Εικόνες σελίδας
Ηλεκτρ. έκδοση

the same; those that stuck by their first love, or wandered back east again, are left either poor or with a moderate amount of this world's pelf. Fifty-nine live in the State now, or have died here; the rest are scattered to the four winds of the earth.

One curious circumstance a friend noticed: of the entire number that came to Decatur in '57-8, those who brought any money with them left the town or died there broke, those who came with no money were the only ones who ever made any there.

Few of this particular party came here to farm, but it is a fact that of those who scattered out along the road or the bottoms and became farmers, every one gained a competency, and a good home to live or die in; and some after a number of years of successful farming "moved to town," became bankers or large stock-dealers and are rich to-day. It was entirely of those who tried some mechanical employment, or drifted into clerkships, or politics, that represent the poorer ones; bear this in mind when any one says that farming don't pay. How some of our Omaha friends made money is easy to be seen. The original town and ferry company at Decatur were: Peter A. Sarpy, B. R. Folsom, Jno. B. Folsom,— Jones of New York, Enos Lowe of Omaha, Tootle and Jackson,-Hellman, T. H. Hinman and Heman Glass. Nowadays the natural money-maker strikes for a street car line and an electric or gas franchise; then the thing to freeze on to was the town and ferry privilege, and the men who owned a good ferry on the Missouri in an early day had a bonanza equal to a gas factory now.

In this time, silver has been at a premium, gold at 240; greenbacks triumphant. Wheat, $2.50 a bushel on the banks of the Missouri; corn, $1.co a bushel for feed and $1.50 for seed; and again silver at a discount, gold and greenbacks worth a dollar, one hundred cents, no more, no less, wheat as low as thirty-five cents, and I have burned bushels of corn at 15, 12 Y2 and even as low as 10 cents a bushel. I have seen land go begging at $1.25 per acre; and sell for thousands of dollars per acre, or hundreds per front foot. Freights have been 3 to 5 cents a pound for a distance of 100 miles, or less, and at 72 a cent per ton per mile. A man and team have earned $5.00 to $8.00 per day; and have worked at $1.50 per day of long hours.

In these thirty odd years there has been a low tariff, a moderate tariff and a very high tariff, and yet some men got poor and some rich all the time. The constitution and fundamental laws have been about the same, so that we must conclude that no change of mere laws, no tariff, no particular kind of currency can make all the people rich all the time; nor can they make them all poor all the time, but under any laws and any conditions, some are bound to be rich part of the time, and some poor part of the time.

A man's own exertions and his environments create his success or non-success. These sturdy, earlier settlers that have succeeded and made this broad prairie blossom as a rose, who solved the problem whether Nebraska would grow wheat and corn and fruit, did not “holler" for the government to help make the grass grow, abolish snakes, or even rid them of the bugs and grasshoppers. They did not ask to have wheat made a dollar a bushel by statute, and yet they are here, many of them, “sassy,” fat and hearty, living in their own homes with money in the bank, and their children growing up about them in peace and plenty: It is a later or newer edition who seem disposed to turn, like wards of the nation, to the Great Father at Washington for everything, and who seem to think that a government (which should be themselves), can make up for shiftlessness, ignorance, bad investments, or even the losses and defects resulting from natural causes--by simply passing or "repealing" a law. The best, the truest function of a wise government is to protect life and property, to see that all are equal under the law,


that every

gets what he really earns-and “hands off" as far as the rest goes. The great law of supply and demand, as our president here has so often said, fixes the price of produce and stock and will regulate freight rates in the end. It determines the value of your money, and no legislative, nor judge-made law can ever subdue or alter this fact, and it is about the only real solid fact that Adam Smith or any other political economist laid down, that has thoroughly stood the test of "the times."

L'ENVOI. Friends, perhaps I have wearied you. Let us say this to close: while I have not been of the most lucky or fortunate of these early centurions, I have seen a great state grow up before my eyes, made out of nothing--but dirt, brains and work. None of us will ever see the like again. It cannot be duplicated now or perhaps ever; not that there will be no new states after us, but the same conditions will not prevail. It will take time, money, artificial resources to make the states that are to come. This is the last state where nature laid herself out to furnish a climate, soil, and surroundings, wherein the sons of men could make homes with the least toil, the least expenditure of either time or pre-created wealth. Of no future state, just as it lies out doors, without artificial aid, will it again be said: "Tickle the land with a hoe and the crop laughs to the harvest." Glad am I that I had some small part in the making of such a state, and whatever fortune has in store for me, I shall rest in patience, content in that, until I am visited by "the Exterminator of delights, and the Separator of companions."

Omaha, Dec. 12th, 1893.


Clyde B. Aitchison One of the strongest influences on the destifly of. Nebraska was negative in character--the death of the first Governor of the Territory, Francis Burt. What his influence on the Territory would have been had he lived, and what it was in his death, were equal, but the two were in diametrical opposition. His life was full of interest, and his pathetic death proved a turning point in the history of Nebraska. Notwithstanding these facts, to-day he is less known by the people of this Commonwealth than any other Governor of the State or Territory.

This is the result of various causes. Naturally not many of our present citizens were acquainted with the first Governor of the Territory. Less than a fortnight on Nebraska soil, but little was known of him by the few thousands then in the Territory. His home was in one of the far South Atlantic States, a section which furnished but few emigrants who knew him before he was sent to the frontier Territory whose executive office he was not permitted to retain.

Francis Burt, Governor of Nebraska, first saw the light of day on the 13th of January, 1807, on his father's plantation in Edgefield District, South Carolina. He could trace his paternal ancestry back to the earliest settlers in Virginia. His father, also named Francis, after distinguishing himself in the Revolution as a colonial soldier, settled in Edgefield, and while engaged as a planter there, was several times chosen to represent his district in the state Senate. The mother of the future Governor was Katherine Miles, a lineal descendant of some French Huguenots who were driven to South Carolina by the persecutions which followed the revocation of the Edict of Nantes. Of young Francis' five brothers, the eldest died in infancy; three chose medicine as their profession, and one the law. What became of his three sisters is not apparent.

While Frank, or the young Francis, was still at an early age, the Burt family removed to Pendleton, South Carolina and there the five boys took advantage of the educational opportunities offered by Pendleton Academy. Frank did not graduate, but seems to have been a diligent student subsequent to his scholastic career; for it was said of him that "Few men in the State had a better knowledge, of the English language, or spoke it with more correctness or purity.” When ripening into manhood, he developed a commanding figure; and yet there was blended with his dignity a grace of manner and the frankness and suavity which produce that attractive character called magnetic.

About the time he left school, he entered the office of Hon. Warren R. Davis as a law student, and there acquired the rudiments of the profession he had chosen. In 1831, he married the eldest daughter of George Abbot Hall of Charleston, an attractive, cultured woman, with a strong personality, well fitted to be the wife of a man like Burt. This marriage was blessed with eight children.

Frank, the oldest son, died at an early age while a student in his father's office. Armistead, the second, named after a favorite brother of his father, adopted the profession of medicine. At the commencement of the civil war, he enlisted in the Confederate army, and lost an arm in one of the battles before Richmond. The third son, George Abbot, or Frank as he was called after the death of his older brother, is still engaged in farming. Four daughters married, Georgeana becoming Mrs. William H. Dawson; Harriet, Mrs. D. M. Young; Joanna, Mrs. George Roberts; and Mary, Mrs. William A. John

Katherine never married, but devotes her life to

« ΠροηγούμενηΣυνέχεια »