Andreas' History of the State of Nebraska
Webster County
Produced by Elva Ambrosek.


Streams and Soil | Early Settlement | First Things
General History | Organization and Elections
Present Condition of the County | Storm and Fire


Red Cloud:  Early History | The Great Storm
Local Matters | Societies | Newspapers
Biographical Sketches


Guide Rock:   Biographical Sketches
Blue Hill:   Biographical Sketches
Amboy | Cowles

Illustration in Webster County: [Portrait of S. C. Smith.]

Part 3


This town is situated in the southeastern part of the county, on the left bank of the Republican. Its location is a good one, on the level valley lands. It is on the line of the Burlington & Missouri River Railroad in Nebraska. It derives its name from the high and prominent rocky bluff on the opposite side of the river.

The town is small, having a population of a little more than three hundred, but being surrounded by a comparatively well settled country it is a good business point.

This town was the place of the first settlement in Webster County. The Rankin Colony had contemplated forming a settlement here, and had selected a large tract of land, and a town site was surveyed on Soap Creek, a little east of the present town, and called Guide Rock. Donald McCallum was the surveyor. The first settlers were Emanuel Peters and Donald McCallum, who made a settlement on April 19, 1870. These men remained here to look after the interests of the Rankin claim. Of the Rankin Colony seventeen persons came, but only these two remained. The others all left the country in a few days. Their first place of abode was in a dug-out, which they built soon after their arrival. They were not long to remain alone, for the next month they were joined by Silas, Joseph and Abram Garber, Albert Lathrop, A. M. Talbott, William McBride, Mrs. Sarah Micks, Mrs. Sarah Rich, and Mrs. Catherine Garber, who came with her husband, Joseph Garber. This party was pleased with the country, but under the lead of Silas Garber some of them left the settlement, after having helped to build a stockade, and pushed on up to Red Cloud. This was in July.

For the first two years the settlements gathered close around the Guide Rock stockade, but during the earlier years of its existence Guide Rock never grew to be a village.

The post office was established the fall of 1870, with A. M. Talbott Postmaster. Mr. Talbott soon brought in a few groceries and kept a sort of a store. This, however, he did not keep up long. The first regular store was opened in the spring of 1872 by Arthur G. Owen, on his farm, about one mile southeast of the present town.

The first school house was built of logs early in the spring of 1871. It was situated near the old stockade, on the southwest quarter of Section 2, Town 1, Range 9 west. The first school was taught by Miss Mary Kingsley, commencing May 1, 1871. The salary paid was $12 per month.

The first sermon preached was in the summer of 1871, at the log schoolhouse, by Rev. Mr. Kennedy. There was a congregation comprising nearly all the early settlers..

In 1872 J. L. Columbia and M. Stratton built and operated a saw-mill, but this was not kept up very long.

After the first few years of its existence Guide Rock grew to be a village, containing two stores, a hotel, a blacksmith shop, and a post office. The village made no further improvement until the year 1880, when the southern line of the Burlington & Missouri River Railroad in Nebraska began building, and it was certain that Guide Rock would be made a station thereon. As soon as this was assured, it began to build up quite rapidly. The railroad was soon built, and the town continued to build up, and has ever since continued to progress slowly but steadily.

The town now has good grain warehouses, a lumber yard, two hotels, and several stores, representing all kinds of business usually carried on in the smaller towns, having an extensive country trade. Business in all its branches is good, and Guide Rock is a thriving village.

There is a good flouring and grist mill on the south side of the river, about two miles southeast of town. It was built in 1880 by Bardette & Crow, who are now doing a thriving business, and manufacture an excellent grade of flour.

There is only one church building. This is a neat and comfortable church, built by the Baptists in 1880. The religious societies are well represented.


C. F. ALLEN, of the firm of C. F. Allen & Co., lumber, doors, sash and blinds, is a native of Orono, Maine. At the age of two years came with his parents to Whitewater, Wis., his father then being engaged in the lumber business; at first assisted with his father, and in fact has always been since a boy engaged in this business. In 1874 he came to Chicago; was engaged in the commission firm of L. C. Platt & Co., and continued two years. In the fall of 1875 he came to Leon, Iowa. In the fall of 1879 he came to Guide Rock and established this business.

CHARLES G. CODMAN, sheep business, is a native of Boston, Mass., and was there raised and educated. In 1878 he came to Nebraska. The following year he with Mr. Prescott engaged extensively in sheep raising. They own now about 3000 head.

J. W. CRARY, general merchandise, was born in New London County, Conn. At the age of eighteen he came to Grundy County, Iowa, and engaged in farming. In 1870 he enlisted in the Third United States Infantry, and served five years. In the fall of 1875 he came to Guide Rock, formed a partnership with A. Garber. This continued till 1880, when he withdrew from the firm, and established his present business, which he has since continued.

A. H. CRARY, farmer, section 4; post office, Guide Rock, was born in the town of Preston, New London County, Conn., in 1865. At the age of twenty-three he came to Clayton County, Iowa. In 1867 he came to Grundy County. In 1872 he came to Guide Rock, took a claim of 160 acres, where he now resides. He now owns and controls about a section and a quarter. He also owns 182 head of cattle, 200 sheep, four teams and employs two hands constantly, and is one of the largest and most successful farmers in the county. He has been three years county commissioner. In 1874 he bought a half interest with A. Garber in his store; retained this interest till the fall of 1879, when he withdrew from the business.

A. GARBER, general merchandise, was born in Bellefontaine, Logan County, Ohio. He came to Clayton County, Iowa, in 1851, with his parents. He enlisted in 1861 in Company D, Third Missouri Infantry, and served his enlistment of three years. He then returned to Iowa and engaged in farming. June 10, 1870, he came to Guide Rock, located his claim, and is one of the earliest settlers of the county. In 1874 he opened a store on his homestead, which is located half mile east of town; carried on the business there till 1877, when he built a store in Guide Rock. Mr. G. is one of the oldest merchants in this locality. He has been connected with the school board since it organization. He owns two-fifths of the town site, and other property in town.

JOHN S. MARSH, Esq., of Guide Rock, Neb., dealer in live stock, also of the firms of Proudfit and Marsh, general hardware, and George Proudfit & Co., lumber dealers. He was born in Seneca County, N. Y., and was there engaged in farming, and also taught school. In April, 1878, he came to Saline County, Neb. In November, 1878, he removed to Bloomington, Neb., and was there engaged in the lumber business one year. In November, 1879, he removed to Guide Rock, Neb., and there engaged in the lumber business. In the spring of 1879, he engaged in the hardware business, which business he has since continued.

E. O. PARKER, post master, was born in New Bedford, Mass., and there raised. At the age of fifteen he engaged in the whaling service. This he followed about seven years. He then went to California and engaged in mining about five years. In 1854 he came to Jones County, Iowa, and engaged in farming about twenty years. He came to Guide Rock in 1874, and also engaged in farming. In 1880 he was appointed post master. He is also justice of the peace and notary.

A. S. PROUDFIT, of the firm of Proudfit & Marsh, hardware, stoves &c., was born in Milwaukee, Wis. At the age of thirteen the family removed to Grant County, Wis., where he assisted them on their farm. In 1876 he came to Friendville, Neb., and worked at the carpenter trade there about one year. In 1877 he came to Sidney, and in the fall removed to York. In 1878 he came to Red Cloud. In 1879 came to Bloomington, and in the fall of 1880 he came Guide Rock, and has since been engaged in this business. Their sales amount to $20,000 a year.

DR. J. W. ROBINSON, physician and surgeon, was born in Westmoreland County, Pa., 1852, and came to Independence, Iowa, in 1869, there took up the study of medicine, and later attended two courses of lectures at the State University of Iowa. In January, 1878, he came to Webster County, Neb. In the spring of 1879 he came to Guide Rock where he has since been engaged in the practice of his profession, also carrying on the drug business, this being the only drug store in Guide Rock.

J. B. SABIN, proprietor Guide Rock House, was born March 11, 1832, in Madison County, N. Y. At the age of twelve he came with his parents to Kenosha County, Wis., and assisted on their farm. In 1856 he came to Steele County, Minn., and engaged in farming. In 1865 he removed to Mitchell County, Iowa, and there also followed farming. In April, 1870, he came to Gage County, Neb., bought a crop and engaged in farming there till the fall of 1871, when he came to Guide Rock, took a homestead two miles east of town. This he improved. June 1881, he bought this hotel, which he has since managed. There are thirteen rooms for the accommodation of guests, each in perfect order and comfortably furnished. He was married July, 1856, to Miss Louisa Ward, of Sauk County, Wis. They have three children--Mary E., Addie J., and William P. The land Mr. Sabin settled on and improved, was was the first homestead taken in Webster County.

DR. J. E. SMITH, physician--and engaged in sheep raising--was born in Jefferson County, N. Y. He came to Ingham County, Mich., in 1842; there took up the study of medicine. After receiving a preparatory course of studies he attended the Cleveland Homeopathic College, and graduated in 1856. He returned to Michigan and practiced in Ionia and Jackson till 1872, when he came to Guide Rock and has since been engaged in the practice of his profession. He owns a sheep ranch of 280 acres, where he feeds about 1000 sheep, and now intends devoting his entire attention to raising sheep. The Doctor was a member of the Legislature from 1876 to 1880. In the fall of 1881 he was elected county commissioner. He has also been connected with the schools most of the time since coming here.

ANDREW M. TALBOT, agricultural implements and real estate, was born in Portage County, Ohio. At the age of thirteen he came with his parents to La Salle County, Ill., and assisted on their farm. He enlisted October, 1861, in Company I, Thirty-second Illinois Infantry, and served about three years. He returned to Illinois and engaged in merchandising. On June 10, 1870, he came to Guide Rock and took a claim of 160 acres, which he still owns. He also owns six blocks in Talbot's addition. Mr. Talbot was the first Past Master of Guide Rock, and held the office about two years. He has been school director and treasurer of District No. 1 two terms. He is now engaged in the agricultural business.

JOHN L. VANCE, real estate and farming, is a native of Hamilton County, Ohio. At the breaking out of the war he enlisted in Company C, Twenty-third Ohio Infantry, and served four years, four months and 15 days. He was discharged with the rank of captain. He participated in the second battle of Bull Run, South Mountain, Antietam, Winchester, Fisher's Hill, Adair Creek and Ather's. He returned to Ohio and engaged in merchandising. In 1877 he came to Guide Rock and opened a drug store. This business he continued about three years. He owns eighty-five acres of land adjoining town; also half of Vance's addition and second addition. He was married in 1870 to Miss C. E. Alexander, of Alexandria, Indiana. They have two children--one son and one daughter.


This thriving village is situated on the Burlington & Missouri River Railroad, on the line extending from Hastings to Red Cloud, and in the northern part of the county about one mile south of the Adam's County line. The town was surveyed and platted in September, 1878, by A. B. Smith, the town surveyor, for the railroad company. The townsite as laid out is on the northwest one-quarter of Section 9, Town 4, Range 10, west. The land was originally owned by Thomas B. Rohrer, of Hagerstown, Maryland, who gave the railroad company a one-half interest in the lots to survey the town and establish a railroad station. When platted, this site was the center of a fertile and well settled country. There is a large German settlement surrounding the town.

As soon as surveyed, the building up of the town commenced. The railroad company at once began the erection of a section house and depot, which were completed in due time. I. O. Martin was appointed to take charge of the station, and arrived on October 20, 1878, before the station was completed, and opened the telegraph office. The station was completed and opened in November.

The first citizen to erect a building was Albert Blumenthal, who selected a lot as soon as the survey was completed and at once began to dig a cellar. He put up a hotel 16x24 feet in size, to which he afterward built an addition. The hotel was opened October 9, 1878. The post office was established soon after and John Wetmore was the first postmaster, but he was soon succeeded by I. O. Martin.

James Murtaugh opened a blacksmith shop November 10, 1878.

Col. J. S. Hoover began grain buying on November 16, 1878.

J. W. Davis opened the first store with a stock of general merchandise on November 23.

Andrew Dice opened a hotel on the 18th day of December.

A lumber yard was opened in November by Kettler & Kreigsman.

The first sermon was preached in 1878, by Rev. Chas. Meyer, of the German Lutheran Church.

The first child born was a daughter to Mr. and Mrs. Wm. Blumenthal, in the fall of 1879. A boy named Fred Kobisch was born about the same time.

On July 28, 1879, the growing young town was visited by a storm that threatened its destruction. A dark cloud was seen coming up. Soon it passed over and then came a terrible storm of wind and rain. Mr. Tierman's store was unroofed; Smith's livery stable was unroofed and the end blown out; the front was blown out of Mendelbaum's store; Davis' store was badly damaged, the goods wet and many of them ruined; eight cars were blown off the track; windmills were torn down, and everything badly racked by the wind. The storm extended over no great extent of country, but a great deal of damage was done on farms in the vicinity of Blue Hill.

Ever since the foundation of the town of Blue Hill it has continued to grow steadily. It now has a population of more than 300. There are lumber yards, grain elevators, two hotels, one bank, and quite a large number of business houses, carrying a stock of everything demanded for a country trade. It is a grain market of considerable local importance and the amount of business done is great in proportion to the size of the town. The town is still advancing steadily in population and improvements, and in the amount of business done.


F. C. BUSCHOW, farmer, Section 10 post office Blue Hill, was born in Prussia. Came to Woodford County, Ill., in 1867 with his parents, and there engaged in farming. In 187? came to Webster County, Neb., where he has since resided. He owns 320 acres of land, which is improved with over twenty-two acres of forest trees and other improvements. He is now Justice of the Peace, and has been School Director. Married Miss Mary Kuhblank, also a native of Prussia. She came to Nebraska with her parents in 1881.

CANFIELD & PARKER, hardware, stoves, etc. A. B. Canfield was born in Canandaigua, N. Y. Moved near Toledo, Ohio, in 1837, and engaged in farming and merchandising. In 1875 he came to Edgar, Neb., and also engaged in merchandising. In the fall of 1881 he came to Blue Hill, and established this business. W. G. Parker was born in Pickaway County, Ohio. He came to Ashland, Saunders Co., Neb., in 1862. In about 1871 he removed to Nuckolls County. Was clerk in a hardware store there till the fall of 1881, when he came to Blue Hill, when this firm was established. He was married in the fall of 1880 to Miss Jessie Canfield, of Ohio. They have one son--W. Earle.

JOHN S. HOOVER, grain and live stock, was born in La Porte County, Ind. He came to Decatur, Ill., in 1856, and there was engaged in selling clocks. At the breaking out of the war he enlisted in Co. K, Thirty-first Illinois Infantry, and served over four years. Soon after entering the service he was promoted to First Lieutenant. Was detailed on Gen. John A Logan's staff as Aid-de-Camp, and promoted to the rank of Captain and Aid-de-Camp. On their march to Washington he was again promoted to Major and Aide-de-Camp. He was mustered out in Cincinnati in 1865 with the brevet rank of Colonel, then returned to Indiana, and engaged in merchandising. July, 1876, came to Hastings, Neb., and engaged in grain. In 1879 he came to Blue Hill, built this elevator, and has since been engaged in this business.

JOHN S. MCCLELLAND was born in Scotland, and there raised. In 1864, he came to Oxford, Canada. In the fall of 1879 he came to Blue Hill, and built the Central Hotel. Enlarged this house in the spring of 1882, and sold it. He was married in 1850 to Margaret Mathison, of Scotland. They have six children--one son and five daughters.

SOLOMON MANDELBAUM, manager for M. Weinberg & Co., general merchandise, was born in Saxony, Germany. Came to Cincinnati in 1860, and there learned the cigar trade. In 1863, he came to Chicago, and worked at the business two years. He then started a cigar factory, and employed from ten to fifteen hands. He continued this business for about five years. Also carried on the furniture trade about eight years. In 1876 he came to Hastings, Neb., and was manager of the firm of M. Weinberg & Co. about three years. He then came to Blue Hill, and opened this store, where he has since been in charge of this business. He also opened a branch store for this firm at Ayr, which is now in charge of one of his clerks. He was married December, 1868, to Miss Adaline, daughter of David Weinberg. She was born in New York City. They have two children--Carrie and Jacob.

G. M. MOREY, agent for the Burlington & Missouri Railroad and American Express agent, was born in Lyons, Wayne County, N. Y., and came with his parents to Missouri in 1859. His father was agent for the Hannibal & St. Joe Railroad at Shelbina, Mo., during the war. They then returned to Rochester, N. Y. They afterward removed to Danville, N. Y., where he was employed as Teller in a bank. In 1867 the family returned to Missouri, and engaged in farming. About 1868 he commenced to learn the telegraph business in Osborn, Mo., and has been engaged in railroad business most of the time since. Since 1876 he has been in the employ of the Burlington & Missouri Railroad. Took charge of the station September 5, 1879. Was married in October, 1879, to Miss C. B. Williams, of Forest City, Holt County, Mo. They have one daughter--Maude.

R. A. Simpson, of the firm of Simpson & Sweezy, bankers, was born in Ontario County, N. Y. He came to Clinton County, Iowa, in 1872, and there taught school and carried on a farm. In 1879 he came to Blue Hill, where he has since been engaged in loans, real estate, and banking.

DR. PH. D. SHUNK, physician and surgeon, was born in Washington County, Wis., and raised in Waukesha County. Took an academic course at the Waukesha College, and also attended the State University three years, and taught school one year. He attended the Rush Medical College, Chicago, where he graduated February 24, 1880. He then came to Blue Hill, where he has since been engaged in the practice of his profession.

C. G. WILSON, farmer, Section 10, post office Blue Hill, was born in Jay County, Ind., there raised, and assisted on a farm. He enlisted in 1861 in Co. A, Forty-seventh Indiana Infantry, and served to the end of the war. Participated in the capture of Vicksburg, capture of Mobile, and was in all the battles of that campaign. In 1872 he came to Nebraska, located in Adams County, and there took up a quarter section, which he improved. This he has since sold. In the spring of 1882, he removed to his present farm, consisting of 160 acres. When in Adams County was one term County Commissioner, and Justice of the Peace two terms. Married in 1864 to Miss Emma Harper, of Ohio. They have six children--three sons and three daughters.


This place is the junction of the two lines of the Burlington & Missouri River Railroad in Nebraska, that have been described. It is about four miles east of Red Cloud. Its site is a pleasant one, but being so near the county metropolis--Red Cloud--it has never yet grown to be a village. It is merely a flag station. There is one little store and post office here. A good flouring mill, though small, was built in 1876, by Polley & Son, who still operate it and do a good business.


The location of this town is a fine one on the high bottom lands of Elm Creek, in the midst of a fertile and well settled country. The village is small, having a population of only about one hundred and fifty, but it is steadily growing and is a thriving business point. It is on the Burlington & Missouri River Railroad, on the line extending from Hastings to Red Cloud.

The town-site was originally the farm of John Poyer, who gave a portion of it to the railroad company to lay out a town and establish a depot and station here. The town-site was surveyed and platted by A. B. Smith, the town surveyor of the railroad company, in September, 1878, and was named in honor of W. D. Cowles, who had prior to his death in 1876, been general freight agent of the Burlington & Missouri River Railroad. The town is located on the south one-half of the northeast quarter of Section 4, Town 2, Range 10 west, about two and one-half miles east of the center of the county, ten miles from Red Cloud and eleven miles from Blue Hill. It consists of twenty-two blocks 300 feet square, and the business lots are twenty-five feet front and one hundred and forty feet deep. The residence lots are fifty feet front and one hundred and forty feet deep.

As soon as the town was laid out improvements commenced. Among the first settlers were M. W. Crabtree, T. J. Ward, John Clark, D. T. and L. D. Thomas. In December, 1879, the railroad station and section house were built and a post office was established about the same time. F. M. Warren was the first station agent, was appointed postmaster and was the first attorney as well.

The first house a small residence was built by M. W. Crabtree. In December, 1878, L. D. Thomas built another small house.

February 26, 1879, Thomas & Ward opened the first store with a general stock of merchandise.

The first birth was a son to Mr. and Mrs. M. W. Crabtree in 1879. The first marriage was that of John Waller to Miss Lavina Buster. The first death that of a child of John and Eva Clark, in 1879.

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