William Mann was born in Pennsylvania, but lived for some time in
Knox County, Illinois. He came to Nebraska in the fall of 1869,
settling in the McFadden Township, York County. He brought with him
his wife and seven children. William W. Mann his eldest son, to whom
we are indebted for these reminiscences worked for Elias Gilmore
(one of the oldest settlers In York County) for about two years and
drove oxen all that time. At the age of fifteen years he was doing
equal to a man's work for $15 a month. Mr. Gilmore raised the first
wheat crop in York County. It was when he was working for Gilmore
plowing corn with a double shovel plough that a deer came within
thirty rods of him.
On another occasion he went to capture a
wolf that had got away with the trap, he had with him two dogs, but
they would not touch the wolf (Shunktokecha) and then as he was
running to head it off, he unexpectedly jumped down a hollow close
beside a deer, which gave two great jumps and then stood staring at
him. It was evidently a case of mutual surprise. The wolf was caught
the next day one mile away entangled in a hill of corn.
those early days the grouse were more plentiful than are the
blackbirds now, and the beavers were numerous along the banks of the
Blue River. It was wonderful to see how these little animals would
throw trees, and roll them so as to make dams on the river. The
river then, was true to its name; the water being clear, and its
bottom covered with sand or pebbles which could be seen easily
through water seven feet deep; but the breaking up of the prairie
with the washing, down of the soil have long since changed the
complexion of the Blue River.
Their dug-out was only about
four rods from the river, and on one occasion five hundred Indians
who were going out buffalo hunting camped three quarters of a mile
from their place.
It was always said that "a white man could
not get up close to an Indian without his knowing: it," they were so
alert and wide awake as to detect the movement of a leaf. One day
young William saw two Indians beaver trapping along the river and
thought it would be good opportunity to put them to the test, so he
secured his shot gun and went near the Indians getting within six or
seven feet of them and stood there watching them placing their traps
and covering them with leaves. Then one of the Indians turned, and
to his surprise saw the unexpected visitor, and said in haste,
"Ouh!' They then pretended they could not understand or talk
English, but in time it was proved they could, for it being Sunday
several people passed along the road going to some service, and
being attired in their best clothes; one of the Indians unwittingly
said to the other, "This is Sunday isn't it?"
visit of the grasshoppers it was noticed that sorghum was the only
thing they did not eat.
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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