Phelps Helps Newsletter Fall 2000

Phelps Helps Newsletter
Holdrege Area Genealogical Society

For a full hard copy issue, email:
Holdrege Area Genealogy Club

Vol. 9-3
Fall 2000
The Holdrege Area Genealogy Club
meets at the Phelps County Historical Museum
on the first Monday of the month at 2:00 PM.
The public is welcome!



BARR, Roger, Salinas, CA 93906. Researching the L. C. Barr family of Phelps County, Nebraska

BORG, Ronald, Phoenix, AZ, Researching the Borg families of Phelps County, Nebraska

DAVIS, Carol, Holdrege, NE 68949

NORBERG, John Allen, San Marino, CA 1108-2460. Researching Gustav and Carrie E. (Burnett) Norberg, parents of five Children, two being William, born in 1888 and Louise Norberg Boydstrom, born in 1883. Gustav (born 1853) and Carrie (born 1860) Norberg were born in Sweden, immigrated to Bishop Hill, IL and then to Phelps County, NE.


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We have had several out-of-state visitors at the library. There are now over 4000 cataloged books and periodicals. The last three months, we have received 28 books in our library.

We now have new Phelps County Cemetery Books. It has been 10 years since our first cemetery publication we have added the 1880 and 1885 mortality schedules and corrected numerous mistakes and added additional information on the dates and other miscellaneous information. The books are updated to 1999 plus a few 2000 dates. Special thanks to Dick and Marjorie Dyas for getting these books print ready. We know it's a lot
of work and thanks to all others that have assisted.

Our Genealogy Club had its annual research day in August. This was the first time we made a two-day trip. Eight of our members went to Lincoln to the Union College Library. This library houses all of the Lincoln Lancaster genealogy books and many out-Nebraska genealogy books that have been donated by the Nebraska State Genealogy Society. The next day we visited the Nebraska State Historical Society. They have a large supply of Nebraska publications, Nebraska Newspapers on microfilm and other material. It is a wonderful place to research if you have more than one Nebraska County to research. It was a fun time for our Club members.

Thanks to all that continue to help out at the Prairie Museum Library. There is always many work projects to complete. Your help is so appreciated.

Your President, Sandra Slater

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A gift from Al Achterberg Memorial fund and Holdrege Area Genealogy club. This book gives meanings and origins of nearly 70,000 surnames.
Donated by Virginia Lindstrom
Donated by Ben and Dixie Boell
Donated by Roy Morse Family
Donated by Maxine Wilburn
PIONEERS, By Amanda M. Ellis
Donated by Ira Sanders
Donated by Dave Hamilton
Donated by Dick and Marjorie Dyas
Donated by Norville P. Williams
THE WESTERN PENNSYLVANIA HISTORICAL MAGAZINE (Article on John Fraser, Western Pennsylvania Frontiersman)
Donated by Ernest and Verla Matuschka
Donated by Betty Best
Donated by Madelyn Maberly Player
Donated by Brian Ridgley
UNITED STATES COUNTY COURTHOUSE ADDRESS BOOK, 1900 FEDERAL POPULATION CENSUS ­ A catalogue of microfilm copies of the schedules.
Donated by David Magnuson
Donated by Ross and Joy Winz
Donated by Gary Nelson
JONAS PETER NILSSON AND ANNA LOUISA SAMUELSDOTTER, Includes Phelps County families of Sampson, Ruby, Salgren
Donated by Marcia Rost
PEN PICTURES OF PIONEERS, VOL. I, Early Phelps County, Nebraska Pioneers

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In this issue (page 8), we are including a historical map of Phelps County, Nebraska sketched by Roger Barr's grandfather Clinton Barr. It was his way of recording the early history of his parents, Lawrence C. and Harriet Barr.

Clinton Barr was born in 1871 in Princeton, Illinois, so he was young when they arrived in Nebraska. He told me that he was a skinner on the last organized Buffalo hunt on the Northern Herd, and he had vivid memories of the ragged and hungry members of various Indian tribes that passed through the homestead. My Father, Howard, who donated map along with other memorabilia was born Hastings, NE, where his father, Clinton, was Superintendent of schools.
Roger M. Barr

Lawrence C. BARR

A native of Washington County, Pennsylvania, L. C. Barr was one of several Civil War Veterans who came to Phelps County, Nebraska. In 1879, he married Harriet Amanda Ferry in Mt. Palatine, Illinois and they were parents of these children: Nettie; Helen; Lois; Jennie Edna; Edward; Norman B. and Clinton M.

L. C. Barr came to Phelps County, Nebraska in February of 1878. Walking by the side of an ox team, he bought his family and a few simple household necessities out from the city of Kearney, Nebraska to the homestead, his being one of the last pieces of land left open to settlement in this vicinity. The house had already been erected by his own labor; a simple frame house with a sod addition situated two miles northeast of where Holdrege now stands. Here the Highland Post office was started July 24,1879. A one stop route from Kearney to Phelps Center, Nebraska and down the Republican Valley.

Here they established and taught Sunday school. When a neighbor's child died, a simple coffin was made from the boards on the sod-covered roof.

Blizzards often lasted three days and swept across the prairies with fierceness which bought speedy death to man and beast unable to reach shelter. None suffered hunger long, for food and clothing were shared without favor.

For three years after settling in Phelps County, L. C. Barr was unable to raise a crop, owing to the hot winds that burned everything. With his means exhausted and his wife and seven children to support, there were many times when want was keenly felt. Many times he walked miles over sparsely settled country, glad to find any kind of work and received in return enough to carry home to his family the necessaries which they so badly needed.

In the winter of 1881, when the snow reached the tops of the corn stalks, he was obliged to dig down in the snow and cut the stalks which they used for fuel, and in this way kept his family from freezing do death. He also remembered when the pioneers met together and were cheerful and even happy in sharing a jack rabbit and other game. They thought they were fortunate in having such a feast.

Mr. Barr owned an ox team with which he broke up his land and farmed. One of his oxen was bitten by a poisonous snake and died, making their lives more difficult. Mr. Barr had learned the trade of plastering. Leaving his wife and children and selling his ox, yoke and chains, he sought employment by heading to Denver, Colorado. He reached Loveland, Colorado, where he knew a friend. As he walked on the station platform he observed a man who's clothes and boots bespoke him a plasterer, and asked him for a job. At first the man gave him little hope of finding work, but seeing his condition and hearing about his suffering family in Nebraska, gave him work for the summer. With this he was able to send money home to his family and save some on the side. Being called home because of a sick child, he bought a team and tools and started farming again. In 1882, he put in sixty acres of wheat and got a crop of 30 bushel to an acre. Farming continued to be successful until 1902 when he sold his farm.

He took up the business of contracting and plastering and made a fine living. During the pioneer days, Mr. Barr served as coroner, and was deputy sheriff for 12 years, retiring in 1906. He was a member of the school board and was an Elder of the Presbyterian Church. He later became Phelps County Judge.
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In the southwest corner of our county is Rock Falls Township. Here the land is rough and hilly. A small trickle of water falling over a few rocks is still known as Rock Falls. It is on private property owned by Dean Junkins and maintained by the Robert Hinson family.

Before 1910, the falls were 8 to 10 feet deep, but about this time the falls were dynamited for a foundation for a barn or granary.

Much mystery still remains about this area of our county. It was home to the Indians before our Phelps County began in 1872. Rock Falls attracted some of our first settlers because of the availability of water and beautiful trees growing near the falls.

A few families moved in 1873, Hardships were common because of hard winters and droughts. By 1886 the Falls developed into a resort for family's miles around as noted in the newspaper article below.

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Weekly Progress, July 17,1896

Beginning July 19th and closing August 7th, a camp meeting will be conducted in Rock Falls under the auspices of Frank Nailor, M. E. Church. High bluffs, running water and dense shad trees surround Rock Falls, all tending to make it an ideal camp meeting ground. It is situated eighteen miles southwest of Holdrege and eight miles a west of Atlanta. Tents can be secured on the ground at $2 for the season and hay and pasturage for horses at reasonable rates. For full particulars as to rates, write D. T. Sherman, Atlanta, Nebraska. or Rev. T. H. Dry, Oxford, Nebraska.

The 1886 Nebraska Gazetteer shows seven businesses at Rock Falls including a flower mill, which was never built. A town was not even dreamed of until 1891 so these businesses were probably scattered in the Rock Falls Township.

Simon E. Ripley had a dream for Rock falls and proceeded to have the property near the falls platted for a town. An 1891 Rock Falls poster shows three parks around the Creek and a lake with an island just north of the proposed town. He called the area Rock Falls Pleasure Resort. The poster includes the following article.
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Its Description and Location
Rock falls is located on the west bank of spring creek, a never failing stream, in the southwest corner of Phelps County, Nebraska, surrounded by good stock and farming country, and adjoining the finest resort and picnic grounds to be found in the state, none excepted. Here you can have the best pure spring water; good boating, fishing, hunting, etc. with all the advantages of the country life, for far less expensive than in any large city. Free trees will be given to all parties purchasing lots in this fine place, having fine streets, avenues and boulevards, together with the proposed artificial lake, which will furnish fine water power as soon as completed. Here is also a splendid opening for a flouring mill, as well as all kinds of business enterprises, with the very best of inducements. Now is the time to buy in this natural park region for a home or as an investment, as there are several lines of railroads heading this way. Some of them will surely come through this place.

This is a new town just starting out this season with the best of prospects. Don't delay, but call upon or address me, stating your wants. My terms are reasonable----either for cash or on monthly payments.

Address all communications to S. E. Ripley, sole owner and proprietor, Rock Falls, Phelps county, Nebraska.
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By E. C. Sherwood
(This article found in a scrapbook, newspaper
probably Oxford Standard, Oxford, NE)

Today there is no more left of Rock falls than there is of Melrose or Cassisbrook. They were all settlements that just did not develop into towns. Melrose once had a fort for protection for a few short years and people actually lived there. Carrisbrook, back in the 1880s was a least a post office, but Rock Falls just never got off the ground.

The record leaves no doubt that Rock Falls was planned as a normal upright community. The first deed in the platted town, granted on February 9, 1891 to a certain Michael Neiman contained the clause "This Deed shall be ordered null and void in case any saloon of gambling house is run on said lots the thereafter, and to be continued in all following deeds.

This carefully planned prevention of booze and card playing was really never necessary because not only were there never any saloons built in Rock Falls, neither were there any houses, business buildings or anything else constructed. The towns were just a dream of Simon E. Ripley, and he was just too late and he had too little. The other communities around the area were going concerns by 1891 and they at least had land a team and buggy could travel across. One can not help but wonder if Mr. Ripley, in his wildest dreams, ever thought that a railroad might go to Rock Falls.

Was Simon Ripley's plan to build a great city on the banks of Spring Creek? If so he must have thought that 40 acres would be enough land because in January 1891, he platted the city and divided it into 8 blocks and 98 lots. The blocks range from those with only four lots to blocks with as many as 18 lots. Are they this way to conform to the Shape of the Creek?

In addition to Mr. Neiman, the lots were sold (most of them for $50.00 per lot) to parties named Frank C. Mills, A. B. Voris (Ripley even took a mortgage back on these lots) Fred B. Meyers, George Weiser, Horace T. Wilson and Charles F. Benjamin. The Benjamin lots must have been choice because they sold for $400. Were they the choice lots on the creek bank?

Alas in April 1892, just 14 months after the lot sales started, the last sale was made (to Mr. Benjamin) and Mr. Ripley having sold only thirteen lots (there is that hard luck number popping up in just the wrong place) was probably in deep disillusionment. So much so in fact that in April 1894, two years later, he sold all of the unsold lots and the surrounding farm land not platted, into the town, to one Marian Kingsley.

The land changed hands several times and by 1919 the Rock falls land together with other adjoining farmlands had fallen into the hands of Edward E. Wild, early day Oxford entrepreneur. Wild was a non-bank moneylender in the area for some thirty years beginning in the 1880s. When he got possession of Rock Falls, he began the legal action that ended the possibilities of a town. In cold legal language, he stated to the Phelps County Court that "the platted lots are part of a farm, which surrounds them, and they have always been used for agricultural purposes. None of the streets or alleys shown upon the plat have been even laid out, worked or used, or traveled by the public for public streets for roads, but each and everyone has been used for agricultural purposes." The Court agreed and Mr. Ripley's dream of a little city on the banks of Spring Creek in Rock Falls Township came to an end. There was not to be a non-gambling town in Phelps County.

The land passed to Mr. Wilds's daughter in 1928 and was purchased in 1948 by J. H. Sherwood. He sold the land in 1951 to Junkin interests in Bertrand and Dean Junkins is the owner.
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May 29, 1939 Holdrege Daily Citizen

The following article is from the pen of August Pouk, of Rock Falls, reminiscent of conditions in Germany when he was a boy. What was true of his locality was doubtless true of the whole country. The object of the restrictions placed upon the poor people was of course to keep them poor, for in that condition they could more easily be made to do the bidding of the rich but let him tell about it. Here is his article.

I was born in Germany in the year 1873, and lived there until I was ten years of age. In 1884, with my parents, I came to this country and located at Spring Lake Michigan. We lived there until 1888, then we came to Nebraska. I am glad now that I am in the United States of America.

The country in which I was born is now Poland. The Kaiser took it away good many years ago, but they got their country back after the World War, and all the Germans had to get out.

"Now, as to how the people lived over there. My father and his family worked on what we will call a big ranch. How many acres there were in this ranch, I cannot remember, but here were four brick buildings about 300 feet wide and about a quarter of a mile long, each end of these buildings there was an opening which sufficed for a door. The buildings were arranged so as to form a square. This square was covered with cobblestones, and in there also was located the chicken house. Near that was a well.

Of course all the work had to be done by hand. The pay was the best part of it. A single man received $25 a year. Isn't that some wages? And a man with a family got a place to live some stumps for fuel, some rye, two sheep and a little patch of ground for garden and potatoes. Then you could have a cow, a few chickens, and one goose. Each family was allowed but one goose and they all roosted in one house until after the breeding season.

"My folks lived in a house together with six other families, off a little further were more large buildings, where the rest of the families that worked on this ranch, lived. They had a blacksmith and carpenters on this ranch. There were about fifteen families and each family had to furnish three laborers, so there were plenty to do the work.

"Now, as to the farming. They tried to raise all kinds of grain and garden. They planted corn but cut that up for fodder. All straw was preserved for feed. We planted lots of potatoes. They fed them to the hogs and horses, and if they had a surplus they sold them to the brewery in town. Of course they kept enough to feed their families and to me it seemed we had potato soup, soup, and more soup. You can ask Charley Drews, when he and my mother, who were brother and sister, were digging potatoes, about the soup. I brought them for dinner when I was a kid, and I made it myself.

"All the grain has cut with a cradle. The woman would bind it. It was then put in large stacks. And oh! What stacks they were ----about 25 to 50 loads to the stack. They made platforms, one above the other to the pitch of grain on; in order to get the stack high enough. It took five or six men to one stack. These stacks were surplus after filling these big barns."

"A Threshing machine was employed to thresh the grain stacked outside, but the grain in the big barns was reserved to provide employment in the winter time. This was threshed either with flails, or by riding horses up and down in the big barns."

"I think sometimes of the waste we have in this country. Over there the kids would have to go out and pick up every head that was left in the stubble field, and when the harvest was over, one would have enough to make a half bushel of wheat. Dad and I would take it to the mill on Sunday to have it ground into flour to make us some "Kuchen" for Christmas. All the rest of the year we would have black bread and soup."

"Lord only knows, it can't be any better over there now, with Hitler, who tells them what they can eat and do. Yet, a lot of them think more of him now than they think of God. Lots of people there wish they could come to America. We have our troubles, here, but nothing like they have them over there. I mean the folks who have to do the work.

"I know that I am mighty glad that I am here. Uncle Charley paid my fare over here. If he hadn't I would have been there in the World War and some American would probably have shot me. But here I am in the good U. S.A. and still got a shotgun to help out Uncle Sam. If they won't let me, I have some boys who will."

"Although I'm opposed to war, for the Bible tells us "Thou shall not Kill" but they are killing millions over there. Put those high mucks to the firing line, and we would never have any more war.
August Pouk
"The Dutch Editor"
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~Harlan County Nebraska~
The Phelps Helps Newsletter highlights Harlan County Nebraska in this section. With many of our subscribers interested in and from Harlan County, and since Harlan County is a connecting county to Phelps County, the Phelps Helps will publish history information on Harlan County.
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Harlan County Democrat,
Republican City, Nebraska

January 11, 1901
James Muir had a narrow escape from being stuck with a $1000 find, last Thursday. On that day he had a cow give birth to a calf with three heads and six legs. Owing to the unusual size and appendages the value of the freak was lost in delivery, but when thoroughly examined, the wonderful facts stated above were found to unmistakably exist. Two of the heads were on one neck, while the third, not quite perfect protruded a little further back. Four of the legs were properly joined at the front. The hind quarters were perfect. This find, that could it possibly had been secured in whole condition and properly mounted would have been worth at least $1000 to the possessor.

Three cases of small pox, or Cuban itch were found in Alma and one case at the Herron farm 1 * miles east of Alma, one at the Fred Gould place. Those in Alma were Frank Skiles, Reese Thomas and Mr. Hodgsett.

Mary Jane Gifford, born March 25, 1836 at Flat Rock, Henry County, Indiana, the daughter of John and Eliza Whicersham, She died January 8, 1901 and is buried at Republican City.

Friday, October 5, 1900
Obituary: Samuel Hood was born February 11,1847 in Allegheny County PA. He died September 28, 1900. Burial was at Republican City. He was married to Martha F. Scott on July 2, 1877. She died March 8, 1887. Samuel's second wife was Margaret A. Hawley. Their Children were Lotta J. Caswell, Sadie E. Hood. Children by second wife were S. Lloyd and Claire C.

Friday, Oct. 19, 1900
Born to Mr. and Mrs. Frank Clampett, on Thursday, October 18, 1900, a daughter.

A baby son of Mr. and Mrs. J. L. Pennington, born seven days ago, died of organic difficulties on Wednesday, October 17. It was buried in Cedar Grove cemetery the following afternoon, after a brief service at
the family residence. Rev. A. J. MacMurtry officiating. The little one was named Robert Wade.

Honorable L. O. Jones, prohibition candidate of Governor will address the citizens of Harlan County in Newman's Grove, two miles west of Alma, weather permitting.

October 11, 1901
OBITUARY: Phebe E. Grove was born February 17, 1848 in Franklin county, Ohio. She was a daughter of John and Ruth Fisher. She married John C. Grove on February 5, 1868. He died October 11, 1891 Children
were C. W. Grove and Mrs. Dolly E. Doty and an adopted son Homer Grove. Eva C., age 3 years died November 30, 1872, burial at Cedar Grove Cemetery.
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In the spring of 1871, a colony of "wise men" from Wyoming wandered down the Republican Valley in search of a suitable place to locate. They had ample means, and they determined to build up a town that would do honor to their foresight of choice in after years, and are the happy prosperous home of their children in the future. After careful investigation, and passing other charming stops by, these pioneers came to this site and here the beauty of the river scenery and the natural advantages of the site staid their steps and the stakes of settlement were driven. Here where the wild grasses waved most luxuriantly, and the grand green sea was dotted most profusely with its spring daisies and daffodils, even though this being the month of February; where the meandering creeks wandered in their snake-line journeys through the timbered fringes around the prairie, here the town site was located. Thus, city of Alma came into life, amidst the uncultivated wilds of the American Frontier. It being some years, however, before the bright dreams of its founders began to crystallize into realization.

In February, 1871, Thomas Harlan, Mark Coad, Thomas Murrin, Thomas Mullaly, John Talbot, and J. H. Painter organized the colony of Cheyenne, Wyoming to visit the Republican Valley in search of permanent homes. Richard Sydenham accompanied the party from Old Fort Kearny, a guide and driver. They struck the upper waters of Turkey Creek, which they followed till they came to the river, then they followed the Republican westward. Foster's house was the only habitation they found outside the stockade. At this time, though so early, the grass was green, the weather pleasant and wild turkeys, buffalo, deer and antelope and other game were abundant. The party received many rumors of Indians, but none were met. After selecting claims this party returned to Cheyenne, Wyoming, arriving at that point the last of February 1871. They were delighted and gave glorious accounts of the Republican Valley.

In the summer of 1871 the greater number of the party returned, accompanied by many others. The greater number made their settlement around Alma, a few going up the river, settling some miles west of the stockade. The colony having some difficulty about the claims, quarrels soon arose, and Joseph H. Painter withdrew from the colony and settled three miles west of Alma, and afterwards being appointed postmaster at Alma, he kept the post office on his farm. Immigrants now beginning to feel that they could live in safety from the Indians began to take claims away from the center localities. The vicinity of Alma received large accessions from the east.

Settlers poured in the county and by June 1, 1871, there was not a tributary of the Republican on which there were no settlers.

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