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Compendium of History Reminiscence & Biography of Western Nebraska

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     When Mr. Kackmeister first came to Cherry county his sole possessions were a covered wagon and eighteen head of cattle and from this small beginning he has watched his fortunes and reputation expand and broaden until today he is the proud possessor of everything which goes to make up the comfort of a peaceful and happy home. He enjoys the friendship and esteem of a large circle of people, and is perfectly contented to remain in this locality the balance of his life. He is a Republican in politics and a member of the Lutheran church.



     Lee VanVoorhis, the efficient and popular postmaster of Crawford, Nebraska, is a prosperous and successful business man of that thriving town. He is one of the progressive and consequently esteemed men of his community, and has built up a home of more than usual comfort through his energy and good business foresight.

     Mr. VanVoorhis was born at Oxford Mills, Jones county, Iowa, in 1861. He is the son of Garrett VanVoorhis, a native of New York, and Lottie Smart VanVoorhis, also a New Yorker. The family moved to central Iowa when our subject was born and there he was raised, learning the miller's trade, and also spending some time in a hardware store in Union, Iowa, where he acquired a thorough knowledge of that business. In the spring of 1885 he came to Hay Springs, Nebraska, where he opened the first and only hardware store in the place, and his store was the second frame building ever erected on the main street. He ran this business for two and a half years, and in the fall of 1887 sold out there and moved to Crawford, settling here on January 2 of the following year. He then purchased the W. F. Rockwell hardware store and continued this business up to 1896, then sold out and opened up a fruit and confectionery store, at which he did well, building up a nice trade in the town.

     On February 11, 1903, Mr. VanVooorhis was appointed postmaster, served one term and was reappointed January 31, 1907, proving a most capable man for the position, well liked by the general public for his accommodating manner and thorough fitness for the work. He has been active in local affairs from the time of locating here, serving on the village board for several terms, also a member of the school board for a number of years. He is a strong Republican.

     Mr. VanVoorhis was among the earliest settlers in this locality, coming here before the C. & N. W. Railroad was laid as far as Chadron. When he first arrived he took up a homestead and built a sod house in which he lived for about three years. This place was three miles from Hay Springs.

     In 1878 Mr. VanVoorhis was married to Miss Mary O. Humeston, whose parents were early settlers in Iowa. To them have been born five children, named as follows: Lottie. Roy Garrett, Edna and Josephine, the last named having died in December, 1891.



     Henry E. Ericson, treasurer of Phelps county, elected in 1905, resides in Holdrege, where he has a fine residence and is highly esteemed by a host of people. Mr. Ericson has been engaged in farming for many years of his life, and has met with pronounced success in this line of work. He has also taken an active interest in public affairs, and is one of the leading citizens of his community and county.

     Our subject is a native of Chicago, Illinois. The family resided in Iowa prior to settling in Nebraska, and his brother, A. S. Ericson, is well known throughout Phelps county, as he served as county clerk and resided at Funk, Divide township, for some years. (See sketch in this book.) The father, Andrew Ericson, homesteaded here in 1884 and farmed for many years. Our subject now owns six hundred and forty acres in section 19, Sheridan township, and has his farm improved with fine buildings and every modern improvement for the proper running of a model farm. He has given close attention to good stock, has one hundred head of Shorthorn cattle and a number of fine Percheron and Clyde horses, considering the first mentioned the best animal for the farmers in this vicinity, as it is good both for farm work and general purposes, whereas the Clydes are only good on the farm. He has pure bred Jersey hogs, and prefers this breed to any other for this section. Owing to the high price of land here the farmers will be compelled to work into the higher grades of stock for which best prices are obtained, otherwise it would not pay to encumber the land with poor stock. Alfalfa is a great boon to this county. Four hundred and fifty acres of Mr. Ericson's farm is under cultivation, seeded to wheat, oats and corn, and his wheat crop in 1906 showed a yield of thirty-three

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and one-third bushels per acre. The average each year is about twenty-five bushels, and corn from forty to sixty, and has gone as high as seventy-five bushels per acre. Twenty-eight years ago our subject's father bought land at two dollars and fifty cents an acre, and the same land is now worth seventy-five dollars.

     Mr. Ericson was clerk of his township for eight years, also has served as treasurer of the school board in this district for several years. He is a member of the Methodist Episcopal church and a prominent Mason, and he is a popular and worthy citizen as well as a good neighbor and friend. In political faith he is an independent voter. In 1891 Mr. Ericson was married to Miss Amanda J. Carlson.



     Through exceptionally good management and persistent labors the gentleman here named has succeeded in building up a well developed farm and comfortable home, and is enabled to enjoy the comforts of modern farming. He is of a progressive nature and has had a wide experience in farming, and every detail of the work is carefully looked after and personally supervised by him. He resides in Rock county, Nebraska, where he is widely known and highly respected.

     Mr. Eastman was born in Madison county, New York state, March 22, 1860. His father, Neil Eastman, was a farmer and interested in the oil business; he was born of Scotch-Irish parents. The mother, whose maiden name was Ellen Cassady, was of Irish descent. Our subject is the eldest member in a family of four children, and was reared and educated in the state of his birth. At the age of nine years he lost his mother by death and at that time began life for himself, having ever since made his own way. He drove a canal boat on the Erie canal for several years, and part of the time was engaged in working out on a farm. When he was fifteen he served an apprenticeship of three years in a blacksmith shop, thoroughly mastering that trade, at which he worked in his native state for two years, then came west to Iowa, where he followed that trade in Cass county and other parts of the state, spending some time in Des Moines. He first came to Nebraska in 1884, locating in Rock county, where he took up a homestead and tree claim. He immediately began improving his farm, put up a sod house as his first dwelling place, and lived in this for six years. He still followed the trade of blacksmith, driving each day to Bassett, where he had a shop. Continuing this for years, he prospered reasonably well, escaping many of the hardships usual to pioneer experiences. In 1888 a terrible blizzard swept over that region, causing them much suffering and loss, as did also the drouth (sic) periods. He operated the farm up to 1905, at the same time continuing at his trade in Bassett, whither he had previously removed with his family, and in the last named year traded his farm for a hardware store located in Edgar, Nebraska. Soon afterwards, however, he disposed of this business, and the same year bought his present farm of eight hundred acres, mostly in hay land. Here each he mows and bales many tons of excellent hay for shipment to the eastern markets.

     Mr. Eastman was married in 1886 to Miss Lida Hunter, of American stock, born in Champaign county, Ohio. Her father, James Hunter, lived for fourteen years in Champaign county, Illinois, before moving to Nebraska to become an old settler in Keya Paha county, securing a farm there in 1884. Prior to her marriage Mrs. Eastman taught the first school in the district near their home. The school house was a log cabin, with rude benches for seats, and no modern paraphernalia to assist her in her work. She was one of the pioneer school teachers in that locality, and her experiences were many and amusing. Mr. and Mrs. Eastman have a family of six children, who are named as follows: Ellen L., James N. (deceased), Grover C., Amy B., Laura G. and Jessie M. The family is well known and highly esteemed throughout the community in which they reside, and enjoy a pleasant and comfortable home, surrounded by a large circle or (sic) friends. They are members of the Church of God.

     Mr. Eastman has risen from a start of practically nothing to his present prosperous state, and well deserves much credit for his success. He has been one of those who helped build up this region, and is one of the regular old-timers in Nebraska. He is a Democrat politically and fraternally a member of Bassett camp, Modern Woodmen of America.



     In a county as well settled as Perkins county, Nebraska, it would be difficult to name the most prominent citizen, but a high station is willingly accorded the gentleman whose name heads this personal review. He has resided here many years and is always found

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standing on the side of right and justice, and has been one of the leaders in the development and upbuilding of his community.

     Jospeh E. Watkins was born in Will county, Illinois, in 1867. His father, Peter Watkins, was born, and raised on a farm in England, came to the United States when a young boy, and died in Illinois in 1881. He married Mary Phillips, also born in England, who came to America when a child. When our subject was twenty years of age, the family came to Perkins county, the mother taking a homestead on section 25, township 9, range 41, and Joseph also a pre-emption and proved up on it. The built a dugout and sod house on the mother's farm and improved the place as rapidly as possible, although during the first few years it was rather uphill work, as conditions were not favorable for the raising of good crops, and they had many setbacks. Joseph remained at home up to 1902, helping run the home ranch, then settled on his own farm and improved it in good shape. In 1907 he bought his mother's old homestead and now runs the place, operating a farm of three hundred and twenty acres in all. He has about one hundred acres cultivated, and keeps quite a bunch of stock. The farm is well fenced, has good buildings and improvements of all kinds, and he is classed among the progressive and up-to-date agriculturists in his locality.

     Mr. Watkins was married in 1905 to Miss Florence Smith, whose father was a prominent pioneer of Perkins county. To them has been born one child, Goldie, a very charming baby. Mr. Watkins is a Democrat and takes a commendable interest in local and county affairs.

     In 1905 the vicinity of our subject's farm was swept by a very disastrous prairie fire, and he suffered severe loss. The head fire came within a few feet of his buildings and it was only by the hardest kind of fighting that they were saved. As it was, he lost several horses, some hogs, seventy-five tons of feed and other personal property.



     Among the younger members of the farming fraternity of Brown county, Nebraska, is the gentleman whose name introduces this article. He has set a high mark of efficiency in the following of his chosen profession and means to be a successful farmer in the best sense of the term. Familiar with the conditions that attend the tilling of the soil in what was once the eastern verge of the great American desert, and having passed through storm and drouth (sic), he knows Nebraska farming from beginning to finish, and under his cultivation the soil smiles and puts forth abundantly.

     Mr. Jenkins is a son of Benjamin Jenkins and was born on a farm in Carroll county, Illinois, February 23, 1879. His father is an old settler in Nebraska, a sketch of whose life and career appears on another page. Floyd Jenkins is the third member of a family of ten children born to his parents, and his youth and early manhood were spent in this part of Nebraska. Plenty of hard work was dealt out to him, and but little schooling, as the country was very new and the schoolmaster, as yet, hardly abroad in the land. At twenty-three he left home and taking upon himself the burden of his own support began life as a farm laborer in Burt county, Nebraska, where he worked for about a year. His next move was to buy a farm in Brown county, settling on a homestead in section 24, township 30, range 23, where he has six hundred and forty acres in addition to two hundred acres of deeded land.

     Mr. Jenkins was married in 1903 to Miss Pearl Homan, daughter of Palmer Homan, an old settler in this state, and a man highly respected for his sterling worth and industrious habits. Mrs. Jenkins is the mother of one child, Goldia.

     After their marriage the young couple devoted themselves to the improvement of their place and converted it into one of the best to be found in the county. It comprises some eight hundred and forty acres, as above stated, one hundred and twenty being under the plow and the balance devoted to meadow and pasturage. Here they have a good house, a roomy barn and other farm buildings with such machinery as the successful operation of the place may demand. Mr. Jenkins is independent in politics.



     Among the most successful men in Phelps county, Nebraska, may be mentioned A. H. Mattson, a prominent farmer and stockman of Laird township, and a leading citizen of this locality, a portrait of whom appears on another page.
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     Mr. Mattson is a native of Sweden. He lived near Oneida, Knox county, Illinois, and came to Nebraska in 1885, locating on one hundred and sixty acres in section 17. He built a comfortable home, and soon afterwards

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bought the adjoining one hundred and sixty acres, also homesteaded one hundred and sixty acres, on which he now lives, adjoining Loomis on the northeast. He has resided on this farm for eighteen years, and now owns eight hundred acres of land located in Buffalo county, which he uses for pasture and hay land. Since settling here he has been a heavy buyer and shipper of stock, also a breeder of Shorthorn cattle and Poland China hogs. He had a drove of forty head of thoroughbred cattle on his home farm, and from two to four hundred graded cattle in the past. He raises and also buys and sells stock for the market, so that his herds vary constantly. For years he has had control of the hog market at Loomis, shipping from one hundred and fifty to three hundred cars per year. He has been partly succeeded in this business by his son Ed Mattson, also a resident of Loomis. Mr. Mattson prefers the Poland Chinas to any other breed of hogs, both for shipping and farm use, as they are the easiest to fatten and get ready for market, and it takes less feed to keep them than other breeds. He also has a preference for Shorthorn cattle as good feeders, milkers, beef and all general purposes. He has been very successful in his ventures, both farming and stock raising and shipping. His possessions consist of a seven hundred and twenty-acre farm in Phelps county, besides the ranch of eight hundred acres located in Buffalo county, and has his place well improved. He has lately sold two hundred and forty acres of land, leaving twelve hundred and eighty acres he now owns.

     Mr. Mattson was married to Miss Carrie Bjorgland, who died, and our subject was married again, taking to wife Anna Johnson. Mr. Mattson has one son and two daughters, namely: Ed, mentioned in the foregoing; Mrs. Charles Sansted, of Holdrege, and Hannah, who lives at home. The last daughter, Hannah, is by the second wife, the other two from the first marriage.

     During his business career here Mr. Mattson has won the respect and esteem of all with whom he has come in contact through business dealings, and is recognized as one of the sharpest business men and best citizens of the county.



     William Fosket, retired, is one of the old settlers and former prominent ranchmen of Box Butte county, where he has lived for many years past, and built up a valuable property through his industry and energy. Mr. Fosket now resides in Hemingford, where he has a comfortable home, and is held in high esteem by his fellow-men.

     Mr. Fosket was born in Tazewell county, Illinois, in 1844, on a farm. His father, Alvin Fosket, was of Scotch-Irish stock, a native of New York, and he married Miss Maria Shaw, of Pennsylvania German descent. Our subject grew to manhood in Mason county, Illinois, where he attended the country schools and helped in the work of carrying on the home farm up to 1864, then enlisted in Company C, Second Illinois Cavalry, and went to Florida with his regiment, where he saw hard service, and also in Alabama, Louisiana and Texas, in actual service up to the close of the war. He was mustered out in San Antonio, Texas, and after leaving the army returned to his old home in Illinois, where he followed farming for a number of years. In 1871 he came to Gage county, Nebraska, settling on a homestead located south of Lincoln, and there started to build up a farm and home, going through the experiences of the early pioneers in that section. He sold this place out prior to moving to Perth, Nebraska, where he was engaged in the livery business for fourteen years, and in 1885 came west to what is now Box Butte county, settling on a claim twelve miles northeast of Hemingford. There his first house was a dugout, in which he lived for one year, then built a sod house, hauling all his supplies from Hay Springs. He spent seventeen years on this ranch, and was in the cattle and horse business principally, controlling three sections of land at the time he left the locality. He had put good buildings and improvements on the property, and made a great success of the enterprise, and in 1906 sold out the ranch for a good round figure. In 1902 he had taken up his residence in the town of Hemingford, and has since resided here. For the past thirty-five years Mr. Fosket has been an auctioneer, and is widely known all through this section of the state. He has also for many years past dealt in horses, buying and shipping out to the different eastern and western markets.

     While living in Mason county, Illinois, Mr. Fosket was married to Miss Mary Piper, whose father, Ed T. Piper, was a well known physician and army surgeon. Mr. and Mrs. Fosket are the parents of six children, who are named as follows: Addie, married, now the wife of Ralph Jackson; Grove D., Orrian, Blanche, Almeda and Earl.

     Mr. Fosket is one of the leading pioneers of both eastern and western Nebraska, and

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