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   In accepting tile invitation to write something of the pioneer women and the home life of Nebraska, I regret the lack of a general personal knowledge of my subjects throughout the territory. However, the characteristic qualities of the two or three intimate friends of my childhood and of later years, of whom I have chosen to write, may in a measure represent the courage, integrity, and intense womanliness of their class.
   Always eager and daring, the man has fared forth to spy out the new land, and the woman, loving, fearful, yet hopeful, has been at his side. How well and nobly the women of Nebraska have borne the tasks and burdens incident to life in a new country, is "as a tale that is told." Some of them had been daintily reared and well educated in their eastern homes; but, daring danger and privation, they gladly and hopefully accompanied father, husband, brother or lover.
   The first white woman to settle in Nemaha county or southeastern Nebraska was Mrs. Thomas B. Edwards, who came with her husband and a few men from Oregon, Holt County, Missouri. Richard Brown, the first settler, came from the same locality a few weeks prior--on August 29, 1854. Mr. Edwards was a carpenter and a preacher of the Christian faith. Husband and wife were alike zealous in tile cause of their church, and they ministered to all sorts and conditions. For more than a year there was no physician in the locality or nearer than Oregon, Missouri, fifty miles southeast. The change of climate and water and the intensely cold winter weather caused much suffering, sickness, and some deaths. The skill and simple, homely reme-



dies of Mrs. Edwards were in urgent demand, and often hers was the only hand to bring comfort, help or cheer in time of severe illness or deep sorrow. At births or deaths alike, her presence was sought and, at whatever personal inconvenience, seldom denied. With a highly sympathetic nature, fine physique, indomitable courage and a heart overflowing with love for her Master's cause, Mrs. Edwards was an ideal pioneer woman. Long hours of patient, watchful care, sleepless nights, and toilsome days were her lot through many years. She was the mother of seven children, some of them residents of Nemaha county now. Her mind and body well preserved until the last illness of a few weeks' duration, she died in 1907.
   Mr. Edwards helped to build some of the first log houses in Brownville. I distinctly remember the interior of one log cabin, built in 1855 and superior in many ways to the majority in the locality. My parents lived in this cabin for more than a year. The main room was about 14x18, and besides there was a lean-to or shed kitchen and a loft. A ladder served as stairway. The floors were of newly sawed cottonwood boards. At one end of the room was a huge fireplace made of rough stone plastered with clay. The walls were entirely covered with newspapers, the corners lapped and each secured by a tack driven through a half-inch square of red flannel. This device not only held the paper more firmly in its place; the bright bits of flannel added to the attractiveness of the room. In one corner a big four-poster cord bedstead, with plethoric grass tick surmounted by a fat feather bed dressed in a hand-woven counterpane, or often a gay patchwork quilt, was a sight fearful and wonderful to behold. A little walnut stool stood near the head of the bed without which it would be a difficult scramble to reach the top of the structure. Underneath the four-poster there was a convenient trundle-bed that was pulled out in the evening for the children, or often the grown-ups would sleep there if company came. The floor was gay with braided rugs. A tall walnut



bureau, a large chest of cherry wood, a few wooden rockers and some split-bottom hickory chairs completed the main furnishings, and a tall eight-day clock ticked "merrily the minutes away." On the bureau tall candlesticks of brass held homemade tallow candles molded by the careful housewife. The bureau, chest and candle-molds are cherished possessions today.
   The kitchen was a very attractive place, with a good stove and other conveniences not usually found in the pioneer cabins. Its walls were hung with strings of red peppers, mangoes, popcorn and some choice seed corn tied together with the husks and slipped on slender sticks. A great variety of gourds hung from wooden pegs driven into the walls. Some of the gourds were used for dipping water and some, with openings near the slender handles, held rice, dried corn, berries or other household necessities and made fine receptacles. A sputtering two-lipped grease lamp, with cotton flannel wick, or perhaps candle wicking, gave a fitful and feeble light.
   Wild game was plentiful. There were turkeys, deer, geese, ducks, an occasional buffalo, prairie chickens, and quails. Wild grapes, plums, crab-apples, gooseberries, and other fruits gave variety to the fare. Occasionally a bee tree gave up a rich store of honey, and sorghum molasses was a not unimportant provision in the larder of the thrifty housewife.
   In the yard were a well with a long wooden beam, or weep, from which hung a chain and the old oaken bucket, a gourd dipper conveniently near, and a huge excavated log for a watering trough. Nearby was the great ash leach or hopper where the lye could be run off into the log trough to be made into a choice brand of soft soap. Near the kitchen door stood a split log bench where the family might have the tin basin for an early morning wash. There were great iron or copper kettles, suspended on poles or forked sticks, which were used in making soap and hominy and for heating water for the family washing and for



butchering. All these were considered necessary adjuncts to a well regulated pioneer household.
   An incident related by Mr. Henry Culwell, in a paper read before the Nemaha County Historical Society, January 31, 1907, referring to educational advantages, or rather disadvantages, at an early day, may be interesting:

    There were no schools nearer than Brownville or Nemaha City, five miles distant from my father's claim. A man named Grover, on an adjoining claim, taught a subscription school in his log cabin during the fall and winter of 1857-8. Mr. Grover was a bachelor. His cabin was built over a cellar or basement, where he did his cooking on an old time shanghai, or step stove. The pupils would take pumpkin, squash, potatoes and sometimes meat, which could be baked in the oven and were a welcome addition to the oftentimes meager noon lunch.
   This log house was still standing in 1907, after fifty years of constant service. Some of the pupils of that long ago are living in Nemaha county now. The parents of Ben Taylor Skeen, representative in the legislature of 1911, were living on an adjoining claim, and their children attended this school.
   In the fifties the steamboats brought all the merchandise for settlements along the river. Some days there were as many as five or six boats at the landing, loading or unloading freight. They had wood yards all along the route. The officers and passengers were usually very congenial and pleasant people. Many political officers, with their wives, came or passed on the boats, and warm friendships were formed with them. As diversion from the outside world was limited to the visits of these excursionists, when a boat came to the landing there was rejoicing in the village. The elite were often asked for dinner or to a dance on the boat if it stopped over night. When citizens gave a complimentary ball, public officers and other guests got a taste of true western hospitality.
   One occasion of this kind in 1858, at Brownville, is often recalled by old-timers. There was a lively crowd of



young men and women who had been royally entertained by officers and excursionists as they went up the river, and as the boats were to be tied up for the night on the return trip, a grand ball was given in a new building as yet unoccupied, sixty-five or seventy feet in length and used afterwards as a drug store by Henry C. Lett and William H. McCreery. The supper, which promised to he unusually good, was served in a hotel nearby, owned by A. J. Benedict and later called the American House. All the "prominent" people were present. Several parents of children less than a year old, who loved to mingle with the gay crowd, were invited to bring the babies and be care free all the evening; the young people who were giving the ball guaranteeing that the little darlings should be properly cared for.
   Some of the young men in attendance were E. W. Bedford, Robert Teare, D. H. McLaughlin, John L. Carson, Dan L. McGarvey and W. H. Hoover. The young ladies were Inez Belden, Lenora Kennedy, the Brockman sisters, Mattie and Harriet Favorite, the latter now Mrs. W. H. Hoover. The babies were cared for in the little room in the rear of the building. The door was kept closed so that. the noise of the band might not disturb their slumbers. This band was famous throughout the southeast section, the first and best. Its leader was J. R. Dye, who is now living at San Diego, California. When the hour for going home arrived the lights in the little room were purposely lowered. The tired and sleepy, yet happy mothers received the precious bundles from the careful and watchful attendants.
   There was great surprise and indignation among the Mothers when, arriving at home, a lusty boy baby was found in place of a daughter, or perhaps a darling brunette was exchanged for a little red-head. There were then no telephones to expedite a solution of the mysteries. There were few sidewalks, and the process of restoration required hours of weary tramping. Some of the parents lived on



claims adjoining the town, and there was great difficulty in reaching them. The drizzle of the early evening had turned to steady rain, and the tired, sleepy, disgusted and almost distracted parents threatened all sorts of vengeance upon the young folk who had played the cruel joke. Several of the participants in that evening's frolic are living in the vicinity at this time.
   Among the early arrivals was Mrs. McComas, mother of Dr. E. M. McComas and Mrs. Robert W. Furnas. Mother McComas came to the territory with the Furnas family in 1855. Every one soon learned to call her Grandmother McComas as she daily went out among the people bent on kindly deeds, advising, comforting and helping any in sorrow or other distress. Her gentle dignity and beautiful spirit seemed always to breathe a benediction. Two-thirds of the children ushered into life in the vicinity of Brownville during the first twenty years of its existence were crooned over and cared for by this gracious woman In later years Grandmother McComas spent some part of each week at the beautiful Walnut Grove Cemetery, where the beloved daughter and several of the grandchildren were sleeping. One day the little old-fashioned basket which held her knitting was left hanging on the branch of a stately pine which had been planted years before at the grave of a beloved grandson, Phillip Furnas. Perhaps she knew this was her last walk to the quiet place where so many loves and hopes were buried. A short while and the tired hands were folded. They had dropped unfinished the last piece of knitting, a pair of half hose for her friend, Dr. C. F. Stewart, one of the first physicians in that part of the country and who is still practicing. This piece of knitting was with a collection of Governor R. W. Furnas in the State Historical Society.
   As the years passed the region beyond the border of the river began to develop. In 1862 Rev. J. M. Young with some friends, who were seeking a location for colonizing, celebrated the Fourth of July at a point later called Lan-



caster and now a part of the city of Lincoln. This party had with them a flag, which was unfurled, and some patriotic speeches were made. The following Sunday Mr. Young preached what he supposed to be the first sermon in the locality. A Sunday school was established, which, with the church service, was continued for several years.
   Mrs. Young, a zealous, devout woman, was one of the original crusaders led by Mrs. Lewis, mother of Dr. Dio Lewis. This crusade was several years earlier than the Hillsboro, Ohio, crusade led by Mother Thompson--the foundation of the W. C. T. U. work. Mrs. Young brought into the home in the new west the same devout spirit, anxious care for purity, temperance and reform that had led her through the trying ordeals in Ohio. She was a steadfast believer in the efficacy of earnest prayer.
   The Youngs had some means when they came west, but the new life brought much hardship, toil and privation. The first two winters, of 1863 and 1864, were intensely cold. Often for a week no communication could be held with neighbors. Mother Young with her large family bore her share of the hardships and dangers of the community. Frugal fare and rigid economy were necessary, and often they suffered cold and hunger.
   Mr. and Mrs. Young deeded alternate blocks in forty acres of their homestead for the establishment of a school in the interest of the Methodist Protestant church. The block which was devoted to the use of the State Historical Society when the city of Lincoln was platted was a part of this gift. I suggest that the Historical Society have a portrait or place a bronze tablet in the new Historical buildbig in memory of this faithful pioneer couple. The old Stone house at Eighteenth and O streets, built by the Youngs, was considered almost palatial. Its doors were hospitably open for visitors within the town and to friends of other days.
   In educational work Miss, Eliza C. Morgan, preceptress



and teacher in the Normal School at Peru, Nebraska, for more than twenty-five years, was one of the strong pioneer characters. Hundreds were influenced and imbued by her high ideals.
   Another pioneer woman in educational work was Mrs. Ella Taggert Schick, who was the first woman elected to the office of county superintendent of public instruction. Mrs. Schick's election was contested by M. J. Ferm on the ground of ineligibility. Judge Jefferson H. Broady found that there was nothing in the statute prohibiting women from holding the office. Mrs. Schick was an efficient officer; she raised the standard of requirement for teachers' certificates and demanded higher and equal wages for men and women doing the same work.
   Looking back to the fifties and early sixties we recognize the solid rock upon which the women of the new west builded, better perhaps than they then knew. The true home spirit born in rude cabins was fostered and developed at the fireside by the wives, mothers and sisters. The need of school and church as realized and urged by the earnest Christian women was the precursor of the educational and religious progress of the territory.

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