Henry Hammond of Fillmore County

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Henry Hammond, born in Indiana, moved to Illinois before settling in Nebraska in the fall of 1870. He claimed the northwest quarter of Section 4 and worked in Nebraska City over the winter. In spring 1871, he began his new life on the homestead with a yoke of oxen and five dollars. Facing numerous hardships, Hammond persevered, ultimately raising a successful family and earning respect in the community. In 1872, he married Catherine (Kate) Drummond. After their home was robbed and burned, they refused to give up, surviving on minimal resources and enduring harsh winters and a devastating blizzard. Despite adversities, including grasshopper infestations, they built a resilient and hopeful life.

Henry Eberstein of Fillmore County

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Henry Eberstein, born in Kalamazoo, Michigan, enlisted in the First Michigan Cavalry during the winter of 1863-64, serving under Custer and Sheridan. After the Civil War, he was stationed at Fort Leavenworth and marched to Salt Lake City, protecting the overland stage line. In 1866, Eberstein was discharged and returned to Nebraska in 1870, homesteading in Glengary Township, Fillmore County. He and his bachelor brothers built a log house and experienced many pioneer challenges, including encounters with rattlesnakes. The family eventually left Nebraska, relocating to Wichita, Kansas, due to harsh conditions and economic struggles.

History of Exeter Nebraska

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Exeter, Nebraska, became an incorporated village on April 1, 1879. Situated between the Blue River and Turkey Creek, it initially struggled to grow. Despite this, dedicated residents promoted the town enthusiastically through local newspapers, attracting new settlers and businesses. Early promotional efforts included poetic invitations to homestead and optimistic reports of growth, which successfully drew many to Exeter. By 1889, Exeter had established a robust business community, including notable figures such as Dr. E. S. Higley and Mr. W. H. Taylor. Over time, Exeter flourished, boasting modern amenities, a strong local economy, and a vibrant community.

Dr. and Mrs. H. G. Smith Homesteaded in 1870

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In 1870, Dr. and Mrs. H. G. Smith homesteaded near what would become Exeter, Nebraska, after traveling from Allegan, Michigan. Dr. Smith, guided by survey stakes for the future B. & M. Railroad, selected a north location for their 160-acre homestead. The Smiths faced various challenges, including sheltering their sick son during the journey and dealing with a leaky house. Dr. Smith opened Exeter’s first store and served as the town’s first postmaster. Their daughter, Anna E. Smith, was the first child born in Exeter. Dr. Smith also acted as a land agent and occasional medical practitioner.

Job Hathaway, Willard Payne and Elam Wilcox of Fillmore County

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In the spring of 1871, Job Hathaway, Willard Payne, and Elma Wilcox journeyed from Greenwood, Illinois, to Exeter, Nebraska, in covered wagons. They settled on section 30, sharing a frame house built by Payne, strategically placed so each could meet homestead requirements. Mrs. Hathaway joined later, traveling from Lincoln in a covered wagon. A notable incident involved a stranger who, in a dream, mistakenly attacked Payne, causing Mrs. Hathaway to flee the house. Another settler, Clark, a former English shipbuilder, struggled with pioneer life and returned to England after losing family members and facing harsh conditions. Job Hathaway later moved to Lincoln and served as a city police chief before his passing.

John Redfern of Fillmore County

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John Redfern emigrated from England to Peoria, Illinois, before moving to Nebraska in 1870. Initially settling near Nebraska City, the Redfern family crossed the frozen Missouri River on foot, waiting for their goods to arrive. They eventually homesteaded three miles north of Exeter, building a sod house and enduring numerous hardships, including crop destruction by hail, blizzards, and grasshopper infestations. The Redferns hosted preaching services and Sunday school in their home, contributing to the local community. John Redfern passed away on November 17, 1901; his widow retained ownership of the land while residing in town.

John T. Borland of Fillmore County

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John T. Borland arrived at his homestead near Pleasant Hill, Nebraska, on May 12, 1871, after traveling from Illinois with his wife and goods in a mule-drawn wagon. They initially lived in a makeshift sod tent before building a more permanent sod house with a shingle roof and a board floor. Borland’s early days included a scare when he accidentally disturbed his wife’s sleep after returning home late. They celebrated the first local July 4th at Turkey Creek. Despite challenges like coyote raids, blizzards, and grasshopper infestations, the Borlands established a well-equipped home and contributed to the community, including bringing the first load of lumber to Exeter.

Biography of John Ziska of Fillmore County

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John Ziska emigrated from Bohemia to the United States in 1853, settling first in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Initially farming in Racine County, he later worked in coal mining near St. Louis before moving to Nebraska in 1869. He homesteaded on the county line in Fillmore County, living in a dugout while establishing his farm. Despite hardships, including grasshopper infestations, prairie fires, and severe weather, Ziska and his family persevered. He contributed to the community by helping neighbors, donating land for a cemetery, and witnessing the last buffalo in the area. His son, Fred, later transitioned from farming to a successful career in business.

Mr. and Mrs. John K. Barber of Fillmore County

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John K. and Mrs. Barber arrived in Fillmore County, Nebraska, from Woodstock, Illinois, on October 14, 1870, after a five-week journey. They initially lived in a sod shanty near Turkey Creek until their dugout home, barn, and cellar were ready in January 1871. The Barbers hosted the first religious services and Sunday School in the county. Their initial farming efforts were thwarted by a severe hailstorm in July, but they persisted. Despite challenges like grasshopper infestations, they thrived, hunting local game and contributing to the community, including organizing the county and securing the county seat at Geneva.