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   JAMES O. BAKER. -- Along manifold lines has this honored early settler exerted influence during the more than thirty-six years since he came to Nebraska. He is a man of broad, intellectual, keen, high ideals and gracious personality, a financier of exceptional business ability, a citizen who commands the fullest measure of popular confidence and esteem. For many years he was a resourceful and progressive executive of the banks with which he was associated and wielded a strong influence in the upbuilding of the substantial financial institutions of Scottsbluff county. Since disposing of his interests in the banking circles of the Panhandle, Mr. Baker has become known as one of the successful and prominent ranchmen of this section, and today is one of the largest landed proprietors in the valley and Scotts Bluff county, making his home in Mitchell.
   James O. Baker was born in Whiteside county, Illinois, June 6, 1852, the son of Captain Reuben and Elizabeth (Hubbart) Baker, the former a native of Ohio, while the mother was born in New York. They both came to Illinois with their parents when children, were reared and educated in that state and later met and were married there. At the outbreak of the Civil War Mr. Baker responded to the president's call for volunteers, and enlisted in the Seventeenth Illinois Cavalry and became captain of his troop. Most of his service was in Missouri, Arkansas and Texas. After peace was declared he was sent west to fight in the Indian country of Wyoming, western Nebraska and Colorado, as the Indians went on the war path in all these states and Kansas about the time the Civil War closed. Captain Baker was mustered out of the service at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, and soon resumed his profession as a preacher of the Methodist Protestant church. He had been ordained before the war and continued to serve the church for many years thereafter, passing away at the hale old age of eighty-two years. He had been a member of the Abolitionist party during the troubled times of the late fifties and early sixties. Mrs. Baker died in Oklahoma in her eighty-eighth year.
   James O. Baker was reared and educated at his boyhood home in Illinois. He was sent to excellent public schools for his elementary education and later to the Methodist Theological Seminary, at Adrian, Michigan, but left before completing his course in that institution. After leaving college the young man took up farming in Illinois and, in 1884, came west, locating at Phillips, Hamilton county, Nebraska, taking a position in the right of way department of the Burlington Railroad which was being built across the state at that time. Mr. Baker remained associated with the road until 1888, when he saw excellent opportunities for the establishment of a bank at Phillips, being one of the organizers of the institution. He became its cashier and capably filled that position until 1901, when he disposed of his stock in the bank.
   From the first Mr. Baker's business career was marked by courage, self reliance and progressiveness, as well as by that dynamic initiative and executive ability that brings normally in their train a full measure of success; and it was his far vision that led him in association with J. W. Wehn to establish banks at Bridgeport, Minatare, Bayard and Mitchell, for he foresaw that this country was to become rich and productive. Under the new organization Mr. Baker became cashier of the Mitchell bank, an association which continued until he sold his interests in the banks in 1903, to invest in irrigated land. In this new enterprise he has given his business the same attention and energy devoted to banking and has gained secure status as one of the representative figures in agricultural circles in the upper Platte valley. As a banker he showed special constructive talent, and through his effective policies furthered, the success of every financial enterprise with which he became associated; since taking up agriculture Mr. Baker has become recognized as one of the representative farmers and progressive and public-spirited citizens of Scotts Bluff county and as such he merits specific mention in a history of the county and the Panhandle.
   Since first investing in land in this valley Mr. Baker has continued to add to his holdings until he is the owner of some nineteen hundred and twenty acres, most of it very valuable, worth from thirty to three hundred and fifty dollars an acre, depending upon its location with regard to the irrigation ditches. More than sixteen hundred acres of his property is rented. In the Ozark mountains Mr. Baker has purchased extensive tracts of heavily timbered land and now holds two thousand, three hundred and, sixty acres which will bring in a fortune when the trees are cut for lumber.
   In June, 1872, Mr. Baker's marriage with Miss Emily Robinson was solemnized on his birthday. Mrs. Baker was a native of Illinois and lived but a few years after her marriage; her death occurred in 1878, at the age of twenty-five years. On December 23, 1882, Mr. Baker married Miss Minnie Brolliar, a



native of Iowa. Mrs. Baker's father, Job Brolliar, was an Iowa soldier in the Civil War. Early in the war, he was discharged, came home sick and died. A few years later, when she was but a little girl, her mother died. She and her orphaned sister and brother attended the public school at Vinton, Iowa. Her education was finished at Iowa City, After which she taught school until she was married. She continued teaching two years after her marriage. She was the first postmistress at Phillips, Nebraska, and held the position for six years. Then she took an active part in her husband's banking business. She was the bookkeeper who never closed up her books until mistakes, if any, were corrected. When the bank at Minatare was started Mr. Baker's partner, Mr. Wehn, wanted her to take charge, insisting that she was a better banker than her husband. Since the Bakers sold their banking interests, she has been prominently identified with all social interests in Mitchell. For two or three years, she was president of the Woman's Club in Mitchell and was the first president of the Red Cross organized at Mitchell. Mrs. Baker is a Past Matron of the Eastern Star. She probably did more than any one woman to make a success of the Scotts Bluff County Fair. A woman of unusual business ability and entitled to a full share of credit for what success Mr. Baker has had. Mr. and Mrs. Baker have a beautiful home in Mitchell, where they dispense a gracious hospitality to their many old, warm friends.
   Mr. Baker is known throughout the upper valley as one of the men who has played an improtant (sic) part in the opening up and development of this section. His faith in the future of the irrigated land led many other men to invest along the Platte and their faith in this section has been justified, for by holding his land Mr. Baker became wealthy. He has taken an active and influential part in civic, county and panhandle affairs from first locating here. He advocates and supports all movements, for the benefit of the country and has given liberally in support of all the activities he believed worthy. For many years Mr. Baker has taken part in the councils of the Democratic party and though he has been urged to do so will not hold office. He makes his headquarters at Mitchell, from which point he superintends the management of his farms. It can well be said that Mr. Baker is self-made, for when he came to Nebraska he had little of equipment in the way of worldly goods, but did have a fair education, the determination to make good and succeed. He made many friends for people soon learned that his word was as good as his bond, and today is rated one of the best known and popular men in western Nebraska. Mr. Baker is a member of the Masonic order, having taken his Thirty-second degree in the Scottish Rite.

    WILLIAM J. EWING, president of the Dalton State Bank, at Dalton, Cheyenne county, Nebraska, has been identified with commercial affairs in the state for many years and since assuming his present office February 1, 1919, has become well known and is held in high esteem by the banking circles over the Panhandle.
   Mr. Ewing was born in Fayette county, Indiana, July 27, 1875, the son of John G. and Emmiline (Shotridge) Ewing. His father was also a native of Indiana, reared and educated there and when President Lincoln called for volunteers to help preserve the Union at the outbreak of the Civil War, he responded when only a boy of fifteen by running away from home and enlisting in an Indiana regiment. He saw some of the hardest fighting during that memorable conflict but lived and returned to his home when peace was declared, to engage in peaceful pursuits. He was a practical farmer by vocation and also an expert saw mill man, an industry in which he was engaged for several years at the same time conducting his farm. During President Harrison's administration Mr. Ewing was engaged by J. N. Huston, treasurer of the United States, to carry on agricultural business and the diversified interests on his land. Being a natural farmer, having tastes that fitted him to make the most of every opportunity available in agricultural pursuits, it was but natural that Mr. Ewing wanted landed property of his own and as Indiana was well settled up, the land there was high so he determined to take advantage of the government land in states farther west. In 1882, he came to Nebraska with this end in view, locating in Polk county where he at once actively engaged in farm activities. Now he is a retired man living at Exeter, Nebraska.
   William J. Ewing was reared in Kansas and Nebraska, attending public schools of both states and thereby gaining an excellent practical elucation (sic) which has been of benefit to him in his varied and active commercial life. While living at home he gained practical knowledge of farm business and when only twenty years old established himself independently in business on a farm in Jefferson county, where for nine years he raised varied farm crops and tells that he sold his corn for nine cents a



bushel and managed to make money at that, so that we know he naturally had great ability in financial dealings. Following this he removed to Fillmore county and again was occupied as a farmer but left the country to engage in mercantile pursuits, running a grocery store for a year, where he gained profitable experience and knowledge with regard to business methods and commercial life. By 1904, Mr. Ewing had gained such an excellent reputation and the confidence of his business associates that he was asked to invoice the store owned by Dan McAleese, for Harry Brown, and the following year was engaged to run the electric light plant in Sidney, but was induced to resign by Mr. Brown and go to Dalton where he became the manager of a store owned by Mr. Brown and several other men. This was a successful undertaking and he determined to branch out in business life, first putting in a lumber yard for the Bridgeport Lumber Company. The active management of the yard was placed in his efficient hands and for nearly thirteen years he was manager of the business. During this time he had accumulated considerable capital by thrift, good investments and a frugal manner of living. Mr. Ewing looked the financial field over and decided that the banking business appealed to him most; he had gained a wide and varied circle of friends during his business life in Dalton, all of whom held him in high esteem due to his careful methods, absolute honesty in all dealings with customers and they all recognized in him exceptional qualities that are necessary for finance. In 1919, on February 1st, he bought an interest in the stock of the Dalton State Bank and at once assumed the management of that thriving institution as president. With his varied experience in financial circles and his marked executive ability the future of the bank looks very bright under the capable guidance of such a man as Mr. Ewing. He has not confined all his energies to business alone, but has willingly and capably taken part in civic and communal affairs as he has been a member of the town board for eight years. In politics Mr. Ewing is a Republican and takes an active part in all local political affairs which tend to the benefit of the community. His fraternal affiliations are with the Independent Order of Odd Fellows, Lodge No. 385 and the Modern Woodmen of America.
   On November 14, 1908, Mr. Ewing married Miss Elsie Poole, at Dalton, the daughter of Sidney and Dora Poole, who were pioneers of Cheyenne county; the former passed away in 1918, at the age of seventy years while the mother now resides near Julesburg. Mrs. Ewing was born in Illinois but her perents (sic) brought her to Nebraska when she was very young and thus she is nearly a native daughter of this state, having been reared and educated in this western section of the great commonwealth. She spent her girlhood on the home farm and attended the local school; subsequently she graduated from the high school in Sidney and having qualified herself to teach was engaged in that profession for seven years previous to her marriage. She is a woman of high attainments and a worthy partner of her successful and progressive husband. They are wide readers of modern literature and the current periodicals and thus keep up with all the, progressive movements of the state and nation. There are two girls in the family: Bessie L., at home and Clara V., to whom all the educational and social advantages of the town and state have been accorded by their parents.

    WILLIAM H. ZILMER, the owner and manager of the Gates City Hotel of Crawford, is one of the most popular hotel men in western Nebraska where he is well known and has a wide clientele among the traveling public. He is an excellent business man of marked ability, who has made a success of various lines of enterprise and is considered one of the substantial and progressive men of Crawford, where he takes an active part in all civic affairs.
   He was born in Stanton county, Nebraska, July 8, 1881, and is one of the typical native sons of this commonwealth, with all the energy and initiative that are credited to the Nebraskan. Mr. Zilmer's parents were August and Amelia (Bramer) Zilmer, both natives of Germany, the mother being born at Potsdam. August Zilmer came to the United States in 1861. Within a short time Mr. Zilmer went to Michigan and secured employment in an iron ore mine, working fifteen hundred feet under ground. Having a sister and brother in-law in Wisconsin, Mr. Zilmer determined to go to them, but as he had no money made the trip on foot from Michigan to Shell Lake. The soil of that locality is poor so Mr. Zilmer, his sister and her husband, Ludwig Beltz, hearing of the rich, fertile lands of Nebraska, determined to come here. They drove through the country in true pioneer style with an ox team and wagon and reached Omaha when that city was a town of only two hundred and fifty inhabitants. The Union Pacific Railroad was laying rails on an ex-



tension at the time, and Mrs. (sic) Zilmer obtained work with the road, soon becoming noted for his great strength, as he could alone lift a rail into place from the ground. For about a year he remained with the railroad and then came to Stanton, Nebraska, and took up a homestead on which he made improvements and proved up. The grant to his land was signed by President U. S. Grant. After living alone for four years Mr. Zilmer married and eleven children were born to the union, only four of whom are now living, two boys and two girls. William was one of the youngest children and had a twin sister.
   William Zilmer was reared on his father's homestead in Stanton county and when a small boy he raised three pigs to make some money, using it to buy some clothes as times were hard. He attended the public schools for his education and worked on the farm in summer time. After attaining his majority Mr. Zilmer remained at home and when he was twenty-seven years old his father gave up the active management of the farm and retired. Mr. Zilmer then took charge and farmed the land on shares. He well remembers the grasshopper years when the pests ate everything, even making holes in the fork handles. A year after taking over the farm Mr. Zilmer was married at Twin Falls, Idaho, to Miss Agnes Bohaboy, a native of Bohemia, who came to this country with her parents. Three children have been born to Mr. and Mrs. Zilmer, Ilo, August and Esther. Leaving the farm Mr. Zilmer lived three years in Idaho, before returning to Nebraska to locate at Valentine. There he ran a hog ranch three years, meeting with success but was offered a good price for the place and sold out to come to Crawford, February 15, 1918. Soon afterward he bought the Gate City Hotel, which is one of the first class houses in western Nebraska. It is modern throughout, has a good reputation for its pleasant accommodations and Mr. Zilmer has gained a fine reputation as host. He is genial, ever ready to accommodate his guests and has so gained a good reputation as an up-to-date hotel man. For some years now he has been well known over this section where he has made many warm friends not only with the usual travelers but through the large automobile trade which is growing each year. His house is a model in its way and no one leaves who has not a good word for the Gate City.
   Since first coming to Crawford, Mr. Zilmer has taken an active part in the affairs of the town, is ready and willing to help in any movement for the upbuilding of the town and its development and is wide awake to all business opportunities. He is a Republican.

   SOLOMON D. HICKEL, one of the progressive and prosperous young, farmers of Dawes county, who is making a success of his business due to his ability and attention paid to farming, is a native son and in his career is displaying all the initiative credited to Nebraskans.
   He was born in Saunders county, July 2, 1884, the son of Granville and Malinda (Woods) Hickel, being the fifth in a family of eight children consisting of five boys and three girls. His father was a pioneer settler of Saunders county, locating there in 1871. He took up a homestead near the present site of Wahoo. Granville Hickel was a successful farmer and man of affairs, taking part in his community and served one term as State Representative and one term as State Senator, being elected on the Democratic ticket.
   Solomon Hickel was reared on his father's farm and educated in the public schools near his home. He then entered the high school at Ashland and graduated. While still a boy he began to trap animals for their pelts, selling the muskrat skins at a profit, so that he early learned to make money. He remained at home until he was twenty years old and a year later, March 11, 1905, was married in Ashland to Miss Gertrude Sherman, the daughter of John and Mattie (Wood) Sherman, being the oldest of their five children. Mrs. Hickel was educated in the public schools and at Ashland. Her father was descended from General Sherman and was one of the pioneer settlers of Lancaster county, where he farmed for many years. He lived to see the many changes come to Nebraska and sold his land for two hundred and fifty dollar an acres in 1920. Mr. Sherman has now retired from active life and lives in Lincoln.
   Solomon Hickel came to Dawes county in 1918, bought a half section of land eight miles north of Whitney and later leased another half section nearby. He has placed good improvements on his farm, introduced modern methods of farming which he finds pay and is regarded as one of the substantial men of his locality. He is keeping abreast of all agricultural business, is energetic and a hard worker so that his farm is paying a good income to him for the capital invested. General farming is carried on at the Hickel place also some stock is raised, all with an eye to the eventual success of the ranch. Mr. Hickel has made his own success and it has been through his



own initiative and the determination to succeed that he has taken a place in the ranks of the prominent agriculturists of the Whitney locality where young men are coming to the front as the great producers of the day. Mr. Hickel takes active part in all civic affairs connected with his community and supports all the movements for the development of the county and his home district, He is a member of the Methodist church.

   FREDERICK N. SLAWSON, the efficient county clerk of Cheyenne county, who resides at Sidney is a man of diversified talents. Along manifold lines has this pioneer school teacher of Nebraska exerted benign influence during more than a quarter of a century of continuous residence in Cheyenne county. He is a man of broad intellectual; keen, high ideals, and gracious personality--a citizen who commands the fullest measure of popular confidence and esteem.
   Mr. Slawson is a native of the Keystone state born at Clara, Potter county, August 14, 1873, the son of Hugh and Alice E. (Brooks) Slawson, also natives of Pennsylvania who were born, reared, educated and married in that state. They were ambitious people, who believed that a greater future and fortune lay before them in the west than among the mountains of their youth and with stout hearts, high courage and a determination to succeed over every obstacle came west, locating in Cheyenne county near Lodgepole in 1884. Here Hugh Slawson used what money he had in the purchase of land and also homesteaded a hundred and sixty acre tract. He erected the usual sod house of this locality for the first home and began breaking the soil in order to put in his first crop. Mr. and Mrs. Slawson worked together to make a success of their farm; they soon had good and permanent improvements for that day and when blizzard, drought and insect pests drove many of the other settlers to sell out and return to their old homes in the east, they held on, their faith in this section could not be broken and though they suffered and endured privations and hardships kept their courage high and in the end won a comfortable fortune which they enjoyed in their later years. Mr. Slawson became recognized as a progressive and prosperous farmer and stockman in this section, specializing in high grade stock. In later years, after the country was better settled, he also engaged in the dairy business, in which line he met with marked success. From time to time, as his capital permitted, he purchased land adjoining the original homestead until he had six hundred and forty acres of the finest farming land in the Pole Creek valley. A considerable estate for a man to accumulate in twenty-five years by his own unaided efforts. Mr. Slawson was a member of the Democratic party but never aspired to office, as his time and energies were entirely taken up by the varied agricultural pursuits in which he engaged. He died at Lodgepole, Nebraska, a man of honor and years. Mrs. Slawson survives her husband and is still living on the old home place, near Lodgepole. She has been a devoted mother and loving helpmate and companion for more than a half-century--a woman whose strength has been as the number of her days and who had a remarkable share in pioneer experience in the great west and the development of this section of Nebraska.
   Frederick was twelve years of age when he accompanied his parents to the pioneer home in Cheyenne county. He had already attended school in the east and after coming to the Lodgepole community received such instruction as was available in the frontier community. His career as a representative of the pedagogic profession began at an early date as he was but seventeen years of age when he began to teach school in a sod house without floor or plaster for the munificent sum of twenty dollars a month, and boarded himself. He became a well known and popular teacher in Cheyenne and Keith counties, spending several years in professional life before he determined to establish himself independently as a farmer. He filed on a homestead in the vicinity of Lodgepole, made some good and permanent improvements on it, proved up and was engaged in general farming pursuits for nearly ten years, meeting with gratifying success in this business venture. After this considerable period on the farm he rented the property and again taught school in Cheyenne county and Lodgepole, following this vocation until the fall of 1896, when the residents of his community elected him to the responsible office of county clerk which he filled in such an able manner that he was re-elected in 1918, and is still the incumbent of that office. Mr. Slawson is a farsighted man of varied attainments who has ever had faith in this western country, he keeps abreast of the times and does not confine his interests to one line nor his activities either for he was one of the prime movers and an organizer of the Liberty State Bank of Sidney. During his agricultural life and also while professionally engaged he had accumulated a large capital and with the growth of food production in the



middle west saw that the financial institutions of the section were bound to prosper and so he bought a large block of stock, in fact the controlling interest in the bank at the time of its organization and became its first president. This progressive banking house opened for business April 5, 1919. Mr. Slawson is playing a large part in the upbuilding of the business of the bank and his influence will be potent in furthering its development along progressive but conservative lines that will win the confidence of the residents of the section which it is called upon to serve.
   Mr. Slawson is quite active in political circles in Cheyenne county and though not a member of the Democratic party usually casts his vote with it in national affairs but is not bound by party lines in local elections, voting for the man most efficiently prepared for offices of trust in the giving of the people. He is not a member of any denominational church but is interested in all church work.
   June 30, 1898, Mr. Slawson married Miss Flora Gonson, a native of Ohio, who came to Cheyenne county with her parents in 1885, and with them shared the vicissitudes of a frontier home, developing into one of the sturdy, gracious daughters of this commonwealth. Her parents were Lewis A. and Elizabeth (Harper) Gonson, natives of the Buckeye state who came to this county and took up a homestead in the early eighties, where the father engaged in farming until his death. The mother now resides at Kearney. Mr. and Mrs. Slawson have one son, Hugh L., who enlisted at Fort Logan when President Wilson called for volunteers when the United States entered the World War. After completing his military training he was sent to France where he served for a year as a member of the quartermaster's department. He received his honorable discharge at Fort Russell, Wyoming, and has returned home.

    GEORGE B. LUFT. -- A man whose high ideals were crystallized into large and worthy achievement and unequivocal righteousness in all of the relations of life, the late George Bowman Luft was an honored pioneer of the Nebraska Panhandle and in an unassuming way he left large and worthy impress upon the history of this section of the state. He became one of the leading business men and influential citizens of Scotts Bluff county, and was still actively engaged in business in the city of Scottsbluff at the time of his death, which occurred on the 15th of July, 1915. His character and has achievement marked him as a man who stood "four square to every wind that blows," and this publication exercises a consistent function when it enters a tribute to his memory.
   Mr. Luft was born at Warsaw, Hancock county, Illinois, on the 31st of May, 1858, and was a representative of one of the well known and highly honored families of that locality. There he was reared to adult age and there he received the advantages of the public schools of the period, though he was still a boy at the time of the family removal to Nebraska, where his parents became pioneer settlers and where he continued his educational work in the schools of the day. At the age of seventeen years he assumed a position as clerk in the mercantile establishment of Herman Diers, at Seward, the present judicial center of the county of the same name. Later he was similarly employed in a store at Aurora, Hamilton county, and, in 1885, he became one of the pioneer settlers in that part of old Cheyenne county that now constitutes Scotts Bluff county. He filed entry on a homestead three miles south of Gering, the present county seat of Scotts Bluff county, and eventualy (sic) he perfected his title to this claim. Upon the founding of the town of Gering he removed to that place and entered the employ of the Markham Mercantile Company, which opened one of the first business establishments in the village. He was thus engaged from 1886 to 1888, and he then became associated with W. H. Charlesworth in the conducting of a drug store at Gering. Eventually he purchased his partner's interest and assumed sole control of the enterprise, which he continued in an individual way until 1889, when he removed to the new town of Ashford, Banner county, where he engaged in the general mercantile business and where he remained about three years. He then, in 1892, returned to Gering, where he was engaged in the same line of business until 1900, when he removed to Scottsbluff and established the first dry-goods store in the present metropolis of Scottsbluff county. Eventually he consolidated his business with that of the Diers Brothers, under the firm name of Luft & Diers Brothers, and a grocery department was added to the representative establishment. He continued as general manager of this representative business concern until 1910, when he sold his interest to the Diers Brothers and engaged independently in the handling of men's furnishing goods, with a specially modern and attractive establishment to which his personal popularity and the effective service rendered, attracted a large and representative trade. He continued this prosperous enterprise until the

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