The Falls City tribune. (Falls City, Neb.) 1904-191?, May 14, 1909, Image 2

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    Reminiscences of a. Wavfarer
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.
Before the summer waned,
and the woods along the river
to the south, took on the russet
and golden hues peculiar to the
autumnal season, somet h i n g
happened in our little out of-the
va v community ^ <> m.e thin g
that always occurs in the haunts
of men all over the world one
of our people died. Jt was the
first visitation of the grim mow
ster, death, to the new town,
and it was made all the more
sad because of the fact that the
one to go was a little girl of
ten or twelve years of age,
who had through all the long
summer weather, been a patient
sufferer from some lingering dis
♦■ase, which, with no medical as
sistance at hand there was no
doctor in town,nor in the county
for that matter had battled
every effort <•(' h»\ ing parents
and the kindness of humane
neighbors to stay its slow but
deadly work of destruction of
the frail life in a frailer and
wasting body, and on a quiet
Sunday morning, when far oil'
church bells in other lands were
calling the people to hear the
oft told story of another life,an
other death,and triumphant re
surrection, the little one ceased
from among the living, and the
mysterious purpose of her ex
istence on earth, was accomp
Death under any circumstan
ces, and at all times, is a very
sad and sorrowful affair, but
when we reflect that it is just as
natural for persons to die, as it
is for them to lie born and live,
we must conclude that it is quili
as necessary in the eternal econ
otny as any other inevitable con
dition;and as it is agreed on all
hands by the profoundest think
ers the world has yet produced,
that every thing in universal
nature, exists from inexorable
and absolute necessity, the post
ulate that death has a like ex
istence, must be received as a
truth admitted.
The conventional idea that
death came upon the world as a
result of man’s disobedience, is
admissible a> applied to man
himself the world of men for,
being of a higher order in the
realm of creation, he was not
subject to the common vicissi
tudes of other and lower orders
of organic life. This conclusion
is not at variance with the most
orthodox teaching on the sub
ject, nor in conflict with the
sacred history of man's crea
tion, his sin, and his fall, for it
is recorded that when placed in
the garden, he was told, that
“of every tree of the garden
thou mayest freely eat. — but of
the tree of the knowledge of
good and evil, thou shalt not
eat of it; for in the day thou
eatest thereof, thou shalt surelv
The serpent, which is gener
ally understood to mean the
devil, got into the garden some
how, and told old mother Eve,
that the Lord did not mean that
they would necessarily die on
the day they should eat of the
fruit of the forbidden tree, but
that lie knew that when
they did eat of the fruit they
would become as gods knowing
good and evil. Whatever else
may be said of that much de
nounced personage, the devil,
he was not a strict construc
tionist, and in that case he was
tolerably near right, for, though
the sentence of death would
.surely follow the forbidden act,
it was yet indeterminate so far
as its date of execution was con
cerned; and the construction
put upon it by the wily serpent
was the true one,and the decep
tion practiced was all the more
j struct ion was correct is further
shown by what followed the
discovery of the great trans
gression. The Lord said: “He
hold, the man has become as
one of us, to know good and
evil," etc.; and lest he put forth
his hand and eat of the fruit of
an other tree in that garden of
the gods and live forever, he
must be put out, to “till the
| ground from whence he was
I taken,” and man’s real tribula
tions on earth began.
That construction was cor
rect, impliedly, in another par
tieular. The sentence of death
was against the body, not the
soul, for that was anemination
from (Iod himself and stamped
with his own immortality. I’o
tentially. every human soul lots
had the same immortal exist
ence in past eternity, that the
incomprehensible e n t i t v, or
force, that breathed into the
nostrils of Adam the breath of
life and made him a living soul,
has had, and can no more per
ish than (iod can perish. No
other or more conclusive argu
ment is needed to prove the im
mortality of the soul: and what
was true of Adam, is true of all
his race.
I Jut I have wandered some
what from the task I had set
myself of telling of the first
death and funeral, that occurred
in Falls City. And so, to re
sume, I remark that I certainly
know of but two other persons
in life, besides myself, who may
have some recollection of the
circumstance and they are Wil
liam 10. Dorrington, who was
then a boy of eleven or twelve
years of age, and Maj. J. Ed
ward liurbank, now a resident
of the city of Malden, in the
state of Massachusetts. All the
others who lived in the town, or
assisted in those humble obse
quies of that little child iu the
wilderness, have themselves
gone the way whence they too,
will not return.
She was the daughter of Mr.
Isaac L. Hamby, a gentleman
whom l have mentioned several
times in these papers, and who
lived in a cheap and illy con
st rue ted house, or rather shanty,
that stood about where Mr. L.
A. liyau s dwelling house now
stands, directly west of the
Catholic church. The house was
no better, nor for that matter,
very tittle worse, than the dwel
lings of most of the people in
town, but it was anything but
a comfortable habitation for
people in good health, and cer
tainly no place for one with a
lingering disease, where every
hour was an eternity of suffer
ing, It was a mere shell, with
no wall under it and no plaster
ing, or partitions, except some
brown sheeting stretched across,
dividing the inside space into
two compartments or rooms,
and that was all the privacy for
the family, afforded by it. The
winds, and they were sometimes
a gale, and the rain, ran riot
about and through the rude
structure, with its thin coating
of cottonwood boards that the
sun had warped out of shape in
many places, leaving a in p 1 e
spaces for the elements to enter
without hinderance. There was
no tree or shrub, no front yard,
or garden; nothing but t h e
boundless sea of prairie, stret
ching away in all directions, the
distant horizon and the blue arch
of heaven overhead. The fur
nishings were in keeping with
the poor appointments every
where, only the commonest for
necessary use and nothing for
ornament or comfort, for the oc
This was poverty, but not the
kind of poverty that accompan
ies squalor, filth, drunkenness,
■» 1' 1 ■* ' rJiff fr\
lie seen in the slums and pur
lieus in the overcrowded tene
ment districts of great cities,
but poverty of means to utilize
the super abundance of nature,
that was everywhere going to
waste because of the want of
such means. This has been
characteristic of the frontier on
this continent for three hundred
years. The pioneers have al
ways been ooor in that sense,
but in sober truth, they were the
richest people on the globe
teeming with the wealth of cour
age and hope, stalwart empire
builders, who made present con
ditions possible, including that
splendid spirit of intellectual
emulation now rife among the
good people, of who can sport
the most expensive automobile.
I lie people were probably no
different from what they are
now, but in a way f can hardly
explain, they showed their sym
pathy lor the bereaved familv
by little acts of hi ml ness, so del
icately administered, as to make
them appear, when recalled at
this distant day, totally unlike
anything of the kind to come
under my observation, before or
since. The surroundings, no
doubt, and the fact that it was
the first death to occur in the I
town, coupled with the further I
fact that the little child had to
be put away in a lonely grave
by itself on the wide silent prai !
rie, had much to do with it, but i
the impression was produced |
just the same,and has never been
The arrangements for tne fun
cral were very simple and of
the most primitive and inexpen
sive character, as of necessity
they had to be. Squire Dorring
ton, who was a skilled mechanic,
made the coffin out of some green
walnut boards—there was no
seasoned lumber to be had and
carried it on his shoulder to the
house of mourning.
The good women in the town
| were there in force and among
them they constructed an old
fashioned shroud of the best
material to be had in the mar
ket, and it was, like everything
else, of the rudest description:
and having clothed the worn
and wasted little body with that
1 last garment of all living, it was
tenderly placed in the coffin up
on which a few wild flowers
some friend had gathered on the
prairie, were laid, and thus the
bier of the first of the dead of
this community, stood con
1 tessed.
We buried the little one the
following afternoon, but with
scant ceremonials. There was
no minister of the gospel of any
persuasion in the town at the
time, and therefore, no services
of a religious nature were had j
at the house, but it was decided
by some of the good ladies, Mrs
Van Lew and Mrs. Burbank
who were both members of the |
Kpiscopal church, that the ser
vice for the dead prescribed in
the prayer book of that denom
ination, should be read at tin
grave, and L was asked to per
form that duty, which I did as
best I could. There was no
cemetery, but we started one
that day on a school section,
just west o( town, a kind of no
man's land, or Tom Tidder’s
ground: and as it grew from year
to year, the land was purchased
from the state by authority of
an act of the legislature, and a
regular cemetery association
was formed, and for several
years all tin- dead of our people
were buried there. As neither
the soil nor the location were
best suited for the purpose, an
other site was procured to the
north of the old one, and on the
highest ground in the neighbor
hood, which .Joseph Steele, the
owner, donated under certain I
conditions, and it has come to j
be the chief burial ground for]
the city, and one of the most j
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During the half century that
has elapsed since that day, l
have attended many funerals
and witnessed many sorrowful
scenes in connection with
them, but I have seen none that
impressed me as that d id. It
seemed to me a cruel thing to
bury her in that solitary waste,
all alone in the brooding silence
of mighty nature, there to re
main forever, to be first neg
lected, and then forgotten.
I-was younger then and more
impressible perhaps, on that ac
count, but l>e that as it may, I
shall never live long enough to
get away, in thought at least,
from that humble funeral pro
cession, performed on foot, fol
lowing the two horse lumber
wagon in which reposed all
that was mortal of one of
those little ones, whom the
Master said were typical of the
Kingdom; nor will I ever get
away from that strange feeling
of sadness, with which I scat
tered a handful of cold earth on
the coffin below, and pronounced .
the words of the ritual: “Earth
to earth, ashes to ashes, dust to
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