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full of young birds. Then he hits the old bird a lick on the head with the butt of the revolver. The old bird flew to the Justice office all covered with blood just as his Honor was being seated at the breakfast table, and of course a little scene occurred which we will not relate.
In the summer of 1864 the whole west was very easily excited after the horrible massacre in Minnesota. Wild rumors were afloat continually, and the scattered settlements were harrassed with fears throughout the whole summer and fall. The most trifling circumstances were magnified as they were related by the panic stricken people into general massacres or wholesale slaughtering of some neighboring settlement. The impression prevailed that the Rebel Government at Richmond was inciting the redskins to a merciless warfare all along the frontier. Tomahawks and scalping knives of the Red Devils were vividly pictured in all our dreams. We knew this much that the dark hours of the war presented a grand opportunity for them to clean us out root and branch. We also knew that they were in no friendly mood, or in other words we were quite sure that they were thirsting for our blood, and all that kept them back was their fear of a terrible retribution, and further the fire we
was not all fox fire. There were people murdered by them in Nebraska and not a few. At Plumb Creek of the west, on Turkey Creek, on the Little Blue, there were murders and kidnappings, such as make our blood boil to this day as we think of them. We had just cause to fear, and it would have been foolhardiness to be otherwise than on the alert.
In the month of August while we were on a trip to the river with a load of salt, a panic occurred, the story of which we relate in brief as told us by our better half that helped to enjoy it to the full. During the day word was received that all the settlement on the Blue had been murdered, and from every appearance the Indians would bounce upon the Salt Creek settlement that night. It was nearly dark, wife and children were at the mercy of the neighbors, as they had no team. Uncle Peter Bellows came nobly to the rescue, with his broad German accent he said “Mrs. Coax you shall go
wid Blessed be the name of Uncle Peter forever; but Uncle Peter had his peculiarities. He was a great hand to gather up things, such as old log chains, old plow shares, broken pitchforks, horse
shoes (he didn't have a horse in the world), ox yokes, and all sorts of old irons. He was rich in old irons. In packing up to go Uncle Peter had of course to take the last one of these precious jewels, but in the hurry and excitement he forgot to take any provisions for the family. When he came for wife he said, “Mrs. Coax we takes you and the childerns but we can take notings else. Vell dot ish so, hurry up mine Got, the Ingins is coming sure.” Wife protested that she must take something to eat, and some bedding, and finally persuaded him to take a sack (50 lbs) of flour and a ham of meat, and a bed, provided she would walk herself. We then had three children, the oldest now Mrs. Kate Ruby, of Marquette, Neb., aged five years, the next aged three years, now Mrs. Nettie M. Pingree, of Colby, Kansas, then Elmer, of whom we have spoken, aged sixteen months. The oldest girl walked, and Nettie was perched upon the load of goods, and wife carried the babe upon her right arm and with the left she carried one end of a trunk a mile and a half or to the ford. The babe she carried the full ten miles, that dark stormy night. Wild with fright they went pell mell. Imagine if you can the terrors of that awful night, the rolling thunder, the lurid lightning, and the mortal dread of a savage foe. Weary and fainting they arrived at Shirley's ranch late at night. In the morning it developed that the sack of flour and ham of meat were all the provisions in camp for a hundred hungry souls, except green corn bought of Shirley, but they had plenty of old irons. It further developed that there had been no hostile Indians within a full hundred miles.
When it became certain that the Union would triumph over the rebellion, and there would be ample security here as elsewhere for life and property, then great numbers came. Also a further stimulus to settlement was the certainty of the building of the Union Pacific R. R., its eastern terminus had been fixed in the fall of '64 and the first ground was broken, and it may fairly be said that Nebraska had awakened to a new and vigorous life. During the spring of '64, having become convinced that it occasionally rained on Blue River, we made up our minds to cast our lot with the little settlement in the neighborhood where now stands the beautiful little city of Seward, and made preparations during the summer and accomplished our object, and made the removal December 1. Thus ends our immediate connection with the struggling pioneers of Lancaster county, and there it begins with those of Seward county. Of those good old days of pioneer life we have many, yes very many, pleasant recollections.
There were some dark clouds overspreading our skies at times but every cloud let it be ever so dark “Had its silver lining”. Friendships there sprung up that will remain true so long as life shall last.
To have been a pioneer in Nebraska, in helping to open the way to civilization, we consider an honor, and looking back over the years, years of pleasant sunshine and prosperity, years of dark clouds, of danger and adversity, we rejoice to-night that we came to Nebraska and helped to lay the foundations of this mighty commonwealth, “Our own, our loved Nebraska.”
EARLY TIMES AND PIONEERS.
By J. STERLING MORTON.
Thirty-seven years ago this month the bill organizing the territories of Kansas and Nebraska became a national statute. That bill was the outgrowth of the ambition of Stephen A. Douglas to become president of the United States. But it opened, instead of a pathway for one man to the presidency, the rough and bloody road to freedom for four millions of bondsmen. Man proposed for self, but the inexorable logic of events disposed for justice and liberty to all humanity. The manner of presenting the issue was seemingly obscure. But through the mists of sophistry and above the wrangle of debate was seen and heard at last the figure of justice demanding mercy and liberty for an oppressed race.
And from the first establishment of civil government in Kansas and Nebraska until the sound of the last gun of the great civil war in 1865 there was no cessation in the intensely fierce combat for the natural rights of man. Thus the star of an individual destiny paled in the light of the sun of that liberty which rose to its zenith after the tumult and tempest which swept the country with iron hail and deluged it with blood.
Two years later, in March 1867, (after thirteen years of territorial dependence) Nebraska was admitted to the Union. Therefore, after twenty-four years of statehood—civil government within these borders is thirty-seven years of age. And this society has been organized for the proper purpose of truthfully recording in part, at least, the cause and effects of the governmental expedients and policies which have been evolved, and failed, or proved partially succ
ccessful, during that period of time.
On January 16, 1855, the first legislative assembly of the territory of Nebraska convened at Omaha, then a hamlet of between three and five hundred persons. A biography of the dominant members in that assembly would be in part a history of Michigan, New York, Iowa and New England; for in all those sections individual members of that first legislature of Nebraska had been prominent and some of them distinguished. In proportion to its numbers, twenty-six members in the lower, and thirteen in the upper house, it contained more men learned in the law and experienced in legislation than any of its successors down to this day.
The message read to those pioneers of civil government on the west bank of the Missouri was equal in cogency of statement, purity of diction and perspicacity of style to any similar paper which has been addressed to Nebraska law makers in all these thirty-seven years. It was delivered on January 16, 1855, at Omaha, by the Hon. Thomas B. Cuming, secretary and acting governor. In it I find the words - which I heard so eloquently spoken—The first official act within our territory has been indeed a mournful one—the transmission to a bereaved wife and orphaned children in South Carolina of all that was mortal of your late lamented Governor, Francis Burt. In his death
you have suffered a severe loss—the loss of a man peculiarly qualified by his public experience and capacity, his private virtues and his energy and firmness, for the satisfactory and courageous discharge of his official duties. He spent a few weeks of suffering among us, and his graye in a distant state is only another tie of union between communities widely severed, who will revert to his character with fraternal pride, and to his untimely decease with sympathetic sorrow.
no. unpleasant discriminations to subtract from the universal esteem in which his manly and amiable traits were held by an enlightened people.”
By the decease of Governor Burt, Secretary Cuming, under a provision of the Nebraska bill, became the acting governor of Nebraska. Up to and at the time of his death, Governor Burt made Bellevue the territorial capital, and there kept the executive office. Had he lived, the first legislative assembly of Nebraska would have been there convened, and there would have been located, by the legislature, the permanent capital, and there built up the commercial city of this commonwealth. There would have crossed the transcontinental railroad, and Omaha would have been only a name, for Bellevue is the natural gateway, ready graded for the railroad, to the valley of the great Platte.
But Governor Burt's views were not those of Governor Cuming