James Horne of Fillmore County

James Home was a native of Low Coats, Lanarkshire, Scotland, and was therefore a native of the same County as the illustrious Doctor David Livingstone; Blantyre the home of Livingstone being only seven miles away.

Mr. Home worked as an engineer on the Caledonian Railway, and came to America in 1853, finding employment on the Hudson River Railroad, and remained in that employment for sixteen years.

In the year 1858 he visited the old home, and was then married to Miss Jenny Miller, and soon the happy couple bid farewell to Scotland to make a home in America.

Farewell to the land of the bonnie brown heather,
Farewell to the land of the true and the brave,
Long may ,the rare beauties commingle together.
And long: may the thistle in innocence wave.
E’er long I shall hear the rough voice of the ocean,
E’er long I shall plough the wild waves of the sea;
But while I have breath I will breath in devotion.
Success to the land of the bold and the free. I
t is not the wealth distant lands may afford me.
It is not the joys they to me may impart;
Can make me one moment to cease to adore thee,
Or make thy name Scotland less dear to my heart.
Land of the brown heath I will love thee forever.
Naught can thy dear name from my memory dispel;
Though now from thy old rugged shores I must sever.
And breath; but in fondness a long fare thee well.

Arriving safely in America, they made their home in Poughkeepsie, NY, living there about eleven years. They then moved to Illinois where Mr, Home was employed on the Illinois Central Rail Road, and resided in Amboy; living there five or six years. He had already purchased ninety acres of land in Illinois; so that, when the “Western Fever” broke out he readily caught the infection and farming became the chief thought, so he determined to try out the prospects of the land. His first tour of inspection was to Canada, but that was before his famous countryman, Lord Strathcona, had succeeded in completing the Canadian Pacific Railroad, or had opened up for homesteading the great North West. The Canadian prospects not being: encouraging he went to Kansas, but not liking the looks of the land in that state, he tried Nebraska, and was so favorably impressed with this new country that he decided to try his fortunes on Nebraska’s virgin soil.

Returning: to Illinois he sold out his interests there and then came and took up a Preemption, it being the south west corner of Section 34, Town 8, Range 1, West; settling in the year 1870. Little indeed was his knowledge of farming, or about the things connected therewith, it was necessary for him to ask how to unhitch a horse, and this in spite of his having come from the Scottish County noted for its “Clydesdale” (a superior heavy working horse) he had been trained to the building, driving, or the taking to pieces of the “Iron Horse,” but, by his persistent energy and untiring determination he succeeded not only in hitching or unhitching a horse; but in making a home, and a reputation as a farmer of no mean ability.

The Homes lived for a time in a sod house, but were afterwards able to build a commodious frame dwelling. Their nearest trading point in the early days was Pleasant Hill. The country was one vast plain with nothing to obstruct the view, so that, when the Woodard house loomed up over the prairies, it proved quite a surprise, no such house had been anticipated on the wild plains. Mr. Home died eleven years ago at this writing, in his; seventy fifth year, well respected in the community.

He came to Nebraska when it needed courage to face the new conditions of life, but he had faith in God, faith in himself, and faith in Nebraska soil. He believed he was providentially led to this new undertaking, and if work was the handmaid to faith (faith without works is dead) then, that would be forthcoming without stint.

We read that “Lo; the poor Indian” could work some, and trust in the “Great Spirit” for success, and would with thanksgiving sing:

Hi-chiya naiho-o! Let us begin our song,
Let us begin, rejoicing, Hitciya yahina-a.
Let us begin our song, let us begin, rejoicing,
Singing of the large corn, Hitciya yahina-a;
Singing of the small corn, Hitciya yahina-a.

And would with confidence sing their prayer for Rain:
Hi-iloo ya-a! He who sees everything
See the two stalks of corn standing;
He’s my younger brother, Hi-ilo ya-a-a!
He who sees everything sees the two squashes;
He’s my younger brother, Hi-ilo-o ya-a-a!
On the sumit of Ta-atukam sees the corn standing;
He’s my younger brother, Hi-ilo-o ya-a-a!

And no less willingly would the Scottish, Engineer Yeoman work and trust in his God as he sang the praises of thanksgiving which he had learned from the Psalms in his childhood:
“Thou crownest the year with thy goodness, and thy paths drop fatness,
Thou visitest the earth and waterest it, thou greatly enrichest it,
Thou preparest them corn, thou hast so provided for it.
Because thy loving kindness is better than life.
My lips shall praise thee, thus, will I bless thee while I live,
1 will lift up my hands in thy name,
And my mouth shall praise thee with joyful lips.”

We are indebted to Mrs. Home for the few reminiscences here recorded. Having heard through a Lincoln Lawyer that a Scotch family had located somewhere near their home; they decided to pay their respects, and offer their kind wishes to the strangers from over the sea. This would be no great difficulty providing an opportune time presented itself; for, “A Scot, ye ken, is no verra shy about approaching anyone; leave alone a brither Scot.” So they decided to make that visit on July Fourth, and across the prairies they went, taking with them their two boys to celebrate in the Alexander home. The details of this incident are recorded in the Alexander stories, but we may add here, that the visit proved to be the forerunner of many visits; this one was distinctly welcome, and through “The cup that cheers, but does not inebriate,” and that “Oatmeal” the principal article of Scottish food; there came about that cheering and steading friendship which has proved abiding throughout the years. Their thoughts are ever true to those of their Poet, Burns,

Blind chance, let her snapper and stoyte on her way,
Be’t to me, be’t frae me, e’en let the jade gae;
Come ease, or come travel; come pleasure or pain.
My warmst word is: “Welcome and welcome again!”

Some gentlemen came from the east to hunt buffoloes just about the time when the meeting to organize the County was called to meet in the sod barn on the Home place. The hunting party had evidently the stronger pull on Mr. Home, for he with Ben Herrington, a neighbor, set out with the party. While on this trip a huge buffalo was seen making its way straight towards the men with savage intent; when Herrington fired, and brought the animal low. This provided a good supply of meat which they dried. It was sometimes necessary to make pontoons and bridges to get their horses and wagons across the rivers, but in spite of all difficulties they were favored with success. The party returned with great satisfaction bringing with them plenty of buffalo and deer meat, besides turkeys and other game.

Their experiences during the great blizzard were much the same as their neighbors; their horses had to do without food or water for three days. It was curing that storm that Henry Morgan, an employee of Dr. Smith’s, and in whom the Homes were greatly interested was away soutn seeing his sweetheart, and could not get back, the Doctor having to do most of his own chores as a result. One thing in particular which he had to do is well remembered. The family cat had in some way or other been left out in the storm, and when the doctor found it the poor beast was completely covered with ice, a large dish pan full was taken off of poor pussy.

A Sunday School was started in the sod school house near Den Songster’s place, Mrs. Morgan (the above sweetheart) did a great deal to help on the work, she provided at her own expense the school supplies, which were secured somewhere in Iowa, but like many of the early efforts of this kind, it necessarily ceased owing to changed conditions.

The Horne home was only once visited by Indians, when two called on a winter’s day begging, and after being helped went peacefully away.


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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