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Norton County News Historical Edition:
Pioneer Days, as Told By M.G. Sheley

In the fall of 1878 two brothers Granville and James Sheley, my wife’s brother and myself, started from Adams County, Iowa for Kansas and as the old timers will remember it was the fall of the Indian scare and we had quite a scare ourselves. Somewhere about the 18th of September we had camped just west of Red Cloud, Nebraska in a nice belt of timber on the Republican River and during the day two other wagons had joined us and we all camped together that evening. The occupants of one wagon was a man and a boy while the other contained a single man, a German. He drove a span of mules and had a mowing machine tied on behind the wagon. He said he was going to Rawlins county.

It was a beautiful night with some moon light, and after supper, we sat around the camp fire and talked. A man soon drove up and said, “say fellows, the Indians have broken away from their reservation down in Indian Territory and have started north on the war path. You are camped on an old favorite Indian camping ground, and if they come this way, which they are likely to do, they will undoubtedly want to camp here.” After this warning we began to look out a little. We made a corrall (sic) with our wagons and some brush and put the horses inside, then we hunted up the shooting irons which consisted of a winchester repeating rifle, a muzzle loading rifle, a Springfield musket and a double-barreled shot gun; we also had a hatchet. All night we took turns watching for Indians, but no Indian war whoop broke the stillness of the night, and the sun arose the next morning as bright as usual, and I don’t suppose at that time there was an Indian within 200 miles of us, but some days later the Indians did make their dash through Decatur county, and as our German traveling companion was in their path they killed him. Had we been going to Rawlins instead of Norton county I would not be here to tell you of this. We considered this a good sign that Norton county was the promised land. My homestead papers were dated September 25, 1878, and I made proof at the end of five years and received patent from the government, signed by Chester A. Arthur. I still own and reside on the original homestead.

We old times sure had our ups and downs, more downs than ups. The majority came here very poor and all that I had was what I hauled in the wagon, and $11.25, when I landed here with my wife and family on March 2, 1879 but, after all, we enjoyed ourselves and had many a good time. A few, of course, became discouraged, but these were very few, and as a rule the people of those days were more sociable than the people of today. While the incentive to come west was independence and money, the goodfellowship of those days when the latch string of every home was always out, can never be compared with this age of money-seeking people, and let us not forget that a few old settlers, no matter whether in Norton county or in New York State, have opened the path and blazed the way so that the younger generation may have a smoother road to travel than we did and it was the sociability of those days that held steady, and helped spend many a homesick hour. 

In the fall of 1879 we organized a school district which is now district number 54. We built a sod house and held a school meeting and elected the following officers: Henry Knapp, Treasurer; T. Jennings, Clerk; and myself director. We engaged Miss Emma Sweeley as teacher and she taught for $20 per month and boarded herself. She afterwards married Mr. Havlin and now resides in Norton. In the winter of 1879 we organized a literary society and people came for miles around to attend the meetings.
(page 101)

 

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©2005 Ardie Grimes.  Transcribed from Norton County News Historical Number 1870 - 1916, re-organized and re-formatted for ease of use. These pages are dedicated to free access to records, documents and photos of historical and genealogical value. Documents contained herein may be copied for personal, non-commercial use as long as this statement remains on all copied material.   These records, documents and photos may not be reproduced, published or re-published for any reason, in any format,  including electronic (web pages or CD's) and print, without prior written consent of the contributors or copyright holders.

 

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Ardie Grimes 

 


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Last updated 25 February 2005