Elmore E. Devoe
2311 South Street
January 1, 1941
Editors Note: Due to modern technology, the word processor program auto-corrects misspelled words. As I was transcribing this document, many corrections were made without my being aware of them. Because of this, I have corrected most spelling errors. I can think of no point in this document where a misspelled word would have conveyed any additional information about E.E. Devoe. This document was well written and I suspect some of the misspelled words were actually changes in the way words were spelled then versus now. Two words consistently misspelled were "poison" as "poisin" and "judgment" was as "judgement". "Birth date" was consistently spelled as one word, as was "post office". One misspelled word that did change throughout the document was "cemetery" which was spelled "cemetary" in about half of the instances. He also spelled his second wifes name as "Corbitt" and "Corbett". I left in both spellings. I also left in all punctuation as original.
December 16, 2002
My first vivid memory as a child was when my brother, Richmond, George Woodruff and Michael Barnes enlisted in the Union Army in 1862. The last two mentioned were my brothers-in-law. I remember my brother, dressed in blue, led me through the camp situated along the banks of the Kankakee River. They were recruiting soldiers to go South into the war. It impressed me greatly because the soldiers were dressed in blue and the guns were stacked in front of the tents.
My brother was wounded severely in the war by losing part of his hand. I have heard him tell that during the skirmish the Union soldiers were driven back, hard-pressed and fearful of being captured by the Rebels. He ran to a corn field and lay down between the rows of corn. It rained during the night following the day he was wounded and he said that he let the hand lay in the mud which helped him endure the pain. Many of the soldiers said that they would rather die on the battle field than to be captured and send to the Libby or Andersonville prisons where it was understood that very inhuman treatment was given the soldiers as prisoners. While we lived north of the Mason and Dixon line, we had many people in our neighborhood who sympathized with the South and who rejoiced when word came that the Rebel Armies were victorious. My two sisters, Charlotte and Elizabeth, lived with us when their husbands were in the war. Mother and Elizabeth were invited to a quilting party at one of the neighbors. Everything went along smoothly until after lunch, when the owner of the house, who had been to the village, cam and announced to the ten or twelve women sitting around the quilt that the southern soldiers had been victorious in the first battle of Bull Run. The lady of the house said: "Its good enough for themthey had no business to go down there and pitch on them!" Well, sister Elizabeth was a little quick-temperedher brother and husband were in the Union army and that was too much! She jumped up, her heels kicking the chair across the room. With one jump she had the woman by the hair, knocked her to the floor, was on top of her banking her head up and down saying, "Its good enough for them, is it? Its good enough for them, is it?" Mother got there as soon as she could and pulled her away. It broke up the party. I was a small boy, only five or six years old, but it was such an exciting affair that I remember my mother laughing and telling the family about it when she came home.
At the close of the war, my brother and two brothers-in-law, returned to Kankakee City. One brother-in-law, Michael, owing to exposure and strenuous marching through all kinds of weather, lived only a short time after his discharge. It so happened one day that my father drive from our home to Kankakee and George Woodruff, my other brother-in-law and I wend along. It was election day and George went to vote. I went with him.. The clerk gave him a ballot, but one of the Judges, an attorney, challenged his vote. George had recently returned from the battle field and he knew that the attorney was a southern sympathizer. He leaped over the counter and had the judge on the floor. It would have been too bad if other med had not taken him out of the voting booth, as the rebel was pretty badly used up. I think he was called into court, but his fine was small and his buddies paid it.
George Woodruff was my ideal manalways had a smile and a good word for every one. I never saw him angry except the time just mentioned. When this event happened, George was working in a foundry, but later he moved to California so as to provide better educational facilities for his children.
Not being able to build a good house, father put up a shanty and I well remember of awakening in the morning with an inch of snow on Walters and my bed. During the civil war, however, he mortgaged his land for enough to build a very comfortable home. It was a new country and I remember seeing three deer coming on the run past our house, pursued by three or four hunting dogs and men on horse back.
While I was growing from childhood to manhood, I never saw a screen of any kind on the doors or windows to keep out the flies or mosquitoes. When we were eating our meals, two of the family would use brushes broken from trees to try to keep the flies from getting more of the food than we did. Of course they fell in our plates and coffee and we would skim them out with our spoon and what did a fly or two amount to anyway?
I remember my mother telling me when I was a little boy of her father and mother moving to Canada just before the war with England in 1812. The Canadians, of course, were mustering troops and the best horses to cross the border to fight for the mother country. Grandfather got word that they were commandeering all the best horses of his neighborhood so he took his horses, wagon and harness to an out of the way place in the woods. He took the wagon apart and hid the pieces in different places. They came to get his horses in the evening but he reused to tell them where he had hidden them. They tortured him and tried in different ways to get him to tell where they were but he said that they would have to kill him first. They remained in the neighborhood for a week or ten days getting recruits and horses. When they went over the border, he went to get the horses. They had eaten the bark off the trees. At the close of the war, he went back to New York, where mother was born in 1817.
I helped with the threshing and harvesting many falls. One man did the feeding, one the band outing, and I laid out the bundles on the table for the band cutter.
It is interesting to note the many changes in the methods and machinery since the time that I first helped with the harvest and the farm work.
When I was a small boy, I remember seeing my father cradle wheat and flax. The implement he used was much like a grass scythe except that above the scythe there were three prongs that carried the wheat over to the left leaving the wheat in rows to be later picked up. It was then taken to the threshing floor which was a circle about twenty feet in diameter and made of planks. I rode on horse and led another around and around the circle tramping out the wheat or flax. Father turned it over quite often with a fork. When the grain wall tramped out, he would shovel and sweep it up into barrels. The first windy day, he would pour the wheat out slowly and let all the chaff flow away. Then he would take it to the miller and have it ground into flour.
The first harvester I remember was called a Dropper. It was much like a grass mower except that there were prongs attached to the circle bars which could be raised or lowered. When they were raised, it held the wheat up until it would make a bundle. Then the driver would push a lever with his foot to release it. When the wheat was good, it took about five men to get it bound and out of the way when the machine came around again.
The next machine I remember was one with a platform. There was a seat on the plat form and a man to sit there and rake wheat from the platform so that men following could bind it and shock it.
I think the next harvester was the self rake McCormick. The rake went over the wheels but when it came down, it went around the platform and raked the wheat off.
The next was a platform about the same but the rake went around the platform on an endless chain. We thought that was something wonderful. One of my neighbors had one and had only used it for two years when it went bad on him. The chain would come off the cog wheels at the corner of the platform. I asked him what he would take for it for I had wheat to harvest. He sold it to me for fifty dollars. I took it home and took off the platform and found that one of the braces underneath had rattled off. I replaced it with an oak one and it went as good as new.
The next one was the Marsh harvester. Two men stood on the platform and bound the grain as it came up between two canvases running on wheels. In good wheat, I found it a good days work to bind one half of it.
Our next improvement was a binder with wire. It worked precisely and very good for the first season. It was not satisfactory, however, as it was found that the cows when eating the straw in the first winter, were eating the wire too. This resulted in the loss of much livestock. Since the wire binder would not do, the twine binder was invented the next season. This binder was very successful.
Then the Header came out and just clipped the heads of the wheat off. That was used for a number of years by some of the farmers.
Now machines put the wheat direct from the harvesterdrawn by a tractorinto trucks. On some farms, the horse has gone from the picture entirely.
Seventy years ago, we plowed the ground, harrowed it and marked it both ways and then dropped four kernels of corn into each hill and covered it with a hoe. Then we would cultivate it with one horse and a double shovel plow and sometimes with a hoe.
It was the custom when I was a boy for us to wear boots with copper toes and red tops. It (sic) a boy wore shoes, the other children would laugh at him. When I was about eight and Walter about six, my father was going to Kankakee one morning and my mother told him to take us with him. He was going to sell some butter, eggs and chickens. Mother gave him a list of things that he was to get with the money and among those things were boots for us. He took the produce to the store and traded it for groceries but there was not enough to get the boots too. I can well remember how disappointed we were. When we got home, mother looked things over and asked him where out boots were. Father told her that there was not enough produce to get them. Ill never forget her face when she looked at him and said, "I see you have your gallon jug of whiskey!" He then said, "Mother, thats the last whiskey Ill ever bring into the house," and it was. He never drank another drop that I know of. We got our boots the next time he went to market. I never in my whole life saw my father intoxicated.
I dont remember the date of the total eclipse of the sun, but it was in that summer of 1869 (ed: 7-Aug-1869), when I noticed it was getting dark. I tried to drive the cows home but they thought that it was night and laid down and went to sleep. I was afraid that Id lost out on time. But, in my dilemma, I looked towards home and saw my sister coming to me on a horse. She told me to leave them alone because it would soon be over.
One very important event of my early life was the year of 1869. Two miles east of my home there was a tract of grass land, abundant with grass but too low for farming. Every farmer on the way between my home and the tract owned cows. I started with my cows to the tract and on the way would stop and pick up the neighbors cows on the way, drive them down to the grass land and leave them in their proper place in the evening.
I did this from May first to September first. That year it rained nearly every day during the four months and all the crops were ruined. I had no raincoat so I went home every night soaking wet. Within a week after I quit the herd, I was down with typhoid fever. Doctors said I could not live, but my sister, Charlotte, say by me night and day and I believe that it was her good judgment and nursing that saved my life. That was the only ailment that I ever had in my life that necessitated calling a physician.
In 1870, James Hamilton, a former native of our county and then living about ten miles south of Momence, came down to see us and hired me to go back with him to herd about 80 head of steers during the summer. My wages were $12.00 per month and I also got my board. In the fall he moved the steers eight or ten miles east in the edge of heavy timber but near good farm land where he could buy hay and corn. He had large feed lots of hay and corn near and put me down there in a log cabin. A creek ran through the feed lot but I had to feed them twice a day all alone. He brought me food every Saturday for the next week. In about two months, I came down with fever ague and when he came that Saturday, I made him take me home. I was homesick.
I remember of seeing my mother use a wick in a saucer of grease for light. Then she let me help her make tallow candles and we used those for a number of years. When we got kerosene lamps, we thought they were a great luxury. Father made sorghum molasses not only for ourselves but for all the neighbors. He always put a barrel of it in the basement and it was all gone by the end of the year. When I was married in 1880, there wasnt a buggy within five miles so I rode horseback to Chebanse, hired a livery team to drive nine miles to Kankakee, through mud from six to ten inches deep to get married. Today, all those roads are paved.
In my time sod houses were very common. We had no cars or other luxuries. How did we live? In my opinion, the answer is that we had as much as our neighbors and so were satisfied.
We can not expect our boys and girls to do as we did when we were young. Our houses had no shower baths, no plumbing, no gas, no electricity, no running water and all the devices that we have today were not even dreamed of. The list is long and the things that we did without are many. We should thank God for living in this age of great achievement, greater than was ever known in the Christian era. In my younger days, very little talk of inventions was heard. And if there was any, everyone said it was impossible.
The following appeared in a New York paper in 1865. A man named Josiah Coppersmith was arrested in New York for attempting to extort funds from ignorant people by exhibiting a device which he says will convey the human voice any distance over wires so that it will be heard by the listener at the other end. The instrument was called the telephone. "Well-informed people know it is impossible to transmit the human voice over wires and if it were possible to do so, the thing would be of no value. The officers who apprehended the criminal are to be congratulated, and it is to be hoped that his punishment will be prompt and that it may serve as an example to others who enrich themselves at the expense of their fellow men."
When I was fifteen years of age, we stood in amazement in our yard one evening and watched the bright light in the north, wondering the cause, but heard in a few days that it was the great Chicago fire. It came out in our weekly paper that Mrs. OLearys cow kicked over a lantern, which started the fire.
I attended country school until I was ready for high school. I was fortunate in having my sister, Elizabeth, and her husband, George Woodruff, offer me a place to stay and eat without pay. I surely appreciated it and in later years I was glad to partially repay them. I graduated in the spring of 1873, worked on a farm during the summer and in the fall, my cousin, Tine Pattee, living near Lowell, Indiana, wrote me to come and teach their school. If I remember rightly, it was to start October first and continue four months. I was to receive the big salary of $25.00 per month. On my arrival, I borrowed a horse and rode thirty miles to Crown Point, Indiana to be examined for a certificate, a two-day job, one day up and back the next. I finished the term and went back home and continued to each in Kankakee county until the fall of 1879.
During my first term of teaching in Kankakee county, I was asked to become a member of the temperance society. It was one of the first ones organized and was called the "Blue Ribbon Temperance Society." Each member wore a blue emblem on his coat lapel. I had an interesting experience in connection with my membership in this organization. One day my friend, Lon Pratt, and I went into Chebanse on horseback to do some trading. Upon arriving in Chebance, we tied our horses to the hitching posts in front of the store. Lon said he would like to play some pool and asked that when I got ready to go home to come to the pool hall and get him. He was playing in a combination pool hall and saloon, and it seemed that the owners of the saloon had made the statement that no one could enter their place of business wearing a blue emblem. I did not know about the way they felt towards the temperance society so I went in the saloon and on to the pool room which was in the rear of the building. I found Lon and asked him if he was ready to go home, and he said he would leave as soon as he finished the game. I say down to wait for him. Just as I say down, the owner of the saloon, who was a large man, came up to me searing and said no one wearing the temperance emblem could stay in his place of business. He struck at me with his fist but I dodged the blow. I swung at him and my fist landed on his jaw. He went to the floor and had a little trouble getting up. One of his helpers wanted to help him out but the crowd interfered. A Policeman, whom I knew, came along shortly and I told him what had happened and he did nothing about it but told me to get on my horse and go home.
I decided to go west and file on government land as a homestead and started in September for Nebraska. My ticket for to Kearney. On the train between Lincoln and Kearney, I say with a German boy about my own age, who seemed very shy and not very sociable. He seemed afraid, but on questioning him I found that he had worked for a cousin of mine on a farm for a number of years in Lake county, Indiana. After naming the names of the children and the neighbors, he confided in me enough to tell me that he had $1000 hi mother had sewed in a pocket inside his shirt and with which he wanted to buy a quarter section of railroad land and had been told to look for it around Kearney at about $5.00 per acre. I told him I was stopping at Kearney; that I had no money and was going to look for a homestead. We arrived at Kearney about nine oclock p.m. He proposed that we take a room together and we went to a hotel. We registered and went at once to our room. Soon there was a knock on our door. I asked who it was but the German begged me not to open the door; but I did anyway. A man entered who said his name was Harry Smith and that one of us had registered from Kankakee City. He said that his parents lived there in Illinois, and that he had run away from home when a small boy and had not seen or written them. The German boy was very frightened, for our stranger came marching in dressed as a typical cowboy, a cowboy hat, leather chaps, a wide leather belt and two .44 guns, one on each side. He soon allayed our fears by showing a genuine interest in our affairs. He first told us the street and the number where his parents lived. I told him that I had gone by the house a number of times and had seen the old folks out in the garden or in the lawn. He then wanted to know why we were there. I told him that I was looking for a homestead but that the other young man wanted to buy a quarter section of railroad land. He then told us his business. He had been in the saddle for some time buying feed for the government mules and horses stationed at Fort Kearney, just across the river south of Kearney. He then said to us, "Meet me in front of the hotel tomorrow morning at eight oclock." We did so, and he was there with a two-seated buggy and the land agent. We went about seven miles north to Wood River, a very pretty stream with a valley extending about a mile on either side. My friend found what he wanted and back to Kearney we went to cut the stitches from the $1000 and he paid for his land right then. He had $300 let and took the train home saying that he would come back in the spring and build. Now, Harry Smith said he would get me started. He took me to a livery stable and ordered me the best horse there and guaranteed the safe return or would pay all the damages himself. He was well known to the livery man for the soldiers had been in the country for some time as protection from Indians. There were no definite roads, just trails and Smith told me to ride southwest until I came to the Republican River. There were some cattle ranches on the way and I stopped at one for lunch and to feed the horse. It was a cloudy day and all the trails did not go southwest but I found the Republican River a few miles southeast of Melrose, now called Orleans, forded the river there and rode on up Beaver Creek as far as the Postoffice (sic), called Lebanon, Harvey Burgess in charge. He told me that there were some good homesteads a few miles south and that George McClure who lived near had maps of the vacant land and would help me locate. We found a good smooth quarter section and the next day rode to Indianola where there was a government agency. There I paid my $14.00 and was given a receipt for the money. The proper papers were to be sent to me later. McClure said that I must make some improvement on the land, so I rode back to his place and borrowed a spade. I cut out some sod and started a foundation for a sod house. I rode down the Republican valley to Arapahoe and across to Kearney, delivered the pony and the saddle in good condition. I had been gone five and on-half days and was charged 50¢ a day. Smith went with me to the train and asked me to go tell his father and mother that he was alive and well.
When I arrived in Kankakee, I went to his parents home, rang the door bell, and delivered the message to the mother, who was an elderly lady. She screamed and fainted, fell on the floor. She was a small woman, so I picked her up and laid her on the settee. I hurried through the hall to find help, but the mother overtook me and called to her husband who was digging potatoes to come quickly; that a man had found Harry and had come to tell them about it. He came running into the parlor still carrying his hoe. I hadnt realized until then what a list child meant to a father and mother. They thanked me over and over. I was so glad to make those old folks happy. They had believed him dead because he had not written. I gave them his address and some time later I met the father and the son Harry on the street. He said that after I left him, he got homesick and so had started home.
Brother Walter and I had a good crop of corn that year on rented ground south of Kankakee. The money from this crop enabled us to make arrangements for an immigrant car to make the trip west. I was married to Sarah Casement on February 29, 1880. She was teaching school at the time and was under contract until June first. Walter and I chartered the car to be loaded at the station Irwin, two and on-half miles northwest of the old home. We started on March 2, 1880. I had a pass with the car, but Walter didnt so he made a bed in the car with the mules, horses, furniture, and agricultural tools. Walter and I took our own food with us. We went via Chicago over the B. & M. R. R. We had supposed we would go through in three or four days but we were seven days getting to Republican City, Nebraska. At that time, that was as far as the road went. I had my violin in the caboose and as soon as a new conductor got on at the division stations, I would get my violin and play. If he seemed to enjoy it, I would, at the first stop, go tell Walter to come back to the caboose. He would bring his accordian (sic) and we would entertain the crowd, and the caboose was nearly always full. Walter was never asked for his ticket, but at every division station, he would go back to the immigrant car.
As the train took longer than we expected, we had not had a square meal since we left home. In bunting our car around, a horse got down and when we stopped at Hastings, I told the conductor that I wanted our car set out at the stock yards. He first refused but I threatened to report to headquarters, and he finally consented. We unloaded, fed and watered the stock. It was the sixth day and, as we were pretty hungry, we started out for Hastings. We were told that the town was northeast of the depot about a half mile. We could see dim lights which I think were coal oil lights. We started out for the town. A frame building had burned earlier in the day and the basement was half full of charred coals. I was in the lead. As it was about eight oclock p.m., it was pretty dark and I walked right into the basement. Walter pulled me out and, though I was not badly burned, I was a sight when I reached the café. However, they let me go into the back room where I washed up. We asked the price of the meals and the waiter said 25¢. We cleaned up two helpings and with some argument got a third. We went back to the stock and loaded them into the car; them (sic) got in ourselves to sleep. We were picked up by the next train and taken on to Republican City. We unloaded the car in the stock yard and put the two wagons together. We couldnt take everything so we took what we needed the most. The farm tools and other articles we left in the yard for there was no place to store them.
We drove out about five or six miles and camped in the timber along the Republican River. The camp was near a large log house that was empty. We tied the horses to the wagons and fed them with the grain that we had brought along. We went into the log house to sleep and did we sleep! We had bumped and jostled and listened to the continual grind of the car wheels on the track for seven long days and nights. Laying on the floor of the log house was a real pleasure. Our reset was disturbed by a real Nebraska blizzard. We got the horses into the house and out of the storm. In the morning the storm was worse, more wind and sleet, but we started out as we could see the road. We walked beside the wagon all the way so the horses wouldnt tire themselves too much. We forded the river at Melrose, no called Orleans. We stopped for the night a mile or two east of Beaver City.
We got shelter for the horses in a sod barn. We rolled up in our blankets behind the horses. In the morning, with sleet and snow still blowing, we got to Wilsonville. That was the third day that we were out. We had come fifty miles in those three days, and we still had thirteen miles to go.
We walked beside the wagons all the way. We found other immigrants stranded by the storm. The weather was much better on the fourth day and we got to McClures, the man who helped me locate the homestead the year before. He had a dugout that he had used the year before he built his sod house and we rented it and moved in at once. We wrote our father and mother to come out and, bringing sister Louisa with them, they did so. They came to Orleans and Walter met them and brought them to the dugout. They didnt stay long as they rented a couple of rooms from Bob Gore. He lived one-half mile west of us. I made three trips in March to Republican City for the balance of the goods and found on the first trip that some of t he things had been stolen.
My wife finished her school about the first of June. I wrote her to buy her ticket via the Burlington, as they were running trains as far as Orleans. I told her that I would meet her there if she would let me know when she would arrive.
I received her reply in about two weeks saying that she would come to Logan, Kansas, giving me as near as she could the date of her arrival. She told me that some railroad man had told her that she could not get to Orleans. In a few days, she had further information and that the ticket agent told her she could come to Orleans after all, and she wrote me to that effect. I got the first letter but the second didnt come until after I had stated to meet her at Logan, Kansas.
Logan was about 80 miles from my place so I started three days ahead of the time she was to get there, for it took time in those days to go any place. I expected her the second day after I got there but I stayed a full week, sleeping at the livery stable along with the horses. I finally gave it up and started the three-day trip home. When I got there, there was a letter saying that she had found out that she would get there. I should have received that letter before I started to Logan, but the mail in those days was very uncertain. It was only fifty miles to Orleans but it was a three-days drive there and back. I met her there and we drove back to our home dugout in the side of a bank. I made three trips to Orleans for lumber to build a small house on my homestead. I built it without plans or a model. We didnt understand how warm the dos houses were in the winter and how cool they were in the summer. We corrected our mistake in a few years and built a sod addition to the frame house.
Ours was the first frame house in the country and the deer would come up to about 20 or 30 rods of it and stamp their front feet as they looked at it. They would turn and run away.
The wolves were getting to be quite a pest to the farmers as they have always been to a newly settled country. When we came to the homestead in 1880, we brought a dozen hens and a roster of a very large variety. One Sunday morning I heard the old rooster squack and I jumped out of bed and rushed out. There was a wolf making off with the rooster. He didnt have much of a start on me but I got winded after a half mile and had to give it up. I was giving him a pretty tough race too.
We had very little furniture and most of it I made myself. We had benches for chairs, that was what most people had, and so we were perfectly satisfied. About the time we moved to our frame house, I bough a cow for $40.00. I also drive the 20 miles to Beaver City and rented some land to plant some seed wheat, but it didnt rain a drop until the last day of June and the wheat soon died.
In the early days from 1880 to 1900, the creeks in southwest Nebraska were never dry as they were fed by springs. Most of the land was prairie at that time, but it was rapidly settled. As the prairies were plowed, erosion started and t he mud washed down, which choked the springs for a number of years. Some years ago we had a flood that washed away the silt clogging those springs and they have been running ever since.
The creeks were used for a number of years to furnish the power for grist mills where the setters could get their wheat flour ground. There was one mill on the Sappy Creek near Devises (ed: cant locate any city by that name). And one just west of Beaver City on Beaver Creek. Most of these mills are gone today for most people buy their bread already baked.
When the first rain came that summer, I was down on the creek getting a barrel of water and some green elm wood. I laid the barrel down and crawled into it to keep dry, and after it stopped, I loaded up and went home. I arrived there to find that our cow had been struck by lightening and killed. That was a sever blow as we needed that cow and had no money to buy another one.
I started to dig a well in the early part of the summer of 1880. There was no other well around there so we had no idea how deep we would have to dig to strike water, but all that time we had to haul wood and water from Beaver Creek, four miles away. Most of the wood was elm and it was usually green. We were obliged to keep the oven full of the green wood to dry it out and every time a stick was taken out, another had to be put in. If we had to do that today, we would starve to death waiting to be served. There were lots of men wanting work in those days, but they were hard to keep. They hated the well because they were afraid that the dirt and sand would cave in on them. They would work for a few days and then quit. We curbed the bad sand veins but they were still afraid. I had five men working for me.
That summer. I worked at the bottom of the well half of the time and had one man on top. Wages were 50¢ a day and they got their dinner too. When we got down to one hundred fifty feet, we found flint and it took us half a day to pick a keg full. We pulled the dirt and flint out with a horse. One day Walter had to go to the creek to get some water and wood and I told him to hurry and to be back by noon. I slid down in the well on a rope and filled the keg and was read to come up at noon, but Walter was not there. My wife kept watch for him, but as he wasnt in sight at one oclock I climbed up the rope, hand over hand, the entire one hundred fifty feet. The well was too big around to rest against the sides with shoulders and feet and I was just handing there with my hands. I reached the top but dont ever think I ever tried that again. We finished that flint with dynamite and blasting powder and under about five feet of flint we found an almost complete skeleton of a small animal.
We finished the well at one hundred seventy-five feet with plenty of water. A number of homesteaders got their water at our well. The keg that pulled out the dirt held about ten gallons. One of my team, old Dolly, pulled the dirt from the well; the rope came up over a pulley about eight feet above the well and down under a pulley at the side of the well. We had a neighbor boy lead her out until the bucket would get above the top of the well to let the small door drop down, then stop the horse and back up, then turn around and come back for the next bucketful. After one week of leading, she got so she could do it alone. One very peculiar thing about old Dolly was that she pulled up all the dirt, but when we hitched her to pull up the first bucket of water, she wouldnt go one step. She had been so faithful that we used her mate and didnt make old Dolly pull the water up.
Brother Walter made a trip to the Platte river with a team of mules, harness and wagon and received pretty good money in the hay fields and working on the railroad tracks. He later sold the outfit and came home. We bought a few cows and calves and in about 1885, I drove six steers across the country to Indianola and sold them for enough to buy a windmill.
This mare, old Dolly, did good service for a number of years, and when she got old I got another team. I kept her for awhile, but one day I found that the lightening had killed one of my team leaving me only one work horse. I had to have a team so I had to trade old Dolly for another horse, paying something to boot. I got an Oregon pony but found that he was an outlaw. I got him to work after a long fight. About a month later, my wife and I heard a whinny and looking to the northeast about one-half mile away was old Dolly. She had come 12 miles to get back home. She came on to where we were standing, put her nose against us and seemed so glad to be home that, to be candid and honest, we both cried and vowed that something had to be done about that trade. And there was. We settled it with a little loss.
We found that native cattle were of poor quality. They had been driven up from the south, mostly from Texas. They were small and had long spreading horns, sometimes measuring from seven to eight feet from tip to tip. The cattle when fully grown often weighed less than five hundred pounds. Soon after out arrival, a better breed of cattle began coming from the East.
After proving up on homestead, I prompted a quarter section of government land in Decatur county, Kansas (my homestead was only on mile north of the Kansas line) built a sod house and moved my family and most of the household goods there. We had three at that time, Robert, Viola, and Elwin. They lived there during the summer. I stayed on the homestead and did the farming and caring for the stock. I would drive to the Kansas homestead every Saturday to haul food and water. I stopped in the town of Lyle to get them enough groceries to last them a week. In the fall, an immigrant from the East offered me $300 for my right and I sold. That was the most money I had ever seen. That gave me a chance to buy some more calves. We moved back to the Nebraska homestead. He county seat of Indianola was twenty-five miles away. It was a small place but the railroad had come and it was growing. It was our principal trading place and we had to go with a team and wagon. We had to ford the rivers for there were no bridges, and it took us two days to get there and back home. Getting across the river with much of a load was always a problem because of the quicksand. We were often stuck fast, but one of the old settlers who lived on the south side of the river always came in with a yoke of oxen to pull you out. He hooked the oxen with a chain to the tongue of the wagon and the out you would come. He charged 25¢ and made good money out of it.
Inidianola was the terminal of the B. & M. R. R. for about two years. Ive been over there when the stock men from the West would drive fat cattle in to make a full train. Many of the cowboys drew their pay there and they never failed to make it lively during the night. They would shoot the lights out and damage the saloon fixtures. They never failed to pay for the damage the next day.
In the early 80s, the prairies were covered with the bones of buffalo that had been killed by hunters who took the hides and left the carcasses to rot. The settlers mad a few dollars by gathering the bones and selling them by the hundredweight. Carloads of them could be seen along the railroad sidings awaiting shipment.
The United States Land office opened in McCook on June fifteenth, 1883, G. L. Laws was register and C. F. Babcock was Receiver. Land could be acquired from the government under the timber culture act. The provision of the timber culture required the entry man to break at least five acres of sod within one year. The second year, he must plant the five acres he broke to trees, and bread at least five additional acres. The third year, he must plant the second five acres in trees. He then had to cultivate the trees and if one died, he had to replace it. At the end of the eighth year, if he had complied with the law, he could make proof at the local land office and later receive a patent from the General Land office. There was only one quarter section in a section open for timber claims. One did not have to live on a timber claim.
In the spring of 1886, soon after I moved my wife and children to the preemption over in Kansas, I was cultivating corn. The wind was blowing and it was very dusty. I was barefoot and wearing overalls. It was noon and I had the team by the well. A team and buggy drive into my place. The driver asked me if they could get feed for their horses and some dinner. The driver was well-dress and he introduced the other man as his brother. His brother was a senator from Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, who had traded for one hundred sixty acres of land that happened to be near my homestead, and they were trying to locate it. I answered their questions and told them what I was going to eat for lunch, and if they wanted to eat what I was going to, they were welcome. They said that they would and after I fed their team, I went to the house to get the lunch. I set a crock of milk on the table and cut some bread and told them that dinner was ready. They looked at each other and smiled and said that was fine. The man from Harrisburg, Pennsylvania had on a high silk hat and was the best-dressed man that I ever saw. That was why I enjoyed getting their dinner for them. They aye heartily of the bread and milk and offered to pay me. I said no, but after they had gone, I found that they had left money on the table for me. The brother who drive the team was an attorney from Lincoln, and I think that he has a son who is now an attorney in Lincoln. In about ten days, I got a letter from the senator from Harrisburg thanking me for me (sic) hospitality and telling me how they enjoyed it.
There was a social equality in the West while it was being settled. The blacksmiths daughter was as prominent as the daughter of a banker provided they behaved themselves.
When we moved to Nebraska, only a few of the homesteads were taken on the divides. Most of them were on the creeks and rivers. When we had a party of any kind it took in a lot of territory. The West was no place for an aristocrat. All were free and equal and no one was too proud to do their own work.
In an early day, a stranger would notice the people were always guessing about something that they knew perfectly well. He would also notice that the old settlers would "gas", "boast", and "blow and sometimes tell a whopper. We had a neighbor who would do those things. I hired him to help build my sod house on the homestead. While we were eating dinner, someone mentioned that he came from Germany with his parents. This man, whose name was Bob Gore, said that he had never been in Germany but that he had been in Australia. He said that he went over in a boat but was so seasick that he bought a team and covered wagon and drove back.
We had our pioneer doctors, Dr. Bennet, living a few miles west of Wilsonville, had a good practice and lived on his own homestead. There was another one about four miles south. One day brother Walter was suffering with an ulcerated tooth and as Bennet was the nearest doctor, I went over very early in the morning, in fact so early that the sun wasnt even up. I knocked on his door several times and then kicked it to arouse him. Finally he asked who was there and I told him who I was and what my business was. He didnt want to come because he didnt know who was going to do his work. I told him that I would stay but he said that I didnt have to. I did, however, and waited for hours. When he did come, he was on foot, leading his horse. At least he got the tooth pulled. If you wanted quick service in t hose days you sent for Dr. Shumaker, at Wilsonville, fifteen miles away. He drove a wild Oregon horse to a two-wheel cart. Distance made no difference to him, for the horse ran all the way.
After the B. & M. R. R. built the branch from Orleans to St. Francis, Kansas, the little settlements along the line began to grow. When automobiles came along, everyone got one and that drew the trade to the larger cities. We find that as the years go on, the smaller towns, especially those near the branch lines, grow smaller and smaller.
All the farmers at that time wore boots in the winter and went barefoot in the summer. That was pretty dangerous for in the 80s and 90s there were plenty of rattlesnakes in that part of the country.
In the early days, the settlers in southwest Nebraska were troubled with horse thieves. A man from the East got himself a homestead just over the state line in Kansas. He had a good work team and his son had two highly prized ponies. The man went out one morning to go to work and his team and the boys ponies were gone. It had been raining the night before. The boy, though he was only fifteen, saddled a horse and followed the tracks. He stopped near Oberland, Kansas to eat and to feed his pony. He started on some time before daylight and as he went, he heard a pony whinny and the one he was on answered. He went carefully and found they work team and his horses tied to trees near a sod house. He had his rifle and knew how to use it.
About daylight, he saw a man come out of the house and he killed him with one shot. Someone on the road had told him that there were two men on the toad with the horses, so he waited and soon another man came out of the same house. The boy was ready and killed him too. He took his horses and went back home. This happened the fall before we arrived on our homestead.
In order to protect my team, I had a pair of manacles made of iron to clasp on the fore legs below the fetlock. They were joined together by a chain that was about one and one-half feet long. It was locked with a key. The horses could only take short steps and if they were stolen, they couldnt get very far before dawn. I broke up one gang. I found the cave where they had been hiding the horses.
The B. &. M. R. R. built the branch road in 1886 from Orleans to St. Frances, Kansas and that was the beginning of our little town of Lebanon, named after the Postoffice (sic) which had been located a short distance from the present site of the village.
I owned a yoke of oxen at the time, broke them to work, and broke the prairie with them. I sold one of them for the beef and traded the other for a timber claim adjoining my homestead on the south. Ten acres had been broken on this claim so I plowed it, harrowed it, marked it both ways four feet apart, and brought my trees from the Roberts Nursery northwest of Hendley. I made the hole with a spade and my wife followed me with the trees. She put the trees in and tramped the earth around them. I cultivated them for a number of years and most of them grew for a few years. The drought and hot winds killed most of them as well as most of the trees planted on the other timber claims. The farmer not only lost the use of the ten acres but labor each year in cultivation. It was a fool law passed by men who didnt know a plow from a cultivator.
Much has been said of the terrible blizzard of 1888, over Nebraska and the central states. I have reason to remember that time.
My wife and I had managed with homemade furniture, but when we sold some steers, we thought it best to buy some better furniture. Our little town of Lebanon didnt have a furniture store, so I drove to Indianola the day before the storm. It was twenty-five miles away, so I put the team in the livery stable and stayed all night. The next morning, the blizzard was on and it was very cold, snow blowing and sleeting.
The man in the livery stable told me that I shouldnt try to go home but I had stock to feed and I thought I would try. I started, drive from the seat for a half a mile, saw that I would freeze and tried to turn the team around to go back to the livery stable. They wouldnt face the storm and so I went on. I walked and ran beside the wagon, holding on to the step on the side of the wagon box, and driving with the other hand. We went sixteen miles walking and running to Ned Fitzgeralds place north of Lebanon. I tied the horses to the door knob on the south side of the house. Then I went in to the fire. The simmer before, they had killed to gray badgers and had cured the hides. The two girls tied those on my feet and I started out again ganging to the wagon step. I arrived home before dark and was completely tired out but did what chores I had to do. The next morning, I had to be helped out of bed. Of course I dont claim to be able to have run that twenty-five miles without the wagon step to hold on to.
In 1887, a very bad cyclone came from the southwest. Walter was out east of our home about one and one-half miles away. He was herding cattle and he said that the wind blew so hard that the cattle could hardly stand up. It missed our home, but we had started a cattle shed across the head of the draw. It was about six feet high and was built of sod. We didnt have the roof on yet and I was glad, for as I looked out of the window, the thing began to waver and weave from one side to t he other and finally fell down. There was no wind there, and why it went down is still a mystery to me. That was a small loss compared to the neighbors loss. About four miles over the line in Kansas, a farmer had a good house, barn, outbuildings and an outside cave. Between the house and the cave, there was a big wood pile. When they heard and saw the cyclone, the man and his wife ran out to the cave and got there safely. The other woman was not so lucky for just as she came out of the door, the storm struck and picked her up, carried her over the wood pile and laid her down in front of the door to the cave uninjured. I went down the next morning to see what was left and the place was swept almost bare. All that was standing was the part of the lower floor on which the piano was standing. It still had its calico cover on it. They lived by the Sappy Creek and it was quite heavily timbered there. There were Elm trees, three feet in diameter leveled to the ground. It looked like there was a wagon load of dirt hanging to their roots.
That same year my wife and I visited her parents, Mr. And Mrs. Casement, who lived in Lamar, Missouri. It happened to be election day there so I went down with Robert Casement, who was a Clerk of the District Court and who had an office at the court house. I was in his office when I noticed through the open door, a lot of men walking in single file. They were what the neighbors and natives called creekers. I got in line and followed them down to the basement where they had the voting booths. I stepped out of the line at the first table and watched what was going on. Everyone was handed a ticket and two silver dollars taken from a box on the table. The voter pocketed the two dollars and then dropped the tickets into the ballot box. If there were any Republicans, they didnt show up.
In the early 80s, there was a great deal of horse trading going in among the homesteaders. We all thought that we were pretty smart, but we all got stung at one time or another. I traded for a kicking pony. If I had plenty of help, I could get it hitched up.
One day I was going to the creek for a load of wood and met a man driving a white horse hitched with a pony. It looked much like mine so I stopped him and asked him how he would like to trade a white horse for my pony. He told me what a wonderful horse it was, said that it never had to rest in the field. He offered to trade me even. I was quick to trade and was careful to help him get the pony hitched up, but I noticed that he tied the white horse to my wagon. I soon had him hitched up and drove the team down to the timber but didnt tie them up when I stopped. I started to chap a tree down and pretty soon I heard a big crash. I looked around there was the horse on his back with his head under the front axle. He had broken the breast strap. Then I stood and watched him. He first closed his eyes and went to sleep. When he was asleep, he would rear up on his hind feet and then fall over backwards. I caught him in time and tied him to a tree. That was why the man said that he never rested in the fields.
It might interest you to know how I got old Jim off my hands. Our blacksmith, Brown, was quite a horse trader. He lived in Lebanon and worked his trade there. He had a good sized Oregon pony that was well broken. He wanted a large horse to match the one he had. I told him that I would ride over the next evening to his house because I had one that might suit him. I was there the next evening and took my nephew, Will Devoe along to keep him awake. I told him to stand beside Jim and every time that he closed his eyes to poke him with a stick behind the shoulder. Will did so and we traded. I saw Brown some time afterwards and he asked me what was wrong with the horse. He said that every time he stopped, he would fall over backwards. I told him that all he had to do was to take a boy along to poke him behind the shoulder. He wanted to know if that was what Will was doing when we traded and I told him it was.
The Texas and Oregon ponies are usually very handy and good travelers. I drove Walters white pony from Western Kansas to Lebanon, on hundred miles, from 4:00 a.m. until 8:00 p.m. I stopped twice to feed and water him.
Some time after the drive from Western Kansas with the white pony, we bought a Texas pony from a herd brought up from Texas. She foaled a colt soon after we bought her. When the colt was three years old, we broke him to the saddle and used him to round up the cattle. We noticed that he could trot much easier than any other pace, so we hitched him to an old cart. We had a race track north of the depot and we would train him almost every Saturday.
There were no trotting horses in the surrounding country, but there were quite a few running horses. One Saturday, just before a race started, a stranger drove up with an old wagon and what looked to be an old work team. He had a good looking race horse tied on behind. He wanted to enter the race horse in the race but the other boys, especially George and Charlie Townsend were afraid that it might be out of their class. The man offered to put up stakes with the rest of them and the winner take all. The boys refused him, so the stranger offered to put the big work horse in the race. That time the boys were quick to accept. He put up his share of the money and asked for someone to ride it. Charles Townsend said that he would be glad to find a rider for him and he picked out one of his neighbors, Bill Powell. It was a half mile circle track and there was corn growing inside the circle. It was a stand and start track and when the owner let loose of the old farm horse, the other riders said that he jumped at least thirty feet. He nearly upset his rider. The other horses never caught up with him. When he had circled the track once, the boys all yelled to Bill Powell to run him into the fence or into the corn field. Bill told us afterwards that he tried his best to run him off the track but that he couldnt do it. The old horse had a large straight bit and he held it solid in his teeth. The horse had come from Norton, Kansas.
I started to tell you about the Texas pony that liked to trot. We named him Texas Dick. We entered him for the trotting races in Indianola at the county fair. He was about five years old at the time. It was a three heat race and he took the first by a good margin. All the drivers, but Walter who was driving Texas Dick, took their horses to the stables after the race to rub them down. The judge asked Walter where his horse was and Walter told him that it was tied to a fence back there. Well, the horse won the second race too. We hired a trainer for the coming year, and at fair time he had all t he chances to win the race but the trainer held him and threw the race to another horse. We too Dick away from him and we never entered him in another race at the county fair.
Our neighbors were somewhat scattered and sometimes were miles apart, but we would drive over to see them, especially in the winter months. Country dances were popular. Sod houses, sometimes without floors would be our dance hall. We hitched the horses to the wagons and the whole family would go, even the children of all ages. When they were sleepy, we would put them on the bed and let them sleep until we were ready to go home, and that was often early morning.
Walter and I furnished the music, and we were paid $3.00 or $4.00 a night. Every family brought a lunch and about midnight the hostess would make coffee and we would all eat.
After coming to Nebraska, I taught school every winter. At that time, school lasted four months, so I was in the cattle and mule business at the same time. I received $20.00 or $25.00 per month and I usually had to ride to school every morning on horseback for seven or eight miles. There were no definite roads at that time and I rose straight across the prairie to the sod school house, built my own files and did the janitor work and the chores by lantern light, both morning and night.
We thought that we were very fortunate to make that much money for lots of our neighbors were not so fortunate. We were satisfied and enjoyed life as much as any time since.
We were often troubled with prairie fires in those early years and that was serious for we depended on the buffalo grass for winter feed. We had to break fire guards for our homes and some miles north to protect our winter feed.
In March, 1891, we had the worst blizzard that western Nebraska has ever had. I was teaching the Lebanon school and it started on the last day of school. In the evening, we had an entertainment at the school, and when we started home after the exercises, it was just getting a good start. In another hour, we would not have been able to get home. It came directly from the north. We had a herd of about fifty cattle, and they were out on the prairie living on the buffalo grass. We always knew about there they were. I had a man working for me on the ranch preparing to sow the spring wheat. In the morning, I got as far as the sod barn to feed and take care of the horses, but it would have been suicide to try to look for the cattle. It was dangerous to leave the house, but the next afternoon, Sunday, the man and I started out on saddle horses to look for them. The snow was three feet deep on the level places and the draws were drifted full. We had ridden about a half mile when my man, Jim Boyd, and his horse disappeared. The pony was somewhat wild and all that I could see was the snow flying. Soon the ponys head came into sight with Jim standing beside him holding to his head. I got Jim out easily but the pony was harder to get out. The next morning, we started out again. The storm had abated and we found the calves, all about one year old, behind a steep bank completely covered with snow. Only one could be seen but we dug the rest out. We went on south about three miles and found the rest wading in the deep snow grabbing at the tops of dead sunflowers that had grown the year before. We drove them home and found that one was missing, but we couldnt go back for it. The rest were hungry for they had been without food or water for three days. We hadnt raised a thing the summer before, but I had mowed three rack loads of old bunch grass which had been growing for a number of years. We pulled it into the corral and those cows ate it as though it were alfalfa. The next day, we made a big snow plow and kept it going a full week to uncover the grass. The cattle got so that they would follow the plow and eat the grass as fast as we could uncover it. The one we had missed came staggering in a week after and it was pretty weak. He had been buried in a snow bank somewhere.
The summer of 1891, we raised the best crop we had ever had since coming to the country. In the fall of 1891, I traded seven cows and gave a small amount of money for a house and lot in Lebanon. I made some repairs on the homestead and rented it and the timber claim to Jim Daffer in the spring of 1892. We moved to Lebanon and bought grain for a Kansas City firm during the summer. I taught the Lebanon school that winter.
My wife and I attended the State Fair in Lincoln in 1901, and on the last day of the Fair, September sixth, as I stood with many others at the depot waiting for the westbound train, a messenger boy came running, calling for William Jennings Bryan, who was in the crowd. The boy gave him a message, and he mounted a chair and read it to the crowd. President McKinley had been shot.
I went home and the next morning I was called out of bed to come to Walters home, as Beaver Creek was flooding and they were afraid of being washed away. Walter lived on first bottom land about one and one-half miles east of Lebanon. We were not long getting a team hitched up to the new wagon, we were going to use the wagon box for a boat for when they are new they are water tight. We hurried there and the water was rushing down the creek and valley from six to eight feet deep. The whole width of the valley was full. We took the wagon box off and put it in the water some distance above the house so that we would float down to it. The house gad a three-foot foundation of stone and we could see the water splashing against the lower half of the windows. As we got nearer, we saw Walter, his wife and son Lowell on the roof of the house, clinging to the chimney. They could get down into the house so we got the door open and floated in. There sat my father in a chair on top of the table, very calmly smoking his pipe. The water was over his feet but his weight kept the table solid. We asked him what he would have done if the house had gone off its foundation. He said, "Oh, I would swim out." At that time he was ninety-four years old. Walter lost about all his hogs and chickens when the barn went down the stream. The horses all broke out of the barn and swam ashore. That is, all except one, and he was tied to a post that wouldnt come up. When we rescued him, his head was barely above the water.
I stopped heavy drudgery work in 1893. June first, I went to work as a cashier and manager of the State Bank of Lebanon, Nebraska, owned and operated by J. W. Hupp. He moved to McCook and would come over two or three times a month and stay for a day or two to see how I was getting along. I had no help the first year and had to do my book work at night. I usually got through about ten oclock.
In April of 1895, my mother died at the age of 78. I asked for two weeks vacation. During the summer of 1895, I took my father back to Kankakee, Illinois to visit my sister, Mary Ann Irwin.
I went on to Louisville, Kentucky, to the National G. A. R. encampment. I stayed there for three days. The thing that surprised me most was the fact that thee were more Negroes on the street than there were white people. I mentioned that at dinner, and the Negro cook back in the kitchen said, "For de Lords sake, who do de work out dare?" I told them both that the men and women did their own work. The lady of the house said that she could not live in such a country.
On the train going there, I met a man about my age, and he said that he was obliged to sit up all night as the berths were all taken. I told him that I had a lower berth and that he was welcome to half of it. He assented and paid me half of the cost. We went to bed early and he got up the next morning before I did. As I was dressing, I noticed two or three dollars on the bed. I knew that it must be his, so I looked him up and gave it to him. He thanked me and to repay me asked me to stay at his home in Louisville during the time I was there. He lived a short way from the city, but I didnt see much of him except in the mornings and evenings. I met this man again in 1925 under unusual circumstances which I will speak of later on.
I came back to Kankakee but left father to make a longer visit with my sister. When he was ready to come home, J. L. Irwin, his son-in-law gave him a letter to the conductors on the way over the Burlington route. He was treated very nicely.
I continued to work at the bank until May, 1903, when Hupp came over and allowed me to go to California with Platte Kinne and James Horton.
We stopped in Denver and also went up Pikes Peak. We were taken up in a cog railway. They had a half way house for those who could not stand the high altitude. Several got off there, but we went on to the top. We were on the top about two hours. We would walk around a little and then sit down and rest. We were puffing as though we had run a foot race.
We were soon on the way to San Francisco. We got there about midnight. I left the train at Oakland. My two friends were going on to Los Angeles. I went on the street car to Berkeley to visit my sister and her husband, George Woodruff, and their daughter, Hazel, who was attending the University. It was after midnight and there were no more street cars running and I didnt know how to find the way. I asked the conductor what street to take and set out in a general direction. Most of the houses occupied by students going to the University. They wouldnt give me any help and in some instances set the dogs on me. I finally found Georges home and stopped with them for two or three days. I had intended to go to Los Angels (sic), but I received a telegram to return at once for burglars had blown open the safe and taken $6000. I started at once but was delayed two days by a washout in Wyoming. It was raining so hard and it was so dark that we could not tell by looking out the window whether we were going forward or backwards. Suddenly the train stopped with a grinding of the brakes. Soon the conductor came in and told us that there had been a washout and that we were going back to a small station called Gillette. We ate all our meals on the train free of charge for three days. It was a long train and was filled with passengers. Most of them were from New York and the eastern states.
We found out about the wreck the next morning. A freight train was due to cross that bridge at a certain time and when it had crossed, it had run off the tracks and wrecked the bridge, which had caused it to wash away. The engine and a lot of freight cars had piled up in the river and the engineer and the head brakeman had been killed. Our train was a little late or we would have piled up too. As it was, we were late enough that the rear brakeman of the freight train had time enough to cross and run up the track to flag us down with a lantern.
The little town of Gillette was a typical ranch or cowboy town. It had only one street and more saloons than anything else. They were open all the time and seemed to be doing a thriving business. They all had gambling of all kinds. Most of the people on our train had never been West and knew nothing of the ranch towns or of the cattle ranges. They knew nothing of the wild Texas and Oregon horses that roamed the ranges. There was not a cultivated area of land in sight. The street was full of cowboys and the saloon was fuller. The were drinking and gambling. We could see many cattle out over the range and also many bands of wild horses, never broken to the saddle or harness.
We noticed one cowboy trying to get on his horse. He was so drunk he could hardly get on. We offered this fellow five dollars if he and another cowboy would drive some wild horses into the corral, rope, saddle, and ride the horse that we picked out. He agreed and they soon had them corralled. I had seen much of this kind of riding, but I was still as interested as those easterners who had never seen it done before. It was interesting to watch those people wade around in ankle deep mud, holding up their fine clothes so that they wouldnt get them dirty. We picked out a large bay horse for the boy to ride. He was to catch it, bridle and saddle it and ride it out and then back into the corral. The first time he threw his rope, he caught the bay, who was in a herd of about thirty horses. The cowboy was riding a fine, well-trained buckskin. He roped it around the throat and cinched it. He then jumped from his saddle horse and went to the corner of the yard and got a saddle. The saddle horse knew what to do for he kept backing up and chocking the bay until his master got it blindfolded. He then slammed on a saddle and jumped into it, pulled the blindfold and the rope from the bay. Away they went into the prairie and back again. The bay surely did a good job of bucking all the way. He said that he would ride again for another $5.00.
When I arrived home, Hupp had ordered a new safe and material for a new bank building. Before the building was finished, a few of my friends and myself bought the bank from Hupp. I continued as cashier and manager until June 1, 1920, making 27 continuous years in the banking business. I also taught school for twenty continuous years before going into the banking business. However, I was in the stock and farming business and had a large horse and mule ranch. This was carried on with the help of my son-in-law, George Abbott and my son, Elwin.
I made the statement that I taught school for twenty years and was cashier of the bank for twenty-seven years. The school work was for only four months in the winter and before my boys were old enough to help me, I hired some neighbors to do the work that I was not able to do. Soon after I went to work in the bank, my daughter, Viola, married George Abbott and he took over the management of the ranch. He continued to look after it for a number of years but when he had the chance to buy the old Bradbury farm, he moved, and my son, Elwin took charge.
One morning, late in the fall, there was a severe sleet storm. The cattle were in the pasture, so he got on his horse and rode to the pasture. He found several eagles there that hardly knew where they were. The ice had formed on the wings so that they had to come down. He lassoed one of them and brought it back. It measured seven feet three inches from wing tip to wing tip.
The farmers organized a wolf hunt and selected captains. It was to be a grand one, covering the territory from Beaver Creek to the Republican River north and south and about ten or twelve miles east and west. We stayed on the four sides to march at a given time towards the center. We had so many on each side that when we were two miles from the center, no wolves could escape. Of course when we first started there were many jack rabbits killed but the real excitement came when the men were walking close together and the wolves were running back and forth, scared almost crazy. We got twenty-four, Lebanon, twelve, and Indianola, twelve. Once, we opened our ranks and let a big yellow dog out, thinking that it belonged to some farmer. When the west side came up, they asked us if we had seen a big yellow dog, and we told them that we had let it out. They told us that this dog had been running with the wolves and was the worst chicken thief in the country.
In the fall of 1923, Elwin and I were building a ranch silo. The silo was built of cement. One morning he complained of having a sore finger, so I told him to go in and have a cloth put on it. He did, but it kept getting worse. He went to a doctor at Indianola and to those at Cambridge, and I went with to Beaver City to Dr. Brewster, but he could do nothing for him. We then went to Rochester, Minnesota to the Mayo Brothers, but they declared that it was a new poison and they could do nothing to counteract it. He died on January 11, 1924.
After buying the bank in 1903, I had an assistant cashier, John L. Horton who was a stockholder, a man well-liked by everyone. That being the case, it gave me the chance to get out and write insurance, especially hail insurance.
During my years in the bank, we were pestered with the liquor question, as nearly all the villages were.
One of the farmers living near Lebanon moved to town and started to sell it. He was quite bold about it. I hired a man to buy from him and put it in the bank safe as evidence. As he had a family, I didnt wish to have him arrested, so I invited him to meet me at the bank, with some other friends, to talk it over. He did so and said that he had a license to sell it. I told him that I had looked it up and I knew that he didnt have one, and that if he didnt stop, I would have him arrested. Well, he didnt so I had him arrested. We couldnt trust the county attorney, because he was a drunkard so we went over to McCook and hired Moreland and he tried the case. When the accused man was asked for his liquor license, he produced one, signed by the county attorney. The judge asked the county attorney what he did that for. His answer was, "For five dollars".
He was put in jail to wait for sentence, but the constable let him out. He caught the train for Denver and his family followed soon afterwards. We never heard of them since.
A stranger came along and opened a drug store for the same purpose. I caught him, too. I happened to be the justice of the peace so I arrested him and had his trial in the school house. I fined him $20.00 and costs. He paid the fine and said to me, "I suppose I am a free man now?" I said, "Yes, if you behave yourself." He walked back to where William Pennington was seated and struck at him. William had been the cause of his arrest. William evaded the blow and knocked him down. The people soon were getting back to town, but as I was slow fixing up my docket, I wasnt with them. The druggist called me a bad name on the way to town and one of my friends knocked him down again. He made up his mind that he had better move and he did so.
I have one more case to mentiona man well-known in the county came over from Indianola and started a dive. He soon heard that our village was bad for booze salesmen. He came up to the bank one morning and said, "You are watching me, arent you?" I told him that I was and that I had evidence in the safe. He said that he couldnt afford to be arrested, so I told him to stop. He asked me if I would give him until Saturday night, and then he would go. I told him that I had no authority to do so, but that I would keep still until that time. He was gone the next Saturday morning.
During my experience in the bank after the year 1900, many public sales were made over the country during the winter months, averaging three or four every month. I clerked them, following the auctioneer all day, settling with buyers, some paid cash, but most things were bought on time. The notes ran from six to eight months and I bought the notes. During this time, my bookkeeper, John L. Horton, looked after the bank.
In 1907, I moved our old house in Lebanon to the eighty acres I had bought some time before that adjoined the town of Lebanon. I build (sic) a new home, but not long after that my wife died. She died March 4, 1911. Brother Dick and his wife, who lived near Lebanon, moved in to keep house for me until I married Melissa V. Corbitt in 1914.
In the summer of 1915, we went to California to see my sister Elizabeth Woodruff, who was very ill at San Diego. We visited my wifes sister Deborah and her husband, Ray Hadley. We also visited the San Francisco and San Diego Expositions.
I found my sister very ill. She died soon after I got there. She was buried by her husband, George Woodruff, in the Soldiers Cemetery at San Diego, California. After the San Francisco Fair, we went down to the boat landing to take the boat to Oakland. From there we took the train. After we got on the train, we still had our coats on, but when we went through the valley, it was 110° above there, and soon the men were pulling off their coats and the women were rushing to the dressing room.
While my boys attended high school and the University, they returned home during their vacations, worked on the railroad and sometimes had blistered hands. My neighbors couldnt understand why I let them work on the railroad, but I wanted then to know what labor was and how some people had to make a living. There is a class of people who are trying to get a law passed to the effect that no boy or girl can work if he or she is under eighteen years of age. Bosh! That is the most foolish thing that I ever saw in the papers. That idea must have originated in the head of some soft person who never did a days work in his life.
During the world war period, I sold my homestead and timber claim to Pete Kilzer, a neighbor living near Lebanon, for $11,000, thinking that it was a good time to sell. Many believed that wheat would continue to sell at $2.50 to $3.00 per bushel. I was able to persuade some of my friends to not buy land at the high prices. It would have been better judgment to sell what they had now and buy latter, but many bought, mortgaging their homes and the land, only to lose it all. Mr. Kilzer, being a hard-working man and owning another tract of land, paid me in full, but it took him ten years to do it.
Walter was appointed a mail carrier out of Lebanon in 1903. The route extended west and south over into Kansas, making a drive of 36 miles. He drove a team of small ponies and had an open buggy. In 1914, he bought an automobile but about that time, because of his age, he lost the route and was pit on a pension. He served for twenty-two years and drove a total of 247,896 miles, enough to circle the globe 8 times.
With three boys in Lincoln, Robert W., Irl J., and Ivan, we decided to move to Lincoln. In the spring of 1924, we rented a house for a time and decided if we stayed, that we would build. We rented for two years and then build a house on South Street. It was a Spanish bungalow for which we had brought the plans and specifications from Long Beach, California. We moved into it on August 1, 1926.
In the summer of 1925, we went back to Long Beach. Before we left, the boys cautioned me not to buy anything out there for they said that the Californians were noted for their ability to get tourists money. Well, I expect the advice was good, but I made the gravest mistake in my life. I saw an add (sic) in the daily paper that a five acre chicken farm was for sale on top of Signal Hill. It was only $2,000. I looked at it and told the salesman that it was too high and didnt buy it. The next year there were oil wells all over the place. The man who bought it was more than a millionaire. Great wealth is often a great burden on people who fall into it suddenly. Some years later I became acquainted with a man who had some oil wells on Signal Hill. He had a very fine and expensive home. One day as I was passing it, I saw him out in front pacing up and down, looking as though some great trouble had overtaken him. Supposing that some of his family was very sick or had died, I approached him and asked him what the trouble was. He said that his wells on Signal Hill had been paying $5000 a month and this last month they only paid $2000. He was afraid that they were going to run out.
All the wells on Signal Hill slowed up, so they put the drill to work and drilled down to 5,000 feet and found a pool of oil that was larger than the first one. They couldnt build galvanized tanks fast enough, so they dredged the soil from ten acres of land. The hole was twenty feet deep and cemented up from the bottom to about 40 feet above ground. They piped the oil across the river into this immense tank. Some of the crude oil was piped to ships and then the rest to the refineries. I climbed the ladder and looked down into the tank. It looked like a lake of oil.
I was down to the wharf one day watching fishing boats come in. I saw people coming from the boats carrying red fish. They looked like goldfish but they weighed from 7 to 9 pounds each. I went deep sea fishing the next morning at 8:00. The distance was twenty-five miles out and the fishing spot was marked by a red barrel that was anchored there. It cost $2.00 a day and you brought your own dinner and ate it if you could. There were only 14 on board, including the captain and the mate. The bait was furnished but you had to bait your own hooks. By the time we got out the twenty-five miles, the boat was bobbing up and down. Two ladies and two men were looking down into the water and looking as though they didnt feel well. The mate took them down to the hold one at a time to like down. I told some people that I never was sick to my stomach. The captain asked me what was wrong and I told him that I wasnt feeling just right, as he had invited me to come up to the front of the boat and fish with him. I decided that I would go back to the center of the boat for awhile. He laughed but I went back and I surely did feed the fishes, but I went back to the front of the boat and felt for the rest of the day. The captain told me that I was the first one he had ever seen in his many years of fishing that didnt stay in the hold the rest of the day after being sick. The fish line was a ball of strong twine about the size of a four pound ball of binding twine. On the end of the line, there was a sinker about half as large as a window weight and a hook about a foot above the weight. There were more hooks about a foot apart above the first one. All together, there were three hooks, placed about a foot apart. Those red fish were about 500 feet down and were called rock cod. The old boat seemed to stand first on one end and then on the other. There was a railing around it to keep is from going overboard. I put the sinker and bait in the water and waited till the weight pulled it to the bottom. In a few minutes, my line began to jerk. The captain said to pull up and I did. I soon could see the fish on the hook, there were three in fact, one on each hook. I supposed that I had lost one fish, but captain said that it would come to the top and it did. All those fish were dead within twenty-five or thirty feet of the surface. The captain took what he called a gaff and hooked it and pulled the fish into the boat. I caught a number of fish that day but we were not allowed to sell them, so I gave some of them to the neighbors. I went deep sea fishing two more times while we were there.
When my wife and I were coming home on the Santa Fe R. R., we stopped at the Harvey House at Trinidad for dinner. I finished my dinner and walked out. As I was going towards the train, I saw two well-dressed men, one of them very drunk. As soon as he saw me, he came staggering over and said, "Well, how do you do? You remember me." "No," I said, "I dont," and tried to push him away from me. He then told me that I was the man with whom I had shared my berth on the way to Louisville, Kentucky, in 1895. I remembered it, and shook his hands with him very cordially. Just then my wife came out of the Harvey House and I introduced them. He said that both of us must stay and see his fold mine. The man with him said that it was not far from Trinidad. The man said that he really did have a good one and that he was quite a wealthy man.
Mr. And Mrs. Fuller Austin came from Long Beach to visit us on May 29, 1927. They had many friends and relatives here in Lincoln to greet. They had lived in Lincoln before they moved to California. They went back on July 4, 1927
In October, 1927, my wife made a trip back east to Boston and places on the east coast where some of her relatives lived. Walters wife was in Minnesota visiting her mother and brothers, so we decided to take a trip to Kankakee, Illinois.
We stopped to see Frank Abbott and his wife and stayed all nigh (sic) at Mr. (sic) Pleasant, Iowa. We breakfasted at Burlington and lunched at Chebanse.
We met a man on the street of Chebanse and asked him who was the oldest man there, that had lived in or around Chebanse. It is a village not far from Kankakee. He looked down the street and pointed out a man who was sitting on a bench in front of a store, and told us that he had lived here all of his life just a few miles of town. His name was Will Miller. We went down to talk to him, and I went up and called him by name. I asked him if he remembered me and he didnt. I related a little back history and asked him if he remembered herding sheep down east of his home in 1869. I told him that I had herded cows at the same place and time. I asked him if he remembered the time it rained all night and was still raining the next morning. The sheep yard was very muddy and as his father was trying to be nice to him, he went in to drive the sheep out. The old buck knocked him down and he had to lay there flat in the mud. He knew us without any more introduction and laughed with us. We remembered how his father had accused us of teasing the buck down on the herding ground and we were as guilty as could be, and we knew it.
Will Hasker was working in Chicago and he came down to spend his vacation with us. We found more of our old school mates than we had expected to. The schoolhouse was the same, the change was new seats to replace our board benches.
On August 22, we drive to Chicago and took Will back to his work. We visited with our niece, Milly Barnes and her three children, Edna, Hazel and Ruth Mitchell. We started home the twenty-third of August. We stopped at Sterling, Illinois to see A. J. Pratt, an old school mate who had just lost his wife. We stayed there all night and started for home at noon. We stopped at Atlantic City to see Theodore Hupp and got home on the twenty-sixth. We had driven fifteen hundred miles since leaving home.
We received word that my wifes father was failing fast, so she started for Long Beach on the thirteenth of November. A few days later, I started for Lebanon, the old home, to look after interests there. I was in partnership with a man named Cook. I put up my real estate, well improved, against his labor to run the ranch. We owned all the chattel property jointly. We handled Hereford cattle. We shipped eighty-four head to Kansas City on July 23, 1927. They brought $3,649. Cook and I went to Kansas City then. I has some trouble with him. He refused to vacate, according to the terms of the lease, but after the sheriff served the proper papers on him, he moved. Being partners on the stock of all kinds, we had a public sale on December 3, 1927. We got $2,073.80. We had some corn and feed to sell at a private sale.
My wife received a letter that her mother was quite ill, and she decided to go out at once. She started for Long Beach on November 13, 1927. I started for Lebanon the same day. On December 21, 1927, I left for California.
We had Christmas Dinner that year with my wifes parents. My wifes sister, Mr. (sic) I. N. Meyers and husband were there also. We had New Years dinner with the Ray Hadleys. We went to see the Pasadena flower show. There were seventy floats and 760,000 people to see them. We went to church at the Angeles Temple and heard Amie McPherson preach. They had wonderful music and singing.
Mr. And Mrs. J. W. Slutts invited us to go with them to the Orange show at San Bernideno (sic), a seventy mile drive. It was a beautiful sight. The oranges were so arranged that they represented nearly all the products for which California is noted.
On January 12, 1928, we drive to the airport and I bought a plane ticket to San Diego It was one hundred twenty miles there and we made it in seventy minutes. There was no way to estimate speed except to look down and then you werent at all accurate. Sometimes we were over land and sometimes over water. The main highway from Los Angles to San Diego was near the coast, and the cars on it looked about the size of beetles, but they rapidly feel behind. Isaac Meyers, who is my son Ivans father-in-law, took the trip with me. At one time he said that he would not go, but just as the plane was ready to start, he came running out with a ticket and went with me after all. The plane was a tri-motored Ford ship and there were twelve passengers. The fare was $15.00 each way.
We arrived in San Diego at 11:40 a.m., after lunch took a bus to Tia Juana (sic) We took in the big Mexican City, where drinking, horse racing, gambling and other vices were to be seen. We went back to San Diego that evening and started back to Long Beach the next morning. We stopped over at Oceanside to see Will Woodruff and his family but went on to Long Beach the same day. While in Long Beach, we spend (sic) much of our time on the Pike. There was always a big crowd and so much to see that was interesting. There were people from all over the world there and many different game to get your money.
At one block near the Pike, there were four or five big busses whose drivers were standing near them calling to people to come and get into the bus. You would get a free ride, a free dinner and a wonderful lecture. Many loaded buses were going in different directions. The one we were on went out about fifteen or twenty miles and stopped on a tract surveyed and laid into city blocks and streets. There were no buildings, just a big tent. We were invited into the tent and listened to a speaker as we waited for another bus to come. He was a very convincing speaker. No cheapskate was hired for that job. Then dinner was served and it was a very good one. The real reason for getting us out there was to sell us lots. They had two or three buildings just large enough to hold a table. There was a man behind it and a stenographer to make out the papers as fast as the lots were sold. Fuller Austin was with me and a man came up and took charge of us. "Which of these will you take, or will you take them both?" he asked us. "Well, lets go down and have this fixed up" he said. We didnt give any promise. We sent out of a little building, but we got the second degree then. Another man took us in hand and he was even more interested in us. He told us secrets as to what was going to be built there. Then he took us to the boss. He commenced to write a contract and said, "Your name, please?" I said, "What are you doing?" He looked surprised and said, "Why, youre surely not going to pass up a chance like this." He assured me that my money would be doubled in three years.
We asked to look at two lots, a corner one and the lot next to it. I aid that I would take both lots on that offer. I would wire to Lincoln and next day for the money, and he would meet me at the bank to make out the necessary papers and guarantee. He backed down, of course. The lots were priced high and you paid a down payment. Many bought the lots, but in most cases never finished the payments on them. In fact, when I was out there three years later, they were still selling the same lots.
We started for home March 8, 1928. We stopped at Trinidad, Colorado to see Otis Martin and his wife. We stayed for two days and then went on to Denver. My nephew, Harold, met us and we visited his sister, Ilva, and her husband and Helen May (sic). It was on the day that the Quits Dam gave way with a loss of one thousand lives, and the loss of property was $33,000,000. The loss of the immense dam amounted to $3,000,000. (ed: This was almost certainly the Saint Francis dam in San Francisquito Canyon in California. The dam failed on March 12, 1928). We left Denver at 1:30 and started for Lebanon. We had to stop at Hartley in a bad sleet and snow storm. We stayed in the Hotel all day with William Devoe and started out the next morning on an early train to Oxford and then to Orleans and to Lebanon. We were there for a few days, and George and Viola drove us to Hartley, where we caught the train to Lincoln. Ivan met us at the depot.
I sold the forty acres west on Beaver Creek to John Hunt for $120 per acre. He paid $2400 down and paid the balance in part payments. I took a note on it that was due in five years at six per cent (sic) interest with the land as security.
On August 13, 1928, Viola, my wife, and I started for Minnesota to visit Robert and his family at their cabin. The main business was fishing, boat riding and swimming.
We were with other Lincoln folks, including Judge Good, Guy Taylor and his family. We went with Elmer Johnson to Leech Lake to fish. The fishing was very good. We got lots of fish and had a big dinner on the beach.
The next day, we went to Elbow Lake and fished all day. It got cold in the afternoon and it wasnt so pleasant. The next day, Bob took the women to Leech Lake and went fishing. They caught some fish and we had a big party in front of Petersons cabin that night.
Robert took us to Itaska Lake and Itaska Park, the source of the Mississippi river. It starts a few hundred feet above the lake, and it has a small bridge across it. The bridge as about ten feet long. Itaska Lake is very beautiful and has lots of big pine trees around it. There is a natural amphitheater at the side of the lake.
We drove to Aitkin, Minnesota on August 20, 1928, to visit the Stephen family. We found Mart and Flora at lunch at a café and met Henry and Blanche as we came out of it. We were very nicely entertained there. On the twenty-first, we drove to St. Paul and visited Effie and Ralph Thacker. They drove us over the city in the evening. The next day, Effie took us to Minneapolis, where we visited Rev. Northrup and his wife, old friends of my wifes. We at dinner together and visited Minnehaha Falls and other noted places connected the Longfellows writings. We started for Lincoln on the twenty-third. Ralph and Effie went ten or fifteen miles with us. We drove to LeMars and stayed all night. The next day, we ate at Fremont. We stopped at Valaparaiso (sic) (ed: Valparaiso, Saunders County Nebraska) so that Viola could see her uncle, James Casement. We got home at 4:30 p.m. on August 24, 1928. The mileage for the trip was 1377 miles.
On November 30, 1928, my wife went to Long Beach to visit her parents. In her absence, I received a letter from Viola that Platte Kinne was dead. He was a very close friend of mine and had been President of our Bank. He died at Wichita, Kansas.
On May 24, 1929, Lissas parents came to visit us and went back on July 4, 1929. On Decoration Day (ed: now known as Memorial Day), I drove them over the city to see the parade and the flowers. All the corn and wheat was drowned out on Beaver Creek that June. It all had to be replanted in corn.
My wifes brother, Arnold, received a letter from his sister Lucy saying that their father could not last long. He, his wife, and my wife started out the next day, August 12, 1929, for California. They went by the way of Fremont over the U.P.R. R. I stayed home and took care of the trees. I bought a new watch case on September ninth, 1929. The old one was worn smooth.
George and Viola came down to the State Fair here and brought Georges brother Al and his wife with them. I went back home with them. We left on September 12 and got home on September 23.
Walter lived in Seward, Nebraska at that time and I visited him and his wife quite often.
In October, I bought a note and mortgage on Lincoln Trust Co. amounting to $5000, secured by mortgage on SW¼ Sec. 16-1-26. It was signed by Peter Kilzed.
In January, 1930, I started for California. I stopped in Denver to visit Harold and Ilva and her husband on the way to Los Angeles. My wifes father was weak and not able to wait on himself.
My wifes father gave her the old Dodge, and I had it repaired and drove it while we stayed in California. J. W. Slutts, who had once had a lumber yard in Lebanon was in California. He came a number of times and took us to three different oil fields to show us his holdings. He had a good income.
California was settled by people from every state in the Union. The residents from each state are now organized and have a President and a committee through which they distribute hand bills giving the date of the yearly state picnic. Of course, we went while we were there. There were hundreds of people there and we found a lot from Red Willow County. Near to the speakers stand, there was a tablet nailed to a tree. Anyone how was from a county beginning with an "A" first went up and wrote their names and addresses so that their friends might find them. When they got to Red Willow County I went up and looked. I saw there the name of Charles Bradbury and as I started writing his name down so I could get in touch with him, I felt a hand on my arm and a lady asked me if I knew him. I told her that I did, and she said that he was her father, but that he had had an automobile accident and wasnt able to attend the picnic. We visited him a few days later. He lived at Arteaia (sic). Otis Martin and his wife came up to see us, and he and I went deep sea fishing. It was a bad day and rained all the time. Many were seasick but I had my experience before and I got along all right.
I had my ticket validated and started home on June third, 1930. My wife stayed, for there was no chance for her fathers recovery. I arrived in Denver on the fifth and left the next day. From there I returned to Lincoln, and my wife followed my on July first. She was gone for ten months and eighteen days. Her father died on June 18.
In October, Walter, my wife, and I started for Kankakee. We stopped at Osceola to see Frank Abbott, brother of George, my son-in-law, and his family. George Haskers daughter drove us up to Joliet to see John and Frank Fifle, old schoolmates that we had not seen for fifty years. My wife and I visited her relatives in Dwight, a town about thirty miles from Kankakee. We drove to Chicago to visit Will Hasker. We stayed there for a day and then came home. In December, 1930, I sold my share of corn raised on the farm, 1097 bushels at fifty-two cents per bushel. There were twenty acres still standing.
On May first, my wife and I drive out to Fairmont to see Al Abbott and went to Lebanon the next morning. While I was there, I drove over the country collecting and renewing notes for the Lebanon Equity Exchange.
We returned to Lincoln May eleventh and Hazel Woodruf (sic), Jean and Mrs. Allen drove in from California. This was on June 28. We went on a picnic to Antelope Park that evening. Hazel and her friends started on to Chicago the next morning. It rained all day. Lissas mother came on July 5, 1931. She and her brother, Arnold, met their mother in Omaha.
My nephews, Jack and Lowell, and I started for Rochester, Minnesota on the morning of August 24, 1931, after receiving a letter that Walter was to be operated on the next day.
Walter was under the doctors care for a number of days and as I had not been feeling well for some time I went through the clinic. We looked the Mayo estate over and it was beautiful. There were twenty-five hundred acres, most of it pine timber. It was beautiful, good roads and landscaping. We stared home September second, stopped at Des Moines for the night, and also stopped at Hupps, from there on home. I drove to Lebanon the next day and also to McCook. I saw a great many old friends.
I had a note against William Ebert, past due, and he had a note secured by mortgage on eighty acres of land on Sappy Creek; so I traded the note I had against him for the note and mortgage and paid him the difference in cash.
On November fourteenth, I went out to Lebanon again to sell my share of the crop and to collect some notes that were due. The next day, George, Viola, my wife, and I drive over to Gothenburg to visit Mr. And Mrs. Hecox and Mr. And Mrs. Art Kouse. The ladies were the daughters of John W. Slutts, an old resident of Lebanon.
We started for Lincoln on November 23. Viola was with us. On the twenty-sixth, we were invited to Walters for dinner, and we went over to Roberts for the evening and pictures. Viola went home on the twenty-eighth. All the boys and Walter and Eva were here for Christmas 1931.
In January, 1932, we bought a gas furnace for $447.15. They gave us $50.00 for the old coal heater and that included a hot water heater for $75.00. Altogether, it cost us $397.09.
On February 27, 1932, my wife and her brother, Arnold, started for California, for her mother was not expected to live. My niece Ilva and her husband stayed with me while she was gone. Her mother died March 28, 1932.
In April of 1932, I sold my rent corn, 798 bushels at twenty-two cents per bushel.
My wifes sister Deborah and her husband, from Los Angeles came to visit us on May first, 1932. We had a picnic at the Shrine Club. There were forty-three Devoes and Austins.
On Friday, June seventeenth, we attended the fiftieth anniversary of the founding of McCook, Nebraska.
We returned to Lincoln, and in a few days went to Minesota (sic) to visit Bob. We got to the cabin at 11:00. We were very busy in the p.m. swimming and fishing.
All of us went to the 100th anniversary of the discovery of the Mississippi River. The chief of the Indian tribe put on a wonderful pageant before a large crowd. Robert took moving pictures of the exhibition.
On July 19, 1937, we drove to Aitken, stopping at Brainard for lunch and a visit with Mrs. Stephens and her sons, Mart, Henry and Lawrence and the families.
There was not much farming around Minnesota as far south as Aitken, mostly fruit and berries. We started from Aitken, on July ninth. We arrived home the next day. We made trips to Lebanon quite often for it was necessary to look after my farms. I went out on August eighth and took Harold along with me. He helped repair the fences in the pasture but blistered his hand and got blood poisoning. We started back at midnight to get him a doctor at Holdredge. We went to a hospital, and the poison was counteracted with hot Epsom Salts.
We rented our home and started for Seattle on June eighth, 1934. We went on the U. P. R. R. via Fremont, ran over three or four head of cattle up in Idaho but no serious damage was done. We got in Portland for breakfast on the tenth. We then went on to Seattle to visit my wifes cousin, Lucy Pasco.
We were very much surprised at the wonderful fruit raised in that country, especially the different kinds of cherries. I climbed a 30 foot ladder and picked a gallon of cherries without even changing my position. The owner said that the tree many times had borne one thousand pounds of cherries in one season.
We also visited another cousin of my wifes in Payallup, Washington. She was Margaret White, and she and her husband owned and operated a large dairy and also a small fruit farm. There were one hundred fifty-six acres, and he irrigated it from a spring adjoining his land. He had six or eight people picking berries for him at a certain price per crate. They picked ten tons per year. We visited my wifes relatives on Brainbridge Island and Port Orchard. While we were there we were taken up a mountain. We drove up in circles until we were in the snow. There was ice cold water coming down the canyon and we could see a perpendicular body of ice near the top and had to climb the rest of the way. About thirty-five people started from the half way point, but many of them had to drop out. I was the first one to get to the top, but the air was too light and the oxygen too thin.
We were in Seattle at the time of the big races and attended one. They were a great deal like the Kentucky Derby.
When leaving Lincoln, we had bought tickets via Seattle to Los Angeles by water, but the big strike was on and we had to change them to the railroad.
We started from Seattle July second. On the way to San Jose, California we went by train and were met by John Woodruff and his wife.
Cress (ed: could be Cross) took us to Leslie Thomas home, an old friend from Lebanon who had worked for me in the bank. We all made a trip into the mountains to see the big trees. We saw trees that were eighteen feet in diameter and many feet high. There was a very large park and lots of deer there. They had a keeper to feed them. It was a real camping place and had lots of tables and places to cook. The keeper whistled a peculiar noise and the deer came running out of the forest for something to eat. They even ate out of my wifes hand.
The keeper said that he didnt dare to call them down when there was food on the table because they would help themselves. We went from there to Los Angeles on July seventh.
We visited New Port (sic) and Balboa Beaches. The papers said that there were two thousand people there that day. We visited my nephew, George Devoe, and his wife on July twenty-third, 1934.
We drove through Hollywood and saw the homes of many of the stars that we see on the screen. We visited our relatives, Hazel Woodruff and Jean, George Devoe, nephew and wife, Jessie Brown, niece and husband and nearly all of William Woodruffs nephews and families. We spend (sic) some time on all the principal beaches along the coast from Los Angeles to Oceanside.
We started for home August third, 1934 over the Santa Fe R. R. We stopped in Trinidad to see Otis Martin and wife. We saw Earl and Katherine Bodwell.
Otis Martin and his wife took us to Canon City and up on Royal Gorge to the high bridge, one thousand feet above the river. On the seventeenth, we went our way and the next day visited Ed Childs and his wife in Denver and then went on to Bartley, Nebraska and George Abbott met us at the train. We went on home the twenty-first of August.
I traded the eighty acres to Otis Martin for his 320 acres and gave him $600 to boot.
On April sixth, I bought a new Chevrolet coupe, price $703.55. April thirtieth, we experienced the worst dust storm of the season. Some days later, we experienced one almost as bad in Lebanon.
On July sixth, we started for our eastern trip to Boston and to other eastern cities, stopping at my old home in Kankakee. We stopped at Ashkum, Illinois, to visit John Phillips an family and then went on to our old home and found a few friends. Most of our old friends had passed on. We stopped at Lowell, Indiana to visit some relatives and then went on to Crown Point, Indiana to visit Mrs. Dick Sailors (sic) (ed: believed to be Richard Saylor) cousin and husband and family. We were two days getting to Niagara Falls. From there we went to Albany, New York and stayed over night. Our next stop was in Southbridge, Massachusettes (sic). We also stopped to see my wifes nephew, Fuller Austin. We were there just in time to help him move to the edge of a beautiful lake into a fine log house. He had a boat and fishing tackle and we had a fine time fishing. Irene Hussey, a stepdaughter and her husband and children drove in from Boston, and we had a real feast.
On July 27, we drove on in to Boston and before reaching there, I noticed that the paved roads ran every direction. The little farms of a few acres each were very seldom laid out in squares. The pastures were fenced in by rails running from one tree to the next. The streets in the cities ran every which way. There would be a circle of about two hundred feet in diameter and it was all well cemented. The streets ran out from that circle in every direction, but there were no square blocks. I drove down into the city one day. It was cloudy and I got lost. I stopped and asked a man which way south was. He thought for awhile, and then told me that he thought it was that way. He had been living there for a long time and he didnt know any better than I did.
We visited Cape Cod and Plymouth Rock and the ocean. We also saw the Miles Standish monument. We went to see Harvard and its stadium. The next day we drove through Sumner tunnel, one and two-fifths miles long, build under the Boston Harbor. The next day, we drove to Newport and Narragansett Bat and over to Providence and to Fort Adams. We took Irenes oldest boy, Robert, to join the C. M. T. camp. We came back over the Mount Hope bridge. This bridge is a mile long. We drove back to Southbridge on the third of July and celebrated the Fourth of July with Fuller Austin and his family. Irenes husband and six of her children were with us.
July fifth, we started for New York, accompanied by Fuller and his wife, Arnold and Jean. On arrival, we went to the Empire
Hotel and then went to look at the Statue of Liberty. The next day we went by the subway to Coney Island and were pushed in rickshaws the whole length of the beach. There were eight thousand on the beach and in the water. On July seventh, we drove to Wilmington, Deleware (sic). We drove under the Hudson River through the Holland Tunnel on leaving New York. We found Lissas nephew and his wife, after getting help from the chief of police, for we had the wrong number. The next day, it rained, but Esther took us out to see the Dupont Gardens, twelve miles from Wilmington, six acres under glass and twelve acres in lawn and trees. It was the nicest thing we saw on our trip. Esther took us to dinner at Westchester. The next day, we left for Washington D. C. and stayed there for a few days. We stared home on July nineteenth and stayed at Fredrich (sic), Maryland all night. The next day, we drove to the Ohio River and crossed at Whelling and went on about twenty-five miles and stopped at a cabin all night. Our next stop was at New Castle, Indiana to see sister Louisas daughter, Beda McDaniels, and her family. We were there for a couple of days and then went on to Indianapolis to see nephew Ellis Morgan and wife. We were there for a few days and had a good time. We went back through Ashkum and stopped to visit John Phillips for one day, then went back to Kankakee. Out to William Millers home, we helped them pick berries for a few days. One morning before we left for the West, a French boy gave me a frame made out of cigar boxes. It was made in 1885. I still have the frame and I prize if very highly.
We came back through Dwight, Illinois to visit my wifes relatives. Then we came on through St. Louis and through Missouri, stopping to visit relatives at Lamar, Missouri and to Arkansas City, Kansas to visit Tom Casement and family. The next day, Daisy, Toms wife, her daughter, Vera and husband, Foster Tipton, drove us up to Kansas City. We then went to Oklahoma to see the oil wells, and we were fortunate to find Mr. Clubb, Fosters uncle, who was a big hotel man. We picked up some other friends down there. We were the guests of Mr. Clubb an he ordered us a good lunch and then showed us through the hotel. There were some magnificent pictures that he and his wife had brought over from Europe. On of the largest was "The Lords Supper", and it had cost thousands.
After going through the hotel, he showed us his den that was being remodeled. He had been an early pioneer and had lots of relics. He had a chair made of elk bones. When you sat in the chair, your head lay back between the horns of the elk. (ed: I located the following from 1971: "The fortress-like three-story brick Clubb Hotel building still stood Monday-despite 50 sticks of dynamite exploded in an effort to raze it. The hotel was built in the early 1920's by oil man Ike Clubb.") We left Arkansas City, Kansas, on the morning of July thirty-first. The weather had been fine and we were gone two months. In that time, we had only stayed five nights with strangers. It was one of the most enjoyable trips that I had ever made.
There has been nothing of particular interest that has happened to me since the year 1935. I have been watching my health rather closely, particularly since an automobile ran me down in the fall of 1935. I also had pneumonia in the early part of 1940, but I recovered rapidly and am feeling as well as could be expected at this time.
As I look back through the years it is amazing when I think of the wonderful development of our locality, the State and the nation. It is good to have lived through these years, but when we look to the years ahead and realize that the greater part of Europe is at war, an our own country is being penalized and threatened because of it, I wonder what the outcome will be. About all we read or hear is war, misery, turmoil and destruction. It all seems so unnecessary.
I am closing this manuscript with a poem.
I would not go back to the days that are done
I am content to linger here now
I dont have to get up ahead of the sun
And extract all the milk from a cow
I dont have to hoe a large patch of spuds
Till my shirt is wet as could be
Nor tickle the earth with a plow and a horse
Till the soil is all ready to seed
I dont have to haul all the water we use
In a barrel miles away like we did
And ride seven miles thru the snow and return
To teach the homesteaders kids
And the hungry cook stove that had to be fed
With buffalo chips from the plain
And the sod house that had fleas on the floor
Which caused us annoyance and pain
And sometimes the grasshoppers would make us a call
And make a full meal of our corn
We were always afraid each spring of the year
That we would have reason to mourn
No, I dont think I care to go back to the land
I resigned once because I was through
There are others more able who yearn for the hob
So with all this I bid you adieu.
In compiling the history of the Devoe family, I could find no information about my fathers parents and his brothers and sister other than their names. Grandfathers name was Jacob and my Grandmothers maiden name, Elizabeth Drake. There were sic children in the family whose names were Anna, Betsy, Michael, Sally, Catherine, and Jacob A. I can remember as a child seeing Jacob, but I never saw any of my aunts.
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My father, Michael Devoe, was born in New Pulz, Ulster County, New York, on January 17, 1807. He moved to Huron, Ohio in 1833, and was married to Sarah Rhodes on November 6, 1836. To them were born ten children: Charlotte, Elizabeth, Richmond, Albert, Louisa, Mary Ann, Elmore, Walter, Ritter and Theodore. The last two children mentioned died in infancy.
The family moved to La Porte, Indiana, and remained there for nineteen years, moving to Kankakee county, Illinois, in 1855. He purchased on hundred sixty acres of railroad land at $1.25 per acre. It was located nine miles southwest of Kankakee City.
There were several incidents in fathers life that were particularly interesting. He told us children of joining a circus when a young man. The circus was one of the first ones on the road. The transportation was handled by horse drawn vehicles. He also told us that he rode, for a distance of thirty miles on the first steam train. He said that the cars were open and seated four people, and that the rails were wooden 2 x 4 studdings.
I recall his telling of the time that he met Abe Lincoln. He was talking about his first case, which was defending Father Shineka, a Catholic priest who had resigned and written a book denouncing the Catholic religion as evil and full of wickedness. The Catholics had him arrested and he employed Lincoln to defend him. Lincoln won the case, but Father Shineka had to leave the country because his life was said to be in danger.
Father died April 27, 1906, at the age of 99 years, 3 months, and ten days. He is buried in the cemetery at Lebanon, Nebraska.
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My mother, whose maiden name was Sarah Rhodes, was born April 23, 1817. The Rhodes family lived in Northern Indiana not far from Michigan City in a thickly wooded area. In fact, it was called "The Deep Woods." Their family included three daughters, May Ann, Louisa, and Sarah, and one son Benjamin.
Mothers sister Louisa married Elmore Pattee. He purchased a farm during President Polks Administration (1845-1849), and his grandson Elmore, has the original deed. Pattee built the first church in Michigan City. The family later moved to Lake County, Indiana.
May Ann married Henry Payne and the lived in Missouri. She was killed in a run-a-way.
Benjamin went to South Carolina and married a planters daughter, whose father was wealthy and the owner of many slaves. This happened a few years before the Civil War. That last Mother heard from him he had a son and a daughter, and the daughter was recognized as a noted writer of fiction.
Of the Pattee family we know that Nora is living in Lowell, Indiana, and that Dick Saylor and wife, Hattie, who is the granddaughter of Louisa Pattee, lives in Crown Point, Indiana. We visited them in the spring of 1935 on our way to Boston, New York and Washington, D. C.
Mother died April 11, 1895, and is buried in the cemetery at Lebanon, Nebraska.
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Charlotte Devoe was born September 18, 1839. She married Michael Barnes just a few years before the Civil War. He enlisted in 1862 and went through the war, but not being very strong he came home from the war with his health impaired. He lived just a short time after his return. There were three children, Mildred and the twins Albert and Richmond. Mildred was born November 20, 1858, at Kankakee, Illinois. I do not know the date of her death. Albert and Richmond were born September 20, 1861, at Kankakee. Albert died in Cripple Creek, Colorado, ( I do not know the date,) and Richmond died November 8, 1940 at Florence, Colorado.
Mildred married a man by the name of Mitchell. There were four children. Ruth, Edna, Mabel, and Roy. They live in Chicago at 3565 Fulton Street.
Several years after the death of Michael Barnes, Charlotte married Joe Nottingham and to them was born a daughter, Sadie. She married, and her husbands name was Ray. To them was born a son, named Joie, who gained national fame as a foot racer in long distance events. He is now living with his Mother at Gary, Indiana.
Hoe Nottingham was born at Morrocco, Indiana, March 17, 1849, and died at Kankakee, January 19, 1911. Both Charlotte and Joe are buried in Mount Greenwood Cemetery, Kankakee.
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Elizabeth Devoe was born at Door Prairie, Indiana, on October 26, 1840. Two or three years before the Civil War, she married George Woodruff, who was born at Sharron, Connecticut, October 27, 1832. To them were born three children, William, John M. and Hazel. William was married to Abbie Shipley, and to them three children were born, Kattie, Mabel Irene and W. Everett. Abbie passed away and some time later William married Clara Watson. To this union four children were born, Paul, Dessie May, Laura Ellen and Shirley Anson. William is now living at Sixes, Oregon.
John M. was married to Kate Foote. They have four children Clifford M., Orin George., Lois, who is now deceased, and Ina, who is married and whose name is Mrs. Morris Thush. John M.s address is Newhall, California.
Hazel is single and is living in Los Angeles, California.
George Woodruff enlisted in the Civil War at the same time the Charlottes husband did. Upon his return from the war, he purchased a half interest in a foundry located in Kankakee, Illinois, and was in that business for a number of years. From Kankakee, the family moved to Oakland, California, so that Hazel could finish her education. They were living in Oakland at the time of the earthquake, which occurred in 1903.
They moved from Oakland to San Diego, and were living I San Diego at the time of Georges death, which occurred March 1, 1912. Elizabeth died October 25, 1915. Both of them are buried in the Soldiers Cemetery at San Diego.
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Richmond Devoe was born January 6, 1843. He was married to Carrie Woods. To this union two children were born. William, born September 3, 1869, and Bert, born June 12, 1872. William married Loella Thompson, September 27, 1907 and they had a daughter, Leone. She is married to a young man named Whitney and they live in Western Nebraska. William died July 12, 1925, in Lincoln, Nebraska after having been ill for several months. His burial was in Lebanon, Nebraska.
When my brother Walter and I moved from Illinois to Nebraska, we brought William with us. He was only a child at that time. He stayed with us until he was old enough to earn a living. Bert died November 14, 1926. He had never married.
Richmonds wife, Carrie, died and later he married Mary Salee, who was born December 23, 1847. To them were born three children, Walter, Sam and Michael. Walter was born June 22, 1876 and died December, 1940. Sam was born September 10, 1879, and passed away a few years ago (date indefinite). Sam had two children, Lawrence, born February 15, 1912 and George, (no date of birth). Michael who was born November 29, 1887, is married and has three children, Richard, Rosemary, and William. He and his family live in Lebanon, Nebraska.
Richmond died August 1, 1921. His wife, Mary, died May 30, 1938. Both of them are buried in the cemetery at Lebanon, Nebraska.
Albert Devoe was born in 1846. He married Elizabeth Arline Teft on June 26, 1870. The marriage took place at Sawyer, Berrien County, Michigan. To them six children were born. George L., who was born December 28, 1871, and who married Leu E. Boydston, whose birth date was January 17, 1871. They reside at 11640 Can Owen Street, North Hollywood, California. They have no children. Don D. was born November 22, 1876. He married Martha Sherman. Don died December 19, 1917. His wife is now living in Detroit, Michigan. Allie was born January 23, 1881 and died August 8, 1881. Effie was born August 8, 1883. She married Jesse Spooner, August 16, 1903. Their children are, Albert, born July 9, 1904, Maletta, born November 16, 1906. Effie now resides at 173½ Workman Street, Los Angeles, California. Jessie was born October 2, 1886, and married Joseph Brown. They have no children and are no living at 18552 Erwin Street, Reseda, California. Gertrude Devoe was born August 3, 1894. She married Otto H. Moreau on June 10, 1913. They reside at 990 Pavone Street, Benton Harbor, Michigan.
Albert Devoe had his arm taken off December 20, 1871. He was working in a combined planning mill and saw mill. He later was elected Tax Collector and held office for a number of years. He then got a contract with the Michigan City Penitentiary for wooden staves and worked up all of the good lumber in that vicinity. He moved to northern Indiana and took his men with him. After a time he came back to Sawyer, Michigan, and bought a grocery store and Postoffice. For about four years he continued in this business I was with him for about a week helping him crate and ship out wild raspberries that native brought in from the woods. He then moved to Colby, Kansas, and he and his brother-in-law ran a lumber yard. That was before Colby had a railroad. They freighted the lumber over the plains with horses and mules. He then took a Premption fifteen miles northwest of Colby. He built a sod house, and after proving up, he moved to Colby, and lived there about two years. His next adventure was to buy a hotel in Colby, but only operated it about one year then sold out.
He then went to Wallace County, Kansas, and located on a homestead near Fort Wallace. After living there a short time, he and his son George, went to Newport, Arkansas. They went to work for the Morris Decker Company, a firm dealing in staves. He had a contract with them to furnish a certain amount of staves each month. He made them by the thousands, at times had three hundred men working for him. He had many thousand staves in the timber near he river and on e of the biggest floods ever known came down the river and washed them all away. He lost every dollar he had, and then moved back to Michigan.
Albert was very well educated. He received his education in a rather unusual way. It seems that when he lost his arm, his employer, Mr. Al Drew lived across the street from him. Mr. Drews wife was a retired school teacher, and she prescribed a course of study for him and under her supervision went through many of the advanced courses.
Albert died March 10, 1900. His wife, Elizabeth, died July 3, 1904.
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Louisa Devoe was born August 9, 1847. She was married April 20, 1883 to Joseph Clark Morgan, whose birth date was November 20, 1843.
To this union there were born four children, Minnie Adelle, born January 11, 1885, Ray R., born August 22, 1886, Ellis E., born January 20, 1888, and Beda L., born October 30, 1889.
Minnie Adelle married Edward Meyer to which seven children were born. Two of the seven are deceased. The five remaining are Edward, Louise, William, Joseph and Helen. Louise is married to Charles Deusch.
Ray Morgan married Jennie Elzey and they have eight children, Elouise, Morris, Dorothy, Melvin, Martha, Donald, Dale and Robert. Dorothy is married to Walter Meyers.
Ellis E. Morgan married Ruth Biddle, and they have no children.
Beda L. Morgan married Francis McDaniel. To them were born three children, Fay Elizabeth, born October 2, 1912, Bernice Alene, born August 2, 1914, and John Cantner, born August 29, 1920. Fay married Carl Thornberry December 31, 1930, and they have one daughter, Geraldine Marie.
Bernice married Eugene Fine on March 3, 1932. They have three daughters, Judith Lea, and twins Jean and Kay. John is with his parents and a student at Ball State Teachers College at Munice (sic), Indiana. Louisa came to Nebraska
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Mary Ann Devoe was born January 24, 1850. She was married to Joseph Irwin on Christmas day in the year 1870.
To them were born seven children. Delphina, who died in infancy, was born in 1873. George W., (no birth date) Viola Elizabeth, born in 1875, Edith, born in 1878, Joseph, born in 1886, Marion, who died in infancy, and Merritt, born in 1893.
George W. married Cora Cotton, and they had two children, Vaneta and George C. George W. passed away several years ago. Viola Elizabeth married Hugh Trotter, and they have three children, Ruth, Hugh I., and Marion. All of the children are married. Viola Elizabeth is now deceased. Edith is deceased, and was never married. Joseph A. married Anna Fagan; to this union no children were born. Later he married Vivian Richardson, and they have one daughter, June, who is living with her mother in Oakland, California. Joseph died July 4, 1940 and is buried in California. Merritt married Lee Drazy, who is now deceased. They had one son, Joe Julius Drazy, and I understand that Joe is married and that his home, as well as Merritts, is in Kankakee, Illinois.
Mary Ann died in Kankakee, Illinois, December 29, 1895.
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Walter Devoe was born December 27, 1858. He was married to Eva Jane Stephens December, 1895. To them were born two sons, Lowell S., born September 29, 1896 and Jack, born November 13, 1905. Lowell married Florence Holland and they have two children, Stephen and Marjorie Ann. Jack is married to Louise Anderton.
Upon Lowells graduation from the University of Nebraska and is doing well with his practice. He is located in Lincoln, Nebraska.
Walter came to Nebraska with me in 1880 and took a homestead. He sold it several months later and returned to Illinois. He came back to Nebraska, however, not so long thereafter, and it was at that time that he married. He farmed some, also did some work with the railroad when they were building track through the State. In 1903, he passed the examination as a rural mail carrier and stayed at this work until he was pensioned. He had a thirty mile route and he made it every day except Sunday for a period of twenty-two years. He drive a total distance of 247,895 miles, which would have taken him around the world about seven times. He first used different types of horse drawn vehicles and later used an automobile. He was an outstanding checker payer, and played for the championship for the State of Nebraska.
Some years after his retirement as a rural mail carrier, he moved to Lincoln, where he lived for several years. In 1936 he and his wife moved back to Lebanon and he was living there at the time of his death, which occurred April 25, 1938. He is buried in the Lebanon Cemetery.
His wife, Eva, is at this time living in Lincoln.
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Elmore E. Devoe was born on a farm nine miles southwest of Kankakee, Illinois, December 20, 1856, and was united in marriage February 29, 1880 to Sarah J. Casement, who was born in Hamilton, Canada, June 30, 1855. To this union five children were born, Robert W., February 7, 1882, Viola, March 11, 1883, Elwin E., July 21, 1884, Irl J., October 23, 1893 and Ivan L., November 20, 1897.
Robert W. was married May 18, 1904 to Maud Soverns. They have two children, Melba, born March 13, 1916, and Robert W. Jr. born May 17,1918. Melba was married September 26, 1939 to Chauncey Barney. They live in Lincoln where Chauncey is practicing law. Robert Jr. is single and is living at home with his parents in Lincoln, Nebraska.
Robert graduated from the Lebanon High School in the spring of 1900. In the fall of that year he enrolled in the Franklin Academy, at Franklin, Nebraska. He completed his work in the Academy in January 1902, and was immediately appointed Deputy County Clerk of Red Willow County. He was nineteen years old at the time of his appointment. In 1903, he was elected clerk of the District Court of Red Willow County. He held this office until January first, 1908. These experiences had much to do with his deciding to prepare himself for the legal profession, a course which he was urged to follow by George W. Norris, who at that time was District Judge, and now a United Stated Senator from Nebraska. Robert entered the lay college of the University of Nebraska in the fall of 1906 while he was still serving as Clerk of the District Court, having entrusted the work of his office to a deputy. He graduated from the law school in the spring of 1909 with Theta Kappa Nu honors and the degree of Bachelor of Laws.
Upon his admission to the Nebraska Bar, he engaged in the practice of law at Sidney, Cheyenne County, Nebraska. In 1914, while still a resident of Sidney, he was a candidate for the office of Attorney General at the Republican primaries. He was defeated for the nomination and after the primary election established his residence in Lincoln, where he formed a partnership with C. Petrus Peterson, a classmate in the University, under the firm name of Person and Devoe. In 1916 he was again a candidate in the Republican primaries for the office of Attorney General. He was nominated but was defeated in the general election along with all the other Republican candidates. In 1918 he made the keynote address before the Republican State Convention at Lincoln. His address was made a part of the national campaign literature of the party in the state elections of 1918, and thousands of copies were distributed throughout the country during the campaign.
In 1917 and 1918 he served as Federal Food Administrator for Lancaster County. In 1919 at the request of Governor McKelvie, he drafted the Civil Administrative Code which was passed during the legislative session of 1919. In December 1927, he was elected President of the Nebraska State Bar Association for the year 1928. In 1936, he was elected Regent of the University of Nebraska from the First Congressional District and in January of 1941, he was elected President of the Board of Regents.
The firm of Peterson & Devoe is now one of the best-known law firms in the state and enjoys as large a practice as any firm in the city of Lincoln.
Viola was married July 26, 1905 to George E. Abbott. They have no children. They have lived continuously since their marriage at Lebanon, Nebraska.
Viola attended the Lebanon Schools and upon her graduation she attended what was known at that time as "The Institute." The object of the Institute was to prepare its students for a teachers certificate. They were conducted by the State and held in various towns in the district. The sessions usually lasted from four to six weeks. She attended the Institute meetings five summers.
She taught her first school in 1900. It was in the country and the school was known as District #81. She taught this school two terms. The following year she taught in District #5. Beginning in 1903, she taught the primary room in the Lebanon School, and continued there until the time of her marriage in 1905. Her mother and I both taught in the schools that she taught.
At the time of her marriage her husband was managing an elevator and dealing in livestock. In March 1907, they moved on a ranch that I owned and we went into partnership in the horse and mule business. In 1917, they purchased a very fine farm just west and on the edge of Lebanon and took occupancy of it on March first, 1918. The Beaver Creek runs through their place and only about fifty feet from their back door. They are living in this home at the present time.
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Elwin was married March 12, 1907 to Gertrude Robinson. To them three children were born, Harold, April 5, 1908, Ilva, December 31, 1909, and Helen Mae, November 23, 1922. Harold, who was single, died at Atlanta, Georgia, August 13, 1939. At the time he was employed in an oil refinery. He is buried in the Crest Hill cemetery in Atlanta. Ilva was killed in an auto accident in Denver, Colorado, June 30, 1937. She was married to Dave Wilner. They had no children. She is buried at Denver, Colorado. Helen Mae is living with her Mother, who re-married, and who at this time is residing in Orange, California.
Elwin passed away January 11, 1924 as the result of a strep-infection that started with a blister on his finger. The infection got into his blood stream, and it seemed nothing could be done to save him. He passed away at the Mayo Hospital in Rochester, Minnesota. My son Robert and I were with him at the time of his death. He is buried in the Lebanon, Nebraska cemetery.
Elwin received his schooling in the Lebanon Schools. After he finished, he farmed for me and looked after the livestock. Immediately after his marriage, he moved to McCook, but only stayed there a few months, and returned to Lebanon and purchased a meat market. He was in this business approximately on year. In the early spring of 1910 he moved to a quarter section that I had acquired that was located southeast of Lebanon. He managed this farm until the fall of 1912, when he moved back to Lebanon and into his home that he had built prior to his moving to the farm.
Shortly after moving to town he was employed by the International Harvester Company as a blockman. He worked for the Company for about one year.
In 1913 he went into the horse and mule business and was in this business when he moved on my ranch adjoining town. It was at this time that we formed a partnership which continued until the time of his death.
Elwin was, I believe the most versatile man I ever knew. It seemed that he could do anything and do it well. He had many friends which was evidenced by the very large attendance at his funeral. It was said that there were more people in attendance at his funeral than at any funeral ever held in Lebanon
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Irl J. was married to Lela Moore, June 27, 1917. Her birth date is April 3, 1896. They have two sons, Darrell Dee born May 4, 1923 and Reid Eugene, born April 27, 1925. Both children are living with their parents in Lincoln, Nebraska.
Irl graduated from the Lebanon High School in May 1911. The following year he attended Franklin Academy. In September 1913, he enrolled in the Lincoln Business College and graduated March first, 1914. Immediately following his graduation he was employed by Rudge & Gunzel Company of Lincoln, to do clerical office work. He resigned on July 27, 1914 to accept employment with the Lincoln Telephone & Telegraph Company in Lincoln.
On July 15, 1916 he was offered employment with the Monroe Independent Telephone Company at Albion, Nebraska as auditor and assistant to the manager. He was with this company until July 15, 1918 when he resigned and accepted a position with the Nebraska State Railway Commission as its telephone accountant. In July, 1920, he resigned and associated himself with the Western Good Roads Service Company, as general auditor. This company carried on a general outdoor advertising business.
On September 1, 1923 he had an opportunity to return to the State Railway Commission as chief accountant. He accepted this position, and it was in this employment that he received his broadest education and experience. He was with the Commission until June first, 1929, when he resigned to accept the appointment as assistant auditor for the Lincoln Telephone & Telegraph Company of Lincoln. On May 21, 1930, he was made General Auditor of the company, and is at this time employed in that capacity.
The Lincoln Telephone & Telegraph Company is one of the three largest independent telephone companies in the United States.
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Ivan L. was married November 20, 1922 to Della Meyers, whose birth date is June 3, 1901. The have two children, Donald Elwin, born July 17, 1926 and Sara Lou, born April 27, 1930.
Ivan received his early schooling at Lebanon. His sister Viola was teaching the primary room when he started school, and she was his first teacher. When he finished at Lebanon, he attended the Kearney State Normal School at Kearney, Nebraska for one year. The next winter, which was 1917, he enrolled as a student at Nebraska Wesleyan University at Lincoln. He finished once semester and then started working for the distributor of the Liberty Motor Car Company. His job was the selling of cars at wholesale in the States of Nebraska, Kansas and Missouri. He was on the job until 1921, at which time he was employed by the Lincoln Chevrolet dealer. In 1922, he went with the Chevrolet Motor Company, as factory representative. On April first, 1926, he resigned his position and went with the Bankers Life Insurance Company of Nebraska. He first worked with them as a salesman; then he was placed in the agency department, having charge of the Companys advertising and promotional work. In 1928, he was made Assistant Manager of Agencies, and on January 1, 1935, he was elected by the Board of Directors as Manager of Agencies. He had charge of the production department of the Company, and had over five hundred salesmen under his jurisdiction, scattered over a good many states. Because the strenuousness of the work was affecting his health, and because of his desire to have a business of his own, he resigned on June first, 1939. On February first, 1940, he opened offices in Lincoln and started a General Insurance Agency, and is in that line of work at this time.
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My wife, Sarah Jane Devoe passed away March 4, 1911. She is buried in the Cemetery at Lebanon, Nebraska.
On May 20, 1914, I married Melissa V. Corbett. We lived in Lebanon until 1924, when we moved to Lincoln, where we have resided since that time.