Colonel N. S. Babcock Arrived in 1871

When Colonel Babcock came from New York State in 1871, there was no railroad beyond Lincoln, he had made his way to Seward, and walked on from there looking for a family near Indian Creek, nothing like a house could be seen anywhere, at last he noticed a stove pipe sticking out of the ground on a little hill, and on making closer investigations found a dugout having one of the best rooms he ever saw. He afterwards made his way nearer to Exeter, the only house visible at that time being the one built by ‘”Boss” Woodard. When crossing the country he noticed the horses acting rather queer, then, a man mysteriously put in an appearance, asking the Colonel what he was after? He assured the man that he was after no mischief, when the man said, but you have your horses on my house!

When the Colonel brought Mrs. Babcock to the claim North East of town, they came in a wagon which was without springs, and their seats were wooden chairs, certainly not an ideal outfit for a fifty miles trip over the prairies. Their household goods did not arrive for a week afterwards, so a fire had to be built in the hillside, their meat was cooked on the end of a stick, the potatoes boiled in a teakettle, and for plates they used shingles, which, with the companionship of silverware provided ideal contrasts in past and present experiences.

In their part of the country there was nothing to distinguish weekday from Sunday, in which condition Sunday was extinguished. They lost track of the Sabbath for a time, and were no doubt glad when they once more knew one day from another. Rattle Snakes were numerous then; no less than 36 were caught in one day. Mr. Babcock had several rattles until recently when they passed into the hands of younger members of their family.

When speaking of the Grasshopper times they mention having sent word to a brother back East, giving an account of the numbers and destruction of the invading host, but the brother sent word back, “that is a good fish story you have out West.” They finally sent a small piece of soil about an men square back East so that they might see the grasshoppers hatch out, instructions were given what to do. That small piece of earth contained so many young grasshoppers that they never more doubted the western story.


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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