Phelps Helps Newsletter Fall 1997

Phelps Helps Newsletter
Holdrege Area Genealogical Society

To Subscribe, Write:
The Holdrege Area Genealogy Club
P.O. Box 164
Holdrege, Phelps County, Nebraska

Vol. 6-3
Fall 1997
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!



1. Beth Erickson

2. Karen Kammann

~New on Our Bookshelf~



Mormon Trails In Nebraska Information and Maps Showing the Development of Counties in the State of Nebraska from 1854 to 1925.



Genealogical and Biographical History of Allegheny County, PA

Genealogical Notes - First Settlers of Connecticut and Massachusetts

American Marriage Records before 1699

Kentuckians in Missouri

Kentucky Pioneers and their Descendants

Missouri Marriage Before 1840


Additional information for School District 35, Elizabeth Valley School, Phelps County, NE book


All had a good time on our genealogy outing in Hastings, NE on July 7th. We visited the L.D.S. Library and the Adams County Historical Society Library at the Hastings Museum.

Those who attended were Lois Gitt, Virginia Lindstrom, Marcia Rost, Al and Faith Achterberg and Sandra Slater of Holdrege; Ada Hinson of Bertrand;

Ben Boell, Republican City; Phyllis Schroder of Alma and Patti Simpson of Hastings, NE.

A special thanks goes to Patti Simpson who made all the arrangements for our visit and to our drivers Ben Boell and Sandra Slater.


We're sending out our fall newsletter a little earlier so that we can encourage you to attend the Heritage Quest Workshop on Saturday, September 13th. 1997, Our lecturer, Leland K. Meitzler, is an excellent speaker and teacher. He is executive editor of the Heritage Quest Magazine. He will be bringing a large supply of genealogical books and supplies for you to browse through. Don't miss this excellent seminar.

See you in September!

Sandra Slater - President





The Ernest and Irene (Hopkins) Johnson Family of Phelps County, NE by Larry Johnson of North Platte, NE. Peterson and Olson Family History written by Cindy Peterson and Karen Kammann of Lincoln, NE.


Microfiche from the Swenson Swedish Immigration Research Center microfilm showing their holdings including indexes of Swedish and American and Canadian Church Records.




*NEW* HARLAN COUNTY NEBRASKA CEMETERIES Compiled by Ben Boell, Republican City, NE., Published by Holdrege Area Genealogy Club. ($15.75 including tax plus $4.00 postage and handling)



Includes all Phelps County Cemeteries except Prairie Home Cemetery. ($15.75 tax included plus $2 postage and handling)



Includes Prairie Home Cemetery. (15.75 tax included plus $2 postage and handling).


IMMANUEL LUTHERAN CEMETERY, Harlan County, NE ($3.50 tax included plus $1.25 for postage and handling)





PHELPS COUNTY CEMETERIES, VOL 3: This publication will be an addition to our other cemetery books. Will include corrections and additional burial found since our last publication.


For more information or to purchase any of these publications, contact

The Holdrege Area Genealogy Club

P.O. Box 164

Holdrege, NE 68949




The Furnas County Genealogical Society and the Nebraska Humanities Council is sponsoring a slide presentation of

"The Story of The Orphan Train"

with Pippa White, Monday Evening September 8th, 1997 at 8:00 p.m. at the Beaver City Community Building. Everyone is invited to this free program.

This is part of a Bertrand Article that was written in 1951 - Author Unknown


Bertrand, the second town in size in Phelps County, is situated on-half mile from the west side of the county. It is about midway between the Burlington and Union Pacific railroads and is a trading point of a much larger area than fall the lot of most towns.

Bertrand was located by the Burlington at the time of the building of the "High Line" and was organized into a corporate village in December, 1885. The first building was erected by C.A. Nelson. A.J. Sandstrom claims the distinction of freighting the first load of lumber across country with a team of oxen and he said that he spent more than two hours hunting in the tall grass for the corner stakes of Nelson's lot.

In the spring of 1887 a prairie fire swept through the town from the south, burning many of the buildings. This was followed by another fire in January, 1888 which consumed the Nelson building and several others in the same block.

Like most towns on the prairies, Bertrand was built rather on the experimental plan. Every business necessary to the development of the country was represented, but no more money than was needed was used in the business houses and residences. This condition lasted for more than fifteen years, but when farmers began to become well-to-do and had demonstrated that they had come to stay, men became convinced that Phelps was really one of the great producing counties of Nebraska and capital at once was less reticent, the result being that Bertrand has grown tremendously.

A survey of the business section during the year 1909 will show the rapid growth of the town.

There were tow banks at that time: The First National Bank of which John A. Slater was president and Roscoe J. Slater, cashier and the First State Bank, W.F. Dobbin, president and Ford McWorter, cashier.

Bertrand has its own gas manufacturing plant owned and operated by James Bailey. The flour mill was owned by the R.H. Duff Company. John A. Anderson and W.C. Hawkins had blacksmith shops. There were two drug stores run by Pra. E. Francis and B.H. Scranton. A.J. Sanstrom had a furniture and undertaking establishment, P.C. Schoreder had a hardware and furniture store and G.O. Fairfield and Ford & McLouthan had hardware and implement businesses.

(Bertrand story to be continued in next

Phelps Helps issue.)


(April 17 1922-July 21 1997)


Our community and our club are saddened by the loss of Betty Rae Whitlock. Betty was a charter member of our Genealogy Club, joining May 3, 1982. She was very proud of her Irish heritage and enjoyed learning about her family history.

Betty Rae worked on many of our club's projects including the Phelps County Guide, cemetery book projects and for several years developed a cataloging system for the records room and library at the Phelps County Museum. A project that would have been impossible without Betty Ray's expertise in cataloging for libraries.

A memorial has been set up with our Holdrege Area Genealogy Club in Betty Rae's name. Anyone wishing to donate to the memorial fund may either 1) send the donation to Ada Hinson, Box 29, Bertrand, NE 68927 and a card to the family, or 2) send your donation to Ada Hinson, and the club will let Betty Rae's family know of your donation.



Betty Rae Whitlock was born on April 17, 1922 in Atlanta, Iowa, the eldest of four children of Rev. Dr. Raye Leo Ragan and Edith (Branan) Ragan. Being a preacher's daughter, she lived in several communities, graduating from Jacksonville, IL. in 1941. She attended MacMurray College in Jacksonville then transferring to University of Illinois receiving a masters in library science. She was a professional librarian specializing in library public relations. She worked in public libraries and was news broadcaster at radio stations in Grand Rapids, Michigan and Nashville, Tennessee and also broadcast for public libraries.

She married William "Bill" Whitlock in 1950, the ceremony was performed by her father, Rev. Raye Ragan. They lived in Kansas and Missouri before coming to Nebraska in 1954 where they were partner's, in starting a radio station in York.



Bill and Betty Rae Whitlock became interested in Holdrege, when looking for a small town location for a radio station. Radio Station KUVR went on the air on October 22, 1956. They wanted a station that would serve the surrounding area as well as Holdrege, reporting sporting events, farm news and music and providing many public service announcements for the numerous churches, clubs and organizations in the area.

Betty Rae hosted a popular morning woman's news program on KUVR for many years. She and Bill raised two children Erin Rae and Michael William. Bill and Betty Rae sold the Radio Station in 1988. The radio station has now been on the air for 31 years being a benefit to Holdrege and the surrounding area.

Betty Rae provided an interesting news program for the Senior Citizen's once a month on KUVR until ill health prevented her from continuing.

We will always remember Betty Rae's friendliness, giving spirit and her wonderful smile.


October 15-16, 1878

Prairie fires were one of the most feared dangers of the prairie pioneer. This story was reported in the 1958 Centennial Edition of the Holdrege Daily Citizen.

Magedelena Forseman's (also spelled Frosman) probate record states she died 15 Oct 1878 at Peterson. Her estate consisted of household and kitchen furniture and a homestead worth about $500. Surviving her, was her son, John Olaf Forseman.

Terrible Tragedy

The most tragic disaster in Phelps County on that day occurred only about four miles east of where Holdrege now stands. About 3 o'clock in the afternoon one of Rev. Hedlund's little girls ran to F.O. Peterson's house and said her father wanted him to come and help him fight the fire. Mr. Peterson hitched a horse to his plow and went to Rev. Hedlund's with all possible speed, leaving at his own home a young man and his mother, whose, whose names were Forseman/ The young man was farming a part of Jonas Peterson's land that summer and his mother had a claim a few miles south of Peterson's. The mother and son were on their way to this claim by ox team and had stopped for a few minutes at the Peterson home.

After Mr. Peterson left, the Forsemans, with their cow tied to the wagon, continued on to their claim, over the protestations of Mrs. Peterson. They had a mile of prairie to cross and when in the midst of this the fire swept over them

The wind and smoke and heat were blinding and the oxen became unmanageable. Mrs. Forseman got out of the wagon and in a moment was lost to sight from her son, who kept hold of the reins and the fire swept quickly over him. He was only slightly burned, but got out of the wagon and also lost sight of the team. While wandering around in the dazed condition he saw what he thought was an Indian. By this time the smoke was clearing a way and he found his way back to F.O. Peterson's.

Mr. Peterson, in the meantime, had returned form the Hedlund home and spotted the team of oxen wandering around, dragging the wagon and the cow which was still alive. About that time Mr. Forseman came up and told Mr. Peterson what had happened and that he had also seen an Indian. They got a gun from the Peterson home and began their search for Mrs. Forseman.

Clothes Burned Off

The men soon came in sight of the supposed "wild Indian" wandering about on the blackened prairie. Forseman raised the gun to shoot but by that time Mr. Peterson was close enough to see that the strange-looking creature was not an Indian -- it was Forseman's mother.

Mr. Peterson spoke to her but she only groaned and put her hands out toward him. Every thread of clothing was burned from her except a very little of the upper part of her dress and the soles of her shoes. Her hair was all burned off with the exception of a little on top of her head and her eyes were burned out. Her skin and flesh were black and roasted.

The son could not believe it was his mother until he examined her shoes. He had made them himself and when he recognized the shoes he cried: "Oh God! It is my mother!"

Mr. Peterson carried the woman to his home. A doctor was summoned at once but he said she could not live. Mrs. Peterson rubbed sweet oil on her body as she lay on the bed, and after resting a while the blinded woman began to recognize voices in the room and talked to them.

According to the account of the tragedy, Rev. Hedlund then talked to her of a future world. She soon began to sink, however, and at 11 o'clock that evening she quietly died. Her body was interred the following day at Scandinavia.

Mrs. Forseman's son was severely burned but recovered. The cow was so badly burned the animal had to be killed although the oxen survived.

Many Burned Out

John Smith, who lived further south in the same neighborhood, lost his stables, all of his hay, his harness and chickens. He had barely managed to get his horses out of the barn when the roof fell in. Alfred Johnson and Charley Logsdon were also burned out and John A. Carlson, Living four miles north of Center, lost $700 worth of baled broom corn and 75 acres of grain in the stack in the same blaze.

The fire originated in the Spring Creek area in southwest Phelps county and swept a path almost to the Platte in the northwest corner of the county. At about this time the wind changed and the blaze shipped back toward the southeast. F.O. Peterson said the fire traveled a mile a minute. P.O. Hedlund, who was at Phelps Center, tried to reach home ahead of the fire, but it passed him "almost like a streak of lightning."

At Phelps Center a part of men were cleaning broom corn on the day of the fire and Indian scare. Among the men were Frank Hallgren, Leander Hallgren, Ole Hoag, John A. Ward, Nels Rylander, John P. Nelson and Gilbert Benson. It was about noon when the report reached them that the Indians were headed that way, and they all stopped work. The Hallgrens mounted horses and rode north to the Platte bottom, but found that no one had seen any Indians. They had to return home by a circuitous route in order to escape the prairie fire which was raging at that time.

The article below was written in 1980 about the early life of the settlers of Phelps County



There were many single men that took homesteads and they were getting mail order brides, there were single women that came out to Phelps County hoping to find a husband.

There was a Mr. Swanlund that had a mail order bride that was to arrive at Holdrege on a certain train at a certain date, it also happened that on that date a thrashing machine pulled into Mr. Swanlund's farm so Mr. Swanlund asked his bachelor neighbor to go into Holdrege and pick up his bride.

The neighbor did go in and pick up the bride and the neighbor liked the looks of this lady proposed to her and they were married right there and then. Mr. Swanlund was short a bride. And there were many romances like that one, and they lived successfully and happily ever after these short romances.

Types of Old Photographs


The Marvelous Mirror

The first major practical photographic process.


The daguerreotype reveals itself to be a mirror at some angles of view immediately distinguishes it from the ambrotype; however, it is often necessary to open the case itself to determine whether the photograph is an ambrotype or a ferrotype (tintype).



The Negative Viewed as a Positive

· THE PERIOD OF THE AMBROTYPE · ae 1845 - 1877

Almost invariably the glass bearing the ambrotype image is found in a protective case. And nearly always there is a double layer of glass, as described in the Cutting patent of 1854. Today many ambrotypes are found with parts of the black background flaking away, creating "holes" in the image.

The ambrotype flourished during the final years of the daguerrean process, from 1854 to the end of the Civil War; few examples are to be found that precede or follow this period. By the end of the Civil War all studios had been converted to delivering positive prints on albumen paper from glass negatives made by the collodion wet-plate process or the low-cost tintype. While the daguerreotype image offered a superior brilliance and an unmatched wealth of detail, the trade price lists of the day show that the cost of materials to the photographer made it more profitable for him to promote ambrotypy than daguerreotypy.




The Penny Picture

· THE PERIOD OF THE TINTYPE · ae 1844 - 1899

As each new process was introduced, the market for portraits expanded dramatically. The daguerreotype of 1840 to 1860 was usually marketed at $5, more than a week's pay for a workman at the time. The Ambrotype that followed was launched at the lowest daguerreotype prices, in much smaller sizes costing only twenty-five or fifty cents each and in some instances, a bit less than that.

The tintype, however, made photography universally available, with portraits selling for a penny or less.


~Harlan County Nebraska~


NOTE: The Phelps Helps Newsletter is starting this new section on Harlan County Nebraska. 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 carry a page of history information on Harlan County.

~ Harlan County Schools ~


Public Schools

Harlan County


NELLE BOOHER County Superintendent

Alma, Nebraska

1938-1939 Enrollment in High School Districts

Numbers = H.S. Total, GradeTotal & Tuition

Republican 53 - 84 - 14

Alma 140 - 190 - 41

Orleans n/a

Mascot 52 - 60 - 41

Stamford 60 - 50 - 29

Huntley 70 - 86 - 21

Ragan 47 - 74 - 4

Harlan County Rural School Districts and Teachers:

District #, School , Teacher Salary

4 - Sappa Valley - Frances Johnette $495

6 - Bear - Velma Byler $450

7 - Christler -Bernice Bush $495

8 - Prairie Dog - Beth Ziegler $450

10 - Valley View - Ruth Schlatz $495

12 - Pleasant Hill - Doris Shoemaker $405

14 -Turkey Creek - Berniece Lennemann $378

17 - Plainview - Jeanne Bose $405

19 - Vincent - Irma Vandike $450

23 - Fairview - Mrs. Irene Snyder $450

25 - Shady Valley - Elaine Ibsen $360

26 - Springbrook - Mrs. B. Lutton $495

27 - Pleasant Ridge - Chrystal Abbott $405

28 - Freewater - Helen Glandon $450

30 - Champion - Helen Tice $360

31 - Salem - Mary Norman $360

35 - Carter - L. Marie Seyler $450

36 - Dawson - Alice Molzahn --

37 - Pleasant Valley - Mrs. Inez Bourne $450

42 - Pleasant View - Hazel Bennett $405

43 - Wide Awake - Evelyn Leopold $450

46 - Graft - Clementine Nu-- $540

48 - Pumpkin Ridge - Mary Porter $315

49 - Black Top - Iona Delimont $405

53 - Sunny Slope - Marion Schleusener $450

54 - Sappa Peak - Cleda Samples $450

55 - Cannonville - Cleo Pollette $360

58 - Goldenrod - Mabel Harvey $515

? - North Lewisburg - Ellen Walker $405

? - Sixty - Tressie Leopold $540

64 - n/a - Leota Davidson $405

66 - Sunny Side - Ruth Walker $360

69 - Flag Creek - Vera Sturtevant $450

72 - Gorman - Anona Hosea $360

74 - Riverside - Louise Burkey $405

75 - Sunny Plain - Lela Gustafson $407.50

76 - Midway - Doris Kerr $400

80 - Esterbrook - Edith Lavene $400

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