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Kansas Collection Books

Andreas' History of the State of Nebraska

Nemaha County
Produced by
John McCoy.

Topography | Pre-Historic | Early Settlement

First Fourth of July | Reminiscences | Jayhawking
Organization | County Seat Troubles

War History | Official Roster | County Buildings | Railroads | Ferries
Farmers' Clubs | Grasshoppers | Agricultural Society

Nemaha County Mills | Bridges | Educational | Religious | Progress
Statistics of Property | National and State Officials
Brownville:   Early History | Pioneer Incidents | Surveys and Additions


Brownville (cont.):   Incorporation | Official Roster
Nemaha Valley Insurance Company
The Brownville Stone and Stone Coal Company
The First Telegraph Line | The First Train of Cars | Storm and Flood
Express Robbery | Educational | Religious | The Press


Brownville (cont.):
United States Land Office | River Improvements | Post Office
Masonic And Other Organizations | Library Association and Lyceum
Hotels | Banks | United States Express Company
Walnut Grove Cemetery | Manufactories | Attorneys and Physicians
Carson | London

 8 ~ 10:

Biographical Sketches:

PART 11:

Peru:  Early History | Societies | Education | The Press
Railroads and Business Interests | Personal and incidents

PART 12:
Peru (cont.):  Biographical Sketches
PART 13:

Nemaha City:  Early Settlement | Organization | Education
Religious | Societies | The Press | Business Interests

PART 14:
Nemaha City (cont.):  Biographical Sketches
PART 15:

North Auburn:  Early History | Religious | Educational | Societies
Press | Hotels
South Auburn:  Religious | Societies | The Press

PART 16:
North Auburn & South Auburn:  Biographical Sketches
PART 17:
Brock:  Biographical Sketches
PART 18:
Aspinwall:  Biographical Sketches
PART 19:

Johnson & Clifton:  Biographical Sketches
St. Deroin - Febing - Bedford:  Biographical Sketches

PART 20:

Other Towns:  Biographical Sketches

List of Illustrations in Nemaha County Chapter

Part 17


This thriving town, located on a prairie, near a belt of timber, on the east bank of the Nemaha River, ten miles above Sheridan, was laid out in November, 1854, and first called Dayton. Since the first settler, George Shroap, located there in the fall of 1855; the place has had frequent changes of name--from Dayton to Howard, from that to Clinton, and lastly, Brock. In March, 1882, the post office name was changed from Podunk to Brock. The frequent changes were made by the whims of the old settlers. Dayton, Howard and Brock (the present name) were given in honor of individuals; Clinton, for the city of the same name in Iowa; and Podunk, by some wags, in a spirit of fun or derision.

The earliest settlers in the immediate neighborhood were Jacob Delay and family, Lawrence Kennison and family; and Phillip and family. The first comer was Jacob Delay, who came in advance of the others and made his way to La Fayette Precinct, within a mile of what is now the town of Brock. Finding the climate healthful, the soil of unsurpassed fertility, he determined to make a home there, and returned for his family and friends. The three families -- Delays, Kennisons and Starrs--who had been residing near Danville, Vermillion Co., Ill., rigged their " prairie schooners " and made their way to the then almost untrodden wilds of what was then Forney, but soon became Nemaha County. The only available crossing of the Missouri at that early date (the fall of 1854) was called Otoe Ferry, several miles below Fort Kearney--now Nebraska City. They all took claims and proceeded to make themselves homes in what might be called a wilderness. For a few weeks, they were compelled to dwell in tents, but comfortable log cabins were erected in time to protect them from the wintry blasts. The three men who led in the pioneer enterprise--Jacob Delay, Lawrence Kennison and Phillip Starr--are all dead, but Mrs. Jane Delay, the widow of Jacob, and a large number of their descendants, still dwell in the vicinity, and are esteemed by their neighbors. The first settler in the village, George Shroup, was engaged in freighting a number of years; went out on a campaign against hostile Indians, and, some fifteen years ago, ended his life by suicide. The first marriage in the settlement occurred in December, 1855, between David Kennison and Miriam Delay. The first death was Jacob Delay, the pioneer and founder of the little colony. This event occurred in January, 1855, and cast a profound gloom over those who had followed him from far off Illinois.

The first school in the neighborhood was taught in 1858, by Truesdall Ruder, at the house of Phillip Starr, near the Nemaha bridge. At the same place, Miss Lucy Bishop taught some thirty-five pupils, in the same house. The first schoolhouse erected in the district, a mile from Brock, was built in 1866, and since that time, the town and vicinity has been blessed with excellent schools and first-class teachers. The present schoolhouse is a frame, three-fourths of a mile from town, and cost $700. Miss Mary Starr has charge of the school. Present enrollment, 112. The first sermon preached in the settlement was in July, 1855, by Rev. John Ray Taylor. a clergyman of the Methodist Episcopal Church. He organized a society of ten members, and from that time to the present, that denomination has held regular services. The first meeting was held at the house of Phillip Starr. It has been the custom of the three religious organizations in the town--Methodists, Baptists and United Brethren--to hold their meetings at private houses; but, now that the town has grown, and is growing in importance, efforts are being made to erect three church edifices in the village.

The first post office was established in 1856, when Dayton was the name of the office, and Lawrence Kennison was first Postmaster. Those who have held the position since were Jonathan Higgins, B. C. Barker, J. Andrews, Charles Haywood, J. M. Campbell, James H. Brown, John Brown. The last-named person has held the office two years, and is the present Postmaster. In the "good old times," only a weekly mail was vouchsafed the people, Postmaster Kennison frequently bringing it from Nebraska City, a distance of twenty miles. At the present time, Brock has a daily Eastern mail, brought by the Missouri Pacific trains. When the road is completed--in July, 1882--the Omaha dailies will be received in Brook by 9 o'clock A. M., on the same morning they are printed.

The first grist-mill was built in Brock in 1867, by D. C. Sanders. It is located on the Little Nemaha, within the town limits. Four years since, the property was purchased by W. H. Starr, who has won for it an excellent reputation. In addition to supplying his home market, he sends his flour to Peru, Nebraska City, Sheridan, Calvert, Brownville, Syracuse and other points. When he purchased the mill, Mr. Starr expended $1,000 in making needed repairs.

There is but one resident clergyman--Rev. John A. Dixon, of the Methodist Episcopal Church. Through his energetic efforts, a substantial building for public worship will be erected during the year 1882. For a series of years, the people of the village purchased their supplies in Nebraska City and Brownville, but in 1867, James H. Bradley opened a stock of goods near the bridge, and soon built up a thriving trade, but at the end of two or three years, his stock was removed. He was soon succeeded by J. M. Campbell, A. P. Bird and John H. Brown.

The three organized religious sects have the following numbers of members: Methodists, organized in 1854, sixty members; Baptists, organized in 1875, twenty-two members; United Brethren, organized eight years ago, have less than a dozen members.

The Missouri Pacific trains have been running to and through Brock since the middle of February, 1882, and already the town has been very favorably affected by the coming of the iron horse. In addition to the neat and commodious depot, twenty-six stores and dwellings have been built in the town since October, 1881. Two liberal and public-spirited business men of Brook, J. M. Campbell and W. H. Starr, donated to the Missouri Pacific twelve acres of land for depot grounds.

At the present time, Brook contains an active, intelligent population of nearly two hundred people, and is rapidly increasing. The principal business houses are: Bailey & Murr, hardware; J. M. Campbell, John H. Brown, C. A. Brown, Popejoy & Buck, general merchandise; Smith & Robertson, drugs; Chicago Lumber Company, in charge of Frank Carman; two blacksmiths, one millinery store, one harness shop, one shoe store, two hotels, two livery stables, one meat market, one restaurant, two physicians. The only benevolent organization is Howard Lodge, No. 63, I. O. G. T. The lodge was instituted in 1881, and the following-named persons fill the most important offices: William Jewell, Worthy Chief Templar; J. M. Campbell, Worthy Vice Templar; Martha Campbell, Secretary; George Townsend, Treasurer; Belle Campbell, Chaplain; E. Adams, Marshal. The lodge at the present time numbers 110 members. The members of the I. O. O. F. will make a successful effort to organize during the year. Like Sheridan, Calvert and Nemaha City, the town of Brook is enjoying a first-class boom, and is rapidly growing in importance. The incorporation of the town will be effected the present year.

Unlike too many Western communities, Brock been barren of tragical incidents in her early history, for the simple reason that her pioneers were sober, temperate people, and the sale of alcohol has never been recognized as a lawful traffic. Dissipated people have not found a cordial welcome, nor has any man been licensed to deal fiery liquids to corrupt the morals of the citizens.

Six miles from Brock, on the Missouri River Railroad, and five miles from Sheridan, a town called Glen Rock has been laid off, side tracks laid, and preparations made for commencing house-building. The location is near the Nemaha River, the ground slightly rolling.


CAPT. R. V. BLACK, farmer, P. O. Brock. This gentleman, one of the first settlers in the well-known Illinois Settlement, was born in 1832, in Paris, Tenn. Three years later, his parents, William and Mary Vaughn Black, settled in Scott County, Ill., and twelve years later moved to Cass County, Ill., where his mother died aged seventy-six, and his sire still lives at the age eighty-seven. R. V. Black enlisted in 1862, as a private in Company F. One Hundred and Fourteenth Illinois Volunteer Infantry, Army of the Tennessee, and served in and about Memphis, once defeating the rebel Gen. Forrest and building the Round fort and the Vicksburg ditch. Prior to the final investment of Vicksburg, he was with his regiment at the battles of Champion Hill, Black River Bridge and Jackson Miss. On the 3d of July, 1863, the day before the fall of Vicksburg, his regiment, 900 strong, was sent back to Black River to confront Gen. Johnston and his rebel army; by a clever ruse, the display of a battery and about one thousand empty tents, Johnston was kept quiet until the arrival of Gen. Sherman and his army. In September, 1863, private Black was promoted to Captain of Company H, One Hundred and Fourteenth Illinois, and in that capacity sent back to Memphis, and from there took part in the disastrous Guntown raid. He was also at the great battle of Franklin, where his uncle, the rebel Gen. Vaughn, was killed. After taking an active part in the siege and capture of the forts at Mobile, and a service of several months on a military commission instituted for the trial of spies, desperadoes, etc., Capt. Black received his honorable discharge at the close of the war, and in August, 1865, settled where he now lives in Nebraska, homesteading his land; he has made all the improvements upon it, and creditable ones they are, as may be seen by a glance at his roomy residence and buildings, and his twenty acres of grove and orchard. The Captain is a Republican, and a member, with his wife, of the Christian Church. In 1878, he was elected County Sheriff, and served efficiently for one term. He married, in Menard County, Ill., Miss E. J. Smedley, by whom he has five children, all born in Nebraska.

HON. J. G. EWAN, farmer, P. O. Grant, was born in 1824, in the so-called "burnt woods," Columbiana County, Ohio. He grew up a farmer's son in that county and Williams County, Ohio, but, in 1860, by the accidental breaking of a leg he was compelled to give up active life, and to devote himself to stock buying and mercantile business. He spent the winter of 1869-70 in Nebraska City with his family, and, in March, 1870, located where he now lives. Mr. Ewan superintends a large and valuable farm, where lasting and creditable improvements have been and are being made. In 1875, he was chosen an independent delegate to the State Constitutional Convention, and the next year elected to the Legislature as an Independent Republican. He married Harriet McGowan, of Portage County, Ohio, by whom he has four children, born in Ohio; they are Albert E., Henry D., Edward T. and Clarence D. Mr. Ewan is a member of the Christian Church, and a man generally respected by his neighbors, owing to his upright, outspoken and fearless character.

W. H. HAWLEY, farmer, P. O. Brock, born February 22, 1830, in Kent, England. He is the son of Thomas and Rebecca Vennor Hawley, and has been a life-long farmer. He came to the United States in 1849, locating in Rock County Wis., where he married Eliza Walton; in 1861, he brought his family to Nebraska, locating on his present farm. Mr. H. began here with scarcely a dollar, hauling wood for $1.25, in order to pay his entry fee of $14. He was one of the first to agitate the herd-law question and through this influence, stock in La Fayette and Glen Rock Townships were placed under a law quite similar to that now in force throughout the State. The family lived in Brownville until 1864, when Mr. H. had made improvements enough to call his farm his home. Today he has a section of fine land mostly improved, about twenty acres of forest trees, and twenty acres of fruit trees about his house. Mr. H. has undertaken an enterprise novel for Nebraska, the building of a pond for the breeding of carp, of which they have thousands of young ones, and will probably carry it out successfully, fish having been furnished by the State Fish Commissioner. Mr. and Mrs. H. have had seven children--Emma (deceased), Ella, Richard, Isabella, Cora, Victor (deceased) and Daisy. The family belong to the Baptist Church, Mr. H. being a leading spirit in the erection of the new local church. He is a Republican, and has served almost continually since 1864 as a school officer.

E. B. HUBBARD, farmer, P. O. Brock, a son of Edgar Hubbard (deceased) of whom a short sketch may be given. He was born in Portage County, Ohio; was a farmer and also a carpenter; he lived in Williams County for many years prior to his settlement in Nebraska. In 1872, he married Lydia Ewan in his and her native county, and with her and three children--E. B., Mary and Edith--settled on the farm where E. B. Hubbard is now located. He died March 8, 1879, aged sixty-one years. E. B. Hubbard was born in 1843, in Williams County, Ohio, and in July, 1863, enlisted in the Ninth Ohio Volunteer Cavalry. His service was the usual scouting and guard duty, in Kentucky, Alabama, Tennessee and Georgia. Toward the close of the rebellion, he came home on a sick leave, rejoining the army on the day of Gen. Johnston's surrender. He married Emma J. Dodge, April 22, 1869. They have three sons--Ray D., Aylett M. and Edward G. Mr. H. has continued the good work done by his father, creating a large two-story frame house, and making other creditable and lasting improvements on the farm.

J. M. PATRICK, farmer and Postmaster, Grant, was born in 1827, in Rochester, N. Y., and grew up near Lockport, N. Y., learning the carpenter's trade in boyhood. In 1857, he settled in De Kalb County, Ill., and removed, in 1868, to Nebraska. He has lived on his present farm since 1869, planted over ten acres of fruit and forest trees, and erected a good house, etc. Mr. P. has occupied the Grant Postmastership since 1869; the office, then called Woolton, was first kept by Nathan Squires. In 1877, Frank Patrick built, near his father's house, a store, where a large trade was centered up to the building of the M. P. R. R., and the founding of Talmage, where Mr. P. is now well established as a merchant. J. M. Patrick married, in Orleans County, N. Y., her native county, Miss Nancy E. Burns. They have four children--Frank, Fred, Fremont and Jessie. As before stated, the eldest is well settled in Talmage, while the second is in Ohio, and the two youngest are with the old folks at home.

ANDREW SCHAFER, farmer, P. O. Brock; born in 1820 in Hanover, Gettingen, Germany. He came to America in 1850, and located in Mason County, Ill, where he was made overseer of a large farm. By shrewd investments and timely speculations, he so advanced his fortunes as to be able, in 1856, to come to Nebraska and buy a nice farm on the Nemaha bottom near his present home; not liking the river bottom as a place of residence, he sold out after four years, homesteaded his present farm, and afterward bought 160 acres of Mr. Carson. Mr. Schafer has made a good and enduring record here in the way of tree-planting and other improvements. On the quarter-section owned by him, on Section 29, Town 6, Range 13, is a vein of coal in which he has done some prospecting, and will do more; a shaft has been sunk forty-one feet, thirty-one feet through slate. By his first wife, formerly Miss Magdalena Sturm, who died in 1870, he had five children--Louis, Frank, Andrew, Henry and John. He married again, Amelia Rosetta Hitte, and by her has five children--Anna, Herman, August, Julius and Rudolph. All, except the two eldest, are with him.

G. W. SMEDLEY, farmer, P. O. Brock, born in 1845, in Menard County, Ill. He grew to manhood on the farm of his parents, William and Martha (Wright) Smedley, both Kentuckians. In July, 1862, G. W. Smedley enlisted in the Fifty-first Illinois Volunteer Infantry, and five days later was on a forced march from Corinth to Decatur, Ala., at the great battle of Stone River; while with the Fifty-first, making a bayonet charge through a cedar swamp, Smedley received a glancing blow from a canister shot, which crushed his collar bone and all the bones protecting his left lung. Ambitious to serve in the ranks, he imprudently refused to go to the hospital at once, and, when finally sent there in June, was not discharged until the following September. He is now drawing an $18-pension in consequence of disability caused by the wound. Mr. Smedley brought his family to the Illinois settlement in 1868, and has since lived here. His wife, formerly Gertrude Maddox, of Springfield, Ill., died, after years of suffering, with consumption, August 6, 1881, leaving five children--Orion O., William J., Charles T., Scott S. and Gertrude A.

PHILLIP STARR (deceased). Mr. Starr, than whom no worthier settler ever located in our grand young State, was a native of Preble County, Ohio, and followed his life-long occupation (farming) for many years in Vermillion County, Ill. Here he married Mary Delay, and, in June, 1855, brought her and their promising constellation of eight young Starrs to Nebraska, locating on what has ever since been known as the Starr homestead on the Starr Branch, a small tributary of the Nemaha, in La Fayette Precinct. Mr. Starr brought with him about $4,000 in cash, and $1,500 in personal property, this enabling him to begin life on the frontier (as it then was), with unusual advantages; the lumber for his first house, now a stable, was drawn from Sidney, Iowa, whence all provisions came for about two years after his settlement. Mr. Starr served with distinction as County Commissioner for six years; he was a Republican, and, in religion, a Methodist. He died in January, 1877, and was followed by his wife two years later. They left ten children--William H., Mary C., Phillip H., Jacob R., Elizabeth, Belle M., Jerusha, Solomon, Emma, and a daughter, Susan J., who married the Hon. C. F. Haywood, and whose death occurred subsequent to that of the parents. The old farm is now the property of the eldest son, William H. Starr, who was born August 25, 1839, in Vermillion County, Ill. He came with the family to Nebraska; went to California in 1872; remained until 1878; returned, and has since owned the old farm and the fine flouring-mill at Brock, formerly known as the Bradley Mill. He has expended about $4,000 in refitting the mill and equipping it with the best modern machinery; the mill gives employment to five men, has four run of stone, and a capacity of sixty barrels per day. Mr. Starr married Miss Caroline A. Good, of Glen Rock, by whom be has two children-- Mary and Burton. Mr. Starr and wife are members of the M. E. Church.

J. D. VANDEVORT, farmer, P. O. Brock. Mr. Vandevort's father J. M., brought his family from Ohio to Iowa in Territorial times. J. D. Vandevert was born in 1845, in Louisa County, Iowa. He enlisted on his 17th birthday, in the Fifteenth Iowa Volunteer Infantry, taking his musket and place in the ranks. His regiment served in Missouri and Arkansas, opposing Price and Marmaduke; also participated in the Red River expedition under Gen. Banks, and in the battles preceding the siege and final capture of Vicksburg. Soon after its fall, Mr. Vandevort was captured while on a foraging excursion with three others, and held eight days, and rescued by the Unionists, though the rebels, seventeen in number, by vote had sentenced them to death, and were only prevented by one of their number who threw his hat in mid air, and as it came down put three bullet holes in it with his revolver, exclaiming, that "he would serve the first man who drew bead on the Yankee prisoners worse than that." This regiment participated in the Tupelo raid and fight, in the decisive battle at Nashville, and the investment and capture of Spanish Fort and Fort Blakely at Mobile, and is said to have marched and traveled 10,000 miles, or farther than any other Iowa regiment, and was mustered out at Selma, Ala., August 10, 1865. Mr. Vandevort came from Iowa to Nebraska in 1873. He married Miss E. J. Vandevort, a third or fourth cousin, and a native of Lee County, Iowa. They have one only son, Ora A., born November 26,1876, in La Fayette Precinct.

GEORGE WATHAN, farmer, P. O. Brock. Mr. Wathan was born in 1841, in Shropshire, England. In 1843, his parents, Edward and Ann (Woodhall) Wathan, came to the United States, locating in New York City, where the father engaged at his trade of marble cutting. In 1850 the family removed to Chicago, and a few years later to a farm near Davenport, Iowa. In August, 1861, George Wathan enlisted as a private in the Eighth Iowa Volunteer Infantry; at the battle of Shiloh, he and the regiment were taken prisoners, and, for a time, were in the power of the forces of the infamous Wirtz, of Andersonville fame. After about two months, the regiment was exchanged and re-entered the service. Soon after, President Lincoln commissioned our subject as Second Lieutenant, and he was promoted to a captaincy and commanded Company A, of the Mississippi Marine Brigade, Gen. A. W. Elliott, for eighteen months. At the close of the war, Capt. Wathan was called as a witness in the Wirtz trial and testified as to seeing that monster shoot a Union soldier in cold blood at Tuscaloosa, Ala. Capt. Wathan married, in 1866, Miss Alice Mallory, and, in 1870, locating where the Captain now lives. His wife died in 1876, leaving him six children, and he has one by a second marriage with Miss Alice Miller.

DAVID WILKIE, farmer, P. O. Brock, one of the first of the Illinois settlers in this precinct, is a native of Warren County, N. Y., born August 8, 1823. His father, Jacob Wilkie, was a native of the same State and a farmer. David Wilkie grew to manhood, and, in his and her native county, married Lavina Halladay. In 1854, they removed to Sycamore, De Kalb Co., Ill., here Mr. W. enlisted in the fall of 1861, in the Ninety-fifth Illinois Volunteer Infantry. He took part in the battle preceding, and in the siege of Vicksburg, and was then detailed to do special duty at Springfield, Ill. He was then assigned to the Fourteenth Wisconsin Volunteer Infantry, and with Gen. Sherman fought through to Atlanta; he was then placed under Gen. Thomas and was a witness of the battle at Franklin, Tenn., and a participant at Nashville, Tenn.; was then in camp about a month in New Orleans, and then took part in the reduction of the Mobile Forts. In September, 1865, having been promoted to Second Lieutenant, he was discharged and rejoined his family in Illinois. In March, 1866, he homesteaded 160 acres of his present 400-acre farm--twelve acres of forest trees, and five acres of orchard are environing a pleasant home--the farm being well provided with barns and all-needed buildings and appliances. Mr. W. is a Republican and a member with his wife of the M. E. Church of Brock. They have an only son, Harvey J., born in Warren County, N. Y., who is settled near them on a well-improved 200-acre farm, well fitted up with first-class buildings.

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