Phelps Helps Newsletter Fall 2001

Phelps Helps Newsletter
Holdrege Area Genealogical Society

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

Vol. 10-3
Fall 2001
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!



It has been a pleasure to meet five of our out-of-state members this summer who came to Phelps County to research their families. The personal hands-on research is always the most rewarding.
Projects our volunteers in the library have assisted is, gathering research material for the Plum Creek Massacre display at the museum; locating reliable information on farming practices from 1885 to present; and compiling a list of Phelps County military soldiers for a book that will be part of the new military display at the museum. It is surprising how much good research material can be located in our library and records room.

Many new changes are happening at the Prairie Museum. The new addition is completed and new displays are being completed.

On August 19th, an Open house for the new addition and German P.O.W. Interpretive Center, was enjoyed by crowds of enthusiastic individuals. Mr. Thomas Naegele was present for the opening of the art gallery that displays Mr. Naegele's collection of historical paintings.
We hope our readers will come and visit the Nebraska Prairie Museum to enjoy the new displays and visit the library.
Your President, Sandra Slater



1. I am looking for information regarding Samuel P. Moser and Rebecca Alice Moser (Maiden name Polly/Palem/Paley). They were my ggg grandparents. They moved to Phelps Co., NE in 1873 with their children and homesteaded there. I have not been able to locate their place of birth, death or burial, even though I have made numerous attempts to do so. Nor do I know who their parents were. They were both born somewhere in Pennsylvania between 1817-1819. Their children were George W. Moser, Sara (Moser) Dale, Catherine Ann "Katie" (Moser) Foster, Jacob Jake Moser, Cordelia (Moser) Whitney, Josephine (Moser) Steward, and Nancy Moser. Samuel and Rebecca were found in the 1860 Darke Co., OH census, the 1870 Warren Co., IA census, and the 1880 Phelps Co., NE census. Samuel was then found in the Doniphan Co., KS 1895 census without Rebecca and then was not found in either census for 1900. Since much of their family remained in Phelps Co., I would presume that they may be buried somewhere in Phelps Co. I would appreciate any help anyone can offer. Thank you.
Debby Hoglund
3195 Cypress Pond Pass
Duluth, GA 30097



Donated by Holdrege Public Library
58 Volumes of the Swedish American Genealogist 1981-1996
Donated by Jo Jensen
The Martyr of the Age
Slavery and the Churches of Early America
The First Voices - Nebraska Land Magazine
The Pennsylvania Dutch Country and Amish Farmland
1974 Calendar - Beauty of Britain
Pictorial Story of Shakespeare & Statford-Upon-Avon
Donated by Bill Tringe
Abie to Yutan, Nebraska's Pictorial History
Donated by Bud Extrom
That's the Story of My Life 1999
Donated by Eleanor Hallquist
Yours in the Masters Service
Donated by Loomis United Methodist Church, Loomis, NE
2 Scrapbooks of Loomis United Methodist Church
Donated by Kay Thompson
Volga Germans - In Russia and the Americas From 1763 to the present.
Donated by Ron Rehnberg
I Saw Stars
Pearl Harbor--The Way it Was December 7, 1941
Donated by James E. Almquist
The Life of Allen and Georgiana Elliott, Nebraska Pioneers
Donated by Nebraska Prairie Museum
Sod Walls by Roger Welsch
Donated by Jack Jackson family
Ancestors and Descendants of Daniel Morgan and Polly Frost
Donated by Mrs. Eugene C. Falk, Ft Collins, CO
Old Salem Methodist Episcopal Church, Axtell, NE


By Harry Hazlett
May 17, 1882

The Nugget Office Burned, also the Residence of Editor Hopwood Loss between five and six hundred Dollars Thursday morning last, about nine o'clock, the Nugget and residence of Mr. Hopwood burned to the ground. The fire caught in the printing office from a defective flue. As soon as the alarm was given, willing hands and hearts were on the spot to render assistance. The fire had however, go beyond control, and attention was turned to saving printing material and household effects. Nearly or quite all the goods were saved, but the printing material was scattered here and there and everywhere. No attempt was made to remove the press, it becoming to hot. Mr. Hopwood estimates his loss in between five and six hundred dollars. With commendable courage and spunk, Mr. Hopwood has already made arrangements to rebuild on the old site. In a few weeks, he will be in his new quarters and "Othello will be himself again." The Nugget will appear as usual, but only a half sheet at present.

We extend the sympathies of the people of the county to Mr. Hopwood but we think that every cent that is due his on subscription or advertising would be acceptable now. Come in and pay him now. It will be the white thing to do.

The News and the Nugget will office together for sometime until, at least, Mr. Hopwood's building is erected.

May 24, 1882
The Official Paper of the County: Rolf Johnson, Swede editor of The News, was in Kearney one or two days this week.

Union Sunday School: Last Sunday evening, May 21st, a Sunday School was organized at Phelps. Next Sunday the School will meet at the courthouse at 3:30. The following officers were elected: W. H. King, Supt. J. P. Hymer, asst. Supt. T. J. Carter, treasurer, Rolf Johnson Secretary.

$1.85 was contributed toward defraying expenses of the school. Lesson for nest Sunday: "Following Christ," Mark 8,34 to 38 and Mark 9, 1.

Everyone is cordially invited to come and bring their testaments.
Rolf Johnson, Sec.

MARCH 15, 1935

I'm noted for saving clippings, and as I was looking through some recently, I discovered something interesting written by Charles Falk. He told about the dust storm on March 15th, 1935.

How very well I too remember that strange day. My Husband Lavern, was working for the Weidenhaft Hatchery in Holdrege, Nebraska. We lived in a house belonging to the hatchery, located on the east side of town. A large barn sat a short distance east of the house. This was where we kept the brooder stove and little chicks. It was there home until they grew large enough for selling or shipping.

The huge dust storm hit the Holdrege area late in the afternoon on March 15th. Lavern was determined to reach the barn to check the baby chicks----to be sure the brooder stoves were still working to keep them warm and alive. But to his dismay, when we opened the door we could not even see our hands in front of our faces.

Lavern stepped out of our parlor door and ran his hand along the house to stay oriented as he traveled out toward the barn and his baby chicks. A windmill stood between the house and the barn. Lavern could see the top of the windmill and made his way there, then struggled on in the direction of the barn. I would holler out every few minutes and he would answer, so I knew he was okay and was headed in the right direction. Lavern was happy to find all the stoves still burning, and not a chick was lost. He returned safely to the house in the same manner and he had ventured out.

Our oldest son, Conrad, was only eight months old at the time. I could hear him crying from the crib. The dust was blown in around the window so that I could not even detect the pattern of the quilt covering him. All I could see when I reached his side were the whites of his tiny eyes frightened of the unknown. I picked him up with a hug and tried my best to wipe him clean.

Later that evening we heard a knock at the door. To Our surprise, a young couple who lived just a few houses from ours stood in the storm. They had been out driving and could find their way back home and found it impossible to stay on the road. They had seen a glimmer of light from our direction and followed that to our door. The couple stayed with us until the wind subsided and they were able to find their way home again.

As Charles mentioned in his article also, we scooped dust for a very long time. Even months after the storm the evidence of its being, remained. I would think all the cleaning was DONE, the open a door, window, or cupboard and the "storm" was back again! Lavern and I were lucky to have been at home that dark dirty day, as others were not so fortunate. Many Salesmen were stranded on the roads and became ill from breathing the dust.

It was rather fortuitous that this same year brought the terrible Republican River flood I was not close to the horrific event, but certainly became appreciative of the toll these frightening disasters took on Nebraska families.


T. M. Hopwood, Editor and Publisher
24 May 1882


BRAGG--SKOOG--- By the county Judge, at his residence. May 28th, 1882, in Phelps county, Mr. August Brag and Miss Augusta Skoog of Phelps County, Nebraska. May life's rough and ragged way be made smoother and pleasanter by the union, is the earnest wish of their many friends.
D.H.K. Whitcomb, County Judge


Phelps, Nebraska
May 19th, 1882


According to announcements in the papers, the citizens met at the county seat to make arrangements for celebrating the Fourth of July, where upon T. M. Hopwood was elected chairman and T. J. Carter, secretary.

Upon motion of H. Hazlett of committee of five person were selected as committee of arrangements, as follows: H. Hazlett, Peter Peerson, W. B.Albertson, Mrs. Hopwood, Mrs. Medlund.

The following committee on grounds was appointed. C. O. Charlston, John Crossley, L. Banta, Wells Rittenhouse, Rolf Johnson.

The following are the committee on music: P.O.Hedlund, J. P. Hymer, Mary Anderson, Miss Betts, Miss Goodspeed, M. Robinson. Committee on finance are as follows: T. M. Hopwood, H. W. King, George Rittenhouse.

Whereupon the meeting proceeded to elect officers on the Fourth of July: D. M. Whitcomb, president of the day; C. N. Sears, E. M. Bill, S. M. Millard, John Lindbloom, Jonas Pearson, John Eckburg, Thomas Marshall, John Olson, A. M. Axelson, James O'Kane, Vice-presidents, C. O. Charlston, Marshall of the day. Chas. Smith, Assistant Marshall. T. J. Carter, Geo. Rittenhouse and G. E. Hymer, Committee on oratory.

H. Hazlett was appointed to read the Declaration of Independence, Banta to oversee artillery, Peter Peerson and Miss Wilcox were appointed Committee of decoration; General Milo Robinson is to have charge of all sports, which will consist of Calethopian parade, sack race, egg race, climbing greasy pole, wheelbarrow race, blind folded, catching greasy pig, foot race, match game and baseball.

Meeting then adjourned to meet Saturday evening, May 27.

"Immigrant Issue" of the Lincoln State Journal
Newspaper Published 5 Jun 1887


The County Seat of Harlan County - on the Burlington & Missouri Railroad - One Hundred and Eighty-Nine Miles from Lincoln - Population One Thousand Five Hundred.

Alma, the county seat of Harlan county, is romantically and advantageously located in a succession of ridges and plateaus that slope gradually southward to the rapidly flowing Republican river and commands a fine view of the entire valley for miles both up an down the river, s well as the bluffs and gently rounded hills beyond. A belt of timber ridges the river banks the entire length, and the view from the residence portion of the town is one of the finest in the west.

Although the town is of comparatively recent growth, having been laid out long after several other towns in the county had attained almost their present growth, Alma already has a population of 1,500 people mostly, Americans and is the largest and best town, by all odds, in the county.

The town was not really started until about 1879, and yet it is now incorporated as a city of the second class, with a mayor and council, clerk, marshal, assessor, supervisor, and other city officers. The affairs of the town are in a prosperous and satisfactory condition, while numerous and extensive improvements are contemplated.

The Denver and Kansas City branch of the Burlington & Missouri river railroad runs through Alma, thus giving direct connection by rail with the Pacific coast, as well as with Kansas City, Omaha., Chicago and the east. The Kansas City & Omaha, a branch of the Union Pacific railway, has been surveyed to this point and is now in course of construction. There is assurance that the road will be completed to Alma by next September. Alma has already been made a division station on the Denver extension of the new line, and may be the terminus for some moths. The site for the roundhouse and a $5,000 deport has been selected, as the building s will soon be commence Property has already experienced a decided advance, and the inquiry for residence and business lots is greater than has ever been know before.

The business men of Alma are nearly all young men and the marvelous progress made by the town is largely due to their energy, perseverance, experience and ability. Many of them came here without a dollar, but most of them are now comfortably well to do, and are enjoying a profitable and rapidly growing business. They are ever ready to secure and assist any worthy enterprise, and extend a cordial welcome and encouragement to strangers who come here to look up a location. There are no factional fights or petty jealousies among us, but every man works for the interests of his town, and all is harmony.

Alma has a board of trade, or improvement committee the object of which is to encourage immigration and the location of worthy enterprises. All obstacles have been overcome as fast as they have been encountered and today Alma cannot only challenge comparison with any town of its size in the state, but can also flatter itself that it is about entering upon a new era of prosperity, the like of which it has never seen before.

There is nothing about Alma indicative of the "wild west" character which eastern people have read so much about. Society here will compare favorably with any town in the east. The people are orderly, law abiding, courteous and intelligent. There are churches, schools, societies of all kinds and we know how to make strangers feel at home among us. The people live in comfortable houses, wear good clothes as a general thing, and live reasonably well. None go armed and were anyone to appear upon our streets with a belt full of pistols and a bowie knife in his boot leg it would throw this peaceful community into a state of the wildest excitement at once.

~Harlan County Nebraska~
More on First Pioneers to settle in Freewater, Harlan County, Nebraska

John Hawksby - John Hawksby was born November 29th, 1817 in the County of Leitrim, Ireland where he lived on his father farm. He apprenticed in the boot and shoe-making town of Minarhamilton, a trade he worked at until the age of 22. At that time he went to Dublin and joined the police force being employed in the statistical department. After fifteen years, he resigned and was immediately appointed Stationmaster at Dundalk where he worked for eleven years. He resigned this position and went to Manchester, England securing bookkeeping Job for a large farm until 1875 when his wife died. Having no family, he was very lonely so he "set sail" for America. He spent two years in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada with friends, before joining his sister, Catherine Elliott at Freewater, Harlan County, Nebraska where he remained until 1887 when he built the second building put up in the new town in Ragan, he was appointed Postmaster in the new town.

When John Hawksby came to Freewater, he homesteaded near the Elliotts. He received his Patent from the U. S. Government on April 20, 1882 for the N 1/2 of the SE 1/4 and the S 1/2 of the NE 1/4 of Section 13.

His gravestone at the Freewater Cemetery records: John Hawksby, born November 29, 1817, died July 5, 1891, age 73 years 2 months and 17 days.

Isacc Gifford - 1878 - Isaac Gifford and Louise Watts were married in Brown County, Illinois, on February 11 1863, The Giffords had eight children.

The couple moved from Illinois to the Freewater Community in 1878; and located on the homestead on the NW 1/4 of Section 11. Mr. Gifford received his Patent from the U. S. Government on January 20, 1885. The Kansas City and Omaha Railroad received a right away from Isacc Gifford on May 17, 1887.

Thomas Miles Rotramel , born February 20, 1860, at Frankfort, Illinois, came to Nebraska at the age of twenty years, taking a homestead in the Freewater community. He married Alza L. Zehrung, born in January 23, 1857 at Toledo, Tama county, Iowa, on September 11, 1881. Alza came to Kansas in early womanhood and a year later moved to Freewater, Nebraska, where she lived most of her life.

Thomas and Alza had six children, two of whom, Arthur H. and Alva died in early childhood. The four living children are William O., Affa (Strong), Emma (Taylor), and Cornelia (Walters).

The Rotramel family was among the early pioneers of the community, enduring all the hardship of settling the country. While a young man, Thomas was converted and baptized into the Baptist church at Ragan, Nebraska. Mrs. Rotramel confessed her faith in early womanhood and United with the Baptist church of Ragan, Nebraska.

Mrs. Rotramel died April 20, 1932, age seventy-five years, two months and twenty-six days. Mr. Rotramel died on March 17, 1939 at Pueblo, Colorado. He attained the age of Seventy-nine years, and twenty-five days. Both are buried at Freewater Cemetery.

Generations by the Journal
Compiled by the staff of the
Hoesch Memorial Public Library, Alma
And Published in the current Harlan County Journal

September 10, 1898

Sherm Stevenson has decked his driving team out with a new set of "gears" and has indulged in a new double seated carriage. It makes a nobby turnout.

W.W. Annis, from Beaver City, is now doing the prescription work in Retzman's Drug store. Come and see him. He passed his examination in 1891.

Orleans News - The Free Methodist college opens up for business next Monday the 12th.

September 17, 1898

Frank Waggoner, of Stamford was in the city Wednesday advertising the Harlan county Agricultural Society which holds its fair at Orleans, Sept. 21, 22, 23 and 24. Frank is the son of D.R. Waggoner, they veteran secretary of the society. We extend thanks to Mr. Waggoner for a tastily printed ticket.

Nine boys from the 2nd Nebraska came in on the Burlington Tuesday morning and they have been visiting, feasting and answering questions ever since. The boys are all looking quite well and brought their appetites with them. The G.A.R. and W.R.C. will tender them a reception. The following is a list of the boys returned: Corporal Wm. Gipe, W. C. Pond, A Harbaugh, Jason Ersin, Lee Watts, Rufus Harp, George Bougton, Steven Huston, L.L. McKenzie, Leon Lafferty.


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