Andreas' History of the State of Nebraska

Produced by
Ian Guilliatt.

Part 4


Wisner, the second town in size in Cuming County, is located on the Elkhorn sixteen miles northwest from West Point. Like all these western towns its real existence dates only from the time of arrival of the railroad. Settlement had been made in the vicinity as many as sixteen years previous to the laying out of the present site. In 1865 Joseph Emley, D. P. Simmons and George Graham found themselves on the extreme western verge of the settlement, as they located their farms from one to three miles east of the present town. Messrs. Emley and Simmons had come from Wisconsin, bringing their families and driving their stock, and commenced operations immediately after locating. Below Emley's farm half a mile was Josiah Newburn and a mile farther Dr. H. H. Howe. These comprised the settlers in this section of the county. In July of 1865 R. A. Thompson settled on Sand Creek, two miles above town, and in the fall of the same year Silas Scott and Jake Huffman passed on and located on the Humbug, nine miles west. at this time Dr. Howe kept a post office, known as the Dewitt Post office, which had been intended for the settlement six miles farther east. The mistake was not discovered until the mail carrier claimed extra wages for the six miles. This resulted in the removal of the office. But Dr. Howe petitioned and obtained another office which was located as the Lake View office. This office remained until Wisner was established, when it was changed to the Wisner office.


In the latter part of the summer of 1865 Mrs. Margaret Sharp, now of the Black Hills, taught a tern of school at her home some six miles below town. About twelve scholars attended. The school was not continued, as the only object in starting it had been to secure the State Apportionment. In 1868, however, a schoolhouse was built near the farm of Joseph Emley at a cost of $600, all of the lumber being hauled from Fremont by team. The first term was taught by J. W. Hopper, who had as many as fifteen scholars. Mr. Hopper now farms near Omaha. Shortly after the school house was completed, religious services were held by Rev. Louis Janny, of West Point. This was the first religious meeting held in this vicinity. From this time the settlement was well established and new settlers dropped in occasionally until in 1871, when the railroad gave a new impulse to immigration. In 1869 George Gibson opened a small store about two miles below town and did considerable business. During this year, also, Albert and Oliver Emley located themselves about half a mile west of town, and were the nearest settlers when the town was platted. Of the important events which happened in connection with the opening of Wisner, the following extract from the centennial address of E. N. Sweet will give a good idea:

Early in the spring of 1871, a company was organized by the stockholders of the F., E. & M. V. R. R. Co., known as the Elkhorn Land and Town Lot Company. A tract of land was purchased in Elmont Precinct, on the line of the F., E. & M. V. Railroad, upon which a town site was surveyed and platted, and named Wisner (after S. P. Wisner, at that time Vice-President of the railroad company). On or about the 20th of July, the railroad was completed, and on the 26th of July town lots were sold at auction to the highest bidder. Considering that at this time the town only existed on paper, prices ruled high. Sixty-three lots were sold, the highest price paid being $305 for lot twelve, in block thirty-six, and the lowest price paid being $55, for lot four, in block twelve. The total proceeds of the sale were $8,130, and the average price of lots sold was $129.05.

The following reference to the town, written by the editor of the West Point Republican a short time before the sale, indicates how important a town Wisner was at the time of the sale of its site. He says: "We stopped a few moments at the town of Wisner (named after the worthy Vice-President of the S. C. & P. R. R.) and met with a warm reception, the thermometer indicating ninety degrees in the shade. This town at present boasts of a railroad grade, a farmhouse, a surveyed and staked plat and a name."

The surveying of the town was done by J. W. E. Farrell. Immediately after the sale of lots parties commenced the erection of dwellings and places of business.

The first work was begun by George Canfield upon the Wisner House, and the first building completed was a warehouse and office by John W. Pollock. Other buildings followed rapidly. George Gibson moved his store to Wisner and built a building on the corner opposite the Wisner House. The post office was also removed to Wisner, and Hawey Robinson, who ran a hardware store in the building now used by Meicher Bros.' was the first Postmaster. He was succeeded by Almon Castle, after whom C. C. McNish held the position. A. R. Graham succeeded him and is the present incumbent.

The little building now used as a residence by August Mavis was the first schoolhouse. The first school was taught by George Selah, now of Kansas City. About fifteen scholars attended the school and Mr. Selah was paid $45 per month for his services. In the evening he held a writing school, and many of the Wisner scribes took their first lessons under his supervision.

Prominent among the men who devoted their energies to the up-building of the place were George Canfield, J. W. Pollock and E. M. Clark. Mr. Canfield has since gone to Omaha. Mr. Pollock is in West Point, engaged in banking. Mr. Clark died at his home January 27th, 1875. Although R. H. Maxwell had lost a child in the winter of 1873, Mr. Clark's death was the first of an adult which had occurred in the town and was universally lamented. Mr. Clark came from Monroe County, Wis., where he had studied law, and practiced a short time at West Point. After this he came to Wisner, where he labored for the interests of the town and county in a manner which placed him among the foremost men of this section.

In 1872 the growth of the town was constant. The Fourth of July of this year is the date of an occasion long to be remembered by the early residents. Great preparation had been made for the first celebration in which Wisner had indulged. The committee on speakers, which consisted of William Miller, George Canfield and Albert Emley, had spared no expense and secured the services of John D. Howe, of Omaha, and R. F. Stevenson, of West Point. Capt. E. S. Butler, committee on arrangements, had provided ample tables whereon to spread the feast with which the hunger of the multitude was to be satisfied. Not the least important among the means of enjoyment was the platform, sixteen by thirty-two feet, which had been constructed for a bowery dance. It is estimated that 300 people enjoyed the festivities of the occasion. Charles Barber read the Declaration of Independence. Mr. Stevenson spoke in the forenoon, and Mr. Howe in the afternoon. Later in the day the dancing began, the flying steps of the gay followers of Terpsichore being inspired by a violin played by Mr. Burdett and an accordeon in the hands of Ed Robbins. In the evening, dancing was continued in the Wisner House parlors and also in Gibson's Hall. How the music was distributed the witness deposeth not.

In this year also occurred the first marriage celebrated in the town, George Gibson and Miss Ella Simmons were made one February 15, amid the congratulations of all.

Katie Pollock, born in this year, was the first child, the record of whose birth graces the pages of Wisner history.

On the 14th of May, 1873, the town was incorporated by resolution of the County Commissioners and J. W. Pollock, George E. Gibson, W. T. Clendening, H. J. Robinson and A. A. Castle, were appointed Trustees. In the summer of this year the schoolhouse was erected, and in June the iron bridge which crosses the Elkhorn at this place was constructed, the contract was let by the Commissioners to the King Iron Bridge Company for $7,000. The advantage of the bridge can not be over estimated, as it was the means of bringing a large amount of trade to Wisner from the south side of the river. In the fall of 1873, the first camp meeting held in the Elkhorn Valley was opened near Wisner. Rev. Messrs. Skinner, Scott, Janney and others conducted the services, and the meetings were largely attended. Since 1873 the growth of the town has been gradual, but the improvements have been permanent. In August, 1874, the town was the scene of an excursion from Blair, Fremont and towns along the line. Six hundred people were aboard the train which bore the participators, and for a day the town was flooded with the pleasure seekers. The excursion was gotten up by Mr. McBride of Blair.

In 1874 also, the Wisner Times was started by Bever & Lewellan, but had a short lived existence, being published only about six months.

In 1879, the town ceased to be the terminus of the road, and for a time the shipping business, which had been extensive, was injured, but the rapidly settling country was more than compensated for that loss. Thus has the town gradually come to its present importance. Its population at present is estimated at 400. The present trustees are C. H. Averill, Chairman; G. A. Hiller, Treas.; J. C. Kringle, Clerk; S. S. Krake, Justice of The Peace and C. F. Mewis. The school building was erected in 1873 , while John W. Pollock, George Canfield and E. M. Clark were Directors. Its original cost was $900, since that time an addition has been made costing $400. Its rooms are now crowded, and a new building is being talked of. The whole number of scholars in the district is 112: eighty is the average attendance. They are instructed by two teachers, Miss Ellen M. Austin and Miss Ida Averill. The present school board are: W. W. Cones, Treas.; I. H. Vail, School Director; and Albert A. Emley, Moderator.


The Methodist Episcopal Church is the oldest church in Wsiner. Until the summer of 1874 Wisner was only a station of the West Point circuit; at that time a reparation was effected and it was made the head of a circuit. The earliest members of the independent organization were: William and Mrs. Bartley; James Bennett; David Fay; Hulda Fay; Joseph E. Spencer; Mrs. Ellen Spencer; George and Rebecca Scott. Rev. I. H. Skinner was the first Pastor, and remained until the fall of 1877. He was followed by Rev. Alfred Hodgett who remained two years. Rev. W. F. Calder next succeeded and remained until 1881, when the present Pastor, Rev. W. H. Carter, arrived. The church services are held in the school house. In the spring work will be begun on a church building, which will cost $1,200. A contract to deed lots, when the building is completed, is now on file. The parsonage and lot now owned by the church is valued at $500. The membership at Wisner is ten and the circuit fifty-one. Rev. Mr. Carter is assisted by Rev. W. H. Gifford, and meetings are held at the Pilger, Lucas, Plum Creek, Perrine, Ellis, Pleasant View and La Porte schoolhouses.

The Catholic Church was organized at Wisner in 1879, and the building was dedicated July 27, of that year. This is the only church building in the place and was erected at a cost of $1,200. Services are held regularly at monthly intervals by Rev. N. Horne, of West Point. Among the original members were: Peter Baker; James Connor; Charles Gahagan; Thomas Higgins; Caspar Lummel; James Lavelle; Felix McDonald; Michael McNamara; William Niedermeyer and John Phillips. The number of members has now increased to twenty-four. In connection with the church is a flourishing Sunday school.

The Congregational Church was organized at Wisner in 1881, by Rev. James Oakey. In 1873, Rev. George Little, a Presbyterian minister, had organized a society composed of eight members. They were, Mr. and Mrs. Fish, Theodore Fish, Mrs. Castle, Mr. and Mrs. Johnson, Mrs. Pollock, and Mr. and Mrs. Will Smith. Rev. Mr. Little stayed one year, and, although the society had grown to twelve members, no one appeared to maintain it. In 1876 Rev. George Scott, the Congregationalist minister of West Point, began to hold meetings, but no organization was effected until February, 1881. The charter members were: Mr. and Mrs. Mathewson, Mr. and Mrs. Todd, Mrs. Castle, Mrs. Vail, and Mrs. McMillan. Rev. Mr. Oakey now preaches every two weeks in the schoolhouse. The present membership of the church is eleven.

Meetings are held occasionally in the schoolhouse by Rev. Mr. Frieke, of the German Lutheran Church, but no organization exists.

The Union Sunday school meets regularly every week at the schoolhouse. There are sixty scholars and five teachers. W. W. Cones is superintendent of the school.


Wisner Woman's Suffrage Association was organized in November, 1881, by Mrs. Colby, who came from Beatrice for the purpose. The object is to urge the adoption of an amendment to the constitution by which the word male shall be stricken out. Secondary to this is the amusement and literary culture of the members. Its meetings are held every two weeks. There are at present thirty-one members. The officers are: Mrs. D. Sutlief, Pres.; Miss Ellen Austin, Vice Pres.; Mrs. J. C. Kringle, Treas.; J. C. Kringle, Sec.; Mat Robinson, Cor. Sec.

Wisner Council No. 828 (Legion of Honor). This lodge has been lately organized, its first meeting being held January 10, 1882. There were twenty-three charter members, of whom fifteen are present officers: A. R. Graham, P.C.; C. C. McNish, C.; Thomas A. Mitchell, V. C.; William Nicholson, Sec.; W. McLaughlin, Treas.; J. Phil Barnhardt, Col.; Charles W. Kay, Sec.; William T. Clendening, Chaplain; N. Saulsbury, Guard; G. W. Howe, Guide; Dr. Charles M. Sutlief, M. D.; James R. Cury, Orator; B. H. Finch, S. N. Kay, and Adolph Becker, Trustees. The remaining charter members are: G. F. Hosford, Henry Perrine, C. H. Averill, S. S. Krake, M. T. Sperry, Almond Castle, Albert Emley, Ernst Hirth, John A. Lucus. The meetings of the lodge are held every second Wednesday.

Wisner Lodge, No. 61 (I. O. O. F.), was organized September 12, 1876, by St. John Goodrich, D. G. M., of Omaha. The charter members were: George G. Gans, August Mewis, Joseph Lewellan, Henry Fauble, John Bressler, W. L. Higgins, Theodore Bath, Joseph Agler, James Fox, and Fred Marx. On the same evening the following were initiated: C. C. McNish, R. H. Maxwell, R. J. Silliman, Henry H. Howe, M. C. Robinson, John Fauble, and Just Jenson. The business session of this first meeting was followed by a banquet at the Elkhorn Valley House. The present officers of the lodge are: A. Berker, J. N. King, G. W. Wightman, Trustees; E. Hirth, N. G.; H. Harris, V. G.; C. C. McNish, Sec.; Fred Marx, Treas.; A. Berker, W.; C. M. Sutlief, C.; Henry Fauble, L. S. S.; John A. Lucus, R. S. S.; J. A. McBurney, R. S. to N. G. John Fauble, L. S. to N. G.; G. W. Wightman, R. S. to V. G.; J. N. Kay, L. S. to V. G.; Henry Belas, I. G. There are at present twenty-six members in the lodge. Meeting are held every Saturday evening.


The business of the place, amounting yearly to $250,000 is represented by 42 firms, and is distributed as follows: General merchandise, 5; drugs, 2; hardware, 3; harness, 1; shoemakers, 2; blacksmith shops, 3; grain elevators, 3; coal dealers, 2; stock dealers, 3; saloons, 2; agricultural implements, 2; banks, 2; hotels, 2; attorneys, 2; doctors, 3. Besides these, there are one butcher shop, one real estate office, one lumber yard and one wagon shop.

The Wisner Wind Mill is almost as much of a curiosity in this country as it is a prosperous business enterprise. It was erected in the fall of 1878 by Hoefs & Sluether, who have run it since that time. The mill is the Holliday patent, and has a forty-foot wheel, giving it an eighteen-horse power. In 1881, there were ground in its one run of stone 10,939 bushels of grain. Much is due to the location for the successful use of wind as a motive power. In this respect the mill has unexcelled facilities, being located on the most prominent of the many high bluffs which skirt the Elkhorn north of Wisner. The wind mill alone cost $1,500. The building, which is forty by forty, together with all appliances, including the mill, is valued at $7,500. The proprietors report the cost of running it to be very light, as compared with steam or water power.

The Wisner House, at present the only hotel in the place, was one of the first buildings erected in Wisner. In 1876, Mr. Canfield sold it to R. M. Forbes, who occupied it until 1881. On the first of May of that year it was opened by Hale Perrine, the present proprietor. It is a two-story wooden building, situated in the center of the town. There are accommodations for fifty guests, and the management has been such as to make it popular with the traveling public.

For some years a house known as the Elkhorn Valley House has been opened to the public. It was built by J. H. Bever, in 1872. It is now used as a private residence.

During the eight years in which Wisner was the terminus of the railroad, it became an important shipping point, and the business was fully represented. Elevators were built by J. W. Pollock, for the Railroad Company, in 1872; by J. W. McLaughlin, in 1874, and by W. T. Clendening, in 1877. Since the western trade has been cut off by the extension of the road, this business has lost much of its importance, and all the grain is now handled by Arthur Truesdell, who occupies the Railroad Company's warehouse. In the place of grain raising, the settlers have entered largely into stock growing, and at present there are three firms engaged in buying and transporting: McLaughlin & Smock, J. H. Emley, and E. E. Perrine.

George Grave's lumber yard, the only one in Wisner, was opened soon after the location of the town, by J. W. Pollock, who sold to L. B. Wadleigh. He remained in the business until spring of 1878, when Mr. Graves bought him out. The increasing demands of a rapidly-settling country renders this one of the most important branches of business in the town.

The banking house of W. W. Cones was established in April, 1877. It was the first bank in the place, and has continued in a prosperous business.

The Wisner Bank was opened in August, 1881, by McNish & Graham. A general banking business is done.


Bancroft is a new station, situated on the Omaha & Northern Nebraska Railroad, in the extreme northeastern part of the county. It was platted in November, 1881, and already shows signs of heavy growth.


Hon. W. W. CONES, banker and agricultural implements. Was born in Cincinnati, Ohio: there was engaged in various pursuits. In 1857 came to Muscatine and Iowa City. Iowa; built the gas works in both these places. In June of the following year he returned to Cincinnati; in 1861, returned to Iowa City and took charge of the gas works; in 1864 he came to Scott County, Iowa, bought a farm about five miles from Davenport, where he resided several years. He was elected in the fall of 1867, a member of the State Senate; served two years. In 1875, came to West Point, engaged in banking firm of Cones & Pollock; continued two years. In 1877, he removed to Wisner, where he has since resided. In the fall of 1881, he was elected County Commissioner.

G. W. HOWE, drugs and fine groceries. Is a native of Akron, Ohio where he was raised and received a liberal education. At about the age of eighteen he removed to McGregor, Iowa. There entered a drug store, where he remained for many years engaged in the business. There he held the office of City Clerk several years. August, 1880, came to Wisner, bought out this drug store which he has since conducted. His father built the Ohio canal extending from Cleveland to Portsmouth, which was completed in 1828. Cost the State $3,500,000.

L. C. KRINGEL, firm of Kringel Bro's & Merriam, general merchandise, is a native of Denmark. Came to Shelby County, Iowa, in 1870, where he engaged in farming. In the fall of 1876, came to Douglas County, Neb., worked for the U. P. R. R. Co., about five years. In the summer of 1881, came to Wisner, and engaged in the mercantile business. His brother, J. C., is now holding the office of Town Clerk, and is also notary public.

J. W. McLAUGHLIN & CO., general merchandise. Mr. McLaughlin is a native of Carroll County, Ohio; in 1869 came to Cedar County, Iowa; was engaged with his brother in farm machinery about three years, after engaged in the drug business, two years. In 1874 came to Wisner; he with his brother established this business which is now the largest store in Wisner. His brother died October, 1880. They are also extensively engaged in live stock and grain. They own a farm of 320 acres improved located about seven miles from Wisner, which is devoted to stock raising.

C. C. McNish, firm of McNish & Graham, bankers and attorneys. Was born in Green County, Wis., attended the State University, in 1873, was in the law office of Lewis McKenney & Tenney, of Madison, about two and one-half years. March 1875, he came to Wisner, has since followed this profession. He has been Postmaster, and three years a Member of the Iowa Board. In the fall of 1878, he was elected District Attorney, of the Sixth Judicial District. Mr. A. R. Graham, of the above firm is Postmaster, having been appointed March, 1880. They are about completing a Congregational church here at a cost of about $1,200.

HALE PERRINE, attorney-at-law, also proprietor Wisner House, is a native of Monroe, Green County, Wis. In 1874 he commenced the study of law; was admitted to the bar in 1876. He then came to Wisner and has since been engaged in the practice of his profession. In 1881 he became a member of the firm of Robinson & Perrine, drugs and general merchandise. He took charge of Wisner House May, 1881. This the only first-class house in town, being centrally located, with accommodations and fare equal to any in Northern Nebraska.

M. C. ROBINSON, firm of Robinson & Perrine, drugs and general merchandise. Was born in Huron County, Ohio, raised in Lorain County, Ohio. At the age of eighteen came to Michigan, engaged in farming in 1871. He came to Wisner, Neb., opened a stock of drugs and groceries, and has since continued this business. Mr. R. has been engaged in business longer than any other in Wisner. In 1881 Mr. Perrine became a member of the firm.

LIONEL SCHAUMANN, cigars and tobaccos, wines and liquors. Was born in the Province of Hanover, July 4, 1844. In 1865 came to New York City. In 1866 came to Omaha, was employed as clerk till 1872. He then engaged in bottling beer. Followed this business about one-half year. In 1877 came to Wisner and bought out August Dormann. Has since carried on this business. He is also agent for the Western Horse and Cattle Company, of Omaha, and agent for the ocean Lloyd line of steamers.

CHARLES M. SUTLIEF, M. D., was born in Lorain County, Ohio. At the age of fifteen began a preparatory course at Oberlin College, where he continued his studies for five years; then began studying medicine with Sampsell & Rufy, at Elyria, Ohio, attended four courses of lectures at the Bellevue Hospital Medical College, New York City; graduated February 26, 1874. Commenced practice in Logan County, Ill., continued in practice there until April, 1879, when removed to Elyria, Ohio, and resumed practice, and continued in practice there until April, 1881, when he removed to Wisner, Neb., where he has since been actively engaged in the practice of his profession.

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County Index

Index of Illustrations in Cuming County Chapter
  1. [View of West Point.]
  2. [View of Krause's Hall.]
  3. [F. W. Melcher's Store.]
  4. [Portrait of J. C. Crawford.]
  5. [Portrait of John D. Neligh.]