NEGenWeb Project
Resource Center, On-Line Library



fairs. In 1890 he was elected assessor of Tabor precinct, an office of which he was the incumbent two years. In politics he has ever been unfaltering in his allegiance to the Democratic party, and he is well fortified in his opinions concerning public affairs. Mr. Chambers helped organize school district No. 2 and was a director for eight consecutive years.
   In 1905, Mr. Chambers established a general store at Minatare and he built up a large and prosperous business, to the conducting of which he continued to give his attention until impaired health led him, in 1915, to sell the business and stock to his son-in-law, E. H. Johnson. He still owns the building in which this store is located and he also owns and occupies one of the attractive residences in the village of Minatare.
   June 22, 1880, recorded the marriage of Mr. Chambers to Miss Jennie Wicks, of Des Moines, Iowa, where she was reared and educated. In conclusion is given brief record concerning the children of this sterling pioneer couple: Alfred B., who was born April 15, 1883, and who is a successful farmer in Montana, married Miss Olga Dalquist, of that state; Frederick R., born May 18, 1888, married Miss Selma Dalquist, of Montana, and they reside in Valley county, that state; Laura Belle, born December 4, 1890, is the wife of E. H. Johnson, a leading merchant at Minatare; and Leo L., born September 14, 1993, married Miss Estella Duncan and they now reside at San Diego, California.

    ROBERT J. HARSHMAN is a popular representative of one of the sterling pioneer families of Scottsbluff county, and the name which he bears has been prominently and worthily linked with the development of the Minatare vicinity, where he himself has done much to foster civic and industrial progress.
   Robert James Harshman was born in Tama county, Iowa, March 22, 1865, this date indicating beyond peradventure that his parents were numbered among the pioneer settlers of that section of the Hawkeye state. He is a son of Theodore and Rebecca (Thompson) Harshman, both natives of Fayette county, Pennsylvania, where the former was born in 1841 and the latter in 1844, their marriage having been solemnized in 1861. About the year 1864 Theodore Harshman and his wife established their home on a pioneer farm in Tama county, Iowa, and this property he effectively reclaimed and developed. There he continued to reside until 1885, when he sold the farm, and came with his family to what is now Scottsbluff county, Nebraska. One-half mile north of the present village of Minatare he took up homestead and tree claims, to both of which he perfected his title in 1892. In the meanwhile he had made excellent improvements on the property and in addition to his activities as a pioneer agriculturist he had also found much demand for his services as a blacksmith. He established the first blacksmith shop in the valley, also in the village of Minatare and in the building was maintained also the local postoffice, he himself having served as the postmaster. He and his wife were honored pioneers of this locality, where they ever commanded the fullest measure of popular esteem and where they continued to reside until their death.
   To the public schools of Iowa, Robert Harshman is indebted for his youthful education and he was there graduated in the Collins high school as a member of the class of 1886. He then came with his parents to Nebraska, where he likewise gained pioneer honors in the settlement of the portion of Cheyenne county that is now included in Scottsbluff county. In 1886 he took up a homestead claim four and one-half miles northwest of Minatare, and upon this he established his residence. Later he entered a timber claim adjoining, and he proved up on his claims in 1892. On his homestead he continued to reside fourteen years, successfully engaged in agricultural and stock-growing enterprise, and he then sold the property, after which he removed to Nine-mile Canyon, where he was engaged in raising cattle during the ensuing nine years. He then located in the village of Minatare, where he was engaged in the hardware and implement business for five years. After disposing of this business he was for five years a traveling representative for the International Harvester Company, and for some time after severing this relation he sold threshing machines for the great factory of M. Rumely Company. At the present time he is giving his attention principally to the restaurant and soft drink business, and is one of the representative citizens of Minatare.
   At intervals Mr. Harshman has been actively concerned in the construction of irrigation ditches in his home county. He and his father and brothers built about fifty per cent of the Minatare ditch, and he was identified also with the construction of the Winter Creek ditch. He has been loyal and vigorous in the support of public enterprises, including the building of churches and school-houses, such undertakings in the early days having depended



entirely upon popular subscriptions for their carrying out. Mr. Harshman and his brothers, with the co-operation of a few neighbors, built the first schoolhouse at Minatare. He was for five years treasurer of the Minatare irrigation ditch and for several years was secretary of the Winter Creek ditch. In politics he is a Democrat, and fraternally he is actively affiliated with the local organizations of the Modern Woodmen of America and the Knights of Pythias, in each of which he has passed the various official chairs.
   At Wellsville, Cheyenne county, in 1892, Mr. Harshman wedded Miss Mary Rosenbrook, and concerning their children brief record is given in conclusion of this review: Roy T. conducts a men's furnishing store at Bridgeport; Estelle, bookeeper (sic) in a hardware store in this village; Fred W., who is now at the parental home, served eleven months in the national army during the period of the World War, and at Jacksonville, Florida, he was promoted to the rank of sergeant of his company; Alice and Leone, remain at the parental home, the former having been graduated in the Minatare high school as a member of the class of 1919.

    ARMENAG SlMONlAN is one of the comparatively few Armenians who can claim pioneer distinction in Scottsbluff county, and here he acheved (sic) a large measure of success in connection with the development and operation of one of the pioneer ranch properties of the county. He is now living virtually retired at Gering and is a citizen eminently entitled to recognition in this history.
   Mr. Simonian was born at Bitlis, Armenia, on the 19th of March, 1868, and he acquired his rudimentary education in the far distant country of his nativity. At the age of twelve years, in company with a younger brother, Hiram, he came to America and joined an older brother, Isaac, who was then living at Ludlowville, New York. There the two younger brothers were enabled to attend school at intervals, and there Armenag initiated his practical service by working on a farm, for eight dollars a month. In 1885 he came to Nebraska and after remaining one year with his brother Isaac in Lincoln county he made the overland trip to Cheyenne county, with horses and wagon. He and his older brother, Isaac, settled in the vicinity of Scottsbluff, where they engaged in farming and stock-growing. Finally he made entry on a pre-emption claim, besides purchasing a relinquishment on a tree claim. To make the requisite payments he borrowed money from the bank at Gering and paid interest at the rate of four per cent a month. With unremitting energy he applied himself to the development and improvement of his land, and with the passing years abundant success attended his efforts as an agriculturist and stock-raiser, so that definite prosperity came as his just reward. He perfected his title to both claims and retained the property in his possession for many years, special attention having been given to the raising of horses and cattle. He still owns a well improved tract of seventy acres, northwest of Gering, and is now living practically retired. His brother Isaac, who died in 1897, was one of the well known pioneers of what is now Scottsbluff county and commanded unqualified popular confidence and esteem. Mr. Simonian is a Republican in politics, is affiliated with the Modern Brotherhood of America and is an active member of the Presbyterian church.

   GEORGE SOWERWINE is most consistently to be accorded consideration in tihs (sic) history, by reason of his being one of the sterling pioneer agriculturists and stock-growers who have aided greatly in the civic and industrial development of Scottsbluff county. He owns one of the well improved and valuable landed estates of the county and is a venerable citizen to whom is accorded the fullest measure of popular confidence and esteem in the county that has long been his home. He not only gained wide and varied pioneer experience in the west, but also rendered valiant service as a soldier of the Union during the stormy epoch of the Civil War. Mr. Sowerwine is now living virtually retired, in a pleasant home at Gering, the judicial center of the county.
   George Sowerwine was born in Delaware county, Indiana, on the 19th of June, 1843, and is a son of Christian Sowerwine, who was born in Virginia, who became a farmer in Indiana and who later was a pioneer agriculturist in Iowa, where he died when about seventy-seven years of age. The subject of this sketch was about eight years old at the time of his mother's death and was a child at the time of the family removal to Iowa, where he was reared and educated under the conditions and influences of the pioneer days. In 1859 he equipped himself for the long and perilous journey across the plains to California. He was at the time a lad of sixteen years and from Council Bluffs he started forth with an ox team for the New Eldorado. In due time the plodding train of ox teams reached California, and there Mr. Sowerwine contin-



ued in the quest of gold until a higher duty confronted him, when the Civil War was precipitated upon a divided nation. At the age of eighteen years he enlisted in the United State Cavalry and with his command, under two enlistments, he served in the Indian campaigns in the west during the progress of the war between the north and the south. He continued in military service four years, two months and seven days, and had many trying and hazardous experiences in campaign work. By reason of this valiant service during a stirring period in the history of the nation he is eligible for and affiliated with the Grand Army of the Republic, in the affairs of which he has maintained deep interest as its ranks have been rapidly thinned by the one invincible antagonist, death.
   After the termination of his military career Mr. Sowerwine returned to Iowa, where he engaged in farming and where also he was identified with coal mining for some time. In 1886 he came to that part of Cheyenne county, Nebraska, that is now comprised in Scottsbluff county, and as a pioneer he filed entry on both homestead and pre-emption claims, to which he eventually perfected his title. He here engaged in general farming and stockgrowing under the adverse conditions that marked the early period in the history of the county, but the passing years brought to him cumulative success and he developed one of the fine farm properties of this section of the state. He has been specially active and influential in the development of the irrigation facilities of the county, assisted in the construction of the Winter Creek ditch and was president of the company which built the same. He also aided in the construction of the Central ditch on the south side, and this supplies irrigation for his fine ranch of 422 acres, which he now rents. He is also interested in an oil prospect in this part of the county, and though he is living retired at Gering he still takes lively interest in all things that touch the welfare and progress of his home county and state. He is Republican in politics. At Gering he is affiliated with Post No. 265, Grand Army of the Republic.
   December 27, 1868 recorded the marriage of Mr. Sowerwine to Miss Elizabeth C. Marquis, who was born in Michigan and who was reared and educated in Iowa, where she was a popular school teacher prior to her marriage. She is a daughter of John W. and Margaret (Scott) Marquis, who were born and reared in Ohio, where their marriage was solemnized and when they removed to Michigan, where the father became a farmer, as he did later in Iowa, whence he came as a pioneer to whas (sic) is now Scottsbluff county, Nebraska. In 1888 Mr. Marquis here took up a homestead, which he developed and improved and which he finally sold to Nellie M. Richardson. When well avanced (sic) in years he removed to Grand Island, and there he died when about eighty-four years of age, his wife having died at Palisade, Hitchcock county, when she was sixty-seven years of age. Of the seven children of Mr. and Mrs. Sowerwine four are living: Clarence and his wife live in Oklahoma and have one child; Morris is a resident of California and is the father of four children; Eugene, who resides at Gering, Scottsbluff county, has two children; Mabel is the wife of Elmer Sherman, of Gering, and they have five children. Mr. and Mrs. Sowerwine lived up to the full tension of the pioneer days in Scottsbluff county, and here their circle of friends is limited only by that of their acquaintances.

    MELVIN MILLER was an infant at the time when his parents became residents of Nebraska, and as this removal occurred somewhat more than forty years ago it must be conceded that pioneer honors are to be ascribed to the parents. Mr. Miller has, been actively identified with farm enterprise in various counties of the state since he arrived at maturity, he became successful as the owner of one of the best equipped barber shops in Scottsbluff county, and in the city of Scottsbluff he served two years as chief of the police department, an office in which he gave a most satisfactory administration and from which he retired several years ago.
   Mr. Miller was born in Henry county, Iowa, June 24, 1877, and in the following year his parents came to Nebraska and located near Fairmon (sic), Filmore (sic) county, where the father was engaged in farming for a year thereafter. Melvin Miller is a son of William J. and Calfrenia (Welch) Miller, both natives of Scott county, Illinois, where the former was born April 7, 1843, and the latter on the 19th of January, 1848,--dates that show that the respective parents were numbered among the pioneers of that state. William J. Miller was reared and educated in Illinois and there became the owner of a farm, as he did later in Henry county, Iowa, where he remained until 1878, when he came with his family to Nebraska, as noted above. From Filmore (sic) (sic) county he removed to York county, where he purchased land and was successfully engaged in farming for fourteen years. The following five years



he passed in Gosper county and he then sold his farm in that county and removed to Phelps county, where he passed the residue of his life, he having been seventy three years of age at the time of his death and his widow being now a resident of Scottsbluff, where she is a revered member of the family circle of her son Melvin, whose name introduces this sketch.
   The public schools of Nebraska gave to Melvin Miller his early educational advantages and he was reared to the sturdy discipline of the home farm. At the age of eighteen years he initiated his independent career as a farmer in Gosper county, and in 1901 he came to Scottsbluff, where he engaged in the barber business, to which he gave his attention for four years. For the ensuing four years he was again a devotee of the basic industry of agriculture, and at the expiration of this period he sold his farm in Phelps county, and returned to Scottsbluff, where he was engaged in teaming for two years. He then resumed his active alliance with the barber trade, and his ability and popularity enabled him to build up a very prosperous business, with a well equipped and essentially modern shop of five chairs. After conducting this shop two years he was elected chief of police of the city, and of this office he continued the incumbent two years. In politics he is a staunch Democrat and has taken an active part in the local campaigns, of his party. Fraternally he is found affiliated with the Modern Woodmen of America.
   At Lexington, Dawson county, on the 26th of July 1902, Mr. Miller wedded Miss Ethel J. Godsey, a daughter of Samuel Godsey, now a resident of Scottsbluff. Mr. and Mrs. Miller have two children--Donnell, born in July, 1903, and Louise Imogene, born November 19, 1904.

    LABANNAH A. MONTZ, who is one of the progressive representatives of agricultural and live-stock enterprise in Scottsbluff county and who is a citizen of marked intellectuality and civic loyalty, is a scion of a family whose name has been worthily linked with Nebraska history for nearly two score years, his parents having come to this state in the year of his birth and he being a twin brother of Martie R. Montz.
   Labannah Alvesta Montz was born in Clinton county, Missouri, on the 7th of February, 1884, and a few months later his parents established their residence in Hall county, Nebraska. His father, Martin Montz, was born in the state of New York, July 22, 1858, and was nine years old at the time of his parents' removal to Missouri, where he was reared to manhood and received the advantages of the common schools of the locality and period. At the age of sixteen years he found employment as a farm hand, and in Missouri he continued his association with farm industry until his removal to Nebraska. In 1881 was solemnized his marriage to Miss Gertrude Ossman, who was born and reared in Missouri, and of their children, three sons and three daughters are living. In the summer of 1884 Martin Montz came with his family to Nebraska and engaged in farming in Hall county, but in 1886 he removed thence to Banner county, where he filed entry on a homestead and a tree claim, which he developed into a productive and valuable farm. There he continued his activities as an agriculturist during a period of about fifteen years, at the expiration of which he removed to Scottsbluff county, in 1901, and established his residence upon the farm which was the home of himself and his wife for several years When they moved to Scottsbluff, where they now reside.
   Mr. Montz was reared in Banner county, where he profited fully by the advantages of the public schools, and after the family removal to Scottsbluff county he was for one year a student in the. high school in the city of Scottsbluff. For more than four years thereafter he rendered effective service with a government corps engaged in making geographical survey in western Nebraska, and in 1905 he filed entry on the homestead which is the stage of his present successful activities as an agriculturist and stock-grower. He has made good improvements on his farm, which comprises eighty acres and which is situated in section ten, township twenty-three, range fifty-five, about eight miles distant from Scottsbluff, which is his postoffice address.
   Mr. Montz is a man of well fortified opinions concerning public affairs, is actively affiliated with the Nonpartisan League and is an influential member of the Farmers' Union in his locality, he having been one of the organizers of the same. On his farm he has an attractive home that is known for its generous hospitality, with his wife as its gracious and popular chatelaine.
   On Christmas day of the year 1918, was solemnized the marriage of Mr. Montz to Mrs. Julia A. Wallace, of Scottsbluff, she being a daughter of George Dunham, a well known citizen of Scottsbluff.

Prior page
General index
Next page

   © 1999, 2000, 2001 for NEGenWeb Project by Pam Rietsch, Ted & Carole Miller