the following:


I pray the day maybe exceeding fair.
When Burt's Pioneers shall meet in open air,
To talk o'er years of toil-full well repaid -
Of all the changes that those years have made,
How that fair land (where only red men trod.
Has many churches - showing faith in God -
And halls of learning scattered o'er the land,
And happy homes are found on every hand.
Bright fields of maize; and fields of waving grain
And well fed cattle running o'er their plains,
Orchards and vineyards, prove the work of years.
Of patient toil, of hope, of love, of fears:
Greetings!! I send to Burt's Pioneers today -
And in fancy grasp the hands so far away.


Alice G. Dunn
Chicago, Sept. 22, 1903

For Burt County Pioneer Picnic, Sept, 25, 1903
She also sent four prizes which were awarded as follow:

One to the gentleman residing the greatest number of years in the county which went to F. E. Lange.

One went to the lady residing the greatest number of years in the county which went to Mrs. James Askwig.

One went to the oldest lady at the picnic born in the county, which went to Mrs. George Douglas.

One to the oldest gentleman born in the county, which went to Judson Cornelius.

The following officers were then elected for the ensuing year, the vice presidents and members of the executive committee being chosen from each township:

J. P. Latta, President: M. M. Warner secretary: M. R. Hopewell treasurer: J. R. Sutherland. historian.

Vice-Presidents. - H. S. M. Spielman, Andrew Young, W. S. Craig, F. E. Lange, Andrew Everett, Otto Uehling, C. M. Viles, A. H. Smith, Al Webster, Solomon Paddock, J. B. Healey, W. W. Latta.

Executive Committee.- W. B. Newton, C. Christianson, P. S. Gibbs, Capt. Leaming, Henry Mowerer, Oscar Swanson, J. F. Schulze, Andrew Beckman, Capt. Hall, I. C. Jones, Wm. H. Eby, O. A. Farley.

A vote of thanks was tendered Miss Dunn of Chicago for her kind remembrance, also to the musicians who so kindly rendered appropriate music and to Misses Everett, Hopkins and Harrington for the caring for the register of the enrollment.

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We, the Pioneers of Burt County, Nebraska, being a part of the advance guard of the Grand Army of Civilization, which carried the "Star Empire Westward" and being evermindful of the uncertainty of life, deem it proper that the Pioneers of Burt County, Nebraska, who laid the foundation of our County, and the magnificent State, are bound together by ties of brotherhood and sympathy, formed and cemented amid the dangers, trial and privations of frontier life should by means of a perfect and fraternal organization be brought more closely together, and to the end that the memories and friendships of those early days be perpetuated, our early history preserved, and a more perfect union and brotherhood established do hereby organize, adopt and subscribe to the following:


Article I
The name of this organization shall be the Burt county Pioneers and Old Settlers Association.

Article II
Its headquarters shall be at the county seat.

Article III
The object and purpose of this Association shall be to promote Fraternity and Social relation between the members, aid and assist our worthy and needy Brothers, show a proper respect to member when they take their final departure from us, secure and perpetuate a record of early history of the Pioneers of our County, and in general terms accomplish the ends set forth in the above and foregoing preamble.

Article IV

Sec. 1. All persons of good character residing in Burt County, prior to January 1, 1870, or was in Burt County and afterwards became a resident, are entitled to membership in the Association, as "Pioneers."

Sec. 2. All persons residing in Burt county 23 years, are entitled to membership in the Association as "Old Settlers."

Sec. 3. Any person enumerated in the preceding sections, may become a member by paying to the Treasurer the sum of fifty cents provided he subscribes his name to this Constitution. The wives of members of this association, and the widows of pioneers may become members of same without regard to fees or date of their arrival in Burt County. The sons and daughters of parents either of whom resided within Burt county prior to 1870, and a member of this association, shall be designated as Son and Daughters of Pioneers of Burt County, and the shall be furnished such a certificate as the Association may from time to time establish for them.

Article V
Duties of Members
It shall be the duty of the members of this Association and they are in honor bound to attend, if possible the funeral of any member, and also the Annual meeting of the Association.

Article VI

Sec. 1. The officers of this Association shall consist of a president, one vice-president for each Township; secretary, treasurer, historian and an executive committee of twelve members, one from each township, of which the president and secretary shall be ex-officio members.

Sec. 2. The officers shall be elected at each annual meeting of the Association and hold their respective offices until their successors are elected and qualified.

Sec. 3. The executive committee shall have power to fill all vacancies in the above offices that may occur.

Article VII
Duties of Officers

Sec. 1. President. - It shall be the duty of the president to preside at all meetings of the Association and executive committee, and when requested by five members of the executive committee in writing to call a special meeting of the Association. He shall also appoint a competent person from each Township in the county as corresponding secretary, whose duty it shall be to secure the enrollment of all persons in his respective township eligible to membership, furnish a report to the Secretary of all matters of local History, deaths of members with a biographical sketch of the deceased, and perform such other duties as may be prescribed by the executive committee.

Sec. 2. Vice-Presidents-It shall be the duty of the vice-presidents to preside at all meetings of the Association when the President is unable to attend, and to exercise the powers of the President in case of death or disability.

Sec. 3. Secretary. - It shall be the duty of the secretary to keep an accurate records of all business transactions of the Association, conduct all correspondence, receive all moneys of the Association and pay the same over to the treasurer, taking a receipt therefore, draw all orders on the treasurer for disbursement of money, keep a complete record of deaths or removal of members, furnish a written report of his affairs at each annual meeting, and perform such other duties as the Association or executive committee may from time to time prescribe.

Sec.4. Treasurer. - It shall be the duty of the treasurer to receive all money belonging to the Association from the secretary and pay out the same on proper vouchers drawn by the secretary and countersigned by the president.

Sec. 5 Historian. - It shall be the duty of the historian to prepare the history of members of the Association to be complied by the secretary and furnish all needed assistance in procuring data concerning the death and removal of members.

Sec. 6. The executive committee shall have charge of the general affairs of the Association; it shall select a place to hold the annual meetings and make suitable arrangements therefor, and so arrange that a reunion of the members may be had immediately after business matters of that Association are disposed of. It shall have the power to prepare and adopt suitable by-laws for the transcription of the business of the Association, and a majority of the members shall constitute a quorum.

Annual Meetings
There shall be Annual Meeting of the Association at such time as may be agreed upon by the executive committee.

This constitution may be altered or amended at any given annual meeting of the Association by giving three months notice of the proposed amendments or alteration to the secretary, who shall cause the same to be published in some newspaper in the county, at least four consecutive weeks, which notice must be complete at least thirty days prior to such annual meeting.

September 9, 1904
Burt County Herald


People from all Parts of the County Flock to the Second Annual Reunion Festivities


      The Pioneers' and Old Settlers' Reunion and picnic in Folsom Park, Wednesday, was a success in every sense of the term. About 3,000 people were in attendance. The Lyons band and a select quartet interspersed the program with good music. Hon. W. S. Summers, the principal orator, delivered the best address ever listened to by a Burt county audience. Short talks were made on early experiences in Burt county by Rev. Hobson, H. L. Webster, F. E. Lange, P. S. Gibbs, P. L. Rork, W. B. Newton, Joe Hall and Rev. Jones. The paper by Mrs. Andrew Young, Sr., on experiences in pioneer days will be published next week. A letter from Rev. W. G. Olinger was read and much appreciated, and is reproduced in this issue. Other interesting communications from absent pioneers were received by the committee, some of them published prior to the meeting and were not read, some of which appear in this issue and others will appear later. The reports of the historian, secretary and treasurer were made and at the close of the afternoon meeting all present officers were re-elected by acclamation. In all it was a red letter day for the pioneers and old settlers indicating that the object of the association strikes a proper chord and that each succeeding reunion will be larger and better than the preceding. The attendance was far beyond all expectations. Folsom Park presented a pretty appearance and proved an ideal place for gatherings of this kind.

By J. R. Sutherland


Mr. President, members of the Pioneers and Old Settlers Association, ladies and gentlemen:

     I had the honor one year ago of being elected historian for this organization, the duties of which are neither defined by the constitution or by laws, therefore I feel no restraint if I delve back on the shelves of memory's hall and bring to the light of your remembrance recollections of the early history of Burt county.

     History is not made by war. It is true the general impression is, that most history is written in the blood of wars, but the heroism and bravery of the men and women who came here as pioneers and endured the hardships and privations without a murmur, while conquering the wilderness of the great prairies of the plains, now clothed with the garments of civilization, marks an epoch in the history of the west that should always stand prominent in the story of our nation's life and birth an long as our history endures. The vast empire of the west opened up to settlement and commerce, by virtue of the adventurous pioneers, will live in memory so long as devotion, patriotism and that romance which surrounds adventure and peril, shall have power to charm the souls of man. The debt of gratitude the present generation owes those who shared the privations, and perils of pioneer life can never be paid by resolution of respect; the obligation is of a nobler and higher character. The most enduring monuments of marble, bronze or stone reared over their graves to perpetuate their memory is inadequate to pay this debt of gratitude. Nothing in our mind could be more fitting than this reunion of pioneers and old settlers, held at this time and place.

     Just fifty years ago the United States government made a treaty with the Indians and carved Nebraska territory out of what was then known as the great American desert, its boundary was from the Kansas line on the south to the British possessions on the north and from the Missouri river on the east to the summit of the Rocky mountains on the west.

     That same year, 1854, in the month of October, the first white settlement was made in Burt county, right here in Tekamah by Col. B. R. Folsom of Attica, New York, who at the head of a small party of adventurers located this townsite and had it platted and this park bears the name of Folsum in honor of the founder of this city and most early pioneer.

     The first permanent residents came in 1855 and the following are still residents and are present today: F. E. Lang, Wellington Harrington, George Peterson, Mrs. Aaron Wilson, Mrs. Peter Kunkle, Mrs. Geo. A. Grannell, James Olinger and Mrs. James Askwig. Burt county was named in honor of Nebraska's first governor, Hon. Francis Burt, who took the oath of office as governor of the territory of Nebraska, October 16, 1854; his official term was only two days as he died October 18th.

     The county was organized in November, 1854. The boundary was as follows; commencing at a point on the Missouri river, two miles above Fort Calhoun; thence west crossing the Elkhorn river to the boundary of lands ceded to the United States; to the north what is North and South Dakota were embraced within the boundaries of Burt county. The first election in Burt county was held in December, 1854. All who had taken the oath that they intended to make Nebraska their home were qualified electors. B. R. Folsom was elected to the council or senate of the first territorial legislature. On May 16, 1855, B. R. Folsom was appointed probate judge for the governor. Two of Col. Folsom's grandchildren are residents of our city, Chas. B. Folsom and Mrs. E. W. Bryant, whose son Gordon, a young lad in is teens, is present today and he marks the fourth generation from the first white settler in this county.

     The second election in the county was for county officers which was held November 6, 1855, and resulted as follows; For probate judge, William Bates; for sheriff, John Nevett; treasurer, Lewis P. Peterson; surveyor, William F. Goodwill, (a brother to our townsman, J. A. Peter Goodwill); register and clerk, Peter F. Peterson; justices of the peace, Major Harrington and Adam Olinger. The total amount of taxes levied in 1855 was $91.04, the rate being 7 mills on $13,000 valuation, now we have over $21,000,000. Today the assessed value of taxable land in the county is $13,821,901, or an average of 47.92 per acre. The value of live stock alone in the county by the last assessment was $1,418,354. Last year the county produced 210,691 bushels of wheat, 1,106,765 bushels of oats and over 2,591.623 bushels of corn. The bank deposits for the quarter ending November, 1903, shows that the total deposits in the county were $1,154,806.98, or an average per capita of $88.61. We inject this data into this report to contrast the difference between then and now which is the best compliment that can be paid to you who opened the way for the settlement of this county.

     Turn back the hands of time forty years of more, we find that this village had a fortress, or block house, erected in 1856 by the government, by Ex-Governor Thayer who was then a military officer doing duty on the frontier in the way of protecting pioneer settler from the Indians. A few log cabins sheltered the rest of the population of this frontier outpost. The old fort was torn down years ago and all the old landmarks have disappeared, except the creek, the hills and the beautiful valley on the east. Those who were young then are now the only surviving gray-haired old pioneers. It is only now and then in waking dreams that the picture as we saw it thirty-six years ago comes back again; and we are startled by the thought of the changes that time has brought about and how many of the actors of that day have stepped off the stage and are now sleeping on yonder hill. Among those with whom we were the most intimately acquainted as pioneers or old settlers who have crossed over the river to the eternal shores of time are:

(this list changed to alphabetical order)

John P. Anderson

Judge Hyde

Chris Astor

Seth Kelly

Mr. and Mrs. R. J. Bardwell

Judge David Laughlin

Rev. William Bates

Unknown Lee (father of Myron and Rueben)

Senator W. B. Beck

Myron Lee

Mr. and Mrs. John Black

Rueben Lee

Chas. W. Breed

H. C. Lydick

John Burpee

Waldo Lyon, Sr.

Peter Cameron

Dr. and Mrs. McLaughlin

E. D. Canfield

J. A. McMurphy

Mr. and Mrs. Geo. C. Close

Judge J. F. Mason

J. G. Coil

N. B. Morehouse

Mrs. C. K. Conger

Austin Nelson

A. B. Cooley

Mr. amd Mrs. Adam Olinger

Dietrick Fees

Mr. and Mrs. Michael Olinger

Mr. and Mrs. B. R. Folsom

Andrew Palmquist

James Fullen

Rev. J. M. Pebbles

A. B. Fuller

G. M. Peterson

Judge and Mrs. Isaac Gibson

Rev. and Mrs. P. F. Peterson and daughter Emma

Thomas Ginn (at one time county clerk)

Mr. and Mrs. George B. Thomas

Phillip Guise

Rev. John Wallace

Geo. Hall, Sr

Chris Weiser

Rev. Father Hamilton (missionary among the Indians)

Frank Welch

Major and Mrs. Onley Harrington

Z. B. Wilder

Miss Rose Harrington

Joel Yeaton

W. N. Haywood

Andrew Young. Sr.

and many other others not purposely omitted from this list.

     Looking back on the long trail of years since the first settlement in the county, are many things over which we could rejoice and among them were the happy days. It is true many friends are gone, many a sorrow has been buried, still the years revolve, those lapse into the silence of healing virtue; we will now take up the skein of the present with its living instead of the memories of the past with its dead, for it might be of interest to know where the many are who once shared in the hardships and pleasures of the early days and are entitled to the honor of being eligible to membership in our organization now residing in other states. We will begin with (the following is all part of this paragraph, but has been broken & highlighted to help you survey the names)

Niles R. Folsom, who came here when a young lad with is father, in April, 1855 is residing with his family at Santa Monica, California;
Geo. P. Hall in early days was a pioneer school teacher and later for a number of years edited the Burtonian. He is now residing in Coranado, California;
Lewis Peterson, first treasurer of the county, with his family lives near San Diego;
Gundy Thompson, who came here with his father's family in 1855 is located at Fruitland, Washington;
Ed W. Peterson, who is entitled to the distinction of being one of the first white boys born in the county and the first native Nebraskan who served in the legislature and later county attorney is now city attorney at San Diego;
A. A. Thomas, who served this county as sheriff and county clerk, is also a resident of San Diego;
Allen and Robert Gill, both early settlers, now reside in the state of Washington - Allen at Florence and Robert at Munroe;
Rev. W. G. Olinger, who came here with his father's family from Virginia in 1855 and served this county as clerk and treasurer, and a member of the legislature in 1873 and member of the board of regents of the state university, is now a pastor of a church at Sherwood, Oregon;
A. N. Corbin, Jr. one of Burt's pioneer boys, who served here as county attorney, is now practicing law at Wenatchee, Washington;
W. W. Mason and M. M. Harney, who were boys here in the fifties, now reside at Stacaddo, Texas;
A. H. Gates and family, who were prominent in Arizona social and business circles for many years, are now at Forest Grove, Oregon;
Asa Chilcott, for many years a prominent farmer in Arizona, is at Salina, Iowa;
Jap Laughlin, at one time an attorney here, also a member of the legislature in 1881 and the author of our present ditch law resides in Bates county, Missouri;
C. K. Conger, a pioneer hotel keeper in the old block house and founder of the Presbyterian church and Masonic lodge at Tekamah, is on a farm near Norden, Keya Paha county, Nebraska;
A. T. Conkling, at one time, county clerk and member of the state senate, resides at Grand Island, his brother, J. R. Conkling, one of the early doctors, resides in Omaha;
John Fees, who, it is claimed, was the first white boy born in the county resides at Dunning, this state;
James Stanton, one of the early farmers on the divide, is at Neenah, Wis.;
Phil Slaughter, who was prominent here in the early days is at Alexandria, Ind.;
Ira Thomas, one of our pioneer boys who served this county in the legislature in 1883, and later as county attorney, is at Wenatchee, Wash.;
F. M. Johnson, one of Burt's early attorneys and a member of the legislature in 1877, is a resident of Portland, Oregon;
N. J. Sheckell and W. H. Clark are both in Salt Lake City;
William Hawks, a merchant here in the sixties, is at Chloride, Arizona Ter.;
M. C. Huyette, who put in the first lumber yard in the county, resides with his family in Chicago;
Geo. W. Gibson is at Canon City, Col.; and H. V. Gibson, a pioneer storekeeper is at Redona, Cal.;
John W. Wilson, the first hardware merchant in the county, is at Elk City, Okla.;
Mrs. Phin Cox lives at Pueblo, Col.;
Robt. Carr is at Bristow;
Rev. Joel Warner, a minister at Blue Hill, was superintendent of the Indian school on the Omaha reservation in the pioneer days.

     In conclusion I say the present commercial and financial status of the county bears to the business ability of the old settlers, ane (sic) the school houses and churches that now dot once desolate prairie stand as a monument to the intellectual and moral worth of the men and women who endured the privations of pioneer life. The precepts and examples inculcated by them have been followed by the subsequent generation and have made the social and religious statue of the county equal to that of any in Old New England, which was moulded by our pilgrim fathers. Therefore all honor is due the pioneers and old settlers for what Burt county is today, the best county in the best state in the union.

Letters mentioned as a part of this story were written by George Hall, Rev. W. G. Olinger, Joel Warner, Mrs. Andrew Young Sr. and Casper K. Conger.

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Burt County Herald
September 1, 1905
Pioneers' and Old Settlers' Picnic


     The Pioneers' and Old Settlers' reunion held here in Folsum Park last Friday was larger and better than ever before. It was the semi-centennial of the first white settlement in Burt county. The weather conditions were most favorable. The park, under the management of S. S. Skinner, C E. Barker and A. P. Mason, committe grounds, was conviently arranged with seats and elaborately decorated with an abundance of flags and bunting. The Tekamah band, under the leadership of E. L. Barker, did much towards the success of the occasion by the rendition of choice selections, interspersing the program as well as on the street and it gave material aid to the baseball organization with attractive music at both the morning and afternoon games.

     It is quite apparent to the casual observer that the interest in the annual reunions are on the increase, both in the way of general attendance and those who register. The sale of membership badges (which were beauties) outnumbered that of any previous year. The pioneer badges which were for those who were residents of the county prior to 1870, were sold long before the close of the picnic and the old settler' badges had to be substituted. The informal reception in the forenoon took the form of an old fashioned visit where everybody met their old acquaintances and talked of "ye olden times." The picnic dinner was another enjoyable feature. Family groups of old friends spread their table linen upon the green grass in the shade and spread the contents of well filled baskets thereon and sat around on the sward and partook of the choice viands prepared for the occasion. Free hot coffee was provided by all the citizens of Tekamah and made and served on the ground. While the mid-day meal was being enjoyed by the large number who came, the band discoursed sweet strains of sweet music from the band stand.

     After the baskets were gathered and linen folded and returned to the quartermaster's tent, President Latta called the assembly to order and requested all the old pioneers to occupy the chairs on the platform as guests of honor, then in a brief address extended all a cordial welcome and introduced A. W. Jefferis of Omaha, who opened his speech by complimenting the name of the county, being called Burt in honor of Nebraska's first governor, and the park was appropriately named Folsum in honor of Col. B. R. Folson, the first white settler in the county and founder of the City of Tekamah, and that the trees in the Park would immortalize the name Folsom, and from there he launched out and delivered on of the most interesting addresses ever delivered before a Burt county audience.

     The next speaker was Arthur C. Lee whose topic was "The Pioneer Boy," himself being a Burt county product and a graduate of the state university. He dwelt with some pride on the educational advantages in the county and state, stating that in that respect we stood second to none with few equals. He said that he went away from Nebraska for a few years and was glad to get back. He advised the farmer boy to stay on Burt county farms. Mr. Lee's whole address contained much of interest and was received with marked attention.

     W. B. Newton, a pioneer of 1857, followed Mr. Lee and in his forceful and interesting way gave heart to heart talk that was much appreciated.

     Judge Hopewill was next on the program and required no introduction, having associated and been an active factor in county affairs for thirty-five years. His address was mingled with witticism and burlesques on many of the old settlers which created much merriment. He also gave data regarding the early history of the county, some of it as follows: Nebraska was organized as a territory May 20, 1854, the first election was held December 12, 1854; Tekamah was staked and platted as a town site October 7, 1854; its first permanent settlement was April 19, 1855; Tekamah was incorporated by an act of the legislature March 14, 1855; B. R. Folsom was elected December 12, 1854, to represent Burt county in the first territorial senate, or council as then called; the first school in the county was taught by Mrs. W. B. Newton in 1857 in a little log cabin that stood on the present postoffice site, the first term of court held in the county was on May 5, 1857, by Judge Wakely of Omaha; the records made shows "there being no further business court adjourned; the next record is April 3, 1861, Judge Wakely presiding, the grand jurors were G. P. Hall, A. H. Gates, W. B. Newton, H. V. B. Gibson, John Peterson, Wm. Smallwood, N. Blackstone, John H. Mathews, Jacob Skinner, George Peterson, Adam Olinger, Robt. Carr, Jonathon Lydick, John Baldwin, A. N. Corbin and Isaac Gibson; the first county judge was William Bates; the first civil case was that of Erastus Shafer vs. Onley Harrington, Dec. 6, 1861, before Judge Gibson, then county judge, the records shows that after the case was called plaintiff withdrew his case and it was settled; much other data of interest was given.

     The awarding of prizes by President Latta for the following pioneer qualifications was a feature of interest. The medal awards were souvenir jewelry with appropriate inscriptions such as "Tekamah souvenir spoon.", "Scarf pin," "Watch charm," etc:*

     First - To the gentleman who has lived in Burt county the greatest number of years went to George Peterson who came here in July, 1855.

     Second - To the lady who has resided the greatest number of years in the county was won by Mrs. James Askwig who came here August 3, 1855.

    Third - To the oldest boy born in Burt county was awarded to George Douglas who was born October 15, 1858. He was closely contested by Mr. Calnon who was born Oct. 20, 1858.

     Fourth - to the oldest girl born in Burt county was won by Mrs. George A. Corbin who was born April 6, 1857

    Fifth - To the married couple who have resided the longest in Burt county and were married when they came here went to Mr. and Mrs. Edmund Shafer who came here April 18, 1857.

     Sixth - To the married couple who have resided the longest on the homestead they first located on when they came to the county and still reside upon was won by Mr. and Mrs. H. M. S. Spielman whose residence dates back to 1858.

     Seventh - To the couple married in the county the greatest length of time was awarded to Mr. and Mrs. Elisha McGuire who were married Sept. 18, 1860, at the home of W. W. Latta in Arizona township.

     The election of officers was next on the program and each nomination was made by acclamation, which resulted as follows: W. B. Newton, president: M. M. Warner, secretary: J. P. Latta, treasurer: J. R. Sutherland, historian: and a vice president from each township, as follows Arizona, H. M. S. Spielman: Bell Creek, Andrew Young: Craig, P. S. Gibbs: Decatur, F. J. Griffin: Everett, B. W. Everett: Kerl, Herman Von Essen: Logan, Samuel Thompson: Oakland, James Askwig: Riverside, George Peterson: Silver Creek, P. C. Brant: Summit, J. W. Patterson: Tekamah M. R. Hopewell.

     This completed the program and the old fashioned visit again held full sway and many people remained in the grove until nearly 7 o'clock.

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Burt County Pioneers' and Old Settler' Fourth Annual Reunion

     In October, 1854, when the wild grass was waist high all over what is now the townsite of Tekamah, Col. B. R. Folsom,* with a few other white men, pitched their tent on Tekamah Creek, near where Lillie's Steam Laundry now stands, with nothing to protect them from the hostile Indians. It was then the farthest north of any white settlement west of the Missouri River. It was that little band of white men under the leadership of Mr. Folsom who founded Burt county and held an election that fall and elected Col. Folsom to a seat in the first territorial council (or senate).) Contrast those conditions with the present, the changes that have come since could not be more vividly displayed that they were last Wednesday at the annual reunion. Soon after the break of a perfect August day carriages by the hundreds brought the people from surrounding country. The early morning trains brought delegations from Omaha on the south and Emerson on the north and many from intermediate points. The 10 a. m. train from the north with seven coaches was crowded to the guards with the people of Lyons, Oakland and Craig, this train was met at the depot and reception committees with carriages to convey the old people to the park. The streets of Tekamah presented a holiday appearance, flags were streaming from every business house.

     Under the management of Captain Skinner, superintendent of grounds, Folsom Park was conveniently arranged for the reception of guests, tents were provided for the care of parcels and lunch baskets, another tent furnished free hot coffee, with sugar and cream. Until after the picnic dinner was over, the band rendered many choice selections. Everything was informal old friend met old friend, it was just what they came for, an old fashioned visit. Mrs. Warner with several assistants, was kept busy enrolling the members and selling them badges for the year. This is the only source of revenue to defray the incidental expense of the organization. It is pleasant to note that most every old settler and pioneer takes pleasure in contributing fifty cents for a badge that he may be permitted to assist in bearing his share of the expense of maintaining the organization without fees or dues.

     At 1 o'clock J. P. Latta, in the absence of President Newton, called the assembly to order and all joined in singing the nation anthem, "My County Tis of Thee." Rev. I. C. Jones, pioneer of the 60's invoked the divine blessing. Mr. Latta followed with a brief address extending a cordial welcome to all. J. W. King an old gray-haired veteran from Lyons, captured the vast audience by stepping to the front of the platform and in splendid voice rendered the solo "My Old Cottage Home, " with violin accompaniment by his son. Nothing could have been more appropriate.

     A. N. Corbin, Jr., made a hit in his address on "Pioneer Children." He was born here in the early days, his father being still a resident of this city. Mr. Corbin is now a practicing attorney at Wenatchee, Washington. His address was followed by the song "Old Folks at Home." rendered by a select double quartet under the direction of Miss Irene Sutherland.

     "Pioneer Life," was the subject of a splendid address by Rev. W. F. Poot, pastor of the Lutheran Church.

     T. R. Ashley of Decatur, followed with an excellent talk on the early history which was followed by the song "The Old Oaken Bucket." Rev. H. C. Dayhoff of Souix City, who was pastor of the M. E. church here at one time and had an intimate acquaintance with many of the old settlers delivered the principal oration. He was in splendid voice, he could be heard by thousands and commanded the best of attention. Everybody was pleased with his effort, he being on the frontier all his life, he knew how it was himself and gave just the kind of talk they wanted to hear. At the close of his address the quartet sang " Home Sweet Home."

     Judge Hopewell preceded his memorial report with a good talk to the old folks. The report showed that 54, or more than the average of one a week had died since the last meeting one year ago.

     The distribution of prizes was next on the program. To the Burt county pioneer and wife with the largest number of children, the prize was awarded to Andrew Young of Craig, with nine children who were invited to the platform with their parents, a promising looking family. Mr. Young responded to many calls with a neat talk that fitted the occasion. He said that he came to this country in September, 1856 just 50 years ago; that he was then a babe in his mother's arms; that the changes that has taken place during his memory is pleasing to him; that this county is now one of the best in the world for agricultural purposes. Mrs. Young (nee Clementine Lillie) was a Tekamah girl and was educated in our school. They now own and live with their happy family on one of the best and well improved farms in the county and the county can well feel proud of the family.

     The prize to the old settler and wife with the largest number of children went to F. M. Hennig of Golden, 12 children. J. S. Robinson, the gardener, came in for a prize with 15 children. James Thomas drew a prize on 27 grandchildren and Mrs. Valder was second with 14 grandchildren. Rev. I. C. Jones drew a prize for 7 great-grandchildren and Mrs. Drury was a close second with six great-grandchildren. With this the program closed by the quartet rendering "Auld Lang Syne." The officers for the ensuing year are J. P. Latta, President; M. M. Warner, Secretary; M. R. Hopewell, Treasurer; J. R. Sutherland, Historian; The vice presidents for each township are the same as served last year.

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September 6, 1907
Good Program is Renderee(sic)
Prizes for Early Sod-Breakers

It is estimated that 5,000 people took part in the pioneers' and old settlers' reunoun (sic) at Tekamah, last Friday. The place of the reunion was at the beautiful Folsom Park. The day was fine, altho mud from the rain the day before had hardly any time to dry. The forenoon was spent in a sociable way going over again pioneer life in conversation and story.

The regular program commenced at 1 o'clock when President J. P. Latta called the assemblage to order. Rev. Crane invoked the divine blessing and a quartette sang some appropriate songs. Addresses were delivered by J. P. Latta and W. R. Patrick, of South Omaha. A. T. Conkling, Rev. Olinger, George Peterson, Judge Hopewell and others gave reminiscent talks. Prizes of gold watch charms in the form of oxen or horses were given to those breaking the first sod in each precinct in the county as follows.

Tekamah - Wellington Harrington, in 1855

Arizona - Jonathan Lydick, in June 1857

Decatur - F. E. Sandig, May 1857

Riverside - Geo Peterson, in 1856

Silver Creek - Jacob Snyder, in May 1858

Summitt - James Gray, in June 1866

Craig - P. S. Gibbs, in May 1867

Everett - J. D. Hart, in July 4, 1867

Oakland - Victor Colson, in June 1867

Logan - Geo. Morter, July 27, 1857

Bell Creek - Ole Larsen, July 1867

Kerl - Andrew Beckman, May 1868

The old officers were re-elected as follows:
J. P. Latta, President
M. M. Warner, secretary
M. R. Howell, treasurer
J. R. Sutherland, historian

A vice president in each township was also elected, viz.
H. M. S. Speilman, Arizona
Andrew Young, Bell Creek
P. S. Gibbs, Craig
F. J. Griffin, Decatur
B. W. Everett, Everett
Herman VonEsson, Kerl
Earl Brown, Logan
James Askwig, Oakland
Geo. Peterson, Riverside
Chris Brant, Silver Creek
J. W. Patterson, Summitt
M. R. Hopewell Tekamah.

Among those who were present from Oakland were:
Mrs. A. Beckman.
V. Neumann
V. Colson
A. Servine
Mr. Larsen
Ad Palmquist
O. Swanson
Mrs. Johnson
Mrs. J. P. Anderson
Carrie Anderson
Mr. Wickstrom
Misses Gleeson, Hanson, Colligan
Messrs. Cull, Hanson, Gleeson
Mesdames Tunbert and Wallin
Misses Cull and Wells

AUGUST 28, 1908

Gala Day At County Seat

Big Gathering - Pioneers and Others Speak - Celebrate Tree Planters

All things were favorable on Pioneers and Old Settlers day. The weather was delightful. A slight shower in the morning delayed the hay-making and threshing for a space and so the farmers found time to drive to the county seat and were present in great numbers. Probably 2000 people gathered at Folsom Park or visited the ball games during the day.

The Rev. McDonald of Lyons offered the invocation. A Tekamah quartette furnished the music. J. P. Latta, president of the Association, made an address of welcome to the pioneers, old settlers, veterans and their friends who had assembled in honor of their reunion. He made a brief review of the changes that have occurred since the first furrow was plowed about fifty years ago in Burt county; since the days when people were glad to go visiting with a pair of oxen and a lumber wagon; when there was neither a spring seat nor a buggy in the county.

Joseph Hall responded in behalf of the old settlers and pioneers and S. S. Skinner later responded in behalf of the G. A. R. veterans, who were present on the special invitation of Mr. Latta.

Lieutenant Governor M. R. Hopewell read the annual memorial address. Forty-four old settlers and pioneers have passed "passed into the great beyond" since the last reunion. Here are the names of those most familiar to the people of this community: Mrs. Ira Thomas, N. P. Hammerland, Joe Larson, Prince O. Gibbs, J. Sidney Wilson, Mrs. Mona Nelson, Mrs. Peter Kessler, Mrs. Mary Morell, S. E. E. W. Johnson, Nels Olander, Carl G. Wistrom, Geo. Osborn, John A. Nelson, John H. Larson, Mrs. Louisa Halberg.

Arthur Wakely, of Omaha, was the principal speaker of the day. He gave a number of reminiscences taken from the memoirs of his father who duties led him time and again up and down this judicial district. These were interesting and duly appreciated. One sentence in his address deserves more than passing mention. King and prince, dictator and potentate, have occupied too much attention of the historian. It is the people, the fathers and mothers of the past to whom the present owes its greatest debt of gratitude.

Col. Wellington Harrington was next introduced. He said that only seven out of seventy of the first settlers of Tekamah Creek were still living. He spoke of the contrast between the time of the first settlement and the present, with the thousands of people, in cities and its farms.

Dr. J. B. Whittier, of Decatur was introduced and spoke briefly of the hardships of pioneer life.

Mrs. W. B. Newton was presented by Mr. Latta, as the first school teacher in Burt county.

Senator of G. W. Wiltse, of Randolph was introduced as the next speaker. He spoke of the experiences of the boy in pioneer days. It was the boy, a little older grown, who spoke and who would enjoy the same things in the same measure again. The dances, the county fair and "mother's pie" were touched upon with utmost relish and yet not without tenderness.

John P. Cameron spoke of the opportunities of the boys of the early settlers. It was a manly realization of the duties as well as the opportunities of the present, together with an expression of gratitude for what has been accomplished.

W. B. Newton spoke of why he came to Burt county. He started out from Michigan in 1857 with a team and wagon and $62 in money. When he came here during the panic, every bank in Nebraska was bankrupt and it is said that there were not $100 of good money in Burt county and so on, more of sruggles and privations of which we of a latter day can have no understanding or realization. The stories the old timers are by far the most interesting feature of these meeting. We never tire of those old stories. The homely language speaks to our hearts more effectively than the most polished rhetoric of the professional spell binders.

Following the list of prize winners in the tree planting contest.

Arizona Township - Jonathon Lydick, planted trees in April, 1858
Logan Township - S. K. Stone, planted trees in April, 1867
Everett Township - Mr. Hart, planted trees in April, 1868
Craig Twonship - P. S. Gibbs, planted trees in April, 1868
Kerl Township - Adolph Palmquist, planted trees in June, 1869
Oakland Township - Mrs. Blackstone was present when her father, Mr. Arlington, the original owner of the present site of Oakland, planted trees in 1858
Bell Creek Township - Victor Colson, planted tree in 1867
Decatur Township - Mr. Evans, planted trees in 1858
Silver Creek Township - P. C. Brandt, planted trees in 1868
Riverside Township - J. Tuttel, planted trees in 1867
Summitt Township - J. P. Olinger, planted trees in April, 1859
Tekamah Township - J. D. Cornelia, planted trees in 1857

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