Andreas' History of the State of Nebraska

Produced by Barbara Kettler.

Part 3


F. J. AUSTIN, Treasurer of Franklin County, Neb., was born in Berkshire County, Mass., in 1849. When thirteen years of age he lost his mother, and shortly after went to Iowa, where he worked on a farm and taught a few terms of school. In the spring of 1872, he came to Nebraska and homesteaded 160 acres of land, on which Macon has since been located. In the following fall, he was appointed Postmaster, and engaged in mercantile business, continuing till he was elected Treasurer in 1880. He married Miss K. L. Dake, only daughter of Commissioner C. C. Dake, May 26, 1875, and has two children. He was re-elected Treasurer on the Republican ticket, in 1881, for a term of two years.

B. F. BLACKLEDGE, manufacturer and dealer in harness, etc., was born in Jay County, Ind., January 20, 1851, and at the age of seven years removed with his parents to Jasper County, Iowa, where he was reared on a farm. In 1871, he returned to his native place, where he was engaged for some time in the mercantile business. Here he met and married Atlantic Gray. In the fall of 1879, he, with his family, removed to Bloomington, Neb., and for eighteen months served as Deputy Postmaster. In March, 1880, he engaged in the harness business. He was elected Justice of the Peace in November, 1881, and in connection with this does a general collection business.

WILLIAM A. COLE, clerk of Franklin County, was born in Hillsdale County, Mich., October 14, 1858 and began business life as clerk in a hotel, and was also for several years employed as a clerk in "gents' furnishing goods;" business at Coldwater, Mich. Mr. Cole came to Nebraska in August 1876; homesteaded 160 acres in Lincoln Precince, Franklin County; resided on it for six months, and proved up. He was employed as a clerk in mercantile business at Bloomington until he entered upon the duties of this office January 5, 1882, having been elected in the previous fall.

JOHN W. DEARY, Sheriff of Franklin County, was born in Fulton County, Ill., September 16, 1836, and followed farming as an occupation until he reached the age of manhood. He came to Nebraska in 1865; located in Brownville, and was for eighteen months engaged in the grocery business; then gave his attention to farming. In the spring of 1872, he homesteaded 160 acres in Franklin county, and resided on the same until the fall of 1879, when he moved to Bloomington. In the spring in 1878, he, in company with John A. Hobbs, engaged in the furniture and implement business at this place. The firm dissolved January 27, 1880, and Mr. Deary has since conducted the business alone. He was elected Constable in the fall of 1872 and Sheriff in the fall of 1875, re-elected again in 1877, and again in 1881. He was married in McDonough County, Ill., August 28, 1861 to Eliza Banks. They have three children--Adell, Arthur and Cora.

URIAH H. MALICK, physician and surgeon, was born in Van Wert, Ohio, in 1851. He came to Nebraska March 9, 1861, and located in Seward County, where he farmed for some three years, after which he attended the State University of Nebraska, graduating from there in 1874, subsequently practiced at Sutton for three years. The doctor then attended the Louisville Medical College for eight months, and afterward at College of Physicians and Surgeons. He came to Bloomington in June, 1878, and at once entered upon the practice of his profession, in connection with which he also conducts a drug business. The Doctor is President of the Republican Valley Medical Association.

HON. RICHARD W. MONTGOMERY, Receiver United States Land Office, was born in Terre Haute, Ind.,. May 16, 1842, and raised on a farm in Tazewell County, Ill. He was given the common school privileges, and was for one year a student at Shurtleff College, Ill. He read law with Hon. James Roberts, of Pekin, for two years, and was admitted by the Supreme Count at Ottawa in the spring of 1862, and subsequently practiced law at Hastings, Minn. On December 11, 1863, enlisted in the Second Minnesota Cavalry, and served two years, and then located in Watonwan County, that State, and there served two terms as District Attorney. He then went to Salem, Mo., and for five years engaged in farming, then for two years published the Salem Monitor. He then gave his attention to teaching school for some years. In May, 1878, he came to Nebraska, pre-empted 160 acres in Furnas County, and was for some time engaged in improving the same. In the fall of 1879, was elected County Judge, and resigned in December, 1880, and was elected from the Fortieth District to the State Legislature in November, 1880, which position he also resigned. He was appointed to his present position May 10, 1881.

BASIL SCHOBEL, billiard hall and dealer in wines and liquors, was born in Germany June 12, 1851, where he learned the trade of brass finisher and machinist, serving as an apprentice some four years, and followed it two years as a journeyman. He emigrated to America in November, 1871, and followed his trade at Troy, N. Y., Cincinnati and Hamilton, Ohio and Pittsburgh, Penn., for over five years. He then made a trip through Michigan and Minnesota, and out to the Black Hills, Dakota. He came to Nebraska in December, 1877; was for about eighteen months employed in the shops of the Burlington & Missouri Railroad Company, after which he went to Lincoln and engaged in business as a gunsmith. Remaining there six months, he removed to Bloomington and at once embarked in his present business.

HON. SIMON W. SWITZER, Register United States Land Office, was born in Columbiana County, Ohio, January 29, 1846, and was reared on a farm, and for several years taught school. He attended Mount Union College in Ohio, graduating in 1869. Also attended for a time the law school of Ann Arbor University, Mich. He was admitted to the bar at Carrollton, Carroll Co. Ohio, April 17, 1871, after which he practiced law in Panora and Red Oak, Iowa, for about two years. He came to Nebraska November 4, 1873, and located in Kearney, where he was for five years engaged in practicing law. In the fall of 1876, he was elected to the State Legislature from Buffalo County. He was appointed to his present office August 15, 1878, and entered upon the duties of the same October 1, following. He is at present Master of Joppa Lodge, No. 76, A., F. & A. M., Bloomington, Neb.

FRANK M VANCIL, Superintendent of Public Instruction, Franklin County. The subject of this sketch, one of the founders of Bloomington, Neb., and old citizens of Franklin County, was born in the capital county of Sangamon, Ill., in the year 1840. His father was one of the early pioneers of Central Illinois, and young Vancil was reared on the farm and attended the meager schools which existed in those days. Possessing an energetic and ambitious disposition, he fitted himself for teaching, and as soon as able entered Shurtleff College, Upper Alton, where he took a select course. Leaving college in 1864, he again entered the school room, reading law in the intervals. Being admitted to the bar, he came West in 1869, and took charge of the Brownville (Neb.) Democrat, then one of the leading journals in the State. Not finding the paper a paying investment, he sold out and returned to Fulton County, Ill., where he formed a life partnership with Miss Emma Argo, of Vermont, and took up his residence in Brownville, engaging in the mercantile business. Becoming imbued with the Western fever, he came to Franklin County in June, 1872, then a wilderness, helped stake out the town of Bloomington, purchased a fine piece of land near, and acted farmer, nurseryman, pedagogue and pettifogger. He was Deputy County Treasurer in 1877, came within one vote of being elected to the office at the general election, though he was a Democrat, and the county was overwhelmingly Republican. Took charge of the Riverton High School in the fall of 1880, Mrs. Vancil as assistant, and brought it up to one of the best in the valley Having been elected County Superintendent of Schools in the fall of 1881, he opened his office in Bloomington, and has been employed as Principal of its schools. As educators, Mr. And Mrs. Vancil have no superiors in the common schools in the State, and they command the highest salaries of any teachers in the valley.


This town is located in the eastern part of the county, in the Republican Valley, not far from the river, and on Thompson's Creek, which flows through the town. This is one of the most beautiful, as well as one of the most valuable streams of the county. It is clear and bordered by numerous springs. Flowing rapidly, it furnishes the very best of water-power privileges, and mill sites are possible only a short distance apart. The main part of the town is located on the level bottom lands of the creek on the east side. This level land extends out on the valley lands of the Republican itself. On the west side of the creek are narrow and level bottom lands, and beyond these a hillside rising quite abruptly to the table-lands on the west.

This is one of the very oldest settled portions of the county. Here is the place where the locators of the Thompson Colony camped and explored the country to find a favorable location. Being satisfied with the surrounding country, this was chosen as the base of operations for the colony as soon as the settlement was made. The first settlers arrived here March 20, 1871. Among the first settlers here were William Thompson, B. Ashburne, Bedford Owney and John Auld.

Preparations were soon made to lay out a town, and the site chosen was the hillside, on the west side of the creek. For the first year, however, the town did not begin its growth.

A portion of the present town site was then the farm of William C. Thompson. In the summer of 1871, the first post office was established and called Riverton. William C. Thompson was appointed as the first Postmaster. It was not until the next year that the town began to assume any proportions as a business point.


The first store was started here in 1872 by John Silvers. It was kept in a little shanty of rough boards on the hill-side, on the south side of the street, leading to the top of the hill from the creek.

About the same time, or a little after, the Lohff Bros. Built a substantial building near the brow of the hill, a little less than one-fourth of a mile from the creek, and at the point from which the bluffs descend to the southward toward the Republican River. A large stock of general merchandise was put in here, and this firm did a heavy business among the early settlers of the eastern part of the county.

Soon after, a small hotel of rough cottonwood boards was built, nearly opposite the store of Lohff Bros., late in 1872.

The first schoolhouse was located a short distance north of the buildings just mentioned, and was built in 1872. The first school of Riverton was taught here the same year, by C. B. Childs, now an attorney in Arapahoe, Neb.

The first death in the county was that of Sarah O'Sullivan, in 1872. She was the daughter of Michael O'Sullivan, one of the very first settlers of the county. Mr. O'Sullivan was in many respects a remarkable man. A few years after coming here, he published a history of the early settlement of the county, with its descriptive history, for immigration purposes. In this book, a great deal of ability was displayed, and from it the writer of these lines gained much information concerning the settlement of the Thompson colony.

The first sermon was preached during the summer of 1872, by Rev. Mr. Townsend, a Methodist minister.

For two years, the town improved but slowly. In the fall of 1873, the buildings already mentioned and a small blacksmith shop comprised the entire town.

In 1874, some improvements were made, and a flouring-mill was erected in the north part of town, by Shepardson & Vollintine. This commenced operations late in the fall.

From this time forward, the town began to steadily improve. All the business part of the town had been on the west side of the creek, but now the level bottom lands on the east side of and adjoining the stream were laid out, and building soon commenced.

The town continued to improve steadily until 1878, when it had become a thriving little village, with several business houses. Now the line of the Burlington & Missouri River Railroad was in process of construction, and, as it was to pass through Riverton, the town took one grand rush. There was a large influx of business men, and building went on rapidly. A bank was established, two large elevators built, and, by the fall of 1879, Riverton was a town of 500 inhabitants, with many costly and substantial business houses.

The year 1879 was the most prosperous one in the history of the town. It had the trade from a very large extent of country. On the east, the nearest trading point was Red Cloud, thirteen miles distant; on the west, was Bloomington, sixteen miles away. To the north, the town drew a trade from all the extent of farming country to the northern boundary of the county. On the south, it was the market for the greater part of Smith County, Kan., and, the crops having been good, a greater quantity of grain was shipped from Riverton than from any other point in the Republican valley. Everything presented a lively and business-like appearance, and improvements were rapidly made.

Since that time, Riverton has been a prosperous town, but never has it enjoyed such a heavy trade as during that year. The village is no longer growing to any great extent, but the circumstances do not warrant it. There are now none too many business houses, for all are prosperous, but to try to do business on a much larger scale would probably retard rather than advance the future success of the village.


There are two church organizations here. The Baptist Church was organized August 16, 1873, with seven members. Rev. Thomas Muxlow was then chosen as pastor, and James R. Phillips, Church Clerk. The society now has a large membership, and is in a flourishing condition, but has no church building. The Methodist Episcopal Church has had an organization since 1872, which is now large and prosperous. There church edifice is a pleasant and substantial building, and was erected in 1880.


The Independent Order of Odd Fellows are represented by Pioneer Lodge, No. 45. This lodge was organized April 29, 1874, under the direction of Grand Master D. M. McElhenny, with the following charter members: R. B. Fulton, C. B. Childs, J. F. Zediker, H. C. Lohff, John R. Mitchell, J. M. Sellers and W. F. Pierstaff. The first officers were R. B. Fulton, Noble Grand; C. B. Childs, Vice Grand; John R. Mitchell, Secretary; and H. C. Lohff, Treasurer. This is the only lodge of Odd Fellows ever organized in Franklin County, and it has been prosperous from the date of its organization. It now has a membership of thirty-two.

Riverton Lodge, No. 63, A., F. & A. M.--Charter dated June 21, 1876. Charter members, G. W. Sheppard, McKee Crilly, J. R. McDonald, W. E. Hatch, William Jones, George Buck, Jr., James D. Gage, William W. Loyd, James Garvin, J. Hodworth, R. A. Glenn, Isaac Shepardson, Michael J. Kern, S. H. Douglass, John Hutchison and William McBride. First officers, J. R. McDonald, W. M.; William E. Hatch, S. W.; William Jones, J. W. Number of members at date of organization, sixteen. Present number, thirty-eight. Bloomington Lodge was organized of admitted members from this lodge. The lodge was organized in Lohff's store building on "Vinegar Hill," now known as "Over the Creek." It holds meetings in P. A. Williams' Hall. Name of present officers are J. D. Fulton, W. M.; J. G. Childs, S. W.; A. B. Stevens, J. W.; S. S. Elder, Secretary; C. C. Carlile, Treasurer; W. P. Fulton, S. D.; R. D. Davis, J. D.; McKee Crilly, Tiler.

The citizens of Riverton are an exceptionally enterprising class. As soon as a need is felt, the people go to work with a will to supply it. They are moral, and a great number of them are religious. But little sectarianism is manifested, and church organizations are encouraged by the liberal citizens whether they happen to be members or not.

In educational matters, Riverton is progressive and fully up to the times. Everything that tends to the intellectual improvement of old or young is encouraged with a whole-souled liberality. The schools are good and great advancement is made by the pupils.

In Riverton all branches of business are well represented. It has in the past been proven to be one of the very best of markets, and, with its enterprising business men, its manufacturing advantages, and the large scope of farming country tributary to it, the town cannot well do otherwise than to continue a prosperous little village.


ARTHUR J. BENJAMIN, Postmaster, Riverton, was born in Canada April 4, 1856. Here he was employed as a clerk, and moved in 1872 to Fall River, Mass., where he was employed in the mercantile business for three years. Returning to Canada, was engaged in the same capacity until June, 1878, when he came to Nebraska, at which time he homesteaded 160 acres in Franklin County, and resided on it for four years, during which period he was engaged in farming and stock raising. April 1, 1882, he moved to Riverton and was appointed Postmaster and Notary Public. He is also engaged in real estate, insurance and live-stock business.

J. G. CHILDS, proprietor of the Exchange Bank, was born at Niagara Falls, N. Y., June 20, 1855, and removed to Bureau County, Ill., with his parents when quite young, where he received his education. He came to Riverton in October, 1878, and entered the employ of Shepherdson & Vollentine, millers and dealers in grain and live stock, as book-keeper, remaining with them some three years. January 1, 1881, he opened the Exchange Bank for the purpose of carrying on a regular banking and exchange business. In connection with this, he has charge of the business matters of Isaac Shepherdson, miller, etc., at this place, and during 1881 was also land agent for the Burlington & Missouri Railroad Company. Mr. Childs is Senior Warden of the Riverton Masonic Lodge, No. 63, Scribe of Chapter 19 at Red Cloud, and is a member of the Mount Nebo Commandery at Hastings.

WILLIAM F. HARSCH, hardware and tinware, was born in Morgan County, Ohio, in 1849, and was reared on a farm. He enlisted February 25, 1864, in the Seventy-eighth Ohio Infantry, and served until July 11, 1865. He then learned the trade of practical tinner at Taylorsville, Ohio, serving two years, after which he followed it as a journeyman at Ottumwa, Iowa, until he came to Riverton March 12, 1875. He at once engaged in this business, and has conducted it since. He was a member of the Board of Trustees of Riverton for three years, and is now Moderator of School District No. 3, Franklin County.

JOSEPH F. PUGSLEY, SR., proprietor of the Franklin House, was born in Peekskill, Westchester County, N. Y., in 1823, and reared on a farm. At the age of sixteen years, was apprenticed to the trade of coachmaker, and served five years. He then followed it for some years as an occupation in Bridgeport and New Haven, Conn., where he was foreman in the leading factories. Also in the same capacity in Maysville, Ky., and at St. Louis, Mo. He came to Nebraska in 1856, and pre-empted 160 acres in Douglas County. He also opened a hotel at Florence, in that county, and followed that business for some six years, and during a portion of that period was also engaged in farming and stock-raising. In October, 1862, he enlisted in the Second Nebraska Cavalry, Company A, in which he served for one year. Retiring to Florence, he again entered into the hotel business, carrying it on for eight years, and in connection with that business was largely engaged in house-moving, etc., at Omaha. In November, 1870, he made a trip West and homesteaded 160 acres in the Republican Valley, near Bloomington, this county. Removing on to the same in 1871, resided on it for about ten years, during which time he followed farming, and was also for several years engaged off and on in the hotel business at that place. He came to Riverton in August, 1881, purchased the hotel, and has conducted it since. He has good accommodations for fifty guests and large commodious sample rooms. Mr. P. was elected a Commissioner of the county in October, 1871, and filled this office for a term of three years.

S. R. RAZEE, druggist, was born in Keene, N. H., in 1847, and when quite young removed to Sandwich, Ill. He enlisted April 19, 1861, in the Tenth Illinois Volunteer Infantry, serving 100 days, and re-enlisted in August, 1862, in the One Hundred and Twenty-seventh Illinois Volunteer Infantry, serving three years. After the war, he went to Johnson County, Iowa, and was employed as teacher in the Commercial College in Iowa City and Knoxville, until he came to Nebraska in 1874. Was for one year at Hastings engaged in general merchandise and drug business, and came to Riverton in 1875, and at once engaged in this business, which is the oldest in the place. He also carries a stock of boots and shoes, which was added in 1880. He is the owner of 1,000 acres of land in the county, 160 of which adjoin the town, on which he has built a handsome stone residence. Mr. Razee is largely engaged in raising fruit trees and grapes, etc., besides which, he has a large quantity of live stock. He has also been for the past four years engaged to some extent in practicing medicine.

Top of Page   First Page   Back   Next

County Index