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The History of Platte County Nebraska

Railroad. Harry, like his father and five brothers, has made railroading his life work. He is employed as a clerk at the Union Pacific Freight Depot, in Columbus.

On April 27, 1929, at Liberty, Missouri, he married Helen Agnes Cherny, daughter of John and Victoria Veru Cherny, of North Bend, Nebraska. They have two daughters and one son: Ellen, a graduate of Kramer High School, in 1948; Margery Jean, a student at Kramer High School; and John Cherny, born in Columbus, July 13, 1940, who attends grade school.

Mr. and Mrs. Harry Craig Brown are members of the Grace Episcopal Church in Columbus. Mr. Brown is a member of Hartman Post Number 84, American Legion, the A.F. & A.M., the Union Pacific Old Timers Club, and the B. of R. C.


Howard Brown, son of Ellis G. and Rosa Belle Phillips Brown, was born in Columbus. His father, a life-long employee of the Union Pacific Railroad, was born in Columbus Township, on April , 1870, and died in Columbus, on December 21, 1942. His mother was born July 4, 1874, at Emerson, Iowa, and died October II, 1925, in Columbus.

Howard had six brothers and four sisters: George, Ralph, Harry, Carroll, Jay, Ellis, Jr., Cora, Helen, Clara, and Ruth. Howard attended the Columbus schools and followed his father and brothers in working for the Union Pacific Railroad.

On January 11, 1924, he was married to Pauline Egger, the daughter of Hans and Elizabeth Glur Egger. Howard and Pauline Egger Brown had one son and three daughters:

Beverly was graduated from Kramer High School in 1942, and worked in the office of the City Clerk until her marriage to Emil Gloor. Emil and Beverly Brown Gloor have one son, Richard Bruce Gloor, born June 30, 1946.

Marilyn was graduated from Kramer High School in 1945, and worked as a bookkeeper for the Fleisher and Schmid Manufacturing Company. On June 27, 1948, she was married to Norman Hoge, a son of the Adolph Hoges, of Columbus Township.

Howard Brown, Jr. was born in Columbus on September 12, 1929. He was graduated from Kramer High School in 1947. After finishing school, he was first employed on the farm and later worked for the Rector, Hirshbrunner, and Hanke Plumbing Company. In July, 1948, he joined the United States Marine Corps, and took his training at San Diego, California.

Elizabeth Brown attended Kramer High School.

Mr. and Mrs. Howard Brown have always lived in Columbus.


John Browner, the son of Mr. and Mrs. William Browner, was born June 24, 1820, at County Wexford, Ireland, and died in Columbus, January 14, 1901. His father and mother were natives of County Wexford. His father was a cabinet maker and operated a furniture shop in Wexford, a town located on St. George's Channel. John attended a private school there. He later worked in his father's shop, and studied auditing.

In 1852, John Browner came to America with his brother, William, and a sister. They all lived together in New York City, where John kept the books for two years for a dress-shirt laundry, and finished a course in accountancy at night school.

In 1854, he went to Amboy, Illinois, where he worked in the office of the North Western Railroad Company with Michael Egan, who was later a railroad executive.

In October, 1855, John Browner and Frank Egan rode on horseback from Amboy, Illinois, into the new Nebraska Territory. They stopped enroute in the frontier town of Omaha to file on land. John remained in Omaha, where he worked for a few months with John Wolfel at the building trades of carpentry and masonry.

Early in March, 1856, he was one of the group of men who organized the Columbus Town Company at the old Douglas House in Omaha. He was one of the thirteen men of the Town Company who arrived by ox-team at a point not far from the confluence of the Loup and Platte Rivers toward evening, on May 29, 1856, to found the town of Columbus.

In October, 1856, he filed on a claim on Shell Creek, and hauled building material for a cabin to the site by ox-team. He lived at the Old Company House that year and was one of the little band of twelve who stayed in the colony during that first severe winter of 1856-1857

He worked as bookkeeper and buyer for the John Wolfel and J. P. Becker stores in Columbus, and also for their frontier store at North Platte. In 1857 he was an auditor for the government store at Genoa. Mr. Browner was an early secretary of the Columbus Town Company and was also the auditor for several early Columbus businesses.

In 1859, he participated in the Indian War in Nebraska, serving as a sergeant in the Columbus Infantry with Michael Weaver, captain, and William Gruman, first lieutenant. His commanding officers were Governor Samuel M. Black, Commander-in-Chief, and John M. Thayer, Major General, in command of the expedition.

During the years of 1865-1867, John Browner served as sheriff of Platte County. His territory then extended to the western border of Nebraska Territory. He also served as the first sheriff after Nebraska was made a state.

Mr. Browner was interested in farming and stock raising. On January 1, 1861, he bought forty acres of land northeast of Columbus. On April 10, 1861, he bought one hundred and sixty acres. In 1869, he purchased one hundred and sixty acres of school land and increased his holdings to three hundred and sixty acres.

On February 6, 1869, John Browner was married to Mrs. Margaret O'Connor Curry, the widow of Captain Samuel B. Curry. Mrs. Browner was born in Charlevielle, County Limerick, Ireland, and came to Boston at


the age of twelve with an older sister, Eliza O'Connor. She attended school there and studied music. She was married to Samuel B. Curry in Boston, and after their marriage, they lived in Washington, D. C., during the Civil War. After the war, Captain and Mrs. Curry went to Fort Phil Kearney, where Captain Curry died. In September, 1868, she came to Columbus with her two sons, Samuel, Jr., and John, where she was married in February, 1869, to John Browner.

After their marriage, they lived at *1903 Sixth Street until 1874, when Mr. Browner built a spacious house on his farm in Columbus Township, and moved his family there.

NOTE:  * hand overstruck - believe it was 1903  originally, hand written over that, 1803.  Written below the paragraph, 1806)

Besides Samuel and John Curry, John and Margaret O'Connor Browner had four children: Catherine, Mrs. S. P. Drinnin; Helen, Mrs. Albert H. Gehner, of St. Louis, Missouri; William F.; and James C. Browner; All attended the Columbus High. School and the Fremont Normal School. William and James were engaged in farming and stock raising, and were the owners of pure bred horses. Catherine taught school in Platte and Colfax Counties, also in District 1, in Columbus. Mrs. Browner died on May 13, 1890

In 1860, John Browner was instrumental with others in the organization of St. John's Catholic Church, the first church in Columbus. The church was served by Reverend Father Fourmont, a French priest.

Mr. Browner was also one of the organizers and a charter member of the Columbus Cemetery Association, organized in 1864. The Association purchased eight acres at the east end of Eleventh Street, north of the Jacob Louis farm, and improved it for a cemetery. The charter members of the Columbus Cemetery Association besides John Browner included: John P. Becker, John Rickly, Vincent Kummer, J. C. Wolfel, C. A. Speice, Jacob Ernst, Michael Weaver, F. G. Becher, C. B. Stillman, H. J. Hudson, and G. W. Stevens.

John Browner died in Columbus on January 14, I 901.


William F. Browner, the son of John and Margaret O'Connor Browner, was born June 10, 1874, in Columbus, Nebraska, and died on September 23, 1932, in Long Beach, California. He had two sisters: Catherine, Mrs. Samuel P. Drinnin; and Helen, Mrs. Albert H. Gehner; a brother, James; and two half brothers, Samuel and John Curry.

William Browner moved with his parents from Columbus to a farm in Columbus Township, in 1874. He attended the Columbus grade and high school, St. Francis Academy, and the Fremont Normal School, at Fremont, Nebraska.

He was associated with his father, John Browner, in the farming and stock raising business until his father's death. In January, 1901, William formed a partnership with his brother, James C. Browner, and engaged in the stock raising business on the Browner farm in Columbus Township. In 1906, the farm was leased and the Browner Brothers opened a livery and feed business in Columbus.

After disposing of his farming and other business interests in Columbus, around 1912, William F. Browner moved to Texas, where he became active in the real estate business. He later lived in Omaha, the Pacific northwest, and in California, where he pursued his hobbies of hunting, horsemanship, and travel.

While living in Columbus, he was a member of the Social Dinner, Dance, and Card Clubs, and of the St. Bonaventure Church.


James C. Browner, the son of John and Margaret O'Connor Browner, was born on October 31, 1880, on the Browner farm in Columbus Township, two and a half miles northeast of Columbus, and died on June 8, 1939. He had one brother and two sisters: William F.; Catherine, Mrs. Samuel P. Drinnin; and Helen, Mrs. Albert H. Gehner. He also had two half brothers: Samuel and John Curry.

James C. attended the Columbus schools and was graduated from the Fremont Normal. In his younger days he was interested in music and was a member of the local quartette.

James and his brother, William F. Browner, were engaged in farming and stock raising on the Browner farm in Columbus Township from 1901-1906. During that time, they were interested in thoroughbred horses, and raised and owned the finest driving and riding horses, in the county. They later owned and managed a livery and feed business in Columbus.

James Browner bought and improved the Zinnecker farm, east of Columbus. Since 1941, this Browner farm has been known as the Platte County Agricultural Park.

Through the years, Mr. Browner owned and improved "Browner Island," in the Loup, west of Columbus, and a small island in the Platte, south of Duncan.

Besides horses, he was interested in all of the outdoor sports. His hobbies were hunting and fishing.


Johan Brugger, school-master and farmer, was born October 22, 1822, of Swiss parentage, on the Hasliberg, Canton Bern, Switzerland, where he received his early schooling and served as school-master for several years.

He married Elizabeth Zwald, a native of Canton Bern, at her home on the Hasliberg. They were the parents of nine children: John, Melchior, Andrew, Theodore, Alvina, Theophil, Elizabeth, Mary and Katharine. All except Katharine were born in Switzerland.

Mr. Brugger moved his family from Canton Bern to Canton Oberwalden, Switzerland, where they lived for a time before immigrating to the United States, in 1872. Enroute here, they passed through Basel, on the way to Hamburg, where they embarked by steamship for New York. They went from New York to Wisconsin, then to Mason City, Iowa, where they lived until 1874, when they came to Platte County, and

The History of Platte County Nebraska

established their home on a homestead northeast of Columbus, in Sherman Township.

Soon after their arrival, the Bruggers' son, Melchior, was asked to teach in the District school. The other sons assisted their father with the farming, while he engaged in cheese making.

Elizabeth Zwald Brugger died in Platte County, August 8, 1876, and Johan Brugger died twenty-seven years later, in 1903, in Oregon.

With the exception of Melchior and Alvina, the Bruggers later moved West; some of the family to Oregon, and the others to Washington State.

John Brugger died in Portland, Oregon, June 24, 1926. His wife, Josephine, is deceased. Melchior married Mathilde Stenger, made his home in Columbus, and died September 23, 1935. Andrew was married to Mary Cecilia Mullenhoff. He died November 5, 1929, in Gresham, Oregon. Alvina, the first wife of Albert Stenger, died on October 13, 1892, in Columbus. Theophil was drowned with his horse, while fording a stream near Woodland, Washington, August, 1904. Elizabeth married Reverend Heinrich Karpenstein. She died in March, 1939, in San Francisco, California. Mary died in June, 1952, in Gresham, Oregon. Katharine married Elmer Snyder and died in Woodland, December 30, 1915.

The last of this family was Theodore Brugger, the fourth son, who married Anna Jacobina Mullenhoff. They lived in Gresham, Oregon, where he was engaged in farming and stock-raising. He died in 1948.


Melchior Brugger, son of Johan and Elizabeth Zwald Brugger, was born on November 27, 1854, in the village of Hohfluh, in the parish of Meiringen, in Canton Bern, Switzerland, where he lived with his parents until the family moved to Alpnach, Canton Oberwalden, Switzerland. As a boy, he went to the village schools. In Canton Oberwalden, he attended the Catholic secondary school, at Sarnan, and later was enrolled in the Evangelist Seminar, a Swiss Reformed School, in Bern.


Melchior Brugger

The five years spent away from home as a student made an indelible impression upon his life. During this period he spent his summers in a large hotel on Mount Pilatus. Wrestling and mountain climbing were his chief hobbies.

At the age of seventeen, M. Brugger completed his formal schooling. He was then prepared for the teaching profession and able to speak English, German and French fluently.

In 1872, he immigrated to the United States with his father, mother, four brothers and three sisters. Upon their arrival in New York, he accompanied his parents to Wisconsin and then Iowa, where they lived for two years. In 1874 they came to Platte County, and settled on a homestead in Sherman Township, northeast of Columbus.

Within a short time M. Brugger, as he was known here, was asked by the District School Board to teach at the school near the Brugger homestead. This school was a sod structure, with a dirt floor and home-made benches. Few of the pioneer schools of that day had desks.

In 1882, after teaching for several school terms in the county, he was made principal of the Field School in the First Ward, in Columbus. The school building then in use was replaced in 1920 by the present modern brick building.

In 1884, M. Brugger resigned as principal to enter the banking field, and at that time he became associated with the Columbus State Bank as bookkeeper. In 1894 he was promoted to cashier, and nine years later, in 1903, he became its president, a position he retained for more than a quarter of a century.

In 1884, he married Mathilde Stenger, daughter of Martin and Caroline Reiss Stenger. Mrs. Brugger was born in Colmar, France, and immigrated to this country in 1873, arriving in Columbus on March 5, with her parents.

After their marriage, the Bruggers established their home in Columbus. They lived first at the Stenger farm, and in 1887 moved to the southwest corner of Ninth and Fulton Avenue, now Seventeenth Avenue, where, in 1905, they remodeled their present home.

They had five children: Albert, Elise, Helen, Melvin and Florence.

The Bruggers have long been identified with the civic, religious, cultural and social life of the community. Their home library contains many fine collections of books, and during Mr. Brugger's lifetime he could always be found reading at an early hour.

Both Mr. and Mrs. Brugger were among the first to help establish a public library in Columbus, and Mrs. Brugger served on its board for forty-four years.

M. Brugger kept his interest active in the Columbus schools by serving for several years as a member of the Board of Education. For more than fifty years he was a generous sponsor of all Columbus lecture and concert series, including the summer Chautauquas. He was an active supporter of the prohibition movement in Nebraska from the time of local and county option. He was one of the founders of the Columbus Y.M.C.A. and interested in its furtherance.

Fraternally, M. Brugger was affiliated with the Masonic Order, and politically he was a progressive. His hobbies were music, books, pictures and flowers.


He loved flowers and cultivated them during his leisure time.

The Brugger family were members of the Congregational Church, in Columbus, and Mr. Brugger was active in its federation with the Presbyterian Church.

M. Brugger died September 23, 1935, while with Mrs. Brugger on a visit to their son Albert, in Santa Monica, California. He was buried in the Roselawn Cemetery in Columbus.


Mathilde Elise Brugger attended the Columbus High School, Oberlin College, the Oberlin Kindergarten Training School, and the University of Nebraska, at Lincoln, where she was graduated. She then continued graduate study at Columbia University, in New York City.

She began her career as a kindergarten teacher at the Williams School in the Second Ward of Columbus, and since 1915 has been in Teacher Education, as a specialist in training teachers of young children in nursery schools and kindergartens. This field has given her teaching connections with the Oberlin Kindergarten Primary Training School of Oberlin, Ohio; George Peabody College for Teachers, in Nashville, Tennessee; Western Reserve University of Cleveland, Ohio; Teachers College of Columbia University; Mills College, in Oakland, California; the State Departments of Education in Delaware and Connecticut, and the Iowa State Teachers College.

Besides her work in teaching, Mathilde Elise Brugger is the author of articles and radio scripts pertaining to her field of work.


Helen Frances Brugger attended the Columbus High School, Oberlin College, at Oberlin, Ohio, and is a graduate of Mt. Holyoke College, a college for women, at South Hadley, Massachusetts.

She studied violin and taught in Brownell Hall, an Episcopal school for girls, in Omaha. She was married to Daniel Middlekauf Beal, son of Doctor A. M. and Carrie Middlekauf Beal, of Moline, Illinois.

They live in Dallas, Texas, where Daniel Beal is the Regional Manager of the Dodge Corporation.


Florence Brugger attended Columbus High School, Oberlin College, at Oberlin, Ohio, and is a graduate of Mt. Holyoke College, at South Hadley, Massachusetts.

She holds a Masters Degree from New York University and the New York School of Social Work. She is a psychiatric social worker in the field of social service. She had done such work in New Britain, Connecticut, and Cleveland, Ohio, and worked with Orientals in New York City and San Francisco, California.

Prior to 1940 she was connected with Queens Hospital, in Honolulu, in the Department of Psychiatry, and helped to establish the Bureau of Mental Hygiene in the Territory of Hawaii.

She joined the American Red Cross in 1942 and served during World War II as Red Cross Hospital Director in the Middle East, with headquarters in Cairo, Egypt. As a hospital supervisor she was sent by the Red Cross to the Philippine Islands, in 1946, and was transferred to Japan in 1947.

In September, 1948, she became chief of the Welfare Division of Public Health and Welfare for the Far East, under the Supreme Command of the Allied Powers, known as S.C.A.P. This assignment with the Military Government in the Far East climaxes her personal and professional interest in peoples of all types.


Albert E. Brugger, son of M. and Mathilde Stenger Brugger, was born in Columbus, July 9, 1885.

He was graduated from Columbus High School and attended the University of Michigan and the Colorado School of Mines at Golden, Colorado.

He spent fifteen years with a British company as mining engineer, during which time he opened the diamond fields in the Belgian Congo, in Africa.

He was enlisted with the American Engineers during World War I.

Albert E. Brugger. was married to Muriel Fee in 1930. They had two daughters: Caroline, born February 21, 1931; and Janneli, born July 16, 1932.

Albert Brugger died in Santa Monica, California, February 17, 1939.


Melvin Brugger, son of M. and Mathilde Stenger Brugger, was born March 12, 1892. He attended Columbus High School, from which he was graduated in 1910, and the Colorado School of Mines, at Golden, Colorado, where he received his degree in Engineering. He, like his brother Albert, chose the mining field of engineering.

His professional activities have taken him to Cuba, the Belgian Congo, Angola, in Africa, Italy, Spain, Jugoslavia, beyond the Arctic Circle in Canada, to Mexico, and to the southwestern states in the United States.

He is now a consulting engineer, located in Colorado, at Colorado Springs.

Melvin Brugger married Allene McCully, daughter of W. G. and Mary McCully. The McCully family lived in Columbus, where Mr. McCully was the manager of the Electric Power Company.

Melvin and Allene McCully Brugger have two children: Jeanne Louise, born July 28, 1923, and Robert Melvin, born January 13, 1929.

Jeanne Louise Brugger is married to Samuel Rentria, and they live in New Mexico, near Santa Fe.

The History of Platte County Nebraska


John Brunken, Sr. was born in Germany, and came to the United States in 1869. On March 15, 1873, in New York City, he was married to Hannah Plath. They had eight sons and three daughters: J. L. Brunken, Mrs. John Witt, Mrs. H. H. Karlin, Mrs. Tony Roach, Carl H., Emil, Otto, deceased, William, deceased, Gus, Henry, and Edward.

From the time he landed in this country, Mr. Brunken was employed in the woolen mills, at Passaic, New Jersey, and he continued in that line of work until 1878, when he and Mrs. Brunken decided to come west to seek their fortune. They came directly to Platte County, locating on a farm twelve miles north of Columbus. There they made their home until 1916, when they retired from active farming and moved to Columbus.


Carl Henry Brunken, member of a well-known Platte County family, is a farmer in Columbus Township. He was born October 9, 1884, in Shell Creek Township, the son of John and Hannah Plath Brunken. His father, who came to Platte County from New Jersey, in 1878, was born December 5, 1843, in Hanover, Germany, and died July 25, 1926, in Columbus. Mrs. Brunken was born in Germany, February 22, 1853, and died in 1949.

Carl Brunken had seven brothers and three sisters: J. L., who is married to Clara Loseke; Mrs. John Witt; Will, who married Mary Peterson; Gus, who is married to Ida Slasier; Henry, who is married to Anna Heiechen; Anna, Mrs. Tony Roach; Otto, who married Marie Hupp is deceased; Emil, married to Martha Schreiber; Edward; and Louise, who is Mrs. Herman Karlin. One brother, William, died October 14, 1942, at Enid:, Oklahoma. Carl attended school at District 35.

On April 14, 1915, at Monroe, Nebraska, Carl Henry Brunken married Etta W. Weyen, daughter of Herman and Kathrien Miller Weyen. Mr. Weyen, a farmer, was born in Germany, March 1, 1854, and died February 27, 1924, at Pierce, Nebraska. Mrs. Weyen, born September 16, 1856, in Germany; died January 11, 1934, at Tilden, Nebraska, Etta had one brother and eight sisters.

Mr. and Mrs. Brunken are members of the Immanuel Lutheran Church.


William Brunken, son of Frederick and Anna Maria Strodhoff Brunken, was born October 31, 1876, in Germany, and came to America in March, 1891. His father, born February 26, 1848, in Germany, died in Monroe, Nebraska, in February, 1914. His mother was born in Germany in June, 1851, and died in Germany, in March, 1886. William, who has one brother, Henry, who farms near Monroe, received his elementary schooling in Germany and Platte County.

On April 6, 1905, at Leigh, Nebraska, William Brunken married Minnie Husmann the daughter of Gard and Anna Janssen Husmann. They had eight children: Anna lives at home; Martha is Mrs. H. Kallweit; Elsie, Mrs. Erwin Scheffle of Omaha; Minnie, Mrs. F. Zumbrun; Walter is in the livestock business; William, Jr. farms near Creston; Fred and Eddie are farmers on the Brunken home farm, near Creston.

William Brunken was a stock raiser and feeder, and farmed for several years in the Creston vicinity. He served as church clerk and treasurer. He helped organize and served on the board of directors of the Creston Farmer's Lumber Company, the Creston Farmer's Mercantile Association, and the Creston Credit Association. For twelve years he was the treasurer and the clerk for the Creston Cemetery Association.

Mr. Brunken retired from active farm management in 1945, and moved to Columbus. He is a member of the Baptist Church.


William Bucher was born October 28, 1852, in the Canton of Aargau, Switzerland, and died November 22, 1938, in Columbus, Nebraska. His parents were natives of Switzerland. He had two brothers and one sister: Robert, of Canton Zurich, Switzerland; Joseph Bucher, deceased; and Paulina, who married Godfrey Frischholz of Columbus.

When William was twenty-four; he sailed for the United States to join his brothers. He arrived in Columbus in 1876, and entered the employ of his older brother, Joseph, who operated a liquor business at 2305 Eleventh Street. He saved as much as possible out of his small salary, and fourteen months later, he took over Joseph's business and successfully conducted it.

In 1886, William Bucher formed a partnership with his brother-in-law, Godfrey Frischholz, in the grocery business, but later sold his interest to Emil Pohl. He then served fourteen years as vice-president of the Columbus Bank, and in 1917, he founded the Farmers State Bank. He was a prominent figure in local business circles until the bank was discontinued in 1932, at which time he retired to private life.

Through keen foresight and careful management, he made a large fortune in investments, having amassed more than twenty-five hundred acres of valuable farm land in Platte, Colfax, Boone, and Polk Counties during his lifetime.

On April 20, 1879, in Columbus, William Bucher was married to Catherine Kumpf, the daughter of John and Elizabeth Erb Kumpf, who came to Columbus, Nebraska, from Columbus, Ohio, in 1857, a year after the original founding of the Columbus townsite. John

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