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   I was born in the city of New York, March 10, 1820. My father was an English gentleman, using that word in the English sense. My mother was a descendant of a Huguenot who fled from France to England to escape persecution, and from thence to the colony of Massachusetts in 1635. He was one of the proprietors and settlers of the town of Norwalk, Connecticut, in 1651. His descendants down to the present time have participated in all the wars of the colonies and of the American Revolution; I had three ancestors in that war, and through their heroic services I am now a member of the Society of the Sons of the American Revolution. My father died when I was three years of age, and though he left me, by will, an ample competence, I never received a penny of it. How it so mysteriously disappeared I never knew. I was brought up by my mother, who did the best she could for me through difficulties and hardships until I was fifteen years of age, when a situation was procured for me in a dry goods store. I continued in this business until I was twenty-one. At that time a merchant whose acquaintance I had made proposed to me to go into business and outlined his plan, which was to go to North Carolina in the turpentine region and open a store, he was to ship me all the merchandise needed. I was to sell the same and remit proceeds to him in cash or naval stores. I accepted his proposition with alacrity; it was a big thing for me to have an offer to enter into business on my own account without any capital of my own. I went to North Carolina and began operations. It was a success

   'For a biography of Mr. Gwyer see History of Nebraska, II, 82.--ED.



from the beginning. He sent me the goods as wanted and I sold them and remitted salary, and the endless chain worked beautifully. At the expiration of three years we dissolved partnership and divided the profits, which was satisfactory to both parties. I then removed to Wilmington, North Carolina, and began business as a commission merchant in cotton and naval stores. My business grew with great rapidity. I made money rapidly. I became the most extensive consignee of cotton and naval stores in the city. I continued in this business until 1856, when the demon of unrest got possession of me. I had conquered what I had set out to do, acquired a fortune, at the early age of thirty-six; but I was not satisfied. I had read glowing descriptions of the great West, and had conceived an ambition to assist in the building of new states. These ideas took full possession of me, and under their inspiration I closed up my business and went north to Minnesota, Iowa, and Nebraska.
   I reached Omaha in the autumn of 1856. I found here a population of about 1,000 inhabitants, nearly all young men, very few women. All had come here to grow up with the country and make their fortunes. They were mostly impecunious, but they were able and brilliant men--students, scholars, lawyers, surveyors. I doubt if their equals could be found in proportion to numbers anywhere in the United States. J. Sterling Morton, secretary of the territory, Doctor George L. Miller, Andrew J. Poppleton, William N. Byers, Joseph W. Paddock, Jesse Lowe, Alfred D. Jones, William D. Brown were here at that time, and others whose names I cannot now remember. The Douglas House, corner of Harney and Eighteenth streets, was the only hotel, and it was filled to overflowing. Here many of the residents, speculators, lot owners, lawyers and adolescent statesmen congregated to talk lots and lands and to fire the hearts of all new arrivals with the certainty of future values, the fortunes to be made by buying lots on



Farnam and Douglas streets. All you had to do was to buy to-day and sell to-morrow. When I look back I am inclined to think I was hypnotized. I began buying. I bought largely. I spent many thousands of dollars for city lots and farm lands. There was no legal title to any of them. The title for city lots came from the speculators who surveyed and laid out the city, and the title to farm lands came from the squatter who claimed all he could see about him; and it was contended that these inchoate titles would ripen into good and valid deeds. But I found, after I had made my purchases, that the best title was a shotgun well loaded, and that even this was not effectual unless you stood guard night and day. This would do very well if a man owned only one lot or tract.. But I could not subdivide myself enough to be effective on all the various lots or tracts of land I owned; hence I was a victim. I learned the lesson at much cost.
   In process of time2 Congress passed an act called the town site act, but this act included only 320 acres, and Omaha included more than 1,000 acres. Here then was an opportunity for cunning, craft, or graft. The corporate authorities were authorized by the act to locate the town site and give valid title, but where should they locate it on this 1,000 or more acres. This was an important question. All within the 320 acres could procure a good and valid title and none outside the line had any title but the shotgun. Thus a good deal of property was lost by those who had confided in the specious arguments that the title would be made good. It was about the same with the farm lands. The homestead act, the most, efficient act ever placed on the statute book and which did so much to settle up the state of Nebraska, allowed 160 acres as a homestead; but every squatter north of the Platte river claimed everything in sight and sold to every victim who presented himself, taking care to have a shanty or anything that could be called a
   2May 23, 1844.U. S. Statutes at Large, V, 657.--ED.



house on the tract that he called his home. All the remainder that he had found a victim for was without title, and nobody could obtain one without settling upon the land and complying with the terms of the homestead law and other laws applicable to public lands. Thus many thousands of dollars were lost by confiding purchasers.
   I spent part of the winter of 1856-57 at Bellevue. There, as at Omaha, were some able men. I recall General Silas A. Strickland, Judge Leavitt L. Bowen, Ex-Governor McComas of Virginia,3 Henry T. Clarke and others. This was the first settled town in Nebraska. It was founded by the Presbyterian board of foreign missions.4 Mark you, foreign missions, not home missions. Way back in the
   3 The habit of investing newcomers with titles, strongest and most common on the frontier, is doubtless due mainly to a desire thus to enhance the gain to the community through its distinguished citizenship; and, naturally, the rules of the game are not very rigid. It does not appear that Virginia ever had a governor called McComas.--ED.
   4 It is incorrect to say that Bellevue was founded at any specific time or by any specific person or organization of persons. In the decade of 1820-30 it became a popular rendezvous or stopping place for white traders with Indians. In, or not long before, 1830 Drips and Fontenelle, who had working relations with the American Fur Company, erected a permanent building there to accommodate their Rocky Mountains trade. Some time between October 1, 1831, and September 30, 1832, Lucien Fontenelle sold his establishment to John Dougherty, Indian agent, for agency purposes. The agent's report of October 30, 1832, appears to be the first agency report dated at Bellevue. Though the agent had visited Bellevue from time to time previous to this date, to attend to the business of his agency, his headquarters was at Cantonment Leavenworth in 1828, 1829 and 1830. Bellevue was formally founded by an act of the first legislative assembly of Nebraska, approved March 15, 1855, which granted a charter to the City of Bellevue. Bellevue became a permanent settlement some time, but not very long, before 1830.
   Three of the four quarter sections comprising the land of the Presbyterian Board of Foreign Missions are in section 36, township 14, range 13 east. The other quarter is in section 1, township 13, range 13. The date of the patent from the United States to the board is April 10, 1858; it was filed June 11, 1858. Walter Lowrie and others formed it into a plat of Bellevue which was filed June 18, 1858. A plat of Anderson's addition to Bellevue, comprising twelve blocks, was filed not long after.--ED.



East the good people, anxious to save the souls of the heathen, procured from our beneficent government a grant of 640 acres of public lands, to assist in the regeneration of the pagan Indians by teaching them agriculture.5 They were taught to raise corn, pumpkins, squashes, etc., whilst imbibing the knowledge of the white man's God. There is no record of how many Indians were converted, or how much it cost per soul, but I saw some spindling stalks of corn there which may have had some nubbins on them. The town was growing, the town site is exceedingly beautiful, perhaps the most beautiful in the state, the people were enthusiastic about their town and very jealous of the growing importance of Omaha. When the territory was organized in 1854 and the counties were laid off and bounded, the county of Douglas extended south to the Platte River and west to the Elkhorn River. But the people of Bellevue and the settlers of the south end of Douglas county were dissatisfied with existing conditions. Jealousy was the progenitor of dissension, and the turbulent spirits were determined to clip the wings of Omaha. The best way to accomplish this object was to divide the county and make a way by which ambitious spirits could be sent to the legislative assembly. There was no reason whatever why Douglas county should be
   5 Section 13 of the treaty of March 16, 1854, by which the Omaha Indians ceded to the United States all their lands in Nebraska except a reservation for their own use, is as follows:

   The board of foreign missions of the Presbyterian church have on the lands of the Omahas a manual labor boarding school, for the education of the Omaha, Ottoe and other Indian youth, which is now in successful operation, and as it will be some time before the necessary buildings can be erected on the reservation, and [it is] desirable that the school should not be suspended, it is agreed that the said board shall have four adjoining quarter sections of land, so as to include as near as may be all the improvements heretofore made by them; and the President is authorized to issue to the proper authority of said board a patent in fee simple for such four quarter sections. U. S. Statutes at Large, X, 1043.
   In his Nebraska in 1857, page 88, James M. Woolworth, mentioning this incident, remarked that "those savages insisted upon the cession of the land occupied by the Mission to the parties in charge of it."--ED.



divided other than ambition and jealousy.6 For these reasons Sarpy county sprang into existence. It was named Sarpy after a French trader, Peter A. Sarpy, who had a trading post at Bellevue years before the territory was organized. I had some peculiar experiences at Bellevue. The Presbyterian Board of Foreign Missions was doing nothing in the line of converting pagan Indians and had conceived the idea of laying off a town site, issuing shares of stock and selling them. When I arrived they were selling at $1,000 per share, calling for 25 lots each. I bought some and afterwards bought some lots of other parties until my holdings amounted to 150 lots. In the summer of 1857, anxious to build up the town, I established a brick plant. I had clay and wood in abundance and made two kilns of brick, about 200,000. I sold a moderate amount when sales began to slack and I concluded to erect a brick store. I built the store up two stories and had all the material on the ground--rafters, roof boards, shingles and flooring ready for building rapidly, when there came one of those gyrating, twisting, whirling devils, peculiar to Nebraska and Kansas. It smote that store, twisted it around and levelled the structure to the ground, then lifted up all the materials and debris to the clouds, and when it got tired let go and scattered everything over the prairie. The people seemed to think it was a special dispensation of providence in their favor and appropriated the whole. God was good to give them so much building material for nothing. Some time after it was all done I was passing that way and found a man with a crowbar digging up the
   6 The true history of the creation of Sarpy county shows that it was inspired by the positive wish and probably by a justifiable jealousy of the rights and interests of the residents of the district which comprised the new county. For an account of the struggle over the establishing of Sarpy county see Nebraska State Historical Society, Collections, XVI, 98-114. The cause of the strong popular feeling in favor of separation from Douglas county is stated in the majority report of the select committee of the council printed on page 109 of the volume cited.--ED.



foundation stones and carrying them away. I said nothing. Why should I object? He might as well have them as anybody, for some one would surely take them.
   I now have an experience to relate which is seemingly incredible, but it is absolutely true. I had built a well on the lot which was about a hundred feet deep and bricked up from the bottom. It was the only well on the hill, the people procuring their water from the numerous springs at the foot of the bluff. It cost about $200. All the town had the use of it. I had rigged it up with windlass, rope and buckets. It was apparently a public blessing at my expense. Soon after the house blew down, the rope and buckets disappeared, then the windlass was invisible, and in due time the bricks began to go, and this continued until all of them were appropriated. I thought the thing was ended and there was nothing more for the appropriators. I passed the place a year afterward and found an enterprising man had squatted on my lot and claimed it for his own. Thus was completed the stealing of the well, by stealing the hole in the ground. I paid taxes on my lots for many years, until I became exhausted and quit. The last I heard about them, a new speculator on others' misfortunes was fencing in the town for his personal use as a farm. My total loss on Bellevue was about $12,000.
   I occasionally drove down to the Platte, where a little settlement was forming, and I made the acquaintance of Richard Hogeboom and General Larimer.7 I had formerly
   7 William Larimer, Jr., came to Nebraska in 1854 and was a member of the House of Representatives of the second legislative assembly. As president of the Larimer City Town Company, General Larimer filed a certificate of the claim of the site of the company, comprising the east half of section 27, township 13, range 13 east of the first principal meridian, on July 20, 1857. The present town site of La Platte borders on the northern part of the east boundary of the projected Larimer City. As president of the La Platte City Company, oil April 1, 1857, he filed a declaratory statement claiming parts of sections 30 and 31, township 13, range 14 east, comprising 313.20 acres, as the site of La Platte City. This site is in the extreme corner formed by the junction of the Platte with the Missouri River.



   He was born on October 24, 1809. His birthplace is within the battle-field of Gettysburg. Removing to Pittsburg, he became a merchant, a banker, and president of a short line of railroad. He was also major- general of the western division of the Pennsylvania militia. In 1858 he removed from Nebraska to Leavenworth, Kansas, and in the fall of the same year he went to the Pike's Peak gold fields and assisted in starting the city of Denver. A principal street of the city and a county of the state bear his name. The biographies cited say that he built the first house in Denver, but, like all claims of this "first" sort, this one is stoutly denied. Early in 1863, probably, Larimer returned to Leavenworth where on August 12 of that year he became captain of Company A, Fourteenth Regiment Kansas Volunteer Cavalry and served until the regiment was mustered out in June, 1865. Though his physique was stunning, he rose to no higher rank than the captaincy. Fort Scott, Kansas, was the headquarters of the regiment during its entire career, and its colonel, Charles W. Baird, was commander of the post. The regiment was actively engaged in frontier warfare. Captain Larimer returned to Leavenworth at the end of the war and died there May 16, 1875. He was of rolling stone "advanced" disposition. He was a radical abolitionist before he left Pennsylvania, and he championed the cause of woman suffrage in Nebraska, for which he suffered ridicule by politicians in general and J. Sterling Morton in particular. He joined the Liberal Republican movement in 1872, and was a candidate for the office of presidential elector on the Greeley ticket. He was president of the board of trustees of the institution for the blind at Wyandotte and a member of the board of managers of the reform school at Leavenworth. The National Cyclopedia of American Biography, IV, 390; XIII, 515; Appleton's Cyclopedia of American Biography, III, 618; Annals of Kansas, pp. 356, 493, 583, 584; Kansas Historical Collections, VI, 456; VII, 446, 452; VIII, 519, 530; XIII, 72; Bancroft's Works, XXV, 370, 424.
   In both of the biographies here cited it is erroneously said that Captain Larimer was colonel of the Third Regiment Colorado Infantry. Under date of January 31, 1918, Mr. J. C. Smiley, Curator of the State Historical and Natural History Society of Colorado, wrote to the editor as follows:

   In reply to your inquiry in relation to the military record of Colonel William Larimer, I submit the following statement from our records:
    "Early in the autumn of 1862, Governor John Evans was authorized to recruit another regiment, of which General William Larimer was to be Colonel under instructions from Washington and which was to be Third Colorado Infantry. The difficulties in filling the ranks of the Second Regiment should have suggested those which attended and to a great extent, negatived the Third. However, the Third was undertaken with some enthusiasm and determination. At that juncture General Larimer, realizing the improbability of completing the regimental organization, withdrew his connection with it."

   We have no record of General Larimer's further military service during our Civil War.--ED.

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