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THOMAS L. O'HARRA.
THOMAS L. O'HARRA, who may well be called one of the progressive men of western Nebraska because of his continuous efforts to advance her interests, has been a resident of this state since his eighteenth year, and of Gering since the spring of 1915, in which city his business is extensive and his political prestige important. He was first elected mayor of Gering in 1917.
Thomas L. O'Harra was born in Decatur county, Iowa, August 19, 1870, a son of Elijah and Jane (Peterson) O'Harra. His father was born at Columbus, Ohio, in 1848, a son of Thomas O'Harra, who was born in Ireland and came to the United States from Dublin in young manhood. He was a farmer and stocker in Ohio until his death at the age of seventy-nine, in the early eighties. Elijah O'Harra married Jane Peterson, who was born at Galesburg, Illinois, in 1852, and died in Nebraska, February 27, 1909. Her father, Captain James Peterson, was born in Pennsylvania, moved to Missouri later in life, served in the Civil War as an officer, and on a visit to his old home in 1863, died at Chillicothe before reaching his destination. Four children were born to Mr. and Mrs. O'Harra, two of whom survive: Thomas L. and Morris G. The latter was born August 22, 1883, and was graduated from the high school at Lexington, Nebraska. He holds the very important office of district manager of the western division of the United States Rubber Company, with headquarters at Minneapolis, Minnesota. In 1888 the father homesteaded in Gosper county, Nebraska, has been farmer all his life and now lives retired at Grand Island.
Thomas L. O'Harra attended school in Iowa before the family came to this state, and in 1891 was graduated from the high school of Bertrand, Nebraska. For a few years afterward he followed farming, then spent several years in a general mercantile business, after which he went into the meat and stock business in which he is yet engaged. In March, 1915, Mr. O'Harra came to Gering, opening up an extensive market, the first livestock market established at this place. For twenty years he has shipped to South Omaha, while his local trade is exceedingly heavy.
In March, 1892, Mr. O'Harra was united in marriage to Miss Lottie McDonald, who died in March, 1897, the mother of three children: Earl L., who is associated with his father in the meat business; Milo P., also connected with is father in business, and Fleta L., a kindergarten teacher. In 1902 Mr. O'Harra married Miss Maud M. Johnson, a highly accomplished, educated lady, who had been a teacher in the public schools and for eight years had been county superintendent of Gosper county. Mr. and Mrs. O'Harra have two sons, Morris I, and Thomas, both of whom are in school. The family belongs to the Christian church.
Fraternally Mayor O'Harra is an Odd Fellow and a Mason of the Royal Arch degree. In politics he has long been active in Democratic circles and is in close accord with the best party elements. Since 1917 he has been vice president of the school board of Gering and in the above year was first elected mayor, subsequent elections following. His administration of this office has been very beneficial to Gering. A citizen of positive patriotism, a true American, he has helped to win success during the last few years of financial stress, for every war loan, assisting in putting the last one over the top by $10,000. He has given encouragement. to many of Gering's worthy enterprises and is always ready to contribute and coöperate for the city's good, a very charitable man, portraits of whom, with one of his father and brother, appear on the opposite page.
S. B. WRIGHT, cashier of the Guardian State Bank and Trust Company, is also a leading and prominent loan, insurance and abstract man of Box Butte county. He has been identified with numerous financial enterprises here and established a high reputation for ability, judgment and general acumen. His introduction to Alliance was in the roll of district agent for a life insurance company but it was not long until he became associated with banking affairs and since that time his rise has been sure, rapid and satisfactory to himself and his many friends. Mr. Wright is possessed of that push and dynamic energy that insures success for whatever undertaking he assumes and has caused him while yet a young man to become one of the prominent factors in the financial life of Alliance and the Panhandle.
He was born on a farm near Springfield, Missouri, and was reared on the home place, attending the district school during the term and helping on the farm as soon as his age and strength permitted, thus at an early age he became acquainted with the business side of farm industry, Later the family left Missouri and moved to Columbus, Ohio, where the boy entered the Bliss Business College and also to a special commercial law course in the Young Men's Chistian (sic) Association night school, which he finished in 1903. Mr. Wright well remembers the first money he earned by pulling weeds in a neighbor's corn field at twenty-five cents a day and used the money to
assist him through the business college. Soon after finishing the commercial course he accepted a position with a life insurance company and within a short time was transferred to Colorado by the Missouri State Life Insurance Company. There he assumed the duties of district agent and later was transferred to Nebraska in the same capacity but added the duties of loan inspector in 1914 with headquarters at Alliance. A year later he went into business for himself, carrying general insurance, farm, ranch and city loans, meeting with marked success in this new venture and making a very satisfactory income from his varied interests. Mr. Wright displayed marked executive ability in all his business dealing here and in the county, which was quickly noted by other men engaged in financial affairs so that he was asked to become associated with the Guardian Trust Company in 1917. It had an authorized capital of $100,000, Mr. Wright assuming office as secretary and treasurer of the concern. In July, 1919, the Guardian State Bank was organized with Dr. C. E. Hershman, president; Thomas Katen, vice-president and Mr. Wright, cashier; practically the same personnel as to officers as the trust company has. The new banking house opened with a capital stock of $50,000 and so far has been doing a most satisfactory business with rapidly increasing deposits, for the men who have charge of its affairs have long stood high in the esteem of the business men of the city, for they are conservative in their dealings, yet constructive in methods and let no opportunity slip that will benefit the trust company or bank.
Mr. Wright also is an active member of the firm of Wright and Wright, which does a general insurance and the returns from the various lines handled by them are bringing in satisfactory returns for the time, energy and thought put into the business.
On November 10, 1906, Mr. Wright was married at New Lexington, Ohio, to Miss Agnes Thompson, a graduate of St. Alloysius Academy of that city. The Wrights have a modern home in Alliance on one of the best residence streets, Big Horn Avenue, and in addition Mr. Wright owns several desirable properties which he has built for sale to meet the rapidly growing demand for homes. He has one of the rental agencies of Alliance which works in well with his loan and insurance business, his far vision in real estate and his sound banking methods, and is a citizen of whom Alliance may well congratulate itself, for it is the men of the younger generation with their untiring energy who are writing the history of the Panhandle in deeds that are making this one of the favored sections of the middle northwest.
CHARLES W. JEFFERS, now one of the leading real estate dealers of Alliance is a pioneer settler of Nebraska and has lived in the Panhandle for nearly three decades so must be accorded the honors due to those who located here when northwestern Nebraska was "the frontier." He has witnessed the many changes that have been brought about, while in the work of development he has aided in many ways.
Mr. Jeffers was born in Wood county, Ohio, June 15, 1864, being the son of Joseph and Elizabeth (Smith) Jeffers, the former a son of the Keystone state while the mother was a Buckeye. Charles was the oldest of five children in his own family and the youngest of nine half brothers and sisters, as both his father and mother had been married before and had families of their own. He was reared on his father's farm and attended the district school near his home to acquire educational advantages until 1873. That spring his mother died and his father passed away the same year, leaving the boy to his own resources and though just a little lad he was compelled to go to work. He remembers well the first money he earned planting corn with a hand corn planter, for which he received fifty cents a day in 1872, and putting some more with the three and a half dollars bought a pair of boots with copper toes, which became quite the envy of the rest of the small boys. After the death of his parents he worked for strangers, first shucking corn then went onto a farm where he worked vacations, Saturdays and late in the afternoons, going to school the remainder of the time. For two years he was thus enabled to pursue his studies at school but after that all the education he could get was by studying at night but he was ambitious and even by this slow method managed to secure a good practical foundation upon which to build a business life. Some of the money he earned had to go toward supporting his younger brothers and sisters. Later Mr. Jeffers came west to Iowa, where he worked for a man named Maine, who was an extensive dealer. He was soon promoted to foreman of the farm and handled many thousand dollars for his employer, buying up cattle in the surrounding states. He also handled many government contracts for Mr. Maine and thus gained a wide and varied knowledge of business. In 1883, he came to Central City, Nebraska, as
foreman of a gang of men who were engaged in grading for a railroad contracting firm known as Owen Brothers, as they were then constructing the road bed of a railroad from Central City to Erickson with a branch running to Ord. The next year Mr. Jeffers took land in Hamilton county which he farmed until coming to Alliance on March 2, 1891, when he entered the service of the railroad in the shops. Starting in the cinder pit he was advanced to engineer of a passenger engine on the main line but resigned in 1899 and engaged in carpentry, a trade he had learned some years previously and continued to work for the company repairing cars for a while. In the fall of that year he took up a homestead in Garden county, twenty-eight miles southeast of Alliance and when the Kinkaid act was passed filed on a section. He put good and permanent improvements on the place and remained engaged in agricultural industries for five years. In the meantime, he had been appointed deputy sheriff under Ira Reed, serving two years before he was elected constable and also deputy sheriff, filling both these offices at the same time under Calvin Cox. Four years later he was appointed chief of police of Alliance and was chief police officer of the city until May, 1917, having held the office of constable all these years. During his terms in office Mr. Jeffers had to handle the wild element brought into the town and county by the saloons which ran wide open and by his double office could pursue his man beyond the three mile limit and proved a most efficient official at a time when life and property in the Panhandle were held rather lightly; for Alliance was a junction town of the two railroads and rough, unruly men congregated there and he can tell many enlightening and interesting experiences of that day. On November 17, 1892, Mr. Jeffers was married at Phillips, Nebraska, to Miss Anna Miller, a native of Ohio, whose brother, James W. Miller, was sheriff of Box Butte county in 1919. Mr. and Mrs. Jeffers have two children: Gladys, a graduate of the high school is engaged as ticket seller at the Imperial theatre; and Vera, at home. Mr. Jeffers owns a modern home in Alliance, while. his office is in the Reddish Block, where he conducts a real estate and insurance business which is very successful due to the many friends he made in public life and the reputation he has attained for square dealing and his ability to work. He and his family are members of the Methodist church and fraternally he is an Odd Fellow. November 20, 1920, Mr. Jeffers was again appointed chief of police of Alliance, which shows the confidence the citizens have in his ability to maintain law and order.
FRANK ABEGG. -- More than eight year's connection with the banking interests of Box Butte county and Alliance, during which time he has risen from a clerkship to be cashier of the First National Bank, has made Frank Abegg one of the best known figures in financial circles of the Panhandle and western Nebraska. He was born in Wapello county, Iowa, April 7, 1895, being the son of Walter and Catherine (Smith) Abegg, and was the second child in the family, which consisted of five people. When the boy was six years old his parents moved to Blakesburg, Iowa, where his father established the Blakesburg Savings Bank, with which he has been continuously associated to the present time. Young Frank well recalls the first money he made for himself when but a small child for he was not much more than six years old, when he began to sell the Chicago Tribune in Blakesburg and was induced by his father to put the money he earned in the bank and thus start a small savings account, and this excellent habit formed in early youth has stood him in good stead he says throughout all his business career, and to this day he always puts all his spare cash to his account which grows without his really knowing it to most satisfactory proportions. Mr. Abegg attended the public schools of Blakesburg where he laid the foundation for a good practical education to which he has been so constantly adding all his life as he is a wide reader of the best literature, and of course specializes in banking. Walter Abegg believed that every child should learn to work and thus know the value of the money he earned, and while he was abundantly able to support his family not only in comfort but luxury he had the boys start in at some industry as soon as their age and strength permitted and so young Frank at the age of fourteen went to work carrying mortar for a stone mason at a dollar and seventy-five cents a day, working at this trade for two and a half years. Frank was given his board at home but out of his earnings bought his clothes and was allowed fifty cents a week spending money. He thought this rather hard but later learned that the surplus was always credited to his account in the bank and when he grew older he had a goodly sum to his credit so that his father was really a much better parent than one who would have let his children squander their money on useless and unhealthful pleasures,
while they at the same time learned habits of thrift and frugality.
When only sixteen years of age Mr. Abegg held a position as time-keeper for the Milwaukee Railroad on some of their construction work and in 1912, came to Alliance to enter the First National Bank as bookkeeper. From that time to the present he has been identified with banking matters, always advancing, and today he is cashier of the First National one of the strongest and most substantial banking institutions in the Panhandle and throughout the state. Mr. Abegg is considered one of the capable, careful and conservative bankers of Box Butte county, and is a man whose personal integrity and probity have done much to conserve the interests of the institution and to gain and hold the confidence of the public, Mr. Abegg is a stockholder and director of the bank and has proved his worth by the enviable record he has made within little more than a decade. He is a man who can meet all kinds of people, is popular with all the business men of Alliance and the surrouding (sic) country and while yet young has attained a prominent place in the financial circles of the state so that his future looks most promising.
On November 16,1916, Mr. Abegg was married to Miss Mary A. Newberry, the daughter of Chenia A. and Ellen (Brennan) Newberry, the father a native of Michigan. Three children have been born to this union: Walter E., Frank Jr., and Rita Ellen, for whom the parents intend good educations to fit them for life. Mr. Abegg is a Republican in his political views, while his fraternal affiliations are with the Elks and the Knights of Columbus.
S. A. MILLER, a pioneer of the state and also of Box Butte county who has materially assisted in the opening up and development of the commonwealth and the Panhandle, was following several vocations before he located in the city of Alliance as he was in turn, cowboy, ranch manager, farmer and now is a business man of prominence who has become one of the dependable and substantial citizens of this community, and in all his various lines of endeavor his versatility enabled him to make a success of whatever he has undertaken. Mr. Miller was born May 27, 1864, in Knox county, Illinois, the son of Daniel and Elizabeth (Humphrey) Miller, the former a native of West Virginia. The boy was reared in Illinois and went to the country school, two and a quarter miles from his home until his tenth year when he was forced to go to work and the education started in Knox county was finished in the good, practical but expert school of "hard knocks," which teaches its pupils well by a strict discipline but the lessons so learned are never forgotten. For six years the boy worked on a farm by the month but when sixteen years old determined to do better for himself and as he had learned of the fine opportunities in the plains country came west in 1880. He secured work in Dawson county on the Colton ranch under George Nelson. Mr. Miller had only nine and a half dollars when he left Illinois and with his companions drove across country in true pioneer style using a covered wagon for the trip. He earned his first money on Nebraska soil making posts at Buzzard's Roost, near Eddyville and remained there about a year. When Mr. Colton sold his ranch to Dayton and Company, Mr. Miller remained with the new proprietors who owned another large tract of land on Dry Cheyenne river, where he and other members of the outfit spent the summers with a large herd of cattle. In the fall they returned with the herd to the home ranch to ship to the eastern markets. In 1887, Mr. Miller came to Box Butte county and the following year, located a homestead twelve miles southwest of the present city of Alliance, where he built the regulation sod house of the pioneer, made suitable shelters for his stock and kept "bachelors hall" as he says. Money was very scarce on the plains at that early day and the first winter here Mr. Miller made money to buy his supplies by gathering up buffalo bones of the animals that had died on the prairies and sold them to W. W. Norton of Alliance, who shipped them east for fertilizer.
On September 9, 1889, Mr. Miller was married at Nonpariel to Miss Mary C. Sipson, of Nemaha, county, a true daughter of the state, whose father Alfred, had been born in England and was an early settler of Nemaha. Mr. Sipson spent most of his life in the United States as his parents brought him to America at the age of four. Mrs. Miller is the oldest of the five children born to her parents. After coming to Alliance to live Mr. Miller owned and managed a dray line for about sixteen years but disposed of it in 1907, and in May, 1911, bought the fixtures of a shoe store from John W. McNamara and opened an up-to-date shoe house, located at 305 Box Butte Avenue, carrying a general stock of men's and women's shoes. In 1917, Mr. Miller went to Chicago where he took a special course in practipedics on the science of giving foot comfort to people suffering from fallen arches
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