Biography of Ilus Couch of Ogallala, Nebraska

Ilus Couch occupies an enviable position among the extensive ranchers and prominent settlers of the valley of the South Platte river, where he operates a very large and growing stock business. Ilus Couch was born in Tiskilwa, Bureau county, Illinois, October 7, 1857. His father, Benjamin C. Couch, was a native of New Hampshire, born in the village of Boscawen, September 19, 1822. His parents were native of England. Our subject’s mother, Martha J. Calf, was also a native of Salisbury, New Hampshire, born March 3, 1825, and died December 31, 1860, when he was but three years old.

The subject of our sketch was reared in the state of his nativity and attended the common schools. At the age of fourteen he started to work out at farm labor and various other employments. In the spring of 1882 he married, came west and followed farming for two season in Carroll county, Iowa, after which he came further west to Clay county, Nebraska, in the spring of 1884, and remained during the summer. In August of that year he located a homestead in Keith county, his present place, and built a house, his family joining him in the fall. The country was very new and when they arrived in Ogallala they found it to be a typical wild west town. Pioneer days were full of trying experiences and many hardship and losses of crops, but our subject kept at his improvements and made a grand success.

The first crop in 1885 was a good one and this helped to give the family a start, but in 1890 and 1894 the crops were poor and Mr. Couch gradually turned his attention from farming to cattle and horse raising. He has now a splendid ranch comprising eighteen hundred and fifty-eight acres along the South Platte river and running back into the hills. He cultivates only about fifty acres of this, devoting the remainder of his extensive cattle and horse business. He has fine buildings, has the farm well fenced and has a fine grove of forest trees and some apple, plum and cherry trees. Our subject has been an interested witness of the growth of this region. When he first settled here his house was one of the only two between Ogallala and Big Springs, twenty miles distant, and for three months Mrs. Couch never saw a woman in all the country.

The marriage of Ilus Couch with Miss Charity Horton occurred in Buda, Illinois, February 9, 1882. The bride was a native of Illinois, a daughter of Eli and Mary (Hamilton) Horton, natives of Pennsylvania. Mr. Couch has done his share toward making the present high material standard of prosperity which obtains in Keith county, and he has taken a prominent place among the old settlers. His interest in political matters has been earnest and practical and he has held various offices of trust and responsibility.

He has served as school treasurer for five years and has acceptably filled other minor offices. He is independent in politics and a member of the Ogallala lodge, Independent Order of Odd Fellows.

Residence of Ilus Couch
A view of Mr. Couch’s comfortable residence with its fine grove, large barn and pleasing landscape surrounding.

Source: Compendium of History Reminiscence & Biography of Western Nebraska, Alden Publishing Company, Chicago, 1912

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