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