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Vol. V.

July-September, 1922

No. 3

   The Grand Army of the Republic in Nebraska marches on with the flag, its ranks greatly diminished. State Adjutant Harmon Bross gives the present members as 149 posts and 1,731 members. Thirty years ago there were 350 posts and nearly 10,000 members. During the year 1922 156 members passed on. Five posts in the state disbanded during the year for lack of membership. Under arrangements made by Adjutant Bross the original records of posts now disbanded are taken in charge by the State Historical Society and carefully preserved for future historical use. A hundred years from now these records will be regarded as treasures of the greatest importance, equal in interest and value to those of the Revolutionary War. We are yet too near the period of the Civil War to adequately to estimate the importance to America and to the world of its results. One thought gives a clue to this. America has become the strongest nation in the world, its influence the most powerful in world councils. The influence of America for the peace and good will of the nations is the great hope of the world. How different all this if our great country had been permanently divided by secession.

   Peter Berlet died at Auburn, January 27, 1923, aged 82. He was born in France, settled in Nemaha county in 1866 and had a long successful and influential career. He was a member of the Nebraska House of Representatives in 1899 and of the senate in 1901. He was one of a group of French speaking Nebraskans in Nemaha and Richardson counties, where the natives of France and of Germany dwell in peace side by side, even in time of World War.



A Land Mark in the North Loup Valley

   The Seventh Day Baptist people settled at North Loup fifty years ago. They were an industrious, God-fearing folk, intelligent, inclined to read, rather set in their religious faith and willing to debate the subject with any one who was rash enough to run the risk. They made a settlement that "stuck." The beautiful farms were opened along the valley. The more adventurous climbed the hills and made good there. Theirs was the common experience of pioneers in Nebraska fifty years ago. The grasshopper made his abode with them. The Sioux Indians occasionally raided down the Loup. Dry weather and hot winds encouraged religious zeal by removing the temptation of much earthly possessions.
   But the Seventh Day people stayed on, worshipping God after their own conscience and hanging out their washing Sunday morning. So they plan to celebrate their fiftieth anniversary at North Loup next August and expect to have a homecoming of the children and friends from the four quarters of the world and the seven seas. The Bulletin of Seventh Day Baptist Church at North Loup is an eight page periodical which brings this news to the Historical Society Library. It brings also on its front page a picture of Chalk Bluff or Happy Jack, which is a bold hill on the North river so chalky white that it may be seen for many miles. It tells this tale of the bluff:
   "Happy Jack Swearenger, a trapper and government scout lived at one time in a dugout below this bluff, which gave it the name of Happy Jack. It is said that as Mr. Rood, pioneer Seventh Day Baptist, was hurrying back to camp after his initial trip to the top of the bluff, he stumbled over Happy Jack who was fast asleep on one of the cat steps on the side of the bluff. Immediately he found himself facing Happy Jack's gun but as soon as the scout saw the situation Mr. Rood was allowed to go unmolested."
   The Bulletin further exhorts with the following invitation:
   "Come and tell us of your experience with poverty , home-sickness, drouth, grasshoppers, blizzards, prairie fires, hunting, fighting, dugouts, leaky sod houses, and don't forget the fleas."

   G. B. Pavey died at Grand Island December 10, 1922 in his 70th year. He came to Nebraska in July 1858, and has been a continuous resident.



   Freighting from the Missouri river to the mountains was a favorits (sic) and almost universal means of existence for Nebraska settlers in the territorial period. It was the one occupation which brought in money to many a log cabin home and enabled the family to stick by their land. One by one the old Nebraska freighters pass on. Peace to their memory. Many a time the writer of these lines has been given a free ride by the bull-whackers of the freighting outfits on the old well-traveled trail leading from Nebraska City to Fort Kearny and the mountains. They were fast-disappearing from the trail then, as the railroads pushed westward taking their job away from them. Often the writer has listened to their complaint that the railroads were ruining the Nebraska country, driving the freighting wagons off the trail, taking away the market of the early ranchmen and--worst of all--bringing in an alien population untrained in the fine art of hospitality and fellowship which followed the overland trails from the beginning. These musings and memories started by noting the death of Jacob M. Epler at Julian, Nemaha county, November 26 1922, in his eighty-fourth year. Mr. Epler began freighting with oxen from Nebraska City in 1859 and followed the freighting trail for five years, most of the time in the government service. He then settled upon a Nebraska farm and made an honorable record throughout his successful career.

   Fred Uhlir, of Verdigree, Knox county, startled his community by unloading four head of young buffalos at that station the last week in January. He bought them from a buffalo ranch at Pierre, South Dakota, paying $1,000 for the four. A bull and three cows composed the shipment. It is the intention of Mr. Uhlir to increase the herd and use them in crossing upon cattle for the purpose of securing buffalo robes as well as beef. The time when buffalo hides sold from the hunter's wagon at a dollar a piece and every settler's dugout and sod house had buffalo robes on its beds seems like yesterday to the editor of this magazine. From his boyhood home every autumn went forth a dozen wagons filled with buffalo hunters bound for the Republican valley--then the great buffalo hunting field. No cornfed beef can ever compare with the rich, delicate gramma grass flavor of the wild buffalo. In later years frontier families pined for the good old buffalo steak and dried buffalo which had been their chief diet during the period of early settlement. Children of that time could not be persuaded to eat dried beef after the disappearance of the buffalo. Here's a hope that the buffalo will survive in Nebraska, his original home of greatest numbers. Buffalo robes now command from $100 to $300 apiece and the cross of the buffalo, especially upon the black breeds of cattle, is said to produce a robe of extraordinary beauty.

   A monument was recently erected on the John Reiter farm near Indianola. Upon it is this inscription:
   "Pawnee Squaw, wounded in battle between Sioux and Pawnees August 5, 1873, at Massacre canyon; left for dead; was picked up by a hunter; brought to Indianola and left at the home of L. B. Korn, where she died a few days later. Burial made by E. S. Hill, L. B. Korn and G. A. Hunter."
   The grave of this Pawnee woman has been enclosed with a strong fence made from gas pipe and the large stone, set in cement, which stands as a monument ought to protect the grave through all future years. Mr. E.S. Hill, one of those who buried the woman in 1873, is the chief promoter of this monument.




   The story of Skull Creek in Butler County and days of early settlement there is told in graphic tale by an early settler.
   Skull Creek is in the northeast corner of Butler County. Linwood is the principal nearby town. A great Pawnee village stretched along the bench land of the Platte valley there for many years. We have records of visits to this village in 1833 and at intervals thereafter by government agents, military officers and explorers.
   The bluffs back of the bench land were graveyards of the Pawnee nation for many years. The editor of this magazine has paid several visits to this ancient cemetery. Everywhere the hills are dotted with sunken spots and the rank growth of sunflowers marking the graves of these early Nebraska people. Modern white settlers have shown no more respect for the dead than the explorers in Egypt have shown for king Tutank-ahmen. Everywhere the spade of the white man had dug into the graves, throwing out bones, beads, fragments of weapons, clothing. Many a Pawnee chief will wander empty handed across the fields of the happy hunting grounds for lack of the weapons his people placed with such loving care by his side.
   Skull Creek received its name from an abundance of skulls washed out by the waters from the bluffs, or, as one tradition tells, left on the battle field in a great fight many years before. The writer of this story, whose family settled in Butler county in 1863 says:
   "Once a year the Omahas, Otoes and Pawnees would come and spend several days in marching around these graves, singing and moaning for the loss of their honored dead. It was the delight of the settler to dig into these graves to see what might be found. Gun barrels, iron saddle stirrups, and bones were found. The finding of these things goes to prove the fact that when an Indian warrior is buried, that his horse, saddle, and gun, is buried with him as he is supposed to need them in the happy hunting ground where he is going. My wife can well remember of going up on this bluff when she was a girl, and picking up all kinds of beads in great quantities found on the ground around these graves.
   "At the foot of this bluff was a field of about thirty acres surrounded by a wall of dirt, some eight or ten feet high, made by the Indians and used as a fort, or breastwork in time of battle. A great portion of this wall was made from dirt dug up near where the wall was built, yet not all, for a lot of it was brought from the 'catcher' holes that were dug in great numbers all over the field. These holes were very curiously,



made. They were dug round and not larger at the top than a wash tub, and dug about that size down for some three or four feet, then they were dug out inside just the shape of a jug. Some of them were ten or twelve feet across and often ten feet deep. Into these holes the Indians would place their corn and such things as they had stored up for winter, so that when the enemy came upon them, they could be driven off, and afterward come back and dig up their stuff. The object of digging these holes in such a shape, was to have as small a top as possible so that it could be covered in such a manner that no one but the owner could find it. And so the dirt from these holes was carried by the squaws in their blankets and helped to build the wall around the field."
   (Editor's Note: These holes were "caches," from the French word "cacher"--to hide or conceal.)

   Representative Crist Anderson, of Bristow, Boyd county, puts another big Nebraska storm on the calendar in an article printed in the Bristow Enterprise October 18, 1922. He writes:
   "Forty-two years ago, October 15 and 16, 1880, a howling blizzard and snow storm was raging over these prairies. We then lived in a little log house on Turkey Creek in Holt county Many of the leaves were still on the trees as they are now. The storm, as I remember lasted nearly three days and left over a foot of snow on the level, and just a part of the sod corn stalks sticking out. Some of that snow remained in the draws until the next May.
   Our log hut was small, no floor, a board and dirt roof, but it was warm and we had plenty to eat, plenty of wood, and we did not suffer as did some that hard, long winter. Some of the people could not get supplies and many had to grind corn in their coffee mills. Game of all kinds was plentiful."

   Josiah Miner, who settled nine miles southwest of Friend in 1872 and still lives on his original soldier's homestead, has a splendid grove of walnut trees planted by him fifty years ago. Mr. Miner is originator of the idea of a walnut log cabin upon the new capitol grounds as a permanent memorial to the soldier homesteaders of Nebraska. A model of this log cabin has been presented by Mr. Miner to the Historical Society and used for illustration of his idea before members of the legislature.

   Hon. George F. Smith of Waterbury, Dixon county, writes a warm letter of appreciation for volume XX. He says: "I can scarcely give expression to my delight and gratification in reading this volume. It is a great book and so historically correct that while reading it one can almost see the stirring events of that early period being enacted. My father was one of the forty-niners. He drove oxen from Galena, Illinois, to Sacramento, California, in the summer of forty-nine and was consequently one of that great company which the book so adequately portrays. How rich indeed is this imperial state of Nebraska in the possession of so large a part of the area in which those wonderful deeds were done."




   One of the most interesting and probably the oldest Indian died on the reservation near Walthill January 12, 1923. This was Ta-ou-ka-han, translated into English, Good Old Man. Old Indians reckoned their age by the time when as they say "the stars fell." This remarkable phenomenon, which filled the night with blazing meteors from horizon to horizon, occurred in 1833 and impressed itself upon all the Indian tribes. Good Old Man was nine years old at the time according to his story. Besides his Indian name and its translation, Good Old Man was named Arthur Ramsey by the white missionaries.
   Good Old Man was born when the tribe lived on the Elkhorn river near Fremont. Later the tribe moved to a village site near the present town of Homer. Still later they moved to the Papillion valley, giving up that region by the treaty of 1854 and moving to the present location, then called Blackbird Hills.
   Good Old Man told the story of the buffalo hunt on Beaver Creek, in what is now Boone county in the summer of 1855, when Logan Fontenelle was killed by the Sioux. Good Old Man was selected by the Ethnological Bureau at Washington as one of the typical Indians for a portrait in the Smithsonian museum. Some years ago the editor of this magazine secured records of Good Old Man's favorite songs in the Omaha tongue and very excellent photographs while singing these songs.

   A land mark of early Lincoln was H. W. Brown, the bookstore man. For forty years he was in the drug and book business in Lincoln. He was one of the old-fashioned book dealers. He loved books. People loved to talk with him about books. His book store was a center of book interest. With him the love of books was greater than the love of money and he had no mind for adoption of more modern commercial method, which sell books regardless of merit or development of book taste in the public. Mr. Brown sold out his book business in Lincoln a number of years ago and is now living at the age of 79 near his boyhood home at Sidney, Maine. He served as a Union soldier in the Civil War and was a prisoner at Andersonville, finally making his escape from the rebel prison at Florence, South Carolina, and getting back to the Union lines.

   The story of the pioneer preachers of the gospel in Nebraska is one of great interest and social value. One of them, Rev. Jacob Adriance, died at Fremont December 18, 1822 (sic), at the age of eighty-seven. He settled at Tekamah in 1857 and began his service as a minister of the M. E. church. Since that time he was almost continuously in the missionary church service until a few years ago when failing health caused his retirement. In 1862 he secured a farm in Dodge County on a soldier's land warrant issued to his father and signed by Abraham Lincoln.




   A recent issue of the News, published at Whitney, revives memories and historical recollections connected with that village. The editor of this magazine first visited Whitney in the summer of 1888 and for the next eight years in his work as a Dawes County editor was a frequent visitor in that community.
   The story of Whitney might well be entitled "The Rise and Fall and Rise Again of a Frontier Community.". The first white village in the neighborhood called Dawes City was located on the south side of the White River about a mile from the present Whitney. It was planned to be the county seat of Dawes County, but Chadron, the railroad division point, out-voted all other rivals for that honor. When the Chicago and Northwestern Railroad (then called Fremont, Elkhorn and Missouri Valley) built west from the White River in 1886 the walls of a large Sioux earth lodge were standing on the bank of the White River near the right of way. The station was christened Earth Lodge. A little later, when settlers came in and began to homestead and preempt the White river valley, there was objection to Earth Lodge as a name and the railroad company changed the name to Whitney, in honor of P. Whitney, whom many settlers of that time remember as a very active gentleman who handled the sale of town lots along the line of the railroad.
   The village of Whitney enjoyed a boom in the years 1887-90. A continual stream of settlers poured in. Not only the White River valley, but the smooth "gumbo" prairie north of Whitney was rapidly claimed by the newcomers. Several store buildings went up in Whitney. A dozen business houses started, stores, shops, a hotel, churches. A mill located there and a newspaper started. Providence sent the rain just right for the rich gumbo land. Many fields of spring wheat yielded thirty and forty bushels to the acre in 1889. It seemed that nothing could stop the high tide of prosperity from filling the White River valley.
   Then rapidly came the dry years, beginning with 1890. The financial panic came along in 1893. Settlers mortgaged their claims, and moved to the mountains, back east, down into the Ozarks. Whitney began to fade from the face of the earth. It was at this period that a famous political epigram was coined in Whitney. It was the hard times campaign of 1894--Silas A. Holcomb of Broken Bow running as populist candidate for governor against Thomas J. Majors of Peru, republican candidate. Joint debates were held between the populists and the republicans in the school houses. At a debate in Whitney George A. Eckles, Chadron lawyer, spoke first for the repub-

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