Phelps Helps Newsletter Spring 1998

Phelps Helps Newsletter
Holdrege Area Genealogical Society

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

Vol. 7-1
Spring 1998
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!

Phelps Helps Newsletters

can be found on the Internet at


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~New on Our Bookshelf~



SARA FIREHAMMER, 17108 Mayfair Ct., Granger, Indiana 46530. Sara has donated the books listed below in the name of members of her family. We thank Sara for remembering of our library and know many genealogists will appreciate these fine research books.


2. OHIO WILLS AND ESTATES TO 1850: AN INDEX - In the name of Iva Irene (SKOOG) LENY.

3. 1820 FEDERAL CENSUS FOR INDIANA - In the name of George Willard LENEY


5. INDIANA SOURCE BOOK, Volumes 1 through 8 plus indexes:

1. In the name of Sara (LENEY) FIREHAMMER

2. In the name of Janet (LENEY) POETZINGER

3. In the name of John Alan LENEY Index 1 to 3, Ruth (LENEY) MIDKIFF

4. In the name of Matthew J. POETZINGER

5. In the name of John A. POETZINGER

6. In the name of Stephanie A. FIREHAMMER

7. In the name of Emily M. FIREHAMMER

8. In the name of Marisa A. LENEY



8. INDEX TO INDIANA WILLS, PHASE II (1850-1980) - In the name of Philip J. POETZINGER


RECORDS GIVEN BY ARA SANDERS, 13956 Sande Lane, Grass Valley, California. These Homestead and Timber Claims were located in Industry, Phelps County, NE.


1. Robert Hefte/Hefaty - Homestead papers dated 1878

2. Herman Seiling/Sealing - Timber Claim Records dated 1878

3. Ara Sanders also has land information on M. M. and George Skiles.

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Our Sympathy is extended

to the family of Art Viren, who died January 3, 1998 in Tampa Florida.

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Dick Dyas, who spends his winters in Arizona, has our next book ready for publication. "Marriages for Phelps County, 1877 to 1927", will be published in the Spring. He is already working on the next book. Ben Boell is transcribing marriages from Harlan County. We thank both of these dedicated members for getting this information in an easy, understandable format.

In February, three classes of 9th grade Holdrege Students came to hear the story of Camp Atlanta P.O.W. camp. Two students came from Madison, NE spent a day and one half at the museum gathering information on Camp Atlanta, using a video camera. When completed, the video will be used for Nebraska History Project.

The museum and library has a wealth of information. We have over 3000 publications in our library, an impressive microfilm library of State and Federal Census and Phelps County marriage records. Also many records of Phelps county and surrounding counties in our Records Room. The library is open every day of the week with volunteers available to help you on Tuesday and Thursday afternoons or by appointment. Call 308-995-5015 for any additional information.

Your President, Sandra Slater


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Seeking information about the family of Alfred COVER, b. 1838 in PA, who died 21 Feb 1896 in Ragan, Harlan Co, NE. Wife Rozenna or Rosanna METZ. Any information appreciated! Please contact: David Hubbard 2277 First Rd, Junction City KS 66441



*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. Outside United States add $7)



Includes all Phelps County Cemeteries except Prairie Home Cemetery. ($15.75 tax included plus $2 postage and handling. Outside United States add $5)



Includes Prairie Home Cemetery. (15.75 tax included plus $2 postage and handling. Outside United States add $5).


IMMANUEL LUTHERAN CEMETERY, Harlan County, NE ($3.50 tax included plus $1.25 for postage and handling. Outside United States add $3.50.)




MARRIAGES FOR PHELPS COUNTY, 1877 TO 1927: This publication will be an addition to our Phelps County books.

Funk Resident Is
Phelps County's Only Living 
Spanish-American War Veteran

By Mack Lundstrom
(Taken from an unknown newspaper 
Dated February 27, 1956)


R.L. Burman of Funk not only has the distinction of being Phelps County's only living Spanish-American War Veteran but was also one of the original signers when Funk was incorporated in 1913.

"I've seen it grow up and go down," he remarks, "but it's been a good little town anyway." Mr. Burman, who has held almost every town office in existence, believes that if it hadn't been for the fire of 1936, Funk would be much larger today. nearly the whole business district was destroyed in the fire and was never rebuilt.

Mr. Burman, who was 23 when the Spanish-American War broke out in 1898, enlisted in Kansas City only a few days after that time. His first hitch was with Company F of the Fifth Missouri Volunteer Infantry and his training was done at an old Civil War battleground, Chickamauga Park, Ga. He was mustered but when the state militias were discontinued and reenlisted with Company I of the 32nd U.S. Volunteer Infantry, which sailed for Philippine Islands in 1899.

The voyage across the Pacific in cattle boats converted to troop transports, took thirty days and Mr. Burman recalls that enlisted men had to swipe food in order to vary their diet from "slum gullion soup."

The war in the Philippines from 1900 to 1903 consisted most of skirmishes in policing the islands since the major battle of Manila Bay had already taken place. Mr. Burman's commanding officer in the Philippines was General Arthur MacArthur, father of General Douglas MacArthur.

Arnold Behrens of Holdrege, who died recently, was the county's only other Spanish-American War Veteran. He was also stationed in the Philippines during the war but the two did not meet until later.

Born in Burlington, Ia, in 1875, Mr. Burman came to Axtell in 1887 with his parents to farm. Shortly after the war he returned to Axtell. "Then I got tangled up with Mrs. Burman (whom he married in Axtell in 1903) and here I am," he remarked.

"When we came to Funk in 1905, there were only six houses here," he said," and we built the house we live in now in a stubble field."

For 11 years he worked for the A. S. Erickson General (hardware, post office, grocery, lumber) store and for eight years managed the Farmers' Store. He was a partner with martin Anderson in the grocery business for four years and also worked for the DeLancey Grocery Store for several years.

Mr. Burman has now been retired for over fifteen years but at 81 he still holds the office of village treasurer.

Mr. and Mrs. Burman have two children, Mrs. Guy Blincow of Denver and Harley Burman of Arcadia, Calif.

Below is a list of known 
Spanish-American War Veterans 
living in Phelps County 
taken from a book published before 1942.


Name & Address Unit From State of

BURMAN, R. L. - Funk. Co. I, 32nd Nebraska

BAURINS, ARNOLD - Holdrege. Co. K, 30th Infantry Kansas

FADELY, A. W. - Atlanta. 6th Ohio Infantry Ohio

LaFEVIS, H. W. - Holdrege Nebraska

LITAVISH, FRED R. - Holdrege Co. C, 355th Nebraska

OSHEA, E. J. - Holdrege Co. D, 15th Nebraska Nebraska

Railroad Spotted Town of Funk

FUNK (TNS) - When the Burlington and Missouri Railroad had been completed through Phelps county as far as Holdrege, P.O. Hendlund, county clerk, made strenuous efforts to have a station located in Divide township near the old Fridham sod church.

P.C. Funk, interested in having the new station located farther west, made several trips to railroad division head-quarters at McCook and finally was successful, a committee of which he was a member subsequently marking a site on the August Anderson land for the new station, which was named Funk in recognition of this early settler's work toward establishment.

In 1887, Funk, J.S. Johnson, C. F. Franzen, Alfred Johnson and four other men bought 60 acres of land from August Anderson for $2,400 and organized the Funk Townsite company. At first only three blocks were platted and Main street named. Then the sale of lots began.

L.T. Brooking bought the first town lots and built the first residence in Funk. He also put up a store building and established himself as the first business man in the town.

Albert Johnson was the second permanent resident in Funk. he built a blacksmith shop.

In 1887 Isham and Wirt built a grain elevator and placed L. T. Brooking in charge. Later Brooking purchased the elevator and operated it until fire destroyed the structure.

Funk's first railroad station house was a hand car house shipped ready-built and unloaded from a box care in 1888. That year, on April 1, the post office was established in Brooking's store and residents of the town felt they had become permanently connected with the outside world.


Mr. L. T. Brooking decided to publish a newspaper in 1898 in Funk, NE. In his first issue he states "Such a community is certainly entitled to what every other community has, a newspaper, and while I do not expect to reap a financial harvest out of the Enterprise it will require support from the Citizens to keep it alive." The only known Funk Enterprise newspapers are on microfilm at the Holdrege Public Library and date from 7 Oct 1898 onto 1899.





The remains of George Hayden, private Co. E., second Nebraska Volunteers, who died in the Omaha hospital of typhoid fever was interred in the Haydon Cemetery (now known as Magill Cemetery) last Friday by the side of his mother. George was the nephew of George and Watt Arnold who reside a few miles north of Funk. He was a splendid specimen of young physical manhood and his death is indeed a sad one. He served his country's call and fell a victim to the greater danger a soldier has to face, disease. Although he did not participate in the desperate charge at El Caney who will say that he was in a hero's grave up in the little country grave yard.




Some of the Funk young ladies are fortunate enough to have sweethearts among the soldiers who have been fighting in Cuba. They have been anxiously awaiting news of their home coming. The glad news came last week that they would go through Funk Saturday afternoon. The young ladies were at the depot when the train came through, their hearts fluttering with love and excitement and they could hardly wait until the train came. At last it slowly passed the depot, the reader can imagine their dismay, when in response to their waving handkerchiefs, there appeared at every car window, not the face of the expected sweetheart, but the black faces of Uncle Sam's gallant colored troopers. While the Funk girls are as patriotic as can be, the shock was too great and all fainted dead away, and by the time they were restored to consciousness the train was over the hill and far away.

Town of Funk Bears Name of Early Phelps Settler

Mr. P. C. FUNK


(Taken from unknown Phelps Co Newspaper)


P. C. Funk, was an early settler and a much honored and respected citizen of Phelps County. He was born in Germany, August 19, 1847, and is the only child of Philip and Elizabeth (Springer) Funk, both natives of Germany. His parents embarked for America when he was but five years old, and he, in consequence, has but a faint recollection of his native country and the voyage which cast his lot in a foreign land.

His parents located on a farm in Wood County, Ohio, which was at that time one vast swale known as Black Swamp. Philip's mother died three years after their arrival and his father one year later, leaving him an orphan in a strange land at the youthful age of nine years.

Kind Providence, ever mindful of the orphan, found for him a home in a good family where he was taken and reared, receiving a good education and moral training.

When the war came on, Mr. Funk enlisted in Company A, Third Ohio Calvary, joining the regiment at Columbia, Tenn. He took part in the Atlanta campaign and later followed up Gen. Hood's retreating army from Nashville, Tenn, to Gravel Springs, Ala. He was also with the Wilson raiders and participated in the taking of Selma and Montgomery, Ala, Columbus and Macon, Ga. He was with the expedition sent out in search of Jefferson Davis, during which time he did the hardest marching in his whole experience.

August, 1865, he was mustered out at Nashville, Tenn, after which he returned to Wood County, Ohio, where he continued his residence for one year, then emigrated west, locating in Benton County, Iowa, and engaged in farming until 1878. In the spring of that year he came to Phelps County, Nebr., and purchased a quarter section of railroad land in Section 9 Township 6, Range 17.

When Mr. Funk landed in Phelps County, he had a team, some stock and a few farm implements to begin with. He erected a small frame house and began farming with the vigor that has characterized his entire life. He has been very successful, never having had an entire failure of crops and has from time to time as his means would allow, purchased more land until he now owns over 400 acres of fine land, 260 of which are under cultivation.

He also owns an interest in the town site of Funk, which bears his name, he having been instrumental in getting the officials of the Burlington & Missouri River Railroad to place a station there.

Mr. Funk was married July 2, 1874, the lady whom he selected for a life partner being Miss Almeda Hesseltime, who is a native of New York. She was born July 13, 1874, the lady whom he selected for a life partner begin Miss Almeda Hesseltime, who is a native of New York. She was born July 13, 1848. This union has been blessed with three children, as follows -- Alice, born July 11, 1875; Harry, born April 1, 1877; and Nettie, born February 24, 1883.

Politically, Mr. Funk is a strong believer in the principles of the Republican party. He held the office of supervisor of his township in 1886-87. Considering the loss of Mr. Funk's parents at such an early period in the history of his eventful life, and the fact of his being left practically upon his own resources and that, too in a foreign land, he is deserving of much credit; and the confidence and esteem in which he is held by his neighbors and acquaintances speaks more fully of the success of his life struggle than the pen of the historian is able to record.


Taken from Funk's Directory

(Undated - presume from early 1900's)


This thriving little village, situated eight miles east of Holdrege on the Burlington railroad, was located in May, 1887, and was platted by August Anderson on whose land the town was situated. It was named in honor of P.C. Funk, one of the oldest settlers in the county and who also took an active part in having the town located here.

L.T. Brooking was the first man to locate in the town, moving here with his family in the fall of 1887. Mr. Brooking was engaged in the grain buying business and also conducted a small grocery store. Among other names connected with the early history of the town are those of Henning, Fred, Adolph and C.F. Franzen, who located there in the early nineties and who have never wavered in their untiring efforts to build up the town.

For a long period of years the little town did not grow much, but during the last six or eight years there has been much improvement made along commercial lines as well as many others and we have now two general merchandise stores that would be a credit to any other town in the country. We also have as large lumber yards as can be found in towns of eight or ten thousand inhabitants.

The harness, hardware, banking, drug, livery and feed, millinery, blacksmith, barber, meat, dressmaking, hotel, restaurant, grain, cattle and hog buying and brick business are also represented here. During the year 1908 there were 169 cars of stock and 300 cars of grain shipped from here which gives some idea of the volume of business done.

We are a peaceable little burg, too. During our entire existence there has been no arrests made of any of our citizens or any serious trouble of any kind.




The First State Bank, A. Franzen, Mgr., phone 15


Nels Morgan


Smith Bros


F.B. Person, salesman, phone 11


Harry H. Funk, Prop., phone 75


Mrs. Louisa A. Bryant


C. E. Swanson


J.W. Anderson Grain Co., C.B. Person, Mgr., phone 11

Funk Grain and Elevator Co., Myron Johnson, Mgr., phone 13

Foster Grain Co., S.R. Johnson, Mgr., phone 12


C.D. Hills, Prop.


A. S. Erickson, phone 45


A. Hawkinson


A.S. Erickson, phone 45


Hattie Peterson, phone 44


Brown Bros. Co., phone 5

Oscar Hopkins, phone 6


Smith Bros.


J.B. Foster, phone 9


A. S. Erickson, postmaster, phone 45


S. L. Cathcart


Independent and Bell, Mrs. Mary E. Cathcart, operator and manager.





Funk Lodge No. 193. Meets first and third Saturday of each month at Franzen's hall. Edward Person, M.W.; Chas. Lucas, foreman; Lorenzo Franzen, overseer; P.C. Funk, recorder; C.F. Franzen, receiver; N.P. Peterson, financier; S. J. Gwinner, guide.



Divide Camp No. 5768. Meets second and fourth Saturday of each month in Franzen's hall. Elmer Brown, V.C.; P.O. Olson, W.A.; A. Franzen, banker.



Funk Lodge No. 189. Meets every second and fourth Friday at Franzen's hall at 8 p.m. Mrs. L.T. Brooking, C.H.; Fred Horn, recorder; Lorenzo Franzen, receiver.


Taken from Wolf's Nebraska Gazeeter

1890 - 1891


Ragan, a town on the Alma branch of the U.P. Ry., is situated in the northeastern part of Harlan county, 18 miles from Alma, the county seat, and has a population of 150. There are several general stores, a bank, a blacksmith shop, and other industries located here. The Ragan Sun, a weekly newspaper, is published by G. D. Woods, editor and proprietor. A new school house was built in 18889 at a cost of $1,800, which is also used for church purposes.


Aldredge M H, genl mdse
Allen Theodore, carpenter
Bank of Ragan, capital $9,000, Cross & Johnston
Berggren Gust, blacksmith
Burdick A S, sta, tel and ex agt
Clark Emmet L, druggist
Cross & Johnston, bankers, lumber and coal
Hawksby J W, postmaster
Jacobson & Johnson, agl implts
McAdoo A R, hardware, groceries
Miller & Co, drugs, confectionery
Moore & Mudgett, hardware
Olive & Co, grain
Peterson Oscar, blacksmith
Ragan Hotel, Mrs. MS Thompson
Ragan Sun (The), G D Woods pub
Rainey & Brewster, livery
Rogers Daniel, phys
Stevens & Carroll, grain
Thompson M S Mrs, prop Ragan House
Vaughan George, stock dealer
Wheeler George, meat market
Wilsey J, justice, notary public
Woodruff C H, genl mdse
Woods GD, editor The Ragan Sun

NOTE: Wilcox is in Kearney County within one mile of the Phelps, Harlan and Franklin Counties.


Undated article taken from 
unknown Phelps County newspaper

Henry Wilcox of Wilcox

The town was named after him.


Wilcox Settlers Arrived in 1871


WILCOX - The earliest settlers at Wilcox were Charles Walker, 1871; ? B Ball, 1872; William Laton, 1874; William Mowrey, 1877; and Andrew Falk, 1878. Among the Wilcox pioneers still living here are Mrs. Florence Laton McGowan, C.H. Mowrey, Mrs. Ella Snell and two sisters, Mrs. Elizabeth LeBar and Mrs. William Lippstreu.

The Burlington railroad reached Wilcox in 1886 and the same year Mr. and Mrs. W. H. Leasuri removed their country store form two and one-half miles northeast of town to the community and operated it here for 23 years.

The town was named for Henry Wilcox, the first banker. He owned part of the land on which the town was established. One of the early industries was a brick yard, owned by Thomas Barker and last operated in 1890. Several houses built of the bricks still stand.

In 1889 C. R. Potter erected a flour mill which ran until 1895, when it burned to the ground.

An interesting bit on early history concerns the first well in the vicinity. D. B. Ball bought part of the ranch owned by Charles Walker and dug the well. As it was the only source of water for miles around, he sold water to persons passing through as well as to others in the vicinity. Mr. Ball was a United States deputy marshal and was feared by law breakers according to the old timers who tell of him.

Mary Wiston taught school in the first schoolhouse here, built on Walker's ranch. She is now Mrs. Mary Jackson of Holdrege. Mrs. Florence McGowln was one of her pupils.

Fires at various times destroyed all the original business houses here. The first Wilcox paper was called the "Post", V. A. Marsteller was the first postmaster.

Undated article taken from unknown Phelps County newspaper


Pioneer Physician Won Acclaim

ALMA - One of the real pioneers in the Nebraska medical profession was the late Dr. Dan R. Rodgers, who belonged to the self-sacrificing, conscientious and faithful school of country doctors.

He was born at Connellsville, Pa, and at the age of 13 moved with his parents to Morgantown, Va. He received his degree from the University of Virginia and later his medical degree from Jefferson Medical College in 1880. After a short practice in West Virginia, he came West for his health.

He stopped at the hotel at Alma for several days and became acquainted around the countryside on trips to Kearney, when he stayed overnight at farms. He purchased a farm near alma and had no intention of going into the practice of medicine until neighbors began calling on him for all kinds of assistance. So he stayed and later returned to Virginia to bring his wife to the new country. They lived in or near Ragan until his death in 1930.

Dr. Rodgers came to be recognized as one of the most capable and skillful physicians in the state and enjoyed an extensive practice. As a diagnostician in complicated and critical case, surgeons relied greatly upon the conclusions reached by him. When it was necessary his patient receive hospital care, Dr. Rodgers would accompany him to Omaha and remain with him until the critical stage had passed.

In the early day of his practice the horse and buggy was the mode of transportation. Many of the country side roads on the open prairie, were mere trails and the nights were cold, but Dr. Rodgers always responded to his calls. It was this spirit and the active, exemplary life he lived that brought to him at the close of his career the well earned encomium of having been the most useful and the most beloved citizen of the community.

In 1930 the Harlan County Medical Association gave a banquet in honor of his 50th year in medicine. He died the same year and remarked proudly during his last illness that he had "never failed to give the poor man as careful and painstaking service as to the rich man."

From unknown newspaper article

dated February 25, 1958

Mrs. Brooking to Be 99 Years Old on Tuesday


Mrs. L. T. Brooking will celebrate her 99th birthday tomorrow, Feb. 25, although she is in the Holdrege hospital with a broken hip authorities say she may have visitors, but only a few at a time.

Born in 1859 in Hamilton, Ia., she and Mr. Brooking came to Funk in 1885. The Brookings operated the first grain elevator, post office and grocery store in Funk.

They celebrated their 65th wedding anniversary in 1944.

After Mr. Brooking's death in 1945, Mrs. Brooking continued to live in Funk for a year. After spending a year with a niece in Oskaloosa, Ia., Mrs. Brooking returned to Funk where she lived until she moved to Holdrege making her home with Mr. and Mrs. J.L. Gaskill. Last fall she moved to the Christian Home.

The Brookings had four children. One daughter, Mabel, died in infancy; Albert, who was the curator of the House of Yesterday at Hastings until his death in 1946; William of Dodge City, Kans., and Earl of Funk.

~Harlan County Nebraska~

NOTE: 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 carry a page of history information on Harlan County.

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~ Early Harlan County ~


(From Newspaper Article Written by Craig Spencer in 1976)


He's into clocks. She's into lamps and that led them to the old railroad station in Ragan, NE.

Gerald and Blanche Reed of Funk extended their hobby of collecting antiques, last summer, by obtaining and moving the former Ragan depot from that Harlan County Community to Funk.

Restoring the old structure and an old farmhouse moved into town two years ago, will be keeping the couple busy throughout out the coming year.

Mr. Reed, manager of the Farmers Co-Op Grain and Supply of Funk, has been researching the depot's history, as a sidelight to the project. He has discovered the facility was built between 1890 and 1900 by the St. Joseph and Grand Island Railroad.

All depots along the line were constructed in towns, Alphabetically. A branch line went through Ragan, serving the community of nearby Huntley until about 1962 when it ceased to house a permanent agent.

Williams Brothers of Hastings moved the 10 by 40 foot structure August 9th to the Reeds" one-acre tract of land on the west edge of Funk. It now stands near to the farm house which they moved from south of town.

The well-built depot as Mr. Reed called it, has two by six studding with 13 foot high ceilings. Included are the five rooms -- an 18 by 18 foot freight room, agent's room and two baggage rooms. None of the rooms will be changed.

He obtained a pot-belly stove which will be installed with a brick chimney when warmer weather comes around. "It's a sound building" Mr. Reed noted the interior is quite good. We Plan to put the old Funk Depot platform in front of the building.

The two-story Funk Depot was torn down in 1957. Mr. Reed noted that not too many of the old depots are left in Nebraska.

After some of the weathered siding is replaced, the true colors of red, trimmed in green will be painted on the exterior. Thus far, the Reeds have done all the work on the two buildings.

They have been involved in antique collection for several years. Asked why they turned to restoring a depot, Mr. Reed answered, "We just had an idea, I guess.


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