Εικόνες σελίδας
PDF
Ηλεκτρ. έκδοση

two and one-half dollars in my pocket. On one occasion I traveled six miles out of my way to get a canteen full of water. Two nights, being unable to reach a house, I lay on the prairie with no covering but the starry decked canopy of heaven, with nothing to break the monotony save the buzz of the mosquito, who, like a hungry creditor, insisted on presenting his bill. I made the night short for fear Mr. Wolf would find lawful prey. The only weapon I had was a one bladed knife to sharpen my pencil-the only dangerous weapon I ever carried was when, in our country's need, Col. Ivers, some others, and myself, in order to show the blood of our forefathers and the ambition of our mothers, carried an old rusty musket and drove the Indians into the Rocky Mountains, where Col. Chunington put his foot on them. If my own gun was ever loaded some other person fired it off, or the load is in her yet.

Please excuse the divergence. To resume, I arrived home after about three months' absence, and when nearing my house two little boys seeing me ran in trembling with fright, and said to their mother, "here comes a crazy man.”

TO JOHN BOULWARE'S MEMORY.

Soon again I turned westward with my family, and on the 10th day of October, 1855, again set foot in Nebraska, taking up our abode in a most dilapidated shanty situated on Kearney Heights, and known as Christy's college, where we were visited soon after by Mr. John B. Boulware, and on casting his eye around he said, "This will not do, I have a better house near the landing, move into it." And gladly we accepted the proffered kindness. Moving was easy, a few wheelbarrow loads and we were confortably situated in the new quarters. The next day Mrs. Boulware called, and in her we found a friend indeed, only equaled by her husband. The memory of all their kind deeds will ever be cherished by our family, and so far as dollars and cents could repay them, John was remunerated with both principal and interest in after years when he visited us at Camp Creek.

ONLY A PORTION.

Mr. President, these are but the outlines of the initiatory steps over the threshold of Nebraska. I suppose every one here remembers too well their own checkered path. In those days I considered myself a

pretty good carpenter, but unfortunately my tool chest, together with some other things shipped from Muscatine, did not arrive until the following spring. Then the all important question arose as to how I was to support my family, with cruel winter staring me in the face, no tools to work with and no acquaintance with the only firm that kept them. One morning I plucked up courage--did I say courage, not I, for I had none. However, I got to the store by the ground not complying with my foolish wishes to open and swallow me up. What a task for me to ask an entire stranger to trust me for a set of tools. One of the proprietors was pointed out to me, who proved to be Mr. Nuckols, of the firm of Nuckols, Hail & Vandorn. I approached him with a bow and the salutation of the morning, and commenced to tell my story; that I was a carpenter with a large family; then come the tug of war; he surveyed me a moment from head to foot, then said, "do you intend to remain here?" "Yes." It was easily answered for we could not get away. He turned and said, John, let this man have what he wants. That sounded good, and after selecting such things as I stood most in need of, John said, is there anything else? That sounded still better. I have always thought John was the nearest "white" of any man I ever knew, when gathering up my tools. Mr. Nuckolls asked me if I could do a job for Judge Bradford. It was a small one, for which he paid me a five dollar gold piece. Oh! how large it looked. And just here I claim to have made the first window sash by hand that was ever made in this city.

THE FIRST MARRIAGE.

But, Mr. President, I find neither time nor space will permit giving in detail the vicissitudes of our early days in Nebraska. A trip to Sidney for a little salt, thence to Sonora with a grist of corn, making the trip with oxen, taking several days. Our daughter's marriage to S. B. Davis, being the first wedding in Kearney; the cake being a sad affair-no eggs to be had and flour scarce. Our moving to the claim in mid-winter, with the thermometer 30 degrees below zero, the poverty stricken oxen sticking in a snow bank, two children shivering in the sled, and my hazardous tramp several miles for Mr. F. Simms to help with his team. Then our cabin with its dirt roof leaking for several days after a rain, the occupants sitting up in bed with a bucket

[ocr errors]

or pan to catch the drops, and after the sleepy holder was drenched with the contents, dozing off, perhaps to dream of shingle roofs and board floors. The trial of having a grist ground at Jamison's mill, which only made six revolutions a week, as the old logs lying around will testify to this day. Necessity being the mother of invention, I made a grater of enormous size, on which we ground our corn, often at the expense of skinning our knuckles; the marks I now carry.

THE WAY TO GET RID OF MINISTERS.

Once a minister came, and after addressing the few settlers, all dispersed without inviting him to dine. Perhaps they all felt like ourselves, too poor and proud to offer the man of God what would hold soul and body together. At all events, I invited him home, all the while pondering over in my mind what we could set before him; the clouds were somewhat removed when I thought of the plate of butter in the root house, which was a great luxury those days. I felt easy until the table was being set, when, alas! vain hopes. Our dog Trusty," so untrue to his title, had stolen the butter, and sorrowfully we watched the preacher wash down the dry corn bread with the familiar beverage, corn coffee; and that was the last Camp Creek ever saw of Mr. Preacher.

66

THE OLD COW GONE.

Then the cattle died, the loved cow was long on the lift, and, like a funeral procession, every morning the family gathered around the prostrate form, lifting, steadying, and caressing her, fully impressed that a cow was a good thing in a family where milk was scarce.

In conclusion, Mr. President, you may think, to contrast eighteen years ago with the present, I am going to tell you that I am rich; but I cannot say that. but if we could have been half as comfortable then as now, would have felt rich. I have occupied too much of your time and the half is not told.

SUMMARY.

Well, it gives me pleasure to look around on not only our own children but our grandchildren. I do not like to be profane, but I could live in this healthy Nebraska until I saw the third and fourth generation, for this is my place, here will I stay, for I do love it well.

LETTER FROM S. F. NUCKOLLS.
Read before the Old Settlers' Picnic on June 17, 1874.
SALT LAKE CITY, UTAH,
June 10, 1874.

Maj. J. W. Pearman, President Old Settlers' Association: I thank you kindly for the honor done me in your letter of the 26th ult., in behalf of the Old Settlers' Association of Otoe county, Nebraska, extending to me an invitation to deliver the annual address before your Society at the fourth reunion, to be held this present month.

I would most gladly accept your invitation, but now is the busy mining season, and I have other and pressing duties that prevent, so that I must decline this opportunity of meeting my old friends in Otoe county-the best friends that man ever had.

It was October 1, 1846, when, being just twenty-one years of age, I left my native Virginia and traveled two hundred miles on foot to Wyandotte, on the Ohio river. There I took passage on a steamboat to St. Louis as a deck passenger. I have before me my passage ticket, which read as follows:

[blocks in formation]

From St. Louis I made my way by land to what is now called Civil Bend, but which was then known as Hog Thief Bend, about five miles from Nebraska City. On the steamer Swatara I had made the acquaintance of William Lambert, who lived there. When I arrived at his house he told me I could board there gratis, as long as I pleased, if I would help "grit ;" as there was no mill in the country and all the corn meal had to be made in that way.

The next day there was a horse race, and as every one present had bets on the race except A. A. Bradford, Deacon Lambert, and the writer, we three were elected judges of the races. Judge Bradford was then county clerk of Atchison county, and he persuaded me to go down with him to Linden, Mo.

In a few days there was a wedding to take place at Mrs. Cornog's in Hog Thief Bend, to which all Linden went, ere the sun was low. But lo! the Methodist circuit rider, who was to tie the knot, did not come because the Tarkio river could not be crossed. The impatient guests arranged with B. M. George, sheriff of that county, to perform the ceremony between Wm. Wells and Miss Cornog. Mrs. Cornog was opposed to this proceeding, but every one else said it was all right; so the ceremony was performed, turkey and pigs eaten, and there was dancing on the puncheon floor of that log cabin "till daylight did appear." Two days thereafter the minister arrived and learned of the circumstance, and insisted that they should be remarried according to the forms of his church, which was duly done.

Judge Bradford, who was prominent at this wedding, some years afterwards was connected with Hon. J. S. Morton, Hon. J. F. Kinney, and Horace H. Harding in inducing Joseph Murphy, of Iowa, to give a grand oyster and champagne supper at the Nuckolls House, Nebraska City. At this social gathering there were present such eminent men as Gov. S. W. Black, A. J. Hopkins, E. A. Des Long, Dr. J. C. Campbell, John B. Boulware, W. R. Craig, Wm. McLennan, Geo. E. Crater, W. R. Sroat, C. H. Cowles, Dr. Wm. Dewey, J. H. Decker, Wilson M. Maddox, Gideon Bennett, Dr. Henry Bradford, H. P. Bennett, Gen. H. P. Downs, N. S. Harding, Thomas Morton, Judge Edward R. Harden, of Georgia, M. W. Riden, Mills S. Reeves, and many others. Hon. J. F. Kinney presided, and, after all the wine in town had been drank, at the expense of Murphy, the following resolutions were introduced by Hon. J. S. Morton, and unanimously passed:

WHEREAS, We are convened here this evening, at the invitation of a distinguished and eminent member of the high and honorable profession of the law-a bright particular star in that firmament of legal erudition, whose effulgence illumines the fertile and magnificent valley of the Missouri river-Joseph Murphy, Esq., of Fremont county, Iowa; therefore, be it

Resolved, 1. That in the intellectual economy of Joseph Murphy are all the elements and acquirements appertaining to the sound, practical, and profound lawyer, the ever reliable, staunch, active, energetic, and sagacious Democrat.

2. That the said Joseph Murphy, for his honesty, integrity, and indomitable industry and sobriety, is peculiarly fitted for a seat upon the supreme bench of the supreme court of Utah, for which place he seems to us the man-the man furnished at this crisis in the affairs of that polygamous commonwealth, as Napoleon was to France, by the hand of a never erring destiny.

« ΠροηγούμενηΣυνέχεια »