The Falls City tribune. (Falls City, Neb.) 1904-191?, March 05, 1909, Image 2

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    Reminiscences of a Wayfarer
Some of the Important Events of the Pioneer Days
of Richardson County and Southeast Nebraska, as
remembered by the writer, who has spent fifty
one years here
Packs From hi t tiik Shadow.
Within a week after 1 came to
Falls City 1 made two discover
jes. First, that the little em
brio town had commenced its
municipal life under a cloud.
This resulted from the circuits
stance that < Jen. .lames II Lane,
the notorious free state leader
in Kansas, where the first phy
sical shock occurred between
those antagonistic ideas, free
dom and slavery, in their strife
for control in that new territory
early in its settlement, was one
of its founders and proprietors
The prevailing sentiment in the
county was not in accord with
Lane and his principles, and
Falls City and its people were
called by a name very largely
in use among politicians,
“black republican." 'Phis had
the effect to create a pretty
wide spread prejudice against
it in the minds of people, who, ,
though not active participants (
in the struggle, were still, on i
account of early education and
association, political and other,
wise, favorable to the other
side. This prejudice had to be
overcome, and was. to a great
extent, by the shrewd efforts of
one man.
My second discovery was that
.John A. Burbank was the ablest
man I had met in the country,
and 1 was not slow to see that
the success of the town depend
ed largely on him, his superior
fact, good judgment and com
mon sense methods. The tirst
thiug he did was to eliminate
the Kansas statesman from the
business, anti the trouble from I
that source was ended.
The survey of the town site
was finished about the tirst of |
July, lsr.7, and on the 1th, the|
people then on the ground and
from settlements in the near vi 1
cinity, gathered for an old fash
ioned celebration and (Jen. Lane!
made them a speech and that
was his last appearance at this
In the time to come, and be-i
lore that mightier collision be
tween those irreconcilable fur j
ces in 1*01, the prejudice]
against our little town gradu
ally died out, but it was, as l
have said, the result of the
splendid management of Mr
Burbank, supplemented by tin
strong support of the people
and his associate s. Nebraska
has had few abler men than he, 1
if indeed it has had any, though
it has had some as noisy as a
flock of guinea chickens, or coy
otes, and about as valuable to
the general public. He never
made, or attempted to make a
speech in his whole life. It was|
not his way.
He came here to build a town
near the Nemaha falls, the most |
distinctive point in the county, j
and selected a -pot where he1
thought the seat of the countyj
government ought to be. In I
this enterprise he enlisted a!
corps of the strongest men in j
the county, among them Isaac j
and Jesse Crook, two brothers
from the far south, unlettered
so far as book It arning goes,
but level-headed, thorough go
ing men who knew how to look
the world in the face and give
battle to it. on its own terms.
They were a host in themselves.
Isaac had been county treasurer
since the organization of the
county, and held it till 1-01,
when he refused to allow the
people to elect him any more.
Jesse was a typical southerner
and dispensed more generous
hospitality, and fed more hungry
people out of sheer goodness of
heart and love of his kind, than
any man who ever crossed the
Missouri river in any direction.
They both rest from their In
bors. Isaac died a quarter of a
century ago, but Jesse has been
! so lately on these streets, that
! I feel somehow that 1 would not
be surprised to see him at any
moment, walkingas usual, down
Stone street, lie died the day
before Christmas last Decern
her, and the day following that
greatest of all birthdays we laid
I him away to his long sleep in
i the beautiful cemetery on the
high ground to the west: and of
all the men I have ever known,
he is the only one among them
to go out of this world, without
leaving an enemy behind him.
It would have been a sorry
day indeed for Falls City with
these two men, their wide influ
ence and hosts of friends, ar
rayed against it.
(»ov. Burbank was not only
an able man, but he was as true
as steel and thoroughly reliable
in all his relations with his fel
lows, lie was a politician of a
high order without a single trait
of Jhe demagogue, and as a
friend, could always be depend
ed upon. There was nothing
visionary about him, and he took
no part in the wild schemes and
air castle building that was rife
among our people in those early
days, and what new country
has been without a similar ex
Hope, it was said, “springs
eternal in the human breast,'’
but when* that is the only fund
to draw against, (and that was
about our condition at the time)
the drafts made upon it are fre
quently returned, “payment de
ferred,” and whether it maketh
the heart sick, as such deferred
payments are said to do, we go
on hoping (or drawing) just the
same. That is what we did tor
years in this little, out of the
way place, but in spite of all
opposition and adverse circum
stances. success came and main
ly through the early efforts of
the men 1 have mentioned, sec
onded by a united community of
earnest men and women acting
in their several subordinate ca
pacities, and all struggling for
tin* accomplishment of a com
mon purpose.
Whatever would conduce to
that end was done willingly and
cheerfully, everybody doing his
or her part without question or
protest. We were all together
and worked together without
stopping to settle the question
of which was the great or little
man in the business. That we
did many absurd things goes
without saying, but we waited
a good many years before we
took time to laugh about them.
Many of the incidents as well as
many of the actors have gone
out of my memory entirely, but
enough remains to give a gen
eral idea of what was done and
how it was done. And though
the shadows of titty years have
fallen darkly between the events
of that distant past and the
present moment in w h i c h 1
write, the laces of those who
t >ok part in the early struggle
and have been long dead, come
back to me as real as 1 knew
them in life, and the scenes of
I the conflict in which we were
I engaged,extending through four
| years, are as present to my men
tal vision as though they were
things of yesterday.
Our first object was to build
the town, get the county seat,
establish institutions of learn
ing. and create a manufacturing
center to vie with the best. This
necessitated frequent p u b 1 i c
consultations in which the whole
people could take part, and the
general concensus of opinion
could be thus obtained. I will
here give some specimens of
those gatherings farce come
dies would be a better designa
tion—for the consideration of
matters touching the general
I have in mind the first of the
kind I attended. It was a.tiled
by my sometime friend, Mr,
Hamby, to talk over one ot his
pet projects, the building of a
College on the highest point to
the north of town. The meet
ing was held in Squire Uorring
ton's Carpenter -hop. a small
shanty, probably ten bv twelve
feet in size, and was attended
by ten or a dozen people. It
was Hamby's meeting and lie
took charge of it in that capa
city, made all the motions and
three fourths of the speeches.
The tirst motion put the squire
in the chair the chair was his
work bench and he sat upon it
with the air of a proprietor as
well as the presiding officer of
the meeting
Hamby t lien stated tlie genera I
object in hand, which, he said,
was to consider ways and means
for the immediate construction
of a college building in town.
I shall not try to reproduce his
speech, but it was much like
such discourses usually are,
with the difference perhaps, that
it was interspersed with much
that was impractibale, not to
say nonsensical. In the midst j
of his tribute to education and
tin* great advantage it would be
to the town to have a first class!
institution of learning estab- :
li.shed in it, and the consequent
influx of population to receive
the benefits afforded thereby in
the education of their children,
Squ i re Dorringtoii interrupted
with the question: "l say Am j
ti<m paper was at once written
(l>y myself as 1 remember) and
each person present, except the
chairman, who had exhausted
his pre emptiun right in Kansas
I and had no cla.m in Nebraska,
signed it with a donation of
forty acres of land to the col
| lege fund. In that way we got
something like tour hundred
acres, which, to tell the exact
, truth about it, \v< re about as
I valuable as four hundred acres
iof blue sky, as there was not a
foot of the land entered from
; the government, and no absu
■ lute assurance that any of it
ever would )>*■. by the then claim
ants, whose right to do so,
might never be o\ rcised in the
If the metaphysicians postu
late, that there is no difference
between a thing and the idea of
it, could have been realized in
terms of physical demonstra
tion, there might have been
some chance for Hamby's col
lege, but not otherwise.
The project was talked over
from time to time during; the
summer till some other crochet
took possession of the brain of
its originator and it gradually
dropped out of the minds of the
people and so went to join the
shade of the Archer university,
created un jmprr by the legisla
ture a year or two before. I am
not certain that the agitation of
the college (piestion ■ as in fact
a useless expenditure of breath.
It served at least one j^ood pur
Ex-Governor John A Burban’t, Principal Founder of Falls City
by" (the squire was an English- ,
man and like .1 good many of his
conntrymen, had no use for, or
made a wrong use of, the letter
“II") “where is the money to
come from to build the college"?
Hamby stopped and stared at
his questioner in a kind of va
cant sort of way as though an
entirely new element had been
suggested and which had never 1
occurred to him before, which l
am inclined to think was really
the fact, but I will not aver that
it so appeared to me then, for
my own ideas of ways and means
in tile premises, were about as j
foggy, and unreliable as Ham
It is not impossible that in
some vague wax this enthusiast j
had concluded that the college
might build itself, or that insti- 1
tutions of the kind might be
fashioned from such stuff as
E’rospero concluded men xvere
made dreams.
Eloxvever that may be, Ins eni
barrassment lasted for only a
moment, for he turned to the
assembled company and re
marked that lie had no doubt
but that every gentleman pres
ent would subscribe as much
as forty acres of his pre-emp
tion claim, to aid in the great
work and otherwise contribute
of his means to further the en
terprise. The suggestion took
xvith the crowd, and a subscrip
pose, it gave occupation to the
uneasy and visionary people
about town and served to keep
alive the spirit of enterprise
among us. Mr. Hamby was a
very entertaining talker when
any one of his numerous schemes
formed the subject for the time
being, and he was rather con
vincing for a man of his limited
attainments. Certain it is, he
led me to think there was some
thing in every scheme that he
hatched out while I knew him
and he appeared to be always
in the business.
1 have in mind another town
meeting held some time during
the summer of the same year,
which was called by Wingate
King, 1 think, to take into con
sideration the feasibili t y of
building a church for the Metli
odists in the vicinity. 1 take it,
it must have been for the Meth
odists because Mr. King was a
, very devoted member of that
. denomination. The proceed
i ings of that meeting are rather
shadowy in my recollection, but
d am sure that we raised money
enough to buy a couple of thou
sand feet of lumber, which was
obtained from the Hamby saw
mill at the lower end of town.
Some party interested hauled
the lumber on the ground, which,
as nearly as [ can tix the spot,
was not far from the present
residence of Mr. Charles Har
grave. I know it was ortli of
the present site of 1 central
high school. The v e town
in that vicinity was ant, but
whether the church t ed any
lots there or not l am a 'able to
say, but I <lo know that 'lie lum
her was hauled to tin p 'int in
dicated and unloadt i >n the
ground. That is all that was
ever done towards bu lding the
church. The lumber r< mained
there until some person or per
sons api#opriated it to their
own use. That was not ffected
by taking all the lumber it once,
but by taking small quantities
from time to time, mostly at
night, until it all disappeared
and the church we had built in
our minds went the way of Ham
by's college.
(iov. Burbank never attended
any of these meetings, but he
was too politic a man to clis
courage them or to say anything
disparaging about them. They
furnished amusement for the
people if nothing else, and
amusement is one of tlie com
pensations for living at all.
Seriously speaking, however,
these apparently trilling con
ventions of the people, have an
other and to my mind, a more
substantial value, that is not
generally taken into account by
writers on political history, De
Tocqueville, perhaps excepted,
as they play an important part
in the synthetical evolution of
the state in its first inception,
if not at all stages of it'- exist
ence. They are the natural de
liberative bodies of the common
every day citizen, and furnish
an excellent school for the as
similation of opinion among
those whose environment in
other localities, havt^ not been
the same, and whose social and
political principies, not to sav
prejudices, have not been ac
quired from the same sources,
nor fashioned after the same
model. Every man who goes to
a new country carries with him
the atmosphere of home, its tra
ditions and customs, along v\ itil
the social, religious and politi
cal principles, which his former
affiliations, education and sur
roundings have instilled into
his mind and become ingrained
in his very being, so that in the
formation of a public opinion in
a community not entirely homo
geneous, contact and associa
tion become of the tirst import
ance, for that public opinion
when formed, by the modifica
tion and toning down of indivi
dual opinions, becomes clirys
talized into law as the process
of assimilation goes on, and
eventually determines the insti
tutions of the new common
If I found it impossible, as it
certainly is. to write ot
Falls City in its swaddling
clothes without also writing of
the man who made it a possi
bility, I find it equally impos
sible to write of Nebraska itself
without making a similar asso
ciation. The revolution that
was silently going on in the
public sentiment of the nation,
was quite as apparent, in its ef
fect in Nebraska, as anywhere
else. The political administra
tion of the government at Wash
ington in 1858, was rapidly los
ing the confidence of the people,
and before that year passed into
history, was at war with a con
siderable faction of the part
that put it in power, and before
the next presidential election
was had. that same party, om •
sii formidable in its arrogant ■
and power, had practical!
ceased to exist. The shadow ot
: the coming event, the last ami
1 final struggle in the “irrepres
sible conflict,” had fallen long
ago,and nowhere more portent
onsly than in the western terri
tories. It was felt all about us,in
| social affairs, in political and
j business relations, and resis
tance became a necessity.
I knew the men who took up
the gage of battle and entered
the lists. 1 saw the fight in its
1 inception, and at its most criti
cal stages, and I saw it end in
the triumph of the right. Let
me pass in review some of the
men who assisted in this noble
service, “lest we forget.”
There was T. M. Marquette, i
lovable man, conscientious and
brave, but as gentle as a wo
man, and as true to his sense of
right as the needle to the pole.
E. If. Webster, a journalist at
Omaha, with his armor always
J on and always in the thickest
of the tight.
O. P. Mason, strong, burly
' and ready, was a rough and
tumble tighter of the first order
— a politician who might have
[realized his highest ambition
! had he been less in debt to his
I enemies, and had had a more
[scrupulous regard for human
friendship, to the extent at lea -t
| of appreciating the value of an
iold friend in contradistinction
from the new one, he was going
to make.
lv. \Y. Furnas was a little te
dy in his enlistment, but when
on the roll was a soldier of tried
and true metal and faithful .>
the end.
\Y. H. Taylor, little known o
the people of this day, a son of
the southland, an admirer of
Henry Clay and a native of h h
beloved Kentucky, was among
the champions of the new cm
sade. He was a splendid lav
yer and an orator unequalled in
Nebraska at any time. He was
much maligned, misrepresented
and cordially hated by his en •
mies. That circumstance proved
the man and his work. Noe
entities are not so honored.
E. S. Dundy was in the rani ■>
also, and was known to most of
the people hereabouts. He and
Burbank were always togethe ,
and were potent factors in put
ting Nebraska in the right co
lumn in lKn'd. where she has been
ever since, with the exception
of two or three slight attacl s
of emotional insanity, w h e i
some follies were committed ;; s
is usual in such cases.
Two other faces come befo ■
me, S. G. Daily and John Taffe
I knew them well and loved
them both. Daily represented
the territory in congress ti\<
years, while Taffe represented
the state after its admission, in
the same body, for six year
and it would have been infinite!
better for both, if they had neve '
seen the federal city. They
served their people well and
faithfully however, much bett
than they served themselves
and have gone, along with all
the others, to the land of shad
ows, wherever that may be, and
are at rest.
“After the fitful fever of this
life, they sleep well.”
Food is
more tasteful,
healthful and nutri
tious when raised with
The only baking powder made
from Royal Grape
Cream of Tartar
Made from
r . %
v Pure j