Biography of Philip Schawb of Fillmore County

Philip Schwab a native of New York State went first to Michigan where he lived about three years, and then came to Nebraska, in 1871.

Mr. and Mrs. Whitaker
Mrs. A. Whitaker, The First White Woman to Take Up Land in Fillmore County, and the Only White Woman in the County for Two Years After Her Arrival in 1868. Mr. Whitaker Died in Illinois.

He was employed for a time at the sawmills near the West Blue; afterwards homesteading two and a half miles west of Exeter, where he built a sod house 16 ft. by 20 ft., to be followed by a frame building, besides many other improvements. Mr. Schwab married Melissa Whitaker, whose grandmother was the first white woman to take up land in Fillmore County. This Mrs. E. A. Whitaker came in 1868 with her two sons and took the fourth homestead in the County; the land being situated in the West Blue Township. She was for two years the only white woman in the county, and lived an eventful life, her trials, privations and perils during those early days were very great, she was often exposed to the attacks of surrounding Indians. She was however of great courage and determination, and was able to gain the confidence of her Indian neighbors. She declared after having lived in several States that she liked Nebraska best of all.

On one occasion, Mr. Bussard a relation had a team of oxen tied at the side of the Whitaker dugout, the men had gone somewhere, and Mrs. Whitaker saw a herd of Buffaloes making towards the cattle. Fearing that something serious would happen to the cattle; she went out with outstretched apron as though she were shooing a brood of chickens, she managed to chase them till they turned their course and ran away. A band of Indians who had been chasing them followed in pursuit.

James and William Whitaker the sons before mentioned, came first to Nebraska in 1866, but had gone East, and returned bringing their mother with them. James was the father of Mrs. Schwab. William the uncle had the claim adjoining his mother’s so he built a sod house of three rooms; half of which was on each claim, and in that way the mother and son lived out their separate homestead rights under one roof.

Mrs. Schwab’s sister, “Emma,” was the first white girl born in Fillmore County (now Mrs. J. K. Hall living west of town.) This event was not only of interest to the white settlers, but also to the Indians. There were two old squaws; who lived near the Whitaker home and were very sociable; would come over to the house to see the baby, and nothing pleased them more than to be allowed to hold the white “papoose.” They gave several of their bead ornaments for the baby’s decoration, and in many ways showed their interests in the child.

William O. Bussard a cousin to Mrs. Schwab, was a native of Germantown, Ohio, and at the age of ten years was taken by his parents to Marshall County, Illinois. In 1866 he came to Nebraska and made the first homestead entry in Fillmore County, living on the homestead till 1887,when he moved to Lushton, York County, where he died on February 11, 1911. He was described as a man of conscientious principles, and respected throughout the district.

The Hall Family
Mrs. J. K. Hall, Husband, and Family. Mrs. Hall, (Emma Whitaker) was the First White Girl Born in Fillmore County.

John Brubaker Kauffman was born in Lancaster County, Penn., and moved with his parents to Miamisburg, Ohio. He was married to Malissa Carman Whitaker, a daughter of the first lady pioneer, and aunt to Mrs. Schwab. The Kauffman’s came with their family to Nebraska in April 1870, taking a homestead in the West Blue Township. Mr. Kauffman was the twelfth man to settle in Fillmore County. He was described as a man of great industry and sterling honesty, many there were who spoke in high terms of his life, he died on March 14, 1904. His wife also was held in great esteem throughout the district.

Mrs. Schwab died on February 10, 1893, leaving a family of young children; she was described as a good mother and a true Christian, it being a pleasure for her to do good especially among the sick and afflicted. , Mr. Schwab lives in retirement in Exeter. The homestead is now in charge of his two sons.

Jacob Pflug

Jacob Pflug, a cousin to Philip Schwab, came from New York State to Nebraska City in 1865, where he lived until 1869, he then moved to Lincoln, and in 1870 he went to Seward, afterwards coming to work on the West Blue. He homesteaded west of town in the year 1872.He remembers the first Revival Services held in the “Horton” School house, a sod building; with seats made of rough slabs secured at the Blue River Sawmill. The preacher was the Rev. D. S. Warner from Ohio, representing the “Church of God.” The meetings were decidedly successful, about fifty people professed conversion, many of them joining the new society which was formed as a result of the mission, and some of which remain to this day loyal and faithful Christians. Mr. and Mrs. Pflug were actively engaged in this organization as long as it lasted, afterwards joining the M. E. Church.

Mr. Pflug worked for five or six years in the Smith and Dolan store, this give him a close relationship with the early development of the ‘town. There were many interests in Exeter’s first store to keep him busy, for besides carrying on the business of General Merchandise. They were Agents for the Town Site Company, and the Burlington and Missouri Railroad lands, the Express Company, and had the Post Office, Mr. Smith being Post Master. Among the many and varied experiences of the early days, was the building of a “Russian” heating stove. Dr. Smith had seen one such stove at Sutton and thought it would be the very thing to meet the requirements of the store. The stove was made of brick, and bid fair to give the desired service had it not been for the drafts being wrong. This of course was a very serious fault, instead of the stove being a source of comfort on cold days, it made the place just as habitable for a white man as the inside of an Indian wigwam. The smoke persisted in coming into the store instead of going up the chimney, so that the “Russian” stove was no better in that regard than the Indian’s open fire.

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