Past & Present of Platte County, Nebraska - Volume II


 

47PAST AND PRESENT OF PLATTE COUNTY

months however, he retraced his steps eastward and settled in Aurora, Illinois, where he worked at the carpenter's trade and also engaged in contracting, continuing in business at that place for two years.

  On the expiration of that period Mr. Blaser and his brother, John, returned to Platte county and took up a homestead of eighty acres in Loup township. Later they purchased other land, for which they paid from four to six dollars per acre, and Nicholas Blaser was then engaged in general farming until 1899, when he came to Columbus and resumed work at the carpenter's trade as a contractor, devoting most of his attention to bridge building and similar work. It was not long before he was accorded a liberal patronage and he continued to be active in that field of industry until he retired from business life.

  In his native country, in 1863, Mr. Blaser was united in marriage to Miss Eliza Ernst, a daughter of Samuel Ernst. They had traveled life's journey together for fifty-one years, when they were separated by the death of Mrs. Blaser on the 13th of April, 1914. They were the parents of eight children: Nicholas, who resides in Oregon; Louis, a farmer of Columbus township, Platte county; John, who follows agricultural pursuits in Loup township; Frank, a farmer of Columbus township; Michael, a farmer of Butler township; Henry, a resident farmer of Duncan; Paul, who follows agricultural pursuits in Butler township; and Emma, who married Fred Oplicker of Butler township.

  In his political views Mr. Blaser is a republican and served as one of the first supervisors of Loup township. He also filled the position of assessor and has ever been most loyal in the discharge of his official duties. He is a member of the German Reformed church and has guided his life according to its teachings, his course at all times being upright and honorable and winning for him high regard.


RUDOLPH H. WURDEMAN.

  Rudolph H. Wurdeman is engaged in general farming on section 10, Sherman township, and finds this occupation a profitable one owing to his intelligently directed efforts. A native of Wisconsin, he was born in Mayville, Dodge county, November 26, 1866, and during his early boyhood was brought to Nebraska and pursued his education in school district No. 23, in Sherman township, Platte county. He was reared to the occupation of farming and at the age of twenty-two began farming on his own account on section 10, Sherman township, where he has lived continuously since 1869, or for a period of forty-seven years. He has seen wonderful changes in the county, which at the time of the arrival of the Wurdeman family was largely an undeveloped district. The labors of the family have contributed to the pioneer development and agricultural progress of the county. For a long period Rudolph H. Wurdeman has been numbered among the active and representative farmers of Sherman township, where he owns three hundred and sixty acres Of valuable land in the home place and eighty acres on section 5 of the same township. He has made about one half of the improvements upon his farm in the way of buildings, and at all times he keeps his land under a high state of cultivation, his fields producing excellent crops of corn, wheat and other cereals.

  Mr. Wurdeman is also engaged extensively in feeding and shipping stock. He
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48PAST AND PRESENT OF PLATTE COUNTY

keeps a large herd of cattle and specializes in the Aberdeen Angus breed. Into other lines he has extended his business activity and several important concerns have felt the stimulus of his enterprise and co-operation. For a time he was the vice president of the Maple Valley State Bank at Leigh but resigned when it consolidated with another bank. He is still a stockholder in the Farmers Union Elevator Company and in the telephone company at Columbus, which he helped to organize. He is likewise identified with the Farmers Union.

  On May 31, 1889, Mr. Wurdeman was united in marriage to Miss Mary Hagelman, who was born in Oldenburg, Germany, in 1868, a daughter of Gerhard and Cording Hagelman, who were also natives of the same place. In the year 1878 they arrived in Wisconsin and afterward came to Platte county, Nebraska, where Mr. Hagelman still lives at the age of eighty-four years, but his wife is deceased. Mr. and Mrs. Wurdeman have become the parents of eight children: Henry, who is married and has one child and who still lives upon the home farm; Ernst; Reinhold; Elsie; Walter; Olga: Louis; and Ewald.

  Mr. Wurdeman is well known in fraternal circles, holding membership with the Modern Woodmen camp, the Odd Fellows lodge and the United Workmen lodge, all at Leigh. His religious faith is that of the Lutheran church, to which his wife and family also belong. In his political views he is a republican and for six years filled the office of justice of the peace, discharging his duties with promptness and impartiality. The greater part of his life has been passed in Platte county, and he is one of its worthy and honored pioneer settlers, its history in all of its varying phases being familiar to him, so that his memory forms a connecting link between the primitive past and the progressive present.


OTTO F. WALTER.

  Otto F. Walter, now serving as county attorney of Platte county, is a prominent young lawyer of Columbus who has already won enviable recognition in his chosen calling. His birth occurred in Aurora, Illinois, on the 19th of April, 1890, his parents being William John and Anna Marie (Fasolt) Walter, the former born in Wickliffe, Kentucky, July 2, 1859, and the latter a native of Dixon, Illinois. Their marriage was celebrated in Amboy, Illinois, and the mother of our subject passed away in 1904. A complete sketch of William J. Walter, who came to Columbus in 1905 and is the president of the Columbus Brewing Company, appears on another page of this work.

  Otto F. Walter acquired his early education in the public schools of Aurora, Illinois, and Columbus, Nebraska, and in 1911 was graduated from the academic department of the University of Nebraska at Lincoln. In 1913 he was graduated from the law department of the same institution. though he had spent the preceding year as a student in the law department of Chicago University. He has already won recognition and success in the practice of his profession and in November, 1914, was elected on the democratic ticket to the office of county attorney of Platte county. In this connection he is making a most creditable record, justifying the expectations of his constituents in the able discharge of his important duties.

  While a student in the University of Nebraska, Mr. Walter was a member

 

PAST AND PRESENT OF PLATTE COUNTY 49

the Cadets Battalion. He is a communicant of the Catholic church and fraternally is identified with the Knights of Columbus and the Benevolent Protective 0rder of Elks. High principles of manhood actuate him in all life's relations and his genuine worth of character has gained for him the warm regard, goodwill and respect of those who know him.


HENRY J. BACKES.

  Henry J. Backes is proprietor of the famous Humphrey Nurseries, well known throughout Nebraska and in other states. In this connection he is conducting an extensive and profitable business, constituting one of the important enterprises of Platte county. He has lived in this county from the age of fourteen years, his birth having occurred in Lake county, Indiana, April 14, 1872, his parents being Peter and Gertrude Backes, both of whom were natives of Germany. The father was a farmer by occupation and in 1850 came to the new world with his parents, settling at Crown Point, Indiana. The lady whom he afterward wedded was brought to the United States by her parents when but two years of age and both Peter and Gertrude Backes were reared and educated at Crown Point, where their marriage was also celebrated. In 1886 they arrived in Platte county, Nebraska, settling at Humphrey, where Mr. Backes carried on farming until 1914. He then retired from active business life and removed to Lindsay, where he and his wife now make their home.

  At the usual age Henry J. Backes became a public-school pupil and for two years he pursued his studies in the normal school at Fremont, Nebraska. He then remained at home until he attained his majority. after which he engaged in the nursery business as an employe of D. W. Schaff, who at that time was connected with the Geneva Nursery. Mr. Backes spent three years in that way, after which he worked on contract with the Geneva Nursery for eight years, maintaining his headquarters at Humphrey throughout the entire period. In 1904 he bought out the nursery business of P. McKillip and assumed charge thereof. It was the small beginning of a big business, however, for at that time he had but five acres. The succeeding year he bought the eighty acre tract upon which he now resides and where he maintains his nursery, having erected fine buildings upon the place for this special purpose. He now cultivates a full and complete line of nursery stock of every kind, which is sold by traveling salesmen and by catalog. He uses sixty-five acres for the growth of trees and in 1915 had five hundred thousand young apple trees ready for market. There are very few nurseries located on what is known as upland, but the Humphrey nurseries are so situated and have proven that the upland gives better quality of stock, although it costs more to raise the stock, which, however, is of a hardier and sounder growth. Mr. Backes grows all of his trees on upland on a divide between the Platte and Elkhorn rivers at an altitude of sixteen hundred and forty feet above sea level. He has built up an extensive nursery business, his stock being now widely shipped, and he has gained a most enviable reputation in this connection. In 1905 he extended his activities to include the raising of registered Holstein-Friesian cattle and today sells to the farmer for breeding purposes. In 1912 he began breeding Tamworth

 

50PAST AND PRESENT OF PLATTE COUNTY

hogs and has one of only two herds of these hogs in Nebraska. He also has upon his farm a six year old stallion, "Shade On Maulden," sired by the famous "Shade On," with the record of 2.08 1/4. Mr. Backes is today one of the prominent stockmen of western Nebraska and one of the best known and most successful nurserymen of the state. In addition to his home place he owns four hundred and eighty acres of land near Osmond, Nebraska, which he rents.

  On the 9th of November, 1898, Mr. Backes was married to Miss Millie Billerbeck, a daughter of Henry J. and Wilhelmina (Crossman) Billerbeck, both of whom were natives of Germany. When eighteen years of age Mrs. Billerbeck came to America. On crossing the Atlantic Mr. Billerbeck settled in St. Louis, Missouri, and later removed to Freeport, Illinois, where he worked as a farm hand, but afterward removed to Iowa, where he again engaged in farming. In 1885 he arrived in Nebraska and established a hardware and implement business at Pierce, while today he is actively engaged in business at Osmond. His wife died in Humphrey in January, 1899. Mr. and Mrs. Backes have become the parents of two children: Laura, who was born October 13, 1902, and is a student in the high school; and Agnes, who passed away at the age of two years. The parents and daughter are members of the Catholic church at Humphrey and in politics Mr. Backes is a republican. The family are well known socially and the hospitality of their home is extended to their many friends.


JAMES GRAHAM REEDER.

  James Graham Reeder, for almost a third of a century a member of the bar of Columbus, to whom has come distinguished honors and success in connection with the profession, was born upon a farm in Erie county, Pennsylvania, January 18, 1858. The ancestral line is traced back to John Reeder, who came from England in 1634 and founded the family in the new world. The paternal grandfather, Job Reeder, was a native of Pennsylvania and in that state, Samuel Galloway Reeder, the father, was born, his natal place being Erie county. He made farming his life work. In Erie county he wedded Lydia Ann Graham, who was born in County Cavan, Ireland, and was brought to the United States during her infancy. Both passed away some years ago.

  The usual experiences of the farm boy fell to the lot of James G. Reeder in the period of his youth. He worked on the farm during vacations and in the public schools pursued his education until he became a student in the State Normal School. He also attended Allegheny College at Meadville, Pennsylvania, and in 1880 he went to Memphis, Tennessee, where he studied law, being admitted to the bar there in 1882. The following year he came to Columbus, where he opened a law office and has since engaged in practice. In 1894 he was elected judge of the sixth judicial district and served upon the bench for four years, making a creditable record by the fairness and impartiality of his decisions. He possesses that broad mindedness which not only comprehends the details of the situation clearly but which insures a complete self control under even the most exasperating conditions. He possesses also a finely balanced mind and splendid intellectual attainments and thus he has long been recognized as a prominent lawyer and jurist.

 

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  In May, 1887, Judge Reeder was married in California to Miss Lillian Smith, a daughter of Samuel C. Smith, deceased, and they have four children: Clara S., George S., Lucille H. and Marian Graham. The son, who married Hazel Perrin, of Lincoln, Nebraska, now resides at Rogers, Arkansas.

  Judge Reeder was at one time connected with the Benevolent Protective Order of Elks but has demitted, as he has from the Knights of Pythias. He still retains connection with Masonry, however, being now a Scottish Rite Mason and a member of the Mystic Shrine. His political indorsement is given to the republican party and upon the questions and issues of the day he keeps well informed, studying all points relative to the general welfare most thoroughly. He never regards lightly the duties of citizenship and his official service upon the bench was discharged with the utmost sense of conscientious obligation.


FRANK J. HUTMACHER.

  Frank J. Hutmacher is the proprietor of the electric light plant at Humphrey and in his management of this public utility is giving excellent service to his patrons, displaying marked ability in the control of the business. Germany has furnished many worthy citizens to Platte county and among these he is numbered. He was born in the fatherland July 5. 1878, a son of George M. and Christina (Kaus) Hutmacher, also natives of Germany. The father engaged in farming in that country until 1883, when he sought the opportunities and advantages of the new world, crossing the Atlantic with his family and establishing his home in Platte county, Nebraska. Purchasing land in Granville township, he bent his energies to the development and improvement of his farm and managed his affairs so systematically and progressively that success came to him in substantial measure. He continued to occupy the old homestead until 1911, when he took up his abode in Humphrey, where he resided until his death, which occurred November 25, 1914. For two decades he had survived his wife, who passed away in 1894.

  Frank J. Hutmacher was a little lad of five years at the time of the emigration of the family to the new world. He was reared and educated in Platte county, attending the district schools near his father's farm and the parochial school at St. Bernard, Nebraska. When not busy with his textbooks his attention was given to the work of the fields and after he attained his majority he rented land, which he operated for five years. On the expiration of that period he took up his abode in Humphrey and for two years engaged in the manufacture of flour. He then traded his mill for land in South Dakota and afterward traded that property for Platte county land and for real estate in Humphrey. He rented the farm property and, establishing his home in the town, purchased the electric light plant of Humphrey in June, 1909, and has since remodeled and operated it. He started with a small steam engine, but now has a plant that is thoroughly modern in its equipment and for the past four years has been giving all-day service. He furnishes power for the elevators, blacksmith shops, planing mills and garages and in addition supplies the lighting system. He thoroughly understands the business and the systematic and careful management of his interests has made his undertaking a growing and profitable one.

 

52PAST AND PRESENT OF PLATTE COUNTY

  On the 1st of August, 1899, Mr. Hutmacher was married to Miss Katie Brandt, a daughter of George and Philomena (Schar) Brandt, natives of Germany and of Illinois respectively. In early life the father crossed the Atlantic to the new world, settling near Chicago, where he resided for a short time, after which he removed to Madison county, Nebraska. There he took up a homestead, which he developed, and as his financial resources permitted he bought more land from time to time and continued the operation of his farm until 1908, when he retired from active business life. He now resides in Madison, but his wife passed away in 1910.

  The marriage of Mr. and Mrs. Hutmacher has been blessed with four children, Willie, Lena, George and Frankie, aged respectively fourteen, twelve, ten and eight years. The family occupy a pleasant home, which is the property of Mr. Hutmacher, and in addition he owns two good business houses of the town. He and his wife are communicants of the Catholic church and he holds membership with the Knights of Columbus, the Catholic Order of Foresters and the Modern Woodmen of America. In political belief he is a democrat but is not an active party worker. Industry has been the keynote of his success and throughout his entire life he has never allowed obstacles or difficulties to bar his path if they could be overcome by persistent, earnest and honorable effort.


WILLIAM LOUIS CARL BOETTCHER.

  William Louis Carl Boettcher is proprietor of one of the most popular cafes of Columbus and one of the most finely appointed. He was born on the island of Rügen, in the East sea, off the coast of Germany, on the 25th of November, 1878, a son of Frederick and Johanna (Boettcher) Boettcher. The father was born October 30, 1852, and in the year 1886 came to America, making his way direct to Columbus, Nebraska. Soon afterward he rented a farm in Platte county and carried on general agricultural pursuits for twenty years but is now in the employ of the Columbus Brewing Company. His wife passed away November 24, 1888.

  William L. C. Boettcher was a little lad of eight summers when the parents brought their family to the new world. He pursued his education in the schools of Platte county to the age of thirteen years, after which he gave undivided attention to the work of the home farm until he attained his majority. He was afterward engaged in the livery business in Columbus for six months and still later spent two months in the employ of an uncle who was a hardware merchant. He next engaged in railroading for three months and then went to Grand Island, where he clerked in a grocery store. Still later he spent a few months in the employ of a brewing company and afterward devoted five years to the saloon business in Grand Island. On the expiration of that period he returned to Columbus, where he opened a saloon known as the Thurston Annex, which he conducted for a year. For eight years he was at the corner of Eleventh and North streets and then purchased the present location, building a two-story fireproof building which is fitted out with a mosaic tile floor and solid mahogany fixtures. His cafe has the largest bar in the town and his establishment is very popular with the public.

  In October, 1907, Mr. Boettcher was united in marriage to Miss Dora Rohweder, of Hall county, Nebraska, and of German parentage. To them have been born

 

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six children, namely: Florence, Arnold, Leoni, William, Walter and Leo. Mr. Boettcher and his wife are members of the German Lutheran church and he also has membership with Columbus Lodge, No. 1195, B. P. O. E., the Sons of Herman and the Fraternal Order of Eagles. He is also president of the Columbus Maennerchor. For eight years he was a volunteer fireman. In politics he is an earnest democrat and is now a central committeeman from the first ward of Columbus and member of the county central committee, doing all in his power to further the interests and secure the success of his party. Personally he is a man of pleasing qualities and he belongs to that class of men who are enthusiastic in support of the city and do all in their power to promote its expansion.


ERIC E. LUEDTKE.

  The name of Luedtke is one well known in connection with financial interests in Platte county, the subject of this review being assistant cashier in the Citizens State Bank of Creston. He was born in Sherman township, this county, March 24, 1889, and is the youngest son of Herman and Louisa (Meyer) Luedtke, of whom mention is made elsewhere in this work in connection with the sketch of their son, H. W. Luedtke, who is cashier of the Citizen's State Bank.

  Spending his early youth out on the old farm under the parental roof, Eric E. Luedtke received his early education in Boheet district, No. 46 of the public schools of Sherman township, after which, at the ages of twelve and thirteen, he attended German summer school, and also the winter of 1902-1903 at the German Lutheran church of Platte county. He was confirmed at the age of fourteen years in the spring of 1903 by Rev. Frank, then pastor of the church. At the age of fifteen years he entered the Normal School together with his brother Ed, at Fremont, Nebraska, where he received a general education, attending at different times and spending about three years in all at that institution. He graduated from the shorthand and typewriting, teachers and elocutionary courses as well as finishing most of the work of the scientific and commercial courses. It had always been the plan of his father to give him a good education. While not attending the Fremont Normal he worked on the farm or in the Citizens State Bank. After finishing his schooling he taught school in the Lonely Valley district in Stanton county, Nebraska, in 1909, and afterward entered the First National Bank of Fremont, where he had the splendid opportunity of gaining more knowledge and experience in banking under such able bankers and financiers as E. R. Gurney and Frank B. Knapp. Here he was employed as bookkeeper, collector and assistant paying teller, remaining with the institution for over two and one-half years. In June, 1912, he came to Creston and accepted the position of assistant cashier in the Citizens State Bank, since which time he has very ably served the bank in that capacity. He became at that time not only an officer but also a stockholder of the institution, for which he had worked previously in 1907 and at other times.

  On the 24th of June, 1915, Mr. Luedtke was married to Miss Elsie M. Softley, a daughter of Alfred and Cleo (Faquet) Softley, the former a native of England and the latter of West Virginia. The father came to America when a youth of sixteen years. He spent two years in Michigan and then came to Nebraska,

 

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settling on a farm near Hooper. Later he began teaching school and has since followed that profession at many places in the state. He is now dean of the Fremont Normal School, where he teaches psychology, history, economics and literature, being recognized as one of the prominent educators of the state, his ability having brought him to a position of distinction in this field.

  Mr. Luedtke is a member of the Knights of Pythias lodge and gives his political indorsement to the progressive democratic party, keeping well informed on the questions and issues of the day but never seeking office. His religious faith is that of the Lutheran church, and his wife is a member of the Baptist church of Fremont, and they are people of genuine worth, highly esteemed by those that know them best in the communities in which they have resided.


DANIEL B. GORMAN.

  Daniel B. Gorman, who passed away on the 14th of August, 1914, was successfully identified with agricultural pursuits throughout his entire business career and for a number of years prior to his death owned and operated an excellent farm of one hundred and sixty acres on section 25, Humphrey township. His birth occurred in Warner, Illinois, on the 21st of December, 1865, his parents being Barnard and Nancy (Fleming) Gorman, both of whom were natives of Pennsylvania. They removed to Illinois about the year 1860, purchasing a farm in Mercer county which the father improved and operated until 1876, when he disposed of the property and went with his family to Ringgold county, Iowa. There he bought a tract of land which he cultivated continuously and successfully until 1905, since which time he has lived retired at Kellerton, Iowa. The demise of his wife occurred in 1880.

  Daniel B. Gorman was reared and educated in Illinois and Iowa, remaining under the parental roof until he had attained his majority. Subsequently he cultivated rented land until 1890, which year witnessed his arrival in Platte county, Nebraska. Here he continued the cultivation of rented land for three years and then bought a farm in Creston township which he operated for sixteen years. On the expiration of that period he sold the property and purchased a farm in Hall county, Nebraska, where he devoted his attention to agricultural pursuits for five years. In 1908 Mr. Gorman returned to Platte county and purchased one hundred and sixty acres of land on section 25, Humphrey township, operating the same until his death. He was killed accidentally, being kicked by a horse. His loss was deeply deplored by many friends as well as his immediate family, for he was a well known and highly esteemed citizen of his community.

  On the 23d of July, 1890, Mr. Gorman was united in marriage to Miss Minnie Barrett, a daughter of William and Margaret (Donaldson) Barrett, both of whom were natives of Ireland, in which country the mother passed away in 1878. In 1880 the father brought his family to the United States, locating in Platte county, Nebraska, and purchasing a tract of land in Creston township which he improved and has cultivated continuously to the present time. He is now seventy-seven years of age and enjoys an enviable reputation as one of the substantial agriculturists and respected citizens of the community. Mr. and Mrs. Gorman became the

  DANIEL B. GORMAN

 

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parents of ten children, as follows: Myrtle E., who was born August 4, 1891, and is the wife of Oscar Belknap, of Creston township; Paul R., whose natal day was October 7, 1893; Guy W., born November 25, 1895; Edith I., whose birth occurred February 9, 1898; Inez C., born April 5, 1900; Byron F., born July 13, 1902; Frank A., born November 28, 1904; Roy B., born May 7, 1907; Elmer E., born April 18, 1910; and George G., who first opened his eyes to the light of day on the 21st of May, 1912.

  In his political views Mr. Gorman was independent, supporting men and measures rather than party. Fraternally he was identified with the Ancient Order of United Workmen. His widow still resides on the home farm in Humphrey township and her circle of friends is a wide one, for all who know her esteem her as a woman of many excellent traits of heart and mind.


JOSEPH M. VEIK.

  The attractiveness of Platte county as a place of residence is indicated in the fact that many of her native sons have remained within her borders, finding here business opportunity as well as advantages along the lines of intellectual and social progress. Such is the record of Joseph M. Veik, who was born on section 32, Humphrey township, August 24, 1877, and still resides on that section. His parents are Joseph and Theresa (Falk) Veik, natives of Austria. The father was a weaver in the old country and came to America in 1876, settling in Platte county, upon land in Humphrey township which he purchased. Later he sold the original place and bought the farm upon which Joseph M. Veik now resides. He improved this and continued its cultivation for many years but finally retired and removed to Humphrey, where he spent his remaining days, his death occurring in January, 1911. His widow now resides in Oklahoma.

  Joseph M. Veik is indebted to the St. Mary's parochial school for his educational privileges. He remained upon the home farm with his parents until the father retired from active business, when he purchased the home place, consisting of one hundred and sixty acres on section 32, Humphrey township. Later he invested in eighty acres across the road on section 33. He has made splendid improvements upon the place since it has come into his possession and has carried on his farm work along the most progressive, modern lines. He is diligent and enterprising, and his work is so systematically managed that excellent results are achieved. He has stock in the Farmers Elevator Company of Humphrey and has become well known as a stock-raiser of Platte county, making a specialty of handling full blooded Poland China hogs.

  On November 15, 1898, Mr. Veik was united in marriage to Miss Elizabeth Schilz, a daughter of John and Katie (Brier) Schilz, natives of Germany. On coming to the new world they settled in Illinois, where the father followed farming for a short time. He afterward removed to Platte county, Nebraska, and purchased land south of Platte Center in Lost Creek township. This he cultivated for many years but is now living retired in Platte Center, he and his wife being pleasantly located there. To Mr. and Mrs. Veik have been born nine children: John B., Frank J., William P., Henry C., Agnes M. and Celia M., all of whom are yet

 

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living; while those who have passed away are: Leo H., who died in October, 1899; Joseph F., in August, 1913; and Martin A., in November, 1914.

  The religious faith of the family is that of the Catholic church, of which Mr. Veik has long been a communicant. His political indorsement is given to democratic principles, and for several years he served as township clerk. He has also been one of the school directors and is interested in community affairs, cooperating heartily in many plans and movements which have to do with the upbuilding and development of the district in which he lives. He has always resided in Humphrey township and has an extended acquaintance among the residents of that locality.


JOHNNIE HEIBEL.

  Johnnie Heibel, carrying on general farming and stockraising on section 25, Bismark township, was born upon a farm in the township wherein he now makes his home, his natal day being August 21, 1877. His parents were John and Anna Heibel, natives of Germany, who, after crossing the Atlantic to the new world, made their way westward to Nebraska and became residents of Platte county in 1870. They secured land and the father devoted his attention to farming upon the place where occurred the birth of Johnnie Heibel. After remaining upon this farm for over thirty years the father purchased the place where our subject now lives and in the spring of 1915 removed to Columbus, where he now resides.

  At the usual age the son became a public-school pupil and when not busy with his textbooks his attention was given to the work of the fields, in which he received thorough practical training. He has never sought to change his occupation, for he finds farming a congenial and profitable pursuit. He is the owner of one hundred and sixty acres of good land and devotes his entire time to general farming and stock-raising, his labors being attended with substantial results. He produces the crops best adapted to soil and climate and in addition to cultivating his fields specializes in raising high grade horses. Each day finds him busy about the farm, in field or pasture, and his diligence and determination are bringing to him growing and gratifying success.

  In religious faith Mr. Heibel is a German Lutheran, having always continued in the church in which he was reared. In politics he is a democrat but has never had desire for office, preferring to concentrate his energies upon his business affairs.


CAROLUS GALITZIN HICKOK.

  When the Civil war ended and the victorious Union army marched through the streets of Washington, over broad Pennsylvania avenue there was hung a banner bearing the words, "The only debt which the country owes that she cannot pay is the one that she owes to her soldiers." Everywhere a feeling of respect is entertained for that great body of men who defended the country and preserved the Union intact. Among this number was Carolus Galitzin Hickok, now of Columbus,

 

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who in early manhood donned the nation's blue uniform and went to the front, putting aside his textbooks, for he was then a student in Oberlin College, to join the army. A native of Ohio, he was born in Peninsula, Huron county, August 16, 1843, his parents being Stephen C. and Lucy M. (Gaston) Hickok. The father passed away in 1850, at Hillsdale, Michigan, where he was occupying the position of superintendent of the high school and also acting for a part of the time as minister of the Presbyterian church. His wife preceded him in death two weeks, her demise occurring in August and his in September.

  Carolus G. Hickok spent the succeeding two years with his aunt, Mrs. Emeline Powers, and in 1852 went to Coldwater, Michigan, to live with Mrs. James Gilbert, with whom he remained until June, 1855. At that date he joined an uncle, George B. Gaston, who was the founder of the town of Tabor, Iowa, and of the college there; and was there engaged in the milling business. Mr. Hickok remained with that uncle until February, 1864, when he entered the Oberlin College at Oberlin, Ohio, in which he pursued his studies until the following August, when his patriotic spirit was aroused and he enlisted for service at the front as a member of Company C, One Hundred and Seventy-sixth Regiment of Ohio Volunteer Infantry. At Nashville, Tennessee, he was engaged in patrol duty and also participated in the battle of Nashville in December, 1864. While there he suffered an attack of lung fever, but he remained with his command until honorably discharged (?) June, 1865, following the cessation of hostilities.

  When the country no longer needed his aid Mr. Hickok returned to Oberlin College, where he spent two years in preparatory work and one year in pursuing the college course. In the fall of 1867 he became a resident of Omaha, Nebraska, and during the succeeding winter taught school near Clarinda, Page county, Iowa. When the school term was ended he made his way to Columbus and soon afterward began work for an uncle, L. W. Platt, in a general store near the Pawnee Indian agency, trading with the Indians there until the fall of 1871. In the spring of 1872 he homesteaded one hundred and sixty acres on section 2, Columbus township, Platte county, and later preempted another one hundred and sixty acres, thus becoming the possessor of a half section of land. Not a furrow had been turned nor an improvement made upon his claims, but with characteristic energy he began to break the sod and till the fields, bringing his land to a high state of cultivation. While thus engaged he met many of the usual experiences and hardships of frontier life but persevered in his work and substantial results attended him. For a time he was proprietor of a fruit store in Columbus and for nearly two years engaged in selling windmills and pumps for A. W. Lawrence. He was afterward connected with a grocery store where the Evans Hotel now stands, devoting six years to that business, at the end of which time he entered into a partnership under the style of Hickok, Halm & Company for the conduct of a grocery store which they carried on for two and one-half years. In 1889 Mr. Hickok turned his attention to bookkeeping and clerking and from 1892 was employed as a bookkeeper in various stores of Columbus. He entered upon his present connection with J. R. Luschen in 1913 and has there remained through the intervening years.

  On the 7th of December, 1871, Mr. Hickok was united in marriage to Miss Sophia Church Gates, of Tabor, Iowa. She was born December 2, 1846, at Oberlin, Ohio, a daughter of William James and Emily Parsons (Hall) Gates, both of whom were natives of Massachusetts. They removed to Iowa in 1853, making

 

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the journey by boat via the Ohio, Mississippi and Missouri rivers and reaching their destination at the end of four weeks. Both have now passed away, dying in California. To Mr. and Mrs. Hickok was born one child, who died in infancy.

  In his political views Mr. Hickok was for years an earnest republican but has never been an aspirant for office. He is a prominent member of Baker Post, No. 9, G. A. R., of which he is now commander, and he is an active member of the Congregational church, in which he is serving as treasurer and deacon. A broadminded man, he has ever been a great reader and finds delight in pursuing the pages of the Literary Digest, the National Geographic Magazine and other works which keep him in touch with the trend of modern thought and progress. He also possesses a good general library and occupies a beautiful home in Columbus where the spirit of hospitality is supreme, cordial welcome being ever extended to the many friends of the family.


CLARENCE NEWTON McELFRESH.

  In a history of those whose course has made for the bar of Columbus a most creditable showing, the name of Clarence Newton McElfresh appears. He is a comparatively young man but in his profession has attained a place that many an older practitioner might well envy. He was born in Marion county, West Virginia, December 9, 1881, a son of Joseph and Elizabeth Tamer (Bartlett) McElfresh, who were both natives of Virginia, the former born in 1848. He became a farmer and stockman, following that pursuit throughout his active life. His wife died in 1885. The emigrant ancestor of the McElfresh family came from Scotland and first settled in Pennsylvania, while later a branch of the family was established in that section of the country which was then Virginia but is now a part of West Virginia.

  Clarence N. McElfresh pursued his education at Fairmount and at Morgantown, West Virginia, completing a course in the State Normal at Fairmount by graduation. He afterward entered the law department of the West Virginia University at Morgantown and was graduated in 1903. He then sought the opportunities of the growing west and made his way to Columbus, where he was admitted to the bar in 1904, after having taught a term of school in Platte county, Nebraska. In the fall of that year, however, he opened a law office in Columbus, where he remained until 1907, when he went to Omaha, where he practiced for three years. He then returned to Columbus, where he has since followed his profession as a general law practitioner. From 1910 until 1914 he was county attorney of Platte country. He can scarcely be termed an orator but he has in an eminent degree that rare ability of saying in a convincing way the right thing at the right time and his mind is analytical, logical and inductive.

  On the 19th of June, 1909, in Columbus, occurred the marriage of Mr. McElfresh and Miss Ethel Burill Elliott, a daughter of Hanson S. Elliott, who died in 1912. To this union was born a daughter and son, Helen Elizabeth and Hanson Elliott.

  The family attend the Federated church, an organization formed by the Presbyterians and Congregationalists of Columbus, and that Mr. McElfresh is deeply interested in the moral progress of his community is shown in the fact that he is serving as a director of the Young Men's Christian Association. In Masonry he

 

PAST AND PRESENT OF PLATTE COUNTY 61

has taken the degrees of the York Rite and is also a member of the Mystic shrine, and he is past master of Lebanon Lodge No. 58, A. F. & A. M., of Columbus, and past commander of Gethsemane Commandery, No. 21, K. T., at Columbus. His political endorsement is given to the republican party. His acquaintance is wide and high regard is entertained for him because of his professional ability and his personal worth.


JACOB AERNI.

  Jacob Aerni is connected with the farming interests of Bismark township, his home being on section 33. He has been a lifelong resident of the county and has witnessed much of its development and progress. He was born in Columbus township on the 23d of December, 1884, and in his youthful days received only a meager education, for when in the fourth grade he was obliged to leave school and assist in the work of the home farm. His boyhood, therefore, was largely a period of earnest and unremitting toil and he soon came to know the value of labor. In the years which have since come and gone his attention has been given to general agricultural pursuits and in crop production he makes a specialty of raising winter wheat. He also has shorthorn cattle upon his place, with a fine registered bull, Rover, at the head of his herd. He is also interested in the Mutual Life Association of Lincoln and is an enterprising business man of sound judgment and recognized capability.

  On the 24th of February, 1912, Mr. Aerni was united in marriage to Miss Lenora Gragert, whose birth occurred in Boone county, Nebraska, July 7, 1894. They have one child, Syvilla Anna Clara, who was born on the 14th of February, 1915. Politically Mr. Aerni is a democrat, voting with the party and keeping well informed on the questions and issues of the day but never seeking office. He belongs to the German Reformed church and guides his life according to its teachings, being at all times honorable in his dealings with his fellowmen and straightforward in every relation of life. He is a worthy representative of one of the old-time families of the county and deserves representation among those who exemplify the spirit of modern farming.


JOHN P. POLITIS.

  John P. Politis, a representative and enterprising business man of Columbus, has for the past eight years been successfully engaged in the manufacture of candy and ice cream, conducting both a retail and a wholesale establishment. His birth occurred in Magouliana, Greece, on the 24th of April, 1882, his parents being Peter J. and Marjorie (Liaromati) Politis. The former passed away in that country in 1894, and the latter still resides at her home in Greece.

  John P. Politis completed a high-school course in Athens, Greece, by graduation in 1897 and was subsequently employed in a grocery store there until 1902. In that year, then a young man of twenty, he decided to test the truth of the many

 

62PAST AND PRESENT OF PLATTE COUNTY

favorable reports which had reached him concerning the advantages and opportunities of the new world and emigrated to the United States, locating in Lowell, Massachusetts, where he worked in a cotton mill for one year. Subsequently he spent two months in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and in May, 1903, came to Nebraska, settling in Omaha, where he operated a fruit stand on his own account for four years. On the expiration of that period he sold out and in June, 1907, came to Columbus, here embarking in business as a wholesale and retail manufacturer of candy and ice cream. In this connection he has since built up an enterprise of extensive and profitable proportions and the success which has attended his efforts is indeed well merited.

  On the 12th of November, 1911, in Omaha, Mr. Politis was united in marriage to Miss Christina Kajakes, a native of Greece, by whom he has two children, namely: Peter J., who was born August 18, 1912; and Marjorie J., whose birth occurred on the 11th of August, 1914. Mr. Politis belongs to the Greek Orthodox church and fraternally is identified with the Ancient Order of United Workmen. He is a young man of enterprise and ambition and has won many friends in both business and social circles of his adopted city.


JOSEPH LACHNIT.

  Joseph Lachnit, deceased, was long a respected and worthy citizen of Platte county and his life record should find place upon the pages of the county's history. He was born in Germany, February 17, 1862, a son of Frank and Josephine Lachnit, both of whom were natives of Austria. The mother died when her son Joseph was but two months old. The father, who was a farmer by occupation, came to the United States with his family in 1874, settling on a farm near Columbus, Platte county, Nebraska, where he rented land and carried on general agricultural pursuits for a time. Carefully saving his earnings, he then bought property and continued farming until 1900, when he retired and removed to Columbus, there continuing his residence until called to his final home on the 28th of February, 1910. His second wife, who bore the maiden name of Josephine Meir, passed away February 2, 1910. They were among the early settlers of Platte county and took an active and helpful interest in the pioneer development and progress of the locality.

  Joseph Lachnit attended school in Germany and continued his education in Platte county, Nebraska, where he arrived when a lad of twelve years. He worked upon the home farm during vacation periods and early gained practical knowledge of the best methods of tilling the soil and caring for the crops. When only fifteen years of age he started out to earn his own living. working by the month as a farm hand for a time, while later he came to Humphrey and in 1889 opened a retail liquor store in connection with a partner under the firm name of Lachnit & Karthouse. This connection was continued for seven years, at the end of which time he purchased his partner's interest and continued the business alone until his death, which occurred June 20, 1912. Prior to engaging in the saloon business he had worked as an insurance agent and had also conducted a livery barn in Humphrey.

 

PAST AND PRESENT OF PLATTE COUNTY 63

He was a man well liked and highly respected by the people of Humphrey and vicinity.

  It was in Humphrey on the 3d of November, 1891, that Mr. Lachnit was married by Father James Rudolph, pastor of St. Francis church, to Miss Mary Hollatz, a daughter of John and Antonia (Pollahofski) Hollatz, both of whom were natives of Germany. Her father followed farming and in 1891 came to America with Platte county as his destination. Making his way to Granville township, he rented land for a few years and then purchased one hundred and sixty acres of land near Tarnov, whereon he resided for three years. He afterward sold that property and removed to a farm in Humphrey township in the vicinity of Creston, his time and energies being devoted to its further cultivation and improvement until he retired from active business life in 1908, since which time he has made his home with his children. To Mr. and Mrs. Hollatz were born the following named: Apollonia, the wife of John Meir, of Madison county, Nebraska; Martha, the wife of William Labenz, of Humphrey township; Annie, the wife of George Schweda, of Cleveland, Ohio; Mrs. Lachnit, who was born in Germany and came to the United States three years before her parents, living with her sisters near Tarnov; Cecelia, the widow of Joseph Rohda, of Cleveland, Ohio; Antonia, the wife of Jacob Trittler, also of Cleveland; John, living in Humphrey township; and Joseph, who makes his home with his brother John.

  To Mr. and Mrs. Lachnit were born the following named: Oscar, who was born October 27, 1892, and died August 24, 1904; Leo, who was born November 22, 1893, and works in an auto shop and also conducts the Lyric theater; Arnold, who was born May 26, 1895, and is a clerk in the store of Steffes Brothers of Humphrey; Joseph, who was born November 12, 1896, and died seven days later; Hilda, who was born February 12, 1898; Amanda, born December 3, 1899; Eveline, who was born January 25, 1903, and died on the 26th of December of the same year; and Cyril, who was born November 8, 1909.

  In politics Mr. Lachnit was a democrat and for twelve years, or from 1895 until 1907, he served as treasurer of Platte county, being a faithful custodian of the public funds, his duties being discharged with promptness and fidelity. He belonged to St. Francis' Catholic church, of which his wife and children are still communicants, and he was also a member of the Knights of Columbus and of the Catholic Order of Foresters, of Humphrey. He served as an officer in the Nebraska State Liquor Dealers Association and he was popular among those with whom he was associated in business, church and social relations. He stood very high with the German citizens and others of his locality and appreciation for his worth was manifest in the friendship given him.


ERNST FISCHER.

  Conducting a profitable lumber, coal, hardware and furniture business at Platte Center, of which he is owner and manager, Ernst Fischer has made for himself a creditable position in business circles as one who is both enterprising and thoroughly reliable. He was born August 12, 1868, in Pommern, Germany, and was twenty years of age when in 1888 he crossed the Atlantic to the new world, with Nebraska

 

64PAST AND PRESENT OF PLATTE COUNTY

as his destination. He first settled at Norfolk, where he engaged in the lumber business, remaining there for ten years. He afterward removed to Wisner, where he remained for five years and in 1903 came to Platte Center, where he accepted the position of manager with the Edwards & Bradford Lumber Company. He represented the firm in that capacity for eleven years and in 1914 bought out the business, which he now owns and manages. He has a well equipped lumber yard and store and is accorded a liberal patronage in recognition of his business integrity and industry.

  In September, 1892, Mr. Fischer was united in marriage to Miss Martha Nitz, who is a native of Pommern, Germany, and emigrated to the United States in 1888. They now have three children, Frank, Anna and Esther, all at home.

  Mr. Fischer and his family hold membership in the German Lutheran church, to which he is a generous contributor. He is a democrat in his political views, believing that the principles of the party contain the best elements of good government. While he has never been an aspirant for office, he is a cooperant factor in plans and projects which have for their object the betterment of the community. His record is one which proved that the accident of birth does not control the future of the individual, for in this land where opportunity is open to all he has made steady progress and is now at the head of a profitable business in Platte Center, where he is recognized as a leading merchant.


JOHN H. IMIG.

  Business enterprise finds a worthy representative in John H. Imig of Columbus, who is a wholesale and retail baker. A liberal patronage is accorded him, his trade having reached extensive proportions, while his annual financial return is gratifying. He was born in the Rhine province of Germany, February 24, 1874, and acquired his early education in the schools of that country but came to the United States when fourteen years of age, with his mother and sisters, the family home being established in Seward, Nebraska. He entered the workaday world as an apprentice in a bake shop and was employed in connection with a bakery business in Seward for ten years. In 1898 he removed to Fullerton, Nebraska, where he again worked at his trade and there he afterward embarked in business on his own account by establishing a company known as the Star Grocery & Bakery Company. He was associated therewith for six years and in 1904 came to Columbus, where he has since made his home. During the first ten years of his residence in this city he was an employe in the bakery establishment of Anton Vogel, but is now owner of a shop and conducts a wholesale and retail business, being accorded liberal patronage in both branches. The most sanitary and scientific conditions exist in his establishment and the wholesomeness and excellence of his product insures its ready sale.

  On the 10th of February, 1907, Mr. Imig was united in marriage to Miss Elma Schmidt, her parents being Edward H. and Antonia Schmidt, the former a native of Germany. Mr. Schmidt became an early settler of Platte county, Nebraska, and here carried on farming for many years, winning substantial success by reason

  JOHN H. IMIG AND FAMILY

 

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