NEGenWeb Project
Kansas Collection Books

Andreas' History of the State of Nebraska
Produced by Diana Busing.

Part 12


A newspaper, called the Fairfield News, was started in Fairfield in June, 1877, by J. H. Case and O. G. Maury. The first issue of the paper was made on the 7th of that month. The establishment of the paper was attended with the most liberal encouragement of the citizens of the town, who guaranteed for it a list of 300 subscribers, eight columns of advertisements and a bonus of $300. The paper was a six-column quarto size, Republican in politics and had a circulation of about 350. After about two years' operation, Case retired from the concern, and it was controlled by Maury for about one year, when it was sold to J. W. Small, the present editor and proprietor. Soon after the paper was started, it was changed to an eight-column folio size, which it has since remained. At the present time, the paper has a circulation of 580 copies, and still retains faith in the political creed of the Republican party. On account of the opinions promulgated by the News on county seat and other local matters, much dissatisfaction and enmity was aroused against it by those holding adverse opinions. So far were those petty disagreements carried, that in opposition to the News a second paper was begun by a stock company, composed of a number of the citizens of the town, to which they gave the name of the Fairfield Herald, the company being known as the Herald Publishing Company. The capital stock of the concern is $1,000, and is divided into 100 shares of $10 each. The company is operated by the thirty-seven stockholders, who meet quarterly and choose and editor, two assistants and a business manager. With the first starting, W. T. Newcomb was chosen editor, and the present editor is S. G. Wilcox.


A post office was established in the fall of 1871, at a point two miles northwest of where Fairfield now stands, called White Elm, and was kept by J. P. Scott, Postmaster. By authority of the proper government officer, the location of the office was changed and brought into the town on June 27, 1873, at which time it passed into the hands of L. Brewer, who was commissioned Postmaster.

The office, after being called by various different names by the citizens, was finally given that which it now bears. Mr. Brewer has continued Postmaster since his first appointment up to the present, with the exception of about seven months, in the year 1881, when H. S. Gould received the commission, but his term of office was exceedingly brief, Mr. Brewer again succeeding to the office, on January 1, 1882.


The Fairfield Lodge, No. 84, A., F. & A. M., began under a dispensation from the Grand Lodge, on September 3, 1880, the first meeting being held in Hopper's Hall, with ten members present. The officers appointed by the Grand Master were B. F. Rawalt, Worshipful Master; O. P. Alexander, Senior Warden, and K. I. Willis, Junior Warden. A charter was granted to the lodge June 22, 1881, there being twenty-two charter members. The lodge then proceeded to organize under the charter, and elected B. F. Rawalt, Worshipful Master; O. P. Alexander, Senior Warden; K. I. Willis, Junior Warden; W. S. Randall, Treasurer; L. F. Fryar, Secretary; J. McDonald, Senior Deacon; B. R. Royce, Junior Deacon; Richard Bayly, Tiler, who were duly installed into their respective offices by J. A. Tulleys, Past Grand Master, on the 26th of July, 1881. The present officers of the lodge, elected December 27, 1881, are B. F. Rawalt, Worshipful Master; O. P. Alexander, Senior Warden; W. S. Randall, Junior Warden; J. W. Small, Treasurer; A. A. Randall, Secretary; John Hedge, Senior Deacon; B. R. Royce, Junior Deacon; George W. Noble, Tiler. The lodge, numbering twenty-five members, composed of the leading business men of the town, is in harmonious and flourishing condition, and is supplied with jewels and all paraphernalia necessary for the performance of the ceremonies of the order.

Grand Army of the Republic.--This organization was formed in August, 1880, consisting of twenty-six members, by Col. Woods, of Omaha, in Conrad's Hall, and W. S. Randall was elected Commander; B. F. Rawalt, Senior Vice Commander; S. J. Anthony, Junior Vice Commander; L. Brewer, Chaplain; D. A. Keeny, Quartermaster; O. P. Alexander, Surgeon; W. H. Fry, Adjutant, and B. R. Royce, Officer of the Day. At a regular meeting on the third Wednesday in December, 1881, G. W. Noble was elected Commander; J. W. Small, Senior Vice Commander; J. C. Hedge, Junior Vice Commander; L. Brewer, Chaplain; J. E. Hopper, Quartermaster; O. P. Alexander, Adjutant; W. S. Randall, Surgeon; B. F. Rawalt, Officer of the Day, and Jeff Ogg, Officer of the Guard. The society met in Conrad's Hall for about three years, when they moved into their present quarters, in Hopper's Hall, where they hold regular meetings on the third Wednesday of each month.

Temperance Alliance.--A few of the people of the town of Fairfield met in the Methodist Church in November, 1881, for the purpose of organizing themselves into a Temperance Alliance for the suppression of the traffic in the sale of intoxicating liquors and to assist in raising up the fallen inebriate. There were only about a dozen persons present, and the organization was effected by electing F. H. Willis, President and B. F. Rawalt, Secretary. Little benefit, however, resulted from the attempt, and what was done was subsequently abandoned. During the holidays of that year, George Woodford, of Illinois, delivered a series of seven lectures on temperance, and an organization was perfected, numbering about 350 members, with B. F. Rawalt, President; F. Malone, Secretary, and Mrs. Clara Brodrick, Treasurer. The society hold regular meetings on the first and third Friday evenings of each month, in the Methodist and Congregational Churches alternately. The Alliance, now numbering 472 members, has been active in the furtherance of the objects of its formation, and has done much toward ridding the town of saloons and in stimulating many who had become besotted with drink to become sober and temperate men.

Fire Department.--Although the town has thus far escaped the destructive influence of fires, yet, acting on the principle, "In time of peace prepare for war," the citizens have wisely made provision for defense against and the suppression of fire. The appliances provided for this purpose consist of a well wind-mill and force-pump; three cisterns, of 300-barrel capacity, are constructed at the intersection of the principal streets, and one 200-barrel cistern near the well, each of these cisterns being connected with the well by means of underground pipes, through which the water is carried to fill them. In each of the cisterns is a wooden pump, by means of which the water is raised into buckets, which are made use of until an engine can be procured. A hook-and-ladder company was organized during the last year, with E. W. Lewis, Foreman, and the department consists of volunteer action on the part of the citizens, the hole in case of fire being under the direction of an engineer, who is appointed by the Town Trustees, together with his assistant. At the present time, D. Howe occupies the position of Chief Engineer, and K. J. Willis, Assistant Engineer. With these appliances, the town is comparatively safe from fire, which has been the cause of materially reducing rates of insurance by diminishing the possibilities of risks.


The first place opened in Fairfield for the accommodation of the traveling public was the Section House, kept by John Clancey, and which was continued until the winter of 1876-77, when W. W. Wattles erected the Exchange Hotel, which now is the only public house in operation in the place. In the fall of 1879, Mrs. C. J. Yates built the Metropolitan Hotel, which she used in the accommodation of guests, but, being confronted with opportunities more suitable to the taste than that of being landlady of a hotel, she soon relinquished the business for pursuits in the matrimonial relation.


Until a very recent date, Fairfield did not possess a single banking institution. The first concern of this kind was established on May 11, 1881, by J. W. Small and W. S. Randall, called the Fairfield Exchange Bank, and is engaged in general banking business, with a paid up capital of $3,000 and deposits amounting to about $12,000.

On the 14th of May of that same year, a second monetary institution became established under the name of the Fairfield Bank by a company composed of W. T. Newcomb, S. J. Anthony and O. C. Hubbell. The concern began business with a cash capital paid up of $2,000, and has a reserve capital of $1,500 and deposits averaging about $8,000, and are also engaged in the transaction of a general banking business. Both of these banks are private institutions.


From the time the town was first started, it has maintained a steady growth, always in the rear of the settlement of the country districts. It is supported by a fertile country district occupied by many prosperous and well-to-do farmers, and it awaits only time for a further development of the country when Fairfield shall become a city of considerable magnitude and importance.


RICHARD BAYLY, of the firm Bayly & Gordon, wagon-makers and repair shops, was born in the township of Southeast Hope, on what was then known as the Huron Track, Ontario; December 15, 1839, where he learned the trade of blacksmith, serving three years, after which he carried on the business for six years, and during that time acquired a knowledge of wagon-making. In 1865, he engaged in the oil business in Enniskillen, Ontario, for three years. In 1868, he went to Chicago, and was employed by the Chicago, Rock Island & Pacific Railroad Company, building shops, stations, etc. He came to Nebraska April 28, 1870, homesteading 160 acres in Fairfield Precinct, and was for six years engaged in farming. In 1876, he engaged in this business, and carried it on for three years, after which he engaged in the implement business in company with Louis F. Fryor for two years. In March, 1881, he again engaged in wagon-making and undertaking, and admitted Charles Gordon in as partner in the following December. Mr. Bayly was elected Commissioner of Clay County in 1873, re-elected in 1876, and again in 1879.

LEANDER BREWER, Postmaster, was born in Tinmouth, Rutland County, Vt., February 15, 1820, and was reared on a farm, residing there until 1848, then moved to Allegan County, Mich., where he farmed until he enlisted, September 30, 1861, in the First Michigan Engineers and Mechanics, serving for eighteen months. Returning to Allegan County, he farmed for several years, then engaged in the milk and dairy business, and also engaged in growing fruit. He came to Nebraska April 25, 1872, homesteaded 160 acres in Lone Tree Precinct, Clay County, and resided on it some two years. He was appointed Postmaster of Fairfield in June, 1873, which position he still occupies, and is also engaged in farming.

JAMES H. CONRAD, druggist, was born at Parkersburg, Va., September 29, 1849, removing to Marengo, Iowa, at the age of ten years; he resided with Dr. J. W. Grant until twenty-one years of age; during five years of that period he studied medicine, and was for two years engaged in practicing. He came to Nebraska in March, 1873, located in Fairfield Precinct, Clay County, and was for a year engaged in farming. Moving into town in 1874, he engaged in livery business, in which he still continues. Shortly after his arrival here, he also engaged in the drug business in company with J. E. Hopper; they dissolved partnership eighteen months later, since which time Mr. Conrad has conducted the business alone. He carries a nice stock of $2,500, and has the oldest established business in this line in town. He was married in Victor, Iowa, July 4, 1872, to Sarah J. Archer, a native of Lisbon, Iowa. They have two children--Winnie and Francis.

JOHN H. EPLEY, wagon work, contractor and builder, was born in Freeport, Ill., in 1842. He learned the trade of millwright and followed it for a livelihood in Illinois and Iowa, and during his residence in the latter State, took a course at the Iowa University. He came to Nebraska in March, 1870; built the Crete Flouring Mills, and was employed in erecting other mills through the State for three years. Mr. E. came to Fairfield in 1873, and was engaged in the mercantile business until July, 1879. He, in connection with this, built a grist-mill at Liberty Farm Ranch, this county, and conducted it until March, 1882. He established his present business in the spring of 1881. Mr. E. was married in the fall of 1875, in Clay County, Neb., to Emma Toms. They have four children--Victor F., Mattie, Claude and Blanche.

JOHN C. HEDGE, manager for Frees & Montgomery, dealers in lumber, etc., was born in Greene County, Penn., in 1844, and reared on a farm in Washington County, Penn. He enlisted March 9, 1865, in the Sixth Pennsylvania Cavalry, serving four months; then went to Illinois, where he was engaged in various employments. Subsequently employed in Fairfield, Iowa, by a coal and grain company. He came to Nebraska in April, 1878, and was employed by his present employers at Edgar, Neb., until he came to Fairfield, Neb., in February, 1880, to take charge of their business at this point. He was elected Town Clerk in April, 1881, and a member of the Town Board in 1882.

DENNISON HOWE, a retired merchant, was born in Montgomery County, N. Y., January 22, 1822, and five years later went to Orleans County in that State, and was reared on a farm, which he afterward followed on his own account. At eighteen years of age, he was engaged as a clerk, which he followed for two years, and subsequently was proprietor of a mercantile establishment at Knowlesville in Orleans County. He came to Nebraska June 10, 1877, engaging in the mercantile business, which he followed for three years, when he turned over the business to his sons, John and George W. Mr. Howe is the owner of 160 acres of land adjoining the town of Fairfield, and has twice been elected on the Board of Trustees of that place.

JOHN E. HOPPER, general merchant, was born in England February 27, 1840, and fourteen months later his parents emigrated to America. He learned the trade of tinsmith in Cleveland, Ohio, working at it from 1856 until he enlisted, July 30, 1861, in the Sixth Michigan Infantry, serving for nineteen months, when he was discharged on account of disability, and subsequently followed his trade in Allegan County, Mich., until he came to Nebraska in March, 1872, at which time he homesteaded 160 acres in Linn Precinct, Clay County, and farmed for about two years, when he came to Fairfield, in the fall of 1873, and took charge of the St. Joe & Western Railroad section-house, which he conducted for two years, then followed the grain business for a few months. In October, 1875, he established a general merchandise business at that place, in company with J. W. Small, who retired in the following April, since which time Mr. Hopper has been alone. Mr. H. was married in Allegan County, Mich., August 4, 1861, to Nancy E. Smith. They have three children--Cora A., Minnie A., and Archie B.

WILLIAM L. HOWE, farmer and stock-raiser, was born in Monroe County, N. Y., April 22, 1859, and reared on a farm; at eighteen years of age, he purchased land in that county, and, in company with his brother, Lewis B. Howe, conducted a large farm. He came to Nebraska in March, 1880, and purchased eighty acres adjoining the town of Fairfield, and, in connection with his brother, Lewis B., farms some 350 acres. He is largely engaged in raising sheep, of which he has some three hundred, and his brother 1,500. Is also engaged in breeding Poland China hogs. Mr. Howe was married at Fairport, Monroe County, N. Y., December 18, 1879, to Hattie E. Lusk, a native of Newark, N. Y.

C. T. MILLS, Sr., manufacturer and dealer in furniture, and undertaker, was born in London, Eng., in 1820, where he learned the trade of cabinet-maker, serving as an apprentice some seven years, and worked at it as a journeyman in that country until 1867, when he emigrated to America and was for two years employed at his trade in Chicago. Then employed on the Chicago & Rock Island Railroad till 1870, at carpentering. Then went to Lincoln, Neb., worked at carpentering till 1872; left there and took a pre-emption; lived on it two and a half years; sold improvements and moved up to Fairfield in 1875, and then was employed on the Burlington & Missouri Railroad as a carpenter; built his store at the commencement of 1881, for the sale of furniture.

WORTHY T. NEWCOMB, of the Fairfield Bank, was born in Portage County, Ohio, in 1850, and educated at Hiram College, Portage County, Ohio, graduating there in 1873, after which he was for two years engaged in preaching in Jefferson County, N. Y. He came to Nebraska in February, 1876, located in Edgar Precinct, Clay County, and was for several years engaged in farming. He then came to Fairfield and carried on a meat market for a year, and in the fall of 1880, joined S. J. Anthony in dealing in live stock, etc., and in May, 1881, organized the bank in company with S. J. Anthony and O. C. Hubbell.

GEORGE W. NOBLE, collection agent, was born in Philadelphia, Penn., March 20, 1844, and there learned the trade of book-binder with his father. Entered the army May 26, 1861, with the Second Delaware Infantry, and was discharged August 13, 1864, and re-enlisted March 21, 1866, in the Second Battalion Eighteenth United States Infantry, and was discharged in 1869. Mr. Noble came to Nebraska in May, 1869, and took the first homestead in Clay County, upon which he remained four years, when he sold his place and purchased an eighty acre tract in the same county. He took up his residence at Fairfield, in 1879, and in the fall of that year was elected Justice of the Peace, to which office he was re-elected in 1881, carrying on also a collection business. He is a member of the G. A. R. and A., F. & A. M., and Vice President of the Old Settlers' Association. He was married in 1873, in this county, to Annie E. Thompson, a native of Columbia City, Ind., and has a family of two boys--John H. and George W.

WILLIAM S. RANDALL, dealer in agricultural implements, was born in Trumbull County, Ohio, in 1840, and reared on a farm in Washington County, Iowa. He enlisted in August, 1861, in the Eighth Iowa Infantry, serving until May, 1866, after which he farmed in Washington County, Iowa. He came to Nebraska in the spring of 1873, and homesteaded in Marshall Precinct, Clay County, residing on it four years, during which period he farmed. He was elected Treasurer of Clay County in the fall of 1876, and was re-elected in the fall of 1877. During his term of office he resided in Sutton. He came to Fairfield in the spring of 1880, and engaged in the implement business in company with L. F. Fryar and in May, 1881, in company with J. W. Small, organized the Fairfield Exchange Bank.

BENJAMIN F. RAWALT, agent for H. Gregg & Bros., dealers in grain, etc., was born in Fulton County, Ill., and reared on a farm. He enlisted August 18, 1862, in the Eighth Minnesota Infantry, serving for three years, after which he farmed in Wabasha County, Minn. In 1869, he removed to De Kalb County, Mo., where he farmed for two years; then in St. Joe, Mo., employed for two years as clerk in a wholesale grocery, after which he traveled in that business through this State, and in April, 1874, engaged in mercantile business as a clerk at Fairbury, Jefferson County, Neb., continuing there for four years, and in August, 1878, he came to Fairfield and engaged in present capacity. In January, 1882, he also engaged in the implement business, and admitted as a partner Eugene Brewer in the following February, and is also a stockholder in the Herald Publishing Company, of this place. Is at present assistant editor and Secretary of the Association.

CHARLES F. SHEDD, of the firm of C. F. Shedd & Co., dealers in grain, etc., was born in Dayton, Ohio, in 1842, and reared on a farm in Lee County, Iowa. He enlisted September 15, 1861, in Company I, Engineer Regiment of the West, serving for thirteen months. He then farmed in Iowa for some years, and was for a year in business in Northern Wisconsin. He came to Nebraska in August, 1873, homesteaded 160 acres in Lone Tree Precinct, Clay County, on which he resided for two years. He came to Fairfield in 1875, where he was engaged in the grain, stock and lumber business in company with Snively & Hedges, and in 1879, he also engaged in business at Frisco, Colo., where he is engaged in manufacturing lumber, etc., and also in negotiating in mines. Was elected President of the Frisco Discovery & Mining Company in December, 1879, and Treasurer of Royal Mountains and Mining Company in 1880. The firm of C. F. Shedd & Co. has branch houses at Edgar, Carleton and Belvidere, and shipped the first grain from Clay and Thayer Counties in 1873. Mr. S. was married in St. Joe, Mo., in 1874, to Mary L. Badger. They have three children--Carrie E., James A. and Hattie May.

ALBERT S. WILLIS, deceased, was born in Cayuga County, N. Y., December 25, 1819. He learned the carpenter's trade, which he followed for some years, and removed to Marquette County, Wis., in 1850, where he also followed his trade. Ten years later, he went to Burr Oak, Mich., where he was engaged in the commission and lumber business; after this he came to Nebraska, and engaged in farming, at which he is still engaged. His son-in-law, William H. Frey, deceased, was born at Noblesville, Ind., March 1, 1840, and followed farming in St. Joseph County, Mich., and enlisted in the First Michigan Volunteers September 3, 1861, serving until the close of the war, at which time he held the rank of Captain of Company B. He came to Nebraska in 1871, and homesteaded 160 acres of land in Clay County, and, in 1876, took up his residence at Fairfield, following the business of Justice of the Peace, collecting agent, etc. In 1868, he married Emma Willis, at Burr Oak, Mich. He died September 19, 1880, leaving a family of a wife and two children--William R. and Lewis.

Top of Page   First Page   Back   Next

County Index