Chester C, Stephens, brother to Mrs. Downey was born in
Pennsylvania, but lived for some time in Michigan. He came to
Nebraska in 1871, and located on the North West quarter of Section
4, Town 7, Range 1, west. His first home was a dug out, size 10 ft.
by 12 ft., close to where his house now stands, such was its
construction that he might very reasonably be called one of
Nebraska's early cave dwellers. Before this cave was made he used
his wagon cover which was on a good frame as a tent, having it well
staked to the ground. One warm night he lay sleeping with the cover
up, thoroughly enjoying the prairie air, and as contented as a
monarch on his land; when he felt something cold against his face,
and on looking up beheld a prairie wolf with its paws upon his bed,
and carefully scenting the occupant of the same, while another wolf
sat on her haunches a short distance away. He immediately reached
out his hand for his revolver, but before he could fire a shot, the
unwelcome visitors had made their escape.
occasion he was lying in his bed in the dugout with the door wide
open, when a wolf made its appearance, and showed signs of a desire
for closer investigation, when he got his revolver and fired, but
again the shaggy coat made an escape.
About two months after
he came to the country he had been busy at the Ramsdell home, and
the return help was to be given at his place. Mr, Ramsdell had gone
to secure the services of Mr. J. K. Barber, and Mr. Stephens was
coming towards his home with "Uncle" Jim Home, and were travelling
in a north westerly direction when they saw a herd of twelve deer
coming in a north easterly direction. Snow was falling at the time,
the ground being covered, but neither men nor deer changed their
course; with the result that they met within twelve feet of each
other. The deer seemed quite tame and the men not attempting to
interfere with them they walked quietly away. This was one of the
most interesting and pleasing experiences of their prairie life, but
such pleasures are of the distant past.
In these days the
Ramsdell's were living in the Henry Eberstein house; the same house
wherein they had the snowstorm experience already mentioned. On this
occasion it was spring time and instead of the snow finding its way
into the house it was a large rattle snake that found an entrance
and like many others of its tribe was careful to find the bed, where
it was found under the bed tick, much to the discomfort of the
household. There was only one thing possible for such visitors, and
it went the road of its kind.
One of the worst wind storms
even experienced in Nebraska by Mr. Stephens was when he tried to
make his way from Camden, to a place near Crete, where he had
previously camped. He failed to reach the place, and had just
crossed the railroad track, and unhitched his team, when the storm
came up; such was its violence that he had to use lariat ropes and
chains to keep his wagon in place.
It is worthy of note that
only two of the homesteaders of Liberty Township now live on their
homesteads. Mr. Stephens and Mr. Patrick Murphy carrying that honor.
There are two or three other homesteaders who still own their land,
but they live in town.
Pioneers of Fillmore and Adjoining
Source: Pioneer Stories of the Pioneers of Fillmore and adjoining
Counties, by G. R. McKeith, Press of Fillmore County News, Exeter,
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