William Mann was born in Pennsylvania, but lived for some time in
Knox County, Illinois. He came to Nebraska in the fall of 1869,
settling in the McFadden Township, York County. He brought with him
his wife and seven children. William W. Mann his eldest son, to whom
we are indebted for these reminiscences worked for Elias Gilmore
(one of the oldest settlers In York County) for about two years and
drove oxen all that time. At the age of fifteen years he was doing
equal to a man's work for $15 a month. Mr. Gilmore raised the first
wheat crop in York County. It was when he was working for Gilmore
plowing corn with a double shovel plough that a deer came within
thirty rods of him.
On another occasion he went to capture a wolf that had got away with the trap, he had with him two dogs, but they would not touch the wolf (Shunktokecha) and then as he was running to head it off, he unexpectedly jumped down a hollow close beside a deer, which gave two great jumps and then stood staring at him. It was evidently a case of mutual surprise. The wolf was caught the next day one mile away entangled in a hill of corn.
In those early days the grouse were more plentiful than are the blackbirds now, and the beavers were numerous along the banks of the Blue River. It was wonderful to see how these little animals would throw trees, and roll them so as to make dams on the river. The river then, was true to its name; the water being clear, and its bottom covered with sand or pebbles which could be seen easily through water seven feet deep; but the breaking up of the prairie with the washing, down of the soil have long since changed the complexion of the Blue River.
Their dug-out was only about four rods from the river, and on one occasion five hundred Indians who were going out buffalo hunting camped three quarters of a mile from their place.
It was always said that "a white man could not get up close to an Indian without his knowing: it," they were so alert and wide awake as to detect the movement of a leaf. One day young William saw two Indians beaver trapping along the river and thought it would be good opportunity to put them to the test, so he secured his shot gun and went near the Indians getting within six or seven feet of them and stood there watching them placing their traps and covering them with leaves. Then one of the Indians turned, and to his surprise saw the unexpected visitor, and said in haste, "Ouh!' They then pretended they could not understand or talk English, but in time it was proved they could, for it being Sunday several people passed along the road going to some service, and being attired in their best clothes; one of the Indians unwittingly said to the other, "This is Sunday isn't it?"
During the visit of the grasshoppers it was noticed that sorghum was the only thing they did not eat.
Source: Pioneer Stories of the Pioneers of Fillmore and adjoining Counties, by G. R. McKeith, Press of Fillmore County News, Exeter, Nebraska, 1915