Andreas' History of the State of Nebraska

Hamilton County
Produced by Barb Hruza and Alice Vosika.

PART 1: Topographical | Early History | First Things

Organization | Roster County Officers
County Seat Fight | Agricultural Society
Educational Progress and History

Aurora:   Official Roster | Schools | Societies
Churches | Bank of Aurora
Aurora (cont.):   Biographical Sketches
Aurora (cont.):   Biographical Sketches (cont.)

Orville City
Hampton:   Biographical Sketches
South Platte Precinct (Biographical Sketch)
Other Towns

Illustration: [View of Aurora and Court House.]

Part 4


ALFRED W. AGEE, attorney at law and notary public, is a native of Tennessee, was born in Morgan, November 18, 1850, and is a son of Alfred and Catharine A. Agee, the former of French and the latter of Irish extraction. His father was a Baptist minister, and a very radical and outspoken anti-slavery man, and becoming satisfied in 1860 that a war between the pro-slavery and anti-slavery elements of the country was inevitable, he determined to get into a free state if possible, before the bursting of the then impending storm. He, therefore, in December, 1860, removed with his family, consisting of his wife and four sons and two daughters, to Indiana, and in a short time thereafter settled in Pike County, where he resided and continued in the ministry until his death, which occurred in 1873. Early in the war, three of the sons enlisted in the Union army, leaving to assist their father no one except young Alfred W., who resided with his parents, working on the farm during the spring and summer and attending the district school during the winter. When not quite nineteen years of age he began teaching, following this through the fall and winter, and attending school at the Oakland City Normal Institute during the spring months. In the fall of 1871 he removed to Morgan County, Ill., where he continued teaching, and was at one time principal of the graded school at Lynnville, in that county. It was here he met and formed the acquaintance of Miss Lillie E. Gordon, the accomplished daughter of Hon. John Gordon, to whom he was married June 14, 1875. Early in the spring of 1873 he began the study of law, and returning to Indiana on a visit to his parents, he read there, in the office of David Dougherty, and at the same time studied Latin with the Latin class in the Normal School at Oakland City. He remained there until the death of his father, in June, 1873, when he went home to assist in settling up his mother's business. Returning to Morgan County, Ill., in August of that year, he taught school for two terms at Yatesville, at the same time continuing his law studies. Upon leaving the schoolroom, in the spring of 1874, he entered the law office of Morison, Whitlock & Lippincott at Jacksonville, Ill., determined to devote all his time and energies to the prosecution of his studies in his chosen profession. He remained here until September of the same year, when, finding himself almost without means (a considerable portion of his earnings having been given to his widowed mother), he determined to at once commence practice, and for this purpose he removed to Nebraska and located at Aurora. Once located, he returned to Illinois and was married, and returning with his wife to Aurora, has ever since resided there and practiced his profession. At the time of his removal to Aurora, Nebraska had just been terribly scourged by the grasshoppers, and the situation and prospects were discouraging in the extreme, but Mr. A. had "come to stay," and he did stay, and is now the oldest practicing attorney in the county. He has for several years been the legal advisor of the Board of County Commissioners, as well as attorney of the Bank of Aurora ever since its establishment. He was one of the charter members of Hamilton Lodge, No. 60, I. O. O. F., being its first secretary, and has served three years as District Deputy G. M., and is, without doubt, one of the best posted and most enthusiastic Odd Fellows in this section of the country. Starting in life without any pecuniary advantages, and dependent entirely upon his own resources and energies, he has established himself well in business, has a comfortable home, and enjoys the reputation of being a safe counselor and a good advocate.

WM. HALBERT ALDEN, of the firm of W. H. Fairchild & Co., dealers in general merchandise, located in Aurora October 1, 1879, and the firm now occupy a fine new two story brick building, 22x80 ft., double-shelved, with gallery, iron warehouse in rear, and public hall second floor, having one of the most convenient rooms, and packed with the most complete stock of goods to be found in Central Nebraska. Wm. H. was born in Chenango County, N. Y., June 1, 1831, entered the employ of Edward Miller, of Truxton, N. Y., as clerk, at the age of sixteen years. During the year 1850 he entered the dry goods house of E. Gogham, Detroit, Mich., as salesman, where he attained his majority--casting his first ballot for Zach Chandler for mayor; afterward having charge of a general merchandise store in Oakland County, Mich. September 11, 1854, finds him established in general merchandise at Union, McHenry Co., Ill., where he continued successfully to the close of the war, his name appearing upon record as Supervisor, Township School Treasurer, Postmaster, etc., which public offices he resigned upon his removal to Tipton, Iowa, April, 1865. In connection with his business of general merchandise, his service of five years as Director and Secretary of the Muscatine, Tipton & Minnesota Railroad Co. evince his active interest in all public improvements, and the files of Aurora newspapers record him as Chairman of the (anti-license) Board of Trustees for 1881-82, as also of Board of School Trustees. Mr. A. is a member of the Masonic fraternity, and was knighted in DeMolay Commandery, No. 1, Muscatine, Iowa. He was married October 26, 1854, at Rochester, N. Y., to Elizabeth Payne Findley, who died at Tipton, Iowa, 1871. In 1872 he married Miss Mary Lightfoote, of Canandaigua, N. Y., who, in addition to the cares of a large family, finds time and evident pleasure in the details of his extensive business, appearing daily at her position in the dress goods department. Wm. Merle A. (married), Kate F., Eva B., John L., Joseph G., and James H, children of Mr. A., comprise a family large enough to place him among the representative men of Nebraska's population. Notwithstanding Mr. A. has met many reverses, he has never failed in his business and claims that his legitimate business of merchandising has never proved unremunerative (outside transactions only disastrous) during thirty-five years of active business.

GEORGE W. BAILEY, editor and publisher of the Hamilton County News. This paper was established at Orville, Hamilton Co., at the same time the first county seat was located at that place. At the expiration of one year, the office was moved to Hamilton, where the paper was published under the same name, and in March, 1879, Mr. Bailey removed it to Aurora. It is a four-page, eight-column weekly newspaper, politics Greenback, and is the oldest paper of that party in the State. Locally, it has always taken an active part in the agricultural advancement of the county. George W. was born in Franklin Co., Ohio, December 12, 1841. Learned the printers' trade in the office of the old Weekly Gazette, Columbus, Ohio. In 1861 he enlisted with the Third Ohio Volunteer Infantry, Company A, being promoted to Second Lieutenant in October, 1862, and served as such till the close of the Rebellion. Mr. Bailey married in Nebraska, 1875, Miss Sarah S. Miller, formerly of Ohio.

GEN. DELEVAN BATES, one of the early residents of the town of Aurora, was born in Schoharie Co., N. Y., in 1840. His parents' names are--Alpheus and Hannah, and with them he lived on a farm until 16 years old, when he found employment as a clerk in the town of Worcester, County of Otsego, where he remained until the beginning of the great Rebellion. When the call came for the first 300,000 men, the yard stick was dropped, a recruiting office opened and Worcester's quota was soon among the boys in blue under the command of Lieut. Bates, one hundred and twenty-first New York Volunteers, under command of the gallant Upton. This regiment became one of the best in the Sixth Corps, army of the Potomac, and South Mountain, Antietam, Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville, The Wilderness, Spottsylvania Court House, Cold Harbor and Petersburg, each witnessed the dying gasp of many a comrade. At the Chancellorsville disaster, Lieut. Bates with many others, were taken prisoners, but he, after an incarceration in Libby Prison for a time, was exchanged and reached his command in time for Gettysburg. In April, 1864, he was appointed colonel of the Thirtieth United States Colored Troops, and July 30th of the same year, was commissioned Brigadier General by brevet for gallantry, in leading a charge on Cemetery Hill, in front of Petersburg. Here Gen. Bates was severely wounded by a minie ball, passing through his head. Returning to duty after an absence of but eight weeks, he was assigned to command of a brigade which position he honorably filled until the close of the war, when, leaving his regiment, he was presented with a valuable gold badge containing the insignia of each command to which he had been attached, and also by the officers of his brigade, with an elegant sword and belt. During the period of provisional government of the South, Gen. Bates had command of the cities of Newbern and Beaufort, North Carolina, and upon being mustered out, he remained in that State in the mercantile business until the organization of the Ku Klux Klan made it decidedly unpleasant for the Northerners, especially for those who had been officers in the colored troops. Returning to New York, he married Miss L. A. Green, of Carylville, Schoharie Co., in 1870, and in 1873 they made Hamilton County, Neb., their home. They have a beautiful residence in Aurora, on the corner of West Avenue and First Street, and commodious grounds, in which the General is making a specialty of fruit trees, and from present appearances, in a very few years he will be able to convince the most sceptical that good fruit and plenty of it can be grown in Nebraska. The General has held several important county and town offices; is now Town Treasurer and Chairman of the School Board, Assistant Postmaster and Secretary of the Masonic Lodge. Financially, he is pretty well heeled, as they say in the West, and is considered one of the substantial men of the town.

JAMES H. BELL, lumber and coal dealer, became a resident of Nebraska in April, 1871, locating at York, where he started a store in company with his brother, F. O. Bell. This they operated three years, and then embarked in the lumber trade, which he also continued three years; and at the expiration of that time, James H. removed to Aurora, continuing the same business. He is now the oldest lumber merchant in the county, and in 1881, received 100 car-loads of lumber and 117 of coal. In 1881, Mr. B. erected one of the finest brick blocks in the county, two stories high. He is a native of Westmoreland County, Pa., born September 25, 1850; son of John and Mary Bell, nee McConaughy, who removed to Ohio in 1854, where they remained until 1863, and then moved west to Iowa, locating in Henry County; and here James H. lived until his removal to Nebraska in 1871. He is a member of the Methodist Episcopal Church, and of Aurora Lodge, No. 68, A. F. & A. M.

SOLOMON B. CHAPMAN, farmer and dealer in agricultural implements was born in Indiana, April 13, 1839. His parents, being farmers, removed to Missouri while he was yet a lad; from there they went to Mahaska County, Iowa, thence to Lucas County, same State, in 1852, where Solomon B. went to school and helped his parents on a farm till 1860. At this time he took a trip across the plains to Colorado, but after working in the mines a short time, returned to Iowa. In the fall of 1861, he became a soldier of the great Rebellion, enlisting with Company C of the Thirteenth Iowa Volunteer Infantry, but after serving four months was discharged, because ill health unfitted him for further service. Returned to Iowa till the fall of 1869, then came to Hamilton County, Neb., where he homesteaded 160 acres of good farm land, on Section 10, Town 10, Range 5 west, being one of the first settlers in Beaver precinct. During the fall of 1870, he removed his family from Iowa to his claim, upon which he lived, improving his land, till 1875, when he came to Aurora, and embarked in his present business. Mr. Chapman was married in Iowa, in 1863, to Miss Virginia C. Hunt, who was born in West Virginia. She is a member of the Baptist Church, Aurora. Mr. C. belongs to the G. A. R., Zach Chandler Post, No. 44.

NELSON FAIRCHILD (retired merchant), now with W. H. F. & Co., son of Philo and Rochsa F., of New England descent, was born in Chenango County, N. Y., February 12, 1823, where he engaged in farming and hotel keeping until 1862, when he located in McHenry County, Ill., and engaged in general merchandise. He removed to Tipton, Iowa, in 1866, continuing merchandising until 1878, when he removed to Arborville, Neb., and resumed hotel keeping and farming until his removal to Aurora, October 1, 1881. His oldest son, William H., had preceded him about four years at Arborville, establishing a successful general merchandise business, which is still continued with extensive interests at Aurora and Marquette. Mr. N. F. was married, in 1844, to Hannah E. Alden, their family consisting of Julia E., William H., Milton A. and Anna R. Both parents are and have been members of the Congregational Church upwards of thirty years, and Mr. F. is a member of Hamilton Lodge, No. 60, I. O. O. F.

JAMES H. FARIS, County Treasurer of Hamilton, first became a resident of Nebraska in April, 1871, locating in Hamilton County, where he homesteaded 160 acres on Section 18, Town 10, Range 6 west, and was one of the first settlers in Aurora Precinct. Here he made his home until the official duties began, when he removed to the village. Owns 400 acres of good farm land, 320 being in one farm; of this 180 is under cultivation, and 120 fenced for pasture. Also has a fine young orchard of 300 choice fruit trees, with small fruit in abundance, and on the whole, has one of the best improved farms in the county. Mr. F. was one of the Justices of the Peace of Aurora Precinct, and, in 1873, was elected County Treasurer, which position he held two terms, and the people were so well pleased with the creditable manner in which he discharged the duties of said office, that they elected him again in the fall of 1881. James II, was born in Delaware County, Ohio, May 7, 1842. The son of James and Eleanor Faris, nee Atkinson, received his education in his native State, and in 1868, came to Tama County, Iowa, where he farmed till he came to this State. He was a soldier of the Rebellion; enlisted with Company F of the Ninety-sixth Ohio Volunteer Infantry, but after serving eleven months, he was discharged on account of ill health, contracted while in the army. Mr. F. was one of the original members of the Presbyterian Church, Aurora. He is also a member of the F. & A. M., Aurora Lodge, No. 68, and of the G. A. R., Zach Chandler Post, No. 44.

WILLIAM GLOVER, furniture and hardware, came to Nebraska during the spring of 1871, and pre-empted a claim of 160 acres on Section 32, Township 9, Range 6 west, Orville Precinct. Remained on this claim three years, and afterwards homesteaded eighty acres on Section 4, same precinct, but after living there a short time, came to Aurora and engaged in general merchandise. In June, 1880, opened a hardware store, and in the following June went into the furniture business, both of which he successfully operates. Mr. Glover is a native of Ohio, born in Delaware County May 18, 1846, where he farmed till 1864; then removed to Iowa, thence to Nebraska, as above. He is a member of Aurora Lodge, No 68, A., F. & A. M. Was married in Iowa, in January, 1868, to Miss Elizabeth A. Wheeler, born in Maryland. They have four children--Clarence B., Orville C., Edith R. and Ethel F., twins. The latter died in February, 1882, and Bellva M.

PERLEY M. GREEN, of the firm of Green & Co., lumber merchants, is native of Morgan County, Ohio, born October 28, 1847; after having received a district school education, attended the Ohio University at Athens for two years; then taught school and followed various occupations in Ohio, Illinois and Iowa, and in the spring of 1873, came to Nebraska, took up a homestead in Hamilton County; started to work for W. B. Barrett & Co., in Seward, in a lumber yard, where he worked until July, 1879, at the same time holding his claim; then commenced in his present business in company with Mr. Barrett, and has made a decided success of it. Mr. G. served as member of the Village Board of Aurora, during the year 1881. He married Miss Sarah M. Rogers, at Seward, Neb., in 1879, who was formerly from Vermont.

EUGENE J. HAINER, attorney at law, was born at Funfkirchen, Hungaria, August 16, 1851. His parents were Ignece and Adela Hainer, who emigrated to the United States in 1854, locating in Iowa. His father had been a practicing lawyer in his native country, but when he came to the United States, was unacquainted with the laws of this country, so he bought a large tract of land in Iowa, where he farmed till the fall of 1857, when he was appointed Professor of Modern Languages in the State University of Missouri, where he remained till the breaking out of the Rebellion, then moved back on his farm. When twelve years of age, Eugene J. ran away from home, going to an entirely different portion of the country, where he hired out by the month, and by careful management contrived to save enough money to begin educating himself. This he did, first in the common schools, and finally, in 1873, became competent to enter the "Iowa Agricultural College," at Ames, where he was a student four years; then became a student of Des Moines Law School, where he graduated in 1877, and was admitted before the Supreme Court of Iowa in the same year. In October, 1878, came to Nebraska, and was admitted to practice in this State, before Hon. G. W. Post, and has since practiced his profession. Mr. Hainer married, at Westfield, Iowa, December 28, 1880, Miss Julia Blodget, formerly from Maine. He is a member of the F. & A. M., Aurora Lodge, No. 68. and of Duel Chapter, same order, at Grand Island, Neb.

LOREN W. HASTINGS, proprietor and editor of the Aurora Republican, a weekly five column quarto, eight page newspaper, which was established in June 1873, by Ellsworth & Sherman, and the first paper published in the town. It was carried on by them until 1875, when Mr. H. became connected with it, and soon after bought the whole interest, which he has since successfully operated. This paper has a circulation of 800 copies, is Republican in politics and an energetic advocate of the agricultural interests and advantages of the county. Loren W. came to Nebraska in the spring of 1870, and took up a soldier's claim of 160 acres on Section 2, Township 10, Range 6 west, Hamilton County, and was the first white settler in Aurora precinct. Here he resided until 1877, this being the time of his removal to Aurora. He was born in Franklin County, Mass., February 16, 1835, and here received his education. His early life was devoted to farming, but he was also employed a good deal on various lakes and rivers, especially at steamboating on the Ohio and Mississippi. In 1860, located at Iowa City, and in August, 1861, became a soldier of the Rebellion, enlisting with Company G of the Sixth Iowa Volunteer Infantry; but after serving about nine months, was transferred to the navy, in which department he served until the close of the war. Mr. H. was married in 1860, in Illinois, to Miss Manerva A. Matthews, of Illinois, where they made their home until emigrating to Nebraska, where she died in 1876. They had two children--Lewis E. and Iona A. His present wife was Miss Annie E. Peterson, of Indiana. Mr. H. is a member of the G. A. R., Zach Chandler Post, No. 44, Aurora.

SAMUEL S. HAYDEN, insurance and real estate agent, became a resident of Aurora, Neb., in April, 1874. Here he began the practice of law, and was one of the first attorneys in the county, but soon after took up the insurance business. He was formerly from Ohio, born in Knox County, November 19, 1842, son of Zachariah and Hannah Hayden, the former of German descent, the latter of Irish descent (her maiden name was Scott). When he was fourteen years of age his parents came to Henry County, Ill,, and his boyhood was spent on a farm. Samuel S. fought for his country in the late Rebellion, enlisting August 19, 1861, with Company B, of the Thirty-Seventh Illinois Volunteer Infantry, and served until May 14, 1866, having been transferred to the border of Texas, at the close of the Rebellion. Returning to Illinois, he was married in October of the same year to Miss Maria L. Wilson, a native of that State. They removed to Iowa in 1867, where they farmed until 1872; he then commenced reading law in the office of M. E. Thorpe & Son, Chariton, Iowa, where he continued until he was admitted to the bar, in February, 1874. Mr. H. was one of the original members of Zach Chandler Post, No. 44, Aurora, and is also identified with the Masonic and Odd Fellows fraternity at the same place. His wife is a member of the Methodist Episcopal Church of Aurora.

WILLIAM P. HELLINGS, attorney at law, loan and real estate broker, came to Nebraska in the fall of 1879, and after a general survey of the country located at Aurora, where he opened a law office and has since been engaged in the practice of his profession. He was formerly from Ohio, born in Logan County, May 29, 1851, where he lived with his parents, Thomas P. and Amozette Hellings, until three years of age, when he came to Oskaloosa, Iowa, with them. His father was of English descent and his mother, whose maiden name was BeDillian, of French extraction. Here William P. attended the common schools until the spring of 1869, and then went to Colorado, where he was employed on a government survey, in sectionizing the southeastern part of the territory. After two years at this he returned to Iowa, and entered the printing office of the Oskaloosa Herald; here he remained learning the trade until the fall of 1875; then entered the State University at Iowa City, where he graduated in the law department in 1876, winning, after a lively contest, two out of five prizes offered for the best theses on certain legal topics; then practiced law in that State for a little more than a year, and organized the Central Iowa Loan and Trust Company at Oskaloosa, and was secretary of the same until his removal to this State. Mr. Hellings is now Village Clerk of his Town, which office he has held two terms, being also one of the School Directors; is a member of F. & A. M., Tri-Luminar Lodge, No. 18, at Oskaloosa, Iowa. His wife was Miss Emma Green, born in Ohio, to whom he was married in Iowa in November, 1874. They are the parents of four children--Harry G., Frederick BeD., Lulu G. and Wm. Oscar G.

HENRY W. KEMPER, proprietor wagon and carriage factory, Aurora, came to Nebraska in 1874, and started a wagon factory at Aurora in company with Emery Kuhn which was the first wagon shop in that town; said firm continued for about two years, when they dissolved, Mr. Kemper continuing the business. He is a native of Pennsylvania, born nine miles east of the city of Philadelphia, June 3, 1851. His parents removed to Grant County, Wis., when he was but a small boy, where he learned the trade of wagon-maker, which he has followed since. Mr. K. now has one of the enterprising establishments of Aurora. He was married in Dakota in 1875 to Miss Mary Dilger, of Grant County, Wis.

CHARLES II KIMBALL, of the firm of Kimball & Co., druggists, became a resident of Nebraska in May, 1871. Taking up a homestead of 160 acres on Section 28, Town 11, Range 6 west, Grant Precinct, Hamilton County; lived on his farm until 1879, when he went into the furniture business at Aurora, but still owns his farm, which is one of the finest improved farms in the County. He ran this business until July, 1881, and in November following purchased a half interest in the drug store, where they have an extensive trade, and keep all kinds of goods to be found in a first-class establishment. Mr. Kimball was born January 25, 1830, at Concord, N. H., but was reared in Exeter, Rockingham Co., N. H., and learned the cabinet-makers trade. He went to Hartford, Conn., where he was employed in the car shops until 1856; was married to Mary E. Butler, of Hartford, in 1853, and came west to Iowa and was engaged in furniture dealing until 1861; enlisted with Company E, of the First Iowa Volunteer Infantry, for the first three months' call, and from that time to the close of the war was employed by the government in the car shops at Nashville, Tenn. After the rebellion he purchased a farm in Iowa, which he operated until coming to this State. Mr. Kimball and his wife are original members of the First Congregational Church in Aurora. Mr. Kimball is connected with the G. A. R., Zach Chandler Post, No. 44.

GEORGE LUFT, proprietor of grocery store, was born in Butler County, Ohio, December 25, 1843, but his parents removed to Hancock County, Ill., when he was but a lad. He was reared on a farm, but acquired a liberal education, and in March, 1870, emigrated to Nebraska, taking a homestead in H. . Prect., Seward Co., upon which he lived until 1876. At this time he started a billiard hall at Seward. This he ran for two years, when he sold and commenced buying grain. In 1878, became proprietor of a grocery store, which he ran until his return to Aurora, which was in August, 1881. Mr. L. was married at Seward in 1872, to Miss Agnes Fisher, who is a native of Germany. He is a member of the Odd Fellows Society, Seward lodge.

THOMAS A. McKAY, president of the Bank of Aurora, which was established in August, 1879, by the firm of Grimes, Dinsmore & Co., and was operated by them until January, 1880. It then changed hands, the firm of McKay, Munger & Wentz taking the place above, and in April the name was changed to Bank of Aurora. This firm transact a general banking business successfully in J. H. Bell's brick block, and have their banking room well equipped with fire and burglar proof vault and safe of the best make. Mr. McK. is a native of Kalamazoo County, Mich., born November 10, 1841, reared on a farm; he received a liberal education. When the rebellion broke out, he enlisted with Company H, of the Twelfth Michigan Volunteer Infantry, and took an active part in all the engagements of his regiment. Serving until the close of the war, he returned to his native State and resumed his former occupation, farming, and in September, 1872, emigrated to Nebraska, settled in Hamilton County, being among the first settlers; purchased 160 acres of land from the B & M. R. R. Co. on Section 27, Town 9, Range 6, west, Orville Precinct, where he lived, improving his land, until February, 1874; then started a general merchandise store with T. H. Glover, and in June following removed his store to Aurora; continued that business until January, 1878. He then assumed the office of County Treasurer, having been elected the fall previous, which position he creditably filled two terms. Mr. McK. was a charter member of Zach Chandler Post, No. 44, serving as their first Quartermaster; was the charter member of Aurora Lodge, No. 68, F. & A. M., and was the first Mason initiated in the county. He also served as the first N. G. of the I. O. O. F. in the County of Hamilton, Lodge No. 60. His wife was Miss Caroline A. Munger, of Michigan, to whom he was married in June, 1863.

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