L. T. Mead of Fillmore County

L. T. Mead was a native of Fort Branch, Gibson County, Indiana, and came to Nebraska in March 1870, bringing with him his wife and little son the two daughters coming later. They settled in Lincoln where he worked as a wagonwright for David Bowen, the first blacksmith in Lincoln, Mr. Mead being the first man to do the wood work.

In the fall of that year he came out west and secured a claim, but returned to Lincoln where he worked until the next spring. They came to the homestead in March 1871, it being the South East quarter of Section 4, Town 8, Range 1, west. Their first house was one room, eighteen feet square and made of wood, and in this they were often called upon to entertain travelers passing over the prairies; the small house being often taxed to its utn.ost capacity. Their first barn wherein they kept their cow was a teepee or tent, and so severe was the weather that winter, that the cow had its mouth badly frozen, but with careful nursing it recovered from that misfortune. It is also remembered that Mr. Mead harvested his wheat one year wearing an overcoat so severe was the weather that season.

On one occasion a dinner was given to some Pawnee Indians, and when it came to the helping of themselves with the butter, they simply took a chunk in their hands and ate it clear. There was no need of knives or spoons, they were in no degree fastidious, but were evidently quite original; fingers having been made long before spoons.

A neighbor named Wright, with his wife and children were going to town along with Colonel Babcock who provided the conveyance. When about half a mile from Mead’s house they were overtaken by a fearful wind storm. None of the party can remember just how it happened; but they found themselves lying in Mead’s wheat field. The wagon box in which they were sitting was carried off the running gear and tipped over into the field. The party was badly scared though none were injured.

Because of the apparent damage done to the young wheat. Colonel Babcock suggested payment for the same, but Mr. Mead said, “We will wait till harvest and see how things turn out.”

The incident was always a standing joke with Mr. Mead, as he always said, “he had better wheat on that particular spot than anywhere else in the field.”

Mr. Mead built a sod workshop and did a great deal of wagon repairing and other work for several years.

One of the most pleasing sights in those early days was the prairie mirage, when, in the clear weather of the early morning they would often see that wonderful phenomenon which has unfortunately proved such a snare and disappointment to weary travellers on the plains. This optical phenomenon would sometimes give the effect as of a vast sea, or a river with trees growing on its banks, or a great city. At other times it would come more as the “Looming” when distant unseen objects would be observed in the sky; the town of Fairmont being reflected in that way. The local people who enjoyed this wonderful sight, said, “the air is rarefied,” so one morning the Mead boy went out of doors, and upon seeing the mirage, ran into the house saying, “O mama, the air is glorified this morning!”

Mr. Mead lived on the homestead eleven years, and then moved into Exeter, where he died on April 17, 1901, in his 75 year. Mrs. Mead lived until February 8, 1913, and was 82 when she died. They both joined the United Brethren Church held in the Redfern school house, of which body Mr. Mead remained a member till his death. Mrs. Mead was a member of the M. E, church when she died.

It is worthy of mention, that Mrs. Mead could trace her family genealogy back to show her relationship to General Robert E. Lee, of Civil War fame, and Mr. Mead could trace his back to show relationship to Sergeant John Prichett, a soldier of the Revolution.


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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