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About Will Maupin's weekly. (Lincoln, Neb.) 1911-1912 | View Entire Issue (Feb. 10, 1911)
WHEN HOWE AND MAJORS STROVE
Salathiel, better known as "The Wander
ing' Jew," or some other character akin to
him, wandered into the corridors of the
state house one day last week and from
thence into the house chamber and over
to the senate chamber. After viewing the
landscape o'er he retired to a quiet corner
and shed many tears.
"Why these weeps?" queried a represent
ative of Will Maupin's Weekly.
"I weep for the days that were and are
not; for the scenes that have vanished and
return not again," replied the weeping wan
derer. "I have gazed upon the legislature
when it moveth itself aright ; when it giveth
utterance to various things and mixed, and
yet there is lacking something that I ex
pected to see on this, my two hundredth
centennial trip around the world; something
that I saw when I was here a hundred
years ago, more or less."
"And what was that, I pray thee?"
queried the newspaperman, adopting the
courtly language of the weeper.
"I miss the pulchritudinous gentleman
from Nemaha, and his cerulean-shirted com
patriot." Then the newspaper man added his tears
to the tears of the wanderer, and the en
gineer of the stone building gave the alarm,
fearing that the water pipes had sprung a
After weeping until his tear ducts went
on strike the representative of Will Mau
pin's Weekly sat himself down and ground
out a few reminiscences of the old days
when the two gentlemen from Nemaha were
wont to walk across the stage, pose in the
political spotlight and blaze the pathway to
erstwhile political reforms.
The fued between Church Howe and Tom
Majors is historic, but it's origin is almost
lost in antiquity. Those who knew it have
forgotten it during the fifteen years of com
paratice peace; the younger generation, in
tent on today's problems, never heard of it
except in vague rumor. To revive mem
ories in the minds of the graybeards, an im
part information to the younger generation
is undertaken the task of telling the story.
It is official.
The Majors' farm is located in Peru pre
cinct of Nemaha county, towards the coun
ty's northeastern corner. Fifteen miles
away, in Bedford precinct, is the old Howe
homestead. This is the geography of it.
In 1859 Tom Majors came to Nebraska
from Jefferson, la., and located on the farm
he still occupies. He entered the civil war
as a first lieutenant in the First Nebraska,
and came home at the war's close with the
rank of major and the honors of a brevet
lieutenant colonel. Hence the title really
earned, therefore different from most titles.
From 1866 to 1869 Church Howe, who
also served with honor during the war as a
member of the famous Massachusetts regi
ment mobbed in Baltimore, was United
States marshal for the territory of Wyom
ing. In 1870 Howe came to Nebraska and
located in Bedford precinct, Nemaha county.
And that was the entre act.
The grange movement was in its glory
when Howe arrived in Nebraska, and that
wily and astute young gentleman seized his
opportunity. He organized the first grange
in Nemaha county, and became its first mas
ter. Tom Majors was also a member a
private in the ranks. The two, however,
did not meet until 1871. In that year Wil
son E. Majors, brother of Tom, was the re
publican candidate for county clerk, and of
course Tom was doing everything he could
to. promote his brother's candidacy. Cap
tain Pollock, postmaster at Peru, asked Tom
if he had met Howe, and when Tom said he
had not, Pollock exclaimed : "Well, by gra
cious, you ought to meet him ; he's a regular
Pollock immediately took steps to bring
the two together, and succeeded. And in '
the little postoffice at , Peru, in the fall of
1871, Church Howe and Tom Majors met
for the first time. Before a word was said
Howe gazed sharply at Majors, and Ma
jors returned the gaze with interest.
"Mr. Howe, Colonel Majors ; Colonel Ma- .
jors, Mr. Howe," said Captain Pollock.
The two men shook-hands then and there
and not again for many years.
"What do you think of Majors?" "asked
Pollock of Howe-a few days later.
"A very agreeable gentleman," respond
ed Howe. "But I'll keep my political eye
"What do you think of Howe?" asked
Pollock of Majors afterwards.
"He'll bear watchin', all right," responded
Several days after the meeting Majors
called on Howe and requested him to assist
in the work of electing his brother county
clerk. Howe agreed and went to work,
delivering several speeches in the county.
He declared himself to be an ardent repub-
lican and it seemed that the newcomer was
destined to rise high in the councils of his ' ,
party in Nemaha county.
Howe's interest in the grange continued
to develop and he was chosen president of
the county grange. The constitution of
the grange, prohibited any discussion of
politics in a grange session; and right here
is where the characteristics which have
made Church Howe famous throughout Ne
braska developed for the first time to the
citizens of Nemaha county. Presiding at
a grange session Howe was in the habit of
declaring: "We're adjourned as a grange
and we will now hear political suggestions."
At this, under the instructions of Captain
Pollock's "political marvel and wonder" the
county grange would proceed to lay out pol
itical plans, and then President. Howe would
declare : "We will now go into session again
as a grange."
This was the straw which broke the cam
el's back. Majors, as master of his local
grange, held that the order should not be
directly or indirectly a participant in poli
tics. In the early part of 1872 Howe re
signed the chairmanship of the republican
precinct committee and at the official meet
ing of the grange publicly denounced the
republican party and declared himself and
his all allied to the political destines of the "
grange. The result was that in 1872 Howe
was nominated by the grange for the legis
lature. The republicans, under the lead of
Tom Majors, nominated William Bailey of
Brownville, A bitter fight was made, but
Howe had several advantages. He was the
grange candidate and personally he was, as
he is today, one of the most agreeable of
men. Majors laid awake nigljts to down the
new man, but when the ballots were cast
and counted Bailey, the candidate of Tom
Majors, went down into the dust and Church
Howe was elected by a majority of thirty
two votes. Howe continued to gain in pop
ularity, and in 1874 he was re-elected to the
legislature by' a majority of several hun
dred. In 1876 Howe was nominated for the
state senate on the "people's ticket," Tom
Majors then held what was known as "as
sessor of internal revenues," an office since
abolished. Once more under the leadership
of Majors, the republicans determined to
wipe up the . floor with Pollock's political
marvel. To accomplish this Dr. Neal of
Peru was chosen for the victim. In the
race Church Howe made a remarkable can
vass. Speaking of it today an old Nemaha
county resident said : "In that canvass
Church Howe was a democrat among dem
ocrats, and to the republicans in the inde
pendent move he was a republican.. To
democrats he declared his admiration and
earnest support for Tilden ; to greenbackers
he shouted for Peter Cooper, and to the re
publicans he said Hayes was the only man
fit for the presidency.
At all events Howe must have builded
better than his enemies knew, for once more
Tom Majors dent down, and Church Howe
became state senator by thirty-seven ma
jority. It was during the special session of '76
that Church Howe attracted the greatest
public attention. The legislature had made
no provision for counting the electoral vote,
so a special session was called. Through
Hayes had carried Nebraska by 15,000 ma
jority, Senator Howe arose in his seat and
protested against the canvass of the vote
for presidential electors. This was seized
upon by his antagonists in Nemaha county,
and at least among republicans it did not
raise the senator in point of esteem.
In 1877, weary and worn with the trials
and tribulations of the independent move
ment, Howe issued his famous manifesto, in
which he declared that he was "tired of sit
ing up with a corpse," and henceforward he
would be a republican.
At the election following this declaration
fall of 1878 Howe bobbed up before the
county republican convention as a candi
date for re-election to the state senate. Tom
Majors met the ex-grange leader at the
threshold of the party spoils room and
throttled his ambition. Then, when Howe
acknowledged his defeat and gracefully dof
fed his hat to his foe, Majors made a con
cession which would have humiliated any
other man than Pollock's political marvel.
With an exhibition of charming magnanim
ity Majors for the once triumphant gave
Howe's nomination for the legislature at
the tail end of the Nemaha county legisla
tive ticket. Did Church Howe accept it?
Does a duck swin? Of course he accepted
it and was re-elected to the legislature, and
was as ever the most conspicuous man in
It was in this session 1879 that Church
Howe espoused the cause of temperance
and introduced in the house a bill to estab
lish statutory prohibition. This bill, through
the earnest efforts of Church Howe, won
many supporters and was finally defeated
by one vote, or rather the absence of one
vote. When -the vote was taken on the bill
Jake Roberts of Butler county, who had
,been one of the ardent champions of the
measure, was missing. Roberts sent word
that he was too sick to leave his bed and
the prohibitory! statute was defeated.
Within an hour after the vote was taken
several of the inquisitive champions of the
bill set forth on a still hunt. One of them
mounted a step ladder and peered through
a transom. Great Caesar, what a sight, my
countrymen ! There in the bloom of health
and the pursuit of happiness sat Jake Rob
erts. Before him, on a well spread table, lay
what seemed about three pounds of beef
steak, the surplus of which was rapidly van
ishing before the hungry onslaught of the
gentleman from Butler. Through this in
cident the missing statesman won the title
of "Beefsteak" Roberts. This connection
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