Biography of William Ramsdell

William Ramsdell is a native of Michigan. His first visit to Nebraska was in 1865 when he came in the service of the Government because of the depredations committed at that time by the Sioux Indians. He, with his Company arrived at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, on the 17th of June, and then made their way to Fort Kearney, Nebraska, from which point they crossed the State to Fort Laramie, Wyoming. As soon as the Indians knew of the presence of the Government soldiers they wanted peace. It will be remembered that the Sioux Indians had taken advantage of their opportunities, in the lack of soldiers in the West; to try and drive out the white people and secure their ancient hunting grounds.

Peace being restored he was soon able to return to Michigan, arriving there in December of the same year, and without being favorably impressed with Nebraska as a possible home. During their journeyings from June to November; they never had enough rain to wet through their shirt sleeves.

In March 1871 he returned to Nebraska and inspected the land, and came to the conclusion that he would settle in the State, where there had been great changes during the five years from his first visit; so he went back for his family and returned in July and lived till November near the Walnut Creek.

He secured a claim in Liberty Township, on section 2, town 7, range 1, being 3 miles south and 3 miles east of Exeter. On November the 14th, be went up to his claim to build and make ready for settlement. Mrs. Ramsdell was left behind and was living in a log house; it was “chinched” but not mudded or plastered.

The evening of that day saw a change of weather, when it began to snow, and snowed all the next day and the next night; the snow drifted into the house and was soon under and over the bed, until it lay 16 inches deep on the top of Mrs. Ramsdell who could not move from her unhappy condition for some time. She was finally liberated by the help of her brother.

During this storm the brother had to go and look after the cattle; they were busy digging a well on the place, and owing to the snow storm lost its location. It was found afterwards that the brother had nearly walked into the well on his way to feed the cattle, which, had it happened could only have one result. Many indeed are the dangers in life both seen and unseen, from which we are often providentially saved.

The cost of boring a well in those days was $1 per root, but had the cost been only 10 cents a foot the Ramsdells could not have undertaken it on their farm at that time because they had no money. He had to draw his water from the Turkey Creek, a distance of two miles; he also went 14 miles to seek firing, and could see only one house in all that distance.

The Ramsdells have but two children; both sons and both doing well. Deyo, the eldest, was in the first Graduation class of the Exeter High School, and is now a physician in Kansas City, Missouri. Glen as an optician in Moline, Illinois.

Mrs. Mary Borman, the wife of another homesteader whose land cornered with J. K. Barber‘s, and who remained here only twelve months, is a sister to Mrs. Ramsdell. There was born to them on January 8, 1872, a baby girl named Gertrude; believed to be the third white child born in Fillmore County. They soon afterwards sold out and returned to Michigan where they are now living.


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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