Some Pioneers of Richardson County

By F. A. Harrison

In the spring of 1866 four or five families came from Grundy County, Illinois, taking six weeks to make the trip. They crossed the river at Rulo and settled in Richardson County. One was the Sinclair family, Jamie and Jane, and five children. Two more children came later to fill the household.

The Scotch are hardy people. Jane Sinclair celebrated her 90th birthday at Falls City on the 27th of June, 1918, and was able to tell the assembled friends that all her children were alive and flourishing, and all living within a hundred miles of where the family settled fifty-two years ago.

The coming of this Grundy County party to Nebraska was of course because somebody else that they knew had settled in the land ahead of them. The Grants, another Scotch family, had led the way, and located on the edge of the "half-breed" tract northeast of Falls City. The others came into the same neighborhood.

That locality where they settled represented to a remarkable degree the different nationalities that were pouring into the new state. There were in that one school district: two Scotch families. Grant and Sinclair; two French, Benwire and Mousau; two Welch, Jones and Roberts; two Germans, Frey and Vogelein; two Irish, Harrison and Lawrence; one Pennsylvania Dutch, Fierbaugh; and one Southerner, Abbott, who had with him a former slave, "Nigger Bill"; and there were two families from England, Wilkes and Burch.

But the Germans were coming into the neighborhood, and they soon bought out all the others. That precinct, Jefferson, has been solidly German for many years. The Illinois people scattered over Richardson and Pawnee counties. Jane Sinclair, and Bridget Pattison, of Table Rock, are the only ones now living of the heads of families who crossed the Missouri with that wagon train in 1866.

A. K. Lawrence was one of the first to go. His wife, Julia, died, last April, at the age of 83, leaving many children and grandchildren in Johnson and Lancaster counties. W. P. Pattison lived to celebrate his golden wedding with his good wife, and passed away at Table Rock four or five years ago, at a ripe old age, and leaving behind many descendants. J. D. Harrison and his wife both died about ten years ago, leaving many children and grandchildren at Grand Island and in Lincoln. Of the other old folks in that pioneer party, Billy Randall and wife, Ben Butler and wife, they have been gone on their last journey these many years.

And the other people of the old school district: Wilkes and Burch, "Cash" Roberts and Bill Jones, Geo. A. Abbott and his good wife, Eli Fierbaugh and the others even "Nigger Bill"; they are all gone. "The two French families drifted away. The children of that neighborhood populated many other parts of Nebraska. The Germans remained in Jefferson precinct, and their children of 1866 and the few years following, now own the land.

Nebraska AHGP

Source: Nebraska History and Record of Pioneer Days, Volume I, Number 1, Published Monthly by the Nebraska Historical Society, February 1918.

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