John Redfern of Fillmore County

John Redfern came with his parents from England, and lived for some time in Peoria, Illinois. He came to Nebraska in 1870 and lived for three years near Nebraska City. When they arrived at the Missouri River, it was frozen over, but the ice was too thin to be safe for heavy traffic, so they walked across it in snow knee deep, and had to wait some time for their goods. They next came and settled on land three miles north of Exeter, and had a family of seven children to care for, and only one span of mules with which to start life on the new land. They built a sod house and passed through many ‘hardships and privations in their efforts to make a living.

They suffered the loss of a corn crop by hail; the corn stalks being cut off to about six inches above the ground, besides losses through blizzards and grasshoppers.

One day one of the boys went round the house to pick up what he thought was a piece of black cloth, when to his surprise he found it to be a rattle snake.

Their house was opened for preaching services and Sunday school, Mr. Redfern being a great Sunday school worker. “Father” Green would preach there, an old man who was one of the best known and most respected characters in the district. A United Brethren Church was organized and afterwards carried on in the sod school house, but like many of the country churches, it had only a short life. Mr. Redfern died on November 17, 1901; his widow still owns the land but lives in town.


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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