Burt County Old Settlers Association, 1909 +

September 10, 1909


Pioneers Who Died the Past Year


     The following lists of deaths of Burt county pioneers and old settlers during the past year was set up for publication in last week's issue of the Independent was unfortunately was crowded out. The list can serve at best, perhaps, only as a roll of honor, for it tells nothing of the story of the lives of those whose names are given. Each name represents, however, an epic or a romance, a story of titanic struggles, a story of heartaches, sorrows, disappointments, or joys, hope, aspirations, and the multitude of those events and happenings that are crowded into the space of life of the ordinary man and woman.

MRS. WM. FOWLER, died in Arizona township August 13, 1908, aged 81 years, 5 months and 13 days. Settled in Burt county in 1868.

MRS. GOOD BARBER BOLDEN, died in Tekamah August 28, 1908, aged 57 years and 20 days. One of the very early settlers.

ERICK H. ERICKSON, died September 3, 1908. Located in Burt county in the fall of 1863.

SWAN OLSON, died September 6, 1908. Came to Burt county in 1868.

LEWIS PETERSON, died Septmeber 2, 1908 in Los Angeles, Cal., aged 75 years, 8 months and 10 days. Came to Burt county in July 1855.

JAMES LaRUE, died at Chambers, Neb., September 16, 1908, aged 79 years. Came to Burt county in 1876.

SIDNEY S. SKINNER, was born in 1846 and died at Tekamah November 14, 1908. Was a veteran in the civil war and spoke at our last reunion of old settlers. Settled in Tekamah in 1878.

FRED OLINGER, died at Hastings, Neb., Nov 28, 1908. He was born near Tekamah September 21, 1871.

MRS. CAROLINE HOPEWELL, was born in Delaware October 30, 1834, and died in Tekamah September 24, 1908 aged 73 years, 10 months and 24 days.

JAMES T. NEALY, died at Decatur September 30, 1908. He was the son of JANES NEALY of Decaur.

CARL AUG. HELM, died at Oakland October 9, 1908, where he settled thirty years ago.

MISS SARAH ELIZABETH WHITTIER, died at Decatur October 7, 1908, aged 71 years.

MRS. ETTA MATHILDA SWANSON, was born in Oakland in 1883 and died at Thurston, Neb., October 29, 1908

MRS. ALBERT PETERSON, was born in Burt county June 14, 1882 and died November 17, 1908. She was the daughter of HENRY SAUTFIELD. (Illegible name)

ANDREW G. ANDERSON, died at Oakland November 13, 1908. Came to Burt county in 1869.

AMOS SMITH ISGRIG, died near Tekamah November 17, 1908, aged 73 years, 4 months and 6 days. Setttled in Burt county in 1875.

NATHANIEL M. HOLIDAY, died west of Tekamah December 16, 1908, aged 63 years, 11 months and 19 days. Came to Burt county in 1882.

MRS. BURR LATTA, daughter of COL. HARRINGTON, was born in Tekamah September 3, 1880, and died December 24, 1908.

HENRY JENSEN, died north of Tekamah December 29, 1908, aged 67 years, 10 months and 24 days. Came to Burt county in 1880.

CLINTON MONROE HOUSTON, was born in 1828, died on Tekemah January 4, 1909.

LOUIS CALNON, died in Omaha January 18, 1909, aged 55 years. He was one of the earliest settlers of this county.

MISS BESSIE ARNOLD, died December 9, 1908 at Berthold, N.D. Her parents resided for many years near Craig.

CARL A. NORBECK, died near Oakland January 24, 19098, aged 59 years. Came to Oakland in 1875.

LARS SAMUELSON, died in Oakland February 3, 1909. Came to Burt county in May, 1886.

CARL OSCAR JOHNSON, born at Oakland November 5, 1884, and died January 31, 1909.

MRS. GAIL SHAFFER JEEP, died in Lincoln, January 28, 1909, aged 30 years. Came to Burt county in 1882.

MARTIN S. MANFIELD, died in January at Homer, Neb. He settled in Decatur in 1866.

MRS. JESSIE l. SMITH, died near Craig February 17, 1909. Came to Burt county in 1857 with her parents.

MRS. D. C. GRIFFIN, died in Decatur February 17, 1909. Settled in Decatur forty years ago.

MRS. REBEKALE CLEMANTINE RUMLEY KELSO, died in Tekamah 1909, aged 52 years. She was an old settler.

JAMES CART, died February 21, 1909. Came to Burt county in the spring of 1882 at Tekamah.

GEORGE D. WIXLER, died at his home in Tekamah February 14, 1909. He was a pioneer settler of Burt county.

SAMUEL CHRISTOPHER, died in Tekamah February 27, 1909, aged 77 years. He was an old soldier and old settler of Burt county.

GEORGE A. ROSE, died Masrch 13, 1909, in Bancroft, aged 66 years. Settled in Burt county in 1883.

MRS. PETER CARLSON, settled near Craig many years ago. Died last March.

MRS. CATHERINE CONNEALLY, died in March west of Decatur, aged 84 years. Came to Burt county in 1869.

MRS, HANNAH WALLACE, died March 28, 1909. aged 89 years, coming to Burt county in the early 60s.

CARL AUGUST PETERSON, died March 19, 1909. at Reliance, S.D. Was an early settler east of Oakland.

WILLIAM T. GOODWELL, died March 29, 1909, aged 81 years. He took part in the first election held in Burt county November 4, 1855. Was county surveyor, and represented Burt county in the territorial legislature. Died at Galesburg, Illinois.

THOMAS W. HOBSON, died April 4, 1909 in Colorado. Was an old settler of Burt county, coming to the county in 1878.

SWAN W. JOHNSON, died in an hospital in Omaha April 17, 1909. Lived for forty years near Oakland.

D. C. GRIFFIN, died April 20, 1909, in Decatur, aged 84 years. Came to Burt county in 1869.

MRS. ADELIA RODDY FAZEL, died April 23, 1909, at Oakland. Came to Burt county thirty years ago.

MRS. GEORGE GREEN, died May 7, 1909 at Cedar Rapids, Neb. Was an old settler of Burt county.

HIRAM JESSE ALLEN, died May 13, 1909 in Tekamah. He was an old settler of Burt county.

MRS. CAROLINE SPIELMAN, wife of H. M. S. SPIELMAN, died in Tekamah May 21, 1909. Came to Burt county in 1857.

MRS. DANIEL V. HALSTEAD, died June 22, 1909, at Decatur, aged 87 years. She was a pioneer settler of Burt county.

RUDOLPH GAMBLE, died June 19, 1909, at Tekamah, aged 52 years. He was an old settler of this county.

MRS. L. GENNEWEIN, died at Onawa, Ia., June 19, 1909. Was an old settler at Decatur.

MRS. SARAH A. LUSK, died July 9, 1909. Was an old settler at Craig.

ANDREW P. OSTRAND, died July 1, 1909, at Oakland. Came to Burt county in March, 1882

MRS. FREDERICK S. SNYDER. died in July. Came to Burt county in 1885.

OSCAR FLOOD, died in Texas July 29, 1909. He was an old settler near Oakland.

MRS. T. E. HALL, died July 29, 1909 in California, aged 56 years. She was a daughter of L. S. DARLING. Came to Burt county in May 1867. L.

S. HALL settled in Burt county in 1856.

JOE E. TURNER, died at Alexandria, Ind. aged 77 years. An old settler of Burt county.

JOHN S. CARLSON, died in Kansas City, August 13, 1909, aged 58 years. Settled at Oakland in 1880.

MRS, MARY ANDERSON, died at Oakland recently, aged 77 years. Settled in Burt county in 1864.

ALLIE CLARK, died August 25, 1909. Old settler -1968 or 1869.

FOOTNOTE  - This is not to be considered a list of all people with Burt county connnections that died in Burt county. This is a list of those that had a connection with the Burt county Settler's Association.

August 19, 1910

Deaths of Pioneers and Old Settlers.

     The memorial report of Historian J. R. Sutherland will show the following deaths of pioneers and old settlers since the last reunion. Don't fail to hear his report at the coming reunion, August 31st:

A. G. Davis
Miss Hopper
Mrs. Valber A. Galland Beebe
Thomas J. Everett
Mrs. Hannah Corey
L. L. Darling
Charles W. Haney
Mrs. Stina Peterson
Jonas M. Johnson
Johanna Pettersdotter
Mrs. Anna Christina Benson
Peter J. Swanson
Wm. Riley Davis
B. C. Joliff
Mrs. Sarah Brokaw
Mrs. A. A. Plummer
Sherman Robertson
Alfred Walberg
G. A. Thompson
August Skelnar
John W. Taylor
Nelson Peter Shinbur
S. L. Conger
Lucy Ann Mosberger
W. H. Price
William Murphy
Amelia Caroline Lange
John Dalrymple
Mrs. Anna Anderson
Mrs. Julia Hanson
Mrs. Sarah Short Monette
Mrs. Peter B. Cameron
Mrs. S. T. Matthews
Austin H. Gates
Joseph Langford
Mrs. Andrew Carlson
W. A. Harding
Wm. Crawford
Mrs. J. C. Bacon
Robert Daley
Mrs. Peter Flannigan
Wm. M. Jones
A. C. Palmatier
Eda C. Nelson
Nils Olson
Mrs. D. C. Wallace
Mrs. Jas. Carruthers
Wm. A. Clark
Mrs. Annie E. Robertson
Swan M. Nerlson
Mrs. John Beckstrom
David M. Farrens
Olif M. Remington
Charles M. Brookings
Rev. Father Cross
Mrs. Lewis Miller
Chas. E. Barker
Capt. L. N. Montgomery
Mrs. Johanna Johnson
Walter C. Freeman
Henry McKenzie
David S. Couchman
Z. D. Bowen
Mrs. C. F. Laughlin
George Luce
Mrs. Eugene Grenier
Mrs. Ellsworth Hall

September 8, 1911

Monster Crowd at Tekamah


A Plenty of Speeches - Dedication of Folsom Monument - Long List of Those Deceased

The gathering at Tekamah last Friday in honor of the Pioneers and Old Settlers of Burt County was perhaps the largest in the history of the county and of the Association. The day was an ideal one and Folsum Park was filled with a throng, out for a holiday, but at the same time comparatively quiet, and altogether conscious of the import of the day. The occasion was not an entirely joyful one, for the ranks have thinned considerably during the past year, and the pioneers are becoming a little more grey and a little more bent with each advancing year.

Col. Harrington, the president of the Association, called the meeting proper to order shortly before noon, and in a very eloquent address bade the visitors welcome. Col. Harrington was at his best on Old Settlers' Day, and he was never at a loss to fill up a space in the program, or to give the retort courteous when occasion was fit.

W. B. Newton, responded in behalf of those present, as Congressman Latta was not present. Mr. Newton spoke feelingly of the old days and contrasted them with the present. Especial tribute was paid by the speakers during the day to the memory of M. R. Hopewell, and Congressman Latta, who had just passed through an operation at Rochester, Minn. was not forgotten during the day. A telegram congratulating Mr. Latta upon the success of the operation that he had just passed thru, and expressing hopes of his speedy recovery, was sent during the day, a resolution to that effect having been unanimously passed by the gathering.

The noon hour was spent in the usual way. There were basket dinners, where fried chicken, and country pies and watermelons predominated. Free coffee and lemonade was dispensed by the Tekamah Retailers Association. And through it all, old friend met old friend, handclasp met handclasp with the warmth of old friendships, and memories of old days stirred many an old heart.

The report of the historian, J. R. Sutherland, of Tekamah, was then read by Miss Irene Sutherland. The report was one of the most interesting that has been heard. Especial mention was made of M. R. Hopewell and his work, closed now. An extended account of Col. B. R. Folsom, the first settler in Burt county, and the founder of Tekamah, was given. Especially interesting were the extracts from his diary, giving in detail the pioneer's first impressions of Nebraska and the land upon which he later made his home and in which he ammassed his fortune. It came throbbing with the life and conditions of that day, and bespoke the bigness of the man whose faith served to redeem so large a portion of a commonwealth.

Mr. Sutherland's paper also gave an account of the dedication of Folsom Park and the placing of the big monument at the entrance to the grounds, which henceforth serve to keep alive the memory of the first man who made Burt county his home, and who did this in '54. The monument consist of a big red granite boulder, placed at the southeast corner of the grounds, and bears to inscription, "Founded by R. R. Folsum. 1854"

Following is the list of pioneers and old settlers who have died during the year, as reported by the historian:

Lieut. Governor M. R. Hopewell
M. M. Ramsey
Mrs. Franklin Everett
Mrs. Henry McKenzie
Mrs. Johanna Anderson
J. M. Edmiston
Louis Christenson
Mrs. Clara Van Nostrand
Mrs. Hannah Olson
Mrs. Anna Gustafson
Frank Thibault
Mrs. Chas Southwell
Wm. R. McLaughlin
Mads Hansen
Mrs. B. F. Dill
Willard Strong
Swan Ekstrand
Bruce Deaver
Milton L. Reyman
Mrs. May Batchelder
Mrs. Peter Raferty
Joseph M. Davis
Mrs. Alicia Elizabeth Matthews
Jasper C. Laughlin
George F. Smith
David Bruner
Thomas Henry Price
Albert McDaniel
Miles Bowden
R. B. Hennen
James Russell
Mrs. William Gregg
Mrs. John Bowden
Wm. Oberg
Carl H. Carlson
Luke Hayward Burfee
Mrs. A. L. Hennig
Mons M. Nelson
John A Garner
Mrs. Christina Sievert
Mrs. Christina Carlson
Gustav Backus
N. M. Osberg
Mrs. Susan Adams
Mrs. Caroline Oaks
John Ray
"Grandma" Sabina Kessler
Mrs. Katherine Jane Emanuel
Mrs. Martin Sedig
Mrs. Louise May Mayden
I. L. Wood
Mrs. Andy Smith
Mrs. Henry Crellin
David Couchman
F. B. Alderman
Judson Cornelius
F. B. Alderman
Judson Cornelius
Mrs. Christina Nelson
Mrs. Wm Richards

After the report of the historian had been read, Col. Harrington introduced Mr. W. S. Reed, of Madison as the principal speaker of the day. Mr. Reed paid a glowing tribute to the old settler and his work, but called upon the new generation to pioneer along new paths. There are problems in our American life that must be solved, and this requires men with new ideas and changed ideals, and these men must possess the courage and strength of convictions and the hardihood that charactized the pioneer of the prairie.

Then there were short speeches by Victor Colson, of Oakland; George Peterson, of Tekamah; Mr. Griffin, of Decatur; Rev. J. S. Clark. of Lyons; Captain Hall, of Tekamah, and others. Captain Hall directed his remarks especially to the old soldiers, who are becoming fewer year by year. A plan was proposed to unite the old soldiers of the state into district associations, each association to contain a number of counties, this for the purpose of maintaining the orgainzation in spite of decreasing numbers.

Among the speakers was Dan Stevens, of Fremont, who spoke on "Good Roads," a topic which he said he beleived the pioneer could appreciate. J. H. Grossman, of Omaha, also gave a short address, in which he paid a glowing tribute to Melville R. Hopewell, whom he had known many years.

Music was furnished during the day by the Silver Creek Drum Corps, and they were good.

SEPT. 6, 1912

Several Thousand Gather in Folsom Park to Hear of Former Days.
Gov. Aldrich Speaks

The Old Settlers picnic last Friday was the best ever held in its history. The park was full of people all day and the Morrow drum corps furnished music for the occasion. It was a pretty sight at the noon hour to see over a thousand scattered in little family and neighborhood groups, enjoying a picnic in the beautiful shade in Folsom park, and others spread their linen on private laws to enjoy the novelty of a feast, with mother earth as the table, for the blue sky for a roof and nature's trees and shrubs for wall decorations.

The afternoon program opened with the memorial report by J. R. Sutherland, the Historian. The article was read by his daughter Metta, and will appear in the next issue of the Herald. B. H. Robinson, President of the "Bankers Reserve Life Association," of Omaha was the first speaker and made a very interesting on talk of his early recollections of this county. Mr. Robinson was the first principal of a high school in Burt county, it was Tekamah the fall of 1874, 38 years ago, He remained as principal for five years and was a resident of Tekamah for about 15 years. He paid this county a nice compliment when he said "that there are no better people nor an better county in the world than Burt."

Prof. C. F. Beck of the State Normal at Peru, was the next. Prof. Beck was the principal for seven years and was later county superintendent. He was pleased to notice a $75,000 school house in the place of the $6,000 one in which he taught.

Rev. H. L. Powers of Lincoln followed with a touching heart-to-heart talk with many of his old friends. Mr. Powers was pastor of the M. E. church here 27 years ago. Mr. Powers is a pulpit orator of note and he demonstrated that he could talk in the wooded parks and be heard by thousands. Mr. Powers said that he always felt kindly towards Tekamah since he was married; that his was the best wife in the world, as she was a Tekamah girl (Miss Belle Hopewell).

Dr. J.B. Whittier of Decatur gave a very interesting address. Andrew Young read a historical paper on the advent of the Young family in this country in 1856, when he was only 16 months old. W. A. Stewart of Craig surprised his many old friends with his oratory; he would make a good campaigner. Mr. Stewart told about his coming here in 1868, and later developments. Ex-Senator Hall, an old soldier, who came here in 1866 has always been active in every good cause, made a short talk and was followed by Mr. Ruddy of Lyons, and now of Portland, Oregon who gave one of the best addresses of the afternoon. Then greetings from L. L. Young of Nampa, Idaho and Irene Sutherland Breckenridge of Innerkip, Canada were read.

Gov. Aldrich, who was the principal orator on the program, was then introduced by the President, Col. Harrington, who said that he was proud of the honor of introducing the governor of the great state of Nebraska to the Pioneers and Old Settlers of Burt county. The governor held the best of attention for an hour. He was in splendid voice and could be heard by the large crowd that packed the grove around the platform. His theme was Nebraska and its resources and possibilities. His address and manner impressed everyone who heard him of his strength of character, that he is a forceful, courageous man, a man that can not be swerved from the right as he sees it.

At the business meeting an amendment to the constitution was adopted advancing the pioneer date from 1870 to Jan. 1, 1880, and making the length of residence 20 years in the county instead of 23 as provided under the by-laws. All of the old officers were reelected for another year. Before adjournment a resolution was adopted thanking the people of Tekamah for the many courtesies extended, especially for the Major Morrow drum corps, also to the owners of autos who were so generous to convey the many from and to the trains, and for many other marks of attention which make it so pleasant for the guests of the association.

SEPT. 13, 1912


Incidents in Connection With the Settling of Oakland and West Side told to Pioneers
by J. R. Sutherland

In my former historical sketches I confined myself to the first white settlers who located in the county after it was founded by B. R. Folsom, in October, 1854.

I also gave you on a few previous occasions the story of the building of the Old Block House, it occupancy and the history connected with that old landmark of pioneer days.

I will now endeavor to give you a brief review of the settlement in the county as it came under my observation in the late sixties and early seventies. Most of the population was confined to the old stage road that ran through Tekamah and Decatur, over which the mail was carried from Omaha to Sioux City. There was also quite a settlement along the Missouri River, through Arizona and Riverside precincts, and on to Decatur, which with Tekamah, were the only towns in the county, and neither could boast of more than fifty inhabitants. There were a few families along Tekamah creek, such as the Skieners, Truaxes, Critchfields, Phillip Guies, John Baldwin and Otis Alexander, who owned what is now the J. T. Blackstone place. From there across the table land to the Logan Valley, the P. S. Gibbs and Frank Force, on Bell Creek, were the only families. John Freeman and his brother Otis, and the J. D. Batchelder were a little father north and to the south on Bell Creek. In what was called Alder Groove neighborhood were David Clark, J. K. Adams and brother R. L. Adams, Obadiah Hayes and the Cook families.

About this time the Clark-Craig colony from Cadiz, Ohio located with the Heleas and Stewarts, located around where the town of Craig is now situated.

On South Logan there were the Tunberg, Kerl, Mogul, Osborne and Lemmonhomes.

Where Oakland is now located was the James Askwig farm. The Askwig home was the stopping place for traveling to West Point on the Elkhorn, where both man and beast found shelter and plenty of good things to eat. Their house was a one story log cabin, but if there was not room enough to sleep in the house they always gave shelter. I remember about a crowd of us returning from a ball game at West Point and were overtaken by a rain storm at the Askwig's. We remained for the night and all slept in his granary, and were served an excellent breakfast the next morning. Many fond memories cluster around the old Askwig home on the Logan.

Later, a Mr. Morrell kept a small store and postoffice on the corner south of Askwig's and Mr. Lundstrom had a blacksmith shop there. West of the creek were the Palmquist, Evans, David Rock and a few others. Farther south and west, near the county line, were Oscar Samson, L, J. Malmstein, Peter Young and his parents, all of whom were on homesteads. J. P. Anderson, Victor Colson and a few others constituted the settlement on the west of the Logan and north of Oakland.

At Lyons, the Everetts came and located in 1866 and Waldo Lyon moved there in 1868. He had a sawmill east of Tekamah and went to the Logan and put in a flour mill. A. A. Thomas was elected sheriff and county clerk and had the first store there, in 1869.

The Lyons home was the stopping place for the traveler in that part of the county, and was noted for its hospitality and good table.

From there east, toward Decatur, there were no settlers to speak of until the John Clarkson farm on the Blackbird, was reached. Then on to the divide at the head of Elm Creek were the Lon Rogers, Charley Gould and David Couchman places, and farther south were the Tramper, McKenzie, Maryott, Geo. Peterson and J. S. Stanton homes. Still further down the creek were the Connealy, Ed Higley, Bacon and a few other homes, with the little settlement of Peterson, Thompson, Hopkins, Laughlin, Wallace, Bates and Pratt families on Silver Creek, which constituted the population of the county in 1869.

In the early seventies, emigration came in quite rapidly, roads were laid out, temporary bridges were built and school districts multiplied faster than anything else. From less than 10 districts in the county in 1869 to more than 50 in 1877, over 40 new school houses in 7 years. I speak of this because I had the contract for more than 25 of them, and that was the darkest days of the old settlers' experience in the county. A dry period prevailed over most of those years and the grasshopper pest was with us almost continually for 10 years from 1867 to 1877.

There was no remunerative market for what the early settler had to dispose off (sic) wheat sold as low as 35 cents per bushel, corn at 10 to 15 cents per bushel, and hogs live weight went as low as $1.85 per hundred. The first railroad reached Tekamah Aug. 30th 1876 and its terminus remained here until Dec. 31st. 1879 when the first passenger coach went as far as Oakland from which Oakland dates its birth.

The present agitation over a new courthouse, recalls to mind a lively tilt had in 1877 over the court house question. It was brought on for speculation purposes by J. F. Merritt, a new arrival in the county, who was shrewd enough to see that the locating the county seat in a new place where land would be donated, would result in profit by the sale of town lots. Mr. Merritt visited nearly every home in the county to secure signatures to a petition to call a special election to vote on the county seat removal. The election was called for Aug. 14th. The Merritt site for the new town was Silver Creek, and the west side were to vote for Center, a location near the Andrew Young place. Tekamah citizens got busy and the conducted a school house campaign. They promised to build a good frame building which cost $4,300, and give it to the county if the county seat remained at Tekamah. A proposition of that import was printed together with the names of the subscribers as a pledge of good faith, and was circulated all over the county. The last ten days before election was a strenuous time, nothing doing anywhere but electioneering for each location. Election day came, and 947 votes were polled (it was a full vote), when the returns came in Tekamah had 487, a majority of 16 of the total vote cast. The vote was so decisive that no second election was called.

But that did not end the trouble for Tekamah, for those who subscribed to build the court house disagreed on the location of the building, which resulted in the erection of the present court house on the plan submitted in the proposition and also of the brick building now occupied by the Hemping drug store and the Wilbert harness shop with the second story for the court house. Both buildings were completed and offered to the county commissioners of the last week in December. Those who built the frame building offered to deed it to the county in fee simple, but the majority of the board accepted, the brick building and I was paid $75.00 to move the safes from Thomas hall , which the county had rented, into the new brick, which was accomplished only a few days before the next meeting of the board, in January 1878, when a new member took his seat and the former order off accepting the brick building was reconsidered and the frame building was accepted. An order was issued to me at 4 o'clock p. m. that day to remove all the county books and safes to the frame building north of the creek.

Those favoring the brick building were going to get out an injunction to prevent a change. One of their number started immediately for Blair to employ Attorney Carrigan to start proceedings. The Tekamah attorneys were all for the frame building. To prevent litigation those favoring the frame building suggest that I get busy and move the county property before the court could take action. There were four safes; two of then weighed 8500 pounds, one weighed 6500 and the other 4000 pounds. With the assistance of Merve and Myron Morehouse, T. G. Smith and John Harrington, E. W. Bryant's team and two wagons, we began at 8 o'clock that evening and had all of the county books and safes in the frame court house before 12 o'clock midnight.

Attorney Carrigan arrived about 1 a. m. and went to bed, expecting to begin action in the morning. But to his surprise there was nothing to enjoin - it was all over.

The little feeling that was engendered by the local strife soon disappeared and the county has had the free and undisputed use of the generosity of a few individuals for the last 35 years, but a few still seem to cherish the old relic of the grasshopper period. August, 1877 was the lst time that the sun was darkened over Burt County by myriads of grasshoppers on the wing, or to have their crops devastated by the pests.

A new court house is at present occupying the attention of the voters. I deem it proper that a brief history of the old one should be incorporated in this article and have a place in the archives of this association.

AUG. 29, 1913


Early Settlers of Burt County Enjoy a Day together and Again Tell of By-Gone Days


The Burt County Pioneers and Old Settlers Reunion held here in Folsom Park last Friday was one of the best and largest in the history of the organization. The crowds began arriving early, the morning trains were loaded, also the 10:30 a.m. train from the north. All the guests were conveyed between trains and park by Tekamah motorist who kindly volunteered their services. Auto loads from the farms and surrounding towns came by the hundreds. During the forenoon and also in the afternoon the Van Cleve band rendered a number of choice selections. At 11 o'clock the president, Col. Wellington Harrington, called the vast assemblage to order; Rev. Williams of the Baptist church invoked Divine blessing on the reunion of Pioneers and Old Settlers, then the president delivered the address of welcome which was responded to by Capt. Joe Hall of Riverside. The next in order was the picnic dinner, in which more participated than any former reunion; the park was full of campers and table linen spread with tempting viands. After music by the band the afternoon program was opened by the memorial address prepared by the historian, J. R. Sutherland, and read by his daughter. Rev. Dayhoff in Montana and Prof. Abbott of Plattsmouth sent cordial greeting, which were read; then Rev. H. L. Powers of Lincoln delivered the oration. It was a splendid effort and received the best attention. Rev. Powers was Pastor of the Methodist church here 38 years ago. Then followed Rev. D. W. MacGregor, whose talk was much appreciated. Others who delivered brief addresses were W. A. Stewart of Craig; Walter B. Newton, a pioneer of 1857; Judge W. G. Sears, a resident since 1878; C. E. Bardwell, now of Lincoln, who came here from New York in 1866; R. A. Smith, who came here from Canada in 1871; each and all of them made very interesting talks. Col. Harrington, a pioneer of 1855, he declined to serve longer as president; he nominated W. B. Newton, who was elected. All of the other old officers were re-elected. This closed the program of the most successful and enjoyable reunion ever held in the county, but the crowd remained and indulged in a real old fashioned visit until the evening train left at left at 7:20.


In submitting this, my annual memorial report, it is with regret I state that the scythe of time has made greater inroads in the ranks of the pioneers, than during any previous year.

It will be noted in the list of the departed since our last reunion, that Rev. W. G. Olinger who came here in 1855 heads the list of 81 deaths since our last reunion. It was only two years ago that Mr. Olinger was with us on this occasion and addressed you from this platform, last year he was with you in spirit if not in person in the way of a letter of cordial greeting to his many old time friends.

It will also be noted that the list contains four who came here in 1856, Jonathan Lydick, Mrs. Andrew Young Sr., Mrs. Harrison Owens and Mrs. Mary Hamilton Diement, daughter of Father Hamilton. Each of them being prominent in the early settlement of the county and contributed much to their way to mould a healthy, oral sentiment in the frontier settlement. It will also be noted that from the ranks of 1857 that we lost Mrs. Geo. Hall Sr., and Mrs. Wallace B. Newton, both of them noble character who memories will be cherished for their influence for good.

Mrs. Newton had the distinguished honor of teaching the first school in the county, in Tekamah, the fall of 1857, in a little log house belonging to Grandpa Kettleson which stood on the ground now occupied by the post office. There was no school law in the territory at that time, she was paid by the parents and boarded around among those who sent children to school. It was Mrs. Newton's great privilege to live to see the education interests of Burt county and Tekamah, advance from the one little log hut here in Tekamah, advance from the one little log hut here in Tekamah , to the present magnificently equipped $75,000 school building across the way, employing sixteen teachers. She was permitted to live to see the county changed from one little school which she taught, increased to seventy-one districts employing 123 teachers.

From those who came here in the sixties, the list contains fifteen who have answered the final roll call within the year, among them being such well known pioneers as Ole Larson of Bell Creek, P. L. Rork, W. M. Bean, Peter Reinert, Mrs. Peter Swanson and Mrs. Chas. Haswell of Tekamah, Mrs. Emeline Peebles and John Lewis of Decatur.

Wonderful, were the changes that came under the observation of those early pioneers; from the broad expanse of prairie to one of the best agricultural counties in the world. They lived to see the mode of transportation changed from the ox team to the railroad and automobile. It was theirs to live to see the telegraph, telephone, and rural mail delivery catering to the wants and conviences of the people in all parts of the county. True is the old saying: "Time and tide waits for no man." Soon there will be no living pioneers of the fifties and sixties. Of the little band who came here in the fifties, there are now only five living in the county; they are; your president Col. Harrington, Geo. Peterson, Mrs. James Askwig, Mrs. George Crannell, and James P. Olinger, the others who are still living are: N. R. Folsom in California, Mrs. Elizabeth West of Portland, Oregon, Mrs. Amanda Olinger Kunkle of California, Mrs. Margaret Olinger Wilson, Omaha and Mrs. Mary Olinger Stewart of New Mexico. The time will soon be here that if this organization survives, it will have to be conducted by the sons and daughters of those worth pioneers who paved the way and braved the hardships and enjoyed the distinction of being the first settlers in this new and undeveloped west.

J. R. Sutherland

SEPTEMBER 11, 1914


The pioneers and old settlers of Burt county held their twelfth annual reunion Friday in Folsom Park, to celebrate the founding of Tekamah and Burt county in October 1854 - on the same ground where the little band of white explorers first made camp and drove their claim stakes, and their leader, Col. B. R. Folsom laid out the townsite - hence the name Folsom park. The weather Friday was delightful and the crowd estimated at about 3000, three-fourths of whom came in their own automobile, a remarkable change to a few years ago when trains brought several coach loads and the three seated imber (sic) was much in evidence.

The gathering was called to order at 11 o'clock when Col. Wellington Harrington, president of the association gave a cordial welcome to the many old timers, which was responded to by James A Clark, followed by the Chaplain Rev. D. W. MacGregor who asked for divine guidance. The music was furnished by the Van Cleve band.

After the big basket dinner, the crowd again assembled and listened to the reading of the address of the historian, J. R. Sutherland, the article appearing in full in this issue.

Owing to the absence of Governor Morehead, through illness, the address of the afternoon was delivered by Hon. Willis E. Reed of Madison, who in his opening remarks said that this was the second time he had been called upon to take the place of the governor of Nebraska, here at a reunion. Mr. Reed gave an eloquent address upon "Our Country," speaking of the pioneer movement first to the eastern shores of America, then steadily westward. He made a strong plea against militarism and for true non-partisian support of the administration at Washington in its efforts for continued peace.

Several pioneers and local talent were called upon for five minute talks among then being Andrew Young Jr. who came here when a babe in 1865; W. A. Stewart of Craig, who came here from Ohio, in the late sixties; Dr. J. B. Whittier of Decatur, one of the largest land holders in the county and president of the First National Bank at Decatur; Supt. A. H. Dixon of the Tekamah schools waxed eloquent in his brief address; each made a very interesting talks and all glorified over what has been accomplished by the pioneers and congratulated the present on the splendid conditions existing. A. N. Yost of Omaha, president of the Nebraska Pioneer Association was introduced and his talk was on the object of the state organization; he also gave a brief review of his early experiences as a pioneer boy in the Nebraska territory.

A very pleasing feature was the singing of "Auld Lang Syne" by Prof. Ralph Conkling and a thousand voices in the audience accompanied by the Van Cleve band of twenty-six pieces. Leaflets containing the words of the old favorite song were distributed by the band boys, and their leader Mr. Van Cleve urged all to come up close around the stand and join in the singing which was complied with "and here's a hand, my trusty' and gie's a hand o'thine;" produced that kinship feeling that accorded with the object if these annual reunions, it was a pleasing feature of the program.

Col. Harrington as president was at his best and kept the people interested in what was next, but in his enthusiam (sic), he brought the program to a close without the election of officers, it escaping his memory so the old officers will hold until their successors are elected at the next annual reunion.


Following is the memorial address written by the Historian. J. R. Sutherland:

Again we are reminded by this memorial leaflet that since our last meeting one year ago our ranks have been decimated by that all-devouring scythe of Time. Many have answered the roll call over yonder since we last met.

It will be sixty years the 7th of next October since that little band of adventurers trod the naked prairie and drove the first claim stakes in this county and in this townsite. Could some angel have lifted the curtain of the future on that clear October day and disclosed to the daring little band the transformation that would be wrought in three-score years in this unexplored western empire whose virgin soil they trod; the once naked prairies now clothed with the garments of civilization, the golden grain waving on the sunlight, the tasseled corn saluting the breeze. Gone from the valleys and the uplands are the buffalo and the elk, also the wandering tribes of Indians, swept from the plains by the tidal wave of progresss, villages, towns and cities proclaim the redemption of this wilderness. The debt of gratutude can never be repaid by mere memorial rights. Our obligation is of a higher, nobler character. The most enduring monument which can be reared to the memory of those who by the genius of discovery and the heroism of frontier life prepared this county for the habitation of its present population of 14,000 people, will not be found in marble, bronze or stone. Their names acquire additional lustre through physical, intellectual and moral energy; they builded better than they knew. Theirs was an uncompleted mission, ours the more easy, yet subline taks of realizing tbeir ideal, of translating the drean of their heroic hour into the progressive spirit of the present age.

Your Historian deems it wise to now incorporate into the records of this association a chronological sketch of early events in the county and who were some of the prominent characters on the stage of action in pioneer days, that the rising generations may glean from the records in future years, when all of the actors will be resting in their silent abode. It will be in the form of questions and answers, as follows.

Who was the first white settler in Burt county? Benjamin R. Folsom, Oct. 7, 1854.

Who built the first house in the county? Benjamin R. Folsom, June 1855

Who started the first store? Miles Hopkins, in 1855.

Who kept the first hotel? Major Harrington (father of your President, Col. Harrington), 1855.

When was the first blacksmith? Michael Olinger, 1855.

When was the first election in the county? December,1854.

Who was elected? R. R. Folsom, member of Territorial Council and Genl. Robertson and H. C. Purple to the House.

When was Burt county organized? November 23, 1854.

For whom was it named? Hon. Francis Burt, Nebraska first governor.

When was Tekamah incorporated as a city? March 14, 1855, by an act of the Territorial legislature and made the county seat.

For whom was the first funeral held? Mrs. Thomas Thompson, fall of1855.

When was the first white child born? In the fall of 1855, to Mr. and Mrs. Thomas Thompson, and lived only a few days after the death of the mother.

Who were the first couple married in the county? Lewis P. Peterson to Miss Elsie Thompson, fall of 1855.

Who preached the first sermon in the county? Rev. Wm. Bates, July 1855.

Who was the first regular preacher? Rev. Jacob Adriance of the Desoto M. E. circuit, 1856.

Who was the first postmaster? Major Harrington, 1855.

When was he first permanent settlement made in the county? April 19, 1855, at Tekamah.

Who were the first settlers? Col. B. R. Folsom and his sons Niles R. and John B. Folsom, Z. B. Wilder, W. F. Goodwill, W. B. Beck, F. E. Lange and Deidrich Fees and wife (she was the first white woman in the county).

Who was the first probate judge? B. R. Folsom was commissioned by territorial authority May 16, 1855.

Who was the first attorney? Major Harrington, 1855.

When was the first election held to elect county judge? November 6, 1855.

Who were the first county officers? Probate Judge, Wm. Bates; county Treasurer, Lewis P. Peterson; Sheriff, John Nevitt; County Surveyor. Wm. F. Goodwill; County Clerk, Peter F. Peterson; Justices of the Peace, Major Harrington and Adam Olinger.

When was the first tax levied? In 1855, on $13,000 valuation; the rate as 7 mills and collected $91.04.

Who was the first physician? Dr. Potter, he was also the mayor of Tekamah, in 1855.

Who taught the first district school? Mrs. W. B. Newton in Tekamah, 1857.

When did we get the first mail? In 1856; it came once a week from Omaha. The carrier's name was Stanton.

Who brought the first top buggy to the county? W. B. Beck in 1856.

Who built the first hall for public use? George B. Thomas in 1857.

Who built the first church building in Tekamah? C. K. Conger for the Presbyterians in 1870.

Where was the first church built? The M. E. church at Decatur, 1867.

What lodge was first organized in the county? The Masonic, in 1867, at Decatur.

Who started the first bank in the county? A. Castetter of Blair established a branch here in 1873.

When was the first 4th of July celebration held? At Tekamah in 1856. Gen. John M. Thayer was the orater.

Where were the first five school houses in the county? One in Decatur, the school house in Fairview, the Wallace school house on Silver creek, the Shafer school house in Arizona and one in Tekamah.

When did Burt county get a railroad? The first passenger train came to Tekamah August 30, 1876, reached Oakland December 30, 1879, built to Lyons and through the county to Bancroft in 1880. The population of the county at that time was about 5000.

Who built the first frame house in Tekamah? Geo. P. Thomas. It still stands on the original site back of the Merchants Hotel.

When was the first newspaper published in the county, and by whom? The first issue of the "Burt County Pilot" was Dec. 15, 1871, by J. Y. Lambert. It contained the announcement of your Historian to Miss Mary Stuart Conger, which was the first wedding notice printed in the county.

Where was the first flouring mill? At Tekamah, built by William Raver in 1866. It burned down in October, 1869.

Who brought the first saw mill to the county? George P. Thomas in 1856.

Who brought the first threshing machine? James Askwig in 1857.

Much more data could be added to this list, but we will leave it for a future date.

We are now standing upon the summit of threescore years, on this historic spot where the first white men, that little band of explorers drove the first claim stakes take in what is now Burt county and may well stimulate patriotism and arouse civic pride in what wonderful things have been accomplished in the interval. Many of the pioneers have gone, but their good deed live after them. May we as guardians of a hard earned past imitate their brave devotion to duty well done.

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SEPT. 9, 1915

They Live Again a Day of the Long Ago


It was surely a beautiful sight, an inspiring sight to see the gray haired pioneers, the children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren mingling toether in the pleasant shade of Folsom Park, when the hour arrived for the president, Col. Wellingtom Harrington, to call to order the thirteenth annual reunion of the Pioneers and Old Settlers Association of Burt County, Nebraska at Tekamah, 11 o'clock a. m. Friday, Sept. 3, 1915.

Yes, "beautiful sight" is putting it tamely. There was the venerable Colonel Harrington, Elisha McGuire, H. M. S. Spielman, Mr. and Mrs. James Askwig and others who settled upon Nebraska primeval plains more than fifty years ago. Then there were the settlers of later years, those of the '60s being: J. L. Moore, Allen Crowell, Mrs. Gideon Fritts, Mrs. Andrew Young, Mr. and Mrs. F. O. Eckleen, C. A. Darling, C. Christensen, A. M. Anderson, Mr. and Mrs. J. R. Thomas, J. R. Sutherland. Those of the 70's were: O. A. Farley, Mrs. J. P. Latta, Mrs. James Curtis, Mrs. Frederick Renwinkle, Mr. and Mrs. Aug. Eggert, Mrs. W. H. Going, R. A. Templeton, H. L. Webster. Then came the hundreds and hundreds of children and grand children, all smiling, cheerful and happy.

The chaplain Rev. Benj. A. Fye offered a very appropriate prayer for the occasion and the Col. Harrington gave one of his characteristic annual addresses of welcome followed with response by Rev. Fye, who gave a fine off hand address.

After dinner J. R. Sutherland, the historian gave his annual report which showed that eighty six pioneers and old settlers had died the past year. He also gave a full history of the G. A. R. movement in Burt county. You can always depend on Mr. Sutherland to give an interesting paper, read by his daughter, Mrs. Metta Stout.

The oration of the day was given by Hon. J. L. Kennedy of Omaha and was well received by the vast audience.

Mrs. Josephine Lilly, an aged pioneer woman, gave an interesting talk on pioneer days.

W. A. Stewart of Craig gave a splendid address followed by Mrs. Motta Stout, who read an interesting letter from N. R. Folsom, who is residing in California.

Rev M. C. Stonecypher of Decatur gave the closing address which was very highly appreciated by the audience.

The old offiers hold over as follows: Wellington Harrington, president, M. M. Warner, secretary; Ed Latta, treasurer; J. R. Sutherland, historian; Andrew Young Jr,. George Douglas, R. W. Everett, James Askwig, Elisha McGuire and all others who settled in the county in the 50's, vice-presidents.



The crowd was estimated by experts at 5,000.

Tekamah still holds the good will of the entire county for free coffee and hearty hospitality.

The "welcoming committee" consisting of Harvey Webster, R. J. Mitten, L. S. LaRue amd J. A. Clark were right on the job all day long.

Everybody enjoyed the music by the Van Cleve band.

C. W. Gates took a circuit photo of about 200 pioneers and old settler, which is a good one. Better order one of them.

The badges with the ox team hauling hay fifty years ago and the log cabin were very appropriate.

The old soldiers enjoyed the day, forty-seven of them registering.

©1998-2017 Bill Wever
Updated 16 September 2017 by Dianna G. Curtis