C. A. Songster of Fillmore County

C. A, Songster came from near the city of Centerville, Appanoose County, Iowa in 1871, and settled on a farm two and a half miles south of Exeter. He brought with him his wife and two children, a girl and a boy, and we are indebted to this boy, now Mr. A. A. (Bert) Songster for the reminiscences here recorded. The father died on April 8, 1898, and is buried in the Exeter cemetery. Bert Songster was only about four years old when they came to Nebraska, and remembers with interest their crossing the Missouri river in a ferry boat to Nebraska City. After they arrived on the claim they lived in a tent until a dugout was made; after which a sod house was built, and this proved to be a very comfortable home. It was plastered throughout and was warm in winter and cool in summer; which cannot be said of all the up to date residences.

The first school of the district was held in the Songster home. At that time the cattle roamed the prairies at will, and the grass known as the “Bluestem” grew as high as a horse’s back, which made it dangerous for children if they strayed from the house. The chief bird music was the mournful tones of the prairie chickens, heard usually in the early morning; but these are almost extinct, and, like the antelope, and the deer may soon be a thing of the past.

Mr. Palmer Lancaster had a blacksmith’s shop south of the Songster place, and kept a pet antelope, which was especially interesting to the children of the neighborhood. It would follow him to town, where it was sometimes frightened by the dogs, and would then run off at a lively rate and make its way home.

The prairie dogs were numerous then; there was a dog town one mile south west of Exeter which was for a long time a source of interest, but the dogs suddenly disappeared, having gone in one night, and no one knows why or where they went.

Mr. Songster Sr., hauled lumber for the first house and store owned by Dr. H. G. Smith. A little girl of the family was one of the first children that died and was buried in the Exeter cemetery.


Pioneer Stories of the Pioneers of Fillmore and adjoining Counties, by G. R. McKeith, Press of Fillmore County News, Exeter, Nebraska, 1915.

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