The Falls City tribune. (Falls City, Neb.) 1904-191?, October 08, 1909, Image 6

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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.
The Broad Axe, Falls City’s First
In the month of December, 1858,
or somewhe' about that time, .1. E.
Burbank «n S well K,Jameson start
ed a newspaper at Falls City. It
was called "The Broad Axe," and
was a sort of continuation of one
they had op -rated at Centerville,
1ml , the form r residence of tin Bur
banks anil Jameson. They had a
small 1iri.iI press and some type, and
Jameson h lag a practical printer tin
enterprise wns set on foot to help
Falls City, and to amuse, if not In
struct, the people In this part of
the new political community of Ne
braska Vbout the same time A. D.
Kirk started one at Rulo, which he
called "The Rule Guido,” and It was
not long before a fierce newspaper
war broke out. between them of a
grossly personal character.
From a dog figiit to a newspaper
war, or any other conflict, gnat or
small, in which prowess, valor, grit,
ami gallantry may be displayed, the
sympathies and partisan zeal of the
Anglo-Saxon are sure to he enlisted,
and if ho can in any way get into
the row himself, he will be all the
better pleased. This republic is one
hundred and thirty-three years old,
and In that time 1ms fought success
fully five wars,two with the parent
nation. England, one with Mexico,
one with Spain, and one with the
Filipinos on the other side of the
earth; and for three hundred years
has carried on an almost continuous
war with the native Indian tribes
found in possession of the North
American continent when discovered
by the Itallnu navigator. Columbus.
In the closing years of the fifteenth
Besides these five foreign wars,
ami the long drawn out Indian wars,
there was fought another in the de
cade of 18(50, that out-ranks till others
in the matter of t ho destruction of
life and property, in the long history
of the world. It was that one pre
cipitated by the secession of most of
the slave-holding states from the
American Union, and the attempt to
set up a new republic out of the ter
ritory of the old one. But this was
a family fight between people of the
same bisod and from a common an
cestry. It was Anglo-Sax
on against Anglo-Saxon, but the
established government with its su
perior resources, and commanding
influence among the nations of tho
earth, prevailed in the end and tho
Union remained intact.
This digression aside, I remark
that the newspaper controversy—
principally about nothing—between
those papers, ultimately drew the peo
ple of the two towns into it, and the
sentiment of place hatred between
them, became intensely bitter and
remained so for many years after
wards. Tlie ancient wars between
the old-time Scottish clans were no
more vengeful in the hearts of their
people, than it was among tho inhab
itants of the two hamlets whose riv
alry hart immediate respect only, to
which could show the greatest popu
lation. and in time to come be select
ed ns the seat of government of the
county. 1 have already told in another
paper in this series, what followed
tIre election in April, 18(50, which fin
ally resulted in giving the county sent
to Falls City, and 1 need say no more
on that head.
Tile row between the "Broad Axe”
and the "Rulo Guide,” was like most
other shlndys on the frontier, ridic
ulously absurd, senseless in its con
duct, and superbly indecent, not to
say downright obscene, in the genre
al matter contained in both. The pub
lie taste being in keeping witli the
low vulgarity indulged In by those
paper-wad champions, rather relish
id the weekly showers of nitul and
filth they threw at each other, as in
the public estimate the battle of the
rival towns was supposed to be in
volved in the issue—and besides they
liked the fun. In all essential res
pects the contest was not unlike a
similar one recorded by that inimit
able caricaturist, Charles Dickens, in
the Pickwick Papers, over an elec
tion at Eatanswill, between Pott of
the Eatanswill Gazette and Shirk of
the Eatanswill Independent, hut I
lack the powers of description in a
sufficient degree to present those Ne
braska inky belligerents and their
tempest in a teapot, as the great
Englishman pictured the two Eatan
swill social scabs, and clothed them
with his own mantle of deathless
Pott and Slurk—Dickens was happy
in his selection of names for his
^ characters. Pott and Slurk—synon
yms for disgust or contempt—a whole
commentary in themselves—were in
fact Intended as types of two classes
that somehow manage to be always
in tli<* front In the operation of a
certain kind of public slander sheets,
that nn over-indulgent government
tolerates under its guaranty of free
dom of speech and of tile press. That
such people may bo held responsible
tn the courts for abuse of that priv
ii. go is a very poor remedy, us
most of such cattle are generally ex
ecution pi’uof, and judgments against
them, in most eases, arc worth no
more than what the boy shot at—
nothing. Mr. Dickens was of opinion
that full length portraits of such fel
lows was a better illustration of their
. effect on society, and a decidedly
. more ample punishment for their of
fenses against private character,
than prosecutions for libel on the < rim
j inal side of the court, or suits for
I damages, on the civil side, lienee,
j his masterpieces, Pott and Shirk, pro
totypes of all their despicable kith
| and kin all over the globe, drawn
j to life in the Pickwick Papers,that
! in its day went laughing round the
world, and which will never cease
to amuse while there are people on
the earth with any appreciation of
the ridiculous in their compositions.
The lash of ridicule, wielded by an
hand no less powerful than that of
Myron himself, has rid civilized so
ciety of much of that pestiferous
race, despised of gods and men, hut
not. entirely.
i That wrangle between tin- pioneer
newspapers of this county was how
ever, n very harmless affair, hut be
ing the first, is entitled to mention in
these papers. The editors themselves
were not bad fellows, but, wi re very
different in temperament, tastes and
mental make up. Of course, noth
ing in this world can Inst forever,
and the storm of paper pellets spent,
itself in the course of a few months,
principally for the reason that both
editors retired from their posts, and
(lie war cry died out for a time, to
be renewed by others on the tripods,
more fierce than ever, till the county
seat question was settled, when the
"Guide” faded out of existence and
was heard of no more.
The “Broad Axe,” however linger
ed along for ten years or more, and
like a river I have seen in the moun
tain districts of the Pacific Slope,
would sink out of sight in spots, to
reappear further on, and continued
that desultory, intermittent sort of
existence, till by some process of
newspaper metempsychosis, it passed
into another under a different name,
and this, the first of its kind, of long
time happy memory, followed the
"Guide” to the shadowy land of dead
The roll of its editors brings be
fore me many faces familiar in re
eoll'-ction; faces of men who in
another time were to pioneers oil
the western border, and participants
in the work of laying the founda
tions of th“ present great and pros
perous state of Nebraska. Sowed
R. .lnraeson, its first, retired soon
after its establishment, to take the
office of Receiver of Public monies
in the land office at Brownville,which
place be held for a time, with no I
particular credit to himself, or an\
body else. 1 Jibuti not attempt to
write ids biography. It is already |
written in the lost lives of that i
mighty host, of the dead from a;
social custom, sanctioned, or at learn '
p Tmitted tiy the laws Of so called
Christian men, and (lie story of o
of those is, in all essential respects,
an exact duplicate of till the others.
In a loiedy grave on a Irish bill near
old Brownville and overlooking the
broad sweep of the Missouri, as it
rolls its unsightly, muddy, floods
steadily down to the sea, rests till
that was mortal of that young man,
once of high hope, of good intellect
and good intentions, but of no more
a count now to the busy throng of
the li\iiig. than the senseless clods
that cover the frail, wasting body,
beneath them. “What is man that
thou art mindful «.f leni, or the son
uf man that thou visitest him,” when
man ldmself is neither mindful of
Ids kind, or merciful to it, hut is
even cruel in his disposition to, for
getfulness and neglect.
Mr. Jameson was succeeded in the
“Broad Arc." by a tramp printer
named Irving, a young man with
some ability and a fair education, but
lh‘ social custom ncntioned bad laid
its withering hand upon him early in
the race, and failure was written
against the enterprise from the
start. However, he ran the paper at
interval lor a year or two. and then
throw it up and left the country. The
next to take hold of the "Axe," was
a farmer named L. B. Prouty, who
lived out on the Muddy te ar John it.
I an tv's present farm. Mr. Prouty
had learn d the printers trade when
a boy. and was well equipped for
the business of a country editor.
Anyway, he took up the job some
time in the latter part of 1861. and
held it down till 186.". or thereabouts,
and was succeeded by Norman
Pierce, from somewhere in Kansas,
who was a better printer and a bettor
editor than any of his predecessors.
About that time Arago was assuming
great importance as a growing town,
and its leading citizens induced
Pierce to move the “Axe” office
down there to help boom the then
metropolis on the river. He did so,
and operated the paper there for
several months, tut with little profit
to himself or the town. Norman liked
be* r too well, and as there was an
unlimited quantity constantly on tap
and within reach, and as much of his
uds and subscription were paid in
;hat kind of currency, the editor did
what he could towards getting away
with at least what ho considered his
share, and it finally got away with
the newspaper business Itself, and the
office was brought back to Falls City.
The press and material belonged
to Jameson and Burbank, but they
allowed any person who would un
dertake the job of printing a paper,
to use them without cost, hoping that
nine one would make a success of
. and buy them out. i’his I think
>k place, but St war. near the
close of the decade of i860, but as !
i,n not writing of that time, the
fact is not important at. this moment.
I i next and the last or the
T.ropd Axe” >-ditors, was Judge
Jonathan Janes Marvin. I have it in
mind that he took charge of tiie office
i.bnut the year lStifi, but i car;not be
a< irate as to time, as I have no
data at hand by which to fix it, but it
was somewhere thereabouts. As run
bv him it was a different paper to
any previously published in the
town. First, because it. was free
from all personalities, and was de
voted to the publication of the cur
rent news of the day, interspersed
with articles of literary subjects at
intervals, that lovers of the higher
orders of literature would be de
lighted with, as in a new country as
this was then, books of the bells let
tres kind were scarce indeed. Sec
ond, because Judge Marvin was the
most accomplished, classical scholar
then in Nebraska, or that has ever
been in it since for that matter, and
the products of his pen were mar
vels of style and elegance, su i as
is never met with in the ordinary
i.i.tgh and tumble country publica
He had been educated in one cd' the
Canadian coll« ges, but ’bins If was a
native of the state of Vermont, and
chose the law as his profession in
life, studying in the .offic-e of his
grandfather, Judge Janes, who had
been Chief Justice of the Supreme
Court of that state. He came of a
rare of great lawyers, but 1 was al
ways of tin' opinion that he
made a mistake in trying to he one
himself. I suppose there is some:
place in the world for every man
who has the misfortune to be born .
into it. but sometimes, and generally
a good many times, the wrong man
gets into the wrong place, and fail
ure, or at least, incomplete success
follows, for which the man himself
is held responsible and unjustly so.
Pressed Stone and Brick Co.
W. H. PU 1 NAM & SONS, Props.
We manufacture and carry in stock a full line of Cement
Blocks, Brick, Tile and Plain and Fancy Trimmings,
which we wou'd be pleased to show and price you before you
place \our order elsewhere. We also wholesale and retail
Sand, Cement and Crushed Rock
We are agents for the Boelt’S Concrete Mixer. Visitors al
ways welcome at our yards- Located on the
2 Blocks from Burlington Depot F4LLS CITY. MLB.
To mo it appeared that Judge Marvin
with his great attainments, and splen
did poetic fancy, for he was a poet
in every fiber of ids nature, should
have been on the editorial staff of
some literary magazine of the high
er order, where his powers of criti
cal analysis, equal in grasp to that
of Poe or Willis, could have had full
play and the world of letters would
have been enriched by the circum
Untoward fate ordered his destiny
otherwise, and it may be that 1
am mistaken, though i hardly think
so, but I am very certain that he was
out of his rightful element trying
to practice law in a rude frontier
community, or indeed in any other,
as his tastes and natural instincts fit
ted him for a field of operation as
widely different from the pugilistic
contentions of a legal forum, as the
sunshine of high noon differs from
the darkness of the midnight hour.
1 have no apology to offer for
what I have said of a man whom in
life t admired and respected, and in
whom I saw, what 1 know many
others did not see, an intellectual
giant that fate had enabled pigmies
to bind, as the Lilliputs bound a
Gulliver, with fetters woven of their
ignorance and narrow prejudices,
mere threads of gossamer, but in
combination with a social order as
foreign to his nature as lie was for
eign to it, was sufficiently powerful
to break his spirit, and hold him in
its brutal clutch with the tenacity
of death itself. He was among them,
but not of them, and they killed the
aspirations of a soul too lofty for
vulgar appreciation, and the pearls
he cast before the human swine of
his environment, shared the fate pre
dieted for all such, by one whose
word is the law of this world.
Such was the man who had edi
torial charge of that first newspaper
enterprise in our city, during the last
years of its existence,and until it was
swallowed up by one on a larger
scale, but not of superior character.
Inoffensive, modest, and retiring, its
editor quietly went about his duties,
harming no man, hut doing the best
he could for the town and its peo
ple, and whether that was much or
little, it was done in kindness, and
with a vi> w only to the betterment
of his fellows and the community in
which he lived. He was a citizen of
Nebraska for thirty-two years, most
of which time he lived in Falls City,
and if lie ever by word or deed plac
ed a .thorn in any man’s breast I
never knew it,and I think I knew him
as well as another.
He gathered little gear in the shape
of this world’s goods, but he accu
mulated something better, something
ho could take with him out of the
wilderness—ideas, the only com
modity man can possess that has
real value. From ] 865, when he came
home from serving his country in
the Southern wrnr, till 1891, he went
out and came in with his neighbors
hereabouts, in peace and harmony;
grew old on these streets, and died
regretted by all. That cannot be said
of many who have lived and died in
this stormy little burgh. V
—Don’t forget this is the right time
to put in your concrete walks. Plenty
of rock, sand and cement on hand to
do your work on short notice. Don’t
forget we build concrete stock tanks
of all kinds on short notice. Phones
111, 119, 337—or a postal card will do
Biscuit are more than mere soda
crackers. They are a distinct,
individual food article made from
special materials, by special
methods, in specially constructed
4 J They are sealed in a special
way which gives them crispness,
cleanliness and freshness which
44crackers” from the paper bag
always lack. They are the Na
tion’s accepted soda