Charles Eberstein of Fillmore County

Charles Eberstein is a native of Kalamazoo, Michigan. He joined the army when quite young, and in the spring of 1865 he passed through Nebraska with his regiment which was sent out west because of the Indian uprising, and was in the same company as William Ramsdell, another of our pioneers. The main army was divided on the Platte, part of it going to Utah because of trouble among the Mormons; the other part going to Wyoming.

Mr. Eberstein’s brother, Henry was sent to Utah, and had to pay $300 for a stage ride back from Salt Lake City to Atchison, Kansas; such was the cost of travel in early days. Mr. Eberstein went with his company to Wyoming and soon afterwards returned to Michigan.

He came to Omaha, Nebraska in 1867 and lived there until he was of age; so that he could homestead. During that time he heard of a surveying party being fitted out to go west, and he tried to join it. But when he saw the surveyor, he was told he was just one day too late; all the men needed having been engaged. The party set out for Fort Kearney where they were to secure the help and protection of some soldiers, but before this was accomplished the whole party was overtaken and massacred, a happy miss for Mr, Eberstein.

In the early part of March 1867 he set out West along with Mike Markey and William Hartsell, with a team and wagon, landing at the home of Mr. Alexandrias, who had located about 1862 on the Big Sandy River near a small town called Meridian situated on the Little Blue River. When making inquiries about homesteads at the Beatrice land office, he asked for a plat of Fillmore county and laid down the dollar in payment, but on looking at the plat he saw that the land was all vacant, so he picked up his dollar, saying, “I guess I do not need a plat,” and the man in charge replied, “No, you will not need it as all the land is vacant.” It is perhaps well to add here, that the north half of Fillmore County was homesteaded through the Lincoln land office, and the south half through the office at Beatrice

The three men came ten miles north of the Alexandras place, Mr. Markey and Mr. Hartsell homesteading in Saline County, and Mr. Eberstein homesteaded two and a half miles north west of them in Fillmore county, taking the South East quarter of Section 13, Town 5 Range 1, the claim taking in the forks of the Walnut creek, it being the first piece of land taken in the south half of Fillmore County. That was in April 1869, a few days after he had come of age.

The nearest neighbor was ten miles away, and the next settlers to come into the south half of the county were, George Marley and Frank Snow, who came in the following June.

They soon began breaking prairie and planting sod corn, and were never without firearms day or night, for fear of the Indians, Mr. Eberstein broke the first prairie ever broken in that part of the country, and had at the time a rifle strapped to the plough handle, and a six shooter strapped around his waist.

During that summer the Indians broke out and came down near Medidian, and Governor Butler, who was then Governor of Nebraska, ordered the raising of State Militia, which Mr. Eberstein joined. They built a fort at the mouth of Spring Creek and the Blue river near where Hebron now stands, calling it Fort Butler; it being the headquarters of the Militia during the season. The Indians thought a great deal of the Little Blue River, and were very loath to give it up, which accounts for the many raids made along its banks.

They made numerous scouting trips to the South and West, one of which was in reality a buffalo hunt. There were about thirty men including Governor Butler, and also two English lords who went out seeking a location for a colony. About two weeks were spent on this trip, and they often saw signs of Indians, but never came into contact with any.

The greater part of the hunting was done where Superior now stands, and they succeeded in killing 125 buffaloes, also numerous elks, antelopes and deer. They returned to Fort Butler with ten wagon loads of meat, after which they were soon discharged from the State Militia.

It was now late in the fall; so Mr. Eberstein returned to his claim and spent a few days building a log cabin, then he went on horseback to Plattsmouth where he spent the winter working on the first miles of the Burlington Railroad built in Nebraska.

The following February he returned to his claim, and that spring the country was well settled up and numerous improvements made. Two brothers, John and Henry, also settled in the neighborhood, and a sister, Mrs. Vroman, was the first teacher in the Evergreen district, which was originally part of the Mount Zion District.

Source

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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