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During the year Weeping Water was visited and inducements for removal considered. In June the committee reported that Fontenelle was the better location. In July, 1869, Rev. Roswell Foster, then preaching in Fremont, proposed that the trustees invite bids from all parts of the state for the purpose of securing the most eligible and permanent location for the institution. This proposition was lost. But the association at their next meeting declined to elect trustees, and finally, through a committee appointed for that purpose, did relinquish the name and prestige of the association to the management and direction of the college, leaving the board of trustees at full liberty to conduct the affairs as circumstances might require, and to seek from the legislature such amendments to the charter as they might think proper.
The trustees now resolved that the time had come to erect a new building in place of the one that was burned, and declared their wish to place the seminary on a catholic and firm basis. The next month, August, 1869, the treasurer presented to the trustees a subscription paper on which four thousand two hundred dollars were pledged for the new building, and they decided to erect the same at once. A building committee was appointed, plans and specifications received, and the work begun. The trustees also decided to extend a call to some suitable person to become president of the college, and anthorized the president of the board to extend such call to Rev. S. H. Emery, of Quincy, Ill., at a salary of from one thousand to twelve hundred dollars. But he had previously made other arrangements and could not accept.
In January, 1870, the first story of the new building, 30x50 feet, was ready for the winter term. The following March, Rev. Thomas Douglas became president and was authorized to employ teachers for the coming year. An organ was purchased and a music teacher secured. Rev. C. G. Bisbee resigned, and Prof. J. J. Boulter was obtained to fill his place. Mrs. Boulter kept the boarding house, and both were faithful and efficient workers. But in 1872 the new building was visited by an unexpected calamity. It was surmounted by a heavy cupola and the upper story was not yet finished. A severe wind, amounting to something like a cyclone, struck the building, and helped by the insecure cupola, wrenched it out of place, thus rendering it unsafe for the school. Some work was done toward repairing the injury and more contemplated. A
subscription of fifteen hundred dollars by the citizens of Fontenelle was expected to meet all indebtedness. At a meeting of the Congregational association in Omaha, June, 1872, a vote was taken to place the Congregational college at Crete. Fontenelle was greatly disheartened but still hoped to save the buildings for a school. This pledge by the people of fifteen hundred dollars was partly collected. Then came the first grasshopper year. Because of this many could not pay what they had promised in more prosperous times. In 1874 the buildings were sold at auction. They were still standing in their places in 1876, but were afterwards removed. "The one hundred and sixty acres of choice land” was given on condition that the college should remain at Fontenelle. This reverted to the heirs of Deacon Keyes, of Quincy, who gave it on these conditions. Some other property was given in a similar way. Thus, for many years, says Rev. Mr. Bisbee, efforts were made to establish a Christian college at Fontenelle. Many prayers were offered and much self-denying labor put forth for its success. Encouragements and discouragements were experienced. Many were assisted in acquiring an education, and a goodly number found the Saviour.
It did a good work in spite of great difficulties.
The above record from the pen of Mrs. Reuben Gaylord is a valuable contribution to the early history of Christian education in Nebraska. Few are now surviving who could tell the story as it is here done, by one who shared in all its chief events. It preserves some of the words, and shows the spirit, which always animated the heart of Rev. REUBEN GAYLORD, the acknowledged pioneer of both education and religious work in this state. It should be counted the first chapter in the history which here follows, of Doane College. Its success is but the realizing of the ideas, and carrying out of the plans, under another name, which Mr. Gaylord began at Fontenelle. The work is one. The history is, and will be one. In this just view of the case is found another bond of union for all friends of Christian education past and present, an added stimulus to help carry on to success and great usefulness what was so early and so well begun.
A. F. S.
THIRTY-THREE YEARS AGO.
THROUGH NEBRASKA BEFORE ANY SETTLEMENTS-JOURNAL OF A JOUR
NEY TO CALIFORNIA IN 1853.
[Read by Mr. John A. MacMurphy before the State Historical Society at Lincoln, January, 1886.]
The narrative below was written by a relative, and collated by Mrs. H. J. MacMurphy for the historical references to the country that is now Nebraska, and will be interesting to all old settlers who have watched the growth of the state in later years:
SCHUYLER, Neb., March 5.—Thirty-three years ago—April 20, 1853, a family consisting of father, mother, son and daughter started from Wisconsin to the then Eldorado–California--a journey of nearly 2,500 miles, to be made entirely by wagon.
The family which undertook and accomplished this great journey were not tillers of the soil, used to wrestle with nature, but that of a merchant accustomed to all the refinements procurable in the western state which had been their home; the wife a woman of very much more than ordinary intellectual culture for that day, and the daughter a highly accomplished musician; both mother and daughter possessing the gifts which eminently fitted them to call about them the best of whatever society they were thrown among. A journal of their travels with the sun, kept by such a woman, would possess many interesting features and, having it in my possession, I hasten to share with our readers a few of its daily records, mostly, in this short article, such as pertain to their progress through Nebraska-Nebraska as it was thirty-three years ago.
Our journey with them will be typical of the contrast between their progress then and that of the present day, a rapid touch here and there, with most of the disagreeables left out, and accomplishing in days what took them months to perform.
Let us, silent and invisible, but seeing througb the magic of the chronicler's brain and fingers, drop into their wagon just as they come to the Mississippi.
UNDERWAY. “April 28, 1853. The country presents an uneven, and in a cold rainstorm, a dreary and desolate appearance, and I could think of nothing except that it had received its impress from the hand of nature in a whirlwind. We had been climbing one long steep hill after another since we left Mineral Point, until just before we reached the Mississippi, when we entered a deep ravine between two steep rocky banks, which reached almost to the clouds, and when the river burst upon our view I at once recognized one of Catlin's beautiful views of the Mississippi. Here we crossed our first ferry. and poor Frank suffered very much from fear; it was dark and dreary, the rain pouring in torrents, and just as we reached the opposite shore, a steamboat came puffing up to the wharf, when I think little Tony (a favorite horse) behaved himself much better than we did ourselves; but I assure you we were comfortable and happy when we seated ourselves in a pleasant parlor at Hewitt’s city hotel at Dubuque, a fine, flourishing town numbering some 6,000 inhabitants, and increasing at the rate of 2,000 a year. The inhabitants seemed full of life and activity, and we met some very pleasant ladies, with one of whom Frank formed an acquaintance and found a piano, which she enjoyed very much."
Now, just a glimpse of them by their campfires of an evening and then we will leave them to their slow journey across the prairies and bluffs, and over the sloughs of Iowa, which we speed across in a night, comfortably snoozing in a Pullman ‘lower berth middle section,' rejoining them as they approach the borders of Nebraska.
CAMPING FOR THE NIGHT.
May 2, 1853.-We have progressed about fifteen miles and encamped for the night near a Scotch tavern, all preferring our tents and wagons to such accommodations as the place afforded. I think our friends would be much amused could they take a peep at us just now. Here I am sitting on the front seat of the
writing. Willie asleep beside me, Frank seated upon the bed playing her guitar and singing I have Something Sweet to Tell You,' and just a few rods from us, seated around a blazing fire, are the gentlemen of our company, conversing as pleasantly as if we were at home in a parlor. Mrs. Sanborn and her little girls have retired for the night to their tent and Mr. Bradley is in his camp for the first time, from which sounds of mirth and hilarity come floating upon the evening breeze. Night cool, with strong indications of a storm.
"May 15, 1853-Morning warm and sultry, but oh, how unlike a Sabbath morn! We are all tired and would like very much to obey the command, remember the Sabbath day and keep it holy,' and to cease from our labors, but are compelled to travel in consequence of being quite late to commence our journey upon the plains. This eve we received a call from emigrants who had been at their camp through the day, who informed us that more than thirty wagons had passed them to-day. To-night we have a pleasant spot of earth with good wood and water, and a most beautiful moonlight eve.
We are twenty-six miles from Kanesville, have seen several snakes and Frank fancied one sleeping with her.
“May 16, 1853–In the afternoon we heard startling reports of the horrors of the route. Were there none more courageous than myself in the company, I think we might possibly take our homeward way again, but our gentlemen paid but little heed to these stories. This afternoon we met the first Indians we have seen. At eve we encamped on a small stream near Council Bluffs, five miles, from Kanesville, thinking it best to remain here until we are prepared to cross the river.
MORE RAIN ANDA DELUGE.
"May 17, 1853–The rain still pouring down in torrents, and a more cheerless, muddy set you could imagine in no other place except enroute for California. About 10 o'clock the clouds began to disperse, and our husbands left for Kanesville. At eve, soon after their return, the sky became completely over-shadowed by the most terrific looking clouds imaginable; the wind began to blow and the rain to pour in torrents.
We had worked hard all day to dry our beds from the drenching of the previous night, and had made them up comfortably hoping to get a little sleep. I had just lost myself in a pleasant dream when some one called out, "The river is overflowing!" I started up and found that we were perfectly inundated, and suck